Celina Moreno, J.D.

President & CEO

Celina Moreno, J.D., is the president and CEO of the Intercultural Development Research Association in San Antonio, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to equity and excellence in education. IDRA works with school systems, institutions of higher education, and communities across the country to create education that works for all children, particularly those who are minority, poor or limited-English-proficient. She previously directed the Southwest Regional Counsel for MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

She received degrees in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, journalism from UT-Austin, and law 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.

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 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 previously chaired the Texas Latino Education Coalition and the Senate Hispanic Caucus/Mexican American Legislative Caucus’ (MALC) 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.

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