Friends and Family help memorialize Idaho leader J.J. Saldaña

Idaho leader J.J. Saldaña passed away last week. Friends and family from all over the country came to help memorialize the man who did so much for the Idaho Latino community.
Posted at 6:22 PM, Sep 30, 2023

BOISE, Idaho — J.J. Saldaña, an Idaho leader who worked to advance the lives of Latinos in the state, passed away last week.

On Saturday, friends and families of Saldaña came to Boise State to help memorialize the leader.

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“J.J. was truly a public servant and he loved this city, and Boise loved him right back," Mayor Lauren McLean told Idaho News 6.

Saldaña's resume was extensive. He worked with Idaho's Commission on Hispanic Affairs, the city of Boise's Arts and History Commission, and so much more.

One of Saldaña's projects that came up several times during the memorial service was the Voces Internship of Idaho program.

“(The internship) places Latino students from Idaho in Idaho newsrooms to get paid internships so they can work and be journalists in their own community which was something that was really not existent several years ago," Nicole Voy, a former journalist with Idaho Press, said.

There were many veterans of the internship at Saturday's memorial.

Rebecca De León helped set up the memorial. She worked with Saldaña for years and she says he not only helped her in her journalism career but so many others.

“We have moved from me being the only one, and struggling, to now I think every newsroom has a bilingual, bi-cultural reporter and a lot of them produce news in Spanish," De León said.

Outside of his pivotal work in the state, many people will remember him for his friendship.

“He’d just slip right in, in his fun little shoes and wonderful dress and make you feel like you’d known him forever that you were a part of his life and an important part of him," said McLean.

The memorial said the Saldaña family wishes donations go towards the Voces Internship of Idaho.