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.(3)
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.
In 1988, Munoz moved to the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic-rights organization. “I decided I wanted to be part of a Latino institution,” she told the News. “I can go to a meeting on the Hill where I'm the only Latino, have someone say something awful to me, and when I come back to the office, I don't have to explain why it was offensive.”As senior vice president, Munoz ran the organization’s advocacy and legislative agenda.(4)
She won a MacArthur fellowship in 2000 for her work. She said at the time that she would put her $500,000 grant toward the work sponsored by La Raza.(5)
Munoz was one of Obama’s top advisers on immigration issues during the 2008 campaign. She was appointed as director of intergovernmental affairs in January 2009. In that role, she will spearhead communications between the White House and state and local governments. "Munoz will be the advocate for the needs of our states, counties, towns and cities across America," Rep. Joe Baca (D-Ca.), the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Council, wrote in a press release.(6)