Meet the RGVision Advisory Board

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As RGVision reflects on a decade in the Rio Grande Valley, we look forward to the next 10 years and beyond as both a magazine and an account-based marketing company. To help expand our vision, services, and scope, RGVision recently organized an advisory board helmed by leaders in education, health care, business, and other facets of life here. With our board comes new ideas and drivers of creative talent, fresh input and initiatives to give back to the community, and diverse experience to help steer our course. We are excited with what this new chapter brings — and excited to introduce our board members to our readers.

 

Javier De Leon

Javier De Leon is a product of Harlingen CISD. He earned his associate degree in communication, bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing, and master’s degree in public administration. He has served on the HCISD Board of Trustees since 2005. In addition to his service on the school board, he is also executive vice president of government affairs at Texas State Technical College, where he has been employed for over 30 years. De Leon’s responsibilities include legislative and agency outreach as well as serving as liaison to elected officials and community leaders throughout South Texas. De Leon also serves as chairman commissioner for the Cameron County Civil Service. Other boards that he serves include the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, Texas Association of Regional Council (state level), Rio Grande Valley Partnership, and Rio Grande Valley Lead. He and his wife, Rose Marie, a Harlingen CISD educator, have two children, Stephanie and Monica, who are Harlingen CISD alumnae.

 

Robert Dunkin

Robert Dunkin comes from a banking family. He started working in banking at the age of 10 and has worked as a banker ever since — except for two-and-half years when he served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He graduated with a focus in finance at the University of Texas Business Honors Program, then attended the Southwest Graduate School of Banking at SMU and the National School of Banking Investments. Dunkin has served in leadership capacities in everything from local rotary clubs to chambers of commerce — and much more. Throughout his banking career, Dunkin has taught leadership skills and worked on developing teams and accountability systems. Many of these skills were learned and practiced during his tour of duty in the U.S. Air Force. He was given command and leadership positions throughout his tour often in grades above a lieutenant’s responsibility. During this time, he developed self-discipline, confidence, and dedication to the job — qualities that continue to serve him well in his banking and consulting career.

 

Maritza Esqueda

A graduate of Mission High School in 1998, Maritza Esqueda went on to study international business at the University of Texas San Antonio. Esqueda has enjoyed being an entrepreneur and business owner since 2003, starting Forum Records Management in Mission. Through acquisition of Forum Records, she now serves as COO and managing partner/shareholder of Lone Star Shredding & Document Storage with locations in Mercedes, Corpus Christi, and Rio Grande City. Esqueda is also the owner and partner at the McAllen Beauty Salon Mane on Main. A proud community servant, Esqueda is co-chair for the Mission Baccalaureate committee that she has served on since 2011. She is also co-founder and president of the Faith Family Friends Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to assist families of children battling cancer in the Rio Grande Valley. Esqueda also enjoys photography and is a member of All Heart Church in Mission.

 

Rene A. Flores

A graduate of Mission High School in 1998, Maritza Esqueda went on to study international business at the University of Texas San Antonio. Esqueda has enjoyed being an entrepreneur and business owner since 2003, starting Forum Records Management in Mission. Through acquisition of Forum Records, she now serves as COO and managing partner/shareholder of Lone Star Shredding & Document Storage with locations in Mercedes, Corpus Christi, and Rio Grande City. Esqueda is also the owner and partner at the McAllen Beauty Salon Mane on Main. A proud community servant, Esqueda is co-chair for the Mission Baccalaureate committee that she has served on since 2011. She is also co-founder and president of the Faith Family Friends Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to assist families of children battling cancer in the Rio Grande Valley. Esqueda also enjoys photography and is a member of All Heart Church in Mission.

 

Byron Jay Lewis

Raised in Houston and educated at The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Houston Law School, Byron Jay Lewis chose Edinburg as his permanent home in 1986. He and Keely, his wife of 30 years, have two children. He started with Edwards in 1999 and took over the reins in 2001. Lewis is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Commercial and Residential Real Estate Law and is one of the few title insurance company owners recognized as a Certified Title Insurance Associate. A glance around Edinburg tells the tale of Lewis’ civic involvement. As president of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, he oversaw the renovation of the Edinburg Depot. He was a founder of the Leadership Edinburg program. He was instrumental in securing funding for the new state-of-the-art Edinburg Boys & Girls Clubs of the RGV facility. Lewis also heads up the Edinburg Foundation, which secures land and money for worthwhile organizations.

 

Eddie Lucio III

State Rep. Eddie Lucio III has served seven terms representing Texas House District 38, covering the southwestern portion of Cameron County in the Texas Legislature. Before coming to the Texas House, he worked for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. He serves as Chair of the Insurance Committee, and is a member of the Public Health Committee in the Texas House of Representatives. Previously, he served as Chair of the Rules & Resolutions Committee and served on numerous committees. Lucio attended Texas Tech University on an athletic scholarship before receiving his BBA and law degree from the University of Texas. In addition to his law practice, Lucio is a small business owner who has worked to bring his passion for fitness to the Rio Grande Valley. He became a franchise owner for Orangetheory Fitness in 2017. When the Texas Legislature is not in session, he lives in Brownsville with his wife, Jaime Barrera Lucio, and children, Olivia Rose and Eduardo Andres “Luc” Lucio IV.

 

Shavi Mahtani

Shavi Mahtani moved to McAllen from India at a young age. With a knack for hard work and dedication, he went on to graduate from McAllen High School in 1991 and immediately became an entrepreneur at the age of 19. In his early 20s, he ran various successful businesses, which laid the foundation for his ultimate decision to purchase his first commercial shopping center at the age of 27. As of now, Mahtani is the founder and president of Domain Development Corporation, through which he has amassed a portfolio of 15 commercial shopping centers, 13 residential subdivisions, and over 500 acres developed all primarily in Hidalgo County.

 

Bill Martin

Bill has worked as a financial advisor in South Texas for more than 21 years, earning designation as a Certified Financial Planner in 2007. He spent the first decade of his career with AG Edwards and founded offices for Morgan Stanley in 2009 and Raymond James in 2016 with his business partner, Mark Southwell. Their team represents business owners, professionals, and retirees in wealth management as well as estate, insurance, retirement, and financial planning. As a proud graduate of Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, Martin believes in the transformative power of education to the individual, their family, and our communities. Since 2006, he has served on IDEA Public School’s Board of Directors to support the fastest growing, high-performing charter school in America. With his wife, Margie, they enjoy serving God through Fellowship of Christian Athletes and First United Methodist Church in McAllen alongside their six kids. Martin and Margie deeply value time with friends and family, counting each day as a blessing.

 

Alberto Peña

Alberto Peña was born and raised in Edinburg and graduated from Edinburg High School. His studies took him to University of Oklahoma, where he graduated with distinction as a Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology. He went on to receive his doctorate in medicine from the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. His next stop was Dallas, where he completed a general surgery internship and general surgery residency at Methodist Health System. He completed his last leg of training as a fellow in colon and rectal surgery at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He now lives with his wife and children in Edinburg and has been in practice for over 11 years. He is a fellow for the American College of Surgeons and a fellow for the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. He serves on several local, state, and national committees.

 

Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson recently retired from P&G after nearly 40 years. His most recent P&G role was as director, Global Business Development, responsible for leading business-to-business negotiations where business model innovation was required, including licensing trademarks, technologies and know-how, as well as minority equity investments and joint ventures. Peterson spent the first 26 years of his career in sales roles, including leading the formation and execution of P&G’s customer team approach with teams including K-Mart and Super Valu. He also led the Canadian Sales Organization with responsibility for 800 employees and $2.5 billion in sales responsibilities. He served as the Expert in Residence at the CEED building for the Mission EDC from February 2019 through September 2019. Peterson lives in Cincinnati with Ellen, his wife of 40 years. They are blessed with four children and three grandchildren.

 

Andrea Rodriguez

Andrea Rodriguez is a native of Des Plaines, Illinois. She moved to Texas in 1993 and attended the University of Texas-Pan American. While in college, Rodriguez began her career in hospitality at the Tower Club, a private dining club. She was quickly promoted, making her the youngest catering manager within the Club Corporation of America at 19. She continued to expand her knowledge of hospitality while working for McAllen Country Club as the membership and marketing director for five years. Throughout Rodriguez’s 26 years within the industry, she has continued to be one of the area’s most recognized hospitality leaders and has played a key role for DoubleTree Suites by Hilton (formally Embassy Suites) as the sales & marketing director for 16 years. Rodriguez has made certain to give back and share her knowledge and leadership in the community and has held a number of lead committee and board positions. She is currently on the IDEA Public Schools RGV Board. When Rodriguez is not working and volunteering her time, she enjoys taking time to read and spending time with her husband and their two daughters.

 

Fred Sandoval

Fred Sandoval is the owner of Sylvan Learning RGV, an educational services company based in McAllen with additional retail centers in Mission, Harlingen, and Brownsville. He is proud to have inspired and motivated children and families for over 17 years, serving over 85,000 students and helping to secure over $30 million dollars in academic funding as a proud partner of local school districts. Sandoval began his career in municipal government in 1992, when he took the position of city chemist with the City of Edinburg Utilities Department. After five years, he accepted a position with the City of Pharr as utilities director and later moved into administration as assistant city manager and then city manager. His career in Pharr spanned 18 years, during which he was the lead on all economic development projects that transformed the city. Sandoval is an active member of the community and supports many local charities and nonprofits, including St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Pharr Boys & Girls Club, and the Rio Grande Valley Literacy Center. He enjoys spending time with his family and is an avid outdoorsman.

 

Tom Torkelson

Upon graduating from Georgetown University with a degree in economics in 1997, Tom Torkelson joined Teach for America and taught fourth grade in Donna for three years, after which he successfully launched the IDEA Academy in 2000, serving as the first board president and founding principal. At 24 years old, Torkelson was then Texas’ youngest-ever charter school founder. By 2009, the U.S. News and World Report ranked IDEA Donna College Preparatory as the 13th best high school and second best charter high school in the nation. IDEA completed the 2018-19 school year serving nearly 45,000 students in 79 schools across the Rio Grande Valley, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 2018, Torkelson was inducted into the National Charter School Hall of Fame. An avid runner and frequent Ironman triathlon competitor, Torkelson and his wife, Dr. Nina Lee Torkelson, live in the Rio Grande Valley with their three children, Lincoln, Liam, and Gwendolyn.

 

Veronica Vela Whitacre

Veronica Vela Whitacre is a McAllen native, graduating from McAllen High School. Her family roots in civic involvement stem over 50 years. She continues this tradition of community and civic involvement. After graduation from Incarnate Word College (University of the Incarnate Word), she began her career as a social worker and later returned to school to acquire certification as an educator and began teaching public school. She later married Dr. Michael Whitacre, a university professor, and together they have two sons, Joseph Avery and Julian Anthony. After many years in the classroom, Veronica chose to move into a career in business and management and worked in the health care. She has been in the business management field now for over 20 years. She is currently the executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Hidalgo County Inc. Vela Whitacre was elected in 2013 to serve her city as a commissioner. In that capacity, she works for the needs of her district, and in the best interests of the city, while trying to meet citizens’ needs and being fiscally responsible.

 

Sabrina Walker Hernandez

With over 25 years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and leadership, Sabrina Walker Hernandez, president/CEO of Supporting World Hope (SWH), provides consulting services and project-based leadership in helping organizations in the areas of building and managing development programs, capital campaigns, major gift fundraising, board development, marketing, annual fundraising efforts, and public relations. Prior to starting SWH, Walker Hernandez served as the CEO for Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV. In addition to her CEO experience, Walker Hernandez also held the position of vice president of operations. She also serves as a master national trainer for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which allows her to facilitate workshops and training at clubs across the country. She has served on the Board of Directors for Edinburg Rotary and the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time. She recently earned her Certification of Nonprofit Management from Harvard Business School. Walker Hernandez earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas-Pan American and holds a master’s degree in public administration.