Center of Mexican American Studies
Center of Mexican American Studies

Latino Studies Advisory Committee

The Latino Studies Advisory Committee is a body made up of dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the missions of the Center for Mexican American Studies, the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, and the Latino Research Initiative. The committee is made up of both alumni and friends of the center. Together with the directors and department chair, the Advisory Committee works to further Latino Studies' academic initiatives, strengthen the bridge between the three units and the community, and provide strategic advice in developmental goals.

Casi Clarich

Casilda “Casi” Clarich was born and raised in Corpus Christi, and was the first woman in her family to obtain a college education. Casi is a Texas Exes Life Member with a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas and an Executive MBA from Baylor University. She served as Business Manager over Financial Business Operations and IT Communications Manager for Motorola’s Semiconductor Products Sector.  After her tenure with Motorola, she was self-employed in the Sales/Marketing field for several years and was honored as the Bronze “Sales Rookie of the Year” with Keller Williams.  Most recently, Casi shared her professional experience and marketing expertise to the public sector, working for the Texas Association of Counties (TAC), a state entity that provides risk management support services to all 254 Texas counties in a number of areas, including judicial education, liaison activity with state and national government, legal research, technical assistance, cost-effective risk management services, and county communications. Casi stays active in the community, and in addition to serving on the Advisory Committee for Latino Studies, she has served as Founding Member of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas (HWNT), as Chair-Elect and Alumni Communications Chair of the University of Texas Hispanic Alumni Network (HAN), and as the Former Board Director of Motorola Employees Credit Union. An entrepreneur at heart, Casi has started an e-commerce fashion exchange business for women (Your Smart Closet, Inc.), has initiated a non-profit for Hispanic college students (Stand By You), and is currently writing a self-help book for women.

Charles A. Gonzalez

Charles A. Gonzalez is Senior Advisor at VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from Thomas A. Edison High School, attended San Antonio College, received a Bachelor of Arts in Government from The University of Texas at Austin, and attained a Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Charles has been practicing law since 1972, and was Of Counsel with the Law Firm of Pasqual and Pozza, as well as the Law Offices of Crofts, Callaway and Jefferson. He was elected and served as Judge of the County Court at Law Number Two for six years, and as Judge of the 57th Judicial District Court for ten years. In 1998, he sought to succeed his father as U.S. Representative from the 20th District of Texas, where he served until 2013. During his seven terms in Congress, he served on the Committees on Financial Services, Small Business, Homeland Security, House Administration, Judiciary and Energy and Commerce. He chaired the Task Force to determine the winner of the contested Florida Congressional District 13 election. Service also included positions on ad hoc committees dealing with election reform, voting rights, campaign finance reform and the census. From 2011 to 2012, he was Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as well as Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. He is currently a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform.

Mike Martinez

Michael “Mike” Martinez has been a working interest partner in over 50 wells throughout the Barnett Shale in North Texas. His current company, Edge Resources, is the first oil and gas company in the world that has had a well site accepted into the environmentally sensitive Audubon International Signature Program and is working toward designation as a Certified Signature Sanctuary. He has been an active participant for more than two decades in local, state and national politics. Mike is a huge advocate for education from early childhood through all levels of higher learning. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Government from The University of Texas at Austin. He is a Member of Southern Methodist University Maguire Energy Institute’s Dallas Council, Life Member of Texas Exes Alumni Association, Member of the Longhorn Foundation, Member of the University of Texas Littlefield Society, Endowment Donor to the University of Texas Dorothy and Rudy Martinez Family Scholarship in Mexican American Studies, Volunteer for the Colonial Golf Tournament, Leadership Member and Co-Chair of the Ambassadors of Fort Worth Opera Committee, Active Alum of the UT Gamma Eta Chapter of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, and a card carrying Member of the Texas Christian University Frog Club. Mike has a passion for UT athletics, sports in general, travel and the arts. He was Executive Producer of a winning film featured at the New York International Latino Film Festival, as well as Producer of a jazz album by Angelyna Martinez.

Ron Oliveira

Ron Oliveira is an award-winning journalist and worked 36 years in the television broadcast industry. He is a native of Brownsville, Texas and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Radio-Television and Film in 1976. He started his career as a television news anchor in 1977 at KGBT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Harlingen, Texas. He later moved to Austin where he became lead anchor for KVUE, the ABC affiliate. Several times, Ron was part of the KVUE anchor team that won Best Newscast in the USA. In 1994, Ron expanded his career in television when he started and became co-owner of KNVA-TV, the Warner Brothers affiliate in Austin, and anchored the news for sister station, KXAN TV. Then in 1999, he helped launch and became co-owner of KTLM-TV, a Telemundo affiliate in the Rio Grande Valley. Ron later joined the KEYE TV news team where he worked until March 2013. He is now the owner of Oliveira Public Communications, an Austin firm specializing in public relations. He currently serves on the Board of the Lola Wright Foundation, the Board of the Council on At-Risk Youth (CARY), on the Election Advisory Committee of the Texas Secretary of State, and on the Advisory Councils of Leadership Austin, Any Baby Can, and Foundation for the Homeless. He is a former member of the Executive Board of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau.

Alba Ortiz

Alba Ortiz is the President's Chair for Education in the Department of Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin. She is Professor Emeritus and an expert on the education of bilingual students with special needs. She has received numerous presidential, federal commission and gubernatorial appointments and is a past president of the Council for Exceptional Children, the premier national professional organization for special education.

James Yates

James R. Yates is the John L. & Elizabeth G. Hill Centennial Professor Emeritus at The University of Texas at Austin. He held joint appointments in the Department of Educational Administration and the Department of Special Education. He directed the Doctorate Program in Special Education Administration, a program which integrated the complementary disciplines of educational leadership and special education. His research and teaching focused upon special needs students and their parents; students with disabilities, English Language Learners, culturally diverse, and students of lower socio-economic status. His work created a national reputation and distinction for the University with more than 85 scholarly publications and numerous advisory appointments. He served the University for many years in various administrative roles: Associate Dean; Chairman of two departments, Educational Administration and Curriculum and Instruction; and student program advisor.

Hermelinda Zamarripa

Hermelinda Zamarripa, a native of Austin, received her Bachelor of Journalism degree from The University of Texas at Austin.  Following graduation, she was a reporter for the Abilene Reporter News, but returned to Austin and immersed herself in community and statewide political efforts.  She was on the campaign staff of the first Latino elected to public office in Texas. While chairing the Board of Directors of Parque Zaragoza, she led the successful efforts to replace the aging caretaker’s building with a new recreational facility.  She served on the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce’s Light Rail Blue Ribbon Task Force, and the Hispanic Chamber honored her with the Community Leadership Award.  Hermelinda, who is the community liaison for the Office of the Police Monitor, was honored by the City of Austin for coordinating a meeting to address community concerns following the fatal shooting of a youth by police and again for developing “Behind Bars: Doing Time on the Outside,” a program for middle school students with family members in prison. The program also earned her a 2014 Austin Partners in Education recognition through her work at Mendez Middle School. Hermelinda was named one of the city’s “Voces de Latinas,” an Austin History Center program recognizing the achievements and contributions of 100 local Latinas that was exhibited at the University of Texas Nettie Lee Benson Library. She has served on the Boards of Directors of the Austin 150 Commission, Travis Central Appraisal District, Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Leadership Austin, and Casa Marianella.