Marisa Bono, a lifelong social justice advocate and thought leader, has joined Every Texan as its next chief executive officer. Bono brings extensive experience as a civil rights lawyer and public servant. She is the first Latina and first person of color to serve as Every Texan’s CEO.
Bono joins Every Texan – formerly the Center for Public Policy Priorities – after most recently serving as Chief Strategic Officer of VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, and as Chief of Policy for San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg prior to that.
“Marisa is the strong, visionary leader Every Texan needs at this critical time for our state,” said James Aldrete, board chair of Every Texan. “After an extensive national search, Marisa rose to the top because of her exemplary track record championing social justice issues, her collaborative leadership style, and her authentic approach to building coalitions across the state to inspire Texans to join us in forging a more equitable and just future.”
Earlier in her career, Bono was the Southwest Regional Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s premier Latino civil rights law firm.
She has unique experience in the area of school funding, having tried school funding cases in Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico, where she challenged the inadequacy of school funding for low income and English Language Learner students, Every Texan said in a news release.
She was the first Latina to argue a school funding case in the Texas Supreme Court. She also served as the lead attorney in Martinez v. New Mexico, a landmark school funding case where she represented more than 50 low income and English Language Learner students across the state in a nine-week trial.
Bono directed MALDEF’s litigation and state policy agendas in the areas of education and funding, immigration, voting rights, political access and employment in the Southwest region. Her docket focused on immigrants’ rights and education impact litigation across a broad spectrum.
“I am honored to join the team at Every Texan, an organization that embodies my own core values of social justice and equity, inside and out,” Bono said. “Texas still has a long way to go when it comes to ensuring opportunity for everyone – I’m thrilled to work with this team and our community partners toward a future where Texans of all backgrounds can contribute to and share in the prosperity of our state.”
Bono will focus on continuing and expanding Every Texan’s work researching and advocating for social justice and building coalitions across the state to expand equitable opportunities for all Texans, the organization said.
She was born and raised in San Antonio. She has a law degree and master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan, where she was Managing Editor of the Michigan Law Review, and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Rice University.
Bono follows Ann Beeson, who stepped down in October 2020 after seven years as CEO. Kathy Miller has served as interim CEO, supporting Every Texan’s policy and advocacy experts while the organization successfully completed the national search.