HLA Staff, Mario Da Costa

Mario Da Costa

Advocacy Director


Mario Da Costa joins Higher Learning Advocates as the Advocacy Director, seeking to level the playing field and modernize the pathways to and through higher education for all of today’s learners.

Bringing almost a decade’s worth of experience in federal and state politics, Mario’s journey to HLA is what some people could consider a “unique” one: having immigrated from Portugal at the age of nine, his experiences growing up in Newark, NJ, instilled in him a desire to support the most impacted and disenfranchised communities – starting with education.

Most recently served as the Policy Manager for Teach Plus PA, an educator-equity organization seeking to empower the voices of pre-K through 12 leaders in policymaking. Before that, Mario was the Associate Director for Strategic Initiatives and Operations at the College Board, managing the digital advocacy efforts, federal government relations initiatives, and strategic coalition memberships across 45 states and territories. Prior to his work at the College Board, Mario worked in a variety of capacities throughout the political sector – managing federal affairs campaigns, supporting strategic communications/research, and leading GOTV & canvassing efforts for candidates across the spectrum.

Mario’s interests range beyond the world of education/politics, as he previously worked as a cook in several NYC restaurants, competed as a semi-professional MMA fighter, and wrote/produced music for a few artists. Mario holds a B.A. in Political Science from Seton Hall University (Go Pirates!) and is an aspiring sommelier. When he’s not at work, you can usually find Mario doing something outdoors, supporting his alma mater, and behind a good book or an equally good bourbon.