Thursday, March 31, 2016

Monica Lira Bravo - District 4 Candidate

1. Please provide a brief biography that explains your educational and professional background.

I earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University and a JD from Texas Tech University School of Law. I am a board certified attorney in immigration and nationality law. I also own my own law firm; I manage nine employees including an associate attorney. I most recently served as the President of the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association. I also previously served on the Dallas Bar Association Board of Directors, the City of Dallas Judicial Nominating Committee, the Southeast Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico.

2. What is the role of the elected Board of Trustees from your perspective? How does that role relate to your individual input as an elected trustee?  How would you describe the efforts that will be necessary to be effective in your role – and what has prepared you to be successful in that role? 

The role of the Board is to set the vision, mission for DCCCD and govern with input from its constituents. As an elected trustee, my role would be to vote in the best interests of the Dallas County community, which includes students, faculty, staff and taxpayers.  My training as a lawyer and as a businesswoman have prepared me to understand the complexities of financial statements and the intricacies of contracts and policies that must comply not only with DCCCD’s mission but also with state laws and policies. My previous board experience gives me the insight to understand how to be an effective fiduciary to the DCCCD community and Dallas County as a whole, as well as a good steward of our tax dollars.

3. What is the role of the DCCCD in the educational marketplace in Dallas County? What is your agenda to continue to improve the quality and availability of educational programs to the citizens of Dallas County?

With rising costs of university tuition, the role of DCCCD has grown significantly. More than half of college students in Texas start at a community college. Additionally, unemployed workers normally turn to DCCCD to gain training in a new field or trade. My goal as a trustee is to continue to keep the DCCCD at the forefront of changes in technology and industry. By building partnerships with the local business community, not only will our students have more access to training and employment opportunities, but we also can access private funding to alleviate tuition costs for students to augment our successful Rising Star scholarship program. 

4. If elected, how will you advocate for DCCCD students, employees, and colleges, in your dealings with business, the community, other public servants, and voters?

First, I would like to create forums where board of trustees can meet with students, faculty and staff at least once a semester at each of the seven colleges. These forums will encourage open communication between trustees and the DCCCD community.  In dealing with business, community, public servants and voters, I would attend community events and invite different stakeholders to visit a DCCCD campus to learn about all the great programs DCCCD has to offer. Despite the fact that so many students have passed through our doors to improve their lives and employment prospects, DCCCD remains an underutilized and underappreciated resource in the DFW region. 

5. What do you see as the biggest assets, challenges, and opportunities, in the DCCCD? How will you strengthen those assets to meet the challenges and opportunities we face? What particular skills and connections do you bring that can benefit the Board as a whole, and by extension the DCCCD?

One of the biggest opportunities is to work with the appropriate partners to provide education and training in workforce areas that currently have a severe worker shortage. With more companies relocating to the DFW area, there is a greater need for more trained workers; the DCCCD is in prime position to provide training. My relationship with the business community could help foster and develop these opportunities. The biggest challenge is having adequate funding for DCCCD to continue to attract top-notch faculty and staff as well as top notch educational facilities. With state appropriations covering an ever-decreasing percentage of operating costs, DCCCD must continually identify efficiencies to reduce expenditures, but we also must help grow the overall tax base to alleviate pressures to offset declining state funding with tax rate or tuition increases.

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