May 6, 1945 - November 3, 2018 Leobardo ("Leo") Felipe Estrada, who recently retired after a four-decade career at UCLA, passed away on November 3, 2018 at his home in Playa del Rey, California, surrounded by his family and close friends. He was 73. Born in El Paso, Texas, on May 6, 1945, Leo was the son of Leobardo Estrada, a prominent Baptist minister, and his wife Isabel. When Leo was four years old, the family moved to Dallas and eight years later to Los Angeles where he graduated in 1962 from El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera. He attended Baylor University, graduating in 1966 and continued his education at Florida State University, earning a Ph.D. in Sociology and Demography in 1970. Leo began his teaching career in 1970 at North Texas State University in Denton where he taught Sociology. In 1977, he joined the faculty at UCLA's Department of Urban Planning and retired after four decades in June 2018. In 2015, he was the first Latino elected as Chair of the Academic Senate. Over his 48 years in academia, he also did research or taught in various institutions including the University of Texas El Paso, the U.S. Bureau of the Census in Washington, the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and the University of Sinaloa in Mexico. Leo was the ultimate teacher. Teaching and mentoring were his deepest passions and he trained, inspired and empowered hundreds of students whose careers were launched and advanced in great part due to his support. His success with students came from a unique and effective blend of Socratic listening and questioning, appreciation of the whole person, gentle yet persuasive encouragement, and savvy guidance for surmounting challenges, especially those of students without role models in educational pursuits. At his retirement, many of his colleagues recognized and praised his role in making UCLA's Urban Planning program more student-centric. As a researcher, Leo reached far beyond the academic spheres. He was a leading applied researcher on the elderly, urban conflict, census policies and methods, and most importantly, in redistricting efforts impacting Latinos and other racial/ethnic minorities. His seminal demographic work for redistricting produced the 1990 redistricting changes for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that led to the election of the first Latina to the Board of Supervisors. He provided primary evidence for the leading advocacy organizations on voting rights such as NALEO, Advancement Project, and MALDEF. As an entrepreneur, Leo participated as a partner or research leader in several research and consulting companies. Leo served on the boards of numerous organizations and corporations including AARP, SCAN Health Plan Group, Broadway Stores, National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies, Hispanics in Philanthropy, The California Endowment (as a founding member), Santa Marta Hospital, among many others. He also served on dozens of advisory boards. Over the long term, Leo's most significant legacy will be his untiring commitment and numerous contributions to community empowerment and social justice. For example, in 1991, he was appointed by Mayor Tom Bradley to the Christopher Commission that assessed police-community relations following the Rodney King beating. His tireless and insightful work on the Commission contributed to new approaches to community policing that have spread throughout the nation. Through direct and indirect efforts and time, Leo supported numerous organizations in Los Angeles and beyond, especially those dedicated to improving the lives of the underrepresented. He was a passionate force committed to helping women gain financial stability as exemplified by his two-decade service on the Board of New Economics for Women. He fully exemplified the importance and value of community service to his colleagues, the urban planning field and UCLA, the institution he loved, appreciated, and transformed. But, above all, Leo treasured and loved his family. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, and uncle. He is survived by his beloved wife of 36 years, Ivelisse; their two sons Andres and Ricardo; and their much-loved grandson, Ezana. He also leaves behind a son, Adam; his sisters, Priscilla, Irma and Omega; and a large extended family throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. A private family service is planned, followed in early 2019 by a public memorial event at UCLA, date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, Leo's family requests making donations to the Leobardo Estrada Fellowship Fund of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
Published in Los Angeles Times from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9, 2018.