Thursday, June 24, 2021
  Awards and Recognitions

By News and Internal Communications

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Veronica Gonzales, senior vice president for Governmental and Community Relations, was recognized by the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (RGVHCC) as a 2021 Woman of Distinction in government.

Working in both government and community relations for UTRGV, Gonzales is a recognized leader in the public and private sectors, with more than 20 years of experience in negotiating and advocating to obtain results – as an attorney, mediator, legislator, and in her role heading up governmental relations for UTRGV.

Gonzales said receiving this award from the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is an honor. 

“Government plays an important role in our everyday lives and has played a particularly special role in my life over the last 30 years, as an attorney, elected official and in my current position at UTRGV,” Gonzales said. “In each position I have held, I have strived to improve the quality of life for others and I can think of no better way to do so than to increase educational opportunities.”

Gonzales was celebrated at the 7th annual Women of Distinction 2021 Awards, hosted by H-E-B and Rio Grande Regional Hospital on June 9, along with nine other local women in the areas of education, arts and entertainment, health, military, and more. 

She joined legacy institution UT Pan American in 2012 when she was tapped as the vice president of University Advancement. In 2014, UTRGV announced her role as Vice President for Governmental and Community Relations. At UTRGV, Gonzales oversees local, state and federal governmental relations, community engagement and economic development programs.

The Division of Governmental and Community Relations monitors legislation and public policy issues and advise administrators of their potential impact on UTRGV, it also creates internship opportunities for students at the local, state and federal levels, and oversees several university programs designed to engage the Rio Grande Valley communities. 

Prior to joining higher education, Gonzales spent 20 years practicing law, and in 2004 was elected the first and only female to represent any Valley district in the Texas House of Representatives. She served in office for four terms, two of which, she was the Chairwoman of the Border and Intergovernmental Affairs.

She has been honored with numerous awards including the “Legislative Champion Award” from Texas Association of Community Health Centers, the “Patient Advocacy Award” from the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, the “Voice of People Award” from the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network and was named one of eight “Ultimate Latinas” in the nation by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. As an attorney she was recognized four times as a Super Lawyer by the Texas Super Lawyers and was named as one of “30 Extraordinary Women in Law” by the Texas Lawyer.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.