At a Glance
- Career History: Diocese of Chicago, immigration advocate (1984 to 1988); National Council of La Raza, executive vice president (1988 to 2009)
- Birthday: 1962
- Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
- Alma Mater: University, of Michigan, BA, University of California at Berkely, Masters
- Spouse: B/A
- Religion: Roman Catholic
Path to Power
Munoz was born in Detroit in 1962. Her parents, who were immigrants from La Paz, Bolivia, moved so Munoz's father could attend the University of Michigan. Munoz attended the same school nearly two decades later, where she studied English and Latin American studies. She also tutored imprisoned Hispanic Americans.
After graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley, Munoz moved to Chicago to help the Diocese of Chicago legalize undocumented immigrants. "I was working 14-, 16-hour days. It was intense," she told the Detroit News in 1997. "I had a real sense of obligation not to mess up." But Munoz also said she faced sexism from some priests, discrimination that ultimately led her to reconsider her role with the Catholic Church.
Munoz has centered her advocacy work on fighting for the rights of Hispanic Americans. "The line between anti-immigrant and anti-Latino is pretty thin," Munoz told The Washington Post in 2000. "The day when my kids can walk down the street and be called American, that's the goal."
She has been described as the person to call when television stations need an immigration expert. "She's a ferocious advocate, a very powerful spokesperson," Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, told the Detroit News. "She is as tough and determined an advocate as you can find … she doesn't back down an inch."
Munoz was part of President Barack Obama 's 2008 presidential campaign. She advised him on Hispanic relations along with Cuauthemoc Figueroa and has worked with Secretary of Labor-designate Hilda L. Solis.