Kat Gutierrez Honored for Contributions to Community Engagement in Pajaro Valley, California

Kat Gutierrez, assistant professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has received the 2024 Richard E. Cone Award from LEAD California, a statewide nonprofit that invests, supports, and partners with colleges and universities.

The award is given biannually to early-career professionals for their contributions to community engagement. Dr. Gutierrez was recognized in part for her contributions to the Watsonville is in the Heart project, a community-based public history initiative honoring the stories of Filipino migration and labor in the city of Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley region. Currently, Dr. Gutierrez serves as the co-principal investigator for the project’s digital archive, Sowing Seeds: Filipino American Stories from the Pajaro Valley

“I see the award and the Sowing Seeds exhibition as braided together: the four years that it’s taken to mount the exhibition, the teamwork involved in the research behind it, and our important relationships with community members and with key partners on campus are what’s making the exhibition possible,” said Dr. Guiterrez. “The award, I believe, recognizes that. More importantly, it recognizes the significant team effort to do meaningful community-engaged work, which is the foundation of Sowing Seeds.”

Dr. Guiterrez has been with the University of California, Santa Cruz for the past four years. Her academic career has focused on Philippine history, science and technology studies, Southeast Asian studies, and the history of plant sciences, with a particular focus on the politics of botanical life and plant world-making in modern histories of the Philippines and Southeast Asia. She holds a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a Ph.D. all in South and Southeast Asian studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

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