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Governor Abbott Appoints Six To Advisory Council On Cultural Affairs

Governor Greg Abbott appointed Mike Arismendez, Ezzard Castillo, and Ricardo Solis, Ph.D. to the Advisory Council on Cultural Affairs for terms set to expire on February 1, 2021. The Governor also appointed Aaron Demerson and reappointed Veronica Vargas Stidvent and Juan Ayala for terms set to expire on February 1, 2023. Additionally, he named Demerson as chair of the Advisory Council on Cultural Affairs. The council will advise the office of the governor on issues resulting from changes in demographics in the state.

Mike Arismendez of Shallowater is Deputy Executive Director of Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Previously, he served as City Manager for the City of Littlefield and as Mayor of the City of Shallowater, and is a Certified Public Manager. He is a member of the Texas Association of Sports Officials. Arismendez received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and Economics from Texas Tech University and attended St. Edwards University in the Master of Business Administration program.

Ezzard Castillo of Floresville is Executive Director and Administrator of River City Christian School. He is Commissioner of the International Christian Accrediting Agency. Castillo received a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science from Texas State University, a Master of Education in Management of Technical Education from Texas State University, and a Master of Arts in Theology from Logos Graduate School.

Ricardo Solis, Ph.D. of Laredo is President and CEO of Laredo College. He serves on the Leadership Committees of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Additionally, he is a member of the Laredo Economic Development Corporation Executive Committee and a board member of the Laredo Chamber of Commerce. As a former professor of business and management in China, and a founding member of the Border Trade Alliance, he brings over 20 years of global corporate development experience along the border and in Mexico. Solis received a Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics from Trinity University, a Master of Business Administration in International Business from Middlebury Institute of International Studies, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration from The University of Texas at Austin. 

Aaron Demerson of Austin is the Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Employers, appointed by Governor Greg Abbott in August 2019. He is a member of the National Forum of Black Public Administrators and the Texas Economic Development Council.  Additionally, he is the chair of the Capitol Credit Union Nominating Committee and a member of the 100 Black Men of Austin and Leadership Austin.  Demerson received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Veronica Vargas Stidvent of Austin is the President of Stidvent Partners. Previously, she served as Chancellor of WGU Texas. She was the Head of Education and Training at Dimensional Fund Advisors and a lecturer at The University of Texas (UT) at Austin McCombs School of Business, where she was Program Director for the UT Hispanic Leadership Initiative and Subiendo: The Academy for Rising Leaders. Stidvent was also the inaugural Executive Director for the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin. Prior to that, she served as Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor and as Special Assistant for Policy to President George W. Bush. She is a former member of the UT Commission of 125, Texas Commission of Human Rights, and Travis County Elections Study Group. Stidvent received a Bachelor of Arts from UT Austin and a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School.

Major General Juan Ayala, USMC (Ret.) of New Braunfels is the Director of the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs for the City of San Antonio. His last assignment was as the Commander of Marine Corps Installations Command at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He served as Inspector General of the Marine Corps, Chief of Staff of the United States Southern Command, Senior Advisor to the 1st Iraqi Army Division, Plans Officer, JTF 6 (Counterdrug Operations), and 4 combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is the recipient of the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Gold Star and “V” Combat Distinguishing Device, Bronze Star Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon. While on active duty, he served in Iraq, throughout Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, Germany, Japan and Cuba. Ayala received a Bachelor of Arts in Business from The University of Texas at El Paso, a Master in Business Administration from Campbell University in North Carolina, and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.