Advisory Council

RENE MARTINEZ

Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez 

Rene Martinez has been involved in public education, both as a community advocate and educator for the past 43 years. He was one of the original Tri-Ethnic Committee Chairs,

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appointed by U.S. District Judge William M. Taylor, to help monitor the School Desegregation Court Order in 1971. He later was the Co-Chair of the Dallas Alliance Education Task Force that developed the 1976 School Desegregation Court Order for the Court and Dallas Independent School District. As Education Director for the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, he was instrumental in developing and implementing the White House recognized Adopt-a-School Program and Leadership Dallas. He also coordinated the implementation of the Magnet School Program, creating Townview Magnet and the Booker T. Washington Arts Magnet with Dallas ISD.

 

Martinez has been in the forefront of championing issues that affect the quality of life for Mexican immigrants all his life. In 1981, through his leadership with LULAC, he led a coalition of community groups that raised funds for the establishment of various schools for those children of undocumented workers who were not being allowed to attend Dallas schools due to state law. Over $20,000 was raised and 1000 students attended these special schools until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the State of Texas, Plyer vs. Doe, 1982, and ordered all children to be provided a free public education.

 

He has been an administrator, manager, college instructor, and entrepreneur. He has served on over 50 boards and commissions including MALDEF, Tejano Democrats, the United Way of Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Dallas Concilio. He was also appointed by various mayors to serve as the Vice Chairman of the City of Dallas Planning and Zoning Commission and Vice President of the Dallas Parks and Recreation Board. He has served as a Special Adviser to the National President.  He was elected LULAC District 3 Director in 2012, coordinating over 44 Councils in over 26 counties in Northeast Texas with over 1000 members. In 2006, he was one of the Coordinators that orchestrated the Mega March in Dallas, Texas, advocating for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and leading over 600,000 peaceful demonstrators.

 

As an educator with the Dallas ISD, he was a campus administrator at the elementary, middle and high school levels. He has been an Instructional and Communications Specialist, Director of Youth Mentoring, Special Assistant to the Superintendent for Dropout Prevention and Community Outreach, Executive Director of Student and Parent Engagement with the Dallas Schools, Coordinator for Emergency Operations, and Community Outreach. Martinez established Parent Academies that engaged over 10,000 parents; the majority being Mexican immigrants learning how to navigate the public school system. He also helped establish the Llaves de Exito, a comprehensive college readiness workshops that assist immigrant parents in obtaining more information pertaining to accessing higher education for their children. Other voluntary work includes chairing and implementing the first AVANCE program in Dallas, and later he identified staff in San Antonio, Texas, implementing the program in that city. As board chair of the Dallas Concilio, he helped bring the nationally renowned Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) to Dallas, (2003) a program that trains immigrant parents in becoming more involved in their schools, In 2005, he was awarded the Ohtli Award by the Mexican Government for outstanding service by a U.S. citizen to the Mexican community in the United States.  He was appointed by LULAC to serve as a delegate to the Instituto de Mexicanos del Exterior, IME,  advising the Mexican government on issues pertaining to the Dallas Ft. Worth . Over the past two years, he has continued to raise thousands of dollars for the Stars on the Rise Scholarships, mentored dozens of students as they navigate their lives to obtain college educations, and helped resolve parent concerns and issues with public school systems. 

Martinez is currently an adjunct professor at the Dallas County Community College District teaching undergraduate courses in a Teacher Prep for aspiring teacher aides. He was the first Dallas Area Campus Director of the Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez, SUAGM,  a Dual Language University. He now serves as a consultant to SUAGM. 

 

He has taught at SMU and TAMUC, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He was educated in the Dallas Public Schools and attended Southern Methodist University receiving his B.A. in Latin American Studies, Spanish, and History. He did post-graduate work at SMU in Public Administration and received his Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Texas A&M at Commerce. 

 

Rene Martinez was born and raised in Dallas, is married and has four sons and five grandchildren.

DESIREE ARIAS

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achievement for teaching and learning, she is focused on maximizing performance and academic potential for students in urban schools.

 

Currently, as a consultant she provides expertise in instructional leadership and development, school improvement, strategic planning, and reflective coaching for campus and district leaders. Desirée is also a leadership and instructional coach for participants in the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership at the Milwaukee School of Engineering and Urban Teachers DFW. 

 

Most recently, she served as an adjunct faculty member for Johns Hopkins University – School of Education and co-authored The Support Gap: Supporting & Developing Teaching and Learning for ESL and The 6 Levers for Boosting ELL Achievement. With over 25 years of experience in education, she has served as a teacher at elementary and middle school levels, principal, and central office administrator.

 

Notable accomplishments and recognition for her work and commitment to education include the Dallas ISD Superintendent’s Award of Commendation, TMEA Distinguished Educator Award, Education Policy Summit participant – 28th Congressional District in Washington, D.C., Cooperative Superintendency Fellow at UT Austin, and recipient of the Teachers, Leaders and Explorers Award of Excellence from the Aerospace Education Foundation. Dr. Marks-Arias earned her Ph.D. in Education Policy & Planning at the University of Texas at Austin. Desirée lives in Dallas, Texas and enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband Rick and two children, Sonny and Sebastian.

NINA VACA

Pinnacle Group

Nina Vaca is Pinnacle Group’s Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer. Her dynamic leadership over the past 22 years has propelled the company from a niche IT services 

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firm to the workforce solutions powerhouse it is today, providing industry-leading workforce solutions and high-end IT services to iconic global brands.

 

Pinnacle Group’s evolution and astronomical growth is the result of Nina’s fearless approach to overcoming challenges and her intense focus on two core values: delivering impeccable service to clients and putting people at the heart of everything Pinnacle Group does. Pinnacle Group has been named to the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest-growing companies for more than a decade and is consistently named among the nation’s fastest-growing women-owned companies by the Women Presidents’ Organization.

 

Nina is a committed civic leader and philanthropist. She advocates passionately for women and entrepreneurs and works to advance girls and women in STEM fields. In 2014, the White House appointed Nina as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE). As a PAGE Ambassador, Nina has traveled across five continents, sharing her story and empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders. She also serves as Chairman Emeritus of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where she champions the over 4.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses in America. As Chairman of the USHCC Foundation, Nina founded the At the Table initiative to connect women with the valuable resources and recognition needed to reach the next level of success.

 

Nina has been featured in numerous publications and is a sought-after speaker and thought leader worldwide. She has won numerous awards both for Pinnacle Group and as an individual. Nina has also been named one of the most influential Latinos in the United States for the past ten years and has been called one of the country’s 100 most intriguing entrepreneurs by Goldman Sachs.

 

Nina holds three honorary doctorates from notable universities and is the youngest graduate in her alma mater‘s history to be honored as a distinguished alumna. She has been invited to speak at institutions such as the Milken Institute, Harvard University, and Stanford University, where she has also been added to the business curriculum. Two years ago Nina joined the 2016 Class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute. A global leader, Nina is a German Marshall Memorial Fellow and part of the British-American Project.

 

An avid and committed athlete, Nina has participated in numerous iconic races including the Waikiki Roughwater Swim in Hawaii, the 120 mile Rocky Mountain Triple Bypass, the New York Marathon, and the Longhorn Austin Half Ironman. She completed the famous Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco, and in the process raised $100,000 to help entrepreneurs. Most recently, she completed the Ironman 70.3 in Manta, Ecuador to raise more than $100,000 for people left homeless after the devastating 2017 earthquake along coastal Ecuador. Nina is a mother of four and resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband and children.

ERIC REEVES

High STEPS

Eric spent ten years in the North Carolina State Senate where he chaired the Senate’s technology committee, served

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as chair of Human Services Appropriations and on the Education Oversight Committee. Prior to the Senate, Eric served on the Raleigh City Council for two terms and has spent most of his professional life focused on public policy issues.

In addition to public policy, Eric served as the General Counsel and Director of Public Affairs for SchoolDude.com, the nations largest provider of online facility management software tools for schools.

Eric’s interest in SchoolDude is directly related to school infrastructure needs and learning environment issues. Eric also advises and consults with government oriented technology companies and nonprofit organizations on issues ranging from criminal justice, curriculum, assessment, student management, and, health and human services.

Eric received his undergraduate degrees from Duke University and his law degree from Wake Forest University. As a 2002 Eisenhower Fellow, Eric studied EU internet economy competition strategies.

JAIME RESENDEZ

City of Dallas City Council 

Jaime Resendez was elected to the Dallas City Council in May 2019. He was born and raised in the Pleasant Grove area of Southeast Dallas.

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Like many others, he grew up in an economically disadvantaged household. His parents worked hard to make a living, but still struggled to make ends meet.

Every school that Jaime attended is in Southeast Dallas: R.C. Buckner, Julius Dorsey, E.B. Comstock and Skyline High School. With no money for college, he enlisted in the U.S. Army before graduating from high school and served for eight years as an engineer, including a year-long tour of duty in Baghdad, Iraq. The realities of war made him really appreciate our country and the opportunities it affords.

Upon returning from Iraq, Jaime went on to earn degrees with honors from Eastfield Community College and the University of North Texas at Dallas, and then a law degree from The University of Texas School of Law. He has been recognized with numerous awards, medals, and scholarships throughout his military and educational careers.

In 2016, Jaime was elected to serve on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees and is credited with being the driving force behind the creation of the new dual language School for the Talented and Gifted in Pleasant Grove and successfully advocating for a new $30M school building for Nathaniel Hawthorne Elementary School. He is also a strong supporter of the ACE program, which dramatically improved student achievement at Edward Titche and Annie Webb Blanton elementary schools, with students at Blanton outperforming students in Highland Park. He is committed to bringing that same kind of impactful success to the City of Dallas and District 5. 

Jaime is currently a practicing attorney.

ANDY STOKER

First United Methodist Church of Dallas

Dr. Stoker is the Senior Minister of First United Methodist Church of Dallas, Texas. Serving in this position of leadership in partnerships

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in the heart of downtown Dallas since 2013, he has forged strong with the Dallas Mayor’s Office, the Dallas Arts District, the Dallas Independent School District and local and national education and literacy advocates. His formidable leadership skills and passion for equality combined with his research in practical theology and systems theory give Dr. Stoker a unique and clarion voice in the areas of social justice, advocacy, community outreach and racial reconciliation. 

 

Prior to being appointed as the Senior Minister at FirstChurch, Dr. Stoker served Walnut Hill United Methodist Church of Dallas, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries North Texas Conference, and First United Methodist Church of Denton. Dr. Stoker received a Lilly Foundation Fellowship and served as on staff here as an associate minister at FirstChurch in Congregational Care. He chaired the Board of the Center for Missional Outreach in the North Texas Conference, launching the “Zip Code Connection” and laying the groundwork for a public education ministry. 

 

Dr. Stoker has served as a delegate to Jurisdictional Conferences in 2012 and 2016 representing the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Dr. Stoker is a co-founder and DISD representative for Pastors for Texas Children, a non-profit organization committed to advocating for Texas children, families and communities. He has served on the Boards of National Project Transformation, Dallas Project Transformation, the North Texas Food Bank, Methodist Health Systems, The Dallas Arts District, CC Young Senior Care, the Texas Methodist Foundation, Faith Forward Dallas of the Thanksgiving Square Foundation, is currently the Chair of the Board for La Lydia Patterson Institute of El Paso. Dr. Stoker is the co-founder of the Compassion Council and collaborates frequently with the Crow Collection of Asian Art on events in the Arts District. 

 

Dr. Stoker is married to Megan Callahan Stoker, a registered pediatric nurse, and they have two sons: Alex and Wesley. He is a graduate of Texas Tech University and earned his seminary degree from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. Dr. Stoker completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Family Studies from Texas Woman's University. In his spare time, he enjoys studying architecture, visiting art museums, and reading.

DREXELL OWUSU

Dallas Regional Chamber

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Drexell is the Senior Vice President, Education and Workforce for the Dallas Regional Chamber, where he leads the Chamber’s efforts to grow and

develop our existing regional talent and workforce.

 

Prior to joining the DRC, Drexell was Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Brave Capital Partners, an investment company focused on catalyzing minority communities.  Prior to founding Brave, he served as Managing Director and Chief of Staff for Civitas Capital Group.  In addition to his leadership responsibilities at Civitas, he also was responsible for managing the GrowSouth Fund, a double-bottom line investment fund focused on investing in southern Dallas. 

 

Before joining Civitas, Drexell founded a strategy consultancy, The Owl Group, and previously held corporate strategy jobs at Blockbuster, FedEx Office, and Accenture.

 

Drexell earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Rice University, where he was a two-time Track and Field All-American in the triple jump.  Drexell lives in Kessler Park with his wife and three children.