Lillian’s Legacy

Lillian Roybal Rose is a nationally-recognized educator and consultant who offered workshops and educational resources in cross cultural communication for a wide variety of community and professional groups. She is also Nanci’s mentor, colleague, and friend. Her work to build relationships based on respectful, effective communication and cooperation is an important foundation for what we do at LJIST.

The daughter of Honorable Edward R. Roybal and Lucille Roybal, Lillian grew up in East Los Angeles. While studying at California State University, Los Angeles she was one of the first five founding members of UMAS (United Mexican American Students) which later became MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán) on college campuses across the US. After getting her M.Ed. at the University of Southern California she was a school counselor in Watsonville, California and taught adult school. After attending one of Dr. Erica “Ricky” Sherover-Marcuse’s “Unlearning Racism” workshops and mentoring with Ricky, Lillian founded Lillian Roybal Rose Seminars in 1985. For 30 years she delivered trainings with the hope of moving toward a fair and just society where everyone has equal opportunity and is treated with dignity and respect.

Based in a belief that effective communication requires understanding our own hidden attitudes and behavior, Lillian encouraged workshop participants to reclaim pride and identity in their heritage, to develop new perspectives on oppression and past hurt, and to establish common ground with people of different backgrounds and experiences. Together, these processes bring to light how our internalized oppression affects our thoughts, our behaviors, and our relationships with others and with the world around us.

When we can define and recognize forms of oppression that affect all of us, we begin to relate to each other as individuals and build alliances.

In 1994 Nanci attended one of Lillian’s public workshops and it changed the course of her life: Nanci knew she wanted to learn what Lillian did and lead these workshops as her life’s work. As Lillian would often tell the story: since Nanci was only 26 years old at the time, Lillian wasn’t interested in working with her as a colleague. Lillian was looking for someone who was more “mature,” someone with more “life experience.” When Lillian came to realize that these adultist attitudes were playing out toward Nanci even though she considered herself an ally to young adults, Lillian committed to shift this behavior and start acting as an ally. Lillian and Nanci worked together, traveling all over the US, until Lillian’s official retirement in December 2015.

In addition to raising granddaughters in Santa Cruz, California where she lives with her husband, Mike Rose, of 50 years, Lillian continues to share her expertise with the LJIST team and is proud to see her life’s work and the work of her mentor, Ricky, continue. For more information about Lillian’s life, work, and legacy, visit