María Elena Durazo
María Elena Durazo
General Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights and Diversity
In 1983, Maria Elena Durazo started working at the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) union, Local 11, where she was an organizer. However, in a short time, she launched a campaign to transform the local into a democratic organization that was truly accountable to its membership. Six years later, Maria Elena was elected president. As president, Maria built Local 11 into one of the most active unions in Los Angeles County. In 1996, Maria Elena was the first Latina to be elected to the executive board of HERE international union, and in 2003, she became the national director of the Immigrant Workers’ Freedom Ride, a national campaign to address the nation’s immigration laws. In 2006, Elena became the first woman elected secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, a position she held for nine years. At the federation, she represented the interests of more than 300 local unions and over 600,000 workers in every key industry. In 2010, Maria Elena was elected vice president of the national AFL-CIO executive council, where she served as the first leader of a local labor movement on the highest body of the AFL-CIO. She was also chair of the national AFL-CIO’s immigration committee. In 2015, Maria Elena became the international union vice president for civil rights, diversity, and immigration with UNITE HERE, which currently represents 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada. Maria Elena has been elected to numerous national positions within the democratic national party. She has served on several City of Los Angeles commissions under mayors Tom Bradley, Richard Riordan, and Antonio Villaraigosa. She sits on various boards, including LAANE, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Los Angeles Coalition, and United Way. Maria Elena is a graduate of St. Mary’s College in Moraga and earned a law degree from the People’s College of Law in 1985.