As a part of St. Mary’s University’s commitment to seeking opportunities for dialogue to work together in the best interest of our community, the Center for Catholic Studies presents a panel discussion bringing together public servants with years of experience navigating difficult discussions and tackling tough topics, working together with others to serve the Common Good. They are role models for finding common ground with people who differ in their opinions or perspectives. Learn from these experts about some of the challenges and opportunities that face all of us who want to engage in responsible citizenship and build a better world.
Finding Consensus on Immigration Reform
Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023
7 to 8:30 p.m.
University Center, Conference Room A
Moderated by Thomas Mengler, J.D., President, St. Mary’s University
Nelson Wolff (B.B.A. ’66, J.D. ’66), University Distinguished Service Professor, St. Mary’s University, and former Bexar County Judge
Nelson Wolff (B.B.A. ’66, J.D. ’66) is a retired judge and Democratic politician from San Antonio.
He represented Bexar County in the Texas House of Representatives from 1971 to 1973 and the Texas Senate from 1973 to 1975. He served on the San Antonio City Council from 1987 to 1991 and then as mayor of San Antonio from 1991 to 1995. He served as Bexar County judge from 2001 until 2022.
This January, Wolff was appointed as University Distinguished Service Professor at St. Mary’s University.
Tony Gonzales, U.S. Congressman (TX-23)
As the U.S. Congressman for the 23rd District of Texas, Tony Gonzales oversees 800 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, the largest stretch of the border territory of any Congressional district. Any decisions made regarding immigration and border security directly impact the communities in his district.
Because of that, border security and immigration are at the forefront of Congressman Gonzales’ mind. Gonzales is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee. He has 20 years of military experience and holds a master’s degree in International Relations from American Public University and is a Ph.D. candidate in International Development at the University of Southern Mississippi. He also holds a graduate certificate in Legislative Studies from Georgetown University and served as an Assistant Professor in the University of Maryland system, where he taught political science with an emphasis on counterterrorism.
Sister Norma Pimentel (M.A. ’89), Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley
Norma Pimentel is a Sister with the Missionaries of Jesus. As Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, she oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight of the different ministries and services in the areas of the Rio Grande Valley.
In recognition of her advocacy for migrants and humanitarian work along the US-Mexico border, Pimentel has received the Catholic Charities USA Martin Luther King, Jr. “Keep the Dream Alive” Award, Rio Grande Valley’s “Citizen of the Year,” Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020 and is the recipient of the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, which is among the highest honors for an American Catholic.
She has testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in the “State of Civil Rights in Immigration Detention Facilities” and spoke on “Women Upholding Human Dignity” at the United Nations. Pimentel earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Pan American University, a master’s degree in Theology from St. Mary’s University and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University.
Read more on Sister Norma Pimentel in the Gold & Blue Magazine.
Erica B. Schommer, J.D., St. Mary’s Clinical Professor of Law and Englehardt Research Fellow
Schommer leads the School of Law’s Immigration and Human Rights Clinic. Before joining St. Mary’s, Schommer was in private practice where she focused on detained removal defense and federal court litigation. She began her career working on the U.S./Mexico border at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., where she represented many survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking and directed the Legal Orientation Program at the Willacy Detention Center in Raymondville.