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2014 Presenter Biographies

Congressional Roundtable

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

U.S. Congressman (TX-15)

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, a longtime businessman and native of the Rio Grande Valley/ South Texas, was elected to represent Texas' 15th Congressional District in November 1996.

The Congressman serves on two House Committees: Education and the Workforce; and Financial Services. He is also a Co-Chair of the Democratic Caucus Education Task Force, and in this capacity will develop a strong education policy in the 107th Congress.

Congressman Hinojosa has distinguished himself as an advocate for education, Social Security, health care, agriculture, veterans' issues, economic development and infrastructure projects. He demonstrated his ability to serve as a bipartisan consensus builder when he helped in the fight to create an emergency relief package providing $25 billion over a four year period for farmers and ranchers who suffered devastating losses due to natural disasters from 1998 through 2001.

Hinojosa was also instrumental in expanding local access to quality health care for South Texas veterans. For the first time, inpatient services (including surgery) are available at approved hospitals in Hidalgo and Cameron Counties, eliminating 80% of the need to travel to San Antonio. Hinojosa also worked with the Veterans Administration to establish primary care community-based outpatient clinics in the cities of Alice, Beeville, Kingsville and Uvalde. Hinojosa is also working with state legislators to secure a U.S. tate Veterans Memorial Cemetery in South Texas.

Congressman Hinojosa's lifetime commitment to education on the local, regional, state and federal levels has created opportunities for all students to pursue higher education. His Education Committee assignment, as well as his appointment to chair the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Education Task Force, were critical to the success of his first major legislative initiative entitled "The Higher Education for the 21st Century Act." This bill secured an increased authorized funding level of $69 million for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs); enhanced visibility of HSIs within the Higher Education Act; relaxed the restrictions for institutional eligibility for HSI designation; and improved the ways and financial means by which HSIs strengthen curriculum development, academic instruction, mentoring, and college libraries.

As a member of the Financial Services Committee, Congressman Hinojosa is a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government-Sponsored Enterprises; Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy, Technology, and Economic Growth; and Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. As a former member of the Small Business Committee, Hinojosa increased access to capital and loans for small businesses; removed tax and regulatory burdens; and promoted business growth and opportunity in economically depressed areas through the new and improved Small Business Administration programs of today. He also led the successful effort to create a Womens' Business Center at the University of Texas-Edinburg.

Not only has Congressman Hinojosa made his mark in Washington, D.C., but he has also brought Washington to South Texas. He has invited and hosted many high-profile leaders to the 15th Congressional District to speak directly with residents about their needs and concerns. Among them were President Clinton, Vice-President Al Gore, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, Secretary of Commerce William Daley, Secretary of Education Richard Riley, Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Hershel Gober, Small Business Administrator Aida Alvarez, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Congressman Hinojosa also accompanied President Clinton as a member of various trade and commerce delegations to Mexico and South America from 1997-2000.

Prior to his being elected to the House of Representatives, Congressman Hinojosa served twenty years as President and Chief Financial Officer of a family-owned food processing company, H&H Foods. With over 300 employees, H&H has received national awards of recognition from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C.

Born in Edcouch, Congressman Hinojosa attended Mercedes High School and earned a BBA and MBA from the University of Texas in Austin and in Edinburg, respectively. He is married to Martha Lopez Hinojosa and has five children.

For more information click here.

Congressman Marc Veasey

U.S. Congressman
Congressional District 33

Congressman Marc Veasey

United States Congressman Marc Veasey proudly represents Texas’ newly drawn Congressional District 33 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Veasey comes to Congress with over a decade of public service experience and has established himself as a strong and effective advocate who finds fair-minded and balanced solutions to problems.

First elected to the Texas State House in 2004, Congressman Veasey represented District 95 – an area now part of the 33rd Congressional District – for four consecutive terms. As a member of the Texas State House, Rep. Veasey served in a number of leadership positions including Democratic Whip and Chair of the Democratic Caucus. At home, he earned a reputation for his strong voice in the state legislature, fighting for good jobs, good schools, affordable healthcare, voting rights and justice for all Texans.

The newly created Congressional District 33 is an ethnically diverse district that spans from Fort Worth to Dallas and includes prominent neighborhoods in both Tarrant and Dallas counties. The 33rd District is anchored in Fort Worth’s historic neighborhoods which include Carver Heights, Stop Six, Rolling Hills, the Northside, Diamond Hill Jarvis and Forest Hill. The district also extends east through parts of Arlington and into Dallas County communities like Oak Cliff, South Irving, Grand Prairie and West Dallas. Texas-33 is representative of the strong diversity in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

As a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Veasey is committed to creating jobs, encouraging economic growth, improving public education, supporting the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, promoting health and wellness, and ensuring access to quality healthcare.

With over 15 major military installations in Texas, defense, scientific research and development are key industries in the 33rd District. Rep. Veasey serves on the House Armed Services Committee and on the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, which oversees the weapons systems tied to his district. He also sits on the Science, Space and Technology Committee where he serves on Subcommittees on both Science and Energy. He is actively engaged in various congressional member organizations including the Congressional Army Aviation Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Small Business Information Technology Caucus.

Prior to serving in the Texas House of Representatives, Rep. Veasey worked as a congressional staffer in North Texas. In both Southeast Fort Worth and Dallas, Congressman Veasey worked on important issues dealing with transportation, economic development and higher education that benefitted the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Congressman Marc Veasey was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. He and his wife Tonya live in the Metroplex area and have a seven-year-old son, Adam. Rep. Veasey earned a BA from Texas Wesleyan University, where he majored in Mass Communication.

Havidan Rodriguez

Interim President
The University of Texas-Pan American

Havidan Rodriguez

Dr.Havidan Rodraguez joined UT Pan American in January 2011 as provost and vice president for academic affairs and as a tenured professor in the Department of Sociology. Prior to coming to UTPA, he served as deputy provost at the University of Delaware, where he also was a professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice and former director of the Disaster Research Center, the oldest and one of the leading social science disaster research centers in the world. Dr. Rodriguez, who obtained his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, held a faculty position and several administrative positions at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez for over a decade and served from 1995 to 1998 as director of the Minority Affairs Program for the American Sociological Association. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Michigan's Population Fellow's Program (Summers, 2001-2003); was selected as the Frey Foundation Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Spring, 2002); received a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) Outstanding Achievement Award (2004); and was recognized as one of the Hispanics of the Year in the State of Delaware, for which he received the Professional Achievement Award (2007). Dr. Rodríguez has served on a number of committees for the National Academies of Sciences and on review panels for the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation, and was the chair of the Latina/o Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.

Jose Tijerino

President and CEO
Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Jose Tijerino

Jose Antonio Tijerino is president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), which identifies, inspires, prepares and positions Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities. Mr. Tijerino has led the 25-year-old organization for 10 years and has developed a sustainable model to “help a Latino help hundreds more.” He has also focused on promoting role models and projecting a more positive image of Latinos through public awareness campaigns. Tijerino and HHF have been highlighted by Presidents Bush and Obama as making a positive impact on the Latino community.

The unique pipeline he has developed for HHF begins at the prestigious Youth Awards which feeds other youth programs including Latinos on Fast Track (LOFT) – a leadership and workforce development program which houses the LOFT Institute, LOFT Workforce and LOFTNetwork.org, an online community for 100,000 vetted students and young professionals (aged 18-30). After being prepared through the LOFT Institute, placed in internships, mentorships and full-time positions through LOFT Workforce and connected to each other through LOFTnetwork.org, the emerging Latino leaders are mobilized to make an impact in communities, classrooms and the workforce. In addition, Tijerino executive produces the star-studded Hispanic Heritage Awards at the Kennedy Center, which are considered the most respected honor for Latinos by Latinos, and the television broadcasts which have aired on NBC, Telemundo, and the Armed Forces Network.

Prior to this position, Mr. Tijerino was director of public relations for the Fannie Mae Foundation, specializing in strategic planning, public affairs, media outreach and grass roots mobilization campaigns for America’s largest affordable housing nonprofit. Before that, he served as a manager of corporate communications for Nike, Inc.’s marketing department where he developed, managed and implemented communications, public relations and public affairs strategies for the company’s global community affairs department and served as a media spokesperson. Before joining Nike, Mr. Tijerino developed and managed public relations and public affairs campaigns for six years as an executive for Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolf in Washington, DC under parent company Young & Rubicam.

Tijerino is active in the community by serving on various boards including Harvard’s Latino Leadership Initiative in the Kennedy School, America’s Promise Alliance, The Chicago School, National Building Museum, Imagination Stage, Latin American Advisory Group (LAAG) to Montgomery County Executive, Crittenton Services, Voto Latino, among others. He has been recognized as a Latino leader by Presidents Obama and Bush and was invited to participate in the prestigious Renaissance Weekend alongside top leaders in America. Tijerino was also recognized for his work as a civilian by the US Army. He was recognized as an Outstanding Young American, as a Hispanic Hero by the US Hispanic Youth Entrepreneurship, and Brillante Award by National Society of Hispanic MBAs, among others.

In the media, Tijerino has been featured in HBO’s Habla series alongside celebrities and national leaders aired during Hispanic Heritage Month; was a panelist for CNN’s Latino in America premiere; and was profiled on an hour-long Discovery Channel/TLC program for his work with youth; and his articles have appeared in major publications. Tijerino has been featured as a spokesperson on Latino issues relating to education and leadership in the national media including NBC, FOX, ABC, Univision, Telemundo and CNN. He also recently co-wrote a white paper on the importance of emotional learning for underserved children. As a speaker he has made remarks everywhere from the White House to Harvard to community centers across America.

Tijerino earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland’s school of journalism and an Honorary Doctorate from The Chicago School. He lives in Chevy Chase, MD, with his wife and three children.

Rear Admiral Annie B. Andrews

Commander
U.S. Navy Recruiting Command

Rear Admiral Annie B. Andrews

Rear Admiral Annie B. Andrews was assigned as the Commander, Navy Recruiting Command located in Millington, Tenn., in August 2013. Her previous assignment was director for Total Force Requirements Division (OPNAV N12) in Washington, D.C. Originally from Midway, Ga., Andrews is a Navy human resources officer. Her assignments have been primarily in the areas of manpower, personnel, training and education. Upon commissioning through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps at Savannah State University, Andrews began her career at Naval Station Whiting Field with assignments to Training Air Wing Five, and Helicopter Training Squadron Eight. Her next assignment was at the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific in Honolulu, as an intelligence analyst. Other assignments and staff assignments included: director, Counseling and Assistance Center, Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland; officer-in-charge, Navy Personnel Support Activity Detachments Subic Bay and Cubi Point, United States Forces Philippines, Republic of the Philippines; branch head, Deserter Branch/Deserter Apprehension Program (PERS-842), Washington, D.C.; and, chief, Requirements Branch and Joint Manpower Planner, Manpower and Personnel Directorate Joint Staff, J-1 in Washington, D.C. She also served as executive assistant and naval aide to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserves Affairs at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Prior to her assignment to OPNAV N12, she served as a Fellow on the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group at the Naval War College, Newport, R.I.

Rear Admiral Andrews has served as commanding officer of three commands: Boston Military Entrance Processing Station, Boston; Navy Recruiting District San Francisco; and Recruit Training Command (RTC), Great Lakes, Ill. During her tour at RTC, she led the training efforts for more than 100,000 Sailors for duty in the Fleet, and was instrumental in the commissioning of the Navy's only immersive simulator trainer, the USS Trayer also known as Battle Stations 21.

Rear Admiral Andrews received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Savannah State University and a Master of Science Degree in Management from Troy State University. She has been conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters from Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa. Her military education includes a master's degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the College of Naval Command and Staff, Naval War College. She also graduated from the Joint Forces Staff College and is designated a joint qualified officer.

Her Navy decorations include the Legion of Merit with one Gold Star; Defense Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Meritorious Service Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two Gold Stars; Joint Service Achievement Medal, and various other unit citations.

Ada Cuadrado

Process Engineer Manager
Deer Park Refinery
Utilities and Site
Shell

ada-cuadrado

Ada is a Chemical Engineer with 22 years of experience in the Refining Industry. She joined Shell 2 years ago as the Process Engineering Manager for the Deer Park Refinery. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico and started her career in the SUNOCO Yabucoa Refinery as a Process Engineer. Throughout her career she has had the opportunity to work for multiple oil companies in different parts of the US and has held roles of increasing responsibility in the following area of the oil business: Capital Management, Project Engineering, Operations Management and Technical.

She currently is an active member of SHEN (Shell Hispanic Employee Network) where she volunteers with the local Deer Park high school to bring awareness for opportunities in technical careers. She also leads a mentoring circle at the refinery to help other Shell Deer Park employees achieve their full potential in their careers.

Ada also volunteers in her community through the church she attends with her family.

Ada has been married for 15 years and has two children. When not at work she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling (which typically includes a beautiful beach), cooking and reading.

Laura Gump

Group VP for Operations
Border Region
H-E-B

Laura Gump

Laura Urquiza Gump is the Group Vice President of Operations/ General Manager for the Border Region, a position she has held since 2007. In her role, she leads a population of over 9,500 partners, in 47 stores divided into 3 geographical areas spanning from Del Rio to Brownsville, Texas. H-E-B is the third largest privately owned grocery chain in the United States with annual sales of over $19.4 billion, 358 stores, and 80,000 partners in Texas and Northern Mexico. Laura has worked with H-E-B for 25 years, and began her career in H-E-B’s Store Management Trainee (SMT) Program after graduating from college. After completion of the SMT program, Laura held the positions of Service Director, General Merchandise Manager and Assistant Store Director before being promoted to a Top Store Leader position.

As a store leader, Laura was successful in providing a superior shopping experience for H-E-B customers, generating strong financial results as well as providing strong leadership to partner teams in small, medium, and large volume operations. In her current role, Laura is responsible for providing vision, coaching, and strategic leadership in one of four Regions in the San Antonio Division at H-E-B. Laura has contributed to developing and driving key Latino and innovation focused programs for the Border Region; several of which have been implemented total company. In 2013, Laura received the Linda D. Jimenez Diversity Award for the company. This recognition is awarded to Officers and Directors who demonstrate diversity awareness and appreciation and use diversity to enhance our business and organizational success.

Laura earned a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Marketing and Management from the University of Texas El Paso in 1989. In 1999, Laura earned an MBA in International Business from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. In 2005, Laura completed the Cornell University’s Food Industry Management Program located in Ithaca, New York. Most recently, she graduated from the Harvard Business School Advancement Management Program in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Roosevelt Y. Johnson

Acting Associate Administrator for Education
NASA

Dr. Roosevelt Y. Johnson

Dr. Roosevelt Y. Johnson, acting associate administrator for education, is a member of the senior management team responsible for the development and implementation of NASA's education programs to strengthen involvement and public awareness about the agency's scientific goals and missions.

In addition to serving on the Education Coordinating Committee, an agencywide collaborative structure that maximizes NASA's ability to manage and implement its education portfolio, Johnson serves as one of NASA's representatives on the Cross Agency Priority Goal Team working in conjunction with the White House National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education, or CoSTEM.

He is also the U.S. representative on the International Space Education Board, or ISEB, a global collaboration in space education among NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Centre National d'Études Spatiales. The ISEB shares best practices and unites efforts to foster interest in space, science and technology among the student community worldwide.

During his career, Johnson has been a champion and leader of groundbreaking efforts to broaden participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. For more than 20 years, he served as a program director for the National Science Foundation, or NSF, working to increase the participation and advancement of underrepresented minorities, women and girls, persons with disabilities and minority-serving institutions in science and engineering disciplines, as well as promoting innovative and transformative STEM education program development at a national level.

Johnson's academic and administrative breadth and depth have been demonstrated through his service in every division of NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources, including the Human Resource Development division, the Division of Graduate Education, the Division of Undergraduate Education and the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings. He also represented NSF on governmentwide committees, including serving as a U.S. representative at NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship meetings.

Other leadership roles that Johnson has held include serving as deputy executive director and acting executive director of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, or the GEM Consortium. At GEM, Johnson played a pivotal role in building partnerships among some of the nation's most productive graduate degree-granting institutions and top science and engineering companies. He also has had the opportunity to develop and use program evaluation and assessment skills serving as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Center for Advancing Science and Engineering Capacity.

Johnson was born in Spartanburg, S.C., and graduated from Carver Senior High School in 1964. He earned a bachelor's degree in zoology from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1968 and a doctorate in microbiology from Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., in 1972. Following a two-year tenure as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle, Johnson began an academic career that has included faculty positions at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash.; Howard Community College in Columbia, Md.; Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C.; Howard University College of Liberal Arts; and the University of Washington (visiting professor). Johnson also has served as an official collaborator at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Johnson has received the Compact for Faculty Diversity Frank Abbott Award for outstanding leadership and support of minority STEM graduates, the Benjamin Banneker Legacy Award for outstanding contributions to increasing the number of African-Americans involved in STEM professions and studies, and Science Spectrum magazine’s Emerald Honors Award for excellence in affirmative action.

Johnson is married to Lina Dyanne Johnson, J.D., from Dayton, Ohio. The couple has one son, David A. Johnson, J.D., CPA

Fidel Vargas

President & Chief Executive Officer
Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Fidel Vargas

Fidel A. Vargas is President and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the nation’s leading provider of scholarships and services designed to give Latino students full access to the opportunities a college education can provide. With more than $430 million in scholarships awarded since its founding in 1975, HSF continues to provide increasing numbers of students all the tools they need to apply to college, do well in their course work, graduate, enter a profession, excel, help lead our nation going forward, and mentor the generations to come.

Prior to joining HSF, Mr. Vargas was a founding partner of Centinela Capital Partners, a private equity asset management firm that focused on investing and managing nearly $1billion in minority-owned, emerging-manager funds. Prior to joining Centinela, Mr. Vargas was a Managing Director with TMG Advisors, an investment/consulting firm specializing in business development, strategic planning, and government affairs. He was also a Founding Principal and Managing Director of Reliant Equity Investors, a private equity investment firm primarily investing in later-stage, lower middle market companies. Mr. Vargas also served as Mayor of Baldwin Park, California, a city of 75,000, twenty miles northeast of Los Angeles. At the age of twenty-three, he became the country’s youngest elected Mayor of a major city.

In addition to having served on HSF’s Board of Directors prior to taking the helm as President and CEO, Mr. Vargas has served on several public and private sector boards, including: the Latino Theater Company of Los Angeles; the New America Alliance; Sponsors for Education Opportunities; Operation Hope, Inc.; President Clinton’s Advisory Council on Social Security; President Bush’s Commission on Strengthening Social Security; and President Bush’s Commission on Presidential Scholars, on which he continued to serve through the early years of the Obama Administration.

Mr. Vargas has been recognized for his accomplishments by numerous organizations and media outlets, throughout his career. His honors include selection by Time Magazine as one of the Top 50 young leaders in the United States, being named by Hispanic Magazine as one of the Top 30 young Hispanics in the United States, and selection by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the country’s 100 most influential Hispanics.

Mr. Vargas graduated with honors from Harvard University with an A.B. in Social Studies and received his MBA from Harvard Business School, with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and General Management. He has a deep commitment to HSF, having been a six-time, HSF scholarship recipient while attending Harvard University. - See more at: http://hsf.net/en/about-hsf/people/bios/fidel-vargas#sthash.zNwJWvm3.dpuf

Gonzalo Salazar

Superintendent
Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District (LFCISD)

Gonzalo Salazar

Gonzalo Salazar became Superintendent of the Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District in June 2006. He served as Interim Superintendent for seven months prior to becoming Superintendent. As Interim Superintendent, he collaborated with the district administration and the Board of Trustees to gain community support for a $33 million bond proposition. The proposal, which passed in May 2006, included $15.6 million for two new elementary schools, $14.3 million for a freshman campus and $3.1 million for the purchase of land and renovations to existing campuses. Before he became Superintendent, Salazar was an administrator in the Los Fresnos CISD for more than five years. He served as assistant principal at Lopez-Riggins Elementary from 2000 to 2002, principal at Palmer-Laasko Elementary from 2002 to 2004, and principal at Olmito Elementary from August 2004 to December 2005. Each school received Recognized status from the Texas Education Agency. LFCISD schools have surpassed state and regional averages in student achievement in Salazar’s tenure. Most recently, all eight elementary schools received Exemplary ratings from the Texas Agency in 2010, and seven of nine received Exemplary status in 2011. The schools have received several other achievements during the period that Salazar has been Superintendent. Prior to coming to Los Fresnos, Salazar was a fourth grade bilingual teacher at Dr. C.M. Cash Elementary School in San Benito from December 1999 to July 2000. Salazar was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient from The University of Texas at Brownsville / Texas Southmost College in 2011. With his collaboration, the Los Fresnos CISD Board of Trustees as the Texas School Board of the Year by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) in 2010. The following year, Salazar chaired the Selection Committee for the 2011 TASA School Board of the Year. He serves on the Executive Board for Tech Prep of the Rio Grande Valley Inc., a partnership between education and business that prepares youth for the skilled workforce. This partnership involves high schools, colleges and universities, large and small businesses, governmental agencies. Salazar also serves on the Advisory Board of the UTB / TSC College of Education Transition to Teaching through Technology, the Los Fresnos Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way of Southern Cameron County Advisory Board. In 2011, the Los Fresnos CISD received the United Way Community Partner Award. He has participated in several forums in 2012, where he was:

A speaker at the VISTA Summit: Education hosted by The University of Texas System in Edinburg in April;

A member of an Administrators’ Forum in the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Conference in Austin in June and a keynote speaker for the South Texas Association of School Maintenance Officials Conference on South Padre Island in June.

Salazar also attended the Lamar University Center for Executive LeadershipSuperintendent’s Academy in 2008-09.

Salazar is one of 38 superintendents in the Texas to serve the Future-Ready Superintendents Program and contributes to the ongoing Visioning Institute Document, “Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas.” He is a member of many community service groups often serving as board member. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Texas at Brownsville / Texas Southmost College. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1996 with a major in Spanish and minor in Bilingual Education, and a Master of Education degree in 1999 with a concentration in Educational Administration. Salazar was raised in Brownsville, and has been married to Sandra America Salazar since 1998. The couple has three children who attend Los Fresnos CISD schools.

Congressional Dinner

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, a longtime businessman and native of the Rio Grande Valley/ South Texas, was elected to represent Texas' 15th Congressional District in November 1996.

The Congressman serves on two House Committees: Education and the Workforce; and Financial Services. He is also a Co-Chair of the Democratic Caucus Education Task Force, and in this capacity will develop a strong education policy in the 107th Congress.

Congressman Hinojosa has distinguished himself as an advocate for education, Social Security, health care, agriculture, veterans' issues, economic development and infrastructure projects. He demonstrated his ability to serve as a bipartisan consensus builder when he helped in the fight to create an emergency relief package providing $25 billion over a four year period for farmers and ranchers who suffered devastating losses due to natural disasters from 1998 through 2001.

Hinojosa was also instrumental in expanding local access to quality health care for South Texas veterans. For the first time, inpatient services (including surgery) are available at approved hospitals in Hidalgo and Cameron Counties, eliminating 80% of the need to travel to San Antonio. Hinojosa also worked with the Veterans Administration to establish primary care community-based outpatient clinics in the cities of Alice, Beeville, Kingsville and Uvalde. Hinojosa is also working with state legislators to secure a U.S. tate Veterans Memorial Cemetery in South Texas.

Congressman Hinojosa's lifetime commitment to education on the local, regional, state and federal levels has created opportunities for all students to pursue higher education. His Education Committee assignment, as well as his appointment to chair the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Education Task Force, were critical to the success of his first major legislative initiative entitled "The Higher Education for the 21st Century Act." This bill secured an increased authorized funding level of $69 million for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs); enhanced visibility of HSIs within the Higher Education Act; relaxed the restrictions for institutional eligibility for HSI designation; and improved the ways and financial means by which HSIs strengthen curriculum development, academic instruction, mentoring, and college libraries.

As a member of the Financial Services Committee, Congressman Hinojosa is a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government-Sponsored Enterprises; Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy, Technology, and Economic Growth; and Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. As a former member of the Small Business Committee, Hinojosa increased access to capital and loans for small businesses; removed tax and regulatory burdens; and promoted business growth and opportunity in economically depressed areas through the new and improved Small Business Administration programs of today. He also led the successful effort to create a Womens' Business Center at the University of Texas-Edinburg.

Not only has Congressman Hinojosa made his mark in Washington, D.C., but he has also brought Washington to South Texas. He has invited and hosted many high-profile leaders to the 15th Congressional District to speak directly with residents about their needs and concerns. Among them were President Clinton, Vice-President Al Gore, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, Secretary of Commerce William Daley, Secretary of Education Richard Riley, Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Hershel Gober, Small Business Administrator Aida Alvarez, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Congressman Hinojosa also accompanied President Clinton as a member of various trade and commerce delegations to Mexico and South America from 1997-2000.

Prior to his being elected to the House of Representatives, Congressman Hinojosa served twenty years as President and Chief Financial Officer of a family-owned food processing company, H&H Foods. With over 300 employees, H&H has received national awards of recognition from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C.

Born in Edcouch, Congressman Hinojosa attended Mercedes High School and earned a BBA and MBA from the University of Texas in Austin and in Edinburg, respectively. He is married to Martha Lopez Hinojosa and has five children.

For more information click here.

Congressman Marc Veasey

U.S. Congressman
Congressional District 33

Congressman Marc Veasey

United States Congressman Marc Veasey proudly represents Texas’ newly drawn Congressional District 33 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Veasey comes to Congress with over a decade of public service experience and has established himself as a strong and effective advocate who finds fair-minded and balanced solutions to problems.

First elected to the Texas State House in 2004, Congressman Veasey represented District 95 – an area now part of the 33rd Congressional District – for four consecutive terms. As a member of the Texas State House, Rep. Veasey served in a number of leadership positions including Democratic Whip and Chair of the Democratic Caucus. At home, he earned a reputation for his strong voice in the state legislature, fighting for good jobs, good schools, affordable healthcare, voting rights and justice for all Texans.

The newly created Congressional District 33 is an ethnically diverse district that spans from Fort Worth to Dallas and includes prominent neighborhoods in both Tarrant and Dallas counties. The 33rd District is anchored in Fort Worth’s historic neighborhoods which include Carver Heights, Stop Six, Rolling Hills, the Northside, Diamond Hill Jarvis and Forest Hill. The district also extends east through parts of Arlington and into Dallas County communities like Oak Cliff, South Irving, Grand Prairie and West Dallas. Texas-33 is representative of the strong diversity in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

As a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Veasey is committed to creating jobs, encouraging economic growth, improving public education, supporting the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, promoting health and wellness, and ensuring access to quality healthcare.

With over 15 major military installations in Texas, defense, scientific research and development are key industries in the 33rd District. Rep. Veasey serves on the House Armed Services Committee and on the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, which oversees the weapons systems tied to his district. He also sits on the Science, Space and Technology Committee where he serves on Subcommittees on both Science and Energy. He is actively engaged in various congressional member organizations including the Congressional Army Aviation Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Small Business Information Technology Caucus.

Prior to serving in the Texas House of Representatives, Rep. Veasey worked as a congressional staffer in North Texas. In both Southeast Fort Worth and Dallas, Congressman Veasey worked on important issues dealing with transportation, economic development and higher education that benefitted the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Congressman Marc Veasey was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. He and his wife Tonya live in the Metroplex area and have a seven-year-old son, Adam. Rep. Veasey earned a BA from Texas Wesleyan University, where he majored in Mass Communication.

Havidan Rodriguez

Interim President
The University of Texas-Pan American

Havidan Rodriguez

Dr.Havidan Rodriguez joined UT Pan American in January 2011 as provost and vice president for academic affairs and as a tenured professor in the Department of Sociology. Prior to coming to UTPA, he served as deputy provost at the University of Delaware, where he also was a professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice and former director of the Disaster Research Center, the oldest and one of the leading social science disaster research centers in the world. Dr. Rodríguez, who obtained his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, held a faculty position and several administrative positions at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez for over a decade and served from 1995 to 1998 as director of the Minority Affairs Program for the American Sociological Association. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Michigan's Population Fellow's Program (Summers, 2001-2003); was selected as the Frey Foundation Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Spring, 2002); received a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) Outstanding Achievement Award (2004); and was recognized as one of the Hispanics of the Year in the State of Delaware, for which he received the Professional Achievement Award (2007). Dr. Rodríguez has served on a number of committees for the National Academies of Sciences and on review panels for the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation, and was the chair of the Latina/o Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.

Rear Admiral Annie B. Andrews

Commander
U.S. Navy Recruiting Command

Rear Admiral Annie B. Andrews

Rear Admiral Annie B. Andrews was assigned as the Commander, Navy Recruiting Command located in Millington, Tenn., in August 2013. Her previous assignment was director for Total Force Requirements Division (OPNAV N12) in Washington, D.C. Originally from Midway, Ga., Andrews is a Navy human resources officer. Her assignments have been primarily in the areas of manpower, personnel, training and education. Upon commissioning through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps at Savannah State University, Andrews began her career at Naval Station Whiting Field with assignments to Training Air Wing Five, and Helicopter Training Squadron Eight. Her next assignment was at the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific in Honolulu, as an intelligence analyst. Other assignments and staff assignments included: director, Counseling and Assistance Center, Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland; officer-in-charge, Navy Personnel Support Activity Detachments Subic Bay and Cubi Point, United States Forces Philippines, Republic of the Philippines; branch head, Deserter Branch/Deserter Apprehension Program (PERS-842), Washington, D.C.; and, chief, Requirements Branch and Joint Manpower Planner, Manpower and Personnel Directorate Joint Staff, J-1 in Washington, D.C. She also served as executive assistant and naval aide to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserves Affairs at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Prior to her assignment to OPNAV N12, she served as a Fellow on the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group at the Naval War College, Newport, R.I.

Rear Admiral Andrews has served as commanding officer of three commands: Boston Military Entrance Processing Station, Boston; Navy Recruiting District San Francisco; and Recruit Training Command (RTC), Great Lakes, Ill. During her tour at RTC, she led the training efforts for more than 100,000 Sailors for duty in the Fleet, and was instrumental in the commissioning of the Navy's only immersive simulator trainer, the USS Trayer also known as Battle Stations 21.

Rear Admiral Andrews received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Savannah State University and a Master of Science Degree in Management from Troy State University. She has been conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters from Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa. Her military education includes a master's degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the College of Naval Command and Staff, Naval War College. She also graduated from the Joint Forces Staff College and is designated a joint qualified officer.

Her Navy decorations include the Legion of Merit with one Gold Star; Defense Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Meritorious Service Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two Gold Stars; Joint Service Achievement Medal, and various other unit citations.

Ada Cuadrado

Process Engineer Manager
Deer Park Refinery
Utilities and Site
Shell

Ada Cuadrado

Ada is a Chemical Engineer with 22 years of experience in the Refining Industry. She joined Shell 2 years ago as the Process Engineering Manager for the Deer Park Refinery. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico and started her career in the SUNOCO Yabucoa Refinery as a Process Engineer. Throughout her career she has had the opportunity to work for multiple oil companies in different parts of the US and has held roles of increasing responsibility in the following area of the oil business: Capital Management, Project Engineering, Operations Management and Technical.

She currently is an active member of SHEN (Shell Hispanic Employee Network) where she volunteers with the local Deer Park high school to bring awareness for opportunities in technical careers. She also leads a mentoring circle at the refinery to help other Shell Deer Park employees achieve their full potential in their careers.

Ada also volunteers in her community through the church she attends with her family.

Ada has been married for 15 years and has two children. When not at work she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling (which typically includes a beautiful beach), cooking and reading.

Laura Gump

Group VP for Operations
Border Region
H-E-B

Laura Gump

Laura Urquiza Gump is the Group Vice President of Operations/ General Manager for the Border Region, a position she has held since 2007. In her role, she leads a population of over 9,500 partners, in 47 stores divided into 3 geographical areas spanning from Del Rio to Brownsville, Texas. H-E-B is the third largest privately owned grocery chain in the United States with annual sales of over $19.4 billion, 358 stores, and 80,000 partners in Texas and Northern Mexico. Laura has worked with H-E-B for 25 years, and began her career in H-E-B’s Store Management Trainee (SMT) Program after graduating from college. After completion of the SMT program, Laura held the positions of Service Director, General Merchandise Manager and Assistant Store Director before being promoted to a Top Store Leader position.

As a store leader, Laura was successful in providing a superior shopping experience for H-E-B customers, generating strong financial results as well as providing strong leadership to partner teams in small, medium, and large volume operations. In her current role, Laura is responsible for providing vision, coaching, and strategic leadership in one of four Regions in the San Antonio Division at H-E-B. Laura has contributed to developing and driving key Latino and innovation focused programs for the Border Region; several of which have been implemented total company. In 2013, Laura received the Linda D. Jimenez Diversity Award for the company. This recognition is awarded to Officers and Directors who demonstrate diversity awareness and appreciation and use diversity to enhance our business and organizational success.

Laura earned a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Marketing and Management from the University of Texas El Paso in 1989. In 1999, Laura earned an MBA in International Business from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. In 2005, Laura completed the Cornell University’s Food Industry Management Program located in Ithaca, New York. Most recently, she graduated from the Harvard Business School Advancement Management Program in Boston, Massachusetts.

Gonzalo Salazar

Superintendent
Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District (LFCISD)

Gonzalo Salazar

Gonzalo Salazar became Superintendent of the Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District in June 2006. He served as Interim Superintendent for seven months prior to becoming Superintendent. As Interim Superintendent, he collaborated with the district administration and the Board of Trustees to gain community support for a $33 million bond proposition. The proposal, which passed in May 2006, included $15.6 million for two new elementary schools, $14.3 million for a freshman campus and $3.1 million for the purchase of land and renovations to existing campuses. Before he became Superintendent, Salazar was an administrator in the Los Fresnos CISD for more than five years. He served as assistant principal at Lopez-Riggins Elementary from 2000 to 2002, principal at Palmer-Laasko Elementary from 2002 to 2004, and principal at Olmito Elementary from August 2004 to December 2005. Each school received Recognized status from the Texas Education Agency. LFCISD schools have surpassed state and regional averages in student achievement in Salazar’s tenure. Most recently, all eight elementary schools received Exemplary ratings from the Texas Agency in 2010, and seven of nine received Exemplary status in 2011. The schools have received several other achievements during the period that Salazar has been Superintendent. Prior to coming to Los Fresnos, Salazar was a fourth grade bilingual teacher at Dr. C.M. Cash Elementary School in San Benito from December 1999 to July 2000. Salazar was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient from The University of Texas at Brownsville / Texas Southmost College in 2011. With his collaboration, the Los Fresnos CISD Board of Trustees as the Texas School Board of the Year by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) in 2010. The following year, Salazar chaired the Selection Committee for the 2011 TASA School Board of the Year. He serves on the Executive Board for Tech Prep of the Rio Grande Valley Inc., a partnership between education and business that prepares youth for the skilled workforce. This partnership involves high schools, colleges and universities, large and small businesses, governmental agencies. Salazar also serves on the Advisory Board of the UTB / TSC College of Education Transition to Teaching through Technology, the Los Fresnos Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way of Southern Cameron County Advisory Board. In 2011, the Los Fresnos CISD received the United Way Community Partner Award. He has participated in several forums in 2012, where he was:

A speaker at the VISTA Summit: Education hosted by The University of Texas System in Edinburg in April;

A member of an Administrators’ Forum in the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Conference in Austin in June; and     - a keynote speaker for the South Texas Association of School Maintenance Officials Conference on South Padre Island in June.

Salazar also attended the Lamar University Center for Executive LeadershipSuperintendent’s Academy in 2008-09.

Salazar is one of 38 superintendents in the Texas to serve the Future-Ready Superintendents Program and contributes to the ongoing Visioning Institute Document, “Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas.” He is a member of many community service groups often serving as board member. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Texas at Brownsville / Texas Southmost College. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1996 with a major in Spanish and minor in Bilingual Education, and a Master of Education degree in 1999 with a concentration in Educational Administration. Salazar was raised in Brownsville, and has been married to Sandra America Salazar since 1998. The couple has three children who attend Los Fresnos CISD schools.

Community Day

Siggno

Nueva Generacion Music Group

Siggno

Son casi 15 años de trayectoria de SIGGNO, una agrupación cuya juventud y frescura continúan vigentes hasta el día de hoy. Integrado por la original unión de talentosos músicos originarios de diferentes regiones de Texas y Florida, SIGGNO se caracteriza por ser un grupo musical que derrocha originalidad tanto en su propuesta musical, como en su imagen.

Su primera producción, titulada “Al Principio” se posicionó rápidamente en el gusto del público a lo largo y ancho de Texas, y les abrió las puertas de la industria musical. En el año 2002, SIGGNO graba su segundo álbum, “Por amor”, y se convierte en un parte-aguas en la carrera de esta joven banda, ya que les hace acreedores al mayor reconocimiento que cualquier músico pudiera desear en la Unión Americana: su nominación al prestigioso Premio Grammy.

En el 2004 Freddie Records se convierte en su casa disquera y el incorporarse al elenco artístico de este sello les abre las puertas de la internacionalización; miles de seguidores de la música norteña y texana acogieron a SIGGNO y su original propuesta musical. Renombrados grupos y artistas invitan a SIGGNO a compartir escenario en exitosas giras, lo que les permitió llevar su música a masivas audiencias.

“Capítulo 5” es el álbum que lanza SIGGNO en el 2007 y el cual fue honrado por la Academia de grabación con su segunda nominación al Grammy en la categoría de ‘Mejor Álbum Norteño’; al año siguiente, en el 2008, la joven agrupación recibe con orgullo la ambicionada presea otorgada por la Academia de Grabación: el Grammy como Mejor Álbum Norteño del 2008.

La creatividad y pasión por la música de cada uno de los integrantes de SIGGNO, lo convierten en un grupo que llegó para quedarse en la preferencia del público, prueba de ello es su activa agenda de presentaciones por todo Estados unidos, contando con el invaluable apoyo de los programas de radio y televisión que cubren y siguen sus eventos.

SIGGNO da lo mejor de su música en cada presentación, dejando el alma de cada uno de sus músicos en cada escenario que pisan; los miles de fans que los siguen a través de las redes sociales y páginas de Internet constatan el cariño que se han ganado canción a canción, concierto a concierto, en el corazón de su público.

Dr. Jeanette J. Epps

Astronaut
NASA

Dr. Jeanette J. Epps

Jeanette Jo Epps (born November 3, 1970) is a CIA intelligence officer, and current NASA astronaut. Born in Syracuse, New York, Epps lives in Houston, Texas.

Epps holds a bachelor in science degree in physics from Le Moyne College, and an M.S. and Ph.D in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. After graduating, Epps worked in research at Ford Motor Company, then as a Technical Intelligence Officer with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Epps was selected as an astronaut candidate in June 2009. She qualified as an astronaut in 2011.

On June 10, 2014, NASA announced that Epps will serve as an aquanaut aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory during the NEEMO 18 undersea exploration mission, scheduled to begin on July 21, 2014 and last nine days.

Laura Marano

Actress on Austin & Ally
Disney

Laura Marano

Laura Marano started acting in the theatre when she was five years old. She has done numerous plays at the Agoura Children's Theatre, and continued her acting in many national commercials.

She is now starring in the new Disney Channel pilot, Austin & Ally (2011), where she is playing the title character, "Ally Dawson".

She guest-starred in television shows such as Heroes (2006), Childrens Hospital (2008), FlashForward (2009), True Jackson, VP (2008), Ghost Whisperer (2005), Little Monk (2009), Medical Investigation (2004), Huff (2004) and Joan of Arcadia (2003).

Her first film, produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, was called The Jacket (2005). She starred with Oscar-winning actor, Adrien Brody. She has worked on Judd Apatow's film, Superbad (2007) and starred in the short film, Goldfish (2007).

Laura has done many voice-over jobs including the commercially successful animated films, Finding Nemo (2003) and Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006). She has recurring roles on the Nickelodeon shows, The X's (2005) and Ni Hao, Kai-Lan (2008).

Also, she has had recurring roles on the hit television shows Without a Trace (2002), playing "Kate", the daughter of Emmy Award-winning actor, Anthony LaPaglia, Showtime's Dexter (2006) and on Comedy Central's critically acclaimed, The Sarah Silverman Program. (2007).

Laura did enjoy that her classmates at school could actually see her on the hit show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (2007). She was a series regular during her 5th grade year in elementary school. She worked as a series regular on Back to You (2007), with Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, playing their daughter.

Laura enjoys school, soccer, piano, hip-hop, tap dancing and singing. She loves to write songs and has written over a hundred songs. She has an older sister, Vanessa Marano, and a dog named "Velvet". Her favorite thing to do is to read books and plays. She just finished William Shakespeare's, "King Lear", and loves the "Harry Potter" series. She loves to travel and has been to Europe three times. Laura lives with her parents and her sister in the Los Angeles area and attends a private school. She is a freshman in high school where she participates in drama and speech and debate.

Ruben Ramos

Musician
Revolution Records

Ruben Ramos

Born in Sugarland, Texas, Ruben Perez Ramos now sits at the helm of a family musical legacy borne over 80 years ago. This legacy - El Legado - is set with traditional Mexican roots, was infused with the big-band sound of the 1940s, heavily influenced by blues and rock, and is now perched at the pinnacle of La Onda: Tejano. Los Serenateros: 1919-1941 The Ramos musical legacy began in post-World War I Texas. Ruben's uncles began performing just after the World War I in 1919 as Juan Manuel Perez and the Serenaders (Los Serenateros). Between 1919 and 1941, the Serenaders eventually included all nine of Ruben's uncles.

At the start of World War II, five of the Perez brothers went into the military. Ruben's grandmother proudly displayed the small banner with five stars representing five sons in service during the war. The Serenaders took a break.

"Ruben Ramos has developed a solid reputation as one of the smoothest singers and classiest bandleaders in the history of the genre." Ramiro Burr-The Billboard Guide to Tejano and Regional Mexican Music Meanwhile, Ruben's father, Alfonso Ramos Sr., worked the cotton fields and the railroads; he also played the fiddle while his mother, Elvira Perez, played the guitar at family gatherings. At the end of World War II, Ruben's uncles returned to take up the legacy. Uncle Justin re-formed the band as Justin Perez and His Ex-GIs. In a few years, they had established themselves as topnotch, big-band orchestra in the 1940s, complete with sit-down horns, music stands, dark suits and ties, and a sound consistent with the times. This was the beginning of the end for any regular day-job for Ruben and his five siblings! When Inez, Elijio, Alfonso, Ruben, Joe and Roy came along, picking cotton was the way of the world - help the family, pay the bills - but the musical legacy would not wait long. These kids had "talento".

Shelly Lares

Little Miss Dynamite

Shelly Lares

Talk about a powerhouse of talent! Talk about musical versatility! Shelly Lares has it all! Shelly is an accredited BMI songwriter/producer, who writes and co/writes her own material, plays guitar and percussion, while putting on a high energy, electrifying live show and sings with a dynamic voice like there’s no tomorrow! If scientists could harness Shelly’s energy, we’d have a never -ending power source! Couple those talents with beauty, charm, elegance, and a heart as big as Texas and you’ve got a blockbuster! When Shelly Lares takes to the stage, audiences know that they’re in for the ride of their lives!!

In 1989 Shelly Lares signed her first record deal with San Antonio-based Manny Records and released numerous hit albums including “Tu Solo Tu”, (1989), “Dynamite” (1990), “Sabes Que Si” (1991), “Tejano Star” (1992), “Greatest Hits” (1992), “Apaga La Luz” (1993), and “Quiero Ser Tu Amante” (1994). In 1995, Shelly signed with Sony Discos where she produced 5 cd’s and toured extensively across the US until signing with Tejas Records in 2000. Today Shelly Lares continues to record and tour the world and over the years she has recorded with and performed on the same stage with Vince Gill , and Rock-a-billy legend, Carl Perkins.

“Touring is part of my life so I’m used to it”, she says. I’ve never known anything different”. So for the last two decades she has been able to handle all the challenges of a music career, while keeping fans happy with her upbeat, feel-good music and her friendly nature.

Shelly Lares has taken her music, energy and talent all over the world. She has traveled to far away places like Guam, Korea, Japan and Alaska.

Year after year her fans and peers in the Tejano Music Industry have honored Shelly with numerous awards in recognition of her accomplishments. Since 1984, Shelly Lares has been nominated for an award every consecutive year at the annual Tejano Music Awards., an amazing feat by any standards! Awards catagories include Female Entertainer of the year, Female Vocalist of the year, Song of the year, Single of the year, Vocal duo of the year, Album of the year, and Tejano Country song of the year. In addition to her TTMA Awards accolades, Shelly received a Grammy nomination in 2006 for her work with the Latin Super group “Las 3 Divas” The Latin Music Awards has also given her the nod as well as the “Pura Vida Music Awards. Shelly was inducted into the Tejano Hall of Fame in 2008, making her the youngest member to date. Shelly has been presented with numerous “Key to the City” and including recognition for her unselfish contributions to the community.

Whether Shelly Lares is playing to audiences at a Rodeo, State Fair, Music Festival, Award Show, Concert, or a Charity Event, Shelly Lares gives from her heart!!!

Special Guest Speakers

Honorable Dot Harris

Director
Office Of Economic Impact and Diversity
U.S Department of Energy

Honorable Dot Harris
Career Highlights
  • Director Harris and staff participated in over 125 public events across the country in 2012 and 2013. The majority of these events focused on promoting public participation in DOE economic development, STEM education, and research & development programs.
  • Through publications and outreach, Director Harris has reached over 43 million viewers on the topic of diversity and engagement in the STEM workforce.

LaDoris "Dot" Harris was nominated by President Obama to be the Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the United States Department of Energy. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 29, 2012. Ms. Harris brings nearly 30 years of management and leadership experience to this position, having served at some of the world’s largest firms and leading a successful energy, IT, and healthcare consulting firm.

Serving at an Assistant Secretary level position at the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, Ms. Harris leads the Department of Energy’s efforts to ensure minorities and historically underrepresented communities are afforded an opportunity to participate fully in our energy programs. Ms. Harris oversees a corporate funding strategy for minority institutions, develops the current and future Departmental workforce, works closely to develop small business contracting opportunities at the Department, and protects the civil rights of Departmental employees and recipients of funding from the Department.

Ms. Harris brings a wealth of knowledge to this work, having been deeply engaged in the energy sector, small business innovation, and strategic partnerships. Previously, Ms. Harris was the President and CEO of Jabo Industries, LLC, a minority-woman owned management consulting firm concentrated primarily in the energy, information technology and healthcare industries.

Ms. Harris has also served as an executive at General Electric Company (GE) and held a number of leadership positions in GE's Energy and Industrial Systems businesses. After joining GE in 2000, as the E-Business Leader for Engineering Services, Ms. Harris was critical in expanding GE’s business operations and energy sector growth. GE tasked her with key operations roles, including responsibility for the North Region power services businesses, responsibility for the Central U.S./Canada’s integrated power generation, and, beginning in 2009, oversight over all marketing for GE’s industrial businesses as GE’s Global Marketing Leader.

Before joining GE, Ms. Harris was an officer and Vice President of Operations & Production for ABB Service, Inc. She also spent twelve years as Field Services Engineer and Services Manager with Westinghouse Electric Company.

Ms. Harris holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina and a M.S. in Technology Management from Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia.

Marcus Luttrell

Decorated Navy SEAL and Best-Selling Author of
Lone Survivor

Marcus Luttrell

Marcus Luttrell's 2007 #1 New York Times best-selling book, Lone Survivor, tells the harrowing story of four Navy SEALs who journeyed into the mountainous border of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Operation Redwing. An unparalleled motivational story of survival, the book is also a moving tribute to the friends and teammates who did not make it off the mountain. A powerful testament to the courage, integrity, patriotism and community that forged these American heroes, Lone Survivor is an incredible account of teamwork, fortitude and modern warfare.

In January 2014, Luttrell's amazing story made the leap to the big screen with the blockbuster film, Lone Survivor, directed by Peter Berg (Battleship, Hancock) and starring Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, The Departed) as Luttrell. The film celebrated a historic open, earning the second biggest January debut of all time.

Marcus Luttrell takes us from the rigors of SEAL training and what it takes to join the America’s elite fighting force, to the battle on the mountain, into his family’s experience of community support and generosity, and back to his own incredible story of survival and grace. In powerful narrative, he weaves a rich account of courage and sacrifice, honor and patriotism, community and destiny that audiences will find both wrenching and life-affirming.

In his emotionally raw account, Marcus Luttrell honors the memories of all those who died, sharing with us the incredible bravery, courage and honor of these extraordinary warriors. He holds their lives up as examples of this guiding philosophy of the SEALs:

"I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight."

Operation Redwing’s mission was to gather intelligence on a Taliban leader with ties to Osama bin Laden. When the team encountered several goat herders, the SEALs questioned them and, after a Exclusive representation by Greater Talent Network, Inc. debate about the rules of engagement, let them go. Shortly after a large Taliban force ambushed the four-man team on a remote ridge, Marcus Luttrell and his teammates valiantly fought for hours, displaying characteristic SEAL determination and bravery, refusing to retreat from the fight despite being heavily outnumbered. Hours later, after Marcus Luttrell had watched all three friends die and had literally been blown off the mountain by an RPG, a rescue helicopter carrying 16 special operation forces was shot down, killing all on board.

His face shredded, nose broken, rotator cuff torn, three vertebrae cracked, his body riddled with shrapnel and unable to stand, Marcus Luttrell began to crawl through the mountains in search of shelter. Help arrived by way of the Afghan villagers of Sabray. They took Luttrell in, cleaned up his wounds and, honoring their tribe’s custom, protected him from the Taliban at the risk of their own lives. As the Taliban circled the village and the threats intensified, the village elder sought help from the nearest Marine outpost. Five nights after the nightmare began, Marcus Luttrell was rescued.

In his new bestselling book Service: A Navy SEAL at War, Marcus Luttrell turns his focus from his own experiences as a combat-trained Navy SEAL to the nature of service on America’s battlefields and the soldiers who give their lives to defend their nation and each other.

Marcus Luttrell joined the U.S. Navy in March 1999 and became a combat-trained SEAL in January 2002. After serving in Iraq for two years, he was deployed to Afghanistan in the spring of 2005. As a SEAL, Marcus Luttrell was trained in weapons, demolition, and unarmed combat. He also served as Platoon medic.

After recuperating, he redeployed to Iraq for a second tour. In the spring of 2007, Petty Officer 1st Class Luttrell retired. He was awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism in 2006 by President George W. Bush.

To honor his lost comrades from Operation Redwing, Marcus Luttrell established the Lone Survivor Foundation in 2010, dedicated to honoring and remembering American warriors by providing unique educational, rehabilitation, recovery, and wellness opportunities to U.S. Armed Forces service members & families.

Dr.Juliet V Garcia

Executive Director
UT Institute of the Americas

Dr.Juliet V Garcia

Juliet V. García joined The University of Texas System as president of The University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) / Texas Southmost College partnership in January 1992 after having served as president of Texas Southmost College (TSC) for six years. When she was named as president of the comprehensive community college in 1986, she became the first Mexican-American woman to become president of a college or university in the United States. She was the second president of UTB and the 12th president of TSC.

Dr. García relentlessly advocates for increasing access to higher education through innovation, experimentation, and efficiency. In 1991, a group of concerned community leaders and Dr. García spearheaded the establishment of a university that would be collocated with the community college. The University of Texas at Brownsville formed an educational partnership with Texas Southmost College during one of the toughest economic times in the State of Texas. She was the only president to serve in the Partnership role.

The "Partnership," as it became known, consolidated the fiscal, physical and human resources of both institutions, eliminated redundancy in administrative structures, increased efficiency, and, most importantly, eliminated all transfer barriers for students in the South Texas border region known as the Rio Grande Valley. In 1997, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accredited the Partnership with UT Brownsville as the parent institution, commending "the entire university community - faculty, staff, students and community leaders – for its vision and courage."

The history of her leadership chronicles more than two decades of innovation that propelled the development of postsecondary education in Deep South Texas and its international border region.

Dr. Zelma Mata

Associate Professor
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Dr. Zelma Mata
Ed.D. in Administration and Supervision-Higher Education, The University of Houston, 1993
M.S. in Physical Education, The University of Texas-Pan Am, 1978
B.S. in Physical Education, The University of Texas-Pan Am, 1977

Teaching Interest:

Folk and Square Dance, Mexican Folklorico Dance, Dance for Children, Aerobics, Jogging, Self Defense, History and Principles, Physical Conditioning

Courses Taught:

KINE 1101 Aerobic Dance and Exercise
KINE 1111 Folk and Square Dance
KINE 1112 Folklorico
KINE 1116 Jogging
KINE 1134 Physical Conditioning
KINE 2255 Health and Motor Development Early Childhood-6th Grade
KINE 3314 Dance for Children and Adolescents
KINE 4302 Kinesiology Curriculum for Elementary Students
KINE 4309 Kinesiology Curriculum for Secondary Students
KINE 4380 Exercise Science Internship
KINEU 1136 Activities for Secondary School Students
KINEU 2255 Health and Motor Development Early Childhood-4th Grade
UNIV 1101 First Year Seminar

Area of Specialty and Responsibility:

Strategies for Teaching Mexican Folklórico Dance in the Public Schools
The Status of Mexican Folklórico Dance Programs in the Schools
The Effects of Participation in a Mexican Folklórico Dance Class and Self Image Among Hispanic Students

Erika Gonzalez

Anchor/Reporter
NBC4

Erika Gonzalez

Erika Gonzalez is the consumer news reporter and fill-in anchor for News4. Gonzalez joined NBC4 in 2011 from her native state of Texas where she was the morning anchor at KEYE-TV in Austin and also contributed to the Telemundo station there. Prior to that, she was an anchor and Executive Producer for Fox2News in the Rio Grande Valley.

Since arriving in Washington, Gonzalez’s stories have taken her to Boston to cover the bombing at the Boston Marathon, Moore, Oklahoma after tornadoes ravaged parts of that region and El Salvador to investigate ruthless gangs and their ties to this area. Gonzalez holds a degree in Communications from the University of Texas Pan American where she graduated Cum Laude. She is an alumna of Delta Xi Nu Multicultural Sorority Inc.

When not working, Gonzalez is on the go. She has been a certified Zumba instructor, a first degree black-belt in Kung-Fu and a runner, finishing her first marathon in May 2011. You can also find her at our region’s salsa clubs. You can e-mail her story ideas at Erika.Gonzalez@nbcuni.com and follow her on Twitter @Erika_news.

Letty Garza

News Anchor
Channel 5 News

Letty Garza

Letty Garza was born and raised in McAllen. She graduated from Pan American University with a bachelor's degree in communications in 1983. She is also a 1978 McAllen High School graduate.

Letty started her career at CHANNEL 5 NEWS as an intern in 1982 and worked her way up to become one of CHANNEL 5 NEWS's first female Hispanic news anchors here in the Valley.

Letty was instrumental in creating the first and most successful morning news program in the Valley. She also anchored the weekend newscast followed by the 5, 6, and 10 o'clock newscasts from the 1980s all the way to the mid-90s.

After the birth of her daughter, Talisa Marie McVea, Letty made a career change and worked for the U.S. Border Patrol as McAllen sector's first Public Information Officer in 1994. She continued her work with her Wednesday's Child program with CHANNEL 5 NEWS from 1994 until she returned to CHANNEL 5 NEWS in March of 2000.

Letty now anchors two full newscasts Monday through Friday: CHANNEL 5 NEWS at 6 and CHANNEL 5 NEWS at 10.

Letty is married to Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Reynaldo Manuel Garza, who oversees 1,800 agents and support personnel responsible for 19 South Texas counties. As mentioned earlier, Letty is the proud mother of Talisa Marie McVea.

Letty says, "I understand that people depend on my years of experienceas a journalist for dependable and accurate information on a day-to-day basis. I want my Valley to know just how proud I am, not only to represent CHANNEL 5 NEWS as a team leader, but as a reliable and responsible person...that my mother, Marina, always said I would be, in her words: 'Mijita, eres muy responsable, y por eso seguiste adelante.'"

Denisse Salinas

News Reporter/Anchor
Telemundo

Denisse Salinas

Denisse Salinas nació en Monterrey, Nuevo León, posteriormente emigró a los Estados Unidos donde se recibió de la Universidad de Texas-Pan American con la carrera de Relaciones Públicas y Publicidad y sub-especialización en Español y Mercadotecnia.

Durante sus estudios, trabajó como editora de las secciones de Español y Multimedia del periódico semanal de la universidad "The Pan American"

Desde muy pequeña su sueño y pasión siempre fue convertirse en reportera y poder informar a la comunidad lo que pasa a su alrededor, ella recuerda que desde muy joven hacía sus propios reportajes.

Dr. Cornelio Gonzalez

Executive Director
ESC Region One

Dr.Cornelio Gonzalez

Dr. Cornelio Gonzalez's career in Texas education started in Brownsville ISD where he served as English as a Second Language and English teacher at Simon Rivera H.S. He became Assistant Principal of Gladys Porter H.S. and later served as Dean of Instruction at the same campus.

In 1999 he was admitted to the prestigious Cooperative Superintendency Program of the University of Texas at Austin where he obtained his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership in 2001. He served as Education Specialist in the Migrant Department of the Texas Education Agency and was a member of the U.S.-Mexico Bi-national Migrant Education Program. Dr. Cornelio Gonzalez has been a speaker at several regional, state, national and international conferences sharing the findings of his research on the process of incorporation of immigrant students into life in the United States.

He has served as Superintendent of Schools at Lasara ISD in Willacy County, Tuloso-Midway ISD in Corpus Christi and Mission CISD in the City of Mission, Texas. Dr. Cornelio Gonzalez is now serving as the Executive Director of the Region One Education Service Center where he hopes to utilize the experiences accumulated over 24 years of service to provide support, encouragement and assistance to all the school districts and charter schools in the Region One area.

Marcy Martinez

Anchor/Reporter
Action4News

Marcy Martinez

Marcy is a product of the Rio Grande Valley, having been born and raised in Harlingen.

This contributes to her unique connection to the community because as she puts it, "We're all one big family."

Marcy graduated with Honors from Harlingen High School South in 1996 and went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Texas A&M University Kingsville.

Right out of college, Marcy came home and jumped into the morning anchor seat at KGBT.

Within the following years, she moved from mornings to evenings and has not only been a local fixture on the news desk, but takes every opportunity to get out in the field to report on breaking news stories and issues important to her community.

During her nearly 12 years with Action 4 News, Marcy has covered all sorts of interesting stories ranging from hurricanes to President Bush's visit and the onslaught of presidential candidate appearances that followed.

Marcy was among the mass crowds outside the Nation's Capitol in Washington, DC as President Barack Obama was sworn into office in 2009 and was able to relay her experience to KGBT-TV viewers watching from home.

Marcy has been named Texas A&M University Kingsville's Alumna of the Year, Rising Star, and served as commencement speaker for graduation.

She currently serves as a board member of the Javelina Alumni Association and has been featured in commercials promoting the university.

Marcy takes every opportunity to promote education so don’t be surprised if you see her at a local school reading to kids or giving graduating Seniors some advice for their college future.

Marcy says there's no place on earth she'd rather be reporting the news than right here in the Rio Grande Valley where she can make a difference in the lives of people she considers family.

HESTEC Presenters

Armando Arismendi

Director, Special Government Projects
IBM

Armando Arismendi

Armando Arismendi is responsible for the development and delivery of custom supercomputers for the U.S. Government. He leads a multi-divisional team of researchers, software and hardware developers, and testers as well as manufacturing in order accomplish the delivery of these application-specific supercomputers. Armando was previously the Research Division CIO responsible for the worldwide Research infrastructure as well as infrastructure research in the areas of Cloud Computing and worldwide collaboration.

Most of his 31 year career with IBM was spent in Austin, Texas, with a broad spectrum of systems hardware and firmware development efforts. Armando has received overseas assignments in Madrid, Sydney, Taipei, Milan, Tokyo, Bangalore, India, and Cambridge UK. Armando's 2000 Olympics efforts in Madrid and Sydney earned him an IBM Global Services Excellence Award. In 2005, Armando's efforts with Telefonica Moviles España earned him an IBM Exceptional Advocate Award.

Armando was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in August, 1957. He joined IBM in 1980 after receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1979 and 1980, respectively.

Outside of work, Armando has been highly involved in community giveback efforts. Armando has served on the Board of Directors for various non-profit organizations, and in 2005, Armando received The President's Volunteer Service Award from President George W. Bush.

Armando is the IBM Hispanic Diversity Executive for the University of Texas - Pan American and serves on their Engineering Advisory Council. In September, 2011, UTPA is presenting IBM with their first HESTEC Pioneer Award for IBM's contributions to the UTPA Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Program. Armando will be receiving the award on IBM's behalf. Armando's motivation for his involvement and giveback to the community is driven by his value of education and how it is fundamental to one's future success.

Stephen Bacica

Electrical Engineer
Raytheon

Stephen Bacica

Stephen Bacica was born in Los Angeles, CA and started his career in 1996 after completing an associates degree in Electronics Engineering from DeVry Institute. His first assignment was winding transformers at Hughes Space and Communications, which was soon after acquired by Boeing Space and Communications. He progressed in his career becoming a Senior Research and Engineering Technician where he held various responsibilities, including Jr. REA (responsible engineering authority) and customer interphase. In 2004, Stephen transitioned from commercial satellite electronics to military electronics accepting a position at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems.

Stephen became more involved and interested in the field of power electronics. Soon after joining Raytheon it became clear to Stephen that the next step in his career would be to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering, which he could complete after hours while still maintaining his position at Raytheon. In 2007, soon after getting married Stephen was granted a transfer to Dallas to be with his wife, Veronica. While in Tx he completed his BS in EE at the University of Texas-Dallas in May 2012 and now holds the position of Electrical Engineer II.

During his career Stephen has worked on such programs as F18 targeting pod (ATFLIR), Blackhawk / Chinook targeting and range finding pods (Q2), space based power systems for communications systems (ICO system, TDRS system, Direct TV, Galaxy, GOES) and various power electronics research projects. Stephen’s wife Veronica (Molina) Bacica is an alumnus of UTPA where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with honors. Stephen is active in his Knight of Columbus counsel and leads a weekly bike ride for the Plano Bicycle Association.

Esther Casas

President of the Raytheon Employee Resource
Group (HOLA) Raytheon

Esther Casas

Esther Casas was born and raised in El Paso, TX. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Technology from Texas A&M University. She had her daughter two weeks after graduation and three weeks later started her career at Ethicon, Inc. in San Angelo, Tx. Esther worked as a Quality Engineer in the medical device industry for seven years for companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Medtronic, and Eastman Kodak.

She received her Six Sigma Green Belt Certification and worked on various process improvement projects to establish lean manufacturing at the various facilities she supported. After relocating back to Texas, Esther joined Raytheon in 2006 as a software quality engineer. She currently supports the combat system programs based in McKinney, Texas. She enjoys mentoring young students and community service with the schools and CASA of Collin County. Esther currently service as president of the Raytheon Employee Resource Group (HOLA) Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Advancement.

Jeannette Castaneda

Manager of Public Relations
Time Warner Cable

Jeannette Castaneda

Jeannette Castaneda is Manager of Public Relations for Time Warner Cable's Texas market. She brings 14 years of professional PR experience spanning a broad range of industries including: Cable, Television, Publishing, Music, Corporate and Retail.

Prior to joining Time Warner Cable four years ago, Jeannette held key communications roles at companies such as CNBC, Meredith Publishing and MTV; among others.

Jeannette currently supports all public relations initiatives in the state of Texas with a strong focus on promoting Time Warner Cable's community investment partnerships.

As PR Manager, Jeannette is responsible for developing and executing comprehensive and bilingual external media strategies for the company’s products and services, as well as serving as the company spokesperson for the Texas market.

Jeannette earned a BA degree in Communications from William Paterson University and currently resides in Dallas.

Edna X. De Saro

Senior Vice President & Marketing Director
Lone Star National Bank

Edna X. De Saro

Edna X. De Saro is Senior Vice President & Marketing Director with Lone Star National Bank with headquarters in McAllen, Texas. Her career includes fourteen (14) years in bank marketing and advertising including: brand management and development, business development, PR management, event planning, community relations, media relations and corporate strategic marketing.

For the last 10 years Edna has led the corporate strategic marketing of one of the fastest growing, Hispanic owned, independent community banks in Texas. Overseeing all marketing and advertising efforts for a 2.4 billion dollar asset bank with 33 banking centers across South Texas, Edna has been part of the management team that has positioned Lone Star National Bank as a technologically advanced financial institution in Texas. Edna has successfully developed and implemented corporate branding that includes The Valley’s Bank slogan and the famous Cowboy Cash mascot program that has touched the lives of tens of thousands of students across South Texas through a robust financial literacy program.

Edna has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas Christian University in Marketing and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas - Pan American. Her advertising awards and recognitions include seven (7) Telly Awards and twenty-seven (27) ADDY Awards. She sits on the Board of Directors of IDEA Public Schools. In addition, she is an active Advocate of the Advocacy Alliance Center of Texas (AACT) by promoting the importance of voting in the Rio Grande Valley.

Dr. Matthew Garcia

Oak Ridge Institute of Science Education (ORISE)
Science and Technology Policy Fellow
Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
Energy (EERE) at DOE

Dr.Matthew Garcia

Dr. Matthew Garcia is a Rio Grande Valley native and alumni of the University of Texas Pan American, receiving a degree in Biology with Honors from UTPA. Dr. Garcia went on to receive his PhD in Anatomy and Neurobiology from the University of Kentucky where his research concentrated on developing intervention strategies for decreasing neurodegeneration occurring after traumatic brain and spinal cord injury.

After graduate school, Dr. Garcia was a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, where, outside the laboratory, he was active in a number of community focused activities around science, technology and education. After completing his postdoctoral work, he participated in the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS)’s Science & Technology Policy Fellowship for two years, at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), where he is now currently an Oak Ridge Institute of Science Education (ORISE) Science and Technology Policy Fellow for the Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at DOE.

As a Science and Technology Fellow, Dr. Garcia is involved in strategic planning, analysis and program coordination related to energy education and energy workforce issues, and in general to national and international assessment and analysis of science, technology and education policies. Through his work, Dr. Garcia hopes to create more opportunities for students to enter science and technology careers to increase our innovation and research and development activities, and to increase the economic prosperity of the country by providing new pathways to the middle class through careers in science and technology.

Eddie Gonzales

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Business Administrator
NASA

Eddie Gonzales

Eddie Gonzales, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory Eddie Gonzales began work at the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory in February of 2001, having previously worked in the legal field for over 15 years, most recently as Office Manager of various support departments at one of the largest law firms in Los Angeles, O'Melveny and Myers. Eddie is currently the Business Administrator in the Education Office at "JPL". He is also the point of contact at "JPL" for NASA's current metrics database. Eddie also works directly with NASA Headquarters in the capacity of E/PO for the Science Mission Directorate, in particular, Planetary Science. His background is Business Management and logistics.

R. David Guerra

President & CEO
International Bank of Commerce (IBC)

R. David Guerra

R. David Guerra is an established leader at the forefront of the banking industry who currently serves as president and CEO of International Bank of Commerce (IBC)–McAllen, where he oversees numerous branches in McAllen, Mission, Hidalgo, Edinburg, Pharr, San Juan, Alamo and Weslaco, Texas. Guerra also serves as a director of International Bank of Commerce–Laredo and IBC’s multi-bank financial holding company, International Bancshares Corporation (NASDAQ: IBOC), the largest banking institution headquartered on the United States and Mexican border.

R. David Guerra has provided invaluable counsel and business insight that has played a critical role in IBC’s unprecedented and continued growth throughout the past two decades. Through the leadership and vision of Chairman Dennis Nixon and Guerra’s advocacy of and involvement in IBC’s merger and acquisition efforts, International Bancshares Corporation has grown into a $11.5 billion bank holding company with over 217 locations serving over 88 communities throughout Texas and Oklahoma.

In 1981, Guerra joined IBC as a senior vice president, assisting in the supervision of the commercial, consumer and real estate lending departments. Prior to accepting his current position as president and CEO of IBC–McAllen, Guerra served as executive vice president and director of IBC–Laredo. Guerra’s previous work experience also includes tenure as a distinguished National Bank Examiner for the U. S. Treasury Department’s Comptroller of the Currency.

Guerra’s commitment to volunteerism and philanthropy is spirited by his passion for increasing access to educational opportunities and financial resources for South Texas students seeking higher education. His commitment to improving the quality of life for all South Texans has spearheaded his active involvement in other community-focused initiatives as well. Guerra serves as director and past chairman of the University of Texas Pan American Foundation Board, and director of Idea Public schools, a charter school system with campuses in several Rio Grande Valley communities, San Antonio and Austin Texas. Guerra is also past chairman of the South Texas Higher Education Authority. Most recently, he was appointed to serve on the Board of the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority. In addition, Guerra has served as a director of the Texas Bankers Association and continues to be an active advocate for the banking industry in the Texas state capital of Austin, and United States capital, Washington D.C.

In 2009 he received the RGV Girl Scouts Distinguished Citizen Award, in 2005 the McAllen Chamber of Commerce recognized Mr. Guerra as McAllen’s Man of the Year. In 2004, The State of Israel honored Guerra by presenting him with The State of Israel Declaration of Independence Award in recognition of his exemplary leadership and community service. In 2000, Guerra was recognized by the Rio Grande Council of the Boys Scouts of America as the Distinguished Citizen of the Year. In 1998 he was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by the University of Texas–Pan American and received the Cultural Leader of Year Award from the South Texas Symphony Association. Previous directorships include the Laredo Chamber of Commerce, the Boys Scouts of America-Gulf Coast Council, the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, the Museum of South Texas History and the Laredo Development Foundation, where he also served as president.

Guerra is an honors graduate from Texas A & I University, now Texas A & M University-Kingsville, Texas. He also completed advanced studies by attending the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He is married to Edna Guerra an honors graduate of the University of Texas Pharmacy School and a former school teacher. They have two children, Omar David, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Sara Elena, a graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and St. Mary’s University School of Law.

LTC Walter Llamas

President & CEO
International Bank of Commerce (IBC)

LTC Walter Llamas

Lieutenant Colonel Walter Llamas is a native of Puerto Rico. He was commissioned as a 2LT in the Quartermaster Branch in 1994 through the ROTC program at University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems. In 2005 Lieutenant Colonel Llamas received a Master of Science degree in Logistics Management from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Previous assignments include platoon leader, 528th Quartermaster Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion; Detachment Commander and Executive Officer, 81st Quartermaster Detachment and 528th Quartermaster Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion in Fort Lewis, Washington; Company Commander, 289th Quartermaster Company, Special Troops Battalion, 13th COSCOM Fort Hood, Texas; Aide-de-Camp for the 21st Theater Support Command Commanding General in Kaiserslautern, Germany; Services Officer and Deputy Support Operations Officer, 15th Sustainment Brigade in Fort Hood, Texas; Executive Officer, 262nd Quartermaster Battalion, 23rd Quartermaster Brigade and Operations Officer and Executive Officer to the 50th and 51st Quartermaster Generals in Fort Lee, Virginia; Operations Officer and Executive Officer to the Third Army/US Army Central Assistant Chief of Staff G4 (Logistics) in Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

Lieutenant Colonel Llamas military education includes the Quartermaster Officer Basic and Combined Logistics Officer Advanced Course, Airborne School, Aerial Delivery and Materiel Officer's Course, Combined Arms Services Staff School, Logistics Executive Development Course, the Command and General Staff College at Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in Fort Benning, Georgia and the Demonstrated Master Logistician Certificate.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (3OLC), the Army Commendation Medal (1OLC), the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Superior Unit Award, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, Parachutist Badge and Parachute Rigger Badge. Lieutenant Colonel Llamas is married to Maribel Llamas and has one son, Alejandro, age 10.

Adolfo Lozano

Mechanical Engineer, Thermal Analysis
Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems

Adolfo Lozano

Adolfo Lozano III is a mechanical engineer working for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in Dallas, TX. He performs thermal analyses on electro-optical sensors used on airborne and ground-based defense systems. He joined Raytheon in September 2011. At Raytheon, he has served as the Community Outreach Officer for Raytheon's Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Advancement (HOLA) since 2013 and has led or co-led 14 volunteer events to date. Earlier this year, he was named the 2014 Young Engineer of the Year by the ASME North Texas Section.

Adolfo graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas Pan American in May 2008 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. He studied at UTPA as a University Scholar, a full tuition and fees scholarship program. He landed his first two internships--with Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, MI and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Linthicum, MD--through the annual career fair during HESTEC Week. He credits his first two internships as instrumental in receiving future professional opportunities; he gained practice interviewing and building his resume from UTPA's Career Services. Additionally, he worked as a mathematics tutor at the Learning Assistance Center for 4 years and served as a University Ambassador for 1 year. Prior to that, he attended high school at the Science Academy of South Texas, a public, tuition-free magnet high school focusing on science, math, and engineering.

Adolfo went on to receive his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in August 2011. His graduate research advisor was Dr. Michael E. Webber of the Webber Energy Group; his thesis research centered on a novel thermoelectric generator. He worked as a teaching assistant for Dr. Philip S. Schmidt and was awarded the H. Grady Rylander Longhorn Mechanical Engineering Club Excellence in Teaching Fellowship in May 2010, a distinction given to 1 teaching assistant per year in the mechanical engineering department. Moreover, during graduate school he independently interned at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH.

Adolfo attributes all of his academic and professional success to Christ Jesus and believes his life is a testament of God’s grace. He is an active member of Watermark Community Church in Dallas, TX. His personal interests and hobbies include Christian apologetics, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and 2nd Saturday, and salsa & bachata dancing.

Samantha Lozano Silvas

Team Lead, Software Services, Houston License
Management
ExxonMobil

Samantha Lozano Silvas

Samantha was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley where she lived until moving to Houston in 2009 to join ExxonMobil Global Services Company. She was the first female to graduate with a BS in Computer Engineering from The University of Texas-Pan American. She currently works for ExxonMobil's Global Services Company in Software Services as the team lead for the Houston License Management team, managing software licenses.

Samantha finds time to serve community by volunteering whenever possible and fostering homeless pets from the greater Houston area. She is married and has two dogs and two cats. She also enjoys scrapbooking, hunting, and playing video games during her personal time.

Aldo Rodriguez

Relationship Manager
Chase

Aldo Rodriguez

Aldo G Rodriguez is a Relationship Manager within the Business Banking Group of Chase Bank. He specializes in helping businesses meet or exceed their financial goals. Aldo works with all industry types but specialize with businesses that generate 1-20 million in gross revenue sales. Aldo has been in the banking industry for over 8 years and has had the privilege to work in different capacities within banking.

Aldo was born in Morelia Michoacán Mexico and was brought to the United States because his parents wanted a better future for him and themselves. He was brought up to never settle and to shoot for what he believes in, that mentality has helped drive his success in every one of his ventures. Aldo started his career in banking while completing his Bachelor’s Degree in International Business from Texas State University. Aldo saw that there was a lot of opportunity within banking to do different kinds of careers from sales, marketing to financial consulting. Aldo chose to work in the business banking department due to his entrepreneur spirit. Aldo works with all kinds of businesses to help them start up their business, expand their business or help them operate more efficient financially. Aldo finds that the biggest and most rewarding feeling is to know that you have help start a doctor’s office, an engineer’s project or even finance the start of a small business which has been a dream of a client.

Aldo G Rodriguez has been successful in his career due to his continuation of education. Aldo graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos. Aldo also studied Financial Planning with Boston University and holds a certification for Financial Accounting through Omega Performance. Aldo is currently enrolled in the MBA Program with the University of Texas Pan American. Aldo's Favorite quote is from Malcolm X -"Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today."

Mauricio Salinas

Senior Principal Mechanical Engineer
Raytheon

Mauricio Salinas

Mauricio A. Salinas was raised in Edinburg and graduated from Edinburg High School, which was the only high school at the time. He is UTPA Alum, obtaining a Mechanical Engineering Degree in 1996. As part of his Senior Design Project, Mauricio used NASA software to design and build the large wind tunnel currently found in the Engineering Building. Each summer as an undergrad, Mauricio participated in five internships at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The bulk of his work dealt with performing micro-gravity combustion experiments.

Next, Mauricio obtained a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, where his studies focused on micro-scale heat transfer. Mauricio was then hired by Texas Instruments and assigned to the Thermal Group. There, he was responsible for the thermal design of various commercial and military products including: the night vision camera on the Cadillac Deville, Police and Fire Department IR Cameras, and M-16 Rifle Sights. After six years of work experience, he was designated as a Raytheon Scholar and attended UT – Arlington where he obtained a doctoral degree. His dissertation dealt with heat and mass transfer within porous media.

Dr. Salinas is now a Senior Principal Mechanical Engineer at Raytheon’s Space & Airborne Systems Division. His recent work deals with the thermal management of electronics and optics on Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) such as the Predator and Global Hawk. Dr. Salinas is an expert in Computational Fluid Dynamics and has publishes over 22 technical papers. As an Adjunct Professor, Dr. Salinas has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses at UT-Arlington, UT-Dallas, and SMU. In 2013, he was named a Fellow of ASME.

Tiffany Schuffert

Agency Recruitment Program Manager
NASA, Workforce Planning and Analysis Division

Tiffany Schuffert

Tiffany works in the Office of Human Capital Management at NASA Headquarters in the Workforce Planning and Analysis Division. Tiffany serves as the Agency Recruitment Program Manager. In this role she is responsible for coordinating all agency recruitment activities, coordinating recruitment activities across NASA Centers, and increasing NASA’s social media recruitment efforts. Additionally, Tiffany serves as the Agency Veteran Employment Program Officer, working to ensure NASA continues to comply with Federal veteran goals and metrics.

Erik Trevino

Intern for Opto-mechanical Engineering Division
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Erik Trevino

Erik Trevino is a mechanical engineer and entrepreneur. He holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas Pan American. Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Trevino overcame the challenges of being an undocumented student and was awarded an internship at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he worked in the Opto-mechanical Engineering Division designing fixtures for the assembly of high precision parts of the Prime Focus Spectrometer for the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii that will be used to study dark matter in space. Trevino is currently pursuing an entrepreneurial venture to establish an industrial machining company specializing in high precision molds for plastic injection molding. He also plans to bring a second machine shop to the Rio Grande Valley in the near future.

Romeo Perez

Portfolio Enhancement Manager
XTO Energy

Romeo Perez

Romeo is an executive level manager with over 32 years of service with Exxon Mobil Corporation with a majority of that time in petroleum production operations; additionally over the course of his career, he has spent a great amount of time promoting, motivating, and encouraging the pursuit of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) careers within the minority community. In addition to assignments covering the US, during his career he has traveled to Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, England, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Texas in May 1982. In his current assignment as Portfolio Enhancement Manager in XTO's Company Headquarters in Fort Worth, his Team has responsibility for assessing and implementing strategies to improve the profitability of the company’s North America portfolio.

He is currently a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Texas, a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and also a member of Tau Beta Pi, the National Engineering Honor Society. Additionally he has served on several non-profit boards, councils, and advisory committees.

He has been very happily married for 30 years and has two wonderful children.