The International Women’s Board, an affiliate of The University of Texas-Pan American Foundation, was founded in 1989 by T. Edward Mercer, UTPA’s first and long-time vice president for institutional advancement. Ed had been associated with a similar group at another university, and he saw the positive power and influence that dedicated women have when they join together for a good cause.

Charter members of the IWB were Lydia Guerra, Enriqueta Longoria, Emma Martinez, Aida Martinez and Maria Elena Useda, who were joined in the first year by Kathy Collins, Virginia Heath and Joyce Smith. These eight women formed the first Executive Council, electing Joyce Smith as chair.  Ed and Alice Hawley, UTPA’s Director of Development, guided the IWB Executive Council through its early development.


The International Women’s Board was formed to encourage international understanding within its membership, the University community and the regional community at large. The group’s stated mission is to contribute to the breadth, depth and quality of education at UTPA, act as ambassadors for the University, provide scholarships and meet other special needs.

IWB reached a membership of 100 in 1994 and has maintained a membership of approximately 150 women since. The Executive Council and members-at-large participate in fundraising projects, various events and travel excursions designed for the members’ enjoyment. The president of the International Women’s Board is a voting member of the UTPA Foundation Board of Trustees.

Programs & Projects

Since its inception, IWB has awarded scholarships to upperclassmen and graduate students for summer study abroad programs, provided travel grants to students invited to present papers at international conferences, hosted receptions for visiting speakers, luncheons for scholarship recipients and international students and sponsored fundraising fashion shows.

The organization also sponsors trips to sites of historical and cultural interest for its members, and has taken an active role in establishing, sponsoring and supporting several projects and programs on campus, such as the Holiday Campus Lighting, Dress for Success, and activities at the Center for International Studies, and at the theatre and music departments. 

In 1998, the women of the IWB took a significant role in the preservation, conservation and enhancement of the John H. Shary Estate near Mission, Texas, an historic venue that will soon be renovated to house a number of UT Pan American’s academic centers.

Since 2005, the IWB has paid tribute to local philanthropists who have shown a particular interest in UTPA and its students by honoring them with the group’s “Excellence in Leadership” award. The presentation is part of IWB’s annual Candlelight Reception each fall. Honorees to date are:

Roy and Aida Martinez (2005)
Felo and Maxine Guerra (2006)
Jesse and Mary Lou Trevino (2007)
Yvonne Anderson, Minnie Lanham and Janet Wallace (2008)
Cayetano and Yolanda Barrera (2009)
Cullen and Carol Lynn Looney (2010)
Kika and Lucille de la Garza (2011)

Current Funding Initiatives

The International Women’s Board’s major fundraising initiatives are:

  • IWB Study Abroad Scholarships
  • International Women’s Board Endowment (support for graduate students)

For information about IWB membership and upcoming activities, emai This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Christie Cantu or call (956) 665-5301.



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