In Memoriam: Leo Estrada, Urban Planning Scholar and Champion of Diversity His life and 40-year career at UCLA were marked by civic engagement, leadership and giving back

By Stan Paul

Leo Estrada, associate professor emeritus of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, died Nov. 3, 2018, following a lengthy illness. He was 73.

Estrada came to UCLA in 1977, joining the faculty of what was then UCLA’s Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning under the late Harvey Perloff, who was known as the dean of American urban planners.

A native of El Paso, Texas, Estrada had held academic appointments previously at the University of North Texas, University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Michigan. He received his undergraduate degree from Baylor University and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Florida State University.

During his decades of service at UCLA, Estrada was recognized as an expert demographer and an urban planning researcher and teacher. He also was a fierce and effective advocate for Latino voting, civil rights and representation, said UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura, and someone who made huge contributions to UCLA.

“Throughout his career, Leo Estrada distinguished himself as a mentor, adviser and advocate for the careers of countless young planners and scholars, many students and faculty of color, and so much more,” Segura said.

Professor of urban planning Vinit Mukhija said he remembers Estrada for his compassion, generosity and commitment. Mukhija, now chair of urban planning, recalled that Estrada went out of his way to help him navigate through his first year as an assistant professor at UCLA. “That’s just one thing on a very personal level that I am grateful for,” Mukhija said.

Estrada’s selflessness extended not only to faculty, but to staff, students and beyond, Mukhija said.

“Leo was pretty much on campus every day, and he had a sign-up sheet on his office door that included all the days of the week, for many hours — just way beyond what the expectation was and what the practice was in terms of accessibility to students.” Mukhija said. “That was just another remarkable thing — he did that at the undergraduate level, the graduate level and the doctoral level. And I don’t know how many dissertation committees he did, but he seemed to be one of the busiest.”

Mukhija said that people “change the culture of a place, and Leo was along those lines. Definitely, he primarily led by example, but I think he encouraged people to be helpful to others as well.”

What also stood out to Mukhija was that “Leo was always the calmest person in the room. And yet, there was no question that he was engaged. He did that in a remarkable way that is almost peerless.”

In addition to teaching courses about planning for minority communities and geographic information systems, for a number of years the tireless Estrada led intensive undergraduate urban planning travel study trips to Geneva, Switzerland during the summer term.

Following a role on UCLA Academic Senate’s undergraduate council, Estrada stepped up to serve as chair of the senate during the 2015–16 academic year.

In his professional work, Estrada applied his skills in mapping to redistricting issues for cities across the country and provided expertise on ethnic and racial groups for the U.S. Census Bureau, where he held titles such as special assistant to the chief of the population division and as staff assistant to the deputy director. He also participated in numerous national studies, including an evaluation of the U.S. Standard of Live Birth for the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

Following the beating of Rodney King in 1991, Estrada was called by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley to serve on the Christopher Commission to examine the use of force by the Los Angeles Police Department. Describing the experience as “incredible,” Estrada later said that it was “one of the most important moments of my history and life here in Los Angeles.”

Estrada served on numerous advisory boards, including U.S. Census Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Latino Issues Forum, the Aspen Institute, National Association of Hispanic Elderly, the California Policy Research Institute, the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, and the California Endowment. He also was a former member on the national board of AARP, New Economics for Women, the National Association of Childcare Resource and Referral Agencies, and Hispanics in Philanthropy.

Other nonprofit advisory boards he served on included the Pew Charitable Trust’s Global Stewardship Initiative, the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, the Southern California Association of Governments, and Los Angeles World Airports. In 2013 he was named to the board of directors of SCAN Health Plan.

In June, a retirement celebration for Estrada was held to recognize his decades of scholarship, service and accomplishments at UCLA.

Commenting at that time in a story to commemorate his career, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, a longtime UCLA Luskin colleague and urban planning professor, described Estrada as “a giant on many different fronts.”

“He has been an inspiring teacher and a mentor to an endless number of UCLA students and a role model to many Latino and minority students,” she said.

Loukaitou-Sideris, who is also associate provost for academic planning at UCLA, noted that Estrada was one of the first urban planning scholars to teach and institutionalize courses about diversity and planning.

“As a brilliant demographer, he was also instrumental in confronting gerrymandering and giving ethnic communities equal representation in California and other states around the country,” she said.

“It was my privilege to know him,” Segura said in an announcement to the UCLA Luskin community. “We extend our deepest sympathies to the Estrada family. Leo will be profoundly missed.”

A private family ceremony will be held. UCLA Luskin is planning to host a campus memorial service for Estrada at a later date.

Leo Estrada: ‘A Giant on Many Fronts’ Former colleagues reflect on the late Urban Planning scholar's 40-year legacy as a researcher, teacher, mentor and role model

By Stan Paul

Leo Estrada was a fierce and effective advocate for Latino voting, civil rights and representation prior to his death in November 2018. For 40 years before his retirement in June 2018, Estrada devoted his time and talent to research and teaching new generations of urban planners. But, for the Texas native who first arrived at UCLA in 1977, his career was also marked from the beginning by civic engagement, leadership and giving back.

Estrada was “a giant on many different fronts,” Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, a longtime Luskin School colleague and urban planning professor, said prior to his death. “He has been an inspiring teacher and a mentor to an endless number of UCLA students and a role model to many Latino and minority students.”

A June 11, 2018, retirement celebration in honor of Estrada recognized his decades of scholarship, service and accomplishments as an associate professor at UCLA and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Estrada was one of the first urban planning scholars to teach and institutionalize courses about diversity and planning, said Loukaitou-Sideris, who is also associate provost for academic planning at UCLA.

“As a brilliant demographer, he was also instrumental in confronting gerrymandering and giving ethnic communities equal representation in California and other states around the country,” she said.

“As if these accomplishments have not been enough, Leo has also served on a number of important university shared-governance posts,” Loukaitou-Sideris said at the time. His most recent leadership post was no small assignment — guiding the direction of UCLA for years to come as chair of the Academic Senate in 2015-16.

UCLA Luskin colleague Fernando Torres-Gil said last spring that Estrada also conducted pioneering work in the fields of gerontology and Latino aging.

“As a young graduate student I came to know about Leo Estrada,” said Torres-Gil, professor of public policy and social welfare. “He was completing his dissertation at Florida State at a time when the field of aging was new and no one had investigated the demographic and social issues of an emerging population — Latinos.”

His former colleague had “the foresight to raise issues of Latino aging, support budding graduate students like myself and become a co-founder of important Hispanic advocacy groups.”

Torres-Gil, director of the UCLA Luskin-based Center for Policy Research on Aging,  said of Estrada: “I owe much to his early mentoring, to his friendship and, best of all, to becoming colleagues in the Luskin School.”

According to Torres-Gil, Estrada was among the first and longest-serving Latinos in the Luskin School and its earlier iterations of Social Welfare and Urban Planning at UCLA.

UCLA and Beyond the Gates

Estrada had been at UCLA during its growth into one of the pre-eminent universities in the world.

“When I came here, I would consider UCLA to be one of the better schools in the United States,” Estrada said prior to his retirement ceremony. “As I leave now, in the year 2018, it is one of the best. And so I’m very proud because I participated in some aspects of that all along the way.”

The Leo Estrada fellowship fund at the Luskin School of Public Affairs
will support graduate students in the department of
Urban Planning with an unmet financial need who are from cultural,
racial, linguistic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds that are
underrepresented in graduate education.

Estrada had felt called to engage in the issues, events and protests around him. When he arrived at UCLA, he said last spring, “There was always something happening, and every place I had been to earlier discouraged the faculty from community involvement.”

But Estrada encountered a different attitude in an interview with his first boss at UCLA, the late Harvey Perloff, known as the “dean” of American urban planners and iconic early leader of UCLA’s Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, as it was then known.

“He asked me if I had a question and I said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘If I become involved in community issues and spend some of my time not only on campus but off campus, will that be a problem?’ And he said, ‘It’s not a problem at all.’ In fact, he said, ‘I’ll reward you for it.’

“Reward me for it?” repeated Estrada.  He recalled Perloff’s response: “ ‘I think our faculty in the field of planning should be in the community, so you do what you have to do. Try not to get arrested.’ ”

Estrada dove into issues in Los Angeles, then the Southwest, then across the country.

“One of the things I had was a skill in mapping, and so I became involved in redistricting issues” in cities including San Diego, Sacramento, Albuquerque, Chicago and New York, he said prior to his retirement.

“The latest thing I did was redistrict the congressional districts in Arizona after the last Census,” said Estrada, who became a go-to expert for government, academics and the media. “I had a talent and I used it.”

The Call

Estrada’s community involvement put him at the forefront of issues in Los Angeles — including the beating of Rodney King in 1991 and the formation of the Christopher Commission to examine use of force by the LAPD.

Estrada recalled answering his home phone one night about 8 o’clock. “It was Tom Bradley. You don’t expect to receive a call from the mayor,” he said. Bradley invited him downtown the next morning to talk about serving on a commission. Estrada didn’t have classes that day, so he agreed.

“When I got downtown, I was introduced as one of Bradley’s group of seven people that had been selected to serve on this commission. When I showed up, I expected to see the mayor and some of his deputy mayors, and there we were in front of the cameras .”

Estrada said the commission worked from early morning into the evening during the 100 days he served. “It was an incredible experience. We worked every day of the week, Saturdays and Sundays near the end as well,” he said. “We argued a lot.”

“As a brilliant demographer, Leo was instrumental in confronting gerrymandering and giving ethnic communities equal representation in California and other states around the country.”

Anastasia Loukaitou-Siderisurban planning professor 

Relations between police and the public had been deteriorating in Los Angeles for some time. The Christopher Commission concluded that a breakdown in LAPD management created a culture that tolerated the excessive use of force. But the following spring, the acquittal of four officers involved in the beating triggered the Los Angeles riots, which led to scores of deaths.

“It’s one of the most important moments of my history and life here in Los Angeles,” Estrada recalled as he prepared to retire. “That little commission report started a whole movement of community policing that took over in most of the United States.”

On Planning

Estrada’s fascination with the planning profession never waned.

“I think urban planning is … one of the key fields right now in academia. There’s almost nothing that doesn’t touch on planning,” he said last spring. The profession has expanded its horizons, he said, pointing to areas such as food systems and bike path planning as “something we never would have thought of 20 years ago.”

“I’m just pleased by the way we expanded into new fields, never got stuck in a status quo. [We’re] always looking for new ways to make planning relevant to all aspects of urban life,” Estrada said.

In some ways, the field has become more complex, he said, but planners have access to new technology that didn’t exist a generation ago.

“As long as people really believe in trying to make this a better world, we can make things happen,” he said.

Giving Back

“UCLA has been really good to me, and I have been appreciative,” Estrada said as he looked back on his long career prior to retiring. “They provided me with resources, opportunities, just an incredible amount. I can’t even begin to list the amount of things I’ve been able to do, in the department, at the university. And I’ve felt blessed.”

As he approached retirement, Estrada decided he needed to give back. He had previously served on the Undergraduate Council and Academic Senate, and in 2015 he stepped up to chair the Senate, which allows the faculty to participate in governing the university.

But this was no twilight tour for Estrada. “You find yourself in a position of negotiating constantly, and UCLA is such a monster in terms of what’s going on, so many things happening, so many people, and there’s 3,700 members of the Academic Senate and you represent them as the spokesperson.”

“I gave back a lot more than I was expecting,” said Estrada earlier this year. “Some things were controversial.

He added, “Leaders of the Academic Senate … work every day to make the faculty at UCLA the best that it can be.

“It gives you a perspective,” he said of his time on the Academic Senate.  “That’s why I can tell you I know for sure that UCLA is one of the best schools in the world because I’ve seen what we do and how it’s done to sustain that kind of quality.”

View photos from the retirement celebration in a Flickr album:

Leo Estrada Retirement Celebration

‘Gratitude and Respect’

In preparation for the retirement celebration, students and colleagues from all three UCLA Luskin departments recalled the essential role that Leo Estrada played in their education and careers.

“Leo’s tireless mentorship of our master’s and Ph.D. students is very well-known, and we will honestly struggle mightily to fill that void after he leaves. What might not be as well known is his mentorship of junior faculty. In my case, Leo taught me more than anyone how to work –how to organize your time and ideas, and how to prioritize between the countless opportunities and responsibilities that we face in these great jobs we have. I will continue to pass this advice down to future colleagues and try (and often fail) to fully implement his advice.”

Michael LensAssociate professor of urban planning and public policy

“When people learn that I was in urban planning at UCLA, their most frequently asked follow up question is “Do you know Leo Estrada? From community spaces to academic conferences to quick conversations with people I’ve just met, Leo is a living legend whose legacy will stretch far beyond his more than four decades at UCLA. Leo was my Ph.D. advisor and dissertation committee chair, and I am endlessly grateful that from day one he modeled for me his incredible dedication to mentoring, to teaching, and to being an active citizen of the university community. Now as a professor at CSULB I often find myself thinking ‘What Would Leo Do?’ when considering how to guide my own students. The answer is easy: I remind myself of the ways in which Leo always sees his students as the whole people that they are, which means it is only natural that he then teaches and mentors them from a place of authentic care. I know I’m not alone in saying that Leo had a significant impact on my trajectory as an educator, and on how I learned to envision a place for myself in academia and the community.”

Nina Flores, UP Ph.D. ’16Assistant Professor, Social & Cultural Analysis of Education, California State University Long Beach.

“Professor Estrada always listened first, and then provided his sage and soft prompts that got us back on our feet and headed in the right direction.  And he did this for so many students.  There was a constant stream of students visiting him in office hours to discuss any number of issues.  He has helped thousands of students, and so many of them first generation students of color who, without his guidance, might not have been the first in their families to attain a master’s or doctorate degree. I have also been fortunate to stay connected with Professor Estrada post my UCLA studies, through the enormous work he has led in redistricting, demographics and spatial analysis.  Professor Estrada’s work trail blazed equitable representation and full counts of ALL people across Los Angeles, California and beyond. Finally, his wisdom in connecting his students to his applied research work ensured the next generation of demographers, urban planners, and policy leaders follow in his footsteps. To Leo, you have my eternal gratitude, respect, and prayers for good health.”

Veronica Melvin MPP ’01President & CEO of LA Promise Fund

“Dr. Estrada represents everything that I hope to be in a Professor. He is brilliant, warm, fair, empowering and extremely skilled in shepherding students through the hurdles of academia.  As a woman of color returning for my doctorate in my 40s, Dr. Estrada met my anxious arrival with a calm ‘I know how to get you through, don’t worry.’ My doctoral program was a tough road, as I usually had at least one job (sometimes two) and I was a single parent for much of the time. Dr. Estrada made sure I stayed on track, focused on what was important and made each milestone. Most importantly, he serves as my model for how I interact with students. As a scholar dedicated to social and economic justice, I feel helping students access public education is a vital part of my mission.  UCLA, as a great public institution, is only as great as how its faculty provides this access. Dr. Estrada embodies this role – He broke through barriers and widened the pathway for others to follow.  Without him, countless students of color would not have achieved their graduate degrees.  As a three time Bruin (BA ’91, MA/MSW ’99, PhD ’14), when I define UCLA’s greatness, I describe the faculty that truly believe in the purpose of public education – and Dr. Estrada personifies that purpose.”

Susan J. Nakaoka, MA ’99, MSW ’99, PhD ’14Assistant Professor in the Division of Social Work, College of Health and Human Services, California State University Sacramento

“While Leo is a national leader in the field of demographics and was instrumental in developing and teaching the department’s GIS curriculum, I think his most important contribution has been to the hundreds of students he has mentored and supported. For many years Leo and I were the Faculty Counseling Board tasked with helping students who were having academic trouble. Leo had a marvelous way of getting students to focus on why things weren’t going well and to help them create a plan to overcome their difficulties.  He was supportive at every step and I can’t remember a student who did not ultimately complete the program successfully – in many cases largely because of Leo’s encouragement.  We also both worked on admissions for the department. When tough decisions were required, Leo was always willing to read and discuss files, give valuable input and straightforward opinions.  He has been instrumental in helping the department student body become as diverse as it is.  Many excellent students applied to our program because of their introduction to Urban Planning in Leo’s undergraduate courses. Whether fellow faculty member, staff or student, Leo would always make time to listen and offer support. I feel very lucky to have worked with him for so many years and to have him as a friend.”

Robin LiggettProfessor emeritus of urban planning

Learning Life Lessons About Urban Planning Hundreds of L.A. high school students discover meaning of social inequality in city planning during Luskin’s Youth Empowerment Conference.

By Breanna Ramos

Sometimes, lessons are learned the hard way. That was especially true for some Los Angeles high school students who recently came to UCLA to learn about city planning.

“It wasn’t fair,” high school sophomore Ashley Flores said after participating in an exercise designed to teach teenagers that life — and urban planning — aren’t always equitable.

Planners of Color for Social Equity (PCSE), a graduate student organization housed in UCLA Luskin’s Department of Urban Planning, recently hosted more than 200 high school students from the East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy’s (ELARA) School of Urban Planning and Design at the 4th Annual Urban Planning Youth Empowerment Conference (UPYEC) held in Ackerman Ballroom on the UCLA campus.

A day of urban planning workshops and activities, UPYEC provides high school students with opportunities to learn lessons about education and life.

“My goal is for the students to gain exposure to college campuses, as it increases the likelihood that they will attend higher education,” ELARA principal Jose Gonzalez said. “But this is also about introducing students to what urban planning is, so connecting them with graduate students that are soon to be professionals in the field is important.”

Every high school student participated in an exercise called Spatial Justice. Students were divided into groups and assigned spaces in which to build their own “city.” What the participants didn’t know was that conference organizers had distributed building materials inequitably, presenting obstacles that mirror real-life city planning.

“We didn’t have control over our own city,” Flores said. “They kept taking our stuff away, and we couldn’t argue without having to go to jail.”

Luskin’s Urban Planning students volunteered to facilitate the workshop, role-playing as city hall administrators who regulate the building development process.

“We’re trying to show the students that if you’re connected and have money, you get additional resources, are treated better and your city looks better,” Urban Planning student Kate Traynor said. “This allows us to teach them about social inequality and how that has an impact on the way that our cities are built.”

While the spatial justice workshop was intended to educate students about how planning presents obstacles, it was also intended to encourage students to use planning as a tool to undo these injustices. This was the intent of the discussion portion of the workshop, Luskin students said.

“What if resources were distributed equitably in the real world?” Luskin student and conference organizer Julia Heidelman said of the goals of the workshop. “And what if people from under-resourced communities could decide how they were redistributed? Why and how can planning work to undo these systems?”

In addition to Spatial Justice, the students attended workshops on active transportation, community organizing, food access, urban design, the urban forest and mapping of transit routes.

One of PCSE’s goals for the conference is to diversify the field of urban planning. In 2012, PCSE learned that ELARA was located in East Los Angeles and is one of only three schools nationally with an urban planning program, making it a great fit for the organization’s community outreach goals.

“I can’t wait until someone comes to apply to our school and says, ‘I went to the Youth Conference,’” said Leo Estrada, professor of Urban Planning at Luskin and a speaker at the event. “It should happen next year for the first group that we ever talked to, and the years following, and it is my hope that we always have someone apply because of their experience here.”

PCSE received funding from the Grad Student Association Sustainability Resource Center, the Healthy Campus Initiative, the Campus Programs Committee Youth Fund from the SOLE office, the Grad Student Association Discretionary Fund, the campus Event Fund, and through a Diversity Development Grant from the Luskin D3 (Diversity, Disparities and Difference) Initiative.

New Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy to Launch with Series of Events Feb. 4-5 Inauguration will include panels with scholars, activists and organizers, plus a Luskin Lecture and special screening featuring David Simon, writer and creator of “The Wire” and “Treme”

By Stan Paul

A new kind of Institute has come to UCLA.

Led by Ananya Roy, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs professor and center director, the newly established Institute on Inequality and Democracy will launch on Feb. 4-5 with two days of events at UCLA and the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles.

“We analyze and transform the divides and dispossessions of our times, in the university and in our cities, across global South and global North,” is stated as part of the mission of the Institute which will encompass multidisciplinary, collaborative work led by UCLA faculty. Planned areas of work include: multi-disciplinary research collaboratives to advance knowledge about key social problems; contributing to policy frameworks via activist practices and community organizing; graduate student working groups that foster connections across and beyond UCLA; and offering intellectual space for debates within progressive thought.

From discussions on “Markets, Race, and the Aftermath of Slavery” to “Decolonizing the University,” the upcoming launch, titled “Urban Color-Lines,” will serve as an introduction to key themes to be explored at the new Institute based in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and made possible by a generous donation from Meyer and Renee Luskin.

Daytime events for both days will be held at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and will include eminent UCLA scholars as well as intellectuals and activists who are actively working on human rights and social justice issues — locally, nationally and internationally.


Day 1, Feb. 4

First-day events begin at 11 a.m. at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, room 2355, with Why Think About Inequality & Democracy Together? Luskin Interim Dean Lois Takahashi will provide welcome remarks followed by Roy’s introduction of the Institute and events.

Markets, Race, and the Aftermath of Slavery
11:30 a.m., Room 2355, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Chair: Leobardo Estrada, Chair, Academic Senate, UCLA

Speaker: Cheryl Harris, UCLA School of Law and Chair, African American Studies

The Right to the City: From South to North
1 p.m., Room 2355, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Chair: Chris Tilly, Urban Planning, UCLA

Speakers: 

Toussaint Losier, Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and co- founder, Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign

Raquel Rolnik, Urban Planning, University of São Paulo, Brazil

Richard Pithouse, Unit for Humanities at Rhodes University, South Africa

Gautam Bhan, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, India

Day 1 Evening

The Feb. 4 evening presentations and performances will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. (with a reception from 6 to 6:30 p.m.) at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles. Round-trip transportation from UCLA will be provided.

The program includes:

Black, Brown, and Banished: Ending Urban Displacement in 21st Century Democracies

Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles 

Performances:

Bodies on the Line: Artists Fight Back
Curator: Dan Froot, 501 (see three) ARTS and UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance

Dance by Bernard Brown

Dance/Spoken Word by Sandy Vazquez and Ericka Jones

Excerpts from Oral Histories of Displaced Angelenos, by Dan Froot with Dorothy Dubrule


Eviction/Action:

Moderators:

Laura Pulido, American Studies and Ethnicity, USC, and Ananya Roy, Director, Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin

Speakers:

Ashraf Cassiem, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, South Africa

Willie (JR) Fleming, Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign

Patricia Hill, Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign

Pete White, LA Community Action Network 

Day 2, Feb. 5:

What Do We Hope to Achieve Today and Now?
10:15 a.m., Room 2355, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Ananya Roy, Director, Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin

Debtors’ Prisons and Debtors’ Unions: Direct Action in Finance Capitalism
10:30 a.m., Room 2355, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Chair: Robin D.G. Kelley, African American Studies and History, UCLA

Speaker: Hannah Appel, Anthropology, UCLA

Decolonizing the University
Noon, Room 2355, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Moderator: Ananya Roy, Director, Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin

Speakers:

Gaye Theresa Johnson, African American Studies and Chicana/o Studies, UCLA

Camalita Naicker, Political and International Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa

Carlos Vainer, Chair, Forum of Science and Culture, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Marques Vestal, History, UCLA

Day 2 Evening program (7-9 p.m.)

The Audacity of Despair

James Bridges Theater, UCLA

Screening: Show Me a Hero

Keynote Lecture: David Simon, writer and creator, “The Wire,” “Treme,” and “Show Me a Hero” 

Information and Registration

Registration, a detailed program of events, and more about the Institute may be found at:  challengeinequality.luskin.ucla.edu

Cultivating Justice: Alvaro Huerta UP’ 06 Visiting scholar Alvaro Huerta creates new type of work, where he conducts research, writes, and teaches, but also works in the community

He’s organized a hunger strike for gardeners but he’s also written children’s stories. He’s an accomplished academic but also a passionate activist who in 2005 was honored with the Charles E. Young Humanitarian Award for creating the Gardener Leadership Development Project. Alvaro Huerta ’03, M.A. ’06 is the face of the new America, bridging the gap between scholarship and social activism, bringing to both the insights and perspective of a son of Mexican immigrants.

Huerta, currently studying city and urban planning at UC Berkeley and a visiting scholar at UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center, says his goal is to understand “how people find ways to make an honest living and collect census information of undocumented workers, to figure out how they organize and how they survive in a hostile economy.”

“He’s heading into an entirely new type of work, what I’d call an academic practitioner,” says Leo Estrada, a professor in the Department of Urban Planning, who has known Huerta for over eight years. “He conducts research, writes, and teaches, but also has a foot in the community. He’s created this new kind of entity.”

Read the full article in UCLA Magazine.