Elvira Valenzuela Crocker

Elvira Valenzuela Crocker is one of 13 siblings in the first generation of her family born in this country. Her family members led the integration of public facilities in her hometown of Garden City, Kansas. As a third-grade student, she was the test case to integrate her city's swimming pool, a successful effort that triggered the fall of numerous other barriers for Mexican Americans in the community. 

After completing her bachelor of arts degrees in journalism and English literature at the University of Wichita, she began her journalism career as a reporter and editor working at several Kansas newspapers. As women's news editor of the Wichita Eagle and Beacon, she led the transformation of the women's section from a social to an issues­-oriented section. While there, she earned a travel and study fellowship headquartered at La Prensa newspaper in Lima, Peru. She won numerous writing awards during her newspaper career for news and feature writing, book reviews and advertising. She was named Kansas Newswoman of the Year by Women in Communications at Kansas State University. The Wichita chapter of Women in Communications also cited her as a Woman of Achievement.

After marriage to Richard, and the birth of their son Chris, the family moved to Washington D.C.  Elvira held several communications positions for the National Council of La Raza, a nonprofit Hispanic civil rights organization;  the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Mid-Atlantic; the International Women's Year Commission; and the then U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. She served on the transition team for the creation of the U.S. Department of Education and as press secretary for the first secretary of education-designate, Shirley Hufstedler. Soon after, she became a special assistant to Liz Carpenter, the assistant secretary for public affairs. Her final career moves included various writing and communication positions for the National Education Association and NEA-New Mexico.   

A long-time feminist and civil rights activist, Crocker was appointed to the Montgomery County (Maryland) Commission for Women and chaired its committee on pay equity. She was elected as a delegate to the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference. She served in various leadership positions, including president, for the Mexican American Women's National Association, an advocacy organization for Latinas and their families. She also wrote MANA’s history, "One Dream, Many Voices". She worked on both of President Bill Clinton’s national campaigns; the International Women's Year Commission; the President's Advisory Committee on Women; and as a consultant to the Women's Vote Project.

As a freelance writer, Crocker’s stories on Hispanic issues and people have appeared in Vista, Hispanic Magazine, and Hispanic Link Weekly Report, as well as other mainstream publications. Now retired in Wichita, she volunteers for the Active Age, a regional publication exploring the issues and information needs of seniors.