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Dolores Huerta

Moderated by Reverend Miguel Bustos

Speaker - Dolores Huerta

Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association, Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta is one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement.  

Born on April 10, 1930, in Dawson, New Mexico, Huerta was the second of three children of Alicia and Juan Fernandez, a farm worker and miner who became a state legislator in 1938. Her parents divorced when Huerta was three years old, and her mother moved to Stockton, California with her children. Huerta’s grandfather helped raise Huerta and her two brothers while her mother juggled jobs as a waitress and cannery worker until she could buy a small hotel and restaurant. Alicia’s community activism and compassionate treatment of workers greatly influenced her daughter.

Discrimination also helped shape Huerta. A schoolteacher, prejudiced against Hispanics, accused Huerta of cheating because her papers were too well-written. In 1945 at the end of World War II, white men brutally beat her brother for wearing a Zoot-Suit, a popular Latino fashion. 

Huerta received an associate teaching degree from the University of the Pacific’s Delta College. She briefly taught school in the 1950s, but seeing so many hungry farm children coming to school, she thought she could do more to help them by organizing farmers and farm workers.

In 1955 Huerta began her career as an activist when she co-founded the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization (CSO), which led voter registration drives and fought for economic improvements for Hispanics. She also founded the Agricultural Workers Association. Through a CSO associate, Huerta met activist César Chávez, with whom she shared an interest in organizing farm workers. In 1962, Huerta and Chávez founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), the predecessor of the United Farm Workers’ Union (UFW), which formed three year later. Huerta served as UFW vice president until 1999.

Despite ethnic and gender bias, Huerta helped organize the 1965 Delano strike of 5,000 grape workers and was the lead negotiator in the workers’ contract that followed. Throughout her work with the UFW, Huerta organized workers, negotiated contracts, advocated for safer working conditions including the elimination of harmful pesticides. She also fought for unemployment and healthcare benefits for agricultural workers. Huerta was the driving force behind the nationwide table grape boycotts in the late 1960s that led to a successful union contract by 1970.

In 1973, Huerta led another consumer boycott of grapes that resulted in the ground-breaking California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which allowed farm workers to form unions and bargain for better wages and conditions. Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, Huerta worked as a lobbyist to improve workers’ legislative representation. During the 1990s and 2000s, she worked to elect more Latinos and women to political office and has championed women’s issues.

The recipient of many honors, Huerta received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award in 1998 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. As of 2015, she was a board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, and the President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Moderator - Reverend Miguel Bustos

Born and raised in the Mission District of San Francisco, Miguel Bustos has a unique blend of public and private sector experience, transforming challenges into opportunities.

Miguel has partnered with diverse local, national, and international stakeholders. He has employed the power of inspiration, networking, and convening to spur equitable engagement, empathy, solutions, and deeper connections with others on this unique journey. Partnerships included community, businesses, faith groups, academia, philanthropy, and government. Miguel's relationships among local and international networks allowed him to influence these connections for the common good.

In 1995, Miguel was appointed one of four advisors to President Clinton on Youth and HIV/AIDS. Together, they wrote a policy report entitled "Youth and HIV/AIDS: An American Agenda," investigating the physical and mental health of adolescents at-risk or affected by HIV/AIDS. The report furnished recommendations to the President, Members of Congress, local officials, and leaders who influence young people's lives.

In 1997, Miguel was promoted to the Office of the Vice President. He became Policy Advisor to Mrs. Gore, advising her on health, education, and community development issues. In addition, he served as one of the Vice President's key advisors and liaisons to the Latino, Native American, and LGBT Communities.

His career highlights include his work as Executive Director of the California Latino Civil Rights Network. And role as Program Officer for the Marguerite Casey Foundation, where he researched and evaluated grantees, working with Latino, Native American, Asian, African-American, and LGBT communities, and analyzing and educating grantees on public policy. His regions included California, the Southwest, U.S./Mexico Border, and Native American reservations and communities.

In 2004, Miguel became Deputy Director and Grants Manager for Congresswoman Barbara Lee, managing her District Office and federal grants process. In 2007, he was appointed Director of Boards and Commissions for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. From 2008 to 2010, he served as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. He directed all policy and initiatives through the government-to-government process, requiring coordination of local, state, federal, and international governments.

Miguel also held the title of Senior Program Manager for the Americas at the Levi Strauss Foundation, managing grantmaking for the Foundation's global giving areas of HIV/AIDS, anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, financial education, workers' rights, and human rights throughout the U.S., Latin America, and Canada.

Most recently, Miguel was Chief of Global Initiatives and Senior Director of the Center for Social Justice at the Glide Foundation. He oversaw the expansion of the Center's work, including growing Glide's advocacy and policy-related efforts, racial reconciliation, increasing community engagement, legal clinic, and enhancing Glide's famous volunteer program.

Currently, Miguel is The Episcopal Church’s Manager for Racial Reconciliation and Justice for the U.S. and Latin America. Based in San Francisco, he is a respected racial and social justice leader with deep experience mobilizing people and resources to inspire humanity through love and inclusion.

He is active on the following boards:  San Francisco Foundation and MTV Staying Alive Foundation.

He is a non-active Emeritus Board Member of the following: Hispanics in Philanthropy.

Miguel holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Holy Names University, a Master of Arts in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from the School of International Service at The American University, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), with a concentration in Global Corporate Social Responsibility from St. Mary's College of California. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Holy Names University.

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