HARLINGEN — In a historic vote, the Texas Woman’s University Regents has elected Anna Maria Farias, Esq., of San Antonio as chair and Nolan E. Perez, M.D., of Harlingen as vice chair of the TWU Board of Regents.
Farias’ election marks the first time in TWU’s 116-year history that a Hispanic woman will serve as the chief governing officer of the university’s governing board.
Farias and Perez also are believed to be the first Hispanics to serve simultaneously in the top two leadership positions of a public university’s governing board in Texas.
“Working in education has been the hallmark of my public service career,” said Farias, who has been appointed to several national and state educational leadership positions and previously served as a special assistant to former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, her mentor, and was deputy director of the Office of Bilingual Education for the U.S. Department of Education from 1985 to 1988 under Bennett’s leadership.
Education also is important for Perez, who currently serves on the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees.
“It has been my privilege to serve on the TWU Board, and as vice chair, I plan to work with Chair Farias, my fellow regents, and the chancellor to continue to advance the university’s bold and innovative mission,” Perez said.
Farias and Perez will serve as chair and vice chair of the TWU Board of Regents for two years. Farias replaces Mary Pincoffs Wilson of Austin, whose term as a TWU Regent expires this month (February 2017).
Dr. Perez is the CEO of Gastroenterology Consultants of South Texas, PA in Harlingen.
He is board certified in gastroenterology, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology.
He is a clinical assistant professor and education coordinator for gastroenterology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Regional Academic Health Center.
He is the founder of RGV Mentors, a mentorship initiative for high school students. He also serves on other boards including: The Texas Lyceum, Lone Star National Bank Board of Directors, UT System Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee, The University of Texas at Austin Development Board, The University of Texas Foundation, Educate Texas Advisory Board, Holdsworth Center Governing Board, Medical Director for Platinum Surgery Center, and is an expert panelist for the Texas Medical Board.
He earned a bachelor of arts from the University of Texas at Austin and a medical doctorate from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
He completed residency training in internal medicine at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, and fellowship training in gastroenterology at Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center.
After medical school he served in the U.S. Navy as a medical corps officer and received the Navy Commendation and Navy Achievement Medals. He was appointed to the TWU Board by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2015.
Farias is an attorney and consultant in private practice. She also is the former director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Farias was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000.
She also is a board member of the OneStar Foundation, a past board member of MANA-A National Latina Organization and past vice chair of the Philadelphia Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.
She also is past president of the Crystal City Lions Club and Crystal City Little League and a past board member of the Winter Garden Women’s Shelter.
Farias received a bachelor’s degree with honors from Boston University and received the Boston University Young Alumni Achievement Award in 1988. She received her law degree from Temple Law School, where she was the third year class president, and is a fellow of the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government.
She was appointed to the TWU Board by-then Gov. Rick Perry in 2013.