This week we honor two Tempe women who both made history as elected and appointed officials and continue to advance their causes through providing access to and equity in public education.
Arlene Chin was born in San Francisco to the parents of Chinese immigrants and moved to south Tempe when she was nine. At 16, she joined the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, beginning her lifelong commitment to public service.
Arlene credits her dedication to community to the lessons she learned from her parents. Her father joined the U. S. Army and fought in World War II as part of the China-Burma-India campaign. He was recently awarded a posthumous Congressional gold medal for his service. Allen and her mother Lillian operated small businesses – a grocery and, later, a restaurant – which served and fed their communities.
Arlene was appointed to the Tempe City Council from May 2019 to July 2020 when she became the first Asian American to hold the position in the city’s history. She was chosen from among 50 applicants for the council seat. She is now running to serve again on the Tempe City Council.
For the 47 years Arlene has lived in Tempe, she has contributed to and held numerous community leadership roles and works as the Director of Scholarship Advancement for the ASU Foundation, where she identifies scholarship opportunities which advance students’ educational goals.
- Arlene Chin
Berdetta Hodge is known countywide for her commitment to public education and for becoming the first African American woman elected to public office in Tempe, but she counts raising her two sons as her proudest accomplishment.
She served two years as the President of the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board and was re-elected in 2020 to serve on the Board.
Berdetta serves as Vice President of the Booker T. Washington Child Development Center, a Head Start school serving low-income and minority children and families in Phoenix. She is a board member of Save Our Schools Arizona, vice president of the Arizona Schools Board Association (ASBA) Black Alliance, and volunteers with Black Students Union groups in Tempe, where she serves as a mentor and assists with their community engagement efforts.
When education funding is up for discussion at the legislature, as it often is, Berdetta can be relied on as a voice for Black families and students, advocating for more funding for public education.
- Berdetta Hodge