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Seven New Members Join the Huston-Tillotson University Board of Trustees

Austin, TX, June 7, 2024 – Huston-Tillotson University is pleased to announce the appointment of seven outstanding individuals to its Board of Trustees. These distinguished leaders bring a wealth of experience, expertise, and passion that will further enrich the university’s mission and help guide its strategic direction. Approval for membership was granted by the HT Board of Trustees during its regular quarterly meeting held on Friday, April 19.

“We are thrilled to welcome these outstanding individuals to our Board of Trustees,” said HT President Melva Wallace. “Their diverse backgrounds, expertise, and dedication to excellence will be instrumental in helping to guide HT to new heights of success and impact. They will join the existing board members in overseeing the university’s strategic direction, ensuring fiscal responsibility, and upholding the institution’s commitment to academic excellence and student success.”

Newly appointed Trustees are:

Cecilia Abbott, wife of Texas Governor Greg Abbott and First Lady of Texas, was reappointed to the Board after having served nine years (2011-2020) under former HT Presidents Larry Earvin and Colette Burnette. Her passion for HT is obvious, as it was her desire to return to the Board. During the Covid-19 epidemic, she helped to protect the University’s intellectual internal structure by ensuring that there were no layoffs or terminations. It was also during her tenure that several campus facilities were refreshed and improved, and the University’s fiscal management improved, which can be evidenced by our annual audits. These accomplishments, along with others, laid the groundwork for the establishment of our recently completed 10-year strategic plan. A philanthropist, who promotes “Texanthropy,” a term she coined by combining the words “Texas” and “philanthropy,” is the name of her signature initiative through which she promotes volunteerism and service across the state.  She also works to raise awareness about ways Texans can support the children and families in the state’s welfare system, in addition to promoting the foster and adoption programs. A staunch advocate for eradicating sex trafficking in the state, Abbott currently serves on the advisory boards for the National Coalition for Human Sex Trafficking and the Cathedral School of Saint Mary. She is also the honorary chair of the Texas Early Learning Council and is a volunteer for Meals on Wheels Central Texas.

Valerie Capers Workman is the chief talent engagement officer at Handshake, where she focuses on helping employers define and execute their talent acquisition strategies. She is an established thought leader on #TheFutureOfWork, having grown a global, world-class organization from 50K to 100K employees, and provides expertise and guidance on the imminent impact of #GenAI on the global workforce – all while living her passion for democratizing #AccessToOpportunity for everyone, everywhere. Handshake is the #1 place where early talent find their first job. Handshake’s community includes over 15 million students and young alumni worldwide, 1,500 educational institutions, and 900,000+ employers – including virtually all of the Fortune 500 companies.  Prior to joining Handshake, Workman served as the  vice president of People at Tesla, where she reported directly to the CEO. At Tesla, she became known as “Tesla’s Top Diversity Advocate” while leading all people functions and overseeing global growth from 50K to 100K employees. She is also the author of the Amazon best-selling book, Quantum Progression: The Art and Science of Career Advancement in the Age of A.I. Released in November 2023, her book has received five-star reviews from leaders globally. Valerie received a B.S. in communications from Syracuse University and a J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law. She is admitted to practice law in New York, Washington, DC and Texas, and she is the 2024 Diversity Champion Award recipient bestowed by St. John’s University School of Law. She holds membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and Black Women On Board.

Dr. Theron Jackson serves as senior pastor of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana. With a fervent dedication to community engagement, he leads a vibrant congregation of 3,000 members. He is a former administrator within the Southern University of Louisiana System’, working primarily at its Shreveport campus. His roles included executive assistant to the chancellor for institutional advancement and university relations, interim vice chancellor of student affairs, athletic director, and chair of numerous administrative search committees, including two System-Level Presidential search committees. As a former member of the SU System Legislative Affairs team, he advocated at the Louisiana State Legislature on behalf of the system. In 2010 Dr. Jackson authored his first book entitled “Never Be Nothing”.

Dr. Mike Hemphill, professor of practice at the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas, is the director of leadership development at the Clinton Foundation and co-director of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a collaboration among four presidential centers that provides an unprecedented interactive and nonpartisan leadership development opportunity, involving former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, senior-level members of four presidential administrations, and nationally recognized leadership faculty. He previously worked at the Clinton School from 2005 through 2010, and was an inaugural faculty member and went on to serve as the school’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer. He served as provost of Centenary College of Louisiana and spent 24 years on the faculty of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he served as chair of the Department of Speech Communication and dean of the College of Professional Studies. His teaching and scholarship have focused primarily on interpersonal and organizational communication. He was recognized as the outstanding classroom teacher in the University of Arkansas System. As a practitioner, he has delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations on a variety of communication topics for corporations and professional organizations. He holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in organizational communication from the University of Iowa.  He and his wife Dinda live in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

As executive director, the Rev. Dr. Patrick G. Duggan is responsible for advancing the mission and growing the capacity, reach and social impact of CB&LF products and services. Duggan has more than 30 years’ experience in bi-vocational ministry, serving the local church while working in the public sector, including education, government, nonprofit organizations, and economic and community development. Prior to coming to CB&LF, he led community development initiatives that generated $600 million in investment in the poorest communities on Long Island. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and earned his master’s and his doctorate in ministry from New York Theological Seminary. His doctoral project, “Ground Zero in the Economy of God,” focused on increasing the impact, relevance, and influence of the church by deploying church assets for mission.

David L. Godsey, Esq. graduated from Huston-Tillotson University in 1994. While on Campus, he served as Student Government Association president in both his junior and senior years. Additionally, he was initiated into the Gamma Lambda Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated in the spring of 1992, and he served in various leadership positions on a local and regional level within the fraternity as an undergraduate. Currently, he is a trial lawyer. He and his childhood best friend and fraternity brother, Justin Martin, established Godsey-Martin, P.C. Over the last 16 years, Godsey Martin has become the largest African American owned personal injury law firm in Texas with offices in Dallas and Houston. The law firm serves to assist victims who are injured by no fault of their own. Their website, IJUSTGOTHIT.COM, has become a brand that is synonymous with Justice in the communities they serve. Godsey feels a sense of obligation to give back to the community. He has been invited to speak at countless events, conducted numerous business and legal seminars, and has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships, sponsorships, and learning resources. He is proud of the fact that his alma mater, Huston-Tillotson University, is the largest recipient of his philanthropic gifts. Godsey has also served as a member of several boards of directors for community groups and foundations. Although he has received countless community and legal awards, he is most proud of having been married for 26 years to his beautiful wife, Catina. They have five children, Davier, Briana, Autumn, David, Jr., and Colin, and three grandchildren, Kylen (aka Bam Bam), Ari, and Reaga.

Coalter is a certified public accountant who provides independent tax and consulting services primarily working with high net worth individuals and their related partnerships, corporations, trusts and estates. He has served his profession by appointment to presiding officer and board member for the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy from 2003 to 2008 and once again from 2011 through 2017.  Coalter has been elected to serve as a director for the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Professional Ethics Executive Committee and Tax Practice Responsibilities committee.  Coalter received the Texas Society of CPAs-Distinguished service award in 2004 for efforts to promote and support the profession through work in the regulatory arena.  Coalter currently is a member of the Charter School Finance Corporation that was established by the Texas legislature. He has been honored to provide time and efforts in the Austin community by serving on the boards and/or in a volunteer capacity for the following organizations: Leadership Austin, West Austin Youth Association-president, treasurer, and executive director; Good Shepherd Episcopal Church-Vestry member and treasurer; Greater East Austin Youth League-co-founder and treasurer; Austin Independent School District-Budget Advisory Committee-chairperson; Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce-Education Committee member; National Women of Achievement, African-American Women’s Hall of Fame-Selection Committee member; American Cancer Society, West Austin Youth Association Endowment – board Member; Boys & Girls Club Endowment-board member; and Explore Austin – board member.




About Huston-Tillotson University

Huston-Tillotson University, the first institution of higher education in Austin, Texas, has roots dating back to 1875. HT is an independent, church-related, historically black, four-year liberal arts institution located on a 23-acre tree-lined campus near downtown in East Austin. Huston-Tillotson University’s mission is to nurture a legacy of leadership and excellence in education, connecting knowledge, power, passion, and values. The University offers associate and master’s degrees in addition to Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in more than 19 areas of study. Huston-Tillotson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, baccalaureate and master’s degrees. HT is also an NC-SARA school. For more information, please visit