LA-based Latino civil rights group MALDEF leaderless again

The 41-year-old Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund announced today that it’s named an interim chief as it embarks on a national search for a new leader. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.

The 41-year-old Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund announced today that it’s named an interim chief as it embarks on a national search for a new leader. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: John Trasviña leaves MALDEF, as it’s known, after nearly three years as president and general counsel. On his watch, the civil rights group won back wages for California construction workers, and opposed local ordinances that denied rental housing to illegal immigrants. MALDEF also helped win monetary settlements for people struck by Los Angeles Police Department officers at a MacArthur Park rally almost two years ago.

John Trasviña’s headed to Washington D.C. President Obama’s appointed him to lead a division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He would have been the second MALDEFian in the Obama Administration.

The president withdrew an offer to former MALDEF lawyer Tom Saenz to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division after anti-immigrant groups and lawmakers accused Saenz of advocating for open borders.

MALDEF board member Henry Solano, the former U.S. attorney in Colorado, will lead MALDEF while the board searches for a replacement. A former staffer says MALDEF needs a leader with more star power than legal chops – because as a non-profit, the chief’s top priority is to bring in the money that pays for the organization’s work.

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