California Rural Legal Assistance
Mr. Padilla, the son of poor farmworkers in California's Imperial Valley, has overseen California Rural Legal Assistance, a nonprofit group that has provided legal aid to the poor, for the last 22 years. A 1974 Stanford graduate, he taught for Campesinos Unidos for a while until deciding he could be a better advocate as an attorney, and he entered University of California, Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law. He started as a staff attorney at CRLA, and now Mr. Padilla has an operating budget of $10 million and a staff of 138, which includes 51 attorneys.
Mr. Perez has been called the Hunter S. Thompson of the graphic design world: provocative, outrageous, and brazen. Mr. Perez has designed album covers, logos, Web sites, and music videos for Latin headliners such as Ricky Martin, Juan Luis Guerra, and Olga Tanon. In 2003, the San Juan native founded Elastic People, a Miami design firm that has collaborated with big-ticket clients such as Nike, Mercedes-Benz and Telemundo. Mr. Perez most recently wrapped up the design work for Mexican rock band Mana's Amar Es Combatir album.
Mr. Pita has matured into a kind of celebrity in his own right, charging as much as $800 for a haircut. He has created looks for every designer from Michael Kors, Versace, Prada, Miu Miu, Valentino, Narciso Rodriguez and Dolce & Gabbana. His trend-setting work is featured regularly in Italian, French, British and American Vogue, W, Allure, Harper's Bazaar and many others, and he's done high-profile heads belonging to the likes of Julia Roberts, Julianne Moore, Madonna, Janet Jackson and Cher.
United Farm Workers of America
The heir, both spiritually and literally, of Cesar Chavez, native Texan Mr. Rodriguez has helmed the United Farm Workers of America since its legendary founder died in 1993. Mr. Rodriguez started his journey with the pioneering California-based labor union in 1969 two decades earlier as a St. Mary's College student active in the famous grape boycott, and joined the union outright in 1973. He has kept the UFW's profile high through organizing as far afield as Washington and Florida, and has worked increasingly on legislative initiatives related to farmworker safety and immigration.
From his latest best-selling back-button jacket to his curve-flattering designs for stars like Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey and Jessica Alba, Mr. Rodriguez is a fashionista with fame growing in both the United States and Latin America. The 38-year-old native from the farm town of Indio, California studied at his home state's Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising before heading to the Big Apple, where he opened his own fashion house in 1998. He's since found success in boutiques, retail outlets like Saks, and among wardrobe designers for TV shows such as "Friends" and "Sex and the City." This fall he's been turning heads with his latest line, "David Rodriguez Red Label."
Executive Editor and Sr. VP
The Sacramento Bee
Becoming the first Hispanic to serve as president of the influential American Society of Newspaper Editors in 2005, Mr. Rodriguez has risen from his hometown paper, California's The Salinas Californian, to head a newsroom vying with that of the Los Angeles Times to be California's finest. A 1976 Stanford graduate, he joined the Bee in 1982 as a reporter in the Capitol bureau, rising through the ranks to become managing editor in 1993 and then taking the top job in 1998. He still ranks his interviews with Cesar Chavez and his coverage of California's farm labor movement his best moments in his reporting career.
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