WONDER BALL HONOREES
Theresa W. Chang
Texas Commission on the Arts
Theresa W. Chang is attorney and special commissioner of the eminent domain administrative hearing in Houston. Governor Abbott appointed Theresa to serve on the Texas Commission on the Arts in September 2019. She previously served as the Judge of Harris County Civil Court. In 2017, Theresa was rated the top judge of Harris County Civil Courts by Houston Bar Association in its judicial poll.
Commissioner Chang has tried hundreds of bench and jury trials during her legal career. She served on the Commission for Lawyer Discipline of State Bar of Texas, as well as the Board of Directors of both State Bar of Texas and Asian American Bar Association.
Theresa obtained her Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the Texas A&M University System and was a registered Professional Engineer prior to earning her law degree from the South Texas College of Law. She was inducted to Hall of Fame of College of Engineering at Texas A&M Kingsville in October 2019.
Prior to elected as the Judge of Harris County Civil Court, Theresa served as Associate Municipal Judge of City of Houston, Harris County District Clerk, and Division Chief of Harris County Attorney’s Office.
Theresa was appointed to the Board of Regents of University of Houston by then Governor George W. Bush in 1997, and has served as President/Board Chair of various community organizations, such as Texas Executive Women, Asian Chamber of Commerce, and Chinese Community Center.
Currently, Theresa is a member of the Board of Directors of the South Texas College of Law, and the Board of Trustees of Houston Grand Opera. She has served on the Board of many other organizations, such as YMCA, American Leadership Forum, Strake Foundation, Houston Area Urban League and Texas Governor’s Commission for Women.
Because of Commissioner Chang’s professionalism and community involvements, she has been honored as 2020 Women of Distinction by ABC Channel 13; with the George Bush Award from the Asian Pacific American Heritage Association in 2016; Impact Award from the Asian American Bar Association in 2012; Distinguished Alumni from the Texas A&M Kingsville in 2011; 50 Most Influential Women in Houston by Women Magazine in 2010; and Women on the Move by Texas Executive Women in 2005.
Theresa and Dr. Peter Chang have been married for 41 years and are proud parents of Winston and Spencer. They believe deeply in giving back to the community through serving as gala chairs or honorary chairs of many charitable organizations. They will serve as Chairs of 2024 Concert of Arias of Houston Grand Opera and have served as honorary chairs of Asia Society’s 2023 and 2019 Tiger Ball and Hope Clinic’s 2019 Gala. In 2019, they were honored with the John Connor Humanitarian Award from Operation Smile and the Top 20 Power Couple Impact Maker Award from CKW LUXE.
Founder of Texas Salsa Congress
Ruby Rivera, born of Puerto Rican and Guatemalan descent, grew up in Houston’s Northside. Despite facing childhood challenges under the poverty line, Ruby’s mother ensured she had access to the arts through after-school programs, nurturing her creativity in music, dance, and the arts. As the first in her family to attend a four-year university, Ruby graduated from The University of Texas at Austin. Her love for the arts and supporting students was fused during her time at UT-Austin. Creating equity and access is a core mission for her work in the arts and college and career access.
Driven by her passion for making art accessible to the community, Ruby founded the Texas Salsa Congress. Through this organization, she has curated events across Houston, bringing Salsa and the Arts to youth and families while generating revenue for artists from Houston, Texas, and around the globe. She has accomplished this all while creating a career in college and career access where Ruby has helped thousands of students, especially first-generation students, have a pathway to post-secondary education.
Over eighteen years, the Texas Salsa Congress (TSC) has played a pivotal role in creating partnerships and organizing public events in Houston and its surrounding communities. These events showcase local and world-renowned dancers, performers, musicians, and DJs. Ruby herself has continued to teach Salsa throughout H-Town to ensure that she stays connected with her “why”. Teaching Salsa to Houstonians from all corners of Houston has provided the opportunity to carve out space for Salsa and Latin music from across different businesses, parks, and events.
In 2019, the Texas Salsa Congress applied to become a fiscal sponsor of Fresh Arts and provided, for the first time in the TSC history, the opportunity to apply for grants from the City of Houston. Looking ahead, through the Texas Salsa Congress, Ruby aims to expand programming to further enhance access to the arts and foster community engagement with an emphasis on creative placemaking in Houston. From continuing to curate dance festivals to launching storytelling initiatives, and educational programs for youth and ensuring that venues throughout Houston crave space for Salsa dancing and music.
Ruby’s dedication to promoting Salsa and the Arts garnered recognition, with the City of Houston proclaiming August 4th as “Salsa Appreciation Day” in her honor. Additionally, March 14th was declared “Texas Salsa Congress Day” for Houston, Texas. In 2022, Ruby received the Puente Prize from Stages & Sin Muros for her outstanding contributions to the LatinX Arts community. In 2023, she was awarded the Fresh Arts The Space Taking Artists Residency STAR for June.
Ruby’s next chapter with the Texas Salsa Congress is to continue to cultivate community and collaborate with artists across various multidisciplinary art forms.