RIP Dr. Pepe Barron, Tucson educational advocate

Tucson, AZ – With deep sadness, the family and staff of Luz Social Services, Inc., Luz-Guerrero Early College High School and Adalberto M. Guerrero Middle School announce the death of its Founder and CEO/Superintendent Dr. Jose “Pepe” Barrón.

On Thursday, September 26th, Dr. Barrón passed peacefully at University Medical Center surrounded by his loving wife, children, friends and extended family. Since the 1990s, he has overseen the operation of dozens of prevention and community mobilization programs throughout southern Arizona by Luz Southside Coalition and Adelante Juntos Coalition. He was a pioneer in writing substance abuse prevention curriculum and methodologies that were culturally appropriate and competent among Mexican Americans. At the early stages of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, he developed the “Cultural and Linguistically Complete Model” for the prevention of AIDS and HIV Infection among Hispanic women. Leadership roles throughout his early career included Chairperson for the National Hispanic Commission on Alcohol and Other Drug Problems, Vice Chair of the Consortium of National Hispanic Organizations and, United States Senate Fellowship Recipient, and Vice President of Hostos Community College in New York.

Dr. Barrón was a leading advocate for education, working with President Jimmy Carter, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and others in Washington, D.C., authoring “Parent Involvement in Bilingual Education”, which was presented to the Education Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives and eventually became law through the creation of the U.S. Department of Education. Taking his decades of expertise, he and longtime UA Professor Adalberto M. Guerrero founded Luz Academy of Tucson in 1997 and Adalberto M. Guerrero Middle School in 2001 as college-preparatory charter schools, partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create one of five pilot programs that eventually developed into the Early College Model for all schools. Leveraging resources from National Council of La Raza, the U.S. Department of Education, Pima County, and the City of Tucson, Dr. Barrón marshalled a philosophy that included the education and strengthening of parents and community leaders in tandem with students from the same neighborhoods in school at Luz-Guerrero.

As a former athlete, Dr. Barrón believed in the importance of sports in creating discipline among young people; because of this, he was a founder of the Hispanic Sports and Academic Enrichment Program, now in its 31st year of awarding outstanding scholar-athletes across southern and central Arizona. His greatest joy was telling the world about the accomplishments of young people, always encouraging them to seek higher education and give back to their neighborhoods. In the southside of Tucson, Dr. Barrón’s legacy will include the annual cultural events Thanksgiving in the Barrio, Posada en el Barrio and Cinco de Mayo con Orgullo – celebrated in an alcohol-free environment meant to showcase the coming together of health care providers, families, youth and public officials.

Dr. Barrón was a proud Wildcat for Life, earning a B.A. in Spanish, M.A. in Latin America Studies and Anthropology, and was a participant of the UA’s EPDA Institute of Foreign Language Studies in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. His Ph.D. came from USC in Post-Secondary Education Administration/International Intercultural Education and Community College Education.

Services have not yet been announced.

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