Maria Elena Durazo, General Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights, and Diversity, UNITE HERE International

María Elena Durazo was elected to serve as Executive Secretary-Treasurer on May 15, 2006. Through over 300 local unions, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor represents over 800,000 workers in every key industry, including transportation/goods movement; entertainment/media; services including janitorial and hospitality; education and construction; public sector and retail, to name a few.

The daughter of Mexican immigrant farm workers, Maria Elena learned the importance of hard work and determination at a very young age. As a child, she traveled from Oregon to California with her parents and nine siblings to work in the fields.

Before leading the Federation, Maria Elena was elected as President and built the hotel workers union UNITE-HERE, Local 11, into one of the most active unions in Los Angeles County. Her hard work led her to become the first Latina elected to the Executive Board of HERE International Union in 1996 and eventually in 2004, she became Executive Vice President of UNITE-HERE International.

In 2003, Maria Elena became National Director of the Immigrant Workers’ Freedom Ride, a national mobilization campaign initiated by HERE International to address the nations immigration laws. During that time (2000-2004) she also served on the national AFL-CIO’s Immigration Committee.

Maria Elena has served on several commissions including the Los Angeles City Commission on Airports where she was appointed by Mayor Bradley, followed by her appointment to the Parks and Recreation Committee by Mayor Richard Riordan. She was also appointed to the California State Coastal Commission by former Speaker of the California State Assembly, Herb Wesson.

Last year, Maria Elena also had the great honor of serving as Vice Chair to the 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee and as a National Co-Chair for Senator Barrack Obama’s Presidential Campaign. Currently she serves as Chair of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s appointee to the Los Angeles Economy and Jobs Committee, Board of Directors for LA Inc., the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau and the California League of Conservation Voters.

A resident of Los Angeles, Maria Elena is the mother of two sons, Mario and Michael, grandmother to Seneca and the widow of Miguel Contreras, former Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

Maria Elena is a graduate of St. Mary’s College in Moraga and earned a law degree from the People’s College of Law in 1985.