Cecilia Muñoz

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Cecilia Muñoz
Cecilia Munoz.jpg
Director of the Domestic Policy Council
In office
January 10, 2012 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
DeputyJames Kvaal
Preceded byMelody Barnes
Succeeded byAndrew Bremberg
Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
In office
January 20, 2009 – January 10, 2012
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byElizabeth Dial
Succeeded byDavid Agnew
Personal details
Born (1962-07-27) July 27, 1962 (age 56)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Amit Pandya
EducationUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor (BA)
University of California, Berkeley (MA)

Cecilia Muñoz (born July 27, 1962) was the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Obama, a position she held for five years. Prior to that, she served as the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for three years. Before working for the White House, she was Senior Vice President for the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest Latino advocacy organization in the United States.[1] At NCLR, she supervised all legislative and advocacy activities conducted by NCLR policy staff. She was also the Chair of the Board of the Center for Community Change and served on the U.S. Programs Board of the Open Society Institute and on the boards of directors of the Atlantic Philanthropies and the National Immigration Forum. In 2000, she was named a MacArthur Fellow for her work on civil rights and immigration.[2] She was featured in several episodes of the documentary series How Democracy Works Now: Twelve Stories, and she contributed a chapter to West Wingers: Stories from the Dream Chasers, Change Makers, and Hope Creators Inside the Obama White House discussing her experiences in the Obama White House.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Muñoz was born in Detroit, Michigan[4] the youngest of four children. Her parents had moved to the United States from La Paz, Bolivia,[5] so that her father, an automotive engineer, could go to the University of Michigan. When she was three, the family moved to Livonia, a middle-class, predominantly white Detroit suburb. Muñoz attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.[6] As a volunteer, she worked as a tutor to Hispanic American inmates at the state prison in nearby Jackson. She earned undergraduate degrees in English and Latin American studies in 1984. Following graduation, Muñoz continued her education at the University of California at Berkeley, where she earned a master's degree,[7] also in Latin American Studies.

Obama Administration[edit]

As Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Muñoz was the Obama Administration's main liaison with state, local and tribal governments, including the Big Seven organizations that represent most state and local officials, including the Council of State Governments, the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures. She co-chaired the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico's Political Status, where her work made several politicians from both sides celebrate her designation as head of the Domestic Policy Council.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Muñoz is married to Amit Pandya, a human rights lawyer; they have two daughters.[9]


She was featured in the documentary film Last Best Chance,[10] story twelve of the series How Democracy Works Now, from filmmakers Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini. A cut of the film premiered on HBO in March 2010, under the title The Senator's Bargain.[11]

Muñoz appeared in Mountains and Clouds,[12] story 2 in the series How Democracy Works Now, where she and Frank Sharry discuss being at a potential "watershed moment" for comprehensive immigration reform, in 2001. Additionally, she was featured in Ain't the AFL for Nothin',[13] story seven in the series where she is shown working on a proposal for immigration, in 2003.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ change.gov (26 November 2008). "President-Elect Barack Obama names two new White House staff members" (Press release). Newsroom. Office of the President-elect. Retrieved November 26, 2008.
  2. ^ "Director of Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Muñoz". Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  3. ^ West Wingers | PenguinRandomHouse.com.
  4. ^ Notable Hispanic American Women (1999). "Cecilia Muñoz" (Website). Hispanic Heritage. Gale Biography Resource Center. Retrieved November 26, 2008.
  5. ^ Clift, Eleanor (2018-06-22). "Obama Immigration Vet Cecilia Munoz: 'The Choices Are All Terrible'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  6. ^ "University of Michigan's star alums share stage during True Blue!". MLive.com. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  7. ^ "Cecilia Muñoz". whitehouse.gov. 2011-08-17. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  8. ^ "Home - El Nuevo Día". Elnuevodia.com. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
  9. ^ Nakamura, David (2014-09-08). "White House immigration adviser Cecilia Muñoz is taking the heat for Obama". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  10. ^ "Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Story | The Senators' Bargain | Last Best Chance". How Democracy Works Now. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
  11. ^ "The Senators Bargain: Home". HBO. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
  12. ^ "Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Story | Mountains and Clouds". How Democracy Works Now. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
  13. ^ "Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Story | Ain't the AFL for Nothin'". How Democracy Works Now. Retrieved 2014-01-22.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Congress Weakens Immigration Policies." Associated Press. December 1, 1997.
  • Eversley, Melanie. "A Leading Authority: Detroit Native Speaks Out Proudly for Latino Issues." Detroit Free Press. November 3, 1997.
  • Hayward, Brad. "Welfare Reform Has Legal Immigrants Wary." Sacramento Bee. September 4, 1996.
  • "Immigrants Add $10 Billion to Economy Annually, Study Says." Washington Times. May 19, 1997.
  • McDonnell, Patrick J. "Proposed Cutbacks in Aid Alarm Legal Immigrants." Los Angeles Times. July 30, 1996, p. A1.
  • Navarrette, Ruben, Jr. "Groups Ask for Cuts in Immigrants." Arizona Republic. November 11, 1997.
  • Sample, Herbert A. "Activists Want Food Stamps Restored to Immigrants." Orange County Register. August 22, 1997, p. A15.
  • Sun, Lena H. "White House Queries Activist on Citizenship." Washington Post. March 21, 1997, p. A28.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Melody Barnes
Director of the Domestic Policy Council
Succeeded by
Andrew Bremberg