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Olivia Puentes-Reynolds


Spirit of the Women's Hall of Fame

Olivia Puentes-Reynolds began her work in community service in 1964 when she served for three years in high school as Red Cross President. Her history of civic leadership and community service is expansive – from the Girl Scouts and PTA to tenure as Chair of the Board of Overseers, University of California, San Diego.

Although her upbringing was far from ideal, she overcame adversity through education and hard work. She was the first Latina to graduate with a BA from San Diego State University’s Economics Department and the first in her family to obtain a four-year college degree. It was at SDSU that she was first able to embrace her Mexican heritage. She credits the support of the Chicano community for her personal growth and success.

Her education in Public Administration and Public Health led to a career in city government, with tenures in multiple departments over 33 years. She gained experience in organizational infrastructure and financial management and was known as a consensus builder and collaborator.

She served as San Diego President of MANA, a Latina women’s organization and as a mentor to several middle school Latinas. Through MANA she embraced the richness of Latina sisterhood, as well as the awareness that much work is necessary for Latinas and all women to achieve equity.

Puentes-Reynolds is of mixed heritage. Her mother’s father came to San Diego from Mexico in 1904 (56 years after the USA/Mexican War), and her father’s family from England in 1614 to indigenous land now known as Massachusetts. She hopes that her daughters and grandsons embrace all the richness of their heritage and appreciate all the benefits that it brings.

Olivia plans to continue her community work in the hope of modeling the values of freedom, responsibility, and collective and cultural democracy, to bring about peace which is necessary to make each child safe.

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