Community Award Honorees:
Edna currently serves as Director of Intergovernmental Relations & Policy Oversight for Austin Independent School District. Prior to joining AISD, Edna served as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for Senator Kirk Watson and was responsible for legislative initiatives in the areas of public education, higher education, immigration, housing, jurisprudence, and nominations.
Edna was an Assistant Attorney General for several years where she served as Division Chief and as Special Assistant Attorney General. She planned the first-ever national conference, Fraude: Protecting Hispanic Consumers. She also served in various capacities at the Texas Department of Insurance, including Commissioner and Senior Associate Commissioner. Edna has been very involved in the Austin community, having served as president of the Austin YMCA, and on the boards of Any Baby Can, Reading is Fundamental, Girl Scouts Lone Star Council, and United Way’s Success by Six Leadership Council. She currently serves on the boards of Communities in Schools of Central Texas, where she was board president in 2011-12; the Long Center for the Performing Arts, where she chairs the Trustee & Governance Committee and serves on the Education Task Force and the Government Relations Task Force; and Workforce Solutions. She also has volunteered as a tutor for Austin Partners in Education.
Edna earned her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas, and is a graduate of Leadership Austin. She and George have two children, Evan, 23, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, and Emily, 19, a sophomore at Pitzer College.
Victor Sáenz, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a Faculty Fellow with the Division of Diversity & Community Engagement and a faculty affiliate with the Center for Mexican American Studies. Dr. Sáenz has published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and also has three book projects underway, including one on Latino males in higher education (Stylus Publishing). His current research examines the experiences of Latino males at two- and four-year institutions as they successfully navigate their college pathways. He continues to work closely with the Institute for Higher Education Policy, with the Educational Testing Service, and with the College Board’s Policy and Advocacy Center on their campaigns to raise awareness about the crisis facing young men of color in Education. In fall 2010 he began a new initiative called Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success), a research and mentoring effort based within the University of Texas at Austin. Project MALES has received state and national acclaim due to its innovative intergenerational approach to mentoring young Latino males.
Dr. Saenz has received several notable accolades in his young academic career. In 2009 he was named by Diverse Magazine as “One of 25 to Watch” diversity leaders in higher education. In fall 2010, he was recognized as one of seven “ING Professors of Excellence” among over two thousand faculty members at the University of Texas. In early 2013 he will be recognized by Diverse Magazine as one of the nation’s top “Emerging Scholars” under 40. Over the years, he has been quoted and cited in numerous news stories, policy reports, and scholarly publications, and his research work on Latino males in higher education continues to gain national attention. He is a member of two distinguished editorial boards for peer-reviewed journals in his field, and he is an active member of several national associations focused on education issues.
Dr. Sáenz received his PhD (2005) and a Masters degree (2002) from UCLA in Higher Education & Organizational Change. He also holds a Master’s degree (1999) from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics (1996) from the same institution. Dr. Sáenz was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. He is married to Erica Saenz and they have a four-year old son, Augie.
Mariposa Award Honoree
RGK Foundation endeavors to be a catalyst for progressive change in humanitarian concerns. Guiding the Foundation is a deep reverence for democracy and a civil society together with the founders’ values of foresight, imagination and discovery. By seeking innovative projects in the area of health, education, human services and community affairs, the Foundation strives to advance knowledge, improve society and help realize human potential.
RGK Foundation is an independent foundation established in 1966 by Ronya and George Kozmetsky. For many years, the Foundation’s primary focus was medical and educational research without geographic restriction. Projects supported in earlier years included studies in several areas of national and international concern including health, corporate governance, energy, economic analysis, and technology transfer. The Foundation also sponsored conferences that enhanced information exchange and developed linkages among business, academia, community, and government.
The Foundation’s programmatic areas of interest have broadened over the years to include Education, Community, and Health/Medicine. The Foundation’s primary interests within Education include formal K-12 education, literacy, and higher education. The Foundation’s interests within Community include a broad range of human services, community improvement, abuse prevention, and youth development/educational enrichment programs. The Foundation’s interests within Health/Medicine are programs that promote the health and well-being of children and families, programs that promote access to health services, and, on a more limited basis, medical research programs. Since 1966, the Foundation has awarded over 2,821 grants totaling over $93 million.
Ronya Kozmetsky led the Foundation until she retired in 1996, at which time her son, Gregory A. Kozmetsky, assumed the chairmanship. Ronya continued to serve as an active member of the Board of Trustees until her death in 2011. Dr. George Kozmetsky also actively served as a member of the Board of Trustees until his death in 2003. An Adjunct Board was formed in 1996 for the purpose of preparing direct descendants of Ronya and George Kozmetsky and their spouses for service on the Board of Trustees. Members, who must be at least 20 years old, are provided a hands-on opportunity to learn about philanthropy, grant making, and nonprofit governance.