Gov. Greg Abbott appointed five women to the Texas Woman's University Board of Regents on Monday, a list that included two Denton residents.
Occupational therapist Bernadette Coleman and attorney Jill Jester will occupy two spots on the nine-member board, which serves as the governing body for the Denton-based university and its campuses in Dallas and Houston.
The regents are appointed by the governor to serve staggered six-year terms and at least four of the TWU regents must be women. Both Coleman's and Jester's terms will expire Feb. 1, 2023.
"We appreciate the governor's thoughtful selection of these extraordinary women leaders to serve on our Board of Regents and are pleased to see the inclusion of two respected individuals from the Denton community," TWU Chancellor Carine Feyten said in an email. "With backgrounds aligning with our universities' distinctive areas of strength, these women will be valuable stewards, counselors and supporters of Texas Woman's University."
Jester was born in Denton and is a graduate of Denton High School. After receiving her bachelor's degree from the University of Oklahoma and her law degree from South Texas College of Law, she returned to Denton and began working alongside her father, former Denton mayor Tom Jester, at the law firm Minor & Jester. Jill Jester later became president of the firm.
Jester volunteers with several business-related groups in Denton, including the Denton Chamber of Commerce, the Denton Economic Development Partnership Board, the Denton Black Chamber of Commerce and the City of Denton's Downtown Taskforce. She lives in Denton with her husband Chris Rasmussen.
"It's hard to put into words how excited I am," Jester said of her new regent role. "I've got so much respect for higher education in Denton, and TWU continues to impress me with its goal-setting and vision. Chancellor Feyten really inspired me and I've been able to find a role where I can make a difference."
Coleman received a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in occupational therapy from TWU. She currently works at the Denton County Special Education Cooperative in Sanger. She lives in Denton with her husband, Denton County Commissioner Hugh Coleman, and their two children.
Coleman also has spent time volunteering with Denton ISD, serving on the Calhoun Middle School and Sam Houston Elementary Parent Teacher Associations. She also volunteers as a team manager for the district's problem-solving group, Destination Imagination, and has been involved with the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas.
"I could not be more honored," Coleman said of her appointment. "Being a part of the Denton campus and finishing my master's at the Houston campus was a privilege. I loved the professors and they really took care of us. It's my school."
Abbott's announcement includes the re-appointment of Mary Pincoffs Wilson of Austin as well as the appointments of Janelle Shepard of Weatherford and Kathleen Wu of Dallas. Coleman and Jester are the only TWU regents who live in Denton. Conversely, none of the nine University of North Texas regents live in Denton.
CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862.