2012 Participants

Christina Bejarano

Christina Bejarano is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Kansas. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Texas, and her Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science from the University of Iowa. Her research and teaching interests are in American politics, in particular the areas of gender, race/ethnicity, and political behavior. She is particularly interested in studying the conditions under which racial/ethnic minorities and women successfully compete for U.S. electoral office and how they shape or influence the current electoral environment. She has a forthcoming book, The Latina Twist on U.S. Political Success, with the University of Texas Press.


Juan Cabrera

Mr. Cabrera is currently with Trinty Education Group and most recently served in the Enterprise Solutions Group for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and formerly served as Associate General Counsel with AIM Funds in Houston and International General Counsel for BMC Software, Inc. in Houston, Amsterdam and in Latin America. In this role he managed all legal matters outside of the continental U.S.

Mr. Cabrera has extensive experience in both the public and private sector and his legal practice covers a broad range of matters. He has counseled entities in many areas, including labor and employment, financial matters, governance, contracts, government procurement, technology, real estate and construction.

Mr. Cabrera graduated from Texas A & I University in 1988 with a BBA. He has also completed courses at the London School of Business and the Harvard Negotiation Project. He is a certified K-8 Bilingual teacher in Texas and is currently attending the ALAS Superintendent’s Leadership Academy.

Mr. Cabrera is a member of The Travis County Bar Association, State Bar of Texas, and the Hispanic Bar of Austin and is admitted to practice in all Texas state courts.


Priscilla Canales

An experienced public educator, Priscilla Canales has served children in San Antonio and Austin as a teacher, educational specialist, administrator, executive director, and assistant superintendent. Priscilla received her Ph.D. from Texas A & M, College Station in 2003.


Jason Cisneroz

Jason is a Staff Sergeant in the Army reserves with over 10 years in service. Completing a political science and public relations degree, graduating this June from the University of Houston. Served as campaign manager for State Representative Armando Walle (HD 140) and has worked

on various other city and county political races. Currently serving the city as a Houston Police Officer and is Chair of the Harris County Tejano Democrats.


John-Michael V. Cortez

A life-long resident of Central Texas, John-Michael Vincent Cortez, was elected to the Board of Trustees in May 2009, and was elected to serve as Secretary to the Board in 2010.

John-Michael graduated from McNeil High School in northwest Austin, received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in International Business from The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin and is currently enrolled in the Masters of Science in Community and Regional Planning program in UT’s School of Architecture; heis also a graduate of the Hispanic Austin Leadership program and 2008 Leadership Austin Essential Class.

Mr. Cortez's passion for public service is evidenced by his leadership roles in several community organizations and efforts. John-Michael is a Past President of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation, and is a Past President of the Austin History Center Association. Mr. Cortez has also served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Austin Partners in Education, Friends of the Austin Public Library, Austin Public Library Foundation, Austin Independent School District Foundation, Hispanic Scholarship Consortium of Central Texas, Liveablecity, and Austin Latino Music Association. He is also an active member of the Rotary Club of East Austin and a founding member of FuturoFund Austin.

Due to his extensive work in the community, Mr. Cortez was previously appointed by the Austin City Council to serve on the Libraries for the Future Task Force, Zoning and Platting Commission, and Planning Commission.

Mr. Cortez grew up working in his family's restaurants in Austin, was previously employed as a consultant at an Austin-based business development firm, co-founded and ran a local, small business in the construction industry, and served as Outreach Director for the Office of Congressman Lloyd Doggett. He currently serves as Interim Assistant Director for Community Involvement for Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

A native Austinite and third-generation attendee of UT-Austin, John-Michael is a rabid Longhorn fan, yet found himself falling in love with and happily marrying a wonderful Aggie, Priscilla Guajardo, and the two are celebrating the recent birth of their beautiful daughter, Isabella.


Lucy Davila Hakemack

I am a product of an immigrant family. My parents arrived in Houston from Mexico in 1952, a year before I was born. My older brother and sister were heald back two years since they could not speak English. I knew that I wanted to become a teacher since I was in 4th grade. I graduated from Reagan High School in 1971 and attended the University of Houston. I graduated from the U of H in 1975. I immediately was hired as a Bilingual teacher for the Houston ISD. I received my Masters from the University of Houston Clear Lake in 1979 in Education with a certification in counseling. I received my administration certification in 1997. I have been a teacher, counselor, and admimistrator in HISD, Tulsa Public Schools, Fort Worth ISD, and became a principal in DallasISD in 1997. I have served as an elementary, middle and high school principal for the last 16 years.


Lucy Flores

Lucy Flores was elected to the Nevada Assembly in 2010 and served her first legislative session representing District 28 in 2011 during the 76th regular session. She sat for and passed the Nevada Bar Exam during the session and joined the law firm of Maddox, Isaacson & Cisneros, LLP where she currently works as a trial attorney.

Lucy attended the University of Southern California where she studied political science, worked in the School of Policy Planning and Development and was an Unruh Institute of Politics scholar. From there, she received her Juris Doctorate in early 2010 at the Boyd School of Law at UNLV.

In 2008 she was appointed to the Nevada Commission on Minority Affairs. Lucy advocated for the renewal of the state’s ombudsman for minority consumer affairs, ensuring equal protection under Nevada’s consumer protection laws.

Lucy joined three other Hispanic females in becoming the first Hispanic women to serve in the Nevada legislature. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Legislative Operations and Elections committee, and member of the Education, Government Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Taxation committees."


Emmanuel Garcia

Emmanuel Garcia is the Director of Policy for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) of the Texas House of Representatives. MALC is the oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus in the United States. Garcia is also a Legislative Assistant in the office of State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer and program coordinator for the Moreno/Rangel Legislative Leadership Fellowship. For the past several Texas state legislative sessions, Emmanuel has worked with university and community organizations to better inform state legislators during the development of education policy. Emmanuel is a doctoral student in Education Policy and Planning. Garcia’s research interests include the politics of education policy, legislative behavior and decision making, school finance, knowledge utilization, and accountability systems. Emmanuel was born in Brownsville, Texas and is a native of the Rio Grande Valley. Garcia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Mexican-American Studies from UT and is a graduate of the first cohort of the Master of Arts program in Mexican-American Studies, also at UT.


Encarnación Garza

Encarnación Garza, Jr. is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. His major emphasis in teaching is the preparation of future school principals and superintendents that will serve primarily minority children. Dr. Garza’s research is focused on the preparation of school leaders who serve in schools with predominately minority student populations. His experiences as a K-12 educator (teacher, counselor, principal, and superintendent) provide him with heuristic knowledge that is critical to his research. As a scholar-practitioner whose scholarship employs a critical theory perspective, his research focuses on three themes: 1) the study of minority student success, 2) the preparation of principals as leaders for social justice, and 3) the exploration of school district/university partnerships with respect to preparing principals as social justice advocates. As lead faculty for the partnership with a local school district, Dr. Garza has been engaged in a longitudinal study of principalship preparation using a closed cohort model. Dr. Garza is active in the international study of leadership as a researcher and participant in the International Successful School Principals Project (ISSPP).

Dr. Garza has conducted research focused on success stories of migrant students using a life history approach to examine in-depth the experiences of successful migrant farm worker children. This study resulted in the publication of his book, Resiliency and Success: Migrant Children in the U. S. (2004, Paradigm Publishers) co-authored with Professors Pedro Reyes and Enrique Trueba.


Lucy Guevara Vélez

My name is Lucy Guevara Vélez. I am currently a PhD candidate in the Cultural Studies in Education Program at The University of Texas at Austin and teach for the Center for Mexican American Studies. My research interests include: the education of bilingual/English language learners and Mexican (im)migrant youth, as well, as the Latino education crisis, alternative paths to college, and the value of GED programs. After graduating, I hope to gain employment at a

teaching university and continue to provide a learning community and mentorship for my students.


Octavio A. Hinojosa Mier

Octavio A. Hinojosa Mier is the Executive Director of the Hispanic Scholarship Consortium (HSC), an Austin-based 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to providing financial and mentoring support to the increasing number of Texas’ Hispanic students wishing to pursue a higher education.

Octavio has provided his management and leadership skills to a variety of organizations including the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) in Washington, DC as its Founding Executive Director. He is nationally recognized for his visionary leadership in promoting the U.S. Hispanic community as a strategic component in both domestic and international projects. In addition, he possesses extensive policymaking expertise gained with the U.S. Department of State and the United States Congress.

Octavio holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Latin American Studies from the University of Kansas and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.

A native of Los Angeles, California -- and eldest son of Mexican immigrant parents -- Octavio grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas and now resides in Austin, Texas with his wife and children.


Claudia Kramer Santamaria

Immigrated to the US in 1973 from Uruguay and grew up in Queens, NY. She graduated from St. Edwards University in Austin with a Bilingual Teaching degree and taught at Zavala Elementary for 6 years. Then she became a principal at TA Brown and Pickle Elementaries for 7 years. She has been serving as Supervisor of Parent Programs in AISD for 5 years, where she is responsible for training and supporting 60 parent support specialists in Title I schools and works with all schools prek-12 to facilitate the navigation of school systems for families.

She is the mother of two children who are 3 and 6 years old."


Katherine Leal Unmuth

Katherine Leal Unmuth has more than eight years of experience as an education reporter and writer. She worked as an education reporter at The Dallas Morning News for six years and as a higher education reporter for The Wichita Eagle in Kansas for two years. She currently works as a freelance education writer for a number of publications and web sites. She blogs about Latino education issues on the Latino Ed Beat blog (http://latinoedbeat.org/), which is sponsored by the national Education Writers Association and the Latino Policy Forum. She is a native of the Chicago suburbs and holds a bachelor of science in journalism degree from Northwestern University.


Patricia Leon-Guerrero

Patricia is the Managing Director of National Alliances and Latino Initiatives for Teach For America, the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. In her role as Managing Director, Patricia collaborates and manages TFA’s national partnerships with top Latino non-profit organizations to ensure that they are enlisting the best and brightest Hispanic leaders to address one of our nation’s greatest injustices. A few key partnerships that she has launched in this role include the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI).

Prior to this role, Patricia piloted recruitment at thirteen Hispanic Serving Institutes in South Texas as the Diversity Recruitment Director for Teach For America. Before joining their staff, Patricia was part of the 2004 Las Vegas Valley Charter corps. Within her three years as a lead teacher, Patricia took on various leadership roles both inside and outside of her classroom. In addition,

she co-founded the first Parent Teacher Association for her elementary school, in which she helped raised $10,000 for the students, staff, and the community.

Patricia was born in Ft. Stewart, GA into a military family and embraces her Colombian and Guamanian background. After graduating from Air Academy High School in her hometown of Colorado Springs, CO, Patricia received scholarships from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and Gates Millennium Scholars Program which gave her the opportunity to attend Syracuse University. While at SU, she pursued a degree in Public Policy, Sociology, and Spanish. Patricia recently completed her fellowship with the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) and received a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University’s Center for Policy and Nonprofit Leadership. Patricia is passionate about education reform, having an impact within our Latino community, and ensuring that all our students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.


Rene Martinez

Born and raised in Dallas, first generation Mexican, undergraduate BA in Latin American studies, history and Spanish from SMU; M.Ed. In Educational Leadership; former special assistant to superintendent for dropout prevention, mentoring, and parent engagement; former vice chariman of MALDEF ; president of LULAC council 100; for vice president of Dallas Parks and Recreation Board and Vice Chairman of Dallas Planning and Zoning commission; recipient of Othli Award from Mexican government and former member of instituto de Mexicanos del exterior; adjunct professor, Texas A&M Commerce, teaching Cultural Diversity at both undergraduate and graduate levels.


Linda Medina

Born and raised in the west Texas town of El Paso, Linda received her Bachelor’s in Bilingual Education from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2001 and Master’s in Education with a specialization in Literacy with Honors from Concordia University Austin in 2005. She is the South Region Consultant for McGraw-Hill Education, a company that is dedicated to educating children and to helping educational professionals by providing the highest quality materials and services. Prior to McGraw-Hill, she spearheaded the Education Foundation for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as the Program Manager and worked to eliminate the Hispanic student achievement gap by providing resources to the community and partners while advocating for the value of education to foster a globally competitive workforce. During her tenure she organized and implemented multiple outreach projects to support education in the Austin community. Linda is an educator at heart and was an elementary school teacher for six years. As a teacher she integrated critical and creative thinking into the classroom and led her to be recognized on the list of “Who’s Who Among American Teachers” and Ridgetop Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2007.

Linda is the “2010 Austin Under 40 Education Category Winner” and one of ten finalists for Austinite of the Year! A proud El Pasoan, Linda also co-founded the El Paso Social Network of Austin in 2007 which recently established a fund with the Austin Community Foundation to provide scholarships for students from El Paso studying in the Austin area. She has served on the I Live Here I Give Here’s—See Jane Give Chair, on the City of Austin Commission for Women, the Advisory Council for GenAustin’s Girl’s Now Conference, the Vivir Unidos/Live United Advisory Council, and has volunteered with the Hispanic Scholarship Consortium. She has been a middle and high school mentor at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders and Johnston High School in Austin, TX. She is also a member of FuturoFund an organization dedicated to give grants to the community. She is a proud graduate of Leadership Austin Essential 2009, Emerge 2007, Hispanic Austin Leadership 2008, and Austin ISD Teacher Leadership 2007. Rack Room Shoes saluted Linda as a “Role Model in Community Service” through their Philanthropy Ad Campaign in the October 2009 magazine issues of People en Español, Cosmopolitan en Español, Vanidades, and TV y Novelas. In September 2009 she was also recognized as an “Orgullo Hispano” by Univision’s Austin Channel 62, in 2008 featured in the Austin Woman Magazine Power Latinas May Issue, and in 2007 she was recognized as one of

the “Top 25 Most Influential Latinos in Austin, TX.” The leadership and commitment of Ms. Medina has brought many people together and has implemented successful projects by being an educator, a passionate volunteer, a philanthropist in the community!


Jesse Moreno

Jesse Moreno is a lifelong resident of Dallas, Texas. He is the product of Dallas ISD and alumni from Woodrow Wilson High School. Jesse is the son of Jesse Sr. and Amelia Moreno founders of La Popular Tamale House. Jesse appreciates the importance of hard work, taking pride in everything he does, upholding high standards and work ethics. His love and passion are in the business world, working hand on in the all aspects of his business. He has a strong passion for Parks and Recreation Centers to ensure that all citizens have a safe and positive place to enjoy. Jesse is also an advocate of public education. He believes that all children should receive the best possible education regardless of their social economic status. Jesse believes in giving back to others and empowering them by sharing his knowledge. “ A man’s life is only fulfilled if he shares his wealth with others”.

He envisions Dallas as a true world-class city, while still holing the small town charm in every neighborhood. Protecting our historic neighborhoods by preserving historic structures. Working with others to build strong coalitions to bring people together for one Dallas.
Jesse attended Texas State University and the University of North Texas with a focus in Education EC-6. Jesse has worked with the Boy’s & Girls Club of Greater Dallas as a Branch Manager. He now over sees the family business (La Popular Tamale House). His entrepreneur success is shown though the numerous awards received by his business.


Emanuel Pleitez

Emanuel Pleitez is currently the Chief Strategy Officer for Spokeo, Inc. and in his volunteer capacity serves as the host of the Inspira web series, senior advisor and co-founder of The I-4 Group, and chair of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund. Previously, Emanuel served as the Special Assistant to Chairman Paul Volcker and the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) in the U.S. Department of the Treasury after being a member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team. Prior to joining the Administration, he was a candidate in California’s 32nd U.S. Congressional District 2009 Special Election. His private sector experiences include working at McKinsey & Company and Goldman Sachs. Emanuel also currently serves on the National Advisory Board for New Leaders Council and Chairs the No Labels Latino Leadership Committee. He holds a B.A. from Stanford University was born and raised in the Eastside of Los Angeles.


James Ponce

A renowned leader in cutting-edge instructional technology and student-centered, inquiry-based learning, James J. Ponce, Ed.D. has infused McAllen ISD with a focus on rigor in teaching and learning, while simultaneously leveraging all resources—encompassing classroom and central staff, business and community partnerships, and international giants in business and higher education. That focus has led to the development of TLC3 - Transforming Learning in the Classroom, Campus, and Community, a game changer that is revolutionizing the way students are prepared for the 21st Century. Through TLC3, students are engrossed in a world of incredibly thought-provoking, discussion-igniting learning experiences—igniting inquiry in the classroom, integrated technology, higher-level thinking, and creativity, and prompting students to delve deeper into issues at all levels and in all subjects.

Dr. Ponce’s leadership, team-building, and global-thinking style has garnered state and national recognition for the District, including spotlights in an international publication—the International Society of Technology and Education—and state publications—Texas School Business and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). He has presented at the 2012 Summit on College Readiness/Achieving the Dream: Completion at South Texas College (STC) in February 2012, the Summit on Career Readiness at STC in 2010, the CTE Career Fair Network for the Future Keynote address in McAllen in 2009, and the Title I Regular, Migrant, State Compensatory, Bilingual, and Other State and Federal Programs District-wide Parent Advisory event in McAllen in May 2011. He is scheduled to deliver the opening statements at the 30th National Conference for Paraprofessionals in San Antonio in March 2012.

Dr. Ponce has recently joined the TASA Visioning Network (TVN) Design Team, which leads a statewide initiative to develop innovative, next-generation learning standards, assessments, and accountability systems for Texas Public Schools. He is also a member of the TASA Communications and Technology Group, Tech Prep Board of Directors/Rio Grande Valley Partnership, Regional Advisory Council Region I ESC, Texas School Alliance, McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the March of Dimes Regional Financial Committee.

Dr. Ponce is noted for the manner in which he strengthens and builds staff leadership capacity through extensive instructional and leadership training for the CEO’s (campus principals), new Campus Instructional Leadership Teams, and through the development of an Institute for Aspiring Principals. McAllen ISD has implemented new parent-outreach efforts—parent leadership conversations at every school, a newly established Parent Advisory, Annual Parent Engagement Conferences, specialized informative presentations for parents at every campus, and efforts centered on transitioning students and parents into their new school well before the child moves through the feeder system. Parents are engaged in fulfilling the fundamental mission of the district—to produce graduates who are college and career ready.

In conjunction with the Board of Trustees, McAllen ISD implemented a Five-Year Strategic Plan that takes a critical look at the district’s educational, operational and business goals, serving as a compass to guide continued progress. Along with a focus on “first-teach” instruction, the district utilizes Value-Added data analysis to push for higher academic rigor and for interventions that are more prescribed and purposeful. In addition, a critical look at the structure of course offerings has resulted in an increase in the number of students enrolled in dual enrollment (college level) courses. A partnership with STC makes it possible for students to earn Biology, Engineering, and Computer Science Associates Degrees and take part in a new Gateway to College Program. McAllen ISD is known for high achievement in its Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs (national model) that will be expanded to include every elementary and middle school within the district by the 2012-13 school year. McAllen’s IB Programme has a 99.4% diploma success rate, one of the highest in the world. The district has also had the most National Merit Scholar Semifinalists in the region since 2003. Students are also offered choices that include Dual Enrollment, Concurrent Enrollment, and Early College High School.
Outstanding teaching is a keystone to district success. McAllen ISD has produced 18 Regional and state Teacher of the Year titles in the last 20 years, including the State Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2009. The District provides highly acclaimed Fine Arts and Athletics Programs, also building blocks of a successful all-around educational system. McAllen ISD received the College Ready Gold Performance Acknowledgments in 2009-10 and 2010-11, along with the Gold Performance Acknowledgment for the District’s Recommended High School Program and Distinguished Achievement Program in 2010-11. Four high schools were named “Top High Schools in the State” by the 2011 Washington Post National Challenge Index and the District made the State’s “Top 25” list with the highest number of students applying to Texas colleges, according to Apply Texas. McAllen ISD is an eight-time winner of state Superior Achievement ratings. Dr. Ponce oversees 33 schools, 25,205 students and 3,265 employees, including multiple departments and programs.
Prior to taking the helm at McAllen ISD, Dr. Ponce served Dallas ISD as deputy chief of staff where he provided leadership for the district Transformation Management Office, Emergency Management and Operations, Police and Security Services, Parent Services and School Choice, and Athletics. Part of his 16 years at Dallas ISD was spent serving as Area VI Superintendent overseeing 36 campuses and approximately 30,000 students. Beginning his career as a bilingual teacher, he served as a high school assistant principal, an elementary principal and directed the Reading First Program.
A three-time graduate from the University of Texas in Austin, he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration-Finance degree and in Management in December 1990, his Master’s in Educational Administration in December, 1998, and his Doctorate in Educational Administration in May, 2009.
He is married to Katherine, his wife of 19 years. They have three sons – Julian, Mathew and Gabriel.


Laura Rendon

Laura I Rendon is professor of higher education and Co-Director of the Center of Research and Policy in Education at the University of Texas-San Antonio. She is the author of Sentipensante Pedaogy: Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice and Liberation.


Blanca Rodriguez

I have been in Education since 2002. Started as a science teacher with great ambition to teach at the time college and career courses but at the same time ensuring that all children had an opportunity to be successful. As an educator, I became aware that I could help more students by supporting teachers and becoming a role model to both teachers and students. Currently I am seeking to expand my desire to educate more teachers professionally and more students by furthering my education in Educational Administration for the future.


Marisol Rodriguez

As the Political Director of HOPE, Marisol works with members of Houston City Council and elected officials with the state of Texas. Among other responsiabilities, she works on tracking of weekly council agenda items and legislative bills . Marisol also attends and researches the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committiee hearings whether they will have a negative impact on City of Houston public employees and its citizens. Marisol has worked for the City of Houston, Harris County and the State of Texas.


Cristóbal Rodriguez

Cristóbal Rodriguez provides expertise in education research, evaluation, and policy analysis from a critical lens. Influenced by his professional experiences in secondary and post-secondary education in serving and preparing diverse students for academic success, Cristóbal’s research interests are on education policies that influence access throughout the educational pipeline, particularly for settings with concentrated diverse demographics, such as the U.S. Southwest Borderlands. Although Cristóbal’s recent work applies quantitative analyses to critical questions, his dissertation applied mixed methods to understand access and success of Borderland Latina/o students at Texas flagship and Borderland universities amidst the Top 10% Admissions Plan. Other works have also included qualitative analyses to understand the lived experiences of undocumented high school and college students amidst Texas accountability and financial aid policies. Additionally, Cristóbal’s doctoral training also included work and collaborations with organizations such as the Texas Center for Education Policy, under Angela Valenzuela; the University of Texas-Austin Education Research Center, under Pedro Reyes; and the Headquarters of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), under Executive Director Michelle Young. Cristóbal has the honor of being the UCEA Associate Director of Graduate Student Development, and had the recognition of the American Association for Hispanics in Higher Education as a 2010 Faculty Fellow and as a 2010 Dissertation Competition Semifinalist.


Victor Sáenz

Victor Sáenz, Ph.D., is a fifth-year assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a Faculty Fellow with the Division of Diversity & Community Engagement and a faculty affiliate with the Center for Mexican American Studies. Dr. Sáenz has published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and also has three book projects underway, including one on Latino males in higher education (Stylus Publishing). His current research examines the experiences of Latino males at two- and four-year institutions as they successfully navigate their college pathways. Over the years, Dr. Saenz has been quoted and cited in numerous news stories, policy reports, and scholarly publications, and his research work on Latino males in higher education continues to gain national attention.

Dr. Sáenz received his PhD (2005) and a Masters degree (2002) from UCLA in Higher Education & Organizational Change. He also holds a Master’s degree (1999) from the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics (1996) from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Sáenz was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.


Ruth Vail

Ruth Vail is currently a Middle School Principal in Del Valle, TX. She has served as Principal both at Elementary and High School in the Dallas Independent School District. Ruth Vail, served her old Alma Matter "Woodrow Wilson High School" in which she restructured the school to include four college/career academies: IB; STEM; Business Entrepreneurship and Performing Arts. Ruth Vail grew up in Mexico until she was in the 5th Grade. She holds a B.A. from Southern Methodist Univeristy; an M.Ed. from Texas Women's University; and is currently finishing her Doctorate in Educational Administration at UT Austin.


Jaime Vasquez

Jaime Vasquez, JD, CPA. Attorney, Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Aughtry. New York University, School of Law, L.L.M. in Taxation. University of Texas at Austin, School of Law. University of Virginia, Master of Science in Accounting. University of Virginia, Bachelor of Science of Commerce (Accounting). Certified Public Accountant (Texas, Virginia). Mr. Vasquez represents for-profit and non-profit entities and individuals in income and employment disputes with the IRS and state and local taxing authorities. Specifically, Mr. Vasquez has experience resolving IRS examinations, collection cases, installment agreements, offers in compromise, requests for collection due process hearings, private letter rulings and requests for innocent spouse relief. He has drafted several Protests and resolved several administrative appeals before the IRS Office of Appeals. He also has experience with civil tax litigation, including drafting motions, Tax Court petitions and letters requesting penalty and interest abatement. He also provides defense in criminal tax matters and has successfully resolved several cases before the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. He has also organized and provided business and tax planning advice to corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. Prior to entering the practice of law, Mr. Vasquez worked with a public accounting firm where he advised mid-size to large multi-national corporations on federal, state, local and international tax issues, reviewed income tax provisions for financial statement disclosures, and prepared and reviewed U.S. federal and state income tax returns.


Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Mexican American Studies and the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2007, he has served as an Associate Director for the University Council of Education Administration (UCEA).

In addition to educational accomplishments, Julian Vasquez Heilig has held a variety of research and practitioner positions in organizations from Boston to Beijing. These experiences have provided formative professional perspectives to bridge research, theory, and practice.

His current research includes quantitatively examining how high-stakes testing and accountability-based reforms and incentive systems impact urban minority students. Additionally, his qualitative work considers the mechanisms by which student achievement and progress occur in relation to specific NCLB-inspired accountability policies in districts and schools for students of different kinds. Julian's research interests also include issues of access, diversity and equity in higher education.

He obtained his Ph.D. in Education Administration and Policy Analysis and a Masters in Sociology from Stanford University. He also holds a Masters of Higher Education and a Bachelor's of History and Psychology from the University of Michigan.


Veronica Vasquez

Veronica Vasquez joined Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins & Mott LLP in 2009. She currently is the attorney in charge of the San Antonio office. Her previous experience includes working as a Legislative Aide for Texas Senator John Whitmire. Mrs. Vasquez also served as the President of the Chicano Hispanic Law Students Association (CHLSA), while at the University of Texas School of Law. She also received the 2008 National Association of Women’s Outstanding Law Student Award and was listed in Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities. Mrs. Vasquez is also a Thurgood Marshall Fellow. She was also the former chair of the Harris County young professional Democrats and a graduate of the Houston United Way’s Project Blueprint.


Jeremy Wilson

JEREMY C WILSON has one of the most widely read blogs in the business world. Various sites have named him the top MBA blogger. He writes about the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, social enterprise, leadership and doing things differently.

MBA Crystall Ball says that Jeremy wins the battle of MBA bloggers hands down. BeatTheGMAT says Jeremy is one of our first premier partners because of his authentic voice and ability to connect with MBA aspirants. And Northwestern University went to him for advice as they are setting up their university blog for its business school. Jeremy’s goal is to become the most popular in the world written by a single individual.

Throughout his career, Jeremy has also worked on with entrepreneurs, political campaigns, and non-profits. Most recently, he’s worked with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, GotraMentor.com, and the Northwestern Entrepreneurship Law Center. Jeremy also worked with reknowned Silicon Valley CEO Alyssa Rapp as one of her first employees at Bottlenotes.com.

His latest company, the Education Matters Project just launched in March. Funded by the McCormick Foundation and powered by Blue State Digital, the site’s mission is to change the way humankind views the benefits of education and to help fund a world-class education for everyone.

Jeremy is currently completing a dual law and business degree (JD/MBA) at Northwestern Law School and the Kellogg School of Management, where he was named a McCormick Scholar,

Vedder Price Scholar, NBMBAA Scholar, NSHMBA Scholar, Kellogg Diversity Scholar and Verizon Scholar.

Jeremy graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Cultural Anthropology. 

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