Our Story

Latino Legacy Foundation

The Latino Legacy Foundation was incorporated in the State of California on April 30, 2020, to preserve our history and recognize the contributions and achievements that people of Latino heritage have made and are continuing to make every day for the betterment of humanity.

The LLF is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit tax-exempt organization, based in San Diego, California.

The genesis of the LLF dates back to 1994, with the creation of 100 Portraits: Pioneers, Visionaries and Role Models, a community collaborative, traveling photographic exhibit, and soft-cover book (later published in 2001) that highlighted the contributions of San Diego’s Mexican-American community—the first pictorial exhibit and book of its kind at the time.
This self-esteem project was in response to anti-immigrant sentiments from Proposition 187, which perpetuated negative stereotypes of people of Mexican heritage.

Since then, much has changed for the better, though issues and events that negatively impact the daily lives of Latinos have come into sharper and, at times, alarming focus, such as the 2020 Pandemic and the 2024 Winter Storms.

While San Diego’s Latino base is still predominantly Mexican-American, the Latino and Hispanic community is more diverse, resulting in the richness of our community.

Consider that since 1994, San Diego county’s population has grown from more than 2.4 million to more than 3.3 million. Of that number, Latinos/Hispanics comprise 34 percent of the general population.

The creator & producer of the “100 Portraits,” Emmy award-winning journalist and producer, Maria Velasquez, believed it was time to look back, look at the present, and look ahead.

The Latino Legacy Foundation was founded with a group of colleagues and friends who embraced the mission.

Founding Board of Directors

A seven-member volunteer board of directors governs the activities of the Latino Legacy Foundation.

Maria Velasquez

President & Chair
Maria Velasquez Communications
Emmy Award-Winning Television Journalist & Producer

Richard Ybarra 

Vice Chair
CEO Mission Neighborhood Centers,
San Francisco, CA
Former Executive Assistant to César Chavez

Ricardo Flores

Secretary & Treasurer
Executive Director LISC San Diego

Edward Lopez

Board Member
Executive Director UCAN
Board Member San Diego Unified School District (1996-2004)

Maria Nieto Senour, Ph.D.

Board Member
Former President, San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees
Professor Emerita San Diego State University

Joseph Martinez

Board Member
Award-winning Architect
Author & Academician

George Saldamando

Board Member
SDPD Assistant Police Chief, Retired