History of the Awards

Senator Pete Suazo, was born and raised in Salt Lake City. He attended the University of Utah, earning his bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and his master’s degree in Human Resource Management.

Through political advocacy, he worked to enact or change laws aimed at attacking the dynamics of race, class, and gender that kept people in the state from living the American Dream. He was elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 1992, then again in 1994. In 1996 Senator Suazo was elected to the Utah State Senate where he continued to fight for Utah’s Latino/Hispanic population.

Senator Pete Suazo was a ceaseless advocate for civil rights and social justice. He worked to bring about social change in many ways. He started special programs, such as a boxing league for youth, participated in Neighborhood and Mobile Watch, was a Jr. Jazz, T-Ball, and Little League Coach, and worked with a gang prevention center.

In August of 2001, Senator Suazo was killed in a tragic ATV accident while hunting. His wife, Alicia Suazo, was asked by delegates at the Utah Democratic convention to finish Senator Suazo’s term in office. The Pete Suazo Social Justice Award was created in 2002 by the University of Utah College of Social Work, the award honoring his work and the work of those who continue the battle for social justice.

In 2014, the College of Social Work, along with the Suazo family, made the decision to move forward with the Pete Suazo Social Justice Awards under a new name. The College of Social Work will to continue to recognize individuals and organizations who work to advance social justice advocacy and action – the individuals and organizations who keep “Moving It Forward.”