Innovator in social services for the Latino community
( – 2018)
Growing up as one of seven children in a large Mexican-American family, Dolores Rodriguez always served, nurtured and helped others. It was this tradition of service that eventually led her to the field of social work–where her compassion, love and sheer willpower shone through in every aspect of her professional and personal life.
Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Rodriguez began her career as a social worker in the South. She completed her undergraduate degree at Texas Western College and later attended the University of Texas, Austin, where she completed her first-year general social work courses. She earned her MSW at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1957.
Rodriguez later relocated to California, where she earned her LCSW in 1969. She started a new career as a psychiatric social worker at the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk. She held numerous positions in a variety of social work fields including child welfare, adoption, pediatric services, mental health, and medical social work in public and private agencies. She also held various faculty appointments, including at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1967-1968 and California State University, Los Angeles, from 1972-1974.
Rodriguez was known as an exceptional leader, risk taker and innovator who made significant contributions to social work at both the city and state levels. Her key contributions were related to provisions of culturally relevant services for Latinos and other ethnic groups. Rodriquez provided leadership on efforts to develop needed programs and services. She advocated for–and later provided leadership for–the Chicano Adoptions Unit, a recruitment program within the Los Angeles County Department of Adoptions to attract Latino adoptive parents. A leader in the Trabajadores de la Raza social work group, she was a member of the committee that helped develop El Centro in East Los Angeles. Just prior to retirement, Rodriguez served as the medical social services director at LAC-USC Medical Center Women’s Hospital.
Even in retirement, Rodriguez was still quite active in the social work community. She volunteered with the Wellness Community Valley/Ventura Latino Outreach Program, which provides information, education and support services to cancer patients and their families. As a volunteer, she provided direct services to patients and their families, leads a support group and serves on the curriculum program committee that trains volunteers.