Board of Directors
Hermann Pereira, Chair
Hermann is the Chief Program Officer at Prosper Waco and is passionate about finding collaborative approaches to serving people. He has spent the past 15 years in education in a variety of roles such as teacher, coach, director, assistant principal, and principal. He has a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Baylor University and a Masters in Educational Administration from Baylor University. Hermann believes community partnerships are the vehicle to creating sustainable solutions. Hermann is active in the community serving on boards of the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, City of Waco Parks and Recreation and the McLennan County Hunger Coalition. Hermann has been recognized by the Waco Chamber of Commerce as one of the "Top 40 under 40" individuals in the community and Educator of the Year by the Centex African American Chamber of Commerce. Hermann is married and has 2 children. His time away from campus is spent with his family, coaching his kids teams, enjoying the outdoors or rooting for all Houston sports.
Bridget Heins, Vice-Chair
Bridget graduated from the Baylor University School of Education in 1997 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Her first 15 years of teaching were spent at Waco Baptist Academy with a loving, supportive school family. With a desire to grow professionally, she accepted a position with Rapoport Academy and served as a fifth-grade teacher for 2 years and as Community Relations Director for 5 years. She now serves as the Communications Director for First Methodist Waco.
Out of gratitude for the many life-changing opportunities provided throughout her life, Bridget is committed to serving the community that formed her in so many ways. She currently serves on the Centex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board as Vice-Chair and on the McLennan Community College Foundation Board.
Bridget and her husband Michael live in Waco with their two dogs: Bear (6 years) and RJ (10 months).
Bianca Tagle, Secretary
Bianca is a Waco native who graduated from Reicher. She is a local entrepreneur that has strong ties to the community. She is currently an insurance agent under Truett Insurance services and has a passion for helping others. She enjoys building relationships with clients and helping them learn and understand how to use their insurance. She is a new addition to our board and is happy to learn and help us grow and serve the community.
Pat Atkins is a local attorney. He recently completed 17 years of service on the Waco ISD Board of Trustees, serving as President for nine years. He is a founding board member and current Board Chair of Prosper Waco. Pat also serves on the board of trustees of the Ascension Providence Healthcare System. He has served in several leadership positions in the community including serving on the boards of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, Community in Schools, the Waco Humane Society, Friends of the Waco-McLennan County Library, and Lake Air Little League. He and his family attend Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church, where he has served two terms on the vestry. Pat is a partner in the law firm of Atkins Wright, PLLC and is a Life Fellow in the Texas Bar Foundation. He and his wife, Sandy, have three children, Ben, Alexandra & Nick.
Frank Graves is currently the Dean of Workforce and Public Service at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas. Frank came to McLennan Community College in January of 2006 in the role of Coordinator of Business and Industry. Frank was educated in the McGregor Independent School District. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Angelo State University, a Master of Business Administration degree from Angelo State University, and a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Leadership from the University Mary Hardin-Baylor in May of 2015. Frank was a member of the Angelo State University Rams Football Team and was an All-Conference and all Academic All-Conference selection.
Frank’s professional interests include corporate and workforce training, workforce development, and community leadership. Frank is a Past President for the Texas Administrators of Continuing Education (TACE), a Trustee and Past President for the McGregor Independent School District and a member of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Frank has served as a member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Undergraduate Education Advisory Committee (UEAC) and the Workforce Education Course Manual Committee (WECM). Frank’s interests include gardening, sports, and cooking. Frank and his wife Ramona have one child Mary Elizabeth (23). Mary is a Michigan State University graduate and currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Frank and Ramona live in McGregor, Texas, and attend New Zion Baptist Church in McGregor.
Born and raised in Waco, Texas, Carole Fergusson has a passion to see the community thrive, together. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Tarleton State University and is an alumnus of McLennan Community College. Additionally, she serves board appointments to both The Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and The Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce, where she plays a role in seeing diversity in leadership, entrepreneurial advocacy, and community engagement. Overseeing the Starbridge Committee, Carole is eager to grow BIPOC businesses, seeing they are supported by the premier and trusted chambers in Waco, Texas.
Her passion for community has served in various capacities over the years, including the creation of The Floating Mercado, a cultural market celebrating diversity in locally-owned businesses. Waco Restaurant Week, a week-long event celebrating locally-owned restaurants and food trucks. Additionally, her recent work has been involved with curating the Green Communities Conference, in collaboration with over 20 private and public sectors of the community. This one-day conference was geared toward creating intentional space to involve conversations with diverse groups of doers who want to see real, effective change in our city,
In her free time, she is gardening, cooking, hot yoga, rowing, being in nature, traveling, and enjoying time with her family.
Benjamin J. Gomez
Benjamin J. Gomez graduated Baylor University (Class of ’16) with a BBA in Supply Chain Management. He currently works at Neighborly with the Mr. Electric franchise brand as a Franchise Business Coach. Prior to joining Neighborly, Benjamin worked as a Registered Representative with New York Life Insurance Company assisting clients with their personal, business and estate planning needs.
Benjamin is heavily involved in a variety of board positions in the Waco community. Currently, he holds board seats at Rapoport Academy Charter School, the Waco Mammoth Foundation, Caritas-Waco and serves as Chairman for the Inspiracion-Waco Board. He has received several awards for his community involvement including being named an Honoree for the Greater Waco Chamber’s 40 under 40 award and as a Solid Gold Neighbor Award winner through Baylor University’s
External Affairs office. Contributing back to the community is a cornerstone of Benjamin’s identity and considers it necessary to leave a place better than you found it.
Aside from work and community activities, Benjamin enjoys spending quality time with his wife Alivia and their two fur babies, Daisy and Trigger, who keep everything interesting and never allow for a dull moment. In his spare time, Benjamin enjoys reading, watching movies, and writing articles whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Jose Palacios has over 27 years of experience in workforce development. His extensive experience and knowledge gained through 23 years with Texas Workforce Solutions and private sector staffing has afforded Jose experience in working with both public and private business sectors. Jose has a natural talent for developing strong business relationships built on trust and respect. His strong leadership skills provide direction and purpose to his business ad community projects. Jose earned a Bachelor of Arts in political Science from the University of Texas in Arlington. Before attending UTA, Jose attended University High School and McLennan Community College. Jose provides solid results driven by customer service to the Heart of Texas business community. Jose looks forward to continuing to build relationships with the chamber directors, members and the communities the chamber serves. he is excited to carry out the chamber's mission statement in the best interests of the business community.
Elaine Botello, PHR, SHRM-CP, MS-HRM
Elaine is the Founder and CEO of "The Victory Employer Services, LLC ." Her company offers Human Resources consultation and project base services to public, private, and non-profit entities. Her business motto is to provide "Peace of Mind" for her clients. Before forming The Victory Employer Services, LLC, she managed all aspects of Human Resources for one of the largest employers in Central Texas as the Assistant Superintendent for Waco ISD.
Elaine holds a Master's Degree in Human Resources Management from Tarleton State University and a Bachelors Degree in Business with an emphasis in Human Resources. She pursued her passion for continuous learning through her participation in the Educational Leadership Development doctoral program at Baylor University. Mrs. Botello is also a certified professional in Human Resources (PHR and SHRM-CP) through the nationally recognized Human Resources Certification Institute and the Society of Human Resources Management.
Mrs. Botello enjoys giving back to the community by mentoring high school and college students. She also serves on the McLennan County-Waco United Way Impact and Engagement Committee, the City of Waco's Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee, the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Dr. Pepper Museum Board of Directors, and she is the co-founder of the Hispanic Leaders’ Network (HLN) and serves as HLN’s board president.
Jonathan Olvera, Past Board Chair
Jonathan Olvera is a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Centex, REALTORS®, and has earned the GRI designation. Jonathan and his wife, Alex, have two daughters: Priscila and Ximena. Jonathan serves as the Secretary for the Cen-tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (CTHCC). He also serves on the Executive Board of the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC) as the Vice-Chair of Young Professionals and as a formal representative of CTHCC. Jonathan also serves as a committeeman for the Heart O' Texas Fair & Rodeo's Esperanza Committee, as a board member of the Animal Welfare Awareness Board, and as Worship Leader at Ministerios Betania Waco. Jonathan has also been selected to be a part of the 10th cohort of the LeadershipPLENTY Institute. He looks forward to creating a positive impact in the Hispanic community, as well as the Greater Waco area by increasing the Chamber's influence within today's growing neighborhood and business sectors.