The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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2015 Presenter Biographies

José Díaz-Balart

Host "The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart"

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

José Díaz-Balart is the host of "The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart" weekdays from 9-11 a.m. ET in addition to anchoring two programs on Telemundo, “Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart” and “Noticiero Telemundo.” Díaz-Balart began his career in 1984 and has since become one of the most respected voices in Hispanic journalism in the United States. Over the past 30 years, he has witnessed and reported historic events for prestigious news media such as NBC News and Telemundo. His achievements include being the only journalist to serve as news anchor on two national television networks in Spanish and English on the same day for an entire season.

He has received numerous accolades for his work, including the George Foster Peabody Award, Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award, and the Broadcasting & Cable/Multichannel News 2012 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hispanic Television. Most recently he was honored with the 2014 Life Achievement Award by the Hispanic Federation and the Communications Award by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). Follow him on Twitter @jdbalart.

Richard H. Garcia

Mayor

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

Richard H. Garcia is a Federal Criminal Law Attorney and a senior partner with an established law firm. A native of Edinburg, Mayor Garcia graduated from Edinburg High School in 1964 and continued his education at the University of Texas-Pan American and received a Juris Doctorate at Texas Southern University in Houston. He served as Edinburg Municipal Judge from 1975-1978 and was a County Court of Law Judge for 16 years. Garcia served as chair of the Texas Border Coalition twice and is proud to have been appointed to serve on the Texas Adult Probation Commission. He is currently the President of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. He is married to Myra C. Garcia and they have five children, Gina, Katherine, Chelsea, Daniel and Carlos, a son in law Daniel, as well as two grandsons, Richard Xavier Perez and William Alexander Perez.

Dr. Eduardo Cancino

Deputy Director for Instructional, School Improvement, and College Readiness Support Region One Education Service Center

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

Dr. Eduardo Cancino has been an educator for 27 years and currently serves as Deputy Director for Instructional, School Improvement, and College Readiness Support at Region One Education Service Center with expertise in curriculum alignment, data-driven instruction, effective instructional and intervention approaches, and systemic continuous improvement strategies. Region One Education Service Center services 37 school districts and ten charter school systems with a combined enrollment of approximately 420,000 students and is one of twenty ESC’s in Texas. In this position, Dr. Cancino has provided leadership over the past four years for the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, the Office of School Improvement, Accountability, and Compliance, the Laredo Extension Office, and the Brownsville Extension Office towards supporting high quality school district support leading to enhanced levels of academic achievement by all students.

Prior to this leadership position, Dr. Cancino served as Superintendent of Schools for the Hidalgo Independent School District from 2007 - 2009. Prior to being Superintendent, he served as Associate Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, and Executive Director for Teaching and Learning in Hidalgo ISD since July 2000. Dr. Cancino has provided leadership for improvement initiatives to support high quality education for all students including Hidalgo Early College High School, Full day Pre-K 3 and 4, Dual Language Program, Parent Literacy Academies, Summer Educator Business Internship Program, and Dual Language Programs.

Dr. Cancino also served for three years as a District level administrator for the McAllen ISD where he instituted a district-wide student evaluation system to monitor learning on an ongoing basis and a systemic professional development approach to improve teacher effectiveness. He also served as a secondary mathematics teacher for eight years in the Edinburg CISD where he was instrumental in initiating an Advanced Placement program that earned both state and national recognition. Dr. Cancino’s educational service began in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD as a secondary mathematics teacher for Migrant and English Language Learner students.

Dr. Cancino has been invited to share in successful practices for Hispanic students at local, state and national conferences by organizations such as U.S. Department of Education, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, U.S. Dept. of Ed. Office of English Language Acquisition, Education Trust, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, National Association of Latino Elected Officials, Communities Foundation of Texas, and several other organizations. At the professional level he currently serves on the Board of the South Texas Association of Schools, Texas Association of Mid-Size Schools, and Texas Workforce Commission. He also has served on advisory councils for the Education Commission of the States, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities - Hispanic Serving School Districts, and Junior Achievement Hispanic Initiative. Dr. Eduardo Cancino received a BA in Mathematics, MS in Mathematics Education, M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas - Pan American.

Veronica Gonzales

Vice President for Governmental and Community Relations
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

Veronica Gonzales is a native of San Marcos. She learned firsthand the importance of education when she became the first in her family to go to college. She graduated cum laude from Southwest Texas State University in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Spanish. She later earned her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University Of Texas School Of Law in 1991. Upon graduating from law school, she moved to McAllen and spent two decades building an acclaimed career as an attorney. Until, July, 2012, she was a name partner in the law firm of Kittleman, Thomas & Gonzales, L.L.P. and in 2008, she was recognized as one of 30 “Extraordinary Woman in Law” by Texas Lawyer. For four consecutive years, she was named a Super Lawyer by The Texas Super Lawyers.

In 2004, voters in the McAllen, Mission, Edinburg and Alton area elected Veronica Gonzales to serve as the first female representing District 41 in the Texas House of Representatives. She was re-elected three times, and in her eight years in the Texas House, earned numerous accolades and was appointed to several leadership positions, including Secretary of the State Democratic Caucus, “freshman of the year” by the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus and Secretary and Legal Counsel of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus.

Veronica earned a new title in the 2009 session when Speaker of the House Joe Straus appointed her as Chairman of the Border & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, only one of 34 chairs out of 150 members. Recognizing her leadership on border and security issues, the Speaker also appointed her to the National Conference of State Legislators' Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Taskforce. In addition, Veronica has served in state and national leadership organizations such as the Aspen-Rodel Fellowship, which each year chooses only 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans nationwide to participate in its Public Leadership Program and on the Board of Directors of the Texas Lyceum Association, a statewide leadership organization.

Healthcare issues in the Rio Grande Valley are of great concern to Veronica and for three legislative sessions, she sat on the Public Health Committee, giving her a key decision-making role on issues affecting the public’s health, like disease prevention, medical licensing and access to care. Addressing the health care needs in South Texas led Gonzales to pass legislation to increase up to $165,000.00 the amount of loans forgiven for doctors who agree to practice in Health Professional Shortage Areas like the Rio Grande Valley. The measure earned her the "Legislative Champion Award" from The Texas Association of Community Health Centers, the "Patient Advocacy Award" from the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, as well as and praise from several medical and health care organizations.

In September 2010, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce named Veronica one of eight "Ultimate Latinas" in the nation, recognizing her legislative achievements that benefit the business community.

In March 2011, Veronica received the “Voice of the People” award from the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network.

In 2012, Veronica was named a “Woman of Distinction” by the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC). That same year, she was named a Distinguished Alumni by Texas State University as well as by the alumni association of San Marcos High School. In 2013, Veronica was inducted into the Rio Grande Valley’s Walk of Fame, having been nominated by the City of McAllen.

In July, 2012, Veronica took a retirement from the practice of law to assume the position of Vice President for University Advancement at the University of Texas-Pan American. In this role, Veronica oversaw fundraising, marketing, public affairs and alumni relations at a university that is one of the largest Hispanic serving institutions in the nation.

Most recently in November 2014, Veronica was named Vice President for Governmental and Community Relations for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). In this new role, Veronica has taken on initiatives at the local, state and federal level that will greatly benefit UTRGV. Veronica serves as lead representation for UTRGV in the areas of developing, advancing and maintaining positive and productive relationships and partnerships with the external community and for engaging governmental officials, bodies, and agencies via positive and ongoing dialogues. Responsible for monitoring legislation and public policy, her extensive experience as former State Representative guides her confident approach to advise administrators of their potential impact on The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Veronica’s extensive background, experience and knowledge have allowed her to build strong relationships with leaders at all levels and set a platform for her to create a channel of communication with them about issues impacting higher education and the Hispanic community. Her belief that it is necessary for UTRGV to have a presence at the local, state and national levels is helping to accelerate the creation and growth of UTRGV’s School of Medicine. Veronica has always credited her success and the many opportunities she has received to education and it is her mission to play an integral part in making college education more affordable and attainable to students throughout the State of Texas.

Guy Bailey, Ph.D.

Founding President
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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Guy Bailey, Ph.D., was named Founding President of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in May of 2014.

Prior to being named President of UTRGV, he served as President of the University of Alabama and of Texas Tech University; Chancellor of the University of Missouri Kansas City; Provost and Executive Vice President at The University of Texas San Antonio; Dean of Liberal Arts at the University of Nevada Las Vegas; Chair of the English Department at Oklahoma State University and the University of Memphis; and as a faculty member at Texas A&M and Emory Universities.

During his time at Texas Tech, the university met the criteria established by the Texas State Legislature for participation in the National Research University Fund; enrollment grew by 3,905 students (14%); research expenditures grew by $89.9 million (170%); and graduation rates increase by five percentage points.

During his tenure at UTSA, the university was named an emerging research university by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; 16 new doctoral programs were added; external funding for research more than doubled; enrollment grew by more than 40%; and graduate enrollment grew by almost 50%.

While Bailey was at UMKC, the university completed a $200 million capital campaign and built or gained approval for $175 million in new construction. From 2010 to 2012, Bailey served on the Board of Directors of the NCAA and on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Big XII athletic conference. He has also served on the Board of Trustees of Midwest Research Institute since 2007.

Bailey continues to do research on language change and variation. His research with his late wife, Jan, has been featured in a front-page article in the New York Times, on National Public Radio, on CNN Headline News, on BBC Radio, in Texas Monthly, and in the San Antonio Express News. Since 1984, Bailey has brought in over $1 million in external funding for his research.

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

U.S. Congressman (TX-15)

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

Congressman Rubén 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, was 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 Women’s' 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.

Congressman Filemon Vela

U.S. Congressman (TX-34)

Congressman Vela

Congressman Filemon Vela represents the 34th Congressional District of Texas, which is anchored in Cameron County in the southernmost tip of Texas and runs nearly 300 miles north to Gonzales County. Brownsville is the largest city in the 34th District, which also includes the King Ranch, Kingsville Naval Air Station, and the historic Texas town of Goliad. Land and sea ports are critical to the 34th District’s agricultural producers and the region's rapidly expanding energy production facilities.

Born in Harlingen, Texas, and raised in Brownsville, Congressman Vela has deep roots in South Texas. His ancestors purchased land from the McAllen family to establish the Laguna Seca Ranch where the first citrus orchard in Hidalgo County was planted. Congressman Vela's father was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as a federal judge in the Southern District of Texas. His mother, Blanca Sanchez Vela, served as the first female mayor of Brownsville.

Vela attended Saint JosephAcademy in Brownsville, Texas. After graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he attended the University of Texas School of Law. His interest in public service grew from his work helping individuals seek justice in state and federal courts as an attorney for over 20 years in South Texas.

He brings his expertise on border issues to his work as a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security where he was appointed by House leadership to serve as the top Democratic Member of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. He also serves on the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and on the Committee’s Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Border Caucus, he has led efforts to reform the nation's immigration laws and expand investments in border communities and infrastructure, including ports and roads to expand trade.

Congressman Vela also sits on the House Committee on Agriculture. He was the only Texas Democrat appointed by House leadership to serve as a negotiator on the Conference Committee which drafted the most recent Farm Bill, a comprehensive law, which sets agriculture policy and funding for nutrition programs, including food stamps, for the next five years. Congressman Vela is a member of the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit and the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

In Congress, Vela has been a strong advocate for immigrant rights, education programs including Head Start and Pell Grants for college students, and our community's federal healthcare centers. He is currently focused on bringing peace and security to our neighbors in Matamoros and Reynosa, and he is working to bring jobs and economic development to South Texas through many efforts including transforming the Port of Brownsville into a competitive deep water port.

Congressman Vela is married to Rose Vela, a former Justice on the Texas Court of Appeals, and they reside in Brownsville, Texas.

Admiral John Richardson

Chief of Naval Operations (invited)

admiral richardson

Admiral John Richardson graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Physics. He holds master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and National Security Strategy from the National War College.

At sea, Richardson served on USS Parche (SSN 683), USS George C. Marshall (SSBN 654) and USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716). He commanded USS Honolulu (SSN 718) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Richardson also served as commodore of Submarine Development Squadron (DEVRON) 12; commander, Submarine Group 8; commander, Submarine Allied Naval Forces South; deputy commander, U.S. 6th Fleet; chief of staff, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa; commander, Naval Submarine Forces, and director of Naval Reactors.

His staff assignments include duty in the attack submarine division on the Chief of Naval Operations staff; naval aide to the President; prospective commanding officer instructor for Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet; assistant deputy director for Regional Operations on the Joint Staff; and director of Strategy and Policy at U.S. Joint Forces Command.

Richardson served on teams that have been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Navy Unit Commendation, and the Navy “E” Ribbon. He was awarded the Vice Admiral Stockdale Award for his time in command of USS Honolulu.

Richardson began serving as the 31st Chief of Naval Operations September 18, 2015.

Paul Rodriguez

Comedian and Actor

paul rodriguez

Longtime comedian Paul Rodriguez has been making audiences laugh all over the world (in Spanish and English) for nearly three decades with his unique brand of humor that is a perfect blend of his Latin heritage, the American dream and his undeniable universal appeal. As an actor and comedian, Paul Rodriguez’s multi-faceted career includes starring roles and featured appearances in over 45 films and countless television series and comedy specials.

Voted one of the most influential Hispanics in America and awarded the Ruben Salazar Award by The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, Rodriguez has remained a constant force in his community and the world of comedy throughout his career.

Rodriguez's film credits include "Without Men" with Eva Longoria and Christian Slater; "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore;" "The Deported," "I’m Not Like That No More" with comedian Felipe Esparza (2010 "Last Comic Standing" winner), Disney’s blockbuster hit "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," "The World’s Fastest Indian," "A Cinderella Story," "How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass," "Ali," "Tortilla Soup," "Crocodile Dundee in LA," "Rat Race," "Bloodwork," "Chasing Papi" and "D.C. Cab," among others.

The multifaceted entertainer recently wrote and performed his first-ever one-man show "Just for the Record," which is now available on DVD. In this tell-all theatrical piece, Rodriguez takes audiences on a journey through his remarkable life, including his childhood in Mexico, to his family's move to Compton, California (where he grew up), his illustrious career and the significant relationships and moments that helped shape his life along the way.

Rodriguez has hosted several hit series, including the entertainment talk show "El Show de Paul Rodriguez," an entertainment talk show for Univision which reached over 50 markets throughout the United States and an international audience in over 17 countries in Central and South America. His additional hosting credits include the The NCLR ALMA Awards, The Tejano Music Awards, Showtime’s Latino Laugh Festival and his own television specials "Back to School" and "Behind Bars." He recently hosted "Mis Videos Locos with Paul Rodriguez” on Tr3s: MTV, Música y Más.

As an accomplished writer, director and producer for television, motion pictures and feature shows, Rodriguez has several hit projects to his credit including the comedy concert film "The Original Latin Kings of Comedy," which he executive produced and starred in along with Cheech Marin, George Lopez and Carlos Mencia; the feature film "A Million to Juan," which he also wrote, directed and starred in; six comedy specials for HBO including "Loco Slam, " "Live in San Quentin" and "Idiots and Armadillos." As executive producer, he recently struck comedy again with his Comedy Central stand-up concert DVD, “Comedy Rehab.” In addition to his many hit comedy specials in English, Rodriguez has the distinguished credit of performing the first-ever one-hour standup comedy special in Spanish, "Dime Con Quien Andas," for Telemundo.

Among his many credits, Rodriguez has also made guest appearances on several Late Night shows including "The Wanda Sykes Show," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Last Call with Carson Daly," and "Politically Incorrect." Additionally, he has guest starred in several television series including "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," "Shaken Not Stirred," DIRECTV’s "Supreme Court of Comedy," Showtime's original series "Resurrection Boulevard" and "American Family." He has also lent his voice to popular animated series including "King of the Hill," "Dora the Explorer" and "The Proud Family."

Rodriguez’s first big break came while doing comedy warm-ups for Norman Lear's show "Gloria." Lear ultimately wrote and developed a weekly series for Rodriguez entitled "a.k.a. Pablo," which is enshrined at the Smithsonian and holds the distinct honor for being the first television show about a Mexican American family on mainstream American television.

In addition to being a revolutionary and enduring force in the world of comedy, throughout his career Rodriguez has remained involved with various charitable, civic and educational organizations including the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and The Leukemia Society, to name a few. He also is a member of the advisory board of the California Film Commission. Additionally, as part owner of the world famous Laugh Factory, Rodriguez has participated in the club’s annual free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for the underprivileged for over 30 years.

Rodriguez was honored with the Humanitarian of the Year Award by the City of Fresno for his tireless work on behalf of water conservation. As Chairman of the California Latino Water Coalition, Rodriguez was one of the driving forces behind the California Water Bond Measure coming into fruition.

Always willing to seize an opportunity to educate and entertain, Rodriguez can currently be seen in the nine-episode web series “Fixing Paco,” which is produced by The Mendez National Institute of Transplantation (MNIT). The innovative series launched in Spanish and English in November 2012 to help raise awareness on the importance of organ transplantation within the Latino Community.

In addition to writing, directing, producing and performing across the country, Rodriguez enjoys spending time with his granddaughter Heaven, and his two sons Paul Rodriguez, Jr., aka as professional skateboarder and gold medal winner, P-Rod; and his younger son, Lukas. He also enjoys spending time with his three eccentric Chihuahuas – Mooska, Chica and Luna (formerly known as Lady Gaga), who Rodriguez adopted from an animal rescue shelter.

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge

US Congresswoman (OH-11)

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge is a committed public servant who brings a hard-working, problem-solving spirit to Congress and to the task of creating jobs, protecting safety net programs, and improving access to quality public education, health care and healthy foods. First elected in 2008, she represents the people of the 11th Congressional District of Ohio.

Congresswoman Fudge serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. She is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education. She is also a member of several Congressional Caucuses and immediate past Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. In 2014, Congresswoman Fudge became an original co-chair of the Democrats for Public Education.

Congresswoman Fudge consistently fights for equitable access to a quality education from preschool through post-secondary programs, child nutrition, food stamp (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients, access to locally grown, healthy foods, fair labor practices, and civil and human rights, among other issues. Additionally, she was an early and consistent voice for voter protection and remains a steadfast advocate to strengthen and preserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Congresswoman Fudge has served the people of Ohio for more than two decades, beginning with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. She was the first African American and the first female mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, where she led the city in shoring up a sagging retail base and providing new residential construction.

Congresswoman Fudge earned her bachelor’s degree in business from The Ohio State University and law degree from the Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall School of Law. She is a Past National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and a member of the Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter.

Congresswoman Fudge’s work ethic, problem solving approach, and ability to build collaborative relationships has earned her a reputation among her colleagues in Washington and at home as an insightful leader and knowledgeable legislator. As a dedicated public servant, she begins each morning with a firm promise “to do the people’s work.” It is this simple philosophy that defines Congresswoman Fudge as a Member of substance and character who always keeps her promise.

Congresswoman Judy Chu

US Congresswoman (CA-27)

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Judy Chu was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2009. She represents the 27th Congressional District, which includes Pasadena and the west San Gabriel Valley of southern California.

Rep. Chu currently serves on the House Judiciary Committee, where she is a member of the Subcommittees on Intellectual Property and the Internet as well as Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.

She also serves on the House Small Business Committee, which has oversight of the Small Business Administration. Rep. Chu is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access. She is also a member of the Subcommittees on Contracting and Workforce as well as the Subcommittee on Health and Technology.

In 2011, Chu was elected Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which advocates for the needs and concerns of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community across the nation.

Chu founded and co-chairs the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus, which advocates for the copyright protections of those in the creative industries, such as music, film and visual arts. She also serves in leadership of the House Democratic Caucus as a Member of the Steering and Policy Committee.

In 2014, after years of work and outreach, Chu introduced legislation to create a National Recreation Area to preserve and sustainably expand access to the San Gabriel Mountains. President Obama followed Chu's call for permanent protection and declared much of the area the nation's newest national monument.

Chu was first elected to the Board of Education for Garvey School District in 1985. From there, she was elected to the Monterey Park City Council, where she served as Mayor three times. She then was elected to the State Assembly and then California’s elected tax board, known as the State Board of Equalization. In 2009, she became the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress in history.

Joaquin Castro was born in San Antonio, Texas on September 16, 1974. A second generation Mexican American, he was raised on the city’s Westside and is a proud product of the public school system. The Castro family’s history in the United States began nearly 100 years ago when his grandmother, Victoria Castro, came to Texas as a young orphan. In the spirit of the American Dream, she often worked two and three jobs at a time to be able to give her daughter (Joaquin’s mother, Rosie) and her grandchildren a better chance in life.

Congressman Joaquin Castro

US Congressman (TX-20)

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Joaquin has worked hard to seize the opportunities created by the sacrifices of his grandmother and prior generations. After finishing high school a year early, Joaquin left San Antonio to graduate with honors from Stanford University in 1996. He then went on to attend Harvard Law School where he received his Juris Doctorate degree in 2000. Upon his return to San Antonio at 28 years old, Joaquin joined a private law practice and was elected into the Texas Legislature. He served five terms as state representative for District 125. In 2012 Joaquin was elected to serve in the U.S House of Representatives as representative of Texas Congressional District 20, which covers a large portion of San Antonio and Bexar County. Joaquin’s identical twin brother, Julián Castro, was elected in 2013 to his third term as Mayor of San Antonio. On July 28, 2014, Julian Castro was sworn in as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Joaquin’s respect for public service developed at a young age and was deeply influenced by his parents’ involvement in political movements and civic causes. His father, a retired teacher, and his mother, a renowned community activist, instilled in him a deep appreciation for the democratic process and the importance of serving one’s community. Despite a difficult political environment during his time as state legislator, Joaquin transcended partisan gridlock to help restore millions of dollars in funding to critical health care and education programs. As Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Committee and Democratic Floor Leader in the Texas House, he was also at the forefront in proposing forward-thinking legislative reforms in the areas of mental health, teen pregnancy, and juvenile justice.

Now in his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Joaquin serves on the House Armed Services Committee, as well as the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He was the 2013 co-President for the House freshman Democrats and serves in House Democratic Leadership as Chief Deputy Whip.

Outside of the legislative chamber, Joaquin has demonstrated a strong commitment to his community. He created the Trailblazers College Tour, personally raising money to send underprivileged students on college visits, giving them exposure to some of the nation’s best institutions of higher education. He also created SA READS, San Antonio’s largest literacy campaign and book drive. Over 200,000 books have been distributed to more than 150 schools and shelters across the city. He has also taught as a visiting professor of law at St. Mary’s University and as an adjunct professor at Trinity University. Joaquin is active on several boards of education-related, non-profit organizations, including the National College Advising Corps, and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ (NALEO) Taskforce on Education.

Having experienced America’s promise firsthand, Joaquin wants to help build out what he calls the Infrastructure of Opportunity so that future generations will have the same chance to pursue their American Dream. Joaquin believes that just as there is an infrastructure of transportation that helps us get to where we want to go on the road there is an Infrastructure of Opportunity that helps Americans get to where they want to go in life. It is that Infrastructure of Opportunity – great public schools and universities, a sound healthcare system, and good-paying jobs – that enables Americans to pursue their American Dream. Our centuries-long commitment to building and preserving this infrastructure is what distinguishes America among the nations of the world. As Congressman, Joaquin continues to be a tireless advocate for those who call San Antonio home. From supporting military families to investing in education, Joaquin remains committed to helping mold an Infrastructure of Opportunity for San Antonians and Americans around the country.

Donald G. James

Associate Administrator for Education
NASA

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Donald G. James was appointed NASA's associate administrator for the Office of Education effective Sept. 8, 2014.

In this position, James is responsible for developing and implementing NASA's education programs that strengthen student involvement and public awareness about its scientific goals and missions. In this role, he leads the agency in inspiring interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, through NASA's unique mission, workforce, facilities, research and innovations.

James will chair the Education Coordinating Committee, an agency-wide collaborative structure that maximizes NASA's ability to manage and implement its education portfolio. The ECC works to ensure the agency's education investments are focused on supporting the nation's education efforts to develop the workforce needed to achieve NASA's goals and objectives.

He is the United States representative on the International Space Education Board, a global collaboration in space education between 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.

James will work with the Office of Science and Technology Policy's Committee on STEM (Co-STEM) to continue coordinating and leveraging NASA's education programs, opportunities and offerings with those of other federal agencies. This increased collaboration is intended to lead to maximum impact and, as it is implemented, will lead to strategies for closer and more effective coordination among agencies with STEM investments.

Prior to his appointment, James was the director of the Strategic Communications and Education Directorate at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. In this capacity, he oversaw the operations of all communications, education and public outreach functions for the center and supported initiatives to engage a variety of internal and external audiences.

James began his NASA career in 1982 as a Presidential Management Intern at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. During more than 30 years at the agency, he has served in numerous capacities, including public affairs, human capital management and strategic communications. In 2002-2003 he was the senior advisor and executive officer for the NASA Education Enterprise at NASA Headquarters.

James received an undergraduate degree in international relations from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and a Master of Arts degree in economic development and public administration from the American University in Washington. James received a three-year fellowship from National Science Foundation for his graduate studies. He has participated in numerous executive development education programs at Cambridge University in England and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The son of a former U.S. diplomat, James lived and traveled extensively in Africa, Europe and Thailand. He also is the son of a former teacher, which has instilled in him a strong passion for the value of education. Donald James is married to Tanya Sue James. They have two children.

Richard Morley

CEO
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

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From his early days as a high school and college teacher in the public sector, through his work as a very successful entrepreneurial business owner in the private sector, to his significant work in revitalizing, leading, and growing organizations in the nonprofit sector, Richard Morley brings unique skills and background to SHPE. He has significant…and for SHPE, critical…nonprofit sector credentials… Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and a Certified Specialist in Planned Giving (CSPG), two of the highest earned credentials in nonprofit leadership. Richard’s lifetime work has centered around creating excellence in education and lifelong learning. Recently he led the turnaround and growth of two significant community college nonprofit organizations. At 65,000 students, Mt. San Antonio College is the largest community college West of the Mississippi and is one of the largest, most prestigious Hispanic serving institutions in the country. At both Mt. SAC Foundation and Irvine Valley College Foundation, Richard led efforts to raise money for hundreds of thousands of dollars for scholarships and programs, including a significant dollars for STEM scholarships. From growing his own business from startup to one of the largest boutique training and marketing firms on the West Coast, Richard brings significant knowledge of corporate training and curriculum design that provides context for excellence in all of SHPEs professional development programs. His knowledge and skill in nonprofit operations and financial management brings stability and transparency to SHPE.

His connections nationwide with corporations, higher-ed, and funding partners including government, foundations and individual donors brings significant potential to SHPE for stability and growth.

Dr. Daniel Trevino

Superintendent
Mercedes ISD

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Dr. Daniel Trevino, Jr. is a native of Mercedes, Texas. He is the second youngest from a family of eight. Daniel attended Mercedes Public Schools in buildings that still exist today. After High School, he attended Texas A&I University and received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education. He taught eight years in Mercedes ISD with teaching schedules at the Junior High and completed his teaching career as an Agricultural Science Teacher at Mercedes High School. Daniel completed his Masters in Educational Administration from Texas A&M – Kingsville in 1994. That same year, he was hired as an Assistant Principal at WB Green Middle School in La Feria ISD. During his 16 plus years at La Feria ISD, he served as Assistant Principal and Principal of La Feria High School. During his three years as high school principal, the campus held an Exemplary Rating under the State Accountability System (2000 – 2003). In 2002, he was awarded the Region One High School Principal of the Year Award. Daniel completed his doctorate degree from Texas A&M – Kingsville in 2007. The doctoral research that he conducted concentrated on the present challenges of the practicing superintendent, respectfully.

His most recent position was serving as the Assistant Superintendent at La Feria ISD. Dr. Trevino has published various manuscripts and articles on public education. His professional philosophy is based on a strong belief in effective teaching combined with a strong foundation in student discipline. Daniel has shared his last twenty plus years with his loving wife, Linda. The couple lives in Mercedes, Texas and they really enjoy their country living lifestyle. Daniel and Linda are proud parents of two boys, Travis, 19 and Dustin, 14. The family follows a strong belief in their faith.

Marcy Martinez

Action 4 News

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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 Capital 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.