Celina Moreno

Celina Moreno, J.D.

President & CEO

Celina Moreno, J.D., is the president and CEO of IDRA, a national non-profit organization dedicated to equity and excellence in education. IDRA strengthens and transforms public education by: providing dynamic educator training, actionable research, and bold policy advocacy; directing powerful student and parent leadership programs; and building people power to create schools that nourish all students.

Ms. Moreno previously directed policy and litigation for the Southwest Regional Office for MALDEF (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 (2017). 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 (TLEEC) and the joint Education Task Force of the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus and Mexican American Legislative Caucus. 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. She is a 2018 German Marshall Fellow. Ms. Moreno is also the recipient of the Center for Public Policy Priorities’ 2017 Future of Texas Award, which is given to a visionary young leader who has made a demonstrable and valuable impact on Texas. She also received one of twelve 2017 Women of Distinction awards from the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce.

Ms. Moreno received a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and a law degree from the University of Houston. Ms. Moreno served as an invited member of the Texas 2036 Advisory Committee on Maximizing Education Resources for Texas 2036’s Education Resource Project. 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 (now named Empower House), a non-profit seeking to empower women and girls. She currently serves on the advisory council of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. In 2021, she co-created curriculum for a course on social justice through policy offered by The A&M-Commerce Department of Educational Leadership.

Moreno is passionate about dance, national parks, and international travel and loves spending time with her three stepchildren, her husband Lucio, and their infant Yazmín.

Media featuring Celina Moreno

IDRA President and CEO Celina Moreno | ¡Nosotros! with Elaine Ayala, November 17, 2023

Latinas in Education, ¡SALUD!, KLRN-TV, September 28, 2023

How YOU can impact education policy | Empowering student voices (IDRA profile), The Niceset Nick, July 2, 2023

50 Years of Strengthening Education in SA, Nation, KABB-TV Focus on South Texas, May 27, 2023

‘This is our legacy’ — Commemorating 50 years of the fight for school finance equity in Rodriguez vs San Antonio ISD, Texas Public Radio: Fronteras, March 10, 2023

Youth STEM Ambassadors to Peek Inside the World of Aviation and Aerospace, State Aviation Journal, January 24, 2021

Law journal to host immigration experts from across the United States – Virtual immigration symposium to focus on reconnecting with humanity, St. Mary’s University News, February 23, 2021

Want to increase voter participation? Invest in education, #WeRefuseToLose, November 18, 2020

Mexican American Civil Rights and Public Education panel at the launch of the Mexican American Civil Rights Institute in San Antonio, August 14, 2020

Commentary: Not aiding DACA students merciless, by Celina Moreno, for the San Antonio Express-News, May 14, 2020

Schools Lean on Staff Who Speak Students’ Language to Keep English-Learners Connected, Corey Mitchell, Education Week, April 27, 2020

A Unique Blend of Research, Policy, Practice and Engagement to Impact Public Education for All Students, by Celina Moreno, María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, Aurelio Montemayor, Association of Mexican American Educators (AMAE) Journal, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2019

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


IDRA President’s Message Re: COVID-19 to Our Community Partners, March 23, 2020