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UH Law Center graduate Celina Moreno '10 chosen to lead education advocacy organization

Celina Moreno ’10.

Celina Moreno '10.

Nov. 16, 2018 — Celina Moreno, a 2010 alumna of the University of Law Center, was recently named president and CEO of the Intercultural Development Research Association, a national non-profit education advocacy organization founded over 45 years ago. Moreno will begin her new role on Feb. 1, 2019.

"IDRA's mission is to achieve equal educational opportunity for every child through strong public schools that prepare all students to access and succeed in college," Moreno said. "As someone who grew up seeing firsthand the inequities within and across school districts, I am so privileged to dedicate my life's work advocating so that all students can reach their full potential."

Moreno previously directed the Southwest Regional Office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a national civil rights organization known as the law firm of the Latino community. At MALDEF, she served as co-counsel in lawsuits against Texas and New Mexico to improve those state's education systems and in a case representing Dreamers to defend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals against the State of Texas' attempt to end DACA.

"On behalf of MALDEF's 22 Dreamer clients, including UHLC graduate and lead plaintiff Karla Perez, MALDEF won a major victory this summer in Texas v. United States by convincing a federal judge to reject Texas's attempt to block renewals of grants of DACA to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants nationwide," Moreno said. "These Dreamers simply want to live without fear, pursue their dreams and give back to the only country they know as home."

Before joining MALDEF, Moreno directed Texas RioGrande Legal Aid's School-to-Prison Pipeline Project as an Equal Justice Works Fellow.

She has served as the co-chair for the Senate Hispanic Caucus/Mexican American Legislative Caucus Education Task Force and the statewide TRUST Coalition, a group of business, faith, civil rights and law enforcement leaders focused on immigrants' rights. She has also co-coordinated the Texas Latino Education Coalition and the Texas Election Reform Coalition. Moreno also received degrees in journalism from the University of Texas and a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

While attending the Law Center. Moreno worked as a research assistant to Professor Michael A. Olivas, the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law and director of the Institute for Higher Education Law & Governance.

"I have been blessed to have had some great students over the years in my various classes, but after so many years, they often run together in my memory," Olivas said. "But I will never forget the paper she submitted in our Higher Education Law Seminar, which addressed how the California Supreme Court should decide an important residency tuition case for undocumented students, an area of my own research and scholarship. 

"In her paper, she wrote a trail map for the Court, which then overturned an unfortunate appellate court decision. The Court then followed exactly the theories and statutory interpretation she had proposed. I have been pleased to have seen her mature student work then, and now again as a MALDEF Board member. She is very smart and works for people who really need her talents."