The National Council of La Raza is the largest civil rights and advocacy organization for Hispanics living in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NCLR works with nearly 300 community organizations across the country and in Puerto Rico to reach local communities and address health, housing, education, and employment issues, and foster youth leadership. The organization also supports research and advocates in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the Hispanic community living in the United States. The organization, which was founded by a group of Mexican Americans in the 1960s, was originally called the National Organization for Mexican American Services, and sought to support academic research and strengthen advocacy organizations. When the organization went national in 1973, the organization changed its name to its current one. In 1975, it began to expand its focus to include non-Mexican American Latinos.
Political activist Janet Murguia has served as president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza since 2005. She has regularly testified before Congress about issues relating to the Latino community. Under her leadership, NCLR registered 200,000 new Hispanic voters in 2008, and has helped more than 1.5 million immigrants apply for citizenship. She has encouraged greater community political involvement, and has worked with other minority community organizations, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She has a past of involvement in the Democratic Party, and served as deputy campaign manager and director of constituency outreach for the Gore campaign in 2000. In addition to her involvement with NCLR, she also serves on the boards of the Independent Sector, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, and is an executive committee member of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.