Maribel Alvarez is an anthropologist, folklorist, writer, and curator. She holds the Jim Griffith Chair in Public Folklore at the Southwest Center and is Associate Research Professor in the School of Anthropology. Since Fall 2018 she has served as Associate Dean for Community Engagement in the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. Her work portfolio in SBS includes a wide range of public-facing initiatives in partnership with faculty, staff, government agencies, philanthropy, and community organizations. She plays a leadership role in strategic planning for both the college and the university at large and is actively engaged in multiple projects in support of the college’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion vision and workplan.
Dr. Alvarez is the founder, and until recently served as Executive Director, of the Southwest Folklife Alliance, an independent nonprofit affiliated with the University of Arizona. SFA is the designated Folk Arts Partner in Arizona for the National Endowment for the Arts. SFA produces the annual Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival in addition to multiple programs connecting artisanal economies, foodways, ethnographic documentation, and neighborhood-based economic development throughout the US-Mexico border region. Dr. Alvarez is TMY’s Program Director and serves as Executive Editor of the monthly e-journal BorderLore. In 1989, Dr. Alvarez co-founded MACLA in San Jose, California –one of the most vibrant contemporary Latino art spaces in the United States. She recently completed a 6-year term appointment as a Trustee of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and is a member of the Arts and Democracy Commission at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been a Fulbright Fellow in Sonora, Mexico where she currently still carries on research with indigenous Yaqui communities around food and sovereignty. She has served as advisor for several national philanthropic initiatives, including the notable Ford Foundation’s “Artography,” which documented the practices of art and humanities in the United States in the context of changing demographics. Dr. Alvarez has served in the faculty of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures’ National Leadership Institute for 18 years, training more than 400 Latinx leaders currently serving in numerous leadership roles across the nation. In 2018, the American Folklore Society awarded Dr. Alvarez the prestigious Americo Paredes Prize for “excellence in integrating scholarship and engagement with the people and communities one studies.”