Leaders united change lives.

RGV FOCUS unites school districts, higher education partners, community organizations and businesses under the common goal of improving education outcomes in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Leadership Team

Teri Alarcon

Area Assistant Superintendent - High Schools

Brownsville ISD

Alda T. Benavides, Ed.D.*

Superintendent

La Joya ISD

Arturo Cavazos, Ed.D.

Superintendent

Harlingen CISD

Adrian Garcia

Chief of Technology and Student Services

PSJA ISD

Lisa Garcia, Ed.D.

Superintendent

Port Isabel ISD

Narciso Garcia, Ed.D

Superintendent

Vanguard Academy

Jose Gonzalez, Ed.D.

Superintendent

McAllen ISD

Marla Guerra, Ed.D.

Superintendent

South Texas ISD

Silvia Ibarra, Ed.D.

Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services

McAllen ISD

Eduardo Infante*

Superintendent

Lyford CISD

Virginia N. Richter, Ed.D.

Vice President of Advancement

IDEA Public Schools

Gonzalo Salazar

Superintendent

Los Fresnos CISD

Linda Uribe

Administrator for College Readiness

PSJA ISD

Esperanza Zendejas, Ed.D.

Superintendent

Brownsville ISD

* 2017 Co-chair

Kristin Croyle, Ph.D.

Vice President for Student Success

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Cledia Hernandez

Interim Provost Harlingen Campus

Texas State Technical College

Patricia Alvarez McHatton, Ph.D.

Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Student Success and P-16 Integration

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Shirley Reed, Ed. D.

President

South Texas College

Jesus Roberto Rodriguez, Ph.D.

President

Texas Southmost College

Luzelma G. Canales, Ph.D.*

Executive Director

RGV FOCUS

Priscilla Dinn Alvarez

Executive Director

Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA)

Tania Chavez

Fund Development Strategist

La Unión Del Pueblo Entero

Chris Coxon

Managing Director

Educate Texas

Christina Patiño Houle

Network Weaver

Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network

Melissa I. Lopez

Director, Office of College and Career Readiness

Region One

Juanita Valdez-Cox

CEO

La Unión Del Pueblo Entero

Traci Wickett

President/CEO

United Way of Southern Cameron County

* 2017 Co-chair

Frank Almaraz

CEO

Workforce Solutions - Lower Rio Grande Valley

Pat Hobbs

CEO

Workforce Solutions - Cameron County

Rebecca Lynch, Ph.D.

Vice President for Curriculum, Program Planning and Faculty Affairs

Doctors Hospital at Renaissance

RGV FOCUS Backbone

Luzelma G. Canales, Ph.D.

Luzelma G. Canales, Ph.D.

Executive Director, RGV FOCUS

lcanales@cftexas.org

In her role as the executive director of the RGV FOCUS, a collaboration with Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT), Canales provides leadership for a large-scale collective impact initiative.

The RGV FOCUS collective impact initiative was launched to transform college readiness, access and success across a four-county region in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas Prior to her work with RGV FOCUS, Canales served as a community college and university administrator for over 25 years. She led numerous institutional community college national reform initiatives, including Achieving the Dream and Breaking Through, and several with Excelencia in Education. Canales serves on local, state and national boards related to closing equity gaps in voter turnout and educational attainment. She was born and raised along the Texas-Mexico border in deep South Texas. She and her family migrated to Washington and Oregon to work in the fields during the 1960s and 1970s. Her life experiences includes participating in the integration of schools and witnessing the efforts of the United Farm Workers to bring to light concerns over working conditions of migrant farm workers. These and other experiences formed her commitment to work with organizations to identify and eliminate barriers faced by Latino students as they navigate the high school and college experience. Canales earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Pan American University, master’s in business administration from the University of Texas – Pan American, and doctorate of philosophy in human resource development from Texas A&M University.

Katherine Diaz

Katherine Diaz

Deputy Director, RGV FOCUS

kdiaz@cftexas.org

In her role as Deputy Director for RGV FOCUS, a collaboration with Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT), Diaz participates in building capacity for improved thought leadership, strategic design and alignment of organizational goals to achieve the RGV FOCUS goals.

Katherine joined the RGV FOCUS team with a strong background in K-12 education. She began her career as a Spanish teacher in Missouri and, over the course of the last decade, has expanded her expertise into the realm of college and career readiness, most recently leading high school Career & Technical Education (CTE), T-STEM, and College Readiness programs. As part of her programmatic work, Katherine was responsible for establishing a process for collecting and analyzing data to determine effectiveness and impact of the programs she led, and for leading the growth of student CTE industry certification achievements and dual enrollment participation, both of which more than doubled in her tenure. Katherine holds a Bachelor of Science in Education in Spanish and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Missouri State University and a Master of Arts in Spanish Linguistics/Education from The University of Texas—Pan American.

Eugenio Longoria Saenz

Eugenio Longoria Saenz

Deputy Director, RGV FOCUS

esaenz@cftexas.org

In his role as Deputy Director for RGV FOCUS, a collaboration with Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT), Sáenz participates in building capacity for improved thought leadership, strategic design and alignment of organizational goals to achieve the RGV FOCUS goals.

Prior to working with RGV FOCUS, Sáenz served as Executive Director of the Eastern North Philadelphia Youth Services Coalition (ENPYSC) for 5 years, served as Director of Leader Development, Knowledge and Capacity at IDEA Public Schools for one year, and is Principal and Founder of BILLY Labs, a design-informed, social architecture consultancy.

Sáenz holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration in economics and international business from Baylor University and an independent studies master’s of arts degree in education and human development from George Washington University. He is currently a doctoral candidate (ABD) at PENN State University in learning and performance systems with a research focus on role theory and social positions. Additionally, he has been the recipient of two international research fellowships – one to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, and the other to the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in Cape Town, South Africa.