Two KBI board members are honored for their years of service.
By: Roxane Ramos
In September, Frank Grieco and Luis Parra, both founding board members, were honored for their years of service to the Kino Border Initiative. “Frank and Luis have contributed so much to the KBI Board of Directors,” said board chair Jane Lacovara. “As a migration attorney working on both sides of the border, Luis has been such a valuable resource for us. And we’ve benefited from Frank’s deep understanding of the migration experience, growing up near the border and working in the produce industry there. We are so grateful to both of them for six dedicated years of service.”
A 2008 presentation by Father Sean and Mark Potter (now a KBI board member) in Green Valley inspired Frank to join the KBI Board of Directors as a founding member in 2008. As Frank tells it, “It struck a chord because of my years working with migrants.” He grew up in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, and spent his professional life in agriculture, first in the field and in packing houses, then in management. Those decades of experience, from boyhood on, established a deeply ingrained and sensitive familiarity with border culture and the migrant experience. His feelings of kindredness with his immigrant classmates, neighbors, and co-workers as well as a call to serve resulted in a life-long commitment to helping migrant families.
Now retired in Rio Rico, Arizona, Frank’s service to the KBI has been an extension of that calling. He has lent his wisdom and knowledge to board discussions and decisions, and chaired the Building Committee, facilitating a plan to consolidate the KBI’s programs in a single well-organized and safe location. He was also a member of the Finance Committee, chairing it for a time. Frank has appreciated the moving lessons inherent in the work. At the first KBI Christmas dinner when he and other volunteers served a holiday meal to the migrants, one small exchange stood out—the man looked Frank straight in the eyes and expressed his gratitude. Frank says of that moment, “I could see Christ in him, and that man taught me to see Christ in others.”
In addition to his volunteer work addressing migrant needs and border issues, Frank has served in ministries in Southern Arizona since 2005 and, after completing four years of training and receiving his certification, now serves in three parishes and five churches as a Spiritual Director and Lay Ecclesial Minister. He is also certified as a Grief Service Provider and Facilitator. This ministry work has allowed him to share what he knows about the migrant struggle. His wife Suzana also grew up at the border, born in El Paso and raised in Nogales, Sonora, and has often helped with the KBI’s work there. Both Frank and Suzana are Professed lay members of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). They have two grown children—Vincent Grieco in Nashville and Mary Margaret Grieco Pera in Reno.
Luis Fernando Parra:
Luis learned about the KBI and met Father Sean at an introductory Mass at Holy Sacred Heart Church in Nogales, Arizona. A fellowship recipient and graduate of the Jesuit-run Gonzaga University College of Law in Spokane, Washington, with a practice specializing in immigration and international law along the Arizona-Sonora border, Luis was motivated to speak with Father Sean afterwards and offer his assistance to the new organization. He adds, “I was also intrigued by their decision to name the initiative after one of our regions most transformative historical figures, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino.”
A founding board member, Luis has offered his legal expertise and insights to the KBI’s management and planning, and from 2009 to 2014, he served as chair of the KBI Board of Directors. Now that his board service is concluded, his memories lean toward both the everyday inspirational activities, like the opening prayers at board meetings and the shared responses of his fellow board members, as well as bigger events, such as the Mass after a successful annual fundraising dinner when Father Sean challenged the congregation to find in their hearts a compassion for our migrant brothers and sisters, and a conviction to act on their behalf.
Luis’s family history exemplifies the great fluidity of the Arizona-Sonora border. His much loved and admired PapaGrande (grandfather) was born in Nogales, Arizona, and moved to Nogales, Sonora, where he worked in the cattle business. Luis’s life story reverses that migration narrative—he was born in Nogales, Sonora, and raised in Nogales, Arizona. “When people ask,” he says, “I tell them I am from Ambos Nogales.” He went on to complete his J.D. at Arizona State Universtity’s Sandra Day O’Conner College of Law, and is a member of the Nogales Lions Club and the Nogales VFW Post 2066. He lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife of 19 years, Cecy (his “better half,” as he calls her), also an avid supporter of the KBI, and their children Alan Fernando, 16, and Cristabela, 13.