Roberto Maestas, co-founder and former executive director of El Centro de la Raza, reportedly passed away around 6:00 a.m. this morning after a fight with cancer. Maestas had a lengthy history of teaching, activism, and advocacy for civil rights. Some background on him is here. "He was pretty important to our work and important to the community," says Dept of Neighborhoods spokeswoman Lois Maag.

Stella Chao, director of the city's Department of of neighborhoods, describes Maestas as a "foundation" of the city's social justice movement over the past several decades, responsible not only for leading the Latino community, but a pillar of a larger civil-rights movement.

"Very importantly, Roberto provided a lot of opportunity for new leadership," she says. "His legacy is not just what he's done, but the people who have learned leadership from what he's done and gotten opportunities to take leadership. He'll always be alive for us." Estela Ortega, his partner, has been the director of El Centro in recent years. "She in her own right is a formidable leader," Chao says.

Updated with the comments from Chao.