"We were tired of being excluded" from leadership positions in the Chicano movement, Francisca Flores recalled, explaining why the Comision Femenil Mexicana Nacional was formed in 1970. "Women were never nominated for executive offices, so we went off on our own," said Flores, the comision's founder, now 77 and retired in San Diego. The group's first project was the Chicana Service Action Center, "an agency serving low-income, working Chicanas," said Magdalena Beltran, vice president of the group's Los Angeles chapter. With 23 chapters, the comision today sponsors a variety of community service projects and numerous programs to develop leadership among Latinas.
Frank J. Alderete was functionally illiterate when he entered East Los Angeles College, but he went on to earn his Ph.D. in education from USC. Alderete, 47, is the new president of the Los Angeles County Board of Education, an intermediary between county school and community college districts and the State Department of Education. That post and his temporary duties with the Workforce L.A. civic alliance goes well with his interest in ensuring that education meets the needs of the future labor force. "Otherwise," he said, "we are going to hurt our young people if we're not moving in that direction."