Admin cherry-picked for Secretary of State
Vice Chair of the UH System Board of Regents Nandita Berry was hand-selected by Gov. Rick Perry to serve as the first Indian-American Texas secretary of state, as of January 7.
From her hometown of Hyderabad in the Indian state Andhra Pradesh to the steps of the Texas State Capitol, Berry’s journey is described by the governor as a reflection of the American dream.
“Nandita Berry personifies what is possible through hard work and dedication in the state of Texas,” Perry said in a statement. “Arriving from India at the age of 21 with nothing but $200 to her name, she worked diligently to earn her law degree and has since become one of the most accomplished attorneys in the state. Her work ethic, intelligence and wide array of experiences will serve her capably in her new duties as secretary of state, and I look forward to working with her to keep Texas the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family.”
Berry’s journey started at UH, where she graduated from the Law Center and, in 2005, joined the ranks of the firm Locke Lord, LLP. She climbed her way up and became senior counsel, working on a range of litigation with a variety of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, according to the firm.
She was appointed by Perry to the Board of Regents in 2009 and later became vice chair. But the opportunity for growth didn’t stop there. Now as Texas secretary of state, her duties include being the state’s chief elections officer, the governor’s liaison on border and Mexican affairs and Texas’ chief protocol officer for state and international matters, according to the Office of the Governor.
“I am truly humbled to follow in the footsteps of Stephen F. Austin, Texas’ first secretary of state,” Berry said in a statement. “Like him, I came to Texas in search of a better life and the limitless opportunities to be found across our great state. Every day, I see Austin’s pioneering spirit alive in Texas, and this great honor proves, once again, Texas is the land of opportunity, both in the private sector and public service.”
Chair of the Board of Regents Jarvis V. Hollingsworth, who is also a Law Center graduate, said he believes that Berry’s appointment is a testament to the wealth of bright minds and future leaders that UH churns out.
“Appointments such as this one shine a spotlight on the deep talent pool created from graduates and others throughout the UH System, as many people with UH ties serve in leadership and volunteer positions around the world, across the country, statewide and right here in Houston,” Hollingsworth said.
The Board of Regents is the governing body of the UH System. While on the Board, Berry also served as chair of the Audit and Compliance Committee, vice chair of the Academic and Student Success Committee and a member of the Executive and Compensation Committee, according to the Board of Regents website.
Berry graduated with a bachelor’s and Juris Doctorate from UH. She resigned from her post on the Board of Regents before her term ended, which would have been Aug. 31, 2015. She also resigned from her position as senior counsel at Locke Lord, LLP, according to the the firm’s site.