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Panel of Experts

Chief Art Acevedo

Art Acevedo is currently the Chief of Police for the Houston Police Department (HPD) in Texas and was appointed by Mayor Sylvester Turner.  He was sworn into office on November 30, 2016, and leads a department of 5,200 sworn law enforcement officers and 1,000 civilian support personnel in the fourth largest city in the United States that has 640 square miles and an annual general fund budget of $873 million.

Chief Acevedo firmly believes that good, two-way communication is vital for a successful community and steadily works to strengthen the bond between the community and its police department.  As a proponent of community policing, Chief Acevedo refers to the proven practice as “Relational Policing,” which is an opportunity to forge a relationship with each and every person a department member comes in contact with.  He also subscribes to law enforcement being a data driven, intelligence led process that is well-suited to the policing profession in the 21st Century.

As the first Hispanic to lead HPD, Chief Acevedo brings a unique understanding to the concerns of the diverse communities in Houston.  Born in Cuba, he was four years old when he immigrated to the United States with his family in 1968.  Acevedo subsequently grew up in California and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from the University of La Verne in California.

Acevedo began his law enforcement career with the California Highway Patrol in 1986 as a field patrol officer in East Los Angeles.  Ultimately, he rose through the ranks and was named Chief of the California Highway Patrol in 2005.  Prior to his nomination and appointment to lead the Houston Police Department, Chief Acevedo served nine years as the Chief of Police for the Austin, Texas Police Department from 2007 – 2016.

Chief Acevedo has held various leadership positions with the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and is currently the President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.  He is married to Tanya Born Acevedo and is the father of Melissa, Matthew, and Jake.


Gordon Dilmore

Gordon L. Dilmore is a retired career law enforcement officer with over 35 years field experience, having served as a Deputy Sheriff with the Metro-Dade Sheriff’s Office in Miami FL, and 30 years with the U.S. Border Patrol where he retired as a Deputy Chief in 1990. His final Border Patrol assignment was on the staff of Vice President George Bush where he served as Director of Resources in the national drug effort. In 1991, he and his wife formed Mountain Group International (MGI) a consulting firm specializing in national security issues which remains currently in operation.

In 1997, Dilmore accepted a re-employed annuitant position with FEMA Security where he served for 20 years before retiring in 2017. In addition, Dilmore served as a Law Enforcement Specialist with the National Institute of Justice for 11 years. He also has four years’ experience teaching Intelligence Analysis and Crime Analysis at Sam Houston State University, Woodlands Campus. Since 2009, he has served as a Research Associate at the Hobby School of Public Affairs.


Charles C. Foster
Board Certified
Immigration and Nationality Law
Texas Board of Legal Specialization

Charles C. Foster is Chairman of Foster LLP (formerly Tindall & Foster, P.C.), one of the largest global immigration law firms.  He is also the honorary Consul General of the Kingdom of Thailand.  A native of Galveston, Mr. Foster received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Texas and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law.  Mr. Foster serves as the founding Chairman of the State Bar of Texas Immigration and Nationality Law Section and a Board member and is past national President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Chairman of the American Bar Association Coordinating Committee on Immigration law and Vice Chairman of the Houston Bar Foundation. 

During the 2000 Presidential Campaign, Mr. Foster served as the principal advisor to President Bush on U. S. immigration policy and was an advisor on immigration policy issues to President Bush in the 2004 campaign and President Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign. In the 2016 campaign, he served as immigration policy advisor to Jeb Bush.  He is Chairman of Americans for Immigration Reform, a 501(c)(3) affiliate of the Greater Houston Partnership and the GHP’s Immigration Task Force.  He is immediate past Chairman of the Asia Society-Texas Center and Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston.  He is a past Chairman of the Houston International Festival and past President of the Houston Forum and the Houston Club. 

He is a Board member and serves on the Executive Committee of the Greater Houston Partnership and is a past Chairman of its Economic Development and World Trade Divisions. He serves on the Boards of the Houston Ballet, the Hobby Center for Public Policy, KIND, Barbara Bush’s Celebration of Reading and Invest in the USA (IIUSA), is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and past Board member and officer of the Houston World Affairs Council, the Houston Holocaust Museum, the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, the Institute of International Education, Mexican Institute of Greater Houston, Neighborhood Centers and the University of Texas Medical Branch. He developed and co-chaired both the George Bush and James A Baker Monuments in Sesquicentennial Park, Houston and the Robert A. Mosbacher Memorial Bridge naming and monument. 

He is a recipient of 4 Royal decorations from His Majesty the King of Thailand; he received the 2013 Houston Bar Association Leon Jaworski Award for community service; the 2000 Distinguished Friend of China Award; the 1996 International Service Award of the Houston Junior Chamber of Commerce; was the 1998 Honoree of the American Immigration Law Foundation for Excellence in the Practice of Immigration Law; and the recipient of the 2007 American Jewish Committee Institute of Human Relations Award. He was featured in the film Mao’s Last Dancer.  He was designated a ”Texas Super Lawyer” 2003-2012 by Texas Monthly magazine; the “Top Notch Lawyer in Immigration” in the Texas Lawyer“ Go To Lawyers Guide” each year published, as well as Who’s Who In American Law and the #1 Ranked Immigration Lawyer in Texas by Chambers USA 2006-2016. 


Raven L. Jones, Ph.D.
Director, Urban Experience Program

As Director of the Urban Experience Program, Raven Jones enhances the quality of education for University of Houston students within the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services. The Urban Experience Program supports over 500 underrepresented students by providing a holistic advising approach and addressing students' career, civic, financial, personal, and academic development. Dr. Jones supports students from diverse backgrounds: first generation, undocumented, and foster care. 

Her work with undocumented/DACA students encompasses a range of support services, including legal, financial, and academic support in and out of the college classroom. As the Dream.US scholarship advisor on the University of Houston campus, Dr. Jones has helped many dreamers reach their educational, personal and career goals.

Prior experience includes roles such as Campus Based Leader, Education Advocacy Program Manager, Kl2 teacher, and Teacher Education Facilitator. At Rice University, she contributed extensively to the research on teaching and learning in urban schools, on school organization, and on educational policy that affects school climate. She also held evaluation and assessment roles with Edu Consulting, Inc., Houston Children's Museum, and the Greensheet Education Foundation.

Jones’ undergraduate studies focused on Technical Communications and Computer Science from Texas A&M University, and her Master’s work in Humanities and Social Science from Rice University. Her doctoral research focused on the cultural resources within urban communities that can be utilized to improve the resiliency and psychological development of underrepresented adolescents.

She has received the University of Houston President Excellence Award, the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services Student Success Award, and the notably the John Emerson Award, sponsored by Education Reach for Texas, in 2018 for her work with former foster care youth.


Stan Marek

Stan Marek is a Texas native, having attended Texas A & M University and graduating in 1969 with a BBA in Finance. His working career began in the drywall industry during summers in high school and continued part-time until completing his tour of active duty with the United States Marine Corps Reserves. In 1970, Marek worked as a journeyman carpenter and spent the next two years on large commercial projects throughout the city.  He then worked for The Marek Companies as a project manager, estimator, and sales manager.

In 1982, Marek became President and CEO of the Marek Family of Companies, one of the largest interior contractors in the Southwest, with offices in Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Harlingen, Atlanta and Oklahoma City.

Marek’s focus of the past three years has been Comprehensive Immigration Reform.   He is the co-founder of Texans For a Sensible Immigration Policy and a member of the Greater Houston Partnership’s task force, Americans For Immigration Reform.

Community related activities past and present include:

            Past President, American Subcontractors Association
            Past Chairman of the Board, Associated Catholic Charities
            Member of World Presidents’ Organization
            Past President of St. Joseph Hospital Foundation Board
            Past member Board of Directors, United Way of Texas Gulf Coast
            Board of Directors, University of St. Thomas
            Past member Board of Directors, Associated General Contractors
            Past member Board of Children’s Assessment Center
            Board of Houston Museum of Natural Science
            Past President, Construction Industry Advisory Council, Texas A & M University
            Past Board Member of St. John’s School
            President of the Diocesan Foundation Board, Galveston-Houston Diocese
            P. Morgan Chase Houston Advisory Board of Directors
            Chairman of the Work Faith Connection
            Board of the Greater Houston Partnership
            Governing Board of the Houston Community Foundation
            Center for Houston Future’s Board
            Board Member of Neighborhood Centers



Tony Payan, Ph.D.

Tony Payan, Ph.D., is the Françoise and Edward Djerejian Fellow for Mexico Studies and director of the Mexico Center at the Baker Institute. He is also an adjunct associate professor at Rice University and a professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez. Between 2001 and 2015, Payan was a professor of political science at The University of Texas at El Paso.

Payan’s research focuses primarily on border studies, particularly the U.S.-Mexico border. His work includes studies of border governance, border flows and immigration, as well as border security and organized crime. Payan has authored two books, “Cops, Soldiers and Diplomats: Understanding Agency Behavior in the War on Drugs” and “The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration and Homeland Security” (2006 and 2016 editions). He has also co-edited six volumes: “Gobernabilidad e Ingobernabilidad en la Región Paso del Norte,” “Human Rights Along the U.S.-Mexico Border: Gendered Violence and Insecurity,” “De Soldaderas a Activistas: La mujer chihuahuense en los albores del Siglo XXI,” “A War that Can’t Be Won: Binational Perspectives on the War on Drugs,” “Undecided Nation: Political Gridlock and the Immigration Crisis,” and "Reforma Energética y Estado de Derecho en México." In addition, he has authored several book chapters and journal publications.

Payan has served on several boards, including the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority in El Paso, Texas, and the Plan Estratégico de Juárez in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. He is a member of the Greater Houston Partnership's Immigration Task Force and the Mexico Energy Task Force. He previously served as president of the Association of Borderlands Studies between 2009 and 2010.

Payan earned a B.A. in philosophy and classical languages from the University of Dallas and an MBA from the University of Dallas Graduate School of Management. He received a doctorate degree in international relations from Georgetown University in 2001.


Brett Perlman

Brett Perlman’s 25-year career has spanned senior positions in business, government as well as corporate board work and service to his community.

He is currently CEO of the Center for Houston’s Future, a non-profit that focuses on developing consensus-based solutions to important social issues for the entire Houston region. 

Before his appointment, he was a Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and at the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative (ALI), an innovative program composed of experienced global leaders focused on developing new approaches to the world’s most pressing social issues.

Perlman has also been recognized for his roles as a business person, corporate director and public official in the energy and telecommunications industries. 

He holds advanced degrees in public policy from Harvard University and in law from the University of Texas. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Northwestern University.


Rosemary Vega

Rosemary Vega is a Clinical Lecturer with the UHLC Immigration Clinic.  She was previously in private practice at Law Office of Rosemary Vega, PLLC and was a partner at Tausk & Vega.  She was also the sole staff attorney at YMCA International Services from 2003 to 2005.  Straight out of law school, Professor Vega was also the Judicial Law Clerk for seven (7) Immigration Judges at the Houston Immigration Court through the Department of Justice Honors Program from 2000-2001.

Professor Vega received her B.A. from Austin College in Sherman, Texas in 1997.  Thereafter, she attended St. Mary's University Law School where she graduated in 2000.  She began her interest in Immigration law through the International Human Rights Clinic at St. Mary's Law school and has been advocating for immigrants since that time.