This week we honor two west valley women who made and continue to make history as Latina elected officials at the state and local levels.
Maria Lopez Rogers
From humble roots, to community activist, to civic leader Marie Lopez Rogers is an Arizona native, born to migrant farm workers who taught her the value of hard work and the importance of giving back to our community. As a child, Marie picked cotton in the fields of Avondale, South Phoenix, and Goodyear in order to help support the family. Her father challenged Marie to strive for the American dream by pursuing a college education.
While they toiled in the cotton fields, Marie’s father told her, “If you don't want to be working in this heat, you better stay in school.” Through sacrifice and determination, Marie became the first in her family to attend college.
Inspired by her mother’s caring and charity, Marie served the communities of southwest Maricopa County for many years as a community activist and in the social service field. Marie went on to co-found the Hispanic Leadership Forum, a nonprofit organization that has awarded many scholarships to university-bound students with Education majors, in hopes that they would return to the West Valley to teach in neighborhood schools. In 1996, Marie was elected to the Avondale City Council, serving first as a Council Member, and then for 10 years as Mayor, Avondale’s first Latina mayor.
Marie raised the city’s profile when she was elected to serve as President of the National League of Cities, where she worked closely with the Obama administration on a number of priorities facing local communities. President Obama shared her inspirational story in a national speech, and Marie was invited to attend the State of the Union as a guest of the First Lady. She also served on the League of Arizona Cities & Towns’ Executive Committee, where she received a Distinguished Service Award, and served as President of Women in Municipal Government. Mayor Rogers also served as Chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments and was Chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments Economic Development Committee.
On June 4, 2014, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously selected former Rogers as the new Maricopa County District 5 supervisor to replace former Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. She served briefly before retiring in 2015.
Marie and her husband, Eddie, have three sons, seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Commissioner Anna Tovar is rooted in Tolleson, Arizona. She attended Tolleson’s public schools and began her career as a teacher in the Tolleson Elementary School District.
Anna taught for five years and served on the Tolleson City Council for seven and a half years, and was Vice Mayor for two years until she joined the House of Representatives and served as Minority Whip. In 2013, she entered the Senate where she served District 19 advocating for Avondale, Tolleson, West Phoenix and the entire state.
While at the Senate, she served as the Senate Minority Leader, was Latino Caucus Chair, and served as a committee member of the Senate Judiciary, Senate Appropriations, Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the Joint Committee on Capital Review. As Senator Tovar, she developed a reputation as a legislator who fought for the dignity of underserved people.
Upon completing her time at the Senate, she went on to work as a Campaign Director for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She raised funds to find a cure for cancer and to assist cancer patients. In 2011, she championed the effort to restore funding for nearly 100 patients on the bone marrow transplant list, saving many lives. As a two-time cancer survivor, Anna remains determined to find a cure.
In 2016, Anna was elected as Mayor of Tolleson, Arizona. She became the first female mayor of Tolleson.
During her time as Mayor, Anna has worked to ensure all citizens of Tolleson had an opportunity for a quality education and good paying jobs. She has supported local businesses and sustainable economic development and focused on developing regional partnerships and using her experience as a state Senator to collaborate with state elected officials.
In November 2020, Anna was elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission and is the first Latina to hold statewide office in Arizona and is working to restore transparency and integrity to the Corporation Commission.
Anna Tovar and her husband have been married for over 20 years and have two sons.