November 7, 2018

Los Angeles, CA - Leo Estrada, associate professor emeritus of urban planning at UCLA and a fierce advocate for voting rights, civil rights, and political representation for Latinos, died on Nov. 3 after a lengthy illness. Please attribute the following statement on Professor Estrada’s passing to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):

“MALDEF mourns the passing of Prof. Leo Estrada this past Saturday. Estrada had been a central partner, advisor, and friend of MALDEF for several decades – through over half of our organization’s now 50-year existence. Professor Estrada served as an expert witness in many of MALDEF’s most important voting rights cases; in addition, he regularly and selflessly provided advice and assistance to MALDEF’s leaders on a variety of important matters. He was a brilliant professor, a genius demographer, and a consummate activist – that rare academic who ensured throughout his career that his work included application in the real world to promote the advancement of the Latinx community and the betterment of all society.

“Losing Leo, particularly at too young an age, leaves a critical vacuum in the network of partners relied upon by MALDEF. This would create great concern, except that Leo, throughout his career, mentored and counselled so many colleagues and students, inside and outside of academia, that he leaves a substantial group of leaders who can and will step up to help to partially fill the void. The legacy of Leo Estrada – in his own unmatched contributions, as well as in the many who benefitted from his advice in their own career development – is absolutely secure, yet the loss through his passing remains deep and poignant. I and the entire MALDEF community send our heartfelt condolences to Ivelisse and Leo’s entire family.”

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund