The Mariachi Women’s Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to support diversity, equity, inclusion and access in educational and arts programs and services. It recognizes and empowers mariachi women throughout the world through education, performance and training opportunities; research, preservation and dissemination of mariachi women’s history and their unique lived experiences; and by providing college scholarships.   
We accomplish our mission through: 

  1. Mariachi Women’s Festivals ​since 2014
  2. Performance and training opportunities
  3. Research and preservation of mariachi women’s history​
  4. College scholarships

Founder, Producer and Director of the International Mariachi Women’s Festival, Dr. Leonor Xóchitl Pérez began performing mariachi music in the 1970’s at Griffith Junior High School which is located in East Los Angeles, California.  This was the first youth mariachi group in California and among the first in the United States.  Dr. Perez went on to perform with mariachi groups in Los Angeles, Washington DC and San Diego.  Performance highlights include playing at two Presidential Inaugural Balls (one at 19 years old) and at two MARIACHI USA Festivals at the Hollywood Bowl. She was also a founding member of Mariachi Mujer 2000. Dr. Perez documented her experiences as a mariachi musician in the widely read narrative, “Trangressing the Taboo:  A Chicana’s Voice in the Mariachi World” which was published in the book, Chicana Traditions:  Continuity and Change.
For over 25 years, Dr. Perez has researched the history of 

Our Mission

Dr. Leonor Xóchitl Pérez


women in mariachi music and in 2013 curated ​the first mariachi women’s history exhibit at the Women’s Museum of California in San Diego. It highlights the history of mariachi women instrumentalist over the last 100 years.  She then created a traveling exhibit, the “Trailblazing Women of Mariachi”. It was displayed as a lobby exhibit for the 2018 production of “American Mariachi” at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. In March of 2019, the exhibit helped open Arizona’s first Mexican-American Heritage and History Museum in Tucson, Arizona that is located at  the historic Sosa-Carrillo House.
She launched the world’s first Annual International Mariachi Women’s Festival at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse in Los Angeles in March of 2014.  In May of 2019, she successfully expanded the festival to Tucson, Arizona and will take it to Oxnard, California in 2020.
Dr. Perez has produced, directed and given festivals, concerts and research presentations in public and private venues and universities in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Kazakhstan, Ireland and Bangkok, Thailand.

​Throughout her career, Dr. Perez has also worked professionally in the field of higher education.  She was a Dean at East Los Angeles College for 8 years and, for 2 years, an Administrator at the Harvard Medical School.  She currently consults for two Tribal Colleges in South Dakota and professor of Mexican and Chicano music at San Diego State University in California.  
As a child and youth in the early 70s and 80s, she engaged and worked with respected organizations at the beginning of their rise in the cultural arts field such as Plaza de La Raza and Self-Help Graphics.  As a child, she worked for John Sutherland productions as a voice and music recording artist for the nation’s first bilingual education animated films for schools for use bilingual education programs in California and the Southwest.  More recently, she worked for the San Diego Symphony as an Artistic Projects Manager from 2012-2014 where she collaborated with film and television composer Bill Conti, best known for composing the theme from the movie “Rocky” to facilitate the coproduction of an original orchestral composition with San Diego’s diverse cultural and traditional artists and the Symphony. Since  leaving the symphony in 2014, she has produced and directed the Annual Mariachi Women’s Festival and in 2019 was the Founder of the Mariachi Women’s Foundation a 501(3) (C) non-profit Organization.
Dr. Perez holds a B.A. in Psychology and a Doctorate in Education from UCLA.  She also holds a Master’s Degree from Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology.

© 2013 Mariachi Women’s Festival | All Rights Reserved​


3830 Valley Centre Drive,


San Diego, CA. 92130

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501 (C)(3) Non-Profit