Northern Arizona University will award honorary degrees to an entrepreneur of Navajo small business and a foundation leader committed to higher education and philanthropy during its fall commencement ceremonies Dec. 12 at the NAU Skydome in Flagstaff.
Richard Mike, the co-owner of five restaurants, a gift shop, gas station, convenience store and hotel on the Navajo reservation, will earn an honorary degree for his leadership and commitment to the community during the 9 a.m. ceremony.
Mike earned a bachelor’s degree from Fort Lewis College and pursued advanced graduate studies at Ohio State University. He served as director of the Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance for 10 years before entering the business world with partner Nina Heflin. From a visionary concept of what Navajo people need to do to fully seize their place in the economic mainstream, Mike built an area organization that earned him a place at the table in state and county governments and at the top levels of corporate America.
Mike is a current member of the first Kayenta Township Commission, which led to millions of dollars in sales taxes for new businesses throughout the Navajo Nation. He regularly is called on to testify regarding various legislative initiatives related to small business development, e-commerce and Native American trade issues.
Mike will soon add to his portfolio two more restaurants currently under construction in Cameron and Chinle.
Judy Jolley Mohraz, retired president and CEO of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, will earn an honorary doctoral degree for her commitment to education and her community during the 1 p.m. ceremony.
Mohraz holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Baylor University and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has worked for more than three decades toward ensuring women’s experiences are included in the curriculum from kindergarten through the college level. Mohraz previously served as president of Goucher College in Baltimore. She was a faculty member at Southern Methodist University and also served as associate provost.
Active in local and national organizations in higher education and philanthropy, Mohraz has served on the boards of the Council on Foundations and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. She also was a presidential appointee to the Board of Visitors to the United States Naval Academy and co-chaired the Special Committee to review the Naval Academy. She is committed to engagement and has served as a trustee of the St. Mark’s School of Texas, ChildCare Dallas, Baltimore Community Foundation and the board of directors of Greater Phoenix Leadership.
Mohraz served as the first president and CEO of Piper Trust, a private foundation that supports nonprofits in the areas of health and wellbeing in Maricopa County. She was appointed a trustee in 2012. She also currently chairs the board of Encore.org.