COVID-19 Updates: Visit our Learning Goes On site for news and resources for supporting educators, families, policymakers and advocates.

Learn More

IDRA Fellows

The IDRA Education Policy Fellows Program is generously supported by Trellis Foundation and in partnership with the John Gardner Public Service Fellowship, facilitated by Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service. IDRA’s Research Fellowship is supported in partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows program was established in 2013 by IDRA to honor the memory of IDRA founder, Dr. José Angel Cárdenas.


Dr. Altheria Caldera

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Preparation and Access to College

Dr. Altheria Caldera is a scholar, writer and equity activist whose other identities include dog-lover, nature-enthusiast and college football fan. The Alabama native began her professional career as a middle school English teacher. As a teacher educator for the last four years, she aims to equip her students with the knowledge necessary to effectively teach students of color in P-12 schools. Through her research and scholarship, she aims to promote access and equity for all minoritized students in academic institutions that span the P-16 spectrum. Altheria earned her Ph.D. in education studies from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and is looking forward to learning how to apply her classroom knowledge to state-level advocacy work.

As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Altheria will identify and pursue advocacy opportunities to expand access to and ensure success in postsecondary education spaces, particularly for students of color.


Araceli García

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – English Learners and Immigrant Student Education

Araceli Garcia grew up on the South Side of San Antonio and is the daughter and granddaughter of Mexican immigrants. As the culmination of her hard work and the sacrifices of her family, Araceli graduated from Stanford with a B.A. in Chicanx/Latinx studies and a minor in education. Araceli is the first person in her family to attend college, and she has held several leadership positions within the Stanford University Latinx community, where she found a home away from home. In addition to her studies, Araceli has worked alongside detained immigrants fighting for their right to seek asylum. She plans to pursue a law degree.

As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Araceli will identify and pursue advocacy opportunities that ensure equitable and excellent schools for English learners and immigrant students.


Irene Gómez

IDRA Research Fellow – Ethnic Studies and English Learner Education

Irene Gómez has joined the IDRA team as our newest Research Fellow. A daughter of Venezuelan immigrants, Irene has called Texas home for 14 years. As an undergraduate at the University of Texas, Irene led volunteers of a refugee coalition, coached Title I and first-generation students in writing, and research for equitable education policies. Post-graduation, Irene’s time as a congressional fellow in Washington, D.C., youth civic engagement intern, and curriculum developer deepened her commitment to culturally sustaining content for students.

Now a master’s student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Irene will support IDRA in researching policies for high-quality ethnic studies classes and English learner education.


Thomas Marshall

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Digital Communications and Community Engagement Advocacy

Thomas Marshall III is a native of Columbia, South Carolina and is new to the Houston area, residing in the Third Ward. He attended Clemson University for his undergraduate studies, where he received a B.A. in English with a minor in youth development studies. Educational equity is at the core of his heart and collegiate career. During his undergraduate career, he mentored and holistically developed men of color, ranging from first-year students to seniors in high school. To Thomas, educational equity is when the institution of education decides to take ownership of the inconvenient truth: the history of inequities in education put marginalized folks first. His research interests include the recruitment and retention rate of Black males at predominantly white institutions. He is currently a student in the master of education (higher education) program at the University of Houston.

As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Thomas will execute a strong digital communications and community engagement advocacy program for the 87th Texas legislative session.


Christina Muñoz 

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Equitable Response to COVID-19 in Schools

Christina is a second-generation, Latina master’s student studying quantitative methods in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Christina believes that voices from students and other advocates of color are grossly under-represented in the policymaking space. She hopes to learn how to be a stronger advocate for families, students and educators in local communities, using advocacy and community-focused data collection strategies to identify their needs.

As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Christina will identify and pursue advocacy opportunities that address both the new and the existing systemic needs that schools, students and families have due to COVID-19.


Dr. Cristóbal Rodríguez

IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellow

IDRA has named Howard University professor Dr. Cristóbal Rodríguez as the 2019 IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellow. He is an associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies and is the director of graduate studies in the School of Education at Howard University in Washington, D.C. His research centers on diverse demographics and explores how policy and leadership influence equity and access for diverse populations throughout the educational pipeline. He received his Ph.D. in educational policy and planning at the University of Texas at Austin, with an emphasis on education research, evaluation and policy analysis with a social and cultural historical focus.


Dr. Nino Rodríguez

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Racial Justice and Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Dr. Nino Rodríguez received his Ph.D. in education policy, organization and leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His training as a social-justice educator, coupled with his expertise in the social and cultural studies of education, led him to pursue educational equity throughout K-12. As a scholar-practitioner, Nino seeks to utilize his knowledge, skills and abilities to liberate Black males of maladaptive notions of what it means to be a Black man in the United States. Currently, his work focuses on adolescent Black males (ages 13 to 18), due to his desire to amplify their voices to ensure that their views and experiences will no longer be ignored during the development of “well-intentioned” programs, policies and practices created to “serve them” at the community, state and national levels.

As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Nino will identify and pursue advocacy opportunities that address the harms of school discipline and policing, which disproportionately impact Black students, students with disabilities and LGBTQ students in Texas.