The College of Liberal Arts Honors Three Outstanding Alumni
with the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
Three alumni of the College of Liberal Arts at Texas State University-San Marcos were honored with the College’s 2017 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award on Saturday, April 8th. The award, which has been given since 2008, recognizes the accomplishments of alumni in their professions and communities.
The honorees included:
Ms. Sonia V. Diaz
Ms. Diaz is Director of Public Relations and Digital Strategies at Balsera Communications. Sonia leads strategic planning and execution for the agency’s U.S. Hispanic campaigns, local and national media relations, digital strategies, public affairs initiatives, and advocacy efforts for Fortune 500 companies and grassroots organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages and Mass Communications.
Prior to joining Balsera Communications, Ms. Diaz worked at Burson Marsteller where she supported communications efforts for corporate, multicultural, tourism and technology clients in the US and Latin America. Her work primarily focused on leading efforts for the Costa Rica Tourism Board to raise awareness of the country’s worldwide leadership in sustainable tourism practices with audiences in the US and Canada. Her work for Costa Rica helped to earn the team an Emmy nomination and an International Public Relations Association nomination.
Mr. Diaz began her career in her home state of Texas at Edelman Public Relations where she supported US Hispanic grassroots and educational campaigns for prominent brands such as Kingsford Charcoal, Butterball, Texas Beef Council, Seroquil and others.
Ms. Hirsch is VP of Litigation for Valero Energy Corp., holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Lawyer's Assistant Program Certificate (1982), both from Texas State, and a J.D. from the University of Houston Law School.
Ms. Hirsch served as a board member of the Association of Corporate Counsel, and the Corporate Counsel section of the State Bar of Texas. She is currently on the Board of the Texas Civil Justice League and is a member of the American Bar Association, the Texas Bar Association, and the San Antonio Bar Association.
In San Antonio, Ms. Hirsch served on the Board of Directors of the Girl Scout Council and I-Care San Antonio. She is a Junior Achievement Volunteer Teacher, a Youth Education Volunteer, and an active member of Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Shiner.
James S. Taylor
Mr. Taylor is a founding partner of Vianovo with more than 20 years of experience in consulting with high-profile business and governmental leaders in Mexico and the United States. He holds a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and pursued graduate studies at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
Mr. Taylor has built and expanded several new businesses in Mexico. He was founding shareholder of Austin-based Public Strategies, Inc., where he established and led the international division. His early career focused on politics and trade. In his work for US Senator Lloyd Bentsen he managed issues affecting the Texas-Mexico relationship. James advised Mexico’s trade negotiating team on building support with key US constituencies to help secure the passage of the NAFTA.
Mr. Taylor is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is involved with several Austin non-profit organizations including the Mexican American Legislative Leadership Foundation and is Board Director of the Texas State University Development Foundation.