Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday appointed Houston lawyer Nandita Berry to be secretary of state, succeeding John Steen Jr. of San Antonio, who announced his resignation this month. Berry’s appointment, effective Jan. 7, will make her the first Indian-American to hold the position of chief elections officer for Texas, Perry said. “Nandita Berry personifies what is possible through hard work and dedication in the state of Texas,” Perry said in a statement announcing the appointment. She was 21 when she arrived from India “with nothing but $200 to her name” and has become “one of the most accomplished attorneys in the state.” “I am truly humbled to follow in the footsteps of Stephen F. Austin, Texas’ first secretary of state,” Berry said in a statement. “Like him, I came to Texas in search of a better life and the limitless opportunities to be found across our great state.”
Berry has been on the University of Houston board of regents as a Perry appointee but resigned that post to become secretary of state, according to the governor’s office. She is senior counsel at Locke Lord LLP, a position the firm said she also will resign.
She is married to radio talk-show host and former Houston City Councilman Michael Berry, who drew attention in 2010 for saying on his show he hoped that if a mosque were built near the New York City site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that it would be blown up. He later apologized for his words but maintained that the mosque should not be built. He also has referred to Houston Mayor Annise Parker as Annise “Porker,” and refers to liberals as “libtards.”