University board chair Farias resigns, Perez elected chair, Tonn vice chair

Anna Maria Farias, Esq., today (August 11, 2017) announced her resignation as chair of the Texas Woman’s University Board of Regents and as a university regent. Farias submitted her formal resignation to Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this week, citing her recent U.S. Senate confirmation as the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as the reason.

After receiving her resignation, university regents unanimously elected Vice Chair Dr. Nolan Perez as the new chair of the TWU Board of Regents.

“It has been an honor and privilege to have served as a regent the last four-and-a-half years,” Farias said. “I was blessed to serve along with the outstanding TWU regents, and I know Nolan will make us all proud [as chair].”

Farias added, “TWU is a special place, and, though, I am leaving, I will never stop bragging about the university.”

Dr. Perez said, “I know I have some big shoes to fill, but I am grateful and excited about the opportunity to lead the board at TWU.”

Former Gov. Rick Perry appointed Farias to the TWU Board of Regents in 2013. She was elected as chair of the TWU governing body in February.

TWU Chancellor Carine M. Feyten said, “From supporting our students at university events and commencements to championing TWU at the state and national level, Anna Maria has been one of our university’s biggest cheerleaders. She has served as a role model and mentor for our students, and has been an important leader, adviser and friend to me since I came to TWU in 2014. I will miss her.”

TWU Regents also elected Dallas physician Dr. Melissa Tonn to serve as the vice chair of the board. 

“I am looking forward to serving the board in this role and working with Dr. Perez and the chancellor in support of the university,” Dr. Tonn said. 

Anna Maria Farias is the former director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Farias was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000. She also is a board member of the OneStar Foundation, a past board member of MANA-A National Latina Organization and past vice chair of the Philadelphia Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. She also is past president of the Crystal City Lions Club and Crystal City Little League and a past board member of the Winter Garden Women's Shelter. Farias received a bachelor's degree with honors from Boston University and received the Boston University Young Alumni Achievement Award in 1988.  She received her law degree from Temple Law School, where she was the third year class president, and is a fellow of the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government. 

Dr. Perez is the CEO of Gastroenterology Consultants of South Texas, PA in Harlingen. He is board certified in gastroenterology, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. He is a clinical assistant professor and education coordinator for gastroenterology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Regional Academic Health Center. He is the founder of RGV Mentors, a mentorship initiative for high school students. He also serves on other boards including: The Texas Lyceum, Lone Star National Bank Board of Directors, UT System Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee, The University of Texas at Austin Development Board, The University of Texas Foundation, Educate Texas Advisory Board, Holdsworth Center Governing Board, Medical Director for Platinum Surgery Center, and is an expert panelist for the Texas Medical Board. He earned a bachelor of arts from the University of Texas at Austin and a medical doctorate from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He completed residency training in internal medicine at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, and fellowship training in gastroenterology at Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center. After medical school he served in the U.S. Navy as a medical corps officer and received the Navy Commendation and Navy Achievement Medals.  He was appointed to the TWU Board by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2015.

Dr. Tonn is a board certified occupational medicine physician and president and chief medical officer of Occ M.D. Group PA. She is a member of the American and Texas Medical Associations and the Dallas County Medical Society, and a fellow and a past president of the American Academy of Disability Evaluating Physicians. She is past president of the Texas College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a fellow of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and an advisory board member of Christ’s Church Clinic. Dr. Tonn received bachelor degrees from Rice University, a medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, a master’s degree in public health from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and a master of business administration from Rice University. She was appointed to the TWU Board by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011.

The Texas Governor’s Office hasn’t yet named new regents for the university to replace Farias and the regents whose terms expired early this year.

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