Celina Moreno, J.D.

President & CEO

Celina Moreno, J.D., is the president and CEO of the Intercultural Development Research Association, a national non-profit organization dedicated to equity and excellence in education. IDRA strengthens and transforms public education by providing dynamic training; useful research, evaluation, and frameworks for action; timely policy analyses; and innovative materials and student and parent leadership programs. For example, IDRA operates the largest of four U.S. Department of Education-funded Equity Assistance Centers, which assist schools in Washington, D.C., and 11 states in the U.S. South to ensure full participation by all students regardless of race, sex, gender identity, national origin or religion.

Ms. Moreno previously served as the Interim Southwest Regional Counsel for MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. At MALDEF, she successfully represented DREAMers to defend DACA and against a separate lawsuit that would have invalidated the Texas DREAM Act. Ms. Moreno also served as trial and appellate co-counsel in the challenge against the inequity and inadequacy of the Texas school finance system. She represented Bexar County and the cities of San Antonio, El Paso and others against Texas’ anti-immigrant Senate Bill 4. She served as co-counsel in the Texas redistricting case seeking to protect the rights of Latino voters, in a case challenging the conditions and the detention of an asylum-seeking woman at the Hutto Residential Center, and in a case representing the American GI Forum to reverse a “Whites-only” cemetery policy. She also co-authored MALDEF’s amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of over 20 Latino organizations to support the University of Texas at Austin’s race-conscious admissions plan.

Ms. Moreno chaired the Texas Latino Education Coalition and the Senate Hispanic Caucus/Mexican American Legislative Caucus’ Education Task Force. She also served as co-chair of the statewide TRUST Coalition – a group of business, faith, civil rights and law enforcement leaders focused on immigrants’ rights – and the Texas Election Reform Coalition, a statewide voting rights coalition.

Before joining MALDEF, Ms. Moreno directed Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s School-to-Prison Pipeline Project. Ms. Moreno is the recipient of the Center for Public Policy Priorities’ 2017 Future of Texas Award and received one of twelve 2017 Women of Distinction awards from the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce. She is also a 2018 German Marshall Fellow.

She received a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School (focusing on education), a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and a law degree from the University of Houston. In her hometown of San Antonio, she was appointed to the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women and the board of the Martinez Street Women’s Center, a non-profit seeking to empower women and girls. She currently serves on the advisory council of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.


Recent Media Coverage

Protect college admission laws that reward merit, hard work [op ed], Celina Moreno, J.D., Texas Tribune, April 4, 2019

UH Law Center graduate Celina Moreno ’10 chosen to lead education advocacy organization, University of Houston Law Center, November 16, 2018

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