By Rhonda Bodfield –
2016 Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Man of the Year
Oscar Lizardi’s younger years were shaped by his family’s two fundamental priorities: education and community service.
“I was raised in a family whose philosophy was to give back to the community,” said Lizardi, a corporate and commercial transactional lawyer with the law firm of Rusing, Lopez & Lizardi. He is being honored as the 2016 Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Hispanic Business Man of the Year.
Lizardi’s mother, a longtime elementary school teacher, and his father, an associate school superintendent who was deeply involved in the community, raised Lizardi in Nogales. His youth was peppered with clothing drives, food drives, raising money for a local orphanage and so many other causes.
He continued that spirit of service as an adult, connected with a long list of community organizations, many of which support children who are underprivileged or in distress, including Child & Family Resources, the Children’s Action Alliance, San Miguel High School, the Tucson Conquistadores, Angel Charity for Children and Tu Nidito.
He also served on the state Board of Directors for Community Colleges, drawn by the impact education and workforce development have on economic and social issues.
“It’s important to me that we lend a hand to the less fortunate, but it’s really through education and economic development that we can address many social concerns,” Lizardi said. “Education can impact so many socio-economic issues, whether it’s families who are hungry or homeless, healthcare, joblessness or violence. If we could just focus on making children’s lives better by creating the best education system we can, the rest will follow.”
Despite loving to travel, and the fact his two adult daughters have left home for college, Tucson remains home. “We have close to 1 million people here, yet Tucson still has that small town feel,” Lizardi said. “Our roots, longstanding relationships, and the feeling that Tucsonans have a one-for-all and all-for-one commitment to community make this city so special.”
Lea Marquez Peterson, president and CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber, said she was thrilled to honor Lizardi for his contributions to the community, noting he has been engaged in the Chamber for many years and served previously on its board. “He is an active and visible community leader and provides great support to the community,” she said.
Lizardi said he remains humbled and honored to receive the award. “It means a lot to me to follow in the footsteps of other honorees, many of whom I know and work with in the community. I am very grateful for the honor.”