CENTER FOR EMPLOYMENT TRAINING ‘FAMILY’ HONORS HIM
March 22, 1991
By Yolanda Reynolds
Dr. Anthony Soto, academic (philosophy, archaeology. sociology, history), community leader, religious leader, writer and community Volunteer, is retiring from serving on the Governing Board of the Center for Employment Training (CET). Soto helped found CET in 1967 and has long served on the Board of this internationally acclaimed job training program.
Dr. Soto has served as the CET Governing Board Chairman for almost 24 years. The new chairman of this 24-member Governing Board is Joseph Medal, a teacher and coach at Independence High School. CET also has a large Industrial Board which is made up of representatives from most of the major companies based in Santa Clara Valley.
The CET program has been very successful in training people for employment and has been identified by the Rockefeller Foundation as a model program in employment training and CET has been singled out as a model for job training programs both here and abroad.
Dr. Soto was born in Tucson, Arizona on October 22, 1921. His ancestors were long time residents of that area, having lived there long before the Mexican-American War which ended with that part of Mexico, northern Sonora, becoming part of the United States and now the state of Arizona. Dr. Soto’s Grandfather, Ramon Soto, was also active in community affairs. Ramon Soto was the founder, in 1874, of the “Alianza Hispano Americana” in the Tucson area.
Upon completion of his studies for the priesthood, Soto became professor of Philosophy and Social Science at the main Franciscan Seminary at San Luis Rey College in Oceanside, California.
After 25 years in the priesthood, Soto left the order. He continued his academic studies throughout those years and completed a doctorate in Sociology in Berkeley in 1978.
Dr. Soto is the author of many articles and has also written a book, “The Chicano and the Church.” Aside from Soto’s interest in religious and philosophical studies, he has had a life long interest in the history of the southwest and has written for publication numerous articles on archaeology, anthropology and early day California history. He is the author of over twenty published scholarly articles on these subjects. The archaeological work that Soto conducted in the Oceanside area is still used as reference for the study of that area’s early history and archaeology.
Dr. Soto is considered to be one of a number of noted Hispanics from Santa Clara County who is featured in the soon to be published book, “Solidarity, Hispanic Senior Citizens.
Authors of the book “Solidarity…” Shirley I. Fisher and Mary J. Andrade state that (Soto) deplores the neglect by the present city and county administration of the historical contributions of the Mexican people. Soto wrote an article about the Almaden Quicksilver Mines in south San Jose where he says Mexican made up most of the 2,000 workers at that mine which was the world’s second largest producer of mercury or quicksilver. Soto also states that it was a Mexican army officer who discovered the quicksilver there in 1846. Such information is not commonly known.
Quicksilver was very important then (during the gold rush) because quicksilver is used in extracting the gold from gold ore. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the local Indians used the mine area for the cinnabar that is found there.
While serving as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, which he founded in 1962, Soto also helped found CET. Soto, along with community colleague, Russ Tershey, led CET towards recognition worldwide.
Soto, Tershey and the CET “family” have earned the heartfelt gratitude of its thousands of students who benefited from the valuable training and job placement provided by CET. CET does not consider a student a “graduate of their program” until they have been successful in a job placement commensurate with their job training for a month.
Since it start in 1967, CET has trained and placed over 50,000 students. It has over 30 CET branches in five western states.
CET also has a fund raising arm, DURA Enterprises, which helps CET maintain a very large and up-to-date training program. CET does receive public and private grants but supplements that support as much as possible.
DURA Enterprises is proceeding with the construction of a Mercado for its old downtown headquarters (behind the new San Jose Convention Center). Progress had been stalled on that project because the previous San Jose mayor had wanted that location for additional parking for the new Convention Center. This past December, the Redevelopment Agency withdrew the $10 million set aside to purchase CET’s property.
The Mercado is expected to meet many different needs. It will provide additional goods for the many downtown residents (particularly Latinos) who found many of the stores they patronized removed from the “redeveloped downtown.” The Mercado will also provide a location for aspiring small business people to begin their businesses. DURA Enterprises and its parent, CET, plan to provide technical, administrative and advertising training and assistance to aspiring business persons at the Mercado.
The Mercado is designed to be like the famous Mercado in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Dr. Soto is a very modest person and attributes the success of the many projects he has been involved in to others. That is the mark of a true leader. Dr. Soto is a very young 69 years old and will probably write even more books and articles than he has in the past. His departure from the position of Chairman of the Governing Board of CET will not be the end of his involvement with CET.
Soto has accepted the responsibility of National Chairman of Strategic Planning for CET. This is a new horizon for CET, such planning became necessary because of enormous national interest in the development of job training programs similar to CET throughout the United States and abroad. In fact, this April 17, 18 and 19th existing Job Training Program (JTP) Administrators will be meeting for a three day series of workshops to study and learn more about the highly acclaimed CET program.
Soto married his wife, Phyllis Armas, in 1974 at the Guadalupe Church. They have two children and one grandchild.
Soto has two sisters, one living in Southern California, the other in Tucson and a brother, Ernesto, a noted lithograph artist living in San Francisco.
The CET “family” will host this evening a celebration to thank Dr. Soto for his many years of service with a dinner and dance Friday, March 22 at CET’s Vine Street location. They said “for you (Dr. Soto) have made a difference in your life of action, everything you do remains forever.”
For more information on CET the telephone number is 287-7924.