The life and legacy of a lifelong Angeleno – who is a “natural-born leader, trailblazer and the youngest woman elected to serve as Councilwoman of the City of San Fernando” – were extolled on the floor of the California State Assembly on Aug. 28, when Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-43) honored an esteemed former state legislator by designating Jan. 19 as Cindy Montañez Day.
Montañez was raised in the San Fernando Valley by immigrant parents. At 25, she was elected to serve on the City Council of the City of San Fernando, and was the youngest woman to serve on the California State Legislature, a record that still remains today. In addition, at the age of 30 she became the first Latina and the first female Democrat to chair the Assembly Rules Committee.
“The Honorable Cindy Montañez has broken numerous glass ceilings. Her impressive record in public service makes her one of the most influential civic leaders in California history,” said Rivas, who described Montañez as an “environmental justice champion” who has been ahead of her time on topics such as urban greening.
“It is the greatest honor to represent the same communities that Assemblymember Cindy Montañez was elected to serve,” continued Rivas, who represents the Northeast San Fernando Valley. “Her fiery spirit and determination are an inspiration to young girls and Latinas. Her unwavering commitment to serve the residents of the City of San Fernando and the Valley is a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come.”
A passionate advocate for social and environmental justice from a young age, Montañez has supported environmental, healthcare, consumer and worker protection policies and authored the landmark Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights.
After leaving the legislature, she worked with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where she led the transition to a more sustainable local water supply. In 2016, she became the first Latina in the US to lead an environmental organization as the CEO of TreePeople.
In 2020, she was elected to serve a second term on the San Fernando City Council, and is a current board member for the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.