Luis A. Perales

About Luis A. Perales

Luis Alberto Perales Villarreal, M.S. is a native son of the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.  He is the son of an immigrant mother and an 6thgeneration Tejano father.  His rural upbringing along the U.S./Mexico borderlands is the backdrop to his intimate relationship with the Mexican American culture. A transplant to Tucson, AZ and the Sonoran Desert, Luis has spent over a decade in the Old Pueblo.  He is a two time graduate of the University of Arizona, earning his BA in Mexican American Studies in 2002, his MS in Mexican American Studies with a concentration in Latino Health in 2012, and he is currently pursuing his PhD as part of the first PhD cohort for the Mexican American Studies program.  He is a former Co-chair of M.E.Ch.A. at the U of A, a transformative educator at the Institute for Transformative Education, and co-founder of Tierra Y Libertad Organization. He has had the honor of being a two time EXPORT Fellow and a Green For All Academy Fellow.  He has directed his energies to train and develop community at the grassroots level in the areas of health promotion, cultural preservation, and environmental sustainability. 

His passion and dedication to the Tucson community begins when he gained employment as a youth programs intern in the Youth Services Department of Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC).  In this position, he aided the department to implement its many culturally based programs and services.  This experience prepared him for his future employment in the areas of Behavioral Health and Prevention.  As a cultural health worker, Luis was able to continue his relationship with CPLC by providing health and cultural promotion classes at Calli Ollin High School. After several years of successful partnership, Luis began to work with the South Tucson Prevention Collaborative, a multi agency collaboration that helped to bring prevention and cultural education services to young people in the City of South Tucson.  In the end, his passion for teaching culture and history became his focal point, and in 2005, Luis gained employment with CPLC Community Schools and joined the teaching ranks of Toltecalli High School.  For a period of five years he was the Cultural Studies instructor for the school, giving guidance and direction to his students in the areas of Mexican American history, Latino Health, and Service Learning. His top accomplishment at Toltecalli was the creation, implementation, and growth of the Toltecalli Sustainability Project,a multiyear, college preparatory program that integrated academics, authentic social research, career exploration, and community service.  

With respect to his dedication to transformational learning, cultural preservation and environmental sustainability, Luis credits his upbringing along the U.S. - Mexico border.  His family has had an intimate relationship with agriculture and land management since before the Mexican Revolution. They have continually worked land on both sides of the U.S. - Mexico border and have instilled the values of experiential learning, culture and land preservation into all that they do. Luis has taken these precious lessons with him everywhere that he has gone and has learned to integrate them into his personal, professional, and academic endeavors. A true testament to this practice is his role as co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at the Institute for Transformative Education (ITE). The institute is responsible for cutting edge educational research and the operation of Changemaker High School (CMHS), the first high school in Arizona to be a member of Ashoka’s International Changemaker School Network, one of nearly 200 schools worldwide. Since 2012, CMHS has implemented a new educational experience filled with challenge and opportunities for the young people of Tucson. Recognizing that the world is defined by change and that education should match that change, CMHS has put forth a new approach to teaching and learning that makes empathy and changemaking as important as reading, writing, and math. 

Luis lives with his wife, 14-year-old son, and two 10-year-old twin sons in the south side of Tucson.

Luis A. Perales's picture

Contact Information


Graduate Certificate        
Univerisity of Arizona, Office of Instruction and Assesment, Graduate Certificate in College Teaching, 2014.

University of Arizona, Mexican American Studies, Latino Health Concentration, 2012.
Thesis: Toward Barrio Sustainability: A Mixed Methods Approach to Seeking Spatial Justice.
Cumulative GPA 4.0.
Committee Co-Chairs: Dr. Lydia Otero, Dr. Julio Camarrota, and Dr. Patricia Gonzales.

University of Arizona, Major in Mexican American Studies, Thematic Minor in Spanish & Public Health, 2002. Dean’s List.

Dissertation Title

Digital Chicano History of the Lower Rio Grande Valley: RGV Collective Action (1961 – 1979)

Courses Taught


MAS 365: Latinos and Latinas: Emerging Contemporary Social Issues. 
The course utilize a critical analyses and social science research approach to deconstruct and help students develop an understanding of the contemporary issues related to Latinos and the environment.