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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.
Annette Ramirez is currently the Assistant General Counsel of Tax Litigation at Aldine Independent School District. As Assistant General Counsel 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.
Darcy Douglas '17, Finance Co-Chair
Jason Smith '17, Finance Co-Chair
Pamela Hernandez '17, Curriculum Co-Chair
Pamela Hernandez, Ph.D. is a small business owner, independent research consultant and community engineer. Dr. Hernandez has twelve years of experience working in U.S. public and private higher education institutions in various areas such as student leadership development, multiculturalism, diversity/social justice training, assessment and research, educational programming, and fiscal management. She conducts research for agencies and institutions, as well as facilitate large and small groups to increase a community's human capacity to build social change. Dr. Hernandez earned her doctoral degree from the University of Maryland, College Park in December 2015 in the field of Higher Education Administration, her M.S. in Educational Leadership from the University of Oregon, and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Knox College.
Shirat Mavligit, Curriculum Co-Chair
Shirat is of counsel at Lee & Desenberg, PLLC, where she represents a variety of clients in connection with corporate, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, franchise, and employment matters. In her early legal career, she worked as briefing attorney at the Court of Appeals First District of Texas.
After practicing law for a number of years, Shirat earned a Master of Architecture degree and worked for several years designing custom modern residences throughout the Houston area. Although she is not currently working in the field of architecture, she maintains a passion for all things related to design and sustainability.
In her free time, Shirat is a volunteer for Rice Alumni Volunteers for Admission interviewing high school students who have applied for admission to Rice University and for Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston’s Refugee Services mentoring a family from Myanmar. She is also a founding member of Big Hearted Texas, a local organization whose mission is to cultivate, inform, gather, and direct local progressives to act in an impactful manner.
Alycia Welch '17, Curriculum Co-Chair
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.
Bich-May Nguyen is a family physician who believes in helping patients access high quality health care in line with their values in the right location at the right time. Currently, she cares for people in a community clinic in Sugar Land, TX. As faculty in a community family medicine residency program, May teaches medical students and residents in clinic and hospital settings. By night she advocates for better health care and public health. May completed the Copello Health Advocacy Fellowship with the National Physicians Alliance and has published opinion pieces in Texas newspapers. She reviews journal articles on gun violence and reproductive health for Policy Prescriptions.
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.
Aurora Harris '17, Communications Chair
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.
Bianca Mahmood '17, Recruitment Co-Chair
Chris Valdez '17, Recruitment Co-Chair
Brandon Mack '16, Selections Co-Chair; Senior Assistant Director of Admission, Rice University
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. In 2013, Mack earned a Masters of Education in Higher Education Administration & Supervision from the University of Houston. He is currently working on a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Houston.
Jace Valore '17, Selections Co-Chair
Jace Valcore, Assistant Professor, University of Houston Downtown Jace L. Valcore, PhD, received their doctorate in Public Affairs and Masters in Criminal Justice at the University of Colorado Denver after graduating with honors with a BA in Sociology from Eastern Illinois University. Their research interests and focus are on issues of LGBTQ equality and equity in both criminal and social justice. They have published work on hate crime laws and gender in policing, and are currently completing projects on the measurement of gender in criminological research and on the experiences of LGBTQ police officers. They provide workshops and trainings on gender/sexual diversity competency for students, educators, professionals, and community members, including specific trainings for UHD faculty as part of their 2017-18 Faculty Teaching Fellowship.
Jay Mays '16, Alumni Co-Chair
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.
Derrick Bass '17, Alumni Co-Chair
Jose Rivera '17, Alumni Co-Chair
Abbie Kamin '16, At-Large Member; Attorney
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.
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.
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