Nandita V. Berry
Nandita Venkateswaran Berryis an Indian American attorney from Houston, who served as the 109th Secretary of State of Texas. An Indian native and naturalized American citizen, she assumed the position on January 7, 2014, upon appointment from then Governor Rick Perry. She succeeded John Thomas Steen, Jr., a lawyer from San Antonio, who had served as secretary of state for thirteen months.
Berry was one of the six officials who make up the executive department of the State of Texas. Of those officials, five are elected; only the secretary of state is appointed. The secretary of state is the chief elections officer, the protocol officer for state and international matters, and the liaison for the governor on Mexican and border matters.
Originally from Hyderabad, India, Berry graduated from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, India. She subsequently received both bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Houston and the University of Houston Law Center. She and her husband, Michael Berry, a conservative talk radio host, attorney, and a former member of the Houston City Council, have two sons.
Prior to her appointment, Berry was affiliated with the Houston office of the Dallas-based Locke Lord law firm. She is a former vice chair on the Board of Regents of the University of Houston System. She has served on the boards of the Houston Zoo, the Houston Area Women's Center, the Community Family Center of Houston, and the South Asian Chamber of Commerce.
Governor Perry said that Berry came to the United States at the age of twenty-one "with nothing but $200 to her name" and has become "one of the most accomplished attorneys in the state. Berry said that she is "truly humbled to follow in the footsteps of Stephen F. Austin, Texas' first secretary of state. Like him, I came to Texas in search of a better life and the limitless opportunities to be found across our great state. Every day, I see Austin's pioneering spirit alive in Texas, and this great honor proves once again Texas is the land of opportunity, both in the private sector and public service."
Berry was the eighth and final person to hold the secretary of state's position in the Perry administration. Governor Greg Abbott announced on November 11, 2014, that he is replacing Berry with Carlos Cascos, the Republican county judge of Cameron County in Brownsville in far South Texas. The appointment requires confirmation by the Texas State Senate.