Maria Morales Spelleri serves as General Counsel & Executive Vice President for Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. and it’s over 70 affiliates, overseeing CPLC’s legal, compliance, internal audit, human resources, risk management and insurance corporate services for CPLC four pillars of operations in affordable housing, education, health and human services and economic development. In July 2011, Ms. Spelleri joined CPLC to serve in its newly-created General Counsel position and to advise CPLC and its Board of Directors on all legal matters. Ms. Spelleri brings over 20 years of legal experience that includes advising nonprofits in areas relating to tax, personnel, policy, governance, regulatory compliance and litigation matters.
Prior to joining CPLC, Ms. Spelleri was an equity owner and partner at Lewis and Roca LLP, counseling nonprofit organizations, public agencies, small manufacturers and affordable housing developers in financing the acquisition, construction, renovation, equipping or refinancing of new or expanding capital projects. Ms. Spelleri began her legal practice as a bankruptcy attorney at Lewis and Roca LLP in 1997 where she remained practicing as a public finance attorney until joining CPLC to start up its legal department as its first General Counsel.
Ms. Spelleri’s legal practice concentrated on economic development financing programs and related finance, securities, tax, real estate and public law, including affordable housing programs that are financed with HUD and HOME funds. Ms. Spelleri counseled large corporate trustees of taxable and tax-exempt bonds and represented both borrowers and lenders in negotiating financial and operational terms and conditions. As a bankruptcy lawyer, Ms. Spelleri researched, wrote and argued various motions and memoranda submitted to bankruptcy, district and appeals’ courts on behalf of Chapter 7, 11 and 13 debtors, creditors and trustees.
Ms. Spelleri received Arizona’s 2016 Associate Corporate Counsel Award for excellence in the nonprofit sector and has been recognized as one of Arizona’s top business lawyers in public finance in the April 2010 edition of AZ Business’ Top Lawyers. She is a member of the National Association of Bond Lawyers, the Arizona State Bar Association, the Maricopa County Bar Association, Los Abogados Bar Association and the Association of Corporate Counsel.
Ms. Spelleri’s community service includes holding various leadership positions on boards of several nonprofit organizations. Ms. Spelleri is a member of the Board of Directors for The Industrial Development Authority of County of Maricopa and has served as the immediate past Chairwoman of Valle del Sol, Inc., the Phoenix Residential Investment Development Effort (PRIDE) and the Secretary of New Arizona Family, Inc. Additionally, Ms. Spelleri has previously served as a member of the Phoenix Commission on Housing and Neighborhoods.
Ms. Spelleri received a law degree from Boston University School of Law and an MBA from Boston University School of Management. Ms. Spelleri’s additional graduate studies included selection as a fellow in the Jesse Marvin Unruh Assembly Fellowship program at Sacramento State University. In this capacity, Ms. Spelleri served in the California State Legislature as committee consultant for the Assembly Human Services Committee.
Ms. Spelleri received a BA in political science from San Jose State University and completed her degree by serving as an Assembly Legislative Aide in the California State Legislature. As part of her undergraduate coursework, Ms. Spelleri studied European political science, economics, literature and art history abroad for a year at Spain’s Universidad Complutense de Madrid in the CSU International Spanish Immersion Program.