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Chet Edwards

Former United States House Representative

Chet Edwards represented Central Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991-2010. Edwards is respected on a bipartisan basis as a champion for America’s troops, veterans and military families.

Born in 1951 in Corpus Christi, Texas, he is the son of a World War II naval aviator. Edwards represented Ft. Hood Texas through three combat deployments. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Economics from Texas A&M University in 1974. Upon graduation, he received the Earl Rudder Award, given to two outstanding seniors. He then worked three years as a congressional aide to Congressman Olin E. “Tiger” Teague before earning a MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1981.

In 1982, at the age of 30, Edwards was elected as the youngest Member of the Texas State Senate, where he served from 1983 to 1990. He was known as a champion for education, high technology economic development and veterans, and Texas seniors and was named “One of Ten Outstanding Legislators” by Texas Monthly.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, he served for over 10 years as the Co-Chairman of the House Army Caucus and for four years as the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Edwards wrote the Fry Scholarship law, which provides a full GI college scholarship for every child who has lost a parent in military service since September 11, 2001. He also authored the largest increases ever in veterans’ health care funding, appropriations for 6 new military hospitals, funding for new day care facilities for over 20,000 military children, and played a key role in creating the public-private military housing program that is now used for over 90% of all new military family housing.

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Erin Gaddis

Communications Specialist (Filmmaker and Artivist)

The Cultural Competency Consortium

NAACP award-winning filmmaker, Erin Gaddis will kick off our 2017 Texas Peer Leadership Conference with an address that discusses the importance of creating an inclusive environment for all students.

Erin Gaddis recently won  the Champions for Justice award from the NAACP for her short film "JustUS: Living with a Criminal Record." She is a native of Dallas, TX representing Region 6 for NAACP’s National Board of Directors. Erin is the Founder and CEO of The Cultural Competency Consortium, where she works to encourage cultural competence and awareness in predominately white institutions, through research, media and special events programming. A graduate of Baylor University where she served as a Baylor Ambassador, the President of the Pi Mu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a member of the Baylor NAACP, and a student representative on the President’s Advisory Council of Diversity for Baylor University. Ms. Gaddis is an alumna of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Congressional Internship program. And like Maya Angelou, Erin’s “mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”