ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City Council announced they are mourning the passing of former City Council president and community leader and activist Gladys Santiago.

Santiago was described as a trailblazer in the Hispanic community and as an advocate for civil rights, language access, and ensuring equity. She was also known as a former interim president and CEO and senior vice president of the Ibero-American Action League.

Santiago was appointed to City Council and served on the council from 1996 until 2009. She served as the vice president and, in her final years at the council, she was elected president.

In a statement from current City Council president Miguel Meléndez, Jr., he said:

Under her leadership, projects like La Marketa (International Plaza) were driven by her vision and advocacy. She never lost sight of where she came from, she was a very caring individual and known as a great leader who uplifted the community. We are thankful for her pledge to a life of public service to all Rochesterians. We send our heartfelt condolences to her family and all who knew her.

Mayor Malik Evans also responded to Santiago’s passing in a statement:

I was especially saddened to learn of the passing of Gladys Santiago. We forever share the bond of both having served as Presidents of our respective bodies at the same time. While serving as School Board President, I worked with Gladys on many issues, including on working on improving the relationship between the City and the school district and getting the first phase of the Facilities Modernization Project off the ground. Gladys always gave me words of encouragement and was an early supporter of my entry into public service. Gladys was the epitome of what a City Councilmember should be, rising to become Council President in 2008. She cared deeply about people and the neighborhoods they lived in, and dedicated her career to lifting people out of poverty and addressing crime and substance abuse. She will be remembered forever for her relentless advocacy for Rochester’s Latino community. I am glad that she got to see her 40-year quest to see La Marketa become a reality. I send my condolences to her family and pray for their comfort in the coming days.