Honorary Degrees

Honorary Degrees

Maria Elena Durazo
  • Maria Elena Durazo
Maria Elena Durazo

Civic Leader/Labor Advocate

California State University, Los Angeles

The story of Maria Elena Durazo mirrors that of many students and alumni at Cal State L.A.

The daughter of Mexican immigrant farmworkers, Ms. Durazo spent her childhood traveling from Oregon to California laboring in the fields with her family. It is there that she would learn the value of hard work before eventually going on to become the first in her family to attend college at Saint Mary's College of California. In 1985, she would receive a law degree from the People's College of Law.

Today, she is one of this region's most prominent civic leaders, serving as the executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. There, she represents more than 300 unions and 600,000 workers in industries that provide transportation and goods movement, entertainment and media, janitorial services, hospitality workers, public sector workers and more.

At Los Angeles City Hall, she is known not only for providing more than half a million working families with a voice - but also as a change agent. She has made an impact through grassroots campaigns, as well as by serving on city commissions under Mayors Tom Bradley, Richard Riordan and Antonio Villaraigosa.

She has also given back significantly to her community as the chair of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and on the boards at United Way and the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. Nationally, Ms. Durazo is a vice chair for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and was a co-chair for President Barack Obama's successful campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

In all these roles, Ms. Durazo has been an outspoken advocate for worker's rights and a tireless crusader against poverty. Her career serves as a model of what can be achieved through education, passion and hard work. And Ms. Durazo stands as an embodiment of the university's dedication to engagement, service and the public good.

In recognition of her accomplishments as a longtime Los Angeles civic leader, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Los Angeles are proud to confer upon Maria Elena Durazo the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.