Thomas Saenz (Secretary)

President and General Counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund)

“As the Latino community continues to grow – already accounting for 1 in 4 public school students nationwide – our systems to prepare young people for the future must adjust to better serve this community, or our nation will suffer. 
The new Opportunity Institute’s integrated approach to complicated, yet intricately interwoven, issues is most assuredly what is needed.  Moreover, by committing that concerns important to the immigrant community and to English language learners remain at the center of its work, the Opportunity Institute ensures its relevance and concrete contribution to the needs of our nation today.”
—Thomas Saenz

Thomas A. Saenz is the President and General Counsel of MALDEF, where he leads the civil rights organization’s five offices in pursuing litigation, policy advocacy, and community education to promote the civil rights of Latinos living in the United States. Saenz re-joined MALDEF in August 2009, after spending four years on Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s executive team as Counsel to the Mayor.

He previously spent 12 years at MALDEF practicing civil rights law as a staff attorney, regional counsel, and Vice President of litigation. He served as MALDEF’s lead counsel in numerous cases in the areas of education, employment, immigrants’ rights, and voting rights.

Saenz graduated from Yale College and Yale Law School, and he clerked for two federal judges before initially joining MALDEF in 1993.