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2003 Biographies

Dina Alsowayel

Dina Alsowayel was born in Beirut and raised in various capitals of the world. Dina teaches courses on the religion, politics and history of the Middle East. Her academic specialties include gender in Islam and the role of conflict in the Arab world.

Dina received her Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, a law degree from the University of Houston and a PhD in Political Science from Rice University. She is currently Associate Director of Women’s Studies at the University of Houston. In addition to her work in the academic setting, she worked in the oil industry in Saudi Arabia and Houston for 20 years.


Yolanda Alvarado

Yolanda Alvarado is Director of Education at Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas. For the past fifteen years, she has focused on the high rates of teenage pregnancy. She participated in a national three-year study and implemented the Brighter Futures program in Houston, a replication model of the Children’s Aid Society’s program in New York. The Brighter Futures program significantly delays early sexual activity, increases the use of contraception, and reduces pregnancy among girls. This is the first and only rigorous study to date that has produced a positive impact on sexual and contraceptive behavior, pregnancy, and births among girls for as long as three years. This program has been highlighted in several professional journals related to adolescents and teen pregnancy and by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy as “a program that works.”

In addition to Yolanda’s expertise in the areas of teen pregnancy and adolescents, she has a Masters degree in Social Work from UH, is a Field Instructor for the Graduate School of Social Work at UH, has served as Adjunct Faculty for the UT School of Public Health, and is a Consultant/Trainer for the Center for Health Training. Yolanda also provides training on counseling skills, cultural competence, working with teens, program design and implementation, and reproductive health, and she is a video documentarian.


Tahirih Taj Baker, MD

Dr. Tahirih Baker is a family medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold Medical Group in
Houston. She attended medical school at the University of Iowa and did her residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Tahirih has published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. In addition, her research includes behavioral and sensory physiology, energy conservation and cell biology. She is a primary care physician with an ambulatory care practice and sees patients and families with a variety of medical problems, which include dermatological, gynecological, physiological, pediatric, geriatric and minor surgery.

A member of the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, Tahirih also serves on the Board of Directors of the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, is Chairman of Kelsey-Seybold’s Medical Standards Committee, and is Assistant Managing Physician at the Kelsey-Seybold West Clinic. Tahirih’s personal interests include religious studies, modern jazz dancing, and community volunteering.


Jacquie Brennan

Jacquie Brennan is an attorney, the managing partner of Brennan Johnson Law Firm in Houston, a grievance examiner for the City of Houston Civil Service Commission and the managing attorney for the East Region of Advocacy, Inc. of Texas. Jacquie is also the mother of nine children, the youngest five of whom are adopted and have different kinds of disabilities, such as Angelman Syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome, Moebius Syndrome, and Down Syndrome.

Advocating for the legal rights of her children with disabilities in medical and school settings led to Jacquie’s decision to become an attorney. She received her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Houston Law Center in 1997 and opened a law firm, in partnership with Kevin Johnson, five years ago. Although the Brennan Johnson Law Firm offers a full range of legal services to its clients, Jacquie focuses her private practice in the area of disability law, disability discrimination issues, and elder law concerns.


Carolyn Campbell

Carolyn Campbell serves as general assignments reporter for KHOU-TV Channel 11 in Houston, Texas. Carolyn started at KHOU-TV as community affairs director and hosted a weekly public affairs show, Weekend Closeup. She later moved on to News Management, where she started the 11 Consumer Hotline Office as consumer affairs manager. She was then named to an on-air role as consumer reporter for the 11 Consumer Hotline. Carolyn has been a stringer for Black Entertainment Television News and a writer for the Forward Times newspaper and Focus Magazine. She was a radio talk show co-host and newscaster for KYOK radio and a stringer for the National Black Network News in New York.

Carolyn has also received numerous awards, including the KATY Award for Spot News Coverage, National Association of Black Journalists Award for series, Distinguished Career Achievement Award from Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Black Achievers Award, Broadcast Media Award, and a Service Award from Yates High School of Communications.


Rebecca Clearman, MD

Rebecca Clearman is an internationally renowned specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, a rare specialty in medicine that focuses on illness from the patient’s perspective. She has extensive expertise in the management of geriatric chronic illnesses such as neurologic diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, diabetes and cardiac illness. Rebecca holds faculty positions in two university medical schools and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. Rebecca’s clinical skills and interpersonal sensitivity led her to become the personal physician to the Royal House of Saudi Arabia. In that setting, she discovered how to deliver an exquisite level of medical care that allows patients to be in control and fully informed. In 1999, she left full-time medicine to pursue her dream of creating this type of medical practice.

Housecalls now form the majority of Rebecca’s medical practice. As Executive Director of Personal Physician Group, she is able to provide complete home health services, without the usual Medicare limitations. If patients must be transported to specialized tests, Rebecca will accompany the patient. Family trips with frail family members become possible when a physician accompanies the patient. When patients are hospitalized, she will provide vigil service at the patient’s bedside. Through these services, Rebecca is able to fulfil her life goal: to provide the highest level of medical care in a warm and supportive atmosphere.


Laura R. Clements

Laura Clements has a 20-plus-year history working in the area of family law and family law mediation. She is the owner of Clements Certified Consultants in Clear Lake, which specializes in litigation support to family law attorneys and providing family law mediation services. She is a legal assistant who is Board Certified in Family Law through the State Bar and has been a family law mediator since 1994. Laura has a long history of lecturing and writing on family law issues with an emphasis on the effect divorce has on women. She appears and lectures monthly in Houston at a free workshop for divorcing women called Taking Control. Laura is renowned for her in-depth knowledge of family law and her outspoken views on the legal system and its effects on families.


Rie Congelio

Rie Congelio has been practicing and teaching yoga in Houston since 1997. She completed an intensive teacher certification in Hatha and Ashtanga forms with Robert Boustany in Houston, and has earned continuing certification with nationally recognized instructors such as Rodney Yee, Erich Schiffman, and Angela Farmer. Rie is a member of the California Yoga Teacher’s Association and the Yoga Association of Houston.

Rie believes yoga practice helps increase energy, decrease stress and promotes both physical and mental flexibility, resulting in a healthier body and a more clearly and quietly focused mind. She credits yoga with helping her become more relaxed, invigorated and fulfilled. This is what she wants to share with her students.

Rie teaches at the Houstonian, the Houston Country Club, St. Martin’s Church and in the Heights. She loves to travel, and visited Cuba over the New Year’s holiday. Rie has an 82-year-old-mother and a 6-year-old daughter, both of whom practice yoga.


Cynthia Cooper

Cynthia Cooper led the WNBA’s Houston Comets to two consecutive championships and twice won the EPSY Award for Women’s Pro Basketball player of the year. Originally from Los Angeles, she grew up with her only role model, her mother, who was raising eight children by herself, working two jobs, and facing one hardship after another. Cynthia went to USC on a basketball scholarship, where she was a two-time NCAA champion, but she eventually dropped out of college and had to face some personal obstacles. She spent eleven years on the grueling European professional basketball circuit before she returned to Houston for the inaugural season of the WNBA. All of her experiences inspired her to reach out to young people, and she has been hailed as one of today’s most stirring motivational speakers.


Tamarie Cooper

Tamarie Cooper is a performer, writer, director, and choreographer living and working in Houston. She is also co-founder of Infernal Bridegroom Productions, Houston’s leading experimental theater company. Tamarie was named by national theater magazine, Stage Directions, as “one of the top theater makers under 30,” and she has been featured on the covers of Houston Press and the Houston Chronicle’s Sunday Zest Magazine. Her Tamalalia series, in which she stars, directs, writes, and choreographs, has sold out for each of its seven years and has received tremendous critical acclaim. Her performances in various lead roles with Infernal Bridegroom Productions have netted her critics’ and readers’ choice Best Actress awards from Houston Press in their annual Best of Houston issues.

A graduate of Houston’s HSPVA, Tamarie serves as Girl Friday for Infernal Bridegroom Productions where she has appeared in over 30 productions. Featured roles include Adelaide/Guys and Dolls, Marie/Marie and Bruce, Hester/Fucking A, Winnie/Happy Days, and Phaedra/Phaedra’s Love.


Isabel Creixell

Isabel Creixell was born in Mexico City, of Spanish parents. For over 25 years, she has specialized in a wide range of handmade arts and crafts, and has taken classes from several artists and craftsmen in Mexico and the USA. During the last 20 years and as a result of her special interest in the history and workmanship of ancient cultures, Isabel developed her own technique of icon painting and metal working. Her work was pioneering and innovative, prompting a flow of artists now dedicated to this type of art.

The work of Isabel Creixell encompasses more than 800 icons, which have been presented with great success in exhibitions in the USA, Mexico, Central and South America, and Europe, receiving several awards and honors. She wrote a book about the history of the icons and her own experiences, and she also gives lectures and teaches her techniques of iconography.


Joan Ehrlich

A much-honored leader in civil rights enforcement for 30 years, Joan Ehrlich has devoted her professional life to ending employment discrimination in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas. She is the District Director of the Houston District Office for the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and has pioneered programs in mediation, participative management and customer service.

She and her staff have won broad relief for victims of discrimination, creating important precedents along the way. Under Joan’s leadership, the local office has obtained some of the country’s largest settlements, recovering millions of dollars for victims of employment discrimination. Some of her new initiatives include “The Houston Strike Force,” a team of investigators and attorneys who pursue egregious cases of discrimination, the “Golden Triangle Initiatives” to train employers to comply with the law and root out discrimination, and a “Help Desk” to provide technical assistance to small businesses.

Joan currently serves on the Texas Supreme Court’s Gender and Fairness Committee and spent eight years on the Board of the Houston Area Women’s Center. She received a BS cum laude from Syracuse University and is a graduate of Harvard University’s Senior Managers in Government at the John F. Kennedy School. She is the mother of two children: Scott Hendler, an Austin attorney, and Stacy Hendler, a television news reporter for ABC in California.


Patricia Gras

Patricia Gras is a reporter, producer, and backup anchor for the Weeknight Edition prime-time daily news magazine on KUHT-TV, PBS Channel 8. Patricia discovered her passion for broadcast journalism late in her career. She received a Master’s degree in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management in Glendale, Arizona, and an MBA from Esade in Barcelona, Spain. Patricia began her television career in the local Telemundo station and then received her Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University in New York in 1990. Since then, she has worked for Houston Public Television and freelanced for Telemundo, Fox, and PBS.

In her 12-year career, Patricia has received over 40 national, regional, and local broadcasting awards, including four regional Emmys. Patricia also owns her own production company and, in her spare time, sings and plays percussion with a Latin Folk and Flamenco band, Barandua, which is working on its second CD.


Shirin Herman

Shirin Herman was born in Kenya, and then lived in Tanzania and Bangladesh, both of which she left due to unstable political conditions, before moving to the United States. Later she lived abroad in Italy, and has travelled to several countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia, and many states in the USA. Her experiences abroad and personal emigration enable her to empathize with refugee families.

Fifteen years of experience with the Houston Independent School District compounds her ability to be an outstanding liaison between refugees, the school system, and the community. At various levels of proficiency, Shirin speaks English, Italian, Gujarati, Urdu, Kutchi, and Swahili.


Jolanda Jones

Jolanda Jones, a single parent, is a self-employed lawyer who owns a consulting company and a law firm. She is an inspirational speaker who travels across the country addressing educational issues. Jolanda is also known as “a warrior activist lawyer for poor people.” She volunteers her services, both legal and speaking, to inner-city families. She is an honors graduate of UH and a United States champion who has represented her country at international competitions in Track and Field. She has been featured in national publications and in the media.

She is a Hall of Famer and she is-most importantly-A Survivor. The difficulty of growing up poor was compounded by her father’s suicide in her presence when she was very young. Later, her 19-year-old brother was murdered exactly two weeks before she competed in the 1996 Olympic Trials. Her legal acumen won her the NAACP’s ALEX Award, and it helped shut down the Houston Police Department Crime Lab. The Houston Area Urban League awarded her the Marguerite Barnett Leadership Award, and her outstanding citizenship earned her United States Congressional Recognition, three Jolanda F. Jones days from the cities of Houston and Galveston, and a key to the city. Jolanda is a community activist and oftentimes is a Keynote Speaker for various educational and legal organizations.


Syd Kearney

Whether she’s dune surfing in Brazil, haggling over figs in a Croatian vegetable market, or taking a plunge in a Disney World Flume ride, Syd Kearney relishes her role as travel writer for the Houston Chronicle. In college, the Beaumont native was sports editor for Lamar University’s student newspaper. Syd also spent eight years working in the sports and news departments of the Beaumont Enterprise.

As travel writer, Syd has traveled to Botswana, Thailand and Morocco as well as exploring Houston’s backyard, writing about watermelon festivals, Piney Woods trails and Texas state parks. Her Marmac Guide to Houston and Galveston is currently in bookstores. Syd also coordinates the Chronicle’s teen section, YO! Syd has shared the last 15 years with a Deadhead known as Keith and a beagle named Stevie St. Nicks.


Tina Knowles

Tina Knowles is the fashion guru behind the world-renowned look of today’s hottest group, “Destiny’s Child,” and owner of “Headliners,” a hair salon in Houston. She lives in Houston with her husband, Mathew, who is the group’s manager. Tina inspired her independent women, Beyonce and Solange Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Michele Williams, to embrace their own individuality, creativity and style.


Elyse Lanier

Elyse Lanier, wife of former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier, has spent much of her life promoting the city of Houston and all it has to offer. Mrs. Lanier served 1996-2002 as chairman of the Houston Image Group—which was formed to improve the city’s image by promoting all the attributes that make Houston an attractive place in which to live, work and play. City beautification has always been a priority for Elyse. During the Lanier Administration she served as chairperson for the Houston Beautification Foundation.

Education continues to be a priority interest of the former mayor and Elyse. She served on the Board of Regents of the University of Houston; she and the former mayor established a formal and ongoing relationship with the John F. Kennedy School of Public Affairs; and they have been longtime supporters of the KIPP Academy. Elyse also serves on several boards, including the Texas Medical Center and the University of Texas Health and Science Center at Houston. The former mayor and Elyse have seven children and nine grandchildren.


Vanessa Leggett

Though perhaps best known for electing to spend nearly six months in federal custody rather than betray her confidential sources for a story on a Houston murder case, writer-lecturer Vanessa spent several years as a writing and criminal justice instructor at UH’s Downtown campus for the Department of English as well as the Department of Criminal Justice and the Criminal Justice Center for Training. Vanessa has taught courses in legal writing, business and technical writing, Western world literature, criminology, corrections, crime-scene and homicide investigation. She has presented scholarly papers and has spoken at numerous academic and professional seminars and conferences around the country.

Vanessa is a member of the Writers Consortium of Houston and the Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature. Since her release from federal custody last year, Vanessa’s lectures have focused on the First Amendment. She has written first-person accounts for Newsweek and Texas Monthly, and her book about the murder case that led to her incarceration is due out in 2004 from Crown Publishing, a publishing division of Random House.


Sue Liska

Sue Liska, an accomplished artist, graduated from San Diego University with a degree in education and later returned to do graduate studies in philosophy. During the twenty years she and her geologist husband lived abroad, she pursued another life-long passion with the formal study of art. Combining the two disciplines she developed her style of artwork, which has won numerous awards and can be found in public, private and corporate collections throughout North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe.

Sue earned her private pilot’s license and, as an active member of the Ninety-Nines, flew in the All-Woman Transcontinental Air Race (Powder Puff Derby). She is also a ham radio operator licensed in three countries and has been involved in numerous emergency and rescue operations.


Terry Morales

Terry is Vice President of JP Morgan Chase and currently works in the Small Business Financial Services Division, working with companies whose annual revenues are $10 million and under, She manages a group of seven small business relationship managers that covers the Northwest and Northeast territory, She has participated in several bank-sponsored activities such as the Chase Hispanic Task Force, Junior Achievement, and the Hispanic Heritage Month Outreach Program, as well as Team Captain for several community volunteer projects. She was recently selected as a protégé for the 2003 Leadership Mentoring Program.

Terry has served as a Board Member for Advance and Talento Bilingue, and currently is a mentor for the I Have a Dream Non-Profit Organization. She is a member of Latina PAC, LULAC, Council 643, and was a member of Leadership Houston's Class XX. In recognition of her community efforts, she was a recipient of the 2002 National Hispanic Corporate Achiever Award. She has a BBA in Finance from the University of Houston and graduated in February from the Chase-sponsored Credit Training Program in New York City.


Janie Parker

Janie Parker began her dance training at a day care center and continued to study until she graduated from the School of American Ballet where she was on full scholarship. For 3 years, she danced in Geneva with the Balanchine satellite company. It was there that she met Ben Stevenson, a choreographer, with whom she would work the rest of her career. When he was appointed artistic director of a company in Houston, she came with him, and thus began a rapport that would result in many roles created for her, including “Juliet” in “Romeo and Juliet,” Alice in “Alice in Wonderland,” and Solveig in “Peer Gynt.” Janie also danced the leading roles in several ballets, such as “Swan Lake,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Giselle,” and many more.

Two of the ballets created for her, “Esmerelda Pas de Deux” and “Romance,” helped her to win the gold medal at the International Ballet Competition in 1982, the first American to win the Senior Women’s Division since 1964. She has also danced before such dignitaries as Princess Margaret, Princess Michael of Kent, Princess Grace, Princess Christina, King Olaf, President and Barbera Bush, and Castro. After retiring from the Houston Ballet in 1996, she has helped to teach and set works in several different countries. She has begun acting, lecturing, and teaching Pilates. She has co-authored a book and has been hired by the Houston Ballet Academy as the Body Conditioning Manager.


Gabriela Rangel

Gabriela Rangel is a Venezuelan curator, art critic and filmmaker based in Houston. She is Assistant Curator of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Gabriela studies Law and Social Communications at the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello in Caracas, Venezuela, and Film Studies in the Escuela International Centre in Tokyo, Japan. She was the recipient of the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Scholarship Award at the Center for Curatorial Studies and Contemporary Culture at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson in New York, the institution from which she received a Master’s in Curatorial Studies. She has worked in the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, Museo Alejandro Otero, Fundacion Cinemateca Nacional, consejo Nacional de la Cultura, Grupo IBX, Bolivar Films, al in Caracas. She is a regular contributor for Art Nexus (Miami) and Trans Magazine (NY). She has published catalogue essays and articles for Rice Gallery (Houston), Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris), PSI Contemporary Arts (NY) and Museo Alejandro Otero, Sala Mendoza, Espacio Union, Estilo, El Nacional, and El Universal in Caracas. 


Zeba Shah

Zeba Shah was born in Pakistan, a young country riddled with economic, political and social problems. She completed undergraduate studies at the University of Punjab, moved to London and married, then moved to Houston. She has two daughters, aged eighteen and nineteen. While Houston is now home for Zeba, she is still concerned about the poverty and illiteracy in Pakistan. As a result, Zeba started a chapter of Developments in Literacy in Houston. DIL was formed in 1997 in Los Angeles by a group of Pakistani expatriates who wanted to provide support for those in their country of origin. The aim was to spread literacy in remote, underdeveloped areas of Pakistan by opening primary schools for girls. Currently DIL has chapters in eight major US cities. Each chapter raises funds to support 200 schools. Recently DIL has ventured into a secondary school pilot project. Zeba believes the only way to achieve world peace is to create a just world, and education is the vehicle to provide equal opportunity for growth and happiness for all.


Laura Sheinkopf

Rabbi Laura Sheinkopf, ordained in 2002 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, currently serves as an Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Emau El in Houston, Texas. Awarded a Wexner graduate fellowship by HUC-JIR, she served student congregations in Muncie, Indiana, and Harlingen, Texas, and as an oncology chaplain at Cincinnati's Jewish Hospital. Laura has served as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), where she lobbied on various domestic issues of concern to the Reform Jewish Community of North America. In addition, Laura served as the Field Director for Federal Legislation for the non-profit public interest group, People for the American Way.

Laura was raised on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. She is an honors graduate of Columbia University where she completed her BA in Religion and Philosophy in 1992. She is married to Professor Lonny Sheinkopf Hoffman, who teaches at the University of Houston Law Center, and has one son, Joseph Hoffman.


Carrie Shoemake

Carrie Glassman Shoemake is a partner in the architectural firm Glassman Shoemake Maldanado Architects, Inc., a small architectural firm known for their award-winning designs and their attention to detail. The firm is involved in mainly residential design but recently completed the Center for Students with Disabilities on the University of Houston Main Campus. Carrie and her partners have received several A.I.A design awards, have been published in national and regional magazines, have been included in architecture exhibits, and have been featured on HGTV Bob Villa’s Restore America and The Lynnette Jennings Home Show. Their architecture has been included in Rice Design Alliance architecture tours and A.I.A. home tours. Carrie is a native Houstonian, is married, and has a seventeen-year-old daughter.


Iris Sizemore

Iris Sizemore came to Houston from Chicago in 1974 determined to change her life. In the process she has made a difference in many women’s lives. Inspired by feminists like Friedan, Rich and Lorde, Iris started a feminist group at the First Unitarian Church that is well-known as the Houston’s Women’s Group. A feminist, grassroots, liberal, activist, dynamic group based on Iris’s own experiences, the Group has given the women of Houston a safe and comfortable place and the freedom to discuss and explore their lives. Every woman defines her own feminism is the motto of the Group, which provides a forum to discuss ideas and issues in education, health, politics, spirituality, family literature, art, music, and finance. Iris supports women through transitions, helping them advance their careers and become empowered to make a positive change in the world. Other groups have sprung from Iris’s Group: a book club, a movie group, Women Against Violence Everywhere, and Women Against Global Trafficking.


Priscilla Slade

Dr. Priscilla Dean Slade was named President of Texas Southern University on October 27, 1999. After joining TSU in 1991 as Chair of the Accounting Department, Priscilla was named Dean of the Jesse H. Jones School of Business in 1992, where she succeeded in building a legacy of pride based on the Texas Southern University motto of Excellence in Achievement. She holds a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Business Administration from Mississippi State University, a Master’s degree in Professional Accounting from Jackson State University and a PhD in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin.

A member of Texas Executive Women, the National Association of Black Accountants, and the American Accounting Association, Priscilla currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank- Houston Branch; Greater Houston Partnership; Houston 2012 Foundation; Houston Technology Center, INROADS/Houston, Inc.; YMCA of the Greater Houston Area; HISD HU-LINC Governing Board; and the Telecom Opportunity Institute. She has received numerous prestigious awards including the Gutenberg Award, Woman of the Year, Achiever’s Award, and the Soaring Eagle Award.


Mimi Swartz

Mimi Swartz, author of the upcoming Power Failure, is an executive editor of Texas Monthly magazine. Previously, she was a staff writer at Talk, from April 1999-April 2001, and staff writer at The New Yorker from 1997 until she joined Talk. Before that, she worked at Texas Monthly for thirteen years. In 1996, Mimi was nominated for two national magazine awards and won in the public-interest category for a managed-care story. Mimi’s work has also appeared in Vanity Fair, Esquire, Slate, and The New York Times Op-Ed page. She has been a member of the Texas Institute of Letters since 1994. Mimi grew up in San Antonio, Texas, graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and now lives in Houston, with her husband John Wilber and son, Sam.


Kim Szeto

Kim Szeto is the Executive Director of the Asian American Family Counseling Center, a community-based mental health agency providing bilingual and bicultural counseling and support services to the Asian American community. Prior to this administrative post, she has served as Executive Director of the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association and the Institute of Chinese Culture and as the Deputy Executive Director at the Chinese Community Center, a United Way Multi-service agency in New York City. She currently serves on many boards and councils, including the Board of Directors of the Mental Health Association of Greater Houston, Houston Hospice, the Organization of Chinese Americans, the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association, The Rose, the Advisory Council on Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County (MHMRA) and the Texas Partnership on End of Life Care.

Kim was born in China, raised in Hong Kong, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts. She reads and writes Chinese and is fluent in Cantonese, Toisan, and Mandarin Dialects. She is an active volunteer in the areas of youth, education, and social services issues.


Cassandra Thomas

Cassandra Thomas is recognized across the country as one of the leading experts in the field of sexual assault. She began her involvement with the Houston Area Women’s Center as a volunteer in 1981, joined the staff in 1985, assumed the title of Director of the Rape Crisis Program in 1987, and is now Senior Vice President. She has appeared on a number of national news programs such as The Today Show, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Prime Time narrated by Sam Donaldson, and 20/20 with Barbera Walters, as well as local programs including The Debra Duncan Show. Cassandra has been quoted in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Glamour, and Ebony magazines, among others.

A popular speaker at conferences and special events, Cassandra is featured in Ruthe Winegarten’s book: Black Texas Women: 150 years of Trials and Triumph. She was honored by the Texas Executive Women's Organization with the 1995 Women on the Move Award and the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault’s Vivian Miles Lifetime Achievement Award. Cassandra currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Texas Council for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and the National Campus Rape Project.


Cheryl Thompson-Draper

Cheryl Thompson-Draper was named Port Commissioner of the Port of Houston Authority by a unanimous vote of Harris County Commissioner's Court on June 27, 2000 and reappointed on December 17, 2002. Cheryl is the third woman to be appointed to serve a

Commissioner since the inception of the Ports and Harbors Board in 1912. From 1992 until December 2002, Cheryl served as the president, chief executive officer, chairman of the boards and owner of Warren Electric Group, Ltd, an 83-year-old enterprise that distributed wholesale electrical, automation, telecommunication and utility products. Warren Electric Group was the largest woman-owned and managed business in Houston for many years as well as the third largest in the state.

Commissioner Thompson-Draper is the owner and President/CEO of both the T bar D Holding Company, a business management and consulting company, and Thompson Real Estate Company, a commercial warehouse management company. She is also co-owner and co-managing partner with her husband, John Draper, of the T bar D Ranch, an enterprise engaged in cow / calf, equine, pecan orchards and whitetail deer hunting operations in three counties in southern Texas (Lavaca, Harris and Val Verde).


Becca Cason Thrash

Becca Cason Thrash is a native Texan and is married to John Francis Thrash, CEO of the energy company eCorp USA. Becca is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of America and began her career as the Fashion and Beauty Editor of Vogue en Espanol. In 1984, Becca moved back to Houston and started a public relations and marketing company, and in 1986 teamed up with Holly Moore to form Cason & Moore Public Relations, a well-respected PR company in the 80s and 90s. In 1995, Becca and Holly launched what is now known as PaperCity magazine. In 1997, Becca retired from PaperCity.

Becca is now a formidable fundraiser and active hostess. In less than five years she raised over two million dollars for Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization with a mission to enhance the lives of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment. Becca’s fundraising efforts for Houston nonprofits include the Houston Grand Opera, March of Dimes, Stage Repertory Theatre, Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet, and the Nature Conservatory of Houston. Her fall 2003 fundraising project will be for amfAR, the American Foundation for Aids Research.


Dorothy Weston

Dorothy Weston is an experienced healthcare administrator in the profit and nonprofit sectors. Her career began at Bayshore Medical Center, holding positions in Human Resources and Public Relations/Marketing. She was volunteers Director and served on the Management Educational Faculty for Hospital Corporation of America. She is a founder or co-founder of three non-profit organizations. 

In 1985 she, along with general surgeon Dr. Dixie Melillo, established The Rose, a nonprofit organization for breast cancer screening, diagnosis and support. As well as being co-founder, Dorothy is also its CEO. Today, The Rose has become one of the most respected breast cancer organizations in the greater Houston area, serving over 30, 000 women annually from 104 countries, throughout the state of Texas. The Rose has been recognized locally and nationally for its innovative programs in providing access care and treatment for the uninsured. The Rose was awarded the 2000 BBB Torch Award for Excellence in Healthcare and the 2001 American Cancer Society’s Harold P. Freeman Service Award for Texas. In 2002, Dorothy received the Woman of Excellence Award from the Federation of Houston Professional Women and was selected as one of ten “Women on the Move” by Texas Executive Women. She is a published author and a passionate advocate for women’s issues.


Barbera Wilson

Barbera Wilson has been the staff/amateur astronomer at the George Observatory at the Houston Museum of Natural Science since 1993. Barbera coordinates all maintenance of the 36” telescope, conducts public Saturday night programs, holds teacher workshops, assists and plans coordinating programs, lecturers, and serves as a Flight Director for the Challenger Learning Center for Space Science Education, a HMNS interactive program for students to participate in simulated space missions.

Barbera has received several awards and has published articles on deep sky observing. She has also been featured in articles and many magazines, including The New Yorker. She observes with a 20-inch personal telescope, and is co-discoverer of a new globular star cluster in the Milky Way Galaxy.