I am delighted to join the Trellis Foundation – an organization I have admired for over a decade – as Program Associate of Learning & Communication! This role fits my previous nonprofit and philanthropic service and perfectly aligns with my commitment to racial equity and social justice.

As the daughter of a journalist and a librarian, words were my first love. As an adult, I discovered a sense of purpose in telling stories and crafting narratives that bring people together for change. My family background also drives my commitment to increasing equity and opportunity for each generation. My grandparents journeyed to the U.S. from Mexico and worked as migrant farmworkers so that future generations could succeed. The entire family worked to put each of my aunts and uncles through college successfully. Education was the key to achieving the American Dream and catapulting us into the middle class in a single generation.

Of course, our real story is more complex. I understood even as a child that luck – being born a few miles north of the border instead of south – had played its part for my father and his siblings. Standing on the high school graduation stage with my classmates, I understood that what came next for each of us would depend mainly on these accidents of birth: our parents’ income, race, gender, and citizenship status. As I pursued my own degrees and career, I developed a critical analysis of the structural barriers to higher education, good jobs, financial security, and generational wealth that reinforce historical stratifications of our society by race, class, and gender.

As a longtime Texas policy advocate fighting for expanded economic opportunity, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Trellis Foundation to address these structural barriers and increase equity in higher education attainment for low-income students and students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). I could not be more honored to join this fantastic team. I look forward to working with our grantees and partners to share their lessons learned, innovations, and stories with the field as we all work to improve higher education outcomes in Texas.

About the Author

Mia Ibarra, Program Associate

Mia Ibarra joined the Trellis Foundation in 2023 with more than 14 years of experience in nonprofit, government, and philanthropic service. Before Trellis, she was an advocate and campaign manager at Every Texan (formerly the Center for Public Policy Priorities), a statewide public policy nonprofit. Mia’s previous higher education background includes the Udall Foundation, where she managed the competitive undergraduate Udall Scholarship program. Mia is passionate about the transformative power of higher education and lifelong learning.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in political economy from the Evergreen State College and a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin.