Chicago Museum Founder and Legal Advocate to Receive Honorary Degrees From Dominican University
River Forest, IL – The founder of a nationally accredited museum dedicated to Mexican art and a legal advocate for economic and racial justice will receive honorary degrees from Dominican University in River Forest during 2022 commencement exercises.
Carlos Tortolero, president of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, and Audra Wilson, president and CEO of the Chicago-based Shriver Center on Poverty Law, are scheduled to accept Doctor of Humane Letters degrees on May 8.
A former teacher, counselor and administrator in Chicago Public Schools, Tortolero, with a group of fellow educators, founded what would become the National Museum of Mexican Art in 1982. Today, the museum is the largest Latino arts organization in the country and the only Latino museum to receive accreditation by the American Association of Museums.
The mission of the museum is to represent the Mexican community “from its own point of view and in its own voice,” a concept for which Tortolero, a native of Mexico, has firmly advocated since the museum’s inception. Passionate about Mexican and minority representation, Tortolero has called for the arts community to be a leader in the movement for societal equality.
“Part businessman, part storyteller, Carlos Tortolero offers a deep insight into the humanities,” said Dominican University President Dr. Glena G. Temple. “This occasion will be significant for our faculty and graduates because the level of his success elevates the positive self-image of the entire university community.”
Wilson is an attorney who started her career with the Shriver Center on Poverty Law in 1999, focusing on welfare reform and issues of food security. After five years with the organization, she left to serve as deputy press and policy director for Barack Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign.
Wilson is the former director of diversity education and outreach at Northwestern University School of Law, former deputy chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, and former executive director of the League of Women Voters of Illinois.
As president and CEO of the Shriver Center since 2020, Wilson oversees efforts to litigate, change and shape Illinois policies while making equal justice and economic opportunities possible for its citizens. She has called for an end to viewing and treating poverty as a moral failing and advocates for the dismantling of systems that keep people in poverty.
“Audra Wilson understands the challenges of leadership and the satisfactions of making a difference in people’s lives,” Temple said. “I am confident that she will challenge our graduates to think deeply about their choices, and ultimately, about their convictions as they start their own careers.”
About Dominican University
Founded in 1901, Dominican University is a comprehensive, coeducational Catholic institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the Rosary College of Arts and Sciences, the Borra College of Health Sciences, the Brennan School of Business and the College of Applied Social Sciences. The university also offers a doctoral degree in information studies. U.S. News & World Report ranks Dominican University #10 of all Midwest regional master’s level universities, the best value in the Chicago area and #1 in Illinois for ensuring the social mobility of its graduates.