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Shelby Hansen, a native Houstonian, was raised in Sugar Land. She attended the University of Houston, the fifth in her family to do so, and graduated summa cum laude in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. During her time at University of Houston, she joined six honor societies and interned in Mayor Annise Parker’s Communications Office. The day after graduation, Shelby began volunteering with Mayor Parker’s re-election campaign and became a Team Leader overseeing five student volunteers during the Student Fellowship program.
Later in 2013, Shelby started working at Lillie Schechter Consulting focusing on political finance, communications and event planning, including organizing two Wendy Davis young professionals events, one of which raised almost quadruple its goal, a Cinco de Mayo-themed Leticia Van de Putte young professional event and a free screening in Discovery Green of HBO’s documentary about former Texas Governor Ann Richards, All About Ann. In December 2015, Shelby joined Project GRAD Houston as Chief of Staff.
In her spare time Shelby volunteers as the Finance Chair on the Executive Board of New Leaders Council – Houston, which is the first Texas Chapter of the New Leaders Council. She also sits on the Steering Committee for the Houston Forum, is the Treasurer of Houston Stonewall Young Democrats and volunteers with Planned Parenthood working to protect women’s rights to healthcare.
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 serves as President of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, the South's oldest civil rights organization dedicated to advancing LGBT rights through the endorsement of pro-equality political candidates. She also 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.
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.
Alison assists clients on their holistic wealth planning needs by offering comprehensive advice on strategic planning and asset allocation to meet their current and future objectives. Before joining the firm in 2015, she was vice president of banking with J.P. Morgan Private Bank where she focused on the investments, credit and planning needs of ultrahigh-net-worth clients in Houston and Louisiana. She specialized in planning for executives within the energy industry. Prior to that, she was executive director of the American Heart Association in Austin. Young received dual BAs, cum laude, in history and communications from Huntington University and an MBA in business entrepreneurship from the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. She is a member of the Houston Energy Finance Group, Women’s Energy Network, Houston-Galveston Area Local Development Corporation and the Greater Houston Partnership. She is a board member of the Jones Graduate School of Business and the Quick Reaction Foundation and volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association.
Eureka Gilkey leads Project Row Houses, a community-based arts and culture non-profit organization in Houston’s northern Third Ward. Eureka manages a dedicated team that uses art as a mechanism to transform the community and preserve its culture while providing education and economic opportunities to its residents.
Prior to moving to Houston, Eureka spent over fifteen years working in Washington, D.C. on behalf of elected officials and progressive organizations. Eureka successfully served in various leadership roles in the Obama Administration including Senior Advisor and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Outreach for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as National Deputy Political Director for Obama for America.A passionate organizer, Eureka credits EMILY’s List for fueling her commitment to progressive causes by offering her a position in the organization’s political department in 1998. Eureka is a graduate of Howard University and resides in Houston’s Historic Third Ward.
Andrea’s activism for progressive policies and social change has sometimes been her profession, but always been her avocation. A feminist, she became an organizer in college, when, frustrated by national policies about reproductive rights, she started Students for Choice at Dartmouth.
Professionally, Andrea has worked for over twenty years in fundraising for nonprofit organizations, with a short detour to earn her law degree. For the past five years, as the head of her own consulting firm, she has developed a specialty in organizations undergoing change or emerging from a crisis. She loves long-range strategies and set goals while putting systems and structures in place to keep things running smoothly. She is a tenacious researcher with a knack for uncovering and leveraging connections. She joined the New Leaders Council team in 2015 to make sure the organization would have strong roots in the state.
While reproductive rights brought Andrea to advocacy, she believes passionately that true progressive activism must be intersectional. While reproductive justice is her passion and area of expertise, she is proud to learn from and stand with (or stand beside or behind, as appropriate) activists from diverse backgrounds engaged in causes including a wide range of women’s issues, immigration, economic justice, issues of sexual and gender identity, civil rights, access to healthcare, and criminal justice reform.
She frequently turns to the words of the late, great Texan, Molly Ivins, for guidance and inspiration, some of her favorite of which are these: “So keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to have fun doin' it.”
Geneva L. Englebrecht joined the Houston office of Thompson & Horton in 2014. Prior to moving to Texas, Ms. Englebrecht was a Senior Attorney with the California law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo and represented school districts, county offices of education, special education local plan areas, and community colleges. Ms. Englebrecht has extensive experience in disability and special education law, advocacy, training, mediation, and due process hearings. She regularly advises clients regarding the Individuals with Disability in Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Ms. Englebrecht also has experience assisting clients with discrimination complaints filed with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights.Ms. Englebrecht is a 2014 Super Lawyers Rising Star. In 2009 the California Bar Foundation honored Ms. Englebrecht with the Rosenthal Bar Exam Scholarship Award for her dedication to public interest law. Ms. Englebrecht is a Full Fellow in the Whittier Center for Children’s Rights and has been an invited guest speaker at Whittier College of Law on Disability and Special Education and at California State University Long Beach on higher education for the socio-economically disadvantaged. Ms. Englebrecht is a frequent guest speaker for school administrators, attorneys, teachers, students, parents, community organizations, and school police on such topics as Section 504, student discipline, special education, deaf and hard of hearing litigation, and anti-bullying in general and special education, law enforcement on school campuses, and higher education for the socio-economically disadvantaged. Ms. Englebrecht served as an extern in special education matters and provided free special education legal training for low-income military families.Prior to law school Ms. Englebrecht enjoyed a career in hospital, medical group, and health plan administration and management and is emergency response and light search and rescue certified. Ms. Englebrecht volunteered at a woman’s shelters as a Certified Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor, provided in court support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and was a featured guest speaker for nine years at California State University Long Beach on child abuse and molestation. Ms. Englebrecht has also volunteered at a children’s shelter for court involved youth, homeless shelter, and juvenile detention center. She was a Girl Scout leader, color guard choreographer, and Founder of the annual Whittier Law School Diversity Fair which allows socio-economically disadvantaged high school and middle school student to visit the law school and encourages higher education.
Kelle’ Martin is a native Texan. Growing up in Houston, Kelle’ has always had a desire to make the world a better place. Martin earned a Bachelor’s in English Literature with a minor in Woman’s and Gender Studies from the University of Texas, where he worked as program coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Center - a resource center for women, the LGBTQIA community, and their allies - as well as an Orientation Advisor. While volunteering for organizations such as Montrose Center and Msociety, Kelle’ went on to earn his Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in political social work from the University of Houston. He served as Policy Analyst for the Legislative Study Group, a bipartisan caucus during the 83rdLegislative Session. In 2013 he became a Project Specialist for the State Independent Living Council, where he planned and implemented projects that increased the access people with disabilities had to gym equipment and health initiatives in certain areas of the state, provided transportation for people with disabilities and seniors who used public transportation in rural areas of Texas, as well as conducted a needs assessment gauging the efficacy of public transportation for the same populations in rural and small urban Texas. Martin facilitates Men of Color, or MoC, a group that seeks to give visibility to the diverse perspectives of the gay male experience in Austin. Kelle’ is passionate about empowering Texans to register and participate in the local elections process.
Originally from Houston, Abbie graduated from Tulane University in 2009 with a B.A. in Political Science. While in New Orleans, among other things, Abbie was involved in environmental and community organizing, was the student organizer Mitch Landrieu's mayoral campaign. In 2011, Abbie left New Orleans to attend American University's Washington College of Law, where she focused on voting rights and election law. While in the nation's capital, Abbie interned for both the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Division and the House (Minority Side) Oversight & Government Reform Committee, and worked for a Texas Democratic Strategic Communications Firm. After earning her Juris Doctorate in 2014, Abbie moved back to Texas and became a licensed attorney. Today she is an Associate Attorney at Brazil & Dunn, LLP. She remains committed to Democratic initiatives and empowering Texans.
Isabel Longoria is a native Houstonian and a proud champion of civic engagement and equal rights in Texas. Graduating with a degree in Sociology from Trinity University inspired Isabel to pursue a career of public service to affect positive social change at a community-wide scale, and she has since gone on to earn a Master's in Public Affairs from the UT LBJ School of Public Affairs and worked in progressive politics across the state of Texas for the better part of five years. Isabel recently accepted a new position with AARP in order to advocate for age friendly policies in the City of Houston, and continues to be engaged in the fight for equal rights for women, the LGBT community, Latinos, and immigrants. She is excited to be a part of New Leaders Council because she believes firmly in the principles of progressive leadership: integrity, action, and service.
Born and raised in Texas, Cheryl is currently a Development Associate with the ACLU of Texas, focusing her efforts on grant-writing, foundation relations, and cultivation of an individual giving portfolio. After earning her law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and joining the State Bar of Texas in 2012, she spent a year as a Legal Fellow for the ACLU of Texas, and stayed to learn how to run a non-profit organization from the inside. She takes pride that the priority issue areas of the ACLU of Texas mirror her own, and appreciates the chance to work each day protecting immigrant rights, LGBT equality, criminal law reform and fair justice, reproductive rights, free speech, and religious exercise.
As a student attorney with the University of Houston Immigration Clinic, Cheryl wrote a successful appellate brief to Board of Immigration Appeals for a transgender client seeking safety in the United States. She won a forced-marriage and religious persecution asylum case for a mother and her children, and prepared successful civil petitions for an unaccompanied child who survived a treacherous solo journey to the United States. She represented a client who had survived domestic abuse through her VAWA petition, and helped her gain legal status and ensure her ability to work in the United States. She appreciated this opportunity to combine her personal empathy for the struggles of immigrant members of her own family, with the challenge of besting our broken immigration system on behalf of her clients.
Cheryl graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin, completing dual degrees in science and the Plan II Honors program. She was nominated for a Plan II model senior thesis award, and participated in entirely too much guerilla theater. After college, Cheryl taught educational and independent living skills for students with developmental and physical handicaps, and advocates support and expanded autonomy for individuals with autism, including her younger brother. She studied American Sign Language, and combined her loves for theater, ASL, and disability rights as a founding member of DeafACT, an Austin-area theater troupe for Deaf children.
Outside of professional roles, Cheryl pursues her passion for the arts as a member of the Houston Masterworks Chorus. She was proud to accept a nomination to the board of directors of the Stonewall Law Association of Greater Houston, which offers support, training and leadership opportunities for LGBT and ally attorneys throughout Houston.
Brandon Mack is the Senior Assistant Director of Admission & Coordinator of Transfer Admission at Rice University. He has been with the Office of Admission since 2009. Mack works specifically on minority recruitment initiatives, community based organization partnerships, and community outreach efforts to educate students on highly selective college admissions. He also oversees and manages the transfer admission process and is the liaison to the Rice School of Architecture. In addition to his day job, Mack is a community activist and sociologist dedicated to issues related to the intersections of race, gender, and sexual orientation. He has conducted research on effemiphobia, the negativity related to effeminate gay men. His work has been featured in a GLAAD Media Award winning article and he has presented his work at national conferences such as the National LGBTQ Task Force: Creating Change and NBJC's Out on the Hill. He has taught classes on sociology and gender studies at Rice University. Mack also founded the Houston Civil Rights Strategy Group, a collective of activists dedicated to issues related to LGBT communities of color. He is the former National Secretary and lifetime member of Delta Phi Upsilon Fraternity, Inc., the first fraternity for gay men of color. He received the fraternity’s Presidential Trailblazer Award for his work within the fraternity and the community. He is a board member of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. He is also active in the League of Women Voters of Houston Education Fund and is a member of their Speaker’s Bureau. The League awarded Mack the Rising Star Award in 2014. The National Black Justice Coalition, the nation's leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black LGBT people recognized Mack as part of their inaugural 100 to Watch class.Mack graduated from Rice University in 2006 with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology & Political Science. He earned his Masters of Science in Sociology from Texas A&M University in 2009. In 2013, Mack earned a Masters of Education in Higher Education Administration & Supervision from the University of Houston.
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 research 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 NotAlone.us, 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 living in Boston, New York, and, most recently, Boulder, Colorado. She is a 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, as well as a proud alumna of the inaugural 2015 class of NLC Houston Fellows.
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 Houston’s vibrant art scene. Diana graduated from the University of Houston with a BA in Psychology.
Jay Mays is an intersectional advocate committed to diversity, inclusion, respect, and fun! Jay works as the volunteer coordinator at the Montrose Center, Houston’s LGBT community center. Jay organizes volunteers to support integrated wellness initiatives and care teams for LGBTQ youth, adults, and seniors.
Jay Mays has also been performing and producing theater and gender-blended variety shows as a co-founder of the quietly subversive Houston Gendermyn since 2006. When not producing, Jay teaches, trains, and works collaboratively on the GENDER book (www.thegenderbook.com), a multimedia, fully illustrated, community-sourced gender primer that makes accessible the beautiful diversity of gender in hardback and ebook. Downloaded in almost more than 30 countries, the GENDER book is bringing interested educators, administrators, young people and professionals into the fold of creating safer spaces for gender diverse adults and youth.
Jay also works collaboratively on film festivals in Houston, including QFest, and most recently on the inaugural Gender Reel Houston Film Festival, a film, visual art, and performance event dedicated to enhancing the visibility of and celebrating transgender voices in art.
Annette Ramirez is currently the Executive Director of Tax Litigation at Aldine Independent School District. As Executive Director she supervises litigation involving the collection of tax revenue for the District and is responsible for identifying property within the District to accommodate future growth. Ms. Ramirez regularly updates the General Counsel on legislative developments impacting ad valorem taxation and school finance. She is also responsible for establishing and maintaining productive and engaging relationships with other local government agencies. Annette has over 15 years of experience in community organization and volunteer management. She has been directly involved with the development and implementation of long term community improvement plans, budgeting, event planning and fundraising. She enjoys coordinating and engaging her local community, parents and students. Annette graduated from Texas A&M University at Galveston with a B.S. in Maritime Administration and received her J.D. from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas. Ms. Ramirez is a member of the Houston Bar Association and Women Professionals in Government where she sits on the Scholarship Committee. Annette is a resident of League City and when she is not working or volunteering she juggles the demands of her three children and their ever increasing list of extracurricular activities.
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.
Bich-May Nguyen cares for patients as a board-certified family physician at a community health center and supervises Family Medicine residents in 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 to Policy Prescriptions. She is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, and North American Primary Care Research Group.
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.
David Anderson, 20.10 Media, LLC
Tom Berg, Attorney
Lisa Sanger Blinn, Associate Director, Institute of Biosciences and Biotechnology
Kristen Brauchle, Attorney
Rogene Calvert, Community Outreach and Public Affairs Director at Outreach Strategists
The Hon. Zeph Capo, Houston Community College Board of Trustee, District 1
The Hon. Erica Lee Carter, Harris County Department of Education Position 6, Precinct 1
Brandon Dudley, Chief of Staff/Legal Counsel for Senator Rodney Ellis
Blake Ellis, Associate Professor, Lone Star College
The Hon. Rodney Ellis, Texas State Senator, 13th District
Matt Emal, Langrand & Company
The Hon. Mike Engelhart, 151st Civil Judicial Court Justice, Harris County
The Hon. Sissy Farenthold, Politician and Activist
Gilbert Andrew Garcia, Chairman, Metro Board of Director; Managing Partner, Garcia Hamilton & Associates
The Hon. Sylvia R. Garcia, Texas State Senator, 6th District
Lloyd Gite, Owner, The Gite Gallery
Ginny Goldman, Executive Director, Texas Organizing Project
Brian Greene, President and CEO, Houston Food Bank
Dr. William Harris, Associate Professor, Environmental Science and Studies, University of St. Thomas
The Hon. Ana Hernandez, Texas State Representative, 143rd District
Jagi Kaital, Head of Pegstar Concerts
Ruth Kravetz, Clinical Associate Professor, University of Houston--teachHouston
Jackie Martin, Principal, J S Martin Associates, LP
Amber Mostyn, Partner, Mostyn Law Firm; Founder, Mostyn Moreno Educational Foundation
Philippe Nassif, Regional Advocacy Director, CARE
Jim Perdue, Jr., Partner, Perdue & Kidd, LLP
Sanjay Ram, Vice President CP&Y
Edward Sanchez, Edward Sanchez Cosmetics
The Hon. Richard Schechter, Law Office of Richard Schechter
Richard Shaw, Secretary, Treasurer, AFL-CIO
Karun Sreerama, President, ESPA Corp Inc
The Hon. Juliet Stipeche, Associate Director, Richard Tapia Center for Excellence and Equity, Rice University
Mustafa Tameez, Founder & Managing Director at Outreach Strategists
The Hon. Armando Walle, Texas State Representative, 140th District
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