2011 Pillars represent world travelers; Outstanding alumni to be recognized at upcoming gala

August 26, 2011

Seven outstanding graduates will be recognized as Pillars of Character at the Northside Education Foundation’s annual gala, to be held Wednesday, Sept. 7 at the Westin La Cantera Resort.

The roster of the 2011 Pillars include two geochemical paleontologists, a former CIA officer, an author, a missionary to the Amazon, a decorated military attorney, and a world champion speaker.

Almost 700 business partners, community members, and educators are expected to attend the event, which is expected to raise more than $150,000 for the Northside Education Foundation

Each year, Pillars are selected from the nearly 100,000 Northside ISD alumni who have graduated from NISD high schools since 1951. The Pillars represent the six character traits taught to NISD students that are part of the Josephson Institute’s Character Counts program. The Pillars of Character are: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.

Tickets are still available. The event begins with a reception and silent auction at 5:30 p.m. For more information, contact the Partnerships Office at 397-8599.

The 2011 Pillars of Character are:

William Hurd, a 1995 graduate of Marshall High School, is the 2011 Pillar of Trustworthiness. He currently works at the Washington, D.C.-based Crumpton Group, an international strategic advisory firm that helps identify risks and opportunities for clients worldwide. Previously, he served nine years at the National Clandestine Service of the CIA and ran for Congress in the 23rd District 2010 primary race. A graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in computer science, he also attended Leon Valley Elementary and Rudder Middle School.


Charles E. Cantu, the 2011 Pillar of Responsibility, is the Dean of St. Mary’s University School of Law, and is the first Hispanic to become a full-time law professor in the United States. Cantu graduated from Marshall High School in 1957 back when it was called Northside High School and was the only high school in the District. He has degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, St. Mary’s Law School, Southern Methodist University, and the University of Michigan. In addition, he is a member of the American Law Institute and serves on the Board of Governors of the Cancer Therapy and Research Center.


Paul Barton, the 2011 Pillar of Citizenship, is an anesthesiologist and Christian Missionary in Ecuador, where he lives with his pediatrician wife and four young sons. A 1990 graduate of Health Careers High School, he also attended Howsman Elementary and Hobby Middle School, and earned degrees from Wheaton College and Southwestern Medical School. A part of the Mission To the World (MTW) Missionaries, he was one of the first anesthesiologists to give assistance in Haiti immediately following the 2010 earthquake.


Celina and Marina Suarez, identical twins who graduated from Marshall High School in 1999, are the 2011 Pillars of Respect. They also attended Boone and Thornton elementary schools and Rudder Middle School in Northside before heading to Trinity University and Temple University, and eventually to the University of Kansas where they earned doctoral degrees in geology. At one point, the sisters landed in Utah where, with funding provided by the Discovery Channel, they discovered and excavated a previously unfound dinosaur. The 125-million-year-old birdlike, two-legged meat-eating dinosaur was subsequently named Geminiraptor suarezarum in honor of the twins. Dr. Marina Suarez is now an assistant professor at UTSA, and Dr. Celina Suarez is a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at Boise State University.


Woodrow Halstead III, the 2011 Pillar of Caring, is currently a Deputy Staff Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army Reserves stationed in Afghanistan. After earning degrees from Texas A&M University and St. Mary’s Law School, Maj. Halstead was an assistant criminal district attorney in Bexar County for 10 years. His current civilian job is to represent wounded warriors in the military’s Disability Evaluation System. His military decorations include the Army Commendation Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. The 1990 graduate of Marshall High School, was active in the Navy JROTC and served as commanding officer his senior year.


David Henderson, a 1993 graduate of Taft High School, is the 2011 Pillar of Fairness. A first generation college graduate, Henderson also earned a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin and now works in the Bexar County District Attorney’s office as a Family Justice and Victim Protection Prosecutor for the 379th District Court. In 2010, he won the World Championship of Public Speaking, an annual competition conducted by Toastmasters International, which attracts more than 30,000 competitors from 115 countries. Of his time as a Taft Raider, he is most proud of his Independent Study Mentorship project, in which he developed a new business model for a McDonald’s franchise. He also attended Timberwilde Elementary and Zachry Middle School.