Joanne Pementil Tawfilis

Honorary Degrees


San Marcos​

Joanne Pementil Tawfilis has long been a passionate advocate for youth and has dedicated her life to unifying people through the language of the arts in a meaningful, fulfilling way.

Ms. Tawfilis spent most of her career as a United Nations executive and is a former director of the Women of Srebrenica Project in the former Yugoslavia. Her work took her to Bosnia in the mid-1990s, which proved to be a life-changing experience.

During her time in Bosnia, Ms. Tawfilis volunteered for a few hours several times a week facilitating art lessons at a local orphanage. Working with 350 orphans from the war-torn country, she used the only materials available–a 10-gallon can of white wall paint and bed sheets riddled with bullet holes–to create canvases for the children to paint murals.

That experience led to the creation of the Art Miles Mural Project, which works with schools throughout the world to help incorporate art into curriculum. The Art Miles Mural Project has facilitated the completion of more than 5,000 murals painted by more than 500,000 participants from 125 countries. The project has grown to include a permanent space for the Muramid Mural Museum and Art Center in Oceanside, CA.

Ms. Tawfilis has partnered with California State University San Marcos on numerous projects since 2012. She has been a speaker for the University’s Arts & Lectures Series and led a project for students after the Sandy Hook tragedy to create 14 murals that were displayed in the Connecticut Capitol building. She has also facilitated mural paintings for many University events, including Discover CSUSM Day and Voices for Hope Suicide Prevention Week. Most recently, Ms. Tawfilis has served as a mentor for Cal State San Marcos’ Tukwut Leadership Circle to facilitate art projects at local nonprofit Mountain Shadows Outreach Services.

In recognition of her outstanding accomplishments and her dedication to promoting peace through art, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University San Marcos are proud to confer upon Joanne Pementil Tawfilis the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.​​​