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Booker, Chavez join La Luz Center board

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La Luz Center has named two new board members. Ligia Booker, La Luz’s founder, has been named director emeritus, and Salvador Picazo Chavez has been elected to the board of directors.

“Ligia’s a treasure to our community and to La Luz. Her ability to sense the needs of others and to do something about it within our community is what makes her so special. She so deserves to be recognized as emeritus board director,” said Claudia Mendoza-Carruth, La Luz board president. “Sal’s ability to engage the schools and see the important synergy between them and our community organizations will help bring La Luz into a new era of service with our young student population in Sonoma. Our board is inspired by both of them we welcome them with great appreciation.”

Born in Colombia to a large philanthropic family of strong faith, Booker came to the United States at age 17. After her mother passed away, she returned home to care for 10 siblings, only to fall in love there with Don Booker, an American helicopter bush pilot, who after several job stops brought her to Sonoma.

Booker saw Sonoma through the eyes of an immigrant. In the beginning, she met with those in need at local churches and at her home. Once the official La Luz center opened in its current location, she said, “We were overwhelmed by the needs of the community.”

Persistence and the phone were her allies. She explains, “I learned how to get things done by calling around town to the key people who could help.”

Thirty-plus years later, Booker feels La Luz continues to be faithful to its original mission, and she sees the organization developing into a multi-cultural center that addresses the needs of all.

Among Booker’s many honors for her contributions to the community are, the “For Those Who Care” award from KRON TV in 1989; Sonoma Alcaldesa in 1992; “Woman of the Year” by the state of California in 1995: Woman of Color Humanitarian Award in 1998; honoree at the Red and White Ball, and the Sonoma Amistad Award both in 2010. She shares La Luz’s great pride in receiving the Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2013.

Chavez moved to Sonoma at age 8, and considers himself a locally raised man. Salvador works at his family restaurant, Picazo Cafe & Deli, as he pursues other business ventures in the community.

After graduating from Sonoma Valley High School in 2004, Chavez went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in economics from Sonoma State University.

In 2011, when he was 26 years old, he was appointed to the Sonoma Valley Unified School District Board and said he’s “sincerely invested, due to my education coming from schools that are all governed by SVUSD and to my desire to influence students’ futures in a positive way.”

His work in the community includes keynote speaking for Kiwanis Club, Altimira Middle School Career Day, Adele Harrison Middle School Career Day, and Oji Life Lab.

On Mondays from 7 to 8 p.m., he’s on KSVY 91.3 radio discussing topics pertinent to the community and schools.

Chavez is married to Kina Chavez who works at Sonoma Valley High School in the HIM Department.