J.J. Saldaña leaves a legacy of leadership and perseverance in Idaho's Hispanic community

Posted at 10:31 AM, Sep 24, 2023

TREASURE VALLEY, Idaho — J.J. Saldaña, a leader in Idaho's Hispanic and Latino communities has died.

It's a blow to one of Idaho's most prominent groups and it comes at a time of celebration for the Hispanic community, his death coming just a few days into Hispanic Heritage Month.

"I think I'm still oscillating disbelief and just sadness," said Estefania Mondragon with Poder of Idaho. "He leaves just a huge void. The work just became so much harder because he's gone. What gives me hope is he touched so many people. Young people looked up to him. So, I am hoping there is a J.J. somewhere a young man that's like J.J. that's going to come up and fill the void."

According to reports from those close to Saldaña, he died in his sleep sometime late on the night of September 21 or the morning of September 22. The cause of his death has not yet been identified.

Saldaña committed over two decades of his life to working with the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, where he served as a relentless leader in Idaho's Hispanic community. The Commission is a non-partisan state agency striving for economic, educational and social equality by providing services to Idaho's Hispanic community.

The Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Congress, adding their sentiments, "JJ's impact reached far beyond the Statehouse and college walls and into the hearts of those he served. His dedication to his work at the Idaho Commission of Hispanic Affairs and many other projects enriched countless lives."

Saldaña also served on the advisory council of Voces Internship of Idaho, a program that works to bring voices of the Hispanic community into Idaho news media. In a statement released by Voces, the organization explained "Like so many other endeavors, Voces would not exist without his vision, unceasing work ethic and generous spirit."

J.J. Saldaña's leadership and dedication to uplifting the Hispanic community have left an undeniable mark here in the Gem State.