Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, February 28, 2011


Page 3


MALDEF Head Tapped for Federal Education Commission


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund on Friday announced that its president and general counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, had been selected as a member of the U.S. Department of Education’s newly created Equity and Excellence Commission.

This 28-member commission—comprised of education advocates, civil rights leaders, scholars, corporate leaders and lawyers—is tasked with developing ways to close achievement gaps in America’s schools, the MALDEF release said. It was formed in response to a congressional request and met for the first time in public session last Tuesday to discuss “the scope of its work, outreach efforts, and the timetable for completion of its report,” according to the Department of Education.

Saenz remarked “equal educational opportunity is essential to our nation’s future economic prosperity and continued world leadership.” He said the commission “presents a wonderful opportunity to take a significant step toward improving equal educational opportunity across the country” adding that he was “excited to be a part of this effort, and honored to join this impressive and renowned group of commissioners.”

The attorney took the helm of MALDEF in 2009 after serving as counsel to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

  He was born and reared in Southern California before attending attended college and law school at Yale University. Saenz then served as a law clerk to the U.S. District Judge Harry L. Hupp of the Central District of California and Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt.

After gaining admission to the State Bar in 1992, Saenz joined MALDEF as a staff attorney in 1993, and became Los Angeles regional counsel three years later. In 2000, he was elevated to national senior counsel and he became vice president of litigation the following year, where he oversaw MALDEF’s efforts nationwide to pursue civil rights litigation in the areas of education, employment, political access, immigrants’ rights and public resource equity.


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