Nuestra Voz of North Texas

Amigos in Progress

Joedis Ávila Manager,

Community Outreach Ford Motor Company Fund

Joedis Avila

Joedis Ávila has made a career in corporate social responsibility, international business, multicultural marketing, and supply chain. As manager of community outreach at Ford Motor Company Fund, he manages Ford’s strategic partnerships with key organizations and external corporate initiatives on a national and local level. He also manages Hispanic strategic investments nationally.

Prior to joining Ford, Ávila worked at Miller Coors, Molson Coors and Coors Brewing Company. Most recently, he served as the multicultural relations, CSR, and marketing program manager at Miller Coors.

Ávila serves as a corporate board advisor of national Hispanic organizations, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, National Council of La Raza, and LULAC, and is the current Chair of CNC’s CBA. He also serves on the board of directors at the Smithsonian Latino Center and SER Jobs for Progress National. In 2008, he was recognized with the Young Hispanic Corporate Achiever Award for Hispanics under 40 by the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility.


Dr. Robert Munoz Tarrant County College
Community Education

Dr. Robert Munoz Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus, Vice President for Community and Industry Education is a native of El Paso; Texas.  Prior to moving to Fort Worth in November of 2008 he made Odessa Texas his home. He worked at Odessa College for 16 years most recently as the Dean of Workforce and Technical studies.  In 1994 he received the NISOD (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development) Teaching Excellence award.  NISOD is based at The University of Texas at Austin.  In 1998, the management program he chaired was named an exemplary program by The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.  In Odessa he served on a number of boards and served as Chairman of the Odessa Chamber Of Commerce in 2004-2005 the first Hispanic to do so.

In Fort Worth he has served on board of directors of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and is past Chair of the Central Area Council.  He also sits on the United Way of Tarrant County Income Council, is on the site base team for Joy James Elementary of Castlebery ISD, Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee Fort Worth ISD, president elect of the Hispanic Wellness Coalition of Fort Worth and is a taskforce member for Tarrant County Voices for Health.  He also sits on the executive committee of The Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color which is housed at the University of Texas at Austin.

He received several award in Odessa for his leadership in the community. Here in Fort Worth he has been recognized by The Hispanic Women’s Network of Fort Worth with the 2012 Brillo award, Hispanic Heritage Award 2014 from The United Hispanic Council of Tarrant County, and in 2015 with the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber Champion of the Year.

He holds an AAS from Odessa College, BS from the University of Texas at El Paso, Masters in Counseling from Sul Ross State University and a Doctorate in Educational Administration from New Mexico State University.

He is married to Kristi and is father to Jordan their daughter a graduate of Texas State University San Marcos.


Celina Vásquez: Dallas County Community College

Celina Vásquez is currently a Visiting Scholar in Government at Mountain View College. She teaches Federal and Texas Government. Mountain View College was founded in 1970, as the second of seven colleges established within the Dallas County Community College District. It is located in southwest Dallas, and is a Hispanic-Serving Institution that serves more than 8,600 students.

Celina was born in Compton, CA. She is the daughter of an undocumented immigrant from Mexico and migrant farmworker, her mother Olga from Sinaloa and her father Luis from Michoacán. Her grandfather Francisco Vazquez was a bracero recruited to work in Uvalde, Texas. She has three sisters and one brother. Celina and her siblings are first generation college graduates and survivors of domestic violence. She is a member of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, Fort Worth Chapter, American Association of University Women, Tarrant County branch and Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education.

Celina was re-elected to the State Democratic Executive Committee, Senate District 9 in June 2014, and serves as Past Chair of the Texas Latina List. Founded in 2013, Texas Latina List is a progressive political action committee committed to promoting and increasing active participation of Latinas at all levels of elected and appointed offices, including public boards and commissions.

Her community service currently includes the City of Fort Worth Community Development Council, District 2, Tarrant County Child Protective Services Board, and the Eastside YMCA Advisory Council. She also served on the Board of Public Health Toastmasters and as a Bilingual Volunteer Mediator at Dispute Resolution Services of North Texas, Inc. She enjoys reading in Spanish to her seven year old son, Diego, and spending time with her husband, Fernando.

Celina’s most recent honors include being selected for the 2015 US/Spain Council’s Young Leaders Program. The US/Spain Council’s Young Leaders Program brings together emerging American leaders from across the nation who represent various sectors of the economy and government.  The goal of this is to expose the participants to the social, cultural, economic and political realities of contemporary Spain in order to foster better bilateral relations between Spain and the United States. She was also nominated for the 2015 Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber La Cima Latina Leadership Award in the Government/Education category for her civic engagement with students.

Celina received a Bachelor of Arts in Chicano/Latino Studies from California State University, Long Beach. She also attended Texas Woman’s University and received a Master of Arts in Government and a Master of Business Administration. She is a proud graduate of Leadership America, Leadership Texas, Las Comadres Para Las Americas Texas Public Policy & Civic Engagement Program, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality Leadership Institute, and from The Women’s Campaign School at Yale University.

If you are interested in more information on how you can help us turn Tarrant County and Texas blue, please contact me at follow me on Facebook for happenings with the State Democratic Executive Committee
See Celina’s political opinion on our website,


The Barrio is not a Barrier

By Felix Alvarado

Fernando Vasquez story is the story of many immigrants.  In search of a better life his parents survived a perilous journey through the desert to reach America.  Like many immigrant children of parents that speak only Spanish, Fernando too spoke Spanish.  He learned English in his first year at kindergarten and was translating for his parents at age five. 

Fernando Vasquez

You could say that Fernando Vasquez comes from very humble beginnings.  Born in Nayarit, Mexico and raised in South Central Los Angeles he is from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles.  As a teenager from South Central LA, Fernando faced the choices and challenges young teenage Latinos face in the barrio, gangs, drugs and dropping out of school.  Choices faced by every kid in every barrio.  Through sheer determination and a passion for education these obstacles did not stop Fernando from accomplishing his dream of getting an education. 

But Fernando did not do it be himself.  His mother was influential in his education.  She would not let him attend his local high school and instead had him take a bus across town to another high school.  The route required him to change busses three times.  But he graduated from high school. 

Fernando credits baseball for helping him focus on education and not the gang mentality he was surrounded by.  In the middle of a barrio of Cuban-Americans, famous for being great baseball players, he and his brother were able to make the varsity baseball team. 

His college education started at the local community college.  His education journey took him to Michigan for his Master’s Degree from Michigan State University in Student Affairs Administration.  Quite an accomplishment for someone that derives from a barrio where the word college was not in the vocabulary. 

Now as Assistant Director of Medical Student Admissions Fernando reviews 3000 applications annually for 230 seats in the medical school.  Fernando has advice to all prospective college students. Preparing for college has to be done in a timeline to avoid playing a catchup game.  This gives you the opportunity to apply for funding the education.  Federal, state and local levels have deadlines by which you can apply for funding.  Parents have to be aware that under federal formulas depending on income they may have to contribute part of the college tuition.  Funding for college competes with family necessities.

Fernando Vasquez administers the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP) a state sponsored program for highly qualified economically disadvantaged Texas resident students that wish to pursue a medical education.  For those that meet all program requirements they are guaranteed admission to a Texas medical school.

Under this program those that are accepted can expect a guaranteed acceptance to a medical school, scholarship money and mentoring.  Admittance to medical school is so highly competitive that students need to prepare early. 

Fernando has also developed a program to provide mentoring health exposure at Trimble Tech HS.  The program connects students from Trimble Tech with his medical student mentors.  Students come every Saturday for five weeks and do medically related activities.  More importantly the mentors have similar backgrounds.

According to Fernando education opens opportunities for different experiences and employment. Fernando’s education has taken him to places he would not have otherwise gone. He considers himself a resource manual for students and parents interested in pursuing a college education.  Fernando believes that the more students that graduate from high school and go on to college the better.  These graduates will be able to pass their wisdom on to their children.  This will change and break cycles of poverty, domestic violence, under education and under employment. 

Fernando feels it is time to showcase our talent to our community.  It is time for our kids to achieve and demonstrate their academic abilities to others.  It is time for us to take over an area like healthcare that has been ignored. 

Fernando Vasquez’s success demonstrates that being from the barrio is no barrier.

By Felix Alvarado


Joe Angel Robles — A Voice for Our Community

By Alberto Govea

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Joe Angel Robles Jr. graduated in 2013 from the University of North Texas where he studied the New Media Arts.  He  focused on animation and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts.

While in school, Joe was a recipient of two yearly scholarly awards, the USC scholarship in 2011, and the Union Employee scholarship in 2012. Joe focused much of his efforts on activism; such as serving philanthropies to educate the minority youth, lobbying efforts to support immigration reform, and assisting with rebuilding efforts in low-income areas. These distinct accomplishments earned him the “Mean Green” Student Unity Award in 2012, an honor given to the student that promotes the most diversity within the North Texas community.

Before college, Joe served in the United States Air Force from 2003-2007 and in the Air Force Reserve from 2007-2014 as a military policeman.  He served three tours in the Middle East. His experience working with different cultures across the world has given him great insight and has allowed him to use these experiences within the content of his work.

Currently, Joe attends Texas A&M School of Law.  Away from law school, Joe's focus has been on his children’s book entitled “Little Pablito P.I.” The book's purpose is to create more diversity, cultural awareness in the community, and most importantly making learning about culture fun. He was always an avid reader but growing up back in the early 90’s it was heard to find books or characters in books to relate to. This is where “Little Pablito P.I.” comes in which not only gives children a relatable character but also educates. Joe plans to team up with local non-profit organizations and hand out free copies in low income areas.

His mission is to give the Latino community a voice, especially the children. His advice to other would be writers “The key is to keep grinding away, it is hard to get off the ground, but be patient and trust yourself and your material”.   Last “Be proud of your work and believe in yourself” 

Personal Single Father of one, Joaquin “Beni” Robles, is still active in the Air National Guard.

Memberships include; Dallas Hispanic Bar Association, Hispanic Law Student’s Association, American Bar Association, Young Professionals Movement and LULAC Council Number Council # 22139 Parliamentarian.


Jacinto Ramos, Fort Worth ISD Trustee, A Man of Action

By Felix Alvarado

There is an argument going on today regarding public education.  The outcome of this argument is going to affect every child in every school district in the State of Texas.  In this outcome, some are going to win and some are going to lose. We saw with Dr. Carlos Vasquez and Juan Rangel what happens when you raise your voice in concern for the children you are responsible for.  Public education is first a business.  Many benefit from the billions of dollars spent on educating our children.  Then public education has a quasi-responsibility to educate our children.  Quasi because for too many years our children have lagged in education and every year there is this “Oh well” attitude and half our children graduate from school and go on to be successful and the other half drop out of school and many go on to fill our prison system.  From the song by Chicago, “Does anybody know what time it is does anybody really care?”

Jacinto Ramos
Fort Worth ISD Trustee

It was with this attitude that we sat down with Jacinto Ramos, District 1, FWISD School Board Trustee.  From a distance it appears as though some school board members represent the business side of public education more than the children.  When it comes to education for too long our children have been on the short end of the stick.  And they will continue to be so until we elect politicians at every level of government that are really concerned There is an argument going on today regarding public education.  The outcome of this argument is going to affect every child in every school district in the State of Texas.  In this outcome, some are going to win and some are going to lose. We saw with Dr. Carlos Vasquez and Juan Rangel what happens when you raise your voice in concern for the children you are responsible for.  Public education is first a business.  Many benefit from the billions of dollars spent on educating our children.  Then public education has a quasi-responsibility to educate our children.  Quasi because for too many years our children have lagged in education and every year there is this “Oh well” attitude and half our children graduate from school and go on to be successful and the other half drop out of school and many go on to fill our prison system.  From the song by Chicago, “Does anybabout the people they represent.

The outcome was refreshing.  Unlike many Latinos that graduate from high school and leave the barrio, Jacinto is from the barrio in which he grew up.  He understands the diversity of the Latino population of the barrio.  His education and experience are a perfect fit for his position.  As a community activist he has been personally involved in improving the communication between various citizens of the community.   He brings a vision of unity not of disunity.  He may be a politician but to him there is no place for dirty politics in the school board.  With two children of his own in the district he has a personal interest in performance of the district.  In his vocabulary there are no hoodlums’ just kids that need more love.  He has been instrumental in procuring the Youth Advocate Program, a program designed to help troubled students finish school.  Jacinto has seen an improvement in education and crime statistics in the Northside.  He understands that as a school board member he must now focus on the needs of all children in the school district.  .  His challenges are many.  One is a district designed a hundred years ago for a different set of students.  To succeed he needs the support of the community.  We are confident that both are up to the task.


Adrian Rodriguez

 By A. Govea

Adrian Rodriguez has served the students of the Plano Independent School District for more than 26 years, which is impressive in itself.  Anyone in public education would certainly attest to that, but that’s only the start of the Adrian story.  It’s a story of practical creativity in and out of school and after winning an at-large election, Adrian Rodriguez is only the second Hispanic to serve as Trustee on the Collin County College District Board.

During his career, Adrian established the first peer-assistance leadership and peer-mediation programs for students to learn how to serve each other.  Adrian chaired many health fairs for Plano ISD students.  Adrian initiated the first intramural, indoor soccer league at Bowman Middle School.  Outside of school he founded the Plano Council of The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in 1993. The council members and their council have awarded more than $300,000 in education scholarships to area minority students.  Among his numerous honors, Adrian was named a Plano ISD PTA Life Member, presented the 100 Heroes Award, named a Plano Community Forum Educator of the Year, given the Plano ISD Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Leadership Award, and named LULAC District Director of the Year.  The Volunteer Center of Collin County Spirit of Excellence Award and Collin College named a scholarship in his name in 2008.

Adrian won his Trustee Place 4 post on the Collin County College District Board in a countywide election and holds the office until 2019.  He could run for re-election.  Never underestimate the value of volunteering.  Adrian credits his volunteer work for the winning support he drew, he says, from a broad political and ethnic spectrum among the voters of Collin County, its population at more than 800,000.  Adrian is married to Yvonne, and their family includes a dog named Chac.  Chac is convinced that she’s Adrian and Yvonne’s child.  The Rodríguez’s love to travel and have visited more than 20 countries.  Among his other passions, Adrian loves jazz, especially Latino jazz, and reading.
His advice for others is to get involved and – above all – to vote.  Adrian Rodriguez’s professional credentials include a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington.  He is a licensed Master Social Worker.   


Passion for Being Involved

By Lucy Bocanegra

If you’re involved in any way with the community of Oak Cliff in Dallas, then you’re likely familiar with a tall, outspoken man – a remarkable figure, a man who stands out among activists.  I visited this community giant recently.

Walking under the garage door, I am greeted by Mr. Jose Barrientos, a volunteer at Casa Guanajuato, located on West Brooklyn Avenue.  There are four ice chests sitting on an eight-foot long table.  Children line up for their lunch.  Then they sit quietly, eating a well-balanced meal.  For some of these youngsters it may be the only healthy meal of the day.  For others it’s a nutritious meal among friends.  Regardless, dining here beats sitting at home alone in front of a television.

Mr. Barrientos grew up on Dallas’ East Side, attending school until he got in trouble and ended up in the city’s Juvenile Detention Center.  “Juvie” in those days was more like a game room for the guards, who forced the young inmates to fight and bet on the fighters.

After his release from the center, Jose Barrientos tried to enlist in the military.  His effort, part of a dream, was shattered by a lack of education.  Instead, he ended up doing time in a Texas prison.  Luckily, upon his release, Jose was accepted into the military, served our nation and tried to turn himself around. He became a Father and things began to change.

Jose Barrientos came home, but his next destination was a stint in federal prison.  This time he served eight years.   His son was young and he found himself unable to be a real part of his life.  Seeing his son grow through post office letters was not Barrientos idea of being a Father.   It was there that Barrientos finally began to turn his life in a positive direction.  Always loving to read, he began educating himself during those eight years.

Jose Barrientos is a prime example of what an individual can overcome.  You can achieve anything with sufficient motivation.  He watched too many other inmates try to relate to their sons through letters.  Having his own son at long distance, Jose wanted more, to be a positive part of his son’s life. Upon his release, Barrientos obtained custody of his son.  He knew he was going to be his primary caretaker and had to lead by example.

Today Jose Barrientos has a passion for being involved in family, in community and in life, Casa Guanajuato is one of his methods.  In addition to providing summer meals for the neighborhood children, the center offers boxer training and accordion lessons, computer training and tutoring.   In the future the center will become better equipped to provide a venue for many other needs.  Senior citizens and needy families will have a food pantry.

The center is moving along with new technology and is now equipped with a studio that houses an online radio station, a gym, a computer room and a snack shop.  Casa Guanajuato provides these services with meager donations from local residents and businesses.  Mr. Barrientos seeks funding by solicitations and creative fund raising methods.  He incorporates ideas of other passionate community members.  In September the center will host a festival for its 20th anniversary.  Along with several car clubs and local businesses, the center will raise funds to keep moving forward.

Jose Barrientos’ passion extends to voting.  He strives to make residents aware of the need to vote.  “I feel like handing people a roll of duct tape,” he says.  “If you do not vote, you might as well tape your mouth shut.” He is very opinionated and matter of factual as a delegate for the Democratic Party.  "If we don’t vote, we don’t use our voices in choosing the people who make decisions affecting all of us."

Mr. Barrientos also loves education. When he received a letter informing him that his son’s school was low performing and that he could take him to another school, Mr. Barrientos went on a mission to find a good school for his son. What Mr. Barrientos found was that none of the schools near his home were acceptable.  If he wanted his son to attend a good school, it meant going to one in far North Dallas.  His next question:  How come the schools in Oak Cliff do not have the best educators possible?

His questions multiplied, annoying the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees: Why does Oak Cliff have broken down school buildings?  Why do some teachers have no passion or enthusiasm for teaching? His opinion on Home Rule with DISD makes one re-examine the way we should vote.  Knowledge is the key.   Mr. Barrientos believes the price we pay for poor education is too high!

Jose Barrientos teaches children to be self-sufficient. He takes time to talk to the children.  He teaches them by having conversations with them.  He treats them with respect and dignity without losing sight that they are children and need to have good role models. As we speak, a child approaches the table and asks for a lunch plate.  The 7-year-old boy nears, extends his hand and shakes Mr. Barrientos’s hand.  The boy also gives my hand a firm shake and says, “Hello.”


Anita Nañez Martinez

Anita Nañez Martinez was born in Dallas, December 8, 1925, the fifth of six children born to Jose and Anita Nanez.  Ms. Martinez grew up in the area of Dallas known as "Little Mexico."  Over the course of her lifetime Ms. Martinez has had a full life of leadership, volunteerism, and accomplishment.

Growing up, Anita worked after school to help support her family.  Anita’s father passed away when she was very young.  Her mother was left to support the entire family. Shortly after her father passed another tragedy befell the family with the death of Anita’s brother.  Anita used these heartbreaking circumstances to make life better for her family, herself and those around her.

Despite facing difficult odds, Anita managed to finish high school and work to help support her family.  Anita married Albert Martinez, and became a mother to four children of her own.  It was during this time that Anita’s husband Albert began working in the restaurant business with his family. As the success of the Albert’s restaurants grew, Anita remained committed to helping the West Dallas area where she had grown-up.

At the time “Little Mexico” and west Dallas had become a neglected area of the city.  Anita set out to improve the area after she noticed was the lack of a recreation center.  Anita’s civic involvement resulted in her run for Dallas City Council. She became the first Latina to serve on the council.  While serving on the council Anita sought improvements to West Dallas including; street repairs, the Los Barrios Unidos Clinic, the opening of a branch library, improved bus service, historic designation for Pike Park, and street lighting improvements.

Anita’s proudest accomplishment was the creation of the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico.   It commenced as a volunteer effort to display the traditions and customs of Mexican dance.  The organization strove to give children the opportunity to learn and develop pride in themselves and their culture.

To date Anita Martinez continues to serve the Anita N. Martinez Recreation Center and Ballet Folklorico and she constantly encourages others to become involved in their communities and neighborhoods.  Many that have worked with Anita describe her as an inspiration to the power of positive thinking, action, and community service.


Judge Sergio DeLeon

Judge Sergio DeLeon

Sergio DeLeon is a positive role model and a leader.  He was born in Fort Worth, moved with his family to Arkansas in 1984.  He graduated from Bigelow High School.   As a political activist, he was registering young people to vote before he could himself vote.  His first elected office was precinct chair.  He became a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) youth council.  He was mentored by State Director, Ben Rodriguez who urged him to campaign for national youth president.  Although he was not elected, he lost the election by only two votes.  As a political activist he has also been a delegate to the Democratic National Convention on two occasions, once as a delegate for Bill Clinton in 1996 and in 2004 as a delegate for John Kerry.  In a rare anomaly it was in the 2004 convention that he was joined as a delegate by his wife Frances.  Sergio DeLeon is well known in national Democratic Party circles.

He received his Bachelor of Science of Texas Wesleyan University.  He supported Bill Clinton for governor of Arkansas and when Clinton ran for president he moved back to Fort Worth in 1991 to help in the Bill Clinton campaign for president.  Once in Fort Worth he ran for Precinct 5 Constable in 1996.  Although he did not win, the election set the stage for his election victory in 2000 where he beat the incumbent Jim Palmer by 700 votes.  Recently he was elected Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5. 

Judge Sergio DeLeon also knows how to set the example in community participation and involvement.  He has visited classrooms motivating students to stay in school and his Honorary Junior Program is a hit with elementary kids.  This program is also open to middle and high schools.  Children should not learn about the judicial system when they are in front of the judge for some offense.  Kudos to Judge DeLeon for teaching kids about the law the right way, in the classroom and not having learn about it the wrong way in the courtroom.  Judge DeLeon is so involved with the community that he has become community property.  Judge Sergio DeLeon is one of those Democrats anxiously waiting for Hilary Clinton to declare her candidacy for president.  Judge DeLeon and his lovely wife Frances have four children, Alexis 21, Jake 18, Alena 10, and Leila 17 months.


Mary Louise Garcia,
Tarrant County Clerk

Mary Louise Garcia

Self-assured, confident, committed and the first Hispanic elected to a county wide non-judicial position.  In her position as Tarrant County Clerk she supervises a multi-million dollar budget and supervises over 140 county employees.  Her position touches the lives of almost every county resident.  I took the liberty of extracting some information from the county website regarding her responsibilities:

“Few of you will go through life without calling on them for copies of birth certificates and marriage licenses, deeds to homes and other property as well as oil and gas lease records, death certificates, powers of attorney and a multitude of other personal and business documents.
Beyond recording life’s major events and transactions in Texas’ third most populous county, we provide administrative support for 15 courts, maintaining records for criminal and civil cases as well as files for probated estates.

As the county’s second largest source of funds, we collect more than $24 million in fines and fees and manage over $17 million in cash bonds as well as funds for minors and guardianships.”   

Mary Louse Garcia carries conservative values passed down from her father an Air Force veteran.  Politics was a topic for discussion at the dinner table.  It was during Jimmy Carter’s presidency that her father became a Republican.  Mary Louise followed in the footsteps of her father.  She was raised in a socially conservative Catholic family that strongly believed in personal and fiscal responsibility.  Her involvement in the community enabled her to nurture relationships that would be invaluable in her political aspirations.  In the process she learned how county government works from the ground up.  If there is one characteristic that makes her a success is her ability to focus on the whole field or as some would call it, “the big picture”. 

Mary Louise keeps abreast of developments by actively participating in various business, government and professional groups.  She was appointed by Governor Perry to the Board of Trustees of the Texas County and District Retirement System.  She is also Chair of the Tarrant Business Continuity and Disaster Management Committee, Co-Chair of the Tarrant County E-Government Committee and serves as a member of the State Bar of Texas Grievance Committee, District 7.  She goes around the county speaking with community and business groups, answering questions and accepting suggestions on improving the service of her department.

A graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, Mary Louise Garcia is a leader and a powerful role model for all young Hispanics male and female.  She and husband Chris Garcia, an independent businessman, have two daughters, Juliana, a graduate of Cornell University in New York, and Gabriella, a junior at Texas State University in San Marcos. The Garcia’s are volunteers and parishioners at Holy Family Catholic Church.


Domingo Garcia

By Alberto Govea

Domingo Garcia was born in the oil-lubricated town of Midland in dusty West Texas, a city perhaps best known for once being the residence of two Bushes, now the former Presidents, George Bush I and II. Garcia, however, was reared in Dallas, and although he is a world traveler and has several offices around the state for his legal practice, a corporation, Dallas is still home.

Domingo Garcia

He has been a successful lawyer now for more than 20 years. But to pigeonhole him as just another lawyer is a grave injustice to him and to the community he has served. Although his primary specialty is focused on personal injury law, where he has won several cases for his clients in excess of a million dollars, Garcia has also brought several civil rights cases to trial and somehow still finds time to volunteer with a west Dallas legal clinic.

Additionally, he has served as a Texas State Representative. He authored and/or helped pass several bills to help students stay in school and go on to college. Garcia made Dallas history in 1993, becoming the first Latino mayor pro tem of that city.

A true Renaissance man, he was a guest editorial writer for the Dallas Times Herald and for La Estrella in Fort Worth. He remains in demand as a guest on radio and television shows.

Garcia’s resume includes a minor acting part in a movie. Many people in Fort Worth know Garcia as the leading Hispanic contender in a Congressional run in 2012. He fell short of votes, but he mobilized many first-time voters, an impact that may have helped Ramon Romero this month to become the first Latino candidate from Fort Worth winning the Democratic nomination for state representative. Romero defeated longtime incumbent Lon Burnham.

Garcia has not lost touch with the electorate despite his loss. He hosts a monthly community breakfast in three cities, Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston. The breakfast serves as a venue to showcase local leaders and services.

I met Domingo at his Dallas/Oak Cliff office, seeking to fill in some personal details for this column:

Q: “Who was an early influence in your life?”

A: Garcia answered: “Pauline Medrano, a union organizer and civil rights leader.”

Q: “Why did you decide to become a lawyer?”

A: “To fight for justice and to do so require a level of economic independence that you acquire when working for yourself.” In politics, Garcia has been both a player and a big supporter. “I worked on my first campaign when I was 10 years old, on the Hubert Humphrey campaign,” he said. “Some of us play Little League Baseball at 10; some work on Presidential campaigns.”

Q: “When do you think we will have our first Latino President?” A. “We will have a Vice President first.

A: President will follow by 2024.” I was impressed with Garcia’s office, large with expensive furniture and fixtures, reflecting his economic success. But it’s also littered with personal and cultural mementos, and its view of the Dallas skyline is dramatic, symbolic of his historical role in the city.

Garcia doesn’t shirk philanthropy, vowing that public service is the responsibility of every American. Garcia considers any day special if he is speaking to young people about getting involved in community. He’s still living by his code of service. He has endowed scholarships. He supports a youth leadership training program in Fort Worth and much more.

Domingo Garcia is married to Dr. Elba Garcia, Dallas County commissioner, Place 4. They have two children, Joaquin and Fernando who will be graduating from college this year.


Julie Ann (Fernández) Swearingin

Julie Ann Swearingin

Julie Ann Fernández nació en Saginaw, Michigan.  Su padre nació en Humacao, Puerto Rico, y a su madre en San Antonio, Texas. Julie se trasladó a Texas a finales de los años 80 y trabajó en una variedad de puestos de trabajo.  Julie siempre tuvo interés en la aplicación de la Ley de Justicia Penal y se inscribió en un programa de justicia criminal y obtuvo su associate’s degree.

En el mes de septiembre de 1994, Julie fue contratada como aguacil de la reserva del Condado de Tarrant asignada al Distrito #7, en Mansfield, Texas.  Dos meses más tarde, fue contratada por el departamento de policía del distrito escolar de Mansfield donde trabajo por seis meses antes de ser contratada por el Departamento de Policía Fort Worth en octubre de 1995.

La Teniente Julie (Fernández), Swearingin ha sido empleada  del Departamento de Policía Fort Worth por 19 años. La Teniente Swearingin posee un Master oficial de paz y está certificada como instructora por la Comisión estatal de la aplicación de leyes. También es instructora de tácticas defensivas para el departamento de policía. Durante la tenencia de Teniente  Swearingin como policía, sus asignaciones incluyen patrulla, la unidad contra pandillas, Academia de Policía, la Unidad de Enlace con la Escuela. Fue durante su asignación a la Unidad de Enlace de Escuelas, en el sentido de que ella fue otorgada y reconocida como policia del año de su oficina. Mientras se encontraba trabajando para la Policía de Fort Worth decidió dedicarse y comprometer su carrera futura y fijó la meta de alcanzar el mayor grado posible con el Departamento de Policía Fort Worth.  En 2002, Julie fue ascendida a la categoría de Detective y asignada al sur de la División de Investigaciones Criminales.  Alli investigo crímenes múltiples.

En 2007, Julie ascendido al rango de Sargento.  Como un sargento, Julie trabajó como supervisor de patrulla de uniforme en la División Este, hasta que fue asignado para trabajar en la Sección de Asuntos Internos de la policía.  Investigó la mala conducta de policias.  A continuación, el 20 de octubre de 2011, un día histórico para el Departamento de Policía de Fort Worth, Julie fue ascendida al rango de teniente, convirtiéndose en la 1ª  mujer hispana en la historia del departamento de promoción a un comando.  Después de la promoción para el grado de teniente, Julie fue asignado a la patrulla del sur. En su misión como comandante de patrulla fue nominada y reconocida como uno de los comandantes del año en 2013.  Julie tiene ahora la División asignada al norte de donde supervisa la Unidad de Investigaciones Criminales.   Las aspiraciones de Julie aspiraciones incluyen continuar su educación a la obtención de un título de Maestría en Administración de la Policía Nacional y lograr más innovaciones de las mujeres hispanas por avanzar a los más altos niveles de mando dentro del Departamento de Policía.

La persona que más influyo a Julie fue su madre.   Su madre le enseno el valor de trabajo  duro, amar y cuidar a su familia junto con la compasión sincera para todas las personas  es lo que inspiró Julie e influyo sus opciones en la vida.  Julie está casada con el honorable Juez Ralph Swearingin y entre los dos tienen 5 hijos: Kelly, Jennifer, Pablo, Brandon, y sigue viviendo en la casa su hija de 10 años Riley.  También tienen 4 nietos.

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Biography of Gloria Peña

Ms. Gloria Peña began her career with the federal government at age 16, working during summer months at White Sands Missile Range, NM. She became a full time federal employee at age 18 at White Sands working at the Training and Doctrine Command. She had a two year break in service, working at the University of Texas at El Paso in their Contracts and Grants office. She then returned to White Sands Missile Range.

Accompanying her new husband in 1983 to Dallas, Ms. Peña became employed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Ms. Peña has served in the special emphasis programs for both the Hispanic Employment Program and the Federal Women’s Program for the Corps and as a speaker at schools and other federal agencies on behalf of the Corps of Engineers, with a total of 37 years of service working for the Army. She retired in August of 2012 as the Water Supply Program Manager for a four state region.

Ms. Peña is VERY active in the metro-plex, but primarily in Arlington, where she resides. She was President and founder of Image de Arlington, which deals with Hispanic issues in the areas of education, employment and civil rights. During this time, the organization received the 1997 Federal Executive Board’s Hispanic Employment Program (HEP) Organization of the Year Award and the 1998 Outstanding Image Chapter in the state of Texas and she received the Tarrant County Hispanic of the 90’s award from the United Hispanic Council of Tarrant County. She was also a founding and Charter member of the Arlington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce with other current and past affiliations that include memberships in the Latino Peace Officers Association, Image de Fort Worth; 1st Vice Chair of the United Hispanic Council of Tarrant County; VP for Girl’s Inc.; Board Member, Boy’s & Girl’s Club; Treasurer, Tarrant County Child Protective Services; Board Member, Water from the Rock (Mt Olive Baptist Church); Brownie Troop Leader; Sunday School Teacher at St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church; President, Young Junior High PTA; Altar Minister at Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic Church; Dental Health Arlington; and a member of the Downtown Arlington Rotary.

Mrs. Peña, after running four times, joined the Arlington Independent School District’s Board of Trustees as the first Hispanic. Since 2005 she has served in roles as President, Vice President, Secretary and Assistant Secretary; Secretary, Mexican-American School Board Association of Texas since 2013 and as a Director, Texas Association of School Boards since 2008.

Gloria and Richard have been married for 30 years and have one child, Laura, who attends the University of Texas at Arlington.


Part II

Fort Worth's own Pauline Valenciano

By Crystal Perez

Pauline Valenciano

In the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy challenged the country; “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  Among the thousands of Americans who responded to that call to action, service, was Fort Worth's own Pauline Valenciano.  From an early age Pauline was interested in politics.  Born and reared in Fort Worth, the youngest of nine children, Pauline learned early she had to have a strong voice in order to be heard.  When she was a youngster, Pauline says, her father would take her to hear speeches by candidates for public office.  On one momentous occasion, Pauline was fortunate enough to see President Harry S. Truman as he passed through Fort Worth.

Unfortunately not all of Pauline's memories of growing up in Fort Worth are pleasant.  Pauline recalls one of her grade school teachers forbidding anyone to speak Spanish in the classroom.  This same teacher would place a clothespin on her nose when coming near the Mexican-American pupils in class.  She feared breathing “Mexican germs.”  Pauline says she bears no ill will or hatred for the mistreatment and crude and rude stupidity; rather, she says, the episodes became a learning experience.

In the turbulent and idealistic ’60s, Pauline became active in the “Viva Kennedy” clubs and eventually joined President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty, working in a community action program from 1967 through 1975.  Pauline joined the civil rights struggle for Latinos and was active in the Chicano Movement.

Although politics and public service have long been near and dear to Pauline's heart, she says her proudest accomplishments came while being a wife and mother.  Pauline was Mrs. Joe Franco Valenciano.  Her husband served in the U.S. Army, and while he did, Pauline served in the NCO Wives Club and as a Red Cross volunteer.  While they were serving their country, Joe in the military and Pauline in her civilian roles, the Army postings meant relocating often around the nation.  But eventually, they made their way back home to Fort Worth.

Pauline and Joe had four daughters.  Unfortunately, while the children were young, Pauline was widowed.  As a single mother, she was undaunted by having to rear her children.  Indeed, Pauline says, the experience gave her strength and motivation that served her well later in life, especially as she successfully battled breast cancer.

To date, Pauline remains active as a mother and grandmother and as a community and neighborhood volunteer.  She relishes her civic involvement, whether that means helping with voter registration drives or helping the City of Fort Worth with the annual dieciseis de septiembre celebration.

Pauline has become a living icon and role model of Fort Worth’s history and its contemporary Latino communities.  It’s more than fitting that she be honored by the Tarrant County Democratic Women’s Club on Sept. 28 September 2013.  The TCDWC was for Sept. 28, 1928, and is the oldest Democratic Women’s Club in Tarrant County. The event is from 4-6:30. UNT Health Science Center, Montgomery and Camp Bowie.  Tickets can be obtained by calling Cindy James at 817 800 6228 or


Rufino Mendoza Jr.

By Crystal M. Perez

He was raised in a time where racial segregation existed, right here in Fort Worth Texas.

In a time when the workforce and community lacked: women, and minority individuals. His desire for community involvement inspired him as a teenager when growing up in this time. Mr. Rufino Mendoza Jr., chairman of the Mexican Educational Advisory Committee sat across from me, armed with modesty as I began our interview.

“I am not looking for praise” stated Mr. Mendoza. A former policeman, and graduate from UTA, Mendoza has plowed through many obstacles and paved the way for many minorities. His proudest accomplishment is being one of the first Hispanic, and native-born police officers to be hired in Fort Worth, Texas.

Forward looking and dynamic, Mr. Mendoza’s calling was falling into place; he transitioned from public service to what seems to be a long and rewarding career with the school district of Fort Worth. In the early 80’s when focusing on education and equal rights for Hispanic school children, Mr. Mendoza’s committee challenged the entirety of the Fort Worth school district, demanding more minority representation.

Crystal M. Perez

This particular concern resulted in the dynamic “Medical Special Interests Program (SIP)” at North Side High School. The program encourages academically advanced students to obtain an early learning environment tailored to medicine. The committee continues to meet regularly. He is currently employed with the school district of Fort Worth and is married with four children. Throughout his lifetime Mr. Mendoza has seen many injustices, and although times have changed he recognizes there are many hurdles the Latino community has to overcome.

He believes that besides education more Latinos have to exercise their right to vote to overcome those hurdles.