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It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of the Honorable Judge Frances Muñoz, founding member of the Hispanic Education Endowment Fund (HEEF) and former OCCF board member. 

A fierce advocate for the Latino community, Judge Muñoz devoted a lifetime to the issues she was passionate about, including immigration, education, diversity in the legal system and family. Her commitment to the Latino community also led her to co-found The Luévano Foundation and the Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County. 

“Judge Munoz was one of the most thoughtful, respected, and courageous leaders in Orange County’s history. We were honored by her service on OCCF’s Board while she was actively serving on the bench, bringing her bold and balanced approach to every issue. She will be sorely missed by the Orange County community, and all of us who were blessed to know her”, said Shelley Hoss, president and CEO of the Orange County Community Foundation. 

As the first Hispanic woman appointed to the California Bench, she served at the Orange County Superior Court Harbor Justice Center for 23 years before retiring in 2001 but continued her public service on the bench as an assigned judge. 

Her role as a founding member of HEEF has been instrumental in making the dream of higher education a reality for Hispanic students across the county. Since the Fund’s inception in 1993, $3.8 million in financial assistance has been distributed through nearly 2,600 scholarships. 

“Judge Muñoz was a very powerful advocate and was skilled at bringing influential leaders together in support of first-generation college students and their families,” said Monica Guillena, Administrative Director for the Fund.