“Alma opened doors and changed lives. Her commitment to equity and opportunity in higher education and workforce development was an inspiration to many.” Those were the words of California Governor Gavin Newsom as he remembered Dr. Alma Salazar, who will be honored posthumously as the 2020 Regional Steward Leader Award at the 2020 California Economic Summit being held this week.
A longtime partner of the California Economic Summit and co-chair of the Workforce Action Team, Dr. Salazar passed away in October after a hard-fought battle with cancer.
“Alma was a dedicated leader of our Economic Summit Workforce Action Team that produced one of our most impactful achievements, which is the Strong Workforce Program,” said CA FWD President and CEO Micah Weinberg. “She was a compassionate, friendly and effective leader both at the regional and state levels.”
Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO of Futuro Health, co-chaired the Workforce Action Team with Dr. Salazar. “Alma prided herself in being a great connector and a translator between all the different worlds in the L.A. region. She could speak with business, with diverse community organizations as well with labor, public entities and agencies.” She added, “It was not just talk. The mark of leadership and regional leadership is whether you can advance the agenda of the region, which she did.”
Governor Newsom appointed Dr. Salazar to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. She also served as Board Chair for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, served on the City of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board’s Sector Oversight & Certification Committee and Youth Council, on the Statewide Advisory Committee for California Cash for College, on the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation’s Workforce Development Committee, and on the Regional Economic Association Leaders of California Coalition’s (REAL Coalition) Education & Workforce Development Committee. Salazar was also one of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ Emerging Leaders and a founding member of the Calbright College Board of Trustees. Earlier this year Dr. Salazar was honored as a National Skills Award Winner from the National Skills Coalition.
In her day job, Dr. Salazar was the executive vice president of UNITE-LA, where she focused on education and workforce development. “Because of her efforts, the youth of today and generations to come of Los Angeles, California and the nation have a better future. Her list of accomplishments would be too numerous to include here,” said David Rattray, CEO and president of UNITE-LA. “She always put L.A.’s youth first – particularly the marginalized, underserved and undocumented. Alma also never wanted any attention for any of her remarkable successes and most likely be none too pleased with this attention.”
“Alma was my mentor, my leader and most importantly, one of my dearest friends. She always set the bar high for me and my colleagues and then provided every bit of guidance, direction and help to ensure we would reach it,” said Claudine Battisti, UNITE-LA’s vice president of marketing and communications. “Alma always had our backs – and not only because she was our dear friend but also because she knew our work directly impacted the underserved and marginalized youth of L.A.”
Dr. Salazar is survived by her partner and her six-year-old son, Noah, who as a first grader, has already been accepted to the California State University at Los Angeles, by CSULA’s president William Covino. In his letter, Covino wrote, “Your mom was one of the greatest people I’ve ever known.”
If you would like to honor Dr. Salazar, The Alma Salazar Scholarship Fund has been established in her memory to help more students go to college. Donations can be made by sending a check to UNITE-LA with “Alma Salazar Scholarship” in the memo to 1055 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1750, Los Angeles, CA 90017, or through this link.
Congratulations to Dr. Alma Salazar and thank you for all the work you have done to move California forward.