Phillip V. Sánchez, a former Fresno County top official who became head of the nation’s War on Poverty and U.S. ambassador to Honduras and Colombia, will be honored as the 2010 Chicano Alumni Legacy Builder at California State University, Fresno.

The award is given by Chicano Alumni, a chapter of the Fresno State Alumni Association, to an individual who has made significant contributions to the Chicano experience at Fresno State, said Frances Peňa-Olgin, president of Chicano Alumni.

The Legacy Builder reception is scheduled 2-5 p.m. June 5 at the Smittcamp Alumni House. Admission is $10, with proceeds benefitting Chicano Alumni Scholarships. Parking is free.

Sánchez, a native of the Pinedale community that now is part of Fresno, earned a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State in 1953 and a master’s in 1972, both in political science. At Fresno State, he was the founding president of Sigma Chi fraternity and was awarded the national organization’s highest honor in 2007, the Order of Constantine.

He also was a drummer in the Fresno State band, who remembers performing at the groundbreaking for the Fresno Veterans Administration Hospital in the late 1940s.

Sanchez was Fresno County chief administrative officer in the 1960s before President Nixon appointed him assistant director for the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1971. He took the agency’s top spot in 1972.

Nixon appointed Sánchez ambassador to Honduras, where he served from 1973 to ’75. President Ford chose him as U.S. ambassador to Colombia from 1975 to ’77.

After government service, Sánchez became publisher of Tiempos del Mundo, a Spanish-language weekly newspaper based in the U.S. that closed in 2004.

He has served on numerous national and world boards, commissions and organizations, charing the board for the National Hispanic University in California. He also is president of the Educational Foundation of the Americas in Mexico City and is a director of the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut and an adviser to its International College.

In 1977, Sánchez received the Fresno State Distinguished Alumni Award and a Top Dog Award as the Outstanding Alumnus for the Division of Student Affairs in 2008. He also serves on the university’s National Board of Visitors.

He served in the Army Reserve, retiring as a colonel. He and his wife of 60 years, Juanita, have raised six children, three of them adopted, and have 15 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

He joins previous Chicano Alumni Legacy Builders Ernesto Martinez, a Fresno State professor emeritus of Chicano Studies and founder of Los Danzantes de Aztlán; Fresno County Superior Court Judge Armando Rodriguez; Leonel Alvarado, a former Fresno City Council member; Leo Gallegos, a community and political activist; Venancio Gaona, a retired Fresno City College professor and past president of El Concilio de Fresno; Frank Quintana, a Fresno City College counselor; Manuel Perez, retired associate dean of Student Affairs and former EOP director; and Dr. Teresa Perez, former La Raza Studies and education professor, who teaches at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.

Chicano Alumni is the oldest of the 17 Fresno State Alumni Association affinity chapters and annually awards five $1,000 scholarships to students who excel academically and are active in their community.

The Legacy Builder event accepts tax-deductible donations to benefit the Chicano Alumni Scholarship Fund and seeks overall and table sponsorships.

Reservations may be made by contacting Manuel Olgín at 559.871.8463.

For more information, call Peňa-Olgín at 559.908.9816.

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