About Us

About Us2024-05-01T22:07:42-05:00

Educational Equity 

Since 1992, RGV LEAD has invested in deep relationships with community leaders and innovators doing positive work supporting the Rio Grande Valley domestically and educationally. We believe these efforts create life-changing opportunities for learning, growth, and prosperity. 

As the project manager for regional joint ventures, RGV LEAD manages collaborative projects, including educator externships and student internships. Its partners include school districts, colleges and universities, the regional education service center, economic development organizations, workforce development boards, and others. Educational institutions support RGV LEAD because its projects have helped improve graduation and college enrollment rates. Economic development organizations support RGV LEAD because its initiatives address South Texas’ long-standing need for an educated, skilled workforce. 


RGV LEAD’s leaders come from a broad range of backgrounds and have a diversity of  expertise and experience that spans education, public policy, science and technology,  medicine, education, communications, law, and business. Our leaders are guided by RGV LEAD’s mission  to foster partnerships between education and industry to equip students with  college and career readiness that meets the region’s highly skilled workforce demands. 

Meet Our Executive Leadership

Dr. Marcos Silva

Executive Director

Dr. Marcos Silva works in partnership with the board and for the board to articulate the RGV LEAD vision, build alignment across the organization, and create the conditions for long-term success. 

Maricela De León 

Executive Board President

Maricela De León leads RGV LEAD’s efforts to build, promote, and celebrate solid regional partnerships and sustained growth. 

Dr. Esmeralda Adame 

Executive Board Vice President

Esmeralda Adame oversees RGV LEAD’s talent and people strategies that support college-ready initiatives. 

Adriana Sarmiento

Executive Board Finance

Adriana Sarmiento oversees finance and resource planning functions for RGV LEAD to enhance and sustain over-all fiscal health.

Theresa Capistran 

Executive Board Member

Theresa Capistran is the Superintendent at Point Isabel ISD. With 34 years of educational experience, her efforts advance student achievement for all young people in the Rio Grande Valley.

Anabell Cardona

Executive Board Member

Anabell Cardona, a visionary leader and the driving force behind Valley Grande Institute for Academic Studies (VGI), has dedicated over two decades to transforming lives, communities, and the future of healthcare. Today, leveraging her brand, Anabell fosters hope and well-being in the Rio Grande communities.

Eloy Garza

Executive Board Member

Eloy is the founder of Career Bridge.  Leveraging voice and brand on behalf of RGV LEAD, Eloy focuses on high-impact, sustainable solutions for educators and students. 

Jonathan Medina

Executive Board Member

Jonathan Medina is America’s #1 Youth Motivator.  On behalf of RGV LEAD, his voice resonates throughout the Rio Grande Valley and beyond, fostering life success for students. 


Dr. Viviana Espinosa

Executive Board Member

Dr. Viviana Espinosa is the Director of Career Services at Texas State Technical College Harlingen. Her work centers on delivering successful career readiness preparation for all students. Viviana’s organizational and planning skills help sustain RGV LEAD’s supportive environment.

Board Directors Private Sector

Francisco (Frank) Alvarez

Francisco “Frank” Almarez is the CEO of Workforce Solutions, serving Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy counties. His business acumen serves the board by contributing to the organization’s culture, strategic focus, and effectiveness.

Ysmael Fonseca

Ysmael Fonseca is the presiding judge of the 476th District Court. Ysmael builds relationships with people of all ages.  His long-standing service provides civic learning and engagement to students across the Rio Grande Valley and beyond.

Kristina Leal

Kristina works for Halff, one of America’s most respected award-winning engineering firms. Kristina, as an engineer, embraces a STEM identity.  She demonstrates that believing, with confidence, the Valley youth have the skills and knowledge to do the work.

Leonardo Trevino

Leonardo Trevino works for Texas National Bank in San Juan.  Leonardo’s Pay It Forward approach helps to educate Valley youth on the building blocks of financial capability from K to 12 at pivotal points in their development.

Krista Chapa, Board Director, Private Sector

Krista Chapa

As a craft professional, Krista Chapa has seen many changes in the construction industry, both in how construction is done and in women’s roles. To RGV LEAD, she brings her passion for the education of craft professionals and diversity in construction.  

Mario Baragan

Mario Baragan is an External and Legislative Affairs member for AT&T Services, Inc. As the General Manager, his actions and commitments are designed to improve the social fabric of our society and make possible a better future for all people in the communities in which we live and work. Mario’s public and civic engagement provides RGV LEAD with inclusion and supports our purpose of connecting people to greater possibilities. 


Carlos Garza

As Project Manager at Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, Carlos Garza performs management functions to deliver assigned projects.  His knowledge and experience with partner organizations and city governments help RGV LEAD leadership better understand the policy environment of  Rio Grande Valley cities and remain culturally sensitive.

Rhonda Salinas

Rhonda Salinas, a female entrepreneur based in McAllen, TX, started her career in public education. After a decade of working as an educator, in 2001, she transitioned to Real Estate, where she became a Real Estate Broker and opened her own company. Shortly after, with her intrinsic pull to education, she opened two children’s childcare centers in the Rio Grande Valley.

Naomi Perales

Naomi Perales is a passionate and experienced brand advocate for Texas Gas One.  With years of marketing experience and a deep understanding of consumer behavior, she has successfully executed numerous brand initiatives for RGV LEAD. Naomi’s strong communication skills and ability to connect with diverse audiences have supported vital partner connections throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

Board Directors Educators Higher Education

Manny Vela, Assoc. VP & COO, Texas A&M University Higher Education Center at McAllen

Manny Vela

Manny Vela is a native of the Rio Grande Valley. He serves as the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Texas A&M University Higher Education Center at McAllen. Previously, Manny was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Valley Baptist Health, overseeing both Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen and Valley Baptist-Brownsville. He serves in many local, civic, state, and national organizations. His knowledge of higher education and the private sector strengthens RGV LEAD’s career-readiness initiatives.

Ricardo Pena, Site Coordinator, Wayland Baptist University

Ricardo Pena

Wayland Baptist University, Site Coordinator, Harlingen

Dr. Cynthia Walls, Director, UTRGV P-16 Outreach & Testing Services

Dr. Cynthia Walls


Board Directors Educators Secondary/Postsecondary

Leo Saenz

Leo Saenz M.Ed., CTE Coordinator at Region One Education Service Center

Dr. Narciso Garcia

Dr. Narciso Garcia is superintendent of Vanguard Academy Public Charter Schools, a school district focusing on Pre-K3 through 12th grade education. Vanguard Academy currently has six schools in the Rio Grande Valley, located in Alamo, Edinburg, and Pharr, and it has the potential to open campuses in Mission and Weslaco.



Norma Salaiz

Dr. Norma Salaiz served as RGV LEAD Executive Director from 2013 to 2018. Today, she continues to foster solidarity and success in her leadership roles as board director, UTRGV adjunct professor, and consultant/trainer.


Dr. Daniel King

A public school superintendent for the final 20 years of his 42-year career in public schools, Dr. Daniel P. King, was named the 2013 Texas Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators and was also designated the 2006 Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Association of School Boards. He was honored by President Barack Obama at the White House as a Champion of Change for Latino Education and has been the recipient of numerous other national, state, regional, and local honors. In 2019, he was personally invited to attend Governor Gregg Abbot’s State of the State address and was publicly recognized by the Governor in his speech to the Texas Legislature.

Dr. Carol G. Perez

Dr. Carol G. Perez, Superintendent Mission CISD

Albert Byrom

Albert Byrom, San Perlita Superintendent


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