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HSF Leaders

Celina Moreno

  • Gender: Female
  • University: The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin)
  • University: Harvard Kennedy School
  • Undergraduate Degree: Journalism
  • Graduate Degree: Public Policy
  • Organization: Intercultural Development Research Association
  • Position Title: President & CEO
  • HSF Leadership Role: Member, HSF Advisory Council, San Antonio

“My parents always told me [a higher education] …would help me see the world in a different light,” Celina says. “Going to college has not only helped me better understand the world, it has also been my passport to the world.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) where she was a reporter for the UT-Austin newspaper, The Daily Texan, participated as a member of the UT National Association of Hispanic Journalists and MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán), and also helped found an arts nonprofit for middle and high school students. She went on to pursue a law degree from the University of Houston, followed by a master's in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

She says she faced some challenges during her time at Harvard, once of which was adapting to the campus environment, which felt starkly different from her Mexican American community back home. She adds that this contrast was put to the ultimate test when her father passed away in the middle of graduate school. “Not dropping out to come home to San Antonio to be with my family was the hardest thing I've ever done,” she recalls

Today, she is the President & CEO of the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), a nonprofit that works to achieve equal educational opportunity for children through strong public schools that prepare all students to access and succeed in college.

Previously, she served as Interim Southwest Regional Counsel for MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), where she used public policy and the law to push for change within the education system. Prior to  that she served as Co-Chair for the Senate Hispanic Caucus/Mexican American Legislative Caucus Education Task Force, Co-Administrator of the statewide TRUST (Texas Residents United for a Stronger Texas) coalition on immigrant rights, and Co-Counsel on the litigation to defend DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). She has also served as the founding Co-Chair of the State Bar of Texas’ Education and Juvenile Justice Task Force.

Outside of her professional work, she is a board member for the Martinez Street Women's Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on empowering women and girls, and has also served as Commissioner of the San Antonio Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women.

Celina acknowledges she was blessed with an “excellent education” and credits the support of her family for her success. She says that wanting to pay that forward is what motivated her to join the HSF Advisory Council in San Antonio.

Her advice for students preparing to graduate from college and enter their professional field is, “Be humble, leave your ego at the door, and be sure to seek out mentors that can help guide you.”