Dr. Adriana Tamez
Nominating Organization: Tejano Center
Occupation: President and CEO of Tejano Center
Some might say Dr. Adriana Tamez began to impact the community in 1992 when she began her career in education as a bilingual teacher. During this same period, due to her involvement in the community, Dr. Tamez joined forces with a group of like-minded individuals dedicated to improving the lives of families in Houston’s East End and co-founded the Tejano Center for Community Concerns (Tejano Center). In 1996, the Tejano Center became one of 15 organizations to be approved by the State Board of Education to operate an open-enrollment charter school in Texas. Dr. Tamez is a co-founder of the charter school, the Raul Yzaguirre Schools for Success (RYSS), and served as its first director of education. Even when she went on to work as an educator/administrator in the Houston Independent School District and the Region 4 Education Service Center, she continued to volunteer at the Tejano Center and RYSS. In 2014, Dr. Tamez returned to RYSS as Superintendent of Schools where her focus was improving the academic achievement for its predominantly Hispanic student population, increasing community and governmental partnerships, and expanding the district’s reach to serve more students. Her efforts have met with success. The district now enjoys a 96.4% graduation rate, with 85% of its graduates attending two- and four-year college programs. In July 2017, in addition to her role as superintendent of schools, Dr. Tamez became the President and CEO of the Tejano Center. Dr. Tamez has made the Tejano Center a beacon of service within Houston’s East End neighborhoods, providing assistance to those who are most in need. As a beacon of service, under the leadership of Dr. Tamez, the Tejano Center expanded the Affordable Housing Program through the Home Repair Program. This program began operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008 and was ready to respond during Hurricane Harvey, repairing over 120 low-income, minority-owned homes. Other programs implemented by Dr. Tamez are: Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) program, which focuses on assistance services to victims and survivors of all types of crimes, especially domestic abuse; Child Placement Agency (CPA) with 18 homes that provide for foster care placement; and Sunrise Orchard Apartments, a new 52-unit affordable and permanent supportive housing development with onsite training and referral services targeting homeless youth ages 18-24, including those who have aged out of foster care.
Most recently, as COVID-19 has made it unprecedented impact on the community, Dr. Tamez’ visionary leadership has shaped various relief efforts – the Tejano Center’s affordable housing program has received an increase of appeals for assistance, and this assistance has included rent and mortgage assistance; due to the increased rate of domestic violence, VOCA has increased its services; and a drive-thru meal distribution program was established that has now served more than 215,000 meals and snacks, and coordinated food distribution. COVID-19 relief efforts have been made possible in great part by donations from community partners, the fruits of Dr. Tamez’ leadership and resource development. Dr. Tamez has made an indelible impact on her community and continues to do whatever she can to enhance the lives of people within the Hispanic community.