Rodriguez served Latino community for over twenty years

LOS ANGELES, CA - MALDEF mourns the recent passing of another friend and leader; Tillie Rodriguez, a trusted and dedicated servant of the Latino community and MALDEF's national receptionist for over two decades, passed away earlier this week, at the age of 79.

Tillie was an admired member of the MALDEF community. Every day for more than twenty years, she demonstrated her compassion for and commitment to Latinos by rising at 4:30 a.m. every morning to be the first at MALDEF headquarters, ready to serve the cause of advancing Latino rights in the United States. She took pride in her job, and pleasantly responded to countless MALDEF callers each day.

Tillie was so much more than a receptionist at MALDEF. Her combined expertise as a communicator and unmatched kindness were critical to ensuring that MALDEF achieved its mission. She always reassured distressed members of the community not to worry, laying the foundation for the relationship MALDEF continues to have with its clients and others who interact with MALDEF today. Remarkably, Tillie was able to do all of this and raise three successful children, one of whom is a former MALDEF employee. All of her children are continuing their mother's legacy in their personal and professional lives today, protecting the rights of Latinos and other underrepresented communities. Tillie's spirit lives on in them, as well as in all of the MALDEF colleagues she inspired over the years.

The following quotes can be attributed to MALDEF leadership, staff, and supporters.

Antonia Hernandez, President & CEO, California Community Foundation; Former President and General Counsel, MALDEF, 1985-2003
"When I hired Tillie, I had no idea that she would serve for the next quarter of a century at the heart of MALDEF's national office. Tillie was the voice of MALDEF, she understood the mission and the important role she played at MALDEF. I will miss her and her warm smile."

Thomas Reston, MALDEF Board Chair
"Every institution has a heart that beats true, through the decades. MALDEF was lucky to have Tillie Rodriguez there."

The Honorable Vilma S. Martinez, United States Ambassador to Argentina; Former President and General Counsel, MALDEF, 1973-1982
"MALDEF has lost one of its most recognizable and eloquent voices. I have lost a friend."

Joaquin G. Avila, Executive Director of the National Voting Rights Advocacy Initiative, Fred. T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality and Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at Seattle University School of Law; Former President and General Counsel, MALDEF, 1982-1985; MALDEF Staff, 1974-1985
"MALDEF is an institution today. The reason that we are an institution within the Latino community is because of staff who have generously and selflessly given their time and energy to advancing the cause of Latino empowerment. This is true for all levels of employees at MALDEF. Tillie was the voice that was publicly identified as MALDEF to the nation. Her thoughtfulness and genuine concern regarding the mission of MALDEF was demonstrated time and time again in her dealings with the public. As MALDEF's receptionist at the national office, Tillie was a voice that was both informative and reassuring to many of her numerous telephone calls. As a receptionist, Tillie played an integral role as a member of the support staff that made it possible for MALDEF to continue to forcefully advocate on behalf of the Latino community. I will miss her."

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel
"MALDEF has lost a guiding light in Tillie, whose continuous presence through more than half of MALDEF's existence has contributed to the continuity that is one of our greatest organizational strengths. Through her work, she kept us continually connected to the community; through her daily dedication, she kept us tightly tethered to our mission; and through her many years of service, she quintessentially modeled the generous sacrifice that is a hallmark MALDEF value. We will sorely miss her daily presence and pleasance, but we know that she will always be with us as an eternal MALDEFian."

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to MALDEF.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
6:00 pm- 8:00 pm
Bagues and Sons Mortuary
4221 Cesar Chavez Ave.
Los Angeles, A 90063

Mass and Interment:
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
10:30 am
Calvary Mortuary
4201 Whittier Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
1:00 pm
MALDEF National Headquarters
634 S. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," 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