Ambassador Vilma Martinez (left) Thomas A. Saenz (center) and Antonia Hernández (right).
(Photo taken at MALDEF’s 50th Anniversary Gala in San Antonio, Texas.)
As we near the conclusion of Women’s History Month, MALDEF celebrates its organizational history of women in leadership. For the majority of its existence since 1968, MALDEF has been led by women as president and general counsel. Women’s rights organizations aside, MALDEF may be the only national civil rights organization that can make that claim. We spoke with two of these women leaders, women relied upon by MALDEF through their many years of leadership and all the way up to today. MALDEF’s current president and general counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, has benefitted from both these leaders as professional mentors throughout his legal career.
Vilma Martinez and Antonia Hernández each served as president and general counsel of MALDEF, and helped define the organization’s role as the legal voice for the Latino community. Combined, they led MALDEF for 28 years of its 52-year history, securing landmark rulings and public policy gains that have advanced the rights of all Latinos living in the United States.