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MEET THE 2016 LELAND FELLOWS

lfgroup 

Front: Mariah Grayson, Mary Davis, Madelyn Wilson, Taylor Hicks, Ana Montanez, Auruba Al-Zibdeh
Back: Jon Garcia, William Janowski, Bryan Peláez, Daniel Gribble

Visit the 2016 Leland Fellows Scrapbook.


auruba

Auruba Al-Zibdeh is a junior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in law, values, and public policy. Auruba is involved in several organizations on campus including Phi Alpha Delta, Empower UH, and United Muslim Relief, and she has consecutively been on the Dean’s List.

As a native Houstonian, Auruba enjoys giving back to her community through volunteerism in both academic and extracurricular organizations that address the issues of the needy and education. She has worked as a volunteer soccer coach for her local YMCA and is helping local refugees adjust to their new community and environment.

Auruba gained government experience as an intern in the office of Council Member Brenda Stardig’s office through the Hobby Center for Public Policy’s Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP), which sparked her existing interest in public policy. Through Leland Fellows, Auruba hopes to gain experience working for the government on the federal level and plans on bringing her experience home to address the needs of her community.

Auruba will graduate in May 2017. She plans to attend law school and aims to work on humanitarian causes.

Auruba is working in the office of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.


mary

Mary Davis is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in business foundations. She will graduate in December 2015.

Mary has been an active member in UH's College Republicans, and she has gained experience in government as an intern in Council Member Michael Kubosh's office through the Hobby Center for Public Policy’s Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP). Mary enjoyed attending weekly city council meetings and conducting research on upcoming ordinances. Through this opportunity, Mary learned how an at-large council member plays a critical role in what occurs at City Hall and how constituents are represented.

As a Leland Fellow, Mary hopes to gain experience in drafting legislation and learning what needs to be done to successfully pass it. After completing the Leland Fellows program, she hopes to work in the Texas Legislature.

Mary is working in the office of Congressman Brian Babin.


jon

Jon Garcia is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in psychology.

Jon has gained public service experience as a Hobby Center for Public Policy Civic Houston Intern working with State Representative Jessica Farrar and volunteering with the Sylvester Turner for Mayor Campaign. Outside of his academic endeavors, Jon has been involved on campus through the Metropolitan Volunteer Program and the Spirit of Houston Marching Band.

Originally from the Rio Grande Valley, Jon has seen the impact that education and civic engagement (or lack thereof) has had on his community both at home and in Houston. Jon’s specific policy interests include the areas of education, voting rights and equal rights for minorities and the LGBT community. His future goals include working for non-profits aimed toward increasing voter turnout and pursuing a career with the Department of Education.

Jon is working in the office of Congressman Rubén Hinojosa.


mariah

Mariah Grayson is a junior in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in computer application technology. She is a brother of the Tau Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi Fraternity, Inc. on campus where she serves a Dean of Pledges.

Mariah has gained public service experience interning through the Hobby Center for Public Policy’s Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP) in Houston City Controller Ron Green’s office. Through that opportunity, she gained an internship on the Chris Brown for City Controller campaign, working as a volunteer coordinator as well as participating in various campaign events. Mariah is interested in several policy issues including women’s issues, rights for minorities and police brutality.

As a Leland Fellow, Mariah looks forward to gaining more experience and knowledge about government from the perspective of a congressional office.

Mariah will graduate in December 2016. She plans to attend law school with a focus on corporate law and eventually serve as a judge.

Mariah is working in the office of Congressman Marc Veasey.


daniel

Daniel Gribble is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in laws, values and policy. He has consecutively made the Dean’s List.

As a native Houstonian, Daniel enjoys giving back to his community through active membership and volunteerism at his church. He has spent many weekends in Houston and its surrounding communities with his church providing meals to the homeless and building homes.

Daniel has gained valuable skills and workplace experience during his many years of employment in a myriad of positions from information technology to event management to hospitality. He plans to utilize this experience to benefit the congressional office he serves as a Leland Fellow.

Serving as a Leland Fellow, Daniel looks forward to interacting with and observing the legislative process, specifically witnessing the progression of an idea into law. He also hopes to learn more about the interaction between the private and public sectors from the perspective of a congressional office.

Daniel will graduate in May 2016. Subsequently, he plans to attend law school with a focus on corporate law and eventually serve in government.

Daniel is working in the office of Congressman Ted Poe.


taylor

Taylor Hicks is a senior at the University of Houston, pursing a bachelor of science in psychology and a minor in human family and developmental science. She came to UH with a clear focus to graduate and obtain her degree in exactly four years, making the dean’s list her freshmen year.

Taylor states that most of her drive and determination to succeed stems from watching her mother, a single parent, work hard every day to support her and her sister. Her mother’s selfless acts have inspired Taylor to help minorities and people with limited resources succeed.

Taylor has worked as an executive board member of the University of Houston Mock Trial Club, and as a member of UH College Democrats and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars while taking a full time course load and maintaining a full time job. During her free time, she has committed to helping members of her community through volunteering at Unlimited Choices to Recovery and interning for a public defender in Richmond, Texas. After witnessing the lack of education of most people being served by the public defender’s office and studying the effects of lack of resources in low economic schools, Taylor began to understand the best way to help people is to help educate them. She then became a tutor for a school district in Houston, where she tutored local high school students.

After graduation, Taylor plans on attending law school and to practice law as an advocate for education reform. She also dreams of owning her own firm and potentially becoming a judge.

Taylor is working in the office of Congressman Al Green.


william

William Janowski is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in law, values and policy.

While stationed with the Army in Korea, William volunteered as the unit representative for the Better Opportunity for Single Soldier (BOSS) program, which allowed him the opportunity to bring together single soldiers battalion-wide to foster new friendships and encourage the exploration of Korea. William continued to work for the BOSS program while stationed at Ft. Hood, where he also became his unit’s legal representative, sparking his interest in politics and law. After serving 4 years in the Army and continuing to work in the National Guard, William entered the political world looking for a new avenue of public service.

William obtained his first government internship through the Hobby Center for Public Policy’s Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP), working in the district office of State Representative Jessica Farrar. He participated in many of the district’s super neighborhood meetings, civic clubs and town hall meetings, which allowed him to directly observe many of the problems troubling the city.

In 2015, William worked as a Hobby Fellow in Representative Jessica Farrar’s Austin office during the 84th Legislature. His work consisted of taking constituent calls, writing talking points, amendments, and legislative analysis. William also analyzed policy areas such as criminal jurisprudence, veteran services, and environment regulation.

William will graduate in the summer of 2016. His short term goals include earning a master’s degree in public policy to further influence policy at the state or federal level in addition to finishing his inactive duty contract with the military. His long term goal is to obtain a law degree specializing in environmental regulation and energy policy.

William is working in the office of Congressman Gene Green.


ana

Ana Montanez is a senior majoring in political science with a minor in Spanish.

Ana has gained awareness and experience as an intern for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and for Council Member Ed Gonzalez through the Hobby Center for Public Policy’s Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP). Through these opportunities she learned of the impact and the key role that elected officials and their staff members have within their communities. She has also volunteered for the Houston Food Bank and for Adrian Garcia’s mayoral campaign.

From 2012-2014, Ana was delegate of the Simon Bolivar’s University for Latin American Model of United Nations. In 2013, she served as the treasurer of the organization, raising funds and securing the means for the delegation to attend an international competition in Mexico. This experienced has allowed Ana to represent her country at international competitions, as well as to study and discuss worldwide controversial topics.

Originally from Venezuela, and having lived one year in San Sebastian, Spain, Ana has called Houston her home for the past 2 years.

Ana will graduate in December 2015. She plans to obtain a master’s degree in public policy and pursue a career in public service.

Ana is working in the office of Congressman Henry Cuellar.


bryan

Bryan Peláez is a senior at the University of Houston double majoring in psychology and political science.

Bryan’s first experience in public service was interning for Congressman John Culberson’s district office through the Hobby Center for Public Policy’s Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP). He was an active member in the office where he managed the first steps in the process between the constituents and the office.

During the Leland Fellows program, Bryan intends to gain extensive experience in the internal structure and workings of the United States House of Representatives and wants to expand his knowledge about the federal government from the unique perspective of Washington, D.C. He hopes that his time on Capitol Hill will serve as a foundation for a career in politics.

Bryan will graduate in May 2016. He plans on attending law school and pursuing a career in public service. His area of interest is in international relations, and he aims to represent Houston constituents in the future.

Bryan is working in the office of Congressman Pete Olson.


madelyn

Madelyn Wilson is a junior at the University of Houston and is a double major in political science and public relations.

Madelyn gained government experience as a summer fellow for the Wendy Davis for Governor campaign and as an intern at Outreach Strategists through the Hobby Center for Public Policy’s Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP). Madelyn’s policy interests include education and veteran affairs.

Madelyn is active in Alpha Chi Omega, and has held the position of Vice President of Chapter Relations and Standards. She also served as the Director of Programming for the Public Relations and Student Society of America: University of Houston Chapter.

Madelyn volunteers with her family in the annual Thanksgiving feast for the homeless at the George R. Brown Convention Center, volunteers at Loaves and Fishes, and is active within the Houston Area Women’s Shelter with her sorority.

Madelyn plans to go to graduate school and obtain a master’s degree in public affairs and administration to prepare her for her dream job as a chief of staff.

Madelyn is working in the office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.