Sotomayor was born in Mexico City, and her family returned to California a few years later, relocating to SanDiego. She lived here until she went on to college.The first Latina in America to earn a social work doctorate, Sotomayor served for many years as President andCEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging.
“Board of Directors President Marta Sotomayor led the organization through these challenging first years –
on a volunteer basis and later as Executive Director,” reads the NHCOA’s history on its website. “By the end of its first decade, NHCOA had established itself as a valuable and unique community resource.”
Sotomayor played a major role in turning the NHCOA into what it is today, her sister Celia said.
“The moves she made from several educational institutions, government agencies and leaving her family inSan Diego had a purpose,” Celia said. “Marta was able to find the location where she could do the best
most to help the elderly. This place was Washington, D.C.”
Previously, she held positions with the National Institute of Mental Health, the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and MentalHealth Administration, and the National Institute of Health, where she was Senior Policy Advisor to the
Secretary’s Task Force on Minority Health.
An international consultant, Sotomayor also held teaching positions at several schools including the CaliforniaState University School of Social Work, Baylor School of Medicine, Howard University School of Social Workand the University of Maryland Community Development Department.
“She serves as a role model,” said her sister Connie. “Her story tells young Latinas that they can reach the top, just like she did.”
But to reach the top, Sotomayor had to start from the bottom.
After the Great Depression, the economy was bad in the United States, and Sotomayor’s father had lost his
grocery business in Calexico. Her mother, having been trained as a teacher in Mexico, decided to move thefamily whe
n she was offered a teacher’s position in Mexico City. It was there that Sotomayor was born.
“My mother was a strict disciplinarian,” remembers Celia Moody. “She believed in using our time wisely. She
knew the value of education and at an early age, she instilled in us the importance doing our homework as well
as our assigned housework.”