1934 – 2003
Passionate Latino community leader
For almost 40 years, Simon Dominguez was instrumental in developing, organizing and advocating for services and programs to better serve the Latino population in California and he did so with passion and conviction.
Raised in the small town of Truckee, California, Dominguez received his BA from San Francisco State in 1957 and his MSW from the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work in 1964. His social work career began in Sacramento County where he worked as a child welfare worker until 1967 when he was fired from his position for taking part in a worker’s strike. He decided to move his family to San Jose, then the city with the second largest Spanish speaking population in California, and began working as a Child Protective Services Social Worker in Santa Clara County’s Department of Social Services (DSS). Being especially interested in foster care and its effect on children, he quickly recognized that there was not a single Latino foster parent in the area and brought attention to this and other issues facing his clients.
Dominguez’s contributions to social work in California were many. His role as a pioneer and leader included the development of programs and services to better meet the needs of the Latino community; the advancement of education for Latino social workers, exemplified by his involvement in the creation of the School of Social Work at San Jose State University where he served as a role model and mentor for social work students; faculty and members of the community for 33 years; the promotion of organizations to facilitate the support and networking of Latino social workers; and, the creation of a vision for school social work in California.
Early in his career, Professor Dominguez recognized the need to understand mental health issues as they pertained to the Latino community. In the early 1970’s he initiated the Chicano Mental Health Committee in Santa Clara County. He remained committed and dedicated to mental health issues serving as the Chair of Santa Clara County Mental Health Advisory Board and Chair of the Board’s subcommittee on the Family, Children and Adolescent Mental Health in the late 1990’s. In this capacity and through his clear thinking and careful writing, he was instrumental in bringing about a unified vision for children’s mental health services in Santa Clara County.
Dominguez was an historian who recognized the important role events played in shaping the profession and during his later years, he began writing about the history of the Latino movement in California and the influence this had on social work education both locally and nationally. One of his favorite quotes from Cervantes, “a man who fights for what he believes is a man who is alive” exemplifies his stance throughout his career.