19 May Gloria Molina, A Trailblazing Chicana Champion
Above Photo Credit: Penni Gladstone / Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and Councilmember-elect Gloria Molina in L.A. on Feb. 12, 1987.
By Community Coalition’s Communications Staff
Sheroes remind us that we can make a difference in a world that often feels dark and hopeless. Gloria Molina was a trailblazing Chicana activist whose contributions to public service have inspired people nationwide. She gave us hope that we could overcome even the most difficult challenges.
Gloria became a community activist in college. She continued that activism as Chair of the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional de Los Ángeles. She played an essential role in creating the Chicana Action Service Center, fighting to advance rights for Chicanas. In an area that men have historically dominated, she holds a streak of many firsts for women in politics,
She made history in 1982 when she became the first Latina elected to the California State Assembly. She served in the Assembly for six years, during which time she was a strong advocate for education, healthcare, and workers’ rights. Then, against all odds, in 1986, she became the first Latina on the Los Angeles City Council. Finally, in 1991, Molina made history again when she was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, becoming the first Latina to hold that position. As a Supervisor, she focused on improving access to healthcare, protecting the environment, and promoting economic development in underserved communities.
Her impact on Los Angeles County has been significant. She played a vital role in creating the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which has become a nationwide model for public health departments. She also helped to establish the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which has transformed the region’s public transportation system.
Molina’s commitment to public service continued after her time on the Board of Supervisors. In 2001, Governor Gray Davis appointed her to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. She also served as a member of the California Transportation Commission and the California Coastal Commission. Her contributions to public service have been recognized with numerous awards and honors.
In 1995, she was named one of Time Magazine’s “50 Most Promising Leaders Under 40.” 2006 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. And in 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. But Molina’s impact goes beyond her impressive resume. She has been a powerful voice for the Latino community, advocating for more representation and equity in government and society, and she was also a mentor and role model for countless young people.
She was a shero that was a role model for us all to emulate. Her commitment to public service, advocacy for the Latino community, and trailblazing achievements paved the way for many and future elected leaders.