[Editor’s note: these remarks were presented at Maya’s going away party.]
Greetings to all at CCFT! I am so sorry to miss the party celebrating Maya. While it’s terribly hard to see her go, I’m also delighted to learn of Maya’s newfound adventures in Hawaii. I’m hoping someday to go see for myself what this next chapter will bring.
Thank you for letting me share a few words about Maya. We met in 2001 when I became CCFT president. Maya had started not long before, when Alex was president. The young woman I met had recently finished her degree in Latin American Studies at UCSC and was mother to Kai, just a toddler then. Even though I’m older, in some ways, Maya and I grew up together, teaching each other and learning about all things union.
Whatever the individual project, Maya’s work is always infused with her commitment to economic and social justice. She has a visceral appreciation for the underdog and an impeccable determination to give voice to the under-represented. For Maya, these are not abstract principles; they are the result of listening to personal stories and feeling deeply the impact of injustice in people’s lives.
Maya has the rare ability to move from this deep understanding of issues to working collectively to find strategies, develop action plans that address problems, and make concrete changes. Whether mobilizing to support state initiatives to fund education, or advocating for local and state policy changes to improve faculty working conditions, or soliciting sick leave donations for a colleague experiencing a health emergency, Maya knows how to move from vision to action, from big picture to the minutiae of getting things done.
Maya’s amazing capacity for multi-tasking has served the union well, as has her gentle firm way of leading from behind. Never one to seek the limelight, Maya has been the pillar of support for a revolving team of faculty who together have pushed agendas of salary, equity, workload, health benefits and more. Her keen intellect, high integrity and kind heart have guided, inspired, prodded and nudged, leaving the union and Cabrillo a better place.
Over time, we became personal friends as well as colleagues and I had many opportunities to witness her resilience in responding to life’s challenges. I think it was the year that her little niece was diagnosed with cancer that Maya decided to train for and complete the AIDS ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Thanks to the miracle of cell phones, I got to participate vicariously in her 100-mile training rides through the Santa Cruz mountains, and then follow her journey south with hundreds of advocates. What a thrill!
Some of you may not know that Maya is an accomplished salsa dancer and has wowed audiences in various competitions and performances over the years. She is an amazing mother and it is a joy to see her beautiful son, now a Cabrillo student, play the piano, bake bread, cook exotic dishes and join her in backpack adventures in the Sierras.
It’s not mine to tell the story of the romance that is taking Maya away from us and off to Maui. Suffice it to say that he is a very lucky man and I wish them both all the best that life and love can offer. We will miss her dearly.