27 Years of Remarkable Service

10 Jun 27 Years of Remarkable Service

By Alberto Retana PresidentCEO

With profound gratitude and a full heart, I share the news that after 27 years of remarkable service, Aurea Montes-Rodríguez will step down as Executive Vice President of Community Coalition on June 30, 2024. She has made an indelible mark on the lives of South Los Angeles residents, staff, and organizational allies and will be deeply missed.   

Aurea was born in Michoacan, Mexico, and came to South Central in 1978 when she was three.  After graduating high school, she attended UCLA for her B.A. and MSW.

Aurea joined the Community Coalition team as an intern in 1997 and has been changing the game ever since.  Let me share just a handful of her groundbreaking and impactful accomplishments: 

She organized CoCo’s first Gala Dinner when it was a nascent practice for most social justice organizations. 

Aurea Montes-Rodríguez at CoCo’s Freedom Schools

She led Kinship in Action, a landmark organizing project that mobilized relative caregivers and helped secure tens of millions of dollars to keep children in family care and out of the foster care system.

She led campaigns in LAUSD that moved hundreds of millions of dollars to the highest-needs schools in Los Angeles, many in South and East Los Angeles. 

She established Community Coalition’s Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School program, which serves more than 1,000 Black and Latine students to nurture their love of reading and build a leadership pipeline.

She led a capital campaign that successfully purchased and transformed CoCo’s headquarters into a state-of-the-art community hub for organizing.  Recently, under her leadership, the organization purchased a second building that will serve as the future home of Community Coalition’s Center for Community Organizing.   

She launched CoCo’s Community Organizing Fellowship Programs, which have trained over 150 organizers since 2018.

She mentored and supported the leadership of hundreds of community residents, youth, and staff. 

In 2022, she was awarded the Stanton Fellowship for an inquiry into gender and women’s leadership.

And the list could go on and on…

Aurea’s impact on South Los Angeles is life-changing and life-saving. She is a leader who models, lives and breathes multiracial solidarity. Aurea’s service has left a permanent impact on the organizational DNA. What she leaves for us is a lineage of love, compassion, mentorship, and fierce leadership that we carry forward. 

We can’t wait to see what is next for Aurea because we know it will be excellent, meaningful, and transformative.  Until then, we will celebrate her legacy through tears, with laughter and joy, and with our eyes on how her leadership will affect the time on the “clock of the world.”

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