Antonia Hernandez ’70, ’74

Antonia Hernandez is an attorney, activist and philanthropy advocate who has battled for decades to improve the quality of life for Latinx communities. As an immigrant from Mexico who grew up in poverty in East Los Angeles, she experienced inequality first-hand. Her initial work after college as a teacher and activist led her to the law, where she believed she could make the most impact. In 1974, she graduated from the UCLA School of Law, became a member of the California Bar and a United States citizen. She soon represented a class of non-English-speaking women who had been involuntarily sterilized at the Los Angeles General Hospital in Madrigal v. Quilligan, a groundbreaking case that changed consent regulations. After serving as counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee under Senator Ted Kennedy, she continued her activism by representing the underserved as President of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Her landmark legal work on education, employment and redistricting litigation and legislation changed state school financing formulas, provided greater job opportunities for minorities and widened voting rights for Latinx and others throughout the US. She now serves as President and CEO of the California Community Foundation (CCF), one of Southern California’s largest and most active philanthropies serving LA County. During her tenure, CCF has granted nearly $2 billion to programs focusing on positive systemic change and solutions in education, health, housing and immigration issues.

“I’ve had a 45-year career, with every single job that I've loved, doing the thing that I’m passionate about, and that is making the world a little better for others.”

Listen to audio description of Mer Young’s portrait of Antonia