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New Leaders Council


Veronica Bernal, Clinical Supervising Fellow, University of Houston Law Center

	Veronica	Bernal	Veronica Esmeralda Bernal is currently a Clinical Supervising Fellow at the University of Houston Law Center's Immigration Clinic. In this capacity, she is responsible for supervising immigration clinic students working on various pro bono immigration cases, which include cases involving immigrants who are victims of crimes, immigrants who are victims of domestic violence, special immigrant juveniles, and asylum cases. Ms. Bernal also provides direct pro bono legal representation to immigrant victims of crime, domestic violence, and human trafficking under a grant from the Office of the Attorney General Crime Victims Services Division. She has also appeared numerous times on national television regarding human rights activism and immigration law. Ms. Bernal has participated in various community outreach programs throughout the Houston area on the subject of deferred action for childhood arrivals, special immigrant juveniles, naturalization, and family based petitions.Ms. Bernal traveled extensively during her law school career to Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Most recently, she presented her paper Issues at the Intersection of Immigration and Human Rights Law during the Migration Without Boundaries Conference at Michigan State University. Her paper related to the issue of Mexican asylum seekers and children who are subject to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Her presentation was a result of her experience as a student attorney in the UH Immigration Clinic where she worked with a team of attorneys on an asylum case before the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Bernal graduated with honors from the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg, Texas with a B.A.s in Political Science and Sociology, and received her J.D. from The University of Houston Law Center in Houston, Texas where she was one of five students from the graduating class to receive the Distinguished Service Award during the graduation ceremony. Prior to law school, Ms. Bernal worked with the Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General. Ms. Bernal was born in Hidalgo, Texas and raised in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. She is the daughter of Margarita Vega de Bernal and the late Efrem C. Bernal. Ms. Bernal interest in law is a product of learning about her father's struggle through the legal system in his United States Supreme Court Case of Bernal v. Fainter.


Carla Brailey, Visiting Professor, Texas Southern University

	Carla	Brailey	Dr. Carla D. Brailey is a native of Houston, Texas and currently teaches at Texas Southern University in the Department of Sociology. Her areas of specialization are in social inequality and urban studies with special emphasis on the study of race, class, and gender as systemic forms of inequality. Her courses continue to coincide with social inequality including social problems, social change and social movements, education, politics, religion and urban living. Previously a lecturer in the Afro-American Studies Department at Howard University and an adjunct professor at Prince GeorgeÕs Community College, Dr. Brailey is passionate about equipping students with knowledge and critical thinking skills. She has taught primary, secondary, and postsecondary grade levels and served as an assistant principal at the Harmony Science Academy. She credits the Imani School for helping her embrace her passion for teaching.

Dr. Brailey is a 2007 Ph.D. graduate from Howard University, where she also completed a Master of Divinity and Women's Studies Certificate from Howard University in 2007 and received a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology in 1997. She is a 1994 graduate of Texas State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. Along with her academic accomplishments and endeavors, she has continuously provided public service leadership in Washington, D.C. and Houston, Texas. Currently, Carla serves on the Advisory Council for Sankofa Institute and the Chair of KeyPac. She served in the former Mayor Adrian Fenty's Cabinet as the Executive Director of Community Affairs and Senior Advisor for Religious Affairs for the District of Columbia. She engaged in problem-solving to address the myriad issues presented by various constituent servicesÕ offices (African Affairs; WomenÕs Policy & Initiatives; Youth Advisory Council; Ex-Offender Affairs; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Affairs; & Community Relations).  Before promoted to initiate the Office of Community Affairs, Dr. Brailey was appointed as the Director of the Office of Boards and Commissions. Similar to her public servant leadership and involvement in the District of Columbia, she served as the Coordinator of Social Services at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas.

Dr. Brailey is prideful about being a socio-political scholar activist, mentor, and educator that uses critical, progressive pedagogical approaches to raise the consciousness, vision and strategy amongst students and the general public. Through all of her accomplishments, she is most proud of being a mother to her six year old daughter, Marley J.


Stephen Chao, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine

	Stephen	Chao	Stephen Chao, MD is currently an Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, he attended Rice University, graduating with degrees in Biochemistry and Health Policy. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and was involved with the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association as well as the American Medical Student Association during medical school.

Dr. Chao completed his family medicine residency training at UT San Antonio and practices at the Vallbona Community Health Center (formerly known as People's Clinic), one of the primary care clinics of the Harris Health System, where indigent residents of Houston and Harris County are cared for. His interests include care for the underserved, community health, and public policy. He believes in providing quality health care for all. He serves or has served on the boards of OCA-Greater Houston, Chinese American Doctors Association of Houston, Eastside Promotoras de la Buena Salud, San Antonio Healthcare-NOW Coalition, and Doctors for Change.


Deborah Chen, Immigration Attorney, Law Offices of Deborah Y. Chen

	Deborah	Chen	Deborah Y. Chen is an immigration attorney at The Law Offices of Deborah Y. Chen & Associates and longtime community activist for the past 20+ years. She is an expert in Small, Minority, Woman, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (SMWDBE) Government Contracting Programs and Supplier Diversity. She is the former Sr. Executive Staff Analyst at the City of Houston MayorÕs Office of Affirmative Action & Contract Compliance and worked to promote equal opportunities, fair treatment, and capacity building for SMWDBEs and was Division Manager for MWDBE & Affirmative Action at the Human Relations Department of the City of Kansas City, MO. Debbie has been an active member of the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community since attending the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and advocating for an Asian American Studies Center and the importance of UT to consider the needs/concerns of AAPI students in UT hiring of counselors at the student counseling center and inclusion of AAPIs in scholarship considerations.

She received her JD from South Texas College of Law and is a recipient of the Lyndon B. Johnson Civil Rights Award, State Bar of Texas Appellate Section Distinguished Service Award, and the Garnet F. Coleman AmeriCorps Civic Volunteer Award. She serves on the Board of OCA-Greater Houston Chapter where she co-founded the Houston AAPI Film Festival Committee and co-organizes the OCA-GH Advocacy CenterÕs monthly Citizenship Workshops, pro-bono legal resource guide, and bi-annual National Asian Pacific American Elections Exit Survey Houston sites and GOTV efforts.


Sue Deigaard, Student &Community Organizer

Sue Dimenn Deigaard is a parent of two children currently enrolled in HISD, and has over 20 years of professional and volunteer experience in community organization, volunteer engagement, and program development.

Sue is often sought out by organizations and community leaders for her expertise, innovative ideas, and ability to foster collaboration among diverse interests. Her passion is engaging parents and community members in effective advocacy to promote stronger student outcomes. 


Andre Evans, Counselor, Self-employed

Andre Evans, Esq., is a motivational speaker, lecturer, professor, community activist and aspiring author. He is an alumnus of Prairie View A&M University, where he studied Criminal Justice and Psychology. He received his Juris Doctorate from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University; He has served the City of Houston for approximately six years as a Police Officer with the Houston Police Department, and was a founding member of the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund.

Currently, he is a founding and managing partner at Andre Evans & Associates, PLLC., a Houston based law firm where he practices business, criminal and entertainment law. He also serves as a social sciences professor at Texas Southern University where he furthers his passion for education and civic responsibility in addition to being a partner at Visionworld Entertainment, LLC., a Houston-based full service entertainment company that specializes in artist development & management.


Caroline Evans, Reporter, Upstream: The International Oil and Gas Newspaper

	Caroline	Evans	Caroline Evans has just accepted a position as a reporter for Upstream: The International Oil and Gas Newspaper. Previously, she was an associate editor at Oil and Gas Investor, the premier trade publication of the upstream oil and gas finance sector. At OGI, she handled various writing, editing and web duties. In 2012, she spearheaded the magazine's "20 Under 40" series, which profiles remarkable young professionals in the upstream oil and gas industry. Prior to working at OGI, she was a reporter for Houston Community Newspapers and arts and culture editor at the Houston Press. She also worked as a local editor at AOL Patch, where she built a news website from the ground up for the Chicago suburb of Mokena, Illinois. Before attending journalism school, Caroline served as an AmeriCorps volunteer on the west side of Chicago, where she taught English, math and guitar at a charter school in its flagship year. In Houston, she has volunteered as an Apple Corps member at the Houston Food Bank and led Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church's relief mission to Bastrop County in 2012.

Caroline is a native Houstonian but has lived in German, Canada, Chicago and Columbia, Missouri. She has a B.A. in history from McGill University and an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri, where she received an AmeriCorps Fellowship.


Diana Featherston, Special Projects and Scholarship Coordinator, Project GRAD Houston

	Diana	Featherston	"Diana Featherston is the Special Projects and Scholarship Coordinator at Project GRAD Houston, a college access and success non-profit dedicated to improving lives in Houston by helping students develop and achieve their educational aspirations. In this role, Diana has most recently taken the lead in developing a comprehensive data management and communication system that supports data-driven programming and effective outcome reporting. She provides expertise in project design and coordination as well as data collection and analysis. As a Project GRAD alumni, Diana understands how the right support team can take the desire to attend college and create an actual roadmap to college graduation. Prior to Project GRAD, Diana spent five years at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston. As Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer and eventually Compliance Specialist, she oversaw many projects for the Meals on Wheels department which serves home delivered meals to home bound seniors. Diana was selected to participate in United Way's Learning Circles for Emerging Leaders, and she also received a Meals on Wheels Association of America's Next Leader Scholarship. Diana was fortunate to participate in Big Brothers and Sisters as a little sister. This experience only helped her recognize early on the importance of non-profits in our communities. Diana's volunteer experience started at the age of 12 at the Grace United Emergency Food Pantry.

Currently, Diana volunteers with Community Voices for Public Education and previously volunteered with the Community Cloth as a facilitator for a group of Bhutanese refugee women. Diana is a first generation Texan, her family hails from El Salvador. She is thankful for the diversity that Houston provides and enjoys learning about new cultures, tasting new cuisines and HoustonÕs vibrant art scene. Diana graduated from the University of Houston with a BA in Psychology.


Shailey Gupta-Brietzke, Enforcement Attorney, Harris County Domestic Relations Office

	Shailey	Gupta-Brietzke	Shailey Gupta-Brietzke grew up in the suburbs in southwest Houston. She graduated from Texas A&M University, where she identified her personal values and found her political identity. Shailey worked closely with the Women's Center on campus, and completed an internship at Phoebe's Home (a local domestic violence shelter). Upon graduation, Shailey moved back to Houston to pursue her law degree while working at the Houston Area Women's Center in the residential shelter and on the hotline. Shailey was the first graduate at South Texas College of Law to obtain a post-graduate fellowship from the Ford Foundation. Her fellowship focused on working with Hurricane Katrina and Rita survivors experiencing domestic violence. Shailey worked at Aid to Victims of Domestic Violence for her fellowship, and provided pro bono representation to over 200 domestic violence survivors her 5 year tenure. Shailey spent much of her free time, volunteering and working in the field of reproductive justice. Shailey started volunteering for the Lilith Fund in 2007, joined the board, and in 2011, became President.

Shailey recently joined the boards of the National Network of Abortion Funds, and now serves as the Treasurer. She has published articles at RH Reality Check, and spoken at various conferences including Take Root, Law Students for Reproductive Justice Regional Conferences, and the National Network of Abortion Funds Summits. She currently works for Harris County as a family law attorney, and is a member of Burta Rhodes Raborn Family Law Inn of Court and the Houston Bar Association. When Shailey is not working or volunteering, she is spending time with her partner and dogs, cooking, baking, running and playing soccer. 


Hany Khalil, Social Studies Teacher, Teacher Mentor, & College Counselor, Houston ISD

	Hany	Khalil	Hany Khalil is an educator and grassroots organizer based in Houston, TX. He has over twenty years of organizing experience in the racial justice, peace, and labor movements. As National Organizing Coordinator with United for Peace and Justice, he helped organize national campaigns to convert burgeoning anti-war sentiment into nation-wide political pressure to end the Iraq war, a development vital to the 2006 Democratic sweep of Congress. As an organizer with UNITE HERE, he trained predominantly immigrant hotel workers in New York in how to win better wages, health care, working conditions, and respect on the job. As a community organizer with L.A.'s Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (S.C.O.P.E.), he organized African American and Latino community members to participate in a successful issue campaign to expand job and educational opportunities in the multimedia industry. For several years he also taught an undergraduate course on community organizing at New York University.

In 2007 Hany moved back to Houston, his hometown, to help build the organizational infrastructure necessary to turn promising demographic trends in Texas into progressive political power. He has taught on level and AP social studies courses at southwest Houston public schools for the last seven years, sits on the Executive Council of the Houston Federation of Teachers, and is active with the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools - Houston. Following a harrowing experience with top-down school reconstitution, he co-founded Community Voices for Public Education (CVPE), an organization of parents, educators, students, and community members working to strengthen Houston's public school system so that all children have access to a high quality public education. He played a key role in planning and executing campaigns to get the Houston ISD to call upon the state to reduce the over-emphasis on standardized testing in our schools, to nearly get Anne Sung elected to the HISD school board on a shoestring budget, and to force a public debate on the effectiveness of Apollo 20, a misguided experiment in converting struggling public schools into test-prep factories rather than centers of learning of twenty-first century skills. Hany holds an M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA and B.A. in Religious Studies from Brown University. A speaker of both Spanish and Egyptian colloquial Arabic, he also serves on the Board of the Egyptian-American Society of Houston.


Aaron Limonthas, Account Executive, Dropbox

	Aaron	Limonthas

Aaron Limonthas is graduate from Dartmouth College where he received a degree in 

Sociology and Women & Gender Studies. In Houston, he serves as a small business consultant for AT&T; radio host, and founder of a non profit organization.

He has aspirations of starting his own business, running for political office, and advancing the educational,political, and financial realm of Blacks in America and throughout the world. Aaron is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.




Zhen Mahoney, Senior Clinical Market Development Lead , Thermo Fisher Scientific

Zhen X. Mahoney serves as a Senior Clinical Market Development Lead at Thermo Fisher Scientific, a global Life Science company with $17 billion annual revenue. In this role, she promotes and sells genetic analysis tools to pharmaceutical companies to personalize cancer treatment through clinical trials, an area she is very passionate about.

Outside work, she serves on the Board of Directors at OCA-Greater Houston. Founded in 1973, OCA is a national organization dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans. Zhen was born and raised in China. She came to U.S. after obtaining her B.S. from Beijing University in China. Zhen holds a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. She currently lives in Houston with her husband and their 4-year old son.


Beth Matusoff Merfish, Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Houston Clear Lake

	Beth	Matusoff Merfish	Beth Matusoff Merfish is an assistant professor of Art History at the University of Houston Clear Lake. She earned her doctorate and masters degrees at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University with specializations in Latin American and Modern Art and her bachelors degree from Wellesley College. Her current book project considers the virulent pro-Fascist products of two men best known for their major roles in the populist Mexican Muralist Movement: the bureaucrat Jose Vasconcelos and the artist Dr. Atl.

In addition to her academic career, Beth serves on the Board of Directors of, an organization she co-founded after the publication of her New York Times op-ed "My Mother's Abortion" in July 2013. Not Alone encourages women and men to share their abortion stories via online video and personal conversations, motivated by the belief that only personal disclosure can transform our nation's dialogue around reproductive rights. Beth is a third-generation native Houstonian and is happy to be back in the Lone Star State after spending the last 14 years in Boston, New York, and, most recently, Boulder, Colorado. She is a proud resident of the Woodland Heights, where she and her husband, Daniel, spend their time chasing after two feisty terriers. Beth is a frequent skier, aspiring cyclist, and pop culture human encyclopedia.


Samia Mirza, Managing Consultant, AIG

	Samia	Mirza	Samia Mirza is a Managing Consultant with the American International Group (AIG). She joined the consulting and management development team in 2014; Samia's primary responsibilities involve leading essential projects across the entire Life & Retirement Business at AIG. She specializes in applying management skills to time sensitive and complex problems essential to AIG's business model.

Prior to joining AIG, Samia was the Director of Programs and Operations at Leadership Houston, a 501c3 organization focused on bringing together leaders from different communities to increase dialogue and foster collaboration on projects that improve the quality of life for all Houstonians. During her tenure at Leadership Houston, she successfully designed the Signature Program and Core Curriculum. She is keenly aware that impact in a local community is made in the nexus of public and private organizations, both benefiting from the other. Samia focuses on creating a platform where the synergy of unorthodox partnerships coupled with local knowledge can create opportunities for true transformative change.Samia received a Marketing Degree from the University of Houston and her MBA from Rice University. 


Bich-May Nguyen, Family Physician

	Bich-May	Nguyen	Bich-May Nguyen cares for patients as a board-certified family physician at a community health center. She supervises Family Medicine residents at the clinic and at a safety-net hospital. May also teaches and mentors medical students. In addition to her day job, May has been promoting access to high quality health care as a 2013-2014 Copello Health Advocacy Fellow with the National Physicians Alliance. She contributes research reviews and tweets for Policy Prescriptions. She is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

May graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in biology and minored in history at the University of Houston. She received a M.D. in the Underserved Track from Baylor College of Medicine and a M.P.H. with a concentration in health policy from Harvard School of Public Health. She completed her residency training in Family Medicine at Boston University. In her free time, May enjoys reading, swing dancing, and finding good shows on Netflix. She swears she will learn how to play her ukulele.


Danyahel Norris, Attorney and Legal Research Instructor, Self & Texas Southern University

	Danyahel	Norris	Danyahel 'Danny' Norris is the Principal Partner of Norris & Norris, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, which specializes in providing intellectual property law and other transactional legal services to individuals, small businesses, and other entities. Along with lecturing for various organizations, he currently serves as an Instructor of Legal Research, at Thurgood Marshall School of Law where he received a faculty appreciation award in 2011.

Mr. Norris received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Houston and a Juris Doctor from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. He is licensed to practice before the State Bar of Texas and the United States Patent & Trademark Office. Mr. Norris has published several articles on a variety of topics covering both international and domestic issues. Notably, Mr. Norris, along with his is 2010 law review article discussing Houston gentrification, was featured in the Houston Press in July 2011.

Mr. Norris is active in the local bar community, where he is the current President of the Houston Lawyers Association and a member of the Houston Bar Association. He is also involved in the state-wide bar community, where he is currently serving as Treasurer of the African-American Lawyers Section for the State Bar of Texas. Nationally, he is a member of various national bar organizations, including the American Bar Association and the National Bar Association.


Jerry Peruchini, Chief of Staff, City of Houston

	Jerry	Peruchini	Jerry Peruchini is a dedicated public servant with a passion for serving the citizens of Houston. He is a proud supporter of the University of Houston, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Jerry currently serves as Chief of Staff for Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez at Houston City Hall. He is the Mayor Pro-Tem's Senior Advisor, crafts public policy, directs the office staff, oversees online and print communications, and manages media, intergovernmental, and external relations. Prior to arriving at City Hall, Jerry worked on a number of political campaigns and as a political fundraiser. Volunteer Service & Leadership Jerry volunteers for the Houston Independent School DistrictÕs Real Men Read Program, where he reads to students at Scroggins Elementary School each month. He also serves as the Vice Chair of the Vecino Health Centers Board of Directors, a Federally Qualified Health Center. Jerry is a graduate of Leadership Houston's Class XXXII and of the Greater Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce FoundationÕs Emerging Leaders Institute. In 2013, Jerry was recognized as a Rising Star by the League of Women Voters of Houston and received their Carrie Chapman Catt Leadership Award.

Jerry is a native of Maracaibo, Venezuela and was raised abroad in Vietnam, Holland, Indonesia, and Singapore. He has spent the last ten years in Houston and continues to enjoy learning about different cultures and areas of the world. During his free time, Jerry is an avid reader, movie-watcher, amateur photographer, and Houston sports fan.


Jose Eduardo Sanchez, Southern Director, Young Invincibles

	JosŽ Eduardo	S‡nchez	Jose Eduardo S‡nchez is the Southern Director for Young Invincibles, where he is currently responsible for advancing the organization's work in the state of Texas. He comes from a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico, but has called Houston home for the past 17 years. Throughout his professional experience, he's been committed to fighting for social change through innovative, community-based policy and research initiatives. His organizing and campaign work has led to legislative victories on the state and municipal level improving conditions for low-wage and immigrant workers; including the passage of the first-ever Houston Anti-Wage Theft Ordinance and Texas Wage Theft Law. In 2011, he co-founded the YO Collective, a capacity building organization for young organizers in the Houston area. He's also worked directly with students of color to improve higher education opportunities at the MIT Office of Engineering Outreach Programs and in various public health projects targeting young people with the UT School of Public Health.

He's currently a Greensboro Justice Fund Fellow at the Highlander Center. Jose Eduardo attended Rice University and the University of Houston-Downtown, where he received his degree in political science. "


Tawny Tidwell, Digital Media Strategist/Copywriter

	Tawny	Tidwell	Tawny Tidwell is a digital media strategist and copywriter. She also stage manages occasionally for The Catastrophic Theatre, and is involved in Houston's activist community. Tawny sat on the board of the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity for three years, and co-chaired the Planned Parenthood Young Leaders steering committee for two. S

he is passionate about reproductive justice and anti-racist politics, and hopes to be a progressive voice for change in Houston.




Fransheneka Watson, Attorney at Law

	Fran	Watson	Fran Watson is a licensed attorney and certified mediator whose practice focuses on estate planning, estate administration, and commercial disputes. In addition to running her law practice, Fran is an active volunteer for various organizations and events in and around Houston. She served as the Disability Hospitality subcommittee chair for the 26th National Conference on LGBT Equality, and is currently serving on the Houston Bar Association's Lawyers for Literacy and the Minority Opportunities in the Legal Profession Committees. She is a member of a newly formed Black LGBT civil rights group and is on the planning of the Misfits' Series, which consists of quarterly panel discussions focusing on issues facing the black LGBT community.

Fran has also taken on leadership roles in the community. She serves on the board of Stonewall Law Association of Greater Houston, an association of legal professionals whose objectives are to provide an LGBT presence in the community while promoting the study of LGBT and HIV law. She is also a board member and the volunteer coordinator for the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, the SouthÕs oldest civil rights organization dedicated to advancing LGBT rights through the endorsement of pro-equality political candidates.

Recently, Fran was elected to serve as board president of Montrose Grace Place, whose mission is to provide a safe, welcoming environment for vulnerable homeless youth of all sexualities and genders, providing nourishment, healthy relationships and hope for the future. In her free time, Fran enjoys traveling with her wife of 10 years, reading, hiking, and hanging out with friends and family.


Michael Webb, Prevention Supervisor, Legacy Community Health Services

	Michael	Webb	Michael C. Webb, Jr. was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Michael attributes his devotion to public service and social/political activism to his formative experience at Chinquapin Preparatory School in Highlands, Texas. Coincidentally, Michael followed the founder of Chinquapin's footsteps and attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where he studied Political Science. Afterwards, Michael gained private sector experience through his employment at a Washington, D.C. law firm but he could not resist the call to help change lives in underserved communities and enlisted in a year of service for the Houston Mayor's Office of Education Initiatives as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Currently, Michael serves as a Prevention Supervisor for Legacy Community Health Services' Public Health Department. As prevention supervisor, Michael oversees daily operations of HIV/STD prevention and empowerment outreach activities for Legacy's mPowerment program, a program that focuses on empowering young gay/bi men of color. A crucial aspect of his day-to-day responsibilities includes developing sustainable partnerships, design targeted HIV testing strategies, and identifying community assets that support efforts to address the alarming HIV infection rates within gay/bi communities of color. Although HIV prevention and empowerment are one of Michael's primary passions, he also empowers the Houston community through political advocacy by serving on the Board of Trustees of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and organizing voter awareness/registration initiatives through his fraternity Delta Phi Upsilon Fraternity, Inc. Michael's community work has been recognized by the League of Women Voters of Houston Education Fund as a Rising Star Honoree along as one of the National Black Justice Coalition's 100 Black LGBTQ/SGL Emerging Leaders to Watch honoree. Ultimately, Michael strives to contribute to the production of responsible, educated citizens and leaders who can put an end to this epidemic and help foster communities based on equality, compassion, and service.


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