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Longtime Riverside community volunteer wins Mission Inn Foundation award

Ofelia Valdez-Yeager, a community volunteer and the first Latina elected to the Riverside school board, has earned the 2019 Frank Miller Civic Achievement Award.
The Board of Trustees of the  Mission Inn Foundation  chose Valdez-Yeager for the honor, given each year to someone who has shown civic leadership, service and supported the community in the tradition of Frank A. Miller, founder of the  Mission Inn , a news release states.
The foundation saluted Valdez-Yeager, who lives in Riverside, for “her long-term service to a variety of civic and cultural institutions in Riverside,” Gary Christmas, foundation board president, said in the release.
She was once a foundation board member and has been active in working to bring the  Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry to downtown Riverside, he said. Also, she has been involved with the Latino Network , he said.
Previous Miller Award winners include Knox Mellon, Howard H “Tim” Hays, Victor Miceli, Peggy Fouke Wortz, John Gabbert, Duane R. Roberts, Art Littleworth, Henry Coil, Jr., S. Sue Johnson, Gary Rawlings, Charles Beaty, Ron and Marsha Loveridge, Charles Field, Cindy Roth, Joe Tavaglione, Jack B. Clarke, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Ronald L. Ellis, and Judy Carpenter. In 2018, Gordon Bourns of Bourns Engineering, was recognized .
Valdez-Yeager was born in Mexico. Her family later moved to Montebello. When she began first grade, she spoke no English but finished that first year at the top of her class, the release states. She graduated from UC Riverside with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 1969 and earned an elementary teaching credential in 1971.
Later, she took on leadership roles in Little League, PTA, and community organizations through committees and boards. In 1992, history was made when voters elected her to the Riverside Unified School District board.
She was an administrative assistant to Riverside’s mayor, executive assistant to the Superintendent of Riverside Unified and later retired as the chief administrative liaison to the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools in 2010. As past president of Latino Network, she led the effort to build the Cesar E. Chavez Memorial on the downtown Riverside mall.
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She is campaign chair for The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry, is vice president of the Riverside Arts Academy , president of the Altura Credit Union board and a board member of Latino Network and the UCR Alumni Association.
Valdez-Yeager and her husband, Ley, have lived in Riverside since 1965 and have four adult children and seven grandchildren.
She will receive the award in the  Mission Inn Hotel & Spa ’s Grand Parisian Ballroom on June 5. The event is at 6 p.m. Tickets are $175 a person.
Information: Danielle Trynoski, trynoski@missioninnmuseum.org

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