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About Yoli Rios

Yolinda Rios

Community Rights Activist

This center is dedicated to Yoli Rios in honor of her tireless dedication and advocacy for educational attainment for Latino students. As a mentor, she continues to inspire new generations of students to pursue their educational goals.

We are grateful for her mentorship at the Latino Leadership and College Experience Camp and for her support of Latino students and educators at Eastern Kentucky University.

Yoli Ríos is a Labor Representative with the California Nurses Association. 

She is a graduate of Lincoln High School in East Los Angeles. Yoli was the first Chicana to receive a full scholarship to the prestigious Immaculate Heart College in 1968. In 1965 she was selected to attend Girls’ State. She was amongst the less than 3% of Chican@/Latin@s who were selected from across the state.

Yoli has many years of experience as a community activist and in the labor movement. In 1995 she was elected Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Local 399 along with a slate of hospital workers and janitors, which sparked a democratic reform campaign within the Union. For twenty years she represented over 3000 Nurses at the UCLA Medical Center. Her work with CNA has been featured in the press, particularly the struggle against former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cuts and attacks against workers, the schools, the health system and the poor in California. The California Nurses Association was the first labor organization to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign for President of the United States. As the labor organizer at UCLA, Yoli lead the nurses to actively engage in all aspects of the Sanders campaign.

Yoli was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary, "CHICANO- The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement", which aired on PBS television.", Yoli and her husband, Bobby Verdugo were characters portrayed in the 2006 HBO movie, “Walkout”, a film about the historic 1968 High School Walkouts of East Los Angeles. Yoli and Bobby were high school sweethearts and have been together since 1968. They are proud parents of two daughters, Monica and Maricela.

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