1928 - 2009

"My strength comes from my association with others who share my passion and commitment to eradicate the oppression of others because of their race, ethnicity, class or sexual orientation."

- Hilda Hidalgo

A native of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Hidalgo came to Newark, N.J. in 1960, first working as district director of the Girl Scout Council of Greater Essex, then as director of child services.  In 1970 she began working at Rutgers University School of Social Work in New Brunswick, before transferring to the Newark campus to teach in the Department of Public Administration.  She held a number of positions in her 23 years at Rutgers including Director of the Masters of Work Bilingual Program, Coordinator of Puerto Rican Studies, and Director of the Masters of Public Administration Hispanic, Bilingual, Bicultural Program.  After leaving Rutgers, Hidalgo became assistant commissioner of the Department of Education for the State of New Jersey – a position in which she did not shy from controversy.  In 1993 she was arrested at Morton Street School while attempting to gather evidence of the district’s corruption and mismanagement in preparation for the state takeover.  Dr. Hidalgo also co-founded several community organizations that answered the needs of the Latino community in the Newark area such as Aspira Incorporated of New Jersey, La Casa de Don Pedro, the United Community Corporation, and the Newark Urban League.  Hidalgo also chaired the first Puerto Rican Convention of New Jersey and served as vice-president of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.  After retiring to Florida, Hidalgo became an active member of Equality Florida and Friends of Wild Iris, both gay and lesbian rights organizations.  Dr. Hilda Hidalgo came out of the closet and lent her voice to the cause of gay and lesbian rights at a time when it was not common for a woman of her generation or cultural background.  The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Hidalgo died of pancreatic cancer on November 8, 2009 surrounded by her partner, Dr. Cheryl Lamey, and her sisters.  She was 81.


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Lesbian

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Latinx

Faith Construct Catholic

Nations Affiliated Puerto Rico United States

Era/Epoch Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968) Information Age (1970-present) Post-Stonewall Era (1974-1980)

Field(s) of Contribution



Social Justice

Commemorations & Honors

Chaired First Puerto Rican Convention of NJ

Rutgers Presidential Award for Public Service Recipient

Aspira of New Jersey, Inc. Pioneer Recognition

Named by Ladies Home Journal as one of 50 American Heroines

Named Puerto Rican Woman of the Year by Essex County College (1978)

Among 13 Women Honored by the State of New Jersey During Women’s History Week (1986)

María DeCastro Blake Award Winner (2007)

Dr. Hilda Hidalgo Way Street Sign in Newark, NJ Named in Her Honor (2010)


Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell