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2021 Conference Guest Speakers 

Hector Balderas is serving his second term as New Mexico’s Attorney General and is a Certified Fraud Examiner. As the chief law enforcement officer and chief civil officer for the State of New Mexico, Hector has transformed the Office of the Attorney General to focus on keeping our children and families safe, empowering New Mexican families and small businesses for financial success, and protecting New Mexico’s pristine environment.

As Attorney General, Balderas transformed the Special Prosecutions Division, Special Investigations Division, New Mexico Human Trafficking Task Force, and expanded the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in a successful effort to combat the most dangerous offenders, violent sexual predators, and corrupt politicians. Balderas has secured convictions for victims of unspeakable acts of sexual and other violence around the state, and secured the first state level conviction of a statewide elected official and another against a former legislator. Balderas’ Criminal Appeals Division has also obtained several landmark Supreme Court opinions that have kept New Mexico’s most violent criminals in prison.

Attorney General Balderas has achieved unprecedented victories for New Mexicans in civil courts by securing the largest Tobacco Settlement payment in state history and tens of millions of dollars in settlements from large corporations for preying on New Mexicans. Balderas is also aggressively litigating against the opioid industry and made New Mexico the first state to sue opioid distributors, in addition to manufacturers, for inundating New Mexico with highly addictive opioids that have devastated the state for decades.

After law school Hector became a Bernalillo County Assistant District Attorney, was elected to a seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives at age 29, and then served two terms as New Mexico’s State Auditor. As State Auditor, Balderas had oversight of $60 billion in assets collectively held by over 1,000 government entities in New Mexico. He immediately pursued an aggressive agenda designed to protect taxpayer funds and hold government agencies accountable. During his time as State Auditor, Hector’s effort to target corruption yielded historic results. His special audits and investigations exposed rampant financial mismanagement of taxpayer funds throughout many government agencies and schools.

Hector Balderas

Attorney General 

New Mexico

On October 1, 2013, Maureen Hoyler assumed the position of President of the Council for Opportunity in Education, a nonprofit organization that provides professional development, program improvement, and advocacy for nearly 2,800 federally funded college opportunity programs at more than 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide. Ms. Hoyler has been a voice for low-income, first-generation students and individuals with disabilities. As President, she oversees management of the Washington office and the fiscal affairs of the Association also while serving as the primary liaison between the Association and the United States Congress, the Executive Branch, all Governmental Agencies. She is the official representative of the Association with all other postsecondary educational associations.

Under her leadership, the Council has launched several new initiatives, including the Executive Leadership Institute for College Opportunity Professionals, which brings educational opportunity chapter leaders to institutions such as Princeton, Cornell, and Yale for instruction in various topics such as transformational leadership and public policy as well as provides on-going mentorship by highly experienced college access and success leaders. Hoyler also spearheaded the creation of the First-Generation College Celebration, during which hundreds of campuses recognize their first-generation students and faculty on the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (November 8). She has brokered partnerships with corporations such as Comcast to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for underrepresented students.

Hoyler began her career at the Educational Opportunity Program at Marquette University as an assistant to the then Director, Dr. Arnold Mitchem. Ms. Hoyler moved to Washington in 1981 to establish the Council’s office. As the organization’s Chief Operating Officer, she has played an integral role in the growth of the organization over the past 33 years, starting from a staff of one full-time professional. Ms. Hoyler has lectured widely on federal law and regulations. Over the years, she has received numerous awards from TRIO-based associations. She received her B.A. and her law degree from Marquette University from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Maureen Hoyler


Council for Opportunity in Education

Dr. T. Chris George is the Director of TRIO Student Support Services in the Division of Enrollment and Student Experience at Western Kentucky University (WKU). Chris began his professional TRIO career at Murray State University (KY) Talent Search. In addition to TRIO, over the course of his career Chris has been a faculty member teaching University Experience for 15 years at WKU, in 2007 he was honored with the WKU First Year Student Advocate Award. He has also taught World Civilization II at WKU and currently teaches World History I and II for Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College. George holds a Bachelor of Arts in History, Master of Arts in History, and an Education Specialist in School Leadership, all from Western Kentucky University. He also holds a doctorate in Education Leadership from the University of Cumberlands. Over the years, Dr. George has had the privilege to promote college access and success through various leadership roles. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Kentucky TRIO Association, regionally on the Board of Directors for Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (SAEOPP), and nationally with the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). He has worked as a TRIO Trainer for both SAEOPP and COE, as well as consultant with First Gen Solutions LLC. He is a co-founder of First Gen Solutions, LLC and of George Education and Events Solutions, LLC. Chris enjoys playing slow pitch softball, fantasy football, and attending sporting events (especially baseball and football).

Chris George

Board Chair

Council for Opportunity in Education

Dr. Arnold Mitchem, President Emeritus of the Council for Opportunity in Education, has been a voice for low-income, first-generation students and individuals with disabilities his entire career. Thanks to his work, the federally funded TRIO Programs have expanded by nearly 400% and now serve more than 872,000 students at 1,200 colleges and universities.

He began his career on the History faculty at Marquette University in Milwaukee and was named the Director of the Educational Opportunity Program in 1969. He relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1986 to serve as President of the Council for Opportunity in Education until October 2013.

Dr. Mitchem has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from eleven universities:  CUNY-Lehman College in New York; DePaul University; University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; University of Liverpool, England, Marquette University; Marycrest College; University of Massachusetts at Boston; Lewis University; St. Joseph University in Philadelphia; St. Louis University; and SUNY Buffalo State.

Dr. Arnold Mitchem

President Emeritus

Council for Opportunity in Education

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