Toya Cirica Bell ’87
President, ARA Board
BA 1987, Rice University
JD 1990, College of William and Mary
Term as President ends: 2023
Get to Know Toya
- Executive Bio
Toya Cirica Bell is an attorney and consultant with significant experience in the areas of employment law; ethics and compliance;and diversity, equity,and inclusion. She recently retired from public service with a career of over 20 years. A member of the class of ’87, Toya holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Rice University and a Juris Doctorate from the College of William & Mary.
Toya’s active engagement with the ARA includes serving as an alumni interviewer, founder of the Rice Attorneys in Austin, co-chair for her class Reunion Committee during the Rice Centennial, past President of the Rice ARA Chapter in Austin, and as a member of the ARA board of directors. Her board contributions include chairing the Nominations Committee, co-chairing the inaugural ARA Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Committee, and serving on the Executive and Strategic Planning Committees. She also participated as a member of the Affiliate Outreach and Alumni Engagement Task Forces.
Toya currently serves on the board of directors for the Austin Community Foundation and Mission Capital. Sheis a past board chair of Leadership Austin and has served on the executive committee of numerous nonprofit organizations including the Long Center for the Performing Arts and the Junior League of Austin. Toya is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Links, Inc. She is also an alumna of Leadership Texas and the Texas Lyceum.Toya is the recipient of the Junior League of Austin’s 2021 Volunteer Extraordinaire Award, Austin Bar Association’s Joseph C. Parker, Jr, Diversity Award, Mission Capital Community Leader of the Year Award, and the Austin 40 Under 40 Mentor of the Year Award.
- What part of serving on the ARA Board are you most excited about?
I have a passion for connecting our fellow alumni with each other and the university. I am truly looking forward to collaborating with the Association to increase alumni engagement and connectivity around the world.
What is your favorite “Only at Rice” memory or story?
Henry De la Garza and I knew each other and had friends in common while attending Rice. However, our friendship blossomed after graduation when the stars continued to align in our favor--guiding us to the same summer abroad program for law students at the University of Exeter, the same judicial clerkship with the Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio, the same career opportunities and trajectories as Assistant Texas Attorney Generals, employment attorneys, ethics officers and advisors --- and for many years, living in the same neighborhood in Austin--all completely unplanned or coordinated. As the Chairs of our 25th Reunion Giving Committee, we had a great time and exceeded our fundraising goal! We are a small community with a global reach and the ties that bind us to one another are endearing and enduring. Thanks to my Rice experience, I have many life-long friends with whom I share a very quintessential "owlessence" which has informed and guided our lives beyond the hedges.
- If you could give one piece of advice to Rice students, what would it be?
Learn as much as you can about all the many things that interest you. Thoughtfully curate your experiences and cultivate your relationships because they will become even more meaningful as life goes on.