2004 - University of Houston
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2004 Biographies

Carol Alvarado 

Council Member Carol Alvarado, a native Houstonian and Lifetime resident of District 1, was elected to represent that district in 2001. Carol previously served as Senior Executive Assistant to former Houston Mayor Lee P. Brown. In her former role, Carol served as mayoral liaison to the Harris County Houston Sports Authority, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Port of Houston, the Harris County AFL-CIO, and the city's Solid Waste, Library, and Parks Department. Carol was also responsible for oversight of the Mayor's Citizen's Assistance Office, immigration issues, women's issues and labor issues. 

A longtime community activist, Carol has supported environmental issues, organized communities, building partnerships with industry, and has raised awareness of health and safety concerns. Carol’s a staunch advocate of women's reproductive rights and serves on the planned Parenthood Political Action Fund for Houston and the Southwest.


Kristin Anderson 

Kristin Anderson used to joke that her dream of being a professional football player could never happen. She is 5'4", 120 lbs. That is way too small. She is now the quarterback for the three-time world champion Houston Energy. The Houston Energy formed in 2000 as part of the Women's Professional Football League (WPFL), an organization dedicated to bringing women's tackle football to the US. The woman play by the same rules as the NFL, with one exception; they play with a smaller football. 

Realizing she would not make the NFL draft, Kristin became a psychologist. She earned her PhD from Oklahoma State University in 1989. Kristin moved to Houston to complete her residency and post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Medical School. Currently, she is a professor of psychology at Houston Community College. She owns a private practice focusing on sports psychology in addition to general clinical psychology. 

Although established in her career, she did not give up on the dream of playing football and in 1996 she founded the Houston Women's Flag Football League. The flag league continues to thrive and is where Kristin still plays football in the off-season. Kristin is currently rehabilitating a shoulder injury, the result of being tackled by a 210 lb. linebacker last year, even so, she is slated as the starting quarterback for the Energy when the season begins this August.


Teresa Byrne-Dodge 

Teresa Byrne-Dodge has been writing about Houston restaurants for more than 20 years, first as restaurant critic for the Sunday magazine of The Houston Post (1984-1988), then as restaurant critic for Houston Metropolitan magazine (19881992) and Houston Life until it folded in 1995. Since 1984, Teresa has written hundreds of freelance articles for such publications as The New York Times, Food & Wine, Texas Monthly, Travel Holiday, Restaurant & Hotel Design, Southern Living and many others. From 1995 to 1996, Teresa was the on-air restaurant critics for Hou-Channel 11's morning news show in Houston. Her restaurant reviews appear in a number of books as well, including Jerry Herring’s Guide to Houston, IN World Guide, Debrett’s World of Travel 1990 and Mariani’s Coast-to-Coast Dining Guide with Americas Best Critics. She is also the Houston-based editor/coordinator for all editions of the Zagat Houston Restaurant Survey.

In June 1994, with a $3,000 nest egg, Teresa launched a bimonthly 12-page dining-out publication called My Table: A Critical Guide to Dining in Houston. Response to My Table was immediate and enthusiastic. Today it is a 64 page magazine read by some 16,000 restaurant-loving Houstonians.


Lisa Chenevert 

Lisa Chenevert is a native Houstonian. She attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Engineering Professions, received a BSME from Prairie View A&M University, and a MME from the Pennsylvania State University. Lisa started working for Dow Chemical in design engineering in 1998, moved into Supply Chain management in 2001 and now is a Dow business supply chain planner responsible for over 1 billion pounds of caustic soda movement annually between Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, worth approximately $250 million in assets. 

Lisa is an active lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., a public service sorority with a focus on economic development, educational development, international awareness and involvement, physical and mental health, and political awareness and involvement. A sisterhood of more than 200,000 predominately Black college educated women, the Sorority currently has over 100 chapters located in the United States, England, Japan (Tokyo and Okinawa), Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Republic of Korea. An avid cyclist, Lisa has ridden in the MS150 Houston to Austin Bike Tour for the past 4 years and has raised approximately $4,000 in the battle against multiple sclerosis. She rode over 2,000 miles in training for the tour. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, travel, the Arts, and outdoor exercise.


Christine Cocanour, MD 

An Ohio native from Mansfield, Christine Cocanour went to the University of Toledo for an undergraduate degree, then the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine her MD and then to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland for surgical residency. During her residency, Christine worked as a helicopter doc for Life Flight. In 1988, Christine had a Trauma Critical Care fellowship at the University of Texas Houston Medical School and Hermann Hospital, then stayed on as faculty. Currently, Christine is an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, specializing in trauma and critical care and is the Medical Director for Memorial Hermann's Shock Trauma Intensive Care Unit. In addition, she is one of Memorial Hermann's Care Management Medical Directors, helping to make care at Memorial Hermann both appropriate and cost efficient. Her practice includes trauma, critical care, general surgery and breast surgery. 

Christine has been divorced since 1989, has no children, but two wonderful cats and lots of honorary nephews and nieces. She loves snow skiing and de-stresses by gourmet cooking, learning about wines and entertaining. She also works out, gardens, plays golf, has earned a degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, white water kayaks, has a private pilot's license, and is certified in SCUBA.


Carolyn Dahl 

If she had believed the results of her high school career tests, Carolyn Dahl would have become an artist and author immediately. But she ignored the advice. She thought destiny wanted her to become a singer. She had already won many talent competitions, and a music scholarship to the University of Minnesota soon followed. After a year, however, Carolyn realized her heart was not in music theory, but in the thrill of performance, so she switched her major to theatre. After graduation, she set off for New York City--with only $100 in her pocket. 

Carolyn spent ten years in professional theatre performing in touring musical comedies, off-Broadway, summer stock, and playing such roles as Maria in West Side Story and Meg in Brigadoon. She began to study art, including a year in Florence, Italy. Now, she is a full-time artist (prints, dyed textiles, and paper works). Her work has been exhibited in museums, galleries, and in Italy and Holland and has appeared in ten books and nine magazines. She has published poetry, was a PEN Texas finalist in nonfiction, and a participant in the Edward Albee playwriting workshop at the University of Houston. She is the author of the nature printing book, Natural Impressions (Watson-Guptill publications) and the fabric-painting book, Transforming Fabric (Krause publications) and is a frequent guest on Home and Garden Television craft programs. She raises Monarch butterflies in her kitchen.


Debra Danburg 

Debra Danburg is an attorney with Linebarger, Goggan, Blair, and Sampson, LLP and has served Texas as a State Representative in District 137 and District 79. While a State Representative, Debra was chair of the House Committee on Elections and a member of the House Committee on State Affairs, the Calendars Committee, Appropriation Committee, Business and Industry Committee, Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, and the Rules and Resolutions Committee Debra also served as Vice-Chair on the House Cultural and Historical Resources Committee and on the House Environmental Affairs Committee. She has served and continues to be active in many professional and political associations including: the Texas Democratic Women of Harris County, the Texas Human Rights Foundation, the Texas Partnership, the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, the DNC 100 Women," the University of Houston Law Foundation, Women Professionals in Government, and the Texas Democratic Party. 

A graduate of Bates College of Law, University of Houston, Debra has been active in numerous cultural, educational, environmental and human rights organizations in Houston and throughout the state. In 1989, Debra was cited as Best Legislator by the Houston City Magazine and was continuously endorsed by the Houston Chronicle from 1980 through 2001 For her service, Debra has received numerous awards and accolades including the Star of Texas Public Service Award from Common Cause of Texas, the Hannah G. Solomon Award from the National Council of Jewish Women, the Presidential Recognition Award from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Houston SPCA, an Outstanding Service award from the Houston Association of Retired Teachers, and a Legislator of the Year Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society to name just a few of her many honors.


Sue Davis 

Sue Davis is an award-winning radio and TV journalist, public relations specialist and political consultant. For 25 years, she produced hard-hitting investigative reporting and insightful documentaries. She currently runs her own company, Sue Davis Communications, providing media relations consulting to a wide variety of clients from community organizations and government agencies to sports organizations and political candidates. She specializes in helping Houston's diverse Asian and mainstream communities reach out to each other. Sue donates her services to a number of non-profit organizations. She also serves as the voice of the Houston Energy, the women's professional football team.


Sue Gantz 

Sue Gantz is a registered yoga teacher with four different styles of yoga teaching certifications that provide a large "tool bag" of relevant practice techniques to serve many needs. She leads stress management seminars, group yoga classes, and weekend retreats and workshops. She is also available privately for nutrition consultations and customized personal yoga practice sessions. 

Sue began full-time professional employment in 1983 as a chemical engineer with a major petrochemical company in Houston, Texas, and quickly advanced within the organization to various leadership positions. During the latter years of that career, Sue experienced intense stress and sought relief through a variety of pathways. She discovered that regular practice of yoga not only relieved her stress, but also alleviated the physical discomforts brought on by stress. In 1999, she chose to leave her 16-year career in the corporate world. For the past 6 years, she has pursued her heartfelt calling to create activities and events for others to learn and integrate natural ways of living amidst the busyness of this world, and as a result, to enjoy a higher quality of personal health and well-being. Visit her at www.wellness3d.com


Pam Gardner 

Pam Gardner is now in her 16th season with the Houston Astros organization, currently serving as President of Business Operations. She oversees all revenue areas, customer service, building and financial operations, sponsorship and ticket sales, as well as community and marketing outreach programs. She joined the team in 1989 as Director of Communications, developing advertising and marketing campaigns for the Club. In 1994 Pam was named Director of Marketing, where her role expanded to include a strong focus on customer satisfaction and the in-game experience. 

A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Pam joined the Astros after working for ten years with an advertising and public relations agency in Chicago, serving her last five years as the vice president of the entertainment division. She currently serves on the board of the Astros in Action Foundation, which works to enhance the quality of life in our community. She is also a member of the board of the Houston Area Women's Center, which provides shelter and support services to survivors of

Pam was recently appointed to the board of Central Houston, Inc., a private, non-profit organization supported by business institutions with the purpose of redeveloping and revitalizing downtown. Pam has two children, Meaghan and Coleman Anderson, aged 18.


Dixie Friend Gay 

Dixie Friend Gay's work explores the mystery and power of nature. She was raised on a carttle ranch in western Oklahoma. The cycles of the seasons dictated life on the remote plains. In 1978, she resigned as art teacher in a rural school to pursue reality as a visual artist on the east coast. By the mid-1980's, Dixie was exhibiting her work in Paris, New York, Boston and Philadelphia. While living in Manhattan, she earned a Master's degree in Studio Arts from New York University. Dixie's work is included in the permanent collections of The Boston Public Library, The Kienholz Collection, Hope, Idaho Verizon, Dallas; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi. 

A short stay in Houston in 1988 became permanent, and Dixie now works and lives in the Heights with her husband, two children, cats and a dog in a tin loft-style home/studio, set on an acre of native gardens along a spring-fed crack. In 2002, Dixie completed a $250,000 public art commission at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The installation entitled Houston Bayou comprises a Byzantine glass mosaic mural on a serpentine wall, columns, and the terrazzo floor design and has received national and international recognition. In May 2003, the Texas Commission on the Arts named Dixie Texas State Artist of the Year for her 3-dimensional work.


Yolanda Green 

Yolanda Green has been the Community Relations Director and Host of Outlook Houston for K WB Channel 39 since 1996. She began her career in broadcasting in 1994 at KHWB. Early in her career, she worked in both radio and television by serving as a gospel DJ at 1590 KYOK. As host of Outlook Houston, she has interviewed such notable guests as comedian Steve Harvey, entertainer Gladys Knight, gospel artist Yolanda Adams, and basketball great Ervin Magic" Johnson. Under Yolanda's direction, the program focuses on educating, informing, and empowering viewers on critical community issues. 

As Community Relations Director, Yolanda has revitalized the Community through the WB39 Cares for Kids Fund where she has been instrumental in distributing over seven million dollars to local non-profit agencies. She was also influential in a comprehensive broadcast Public Service Campaign to increase adoption in the Houston Harris County area. The campaign has helped raise adoption by 55% and has assisted with finding homes for more than 2,000 children throughout the Houston area. Yolanda has received several honors including the YMCA Minority Achiever's Award (1996), Five Outstanding Young Houstonians Award (2003), Five Outstanding Young Texans Award (2003), Make Ready Humanitarian Award (2003) and the Sam Houston State University Radio/Television Distinguished Alumni Award (2003). In her spare time she enjoys spending quality time with her daughter, Britney.


Andrea Grover 

Andrea Grover is the co-founder and director of Aurora Picture Show, a 501(c)(3) non-profit center for film, video and new media housed in a former church building in Houston, Texas. Andrea dedicates her time to curating, promoting and preserving artist-made film and video works. She has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1995), a BFA from Syracuse University (1992), and was a Core Fellow in residence at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1995-97). 

She has served as a panelist, nominator, and juror for film festivals around the country. Andrea recently curated "Come Forward: Emerging Film and Video in Texas" for the Dallas Museum of Art, and co-curated with Valerie Cassel Hidden Mickeys: Uncovering the Cartoon Self for the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. She is currently archiving and organizing a traveling exhibition of works by the late video pioneer, activist, and iconoclast, Andy Mann (1949-2001).


Therese Hartwell 

Therese Hartwell, Executive Director for Girls Incorporated of Greater Houston, received a BA in Psychology from the University of Houston and a JD from the University of Houston Law Center. She practiced law for a number of years and worked on staff at the University of Houston Law Center prior to joining Girls Inc. Therese also served as an active volunteer for Girls Inc for several years before becoming Executive Director. She is married and has a 13-year-old daughter and stepdaughters ages 20 and 22 and is passionate about girls and women's issues.


Shelby Hodge 

Shelby Hodge, society columnist for the Houston Chronicle, has covered the social scene for the newspaper since 1991, reporting on everything from Queen Elizabeth's visit to Texas to presidential inaugurations. She's mixed it up socially with a diverse lot including Oscar de la Renta, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Karl Lagerfeld, Placido Domingo, Prince Albert of Monaco and any number of local society headliners. Her mantra: So many parties, so little time.


Dai Huynh 

Dai Huynh covers the restaurant industry for the Houston Chronicle. She holds a culinary arts degree from Alain & Marie Le Notre Culinary Institute and a journalism degree from the University of Houston. Huynh was recently awarded the OCA National Asian American Corporate Achievement Award. 

Dai is also a James Beard Awards nominee food writer, and her writings have been recognized by the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards, Houston Press Club, and the Asian Houston Network. Prior to the Houston Chronicle, the features writer worked at the Fort Worth Star Telegram and for U.S. Representative Jolene Unsoeld in Washington D.C.


Gheed Itani 

Gheed Amara Itani completed a degree in Architecture from the University of Houston School of Architecture with an interest in Urban Design and a Minor in French. After graduation, Gheed worked at Brown and Root, Inc. for several years on several international projects. Gheed currently sits on the Board of the Arab American Educational Foundation, the National Advisory Board for the Arab American National Museum, and is an Art Enrichment Coordinator for the West University Elementary PTO. 

Gheed has helped organize several events with an emphasis on intercultural understanding and Arab American education. She lives in Houston with her husband and two children.


Anita Jaisinghani 

Anita Jaisinghani is the owner and chef of the Indika Restaurant.


Argentina James 

As the Director of the Public Affairs Division of the Port of Houston Authority, Argentina is responsible for strategically planning and implementing PHA activities in community relations, government relations, and marketing and media relations with an annual operating budget of $4.7 million. The Port Authority, the sixth largest port in the world, owns and operates the public facilities located along the 25 mile-long Port of Houston. 

Prior to joining the Port Authority, Argentina served as Vice President of Community Affairs and Community Reinvestment Officer for Sterling Bank. Argentina is a distinguished graduate of Texas Southern University where she earned a BA degree in journalism and a MA degree in communications. She was selected as a Leadership Texas Fellow at age 30. Throughout nearly two decades of community service, Argentina has raised more than $20 million for local and national non-profit organizations. As a result, she has received numerous awards, including the "Channel 13 Women of Distinction," "Volunteer of the Year" Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, "Outstanding Young Houstonian Award" presented by the Houston Chapter of JAYCEES, "Woman on the Move Award" from the Texas Executive Women and the Houston Chronicle, "Alumna of the Year Award" presented by the Texas Southern University School of Communications, and "Volunteer of the Year Award" from the Northeast YMCA. Among her proudest community endeavors is her leadership Service to the Board of Directors of The Ensemble Theatre. Argentina has been married for 12 years to her husband Steven and has two children, Argentina Taylor and Colen Joseph.


Lucrecia Littlejohn 

The Reverend Canon Lucrecia (Luchy) Miranda Littlejohn was born in the Republic of Panama. She graduated from school as an elementary teacher. In 1973, Luchy came to the United States permanently, following her marriage to Jain. In her secular life, Luchy spent some twenty years as a business executive working at Montgomery Ward as a credit manager, as a placement counselor for the Texas Employment Commission, and as a special projects administrator for Chiquita Brands. 

As a layperson, Luchy also worked as a pastoral care assistant at St. John's Episcopal Church in McAllen, Texas. She obtained a BA from the University of Texas-Pan-American in 1994. She also graduated with a Master's of Divinity degree from the School of Theology of the University of the South in 1997. While attending seminary, Luchy spent six weeks serving as an intern at St Wilfrid's Anglican Church at the Diocese of Bradford in England and ten weeks of internship at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Uvalde, Texas. Upon her graduation from seminary, Luchy joined the staff at Christ Church Cathedral as the Canon Pastor in November 2002.


Susan Llanes-Meyers 

Susan Llanes-Myers is currently the Executive Director of the Holocaust Museum Houston. She is a graduate of Sam Houston State University, received her masters from Texas A & M University, and is also a graduate of Yad Vashem Holocaust Institute in Jerusalem, Israel. She has recently been appointed by the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation to serve on the Task Force to create a national genocide memorial and related education materials in memory of the Rwanda Genocide. 

Susan is also active in the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education in Romania and Eastern Europe. She conducts training for the Houston Police Department on "Hate Crimes: A Holocaust Perspective” and has developed a program for at-risk students with the Mayor's Anti-Gang office. She speaks nationally on the universal lessons of the Holocaust.


Sushila Mathew 

Born in a Christian family in Kerala, India, Sushila Mathew grew up in Calcutta and moved to Houston with her family in the summer of 1970. Prior to her arrival in the United States, she taught English literature in a junior college for five years. She quickly became involved and interested in a group made up of American and international women under the sponsorship of the International Institute of Education. 

A teacher of Ikebana (Oriental Floral Design), Sushila is a member of Houston Federation of Garden Clubs and past president of the Piney Point Garden Club Sushila is also a member of the overseas association of Ohara Teachers in America, a member and past president of Ikebana International.


Kathryn McNeil

Political Consultant. (Bio missing)


Nancy Middleton

President, Houston Rotary (Bio missing)


Anna Nunez 

Director of Community Affairs for El Dorado Communications, Inc.,her diverse community ties were strengthened when she worked on the "Census 2000" campaign for both the City of Houston (Project Manager) and U.S. Census Bureau (Media Specialist, promoted from Community Partnership Specialist). Her Census 2000 work was recognized by Amnesty International's Group 23's "Outstanding Work in the field of Civil and Political Rights" award and Mayor Brown's "Census 2000 Shining Star" award. Beforehand, she served as Community Affairs Specialist for Chase Bank of Texas where she was recognized as "1996 Corporate Woman of the Year" by Hispanic Women in Leadership. 

Anna says what really defines her is having juggled all of the above while being an overwhelmed single mom and enduring life's losses, heartbreaks, and joys.. Anna welcomes you to a warm and open discussion of finding strength - and meaning - through the shattered, broken moments of our lives, and claiming the ultimate social justice goal of Dignity & Respect for ourselves, as women.


Roksan Okan-Vick 

Roksan Okan-Vick, ATA, was appointed by the Mayor of Houston in August of 2002 to become the director of the Houston Parks & Recreation Department. Roksan is the first woman director of the department and is responsible for 850 employees, 312 parks, and an annual budget of $52 million. As director she works closely with the Mayor's office, 14 elected City Council members, 4 elected county commissioners, numerous non-profit, private groups and foundations. 

A graduate of Rice University, Roksan has senior management experience in completing major projects throughout the United States. She has programmed, designed and successfully delivered a portfolio of major projects including clubhouses, office buildings, urban renewal projects, facility analysis projects and Federal Reserve Banks. She has also acted as an independent consultant and directed numerous projects for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas system and held senior positions at two major architectural and planning firms.


Sandra Organ 

Sandra Organ was a soloist with Houston Ballet and its first African-American female ballerina, leaving the company after fifteen seasons to work as a guest artist, choreographer, and Artistic Director of Sandra Organ Dance Company (SODC), a contemporary ballet ensemble. She was trained through all levels of the Royal Academy of Dancing syllabus by Valerie Roche in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, before entering Houston Ballet Academy as a scholarship student. Her international career with the Houston Ballet encompassed a diverse range of roles in the classical and contemporary realm, from choreographers Ben Stevenson, Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine and Sir Kenneth Mac Millian to Christopher Bruce, James Kudelka and Paul Taylor. 

Sandra has participated in Regional Dance America's Choreography Institute and most recently won their National Choreography Award for "Meditations" a work performed at the Southwest Gala Evening by Kingwood Ballet Theatre in San Antonio. Last year she was awarded an Individual Artist's Grant from the Cultural Arts Council Houston Harris County for her choreography and has made nearly a dozen ballets in the last five years.


Lakshmy Parameswaran 

A long-time resident of Missouri City, Texas, Lakshmy Parameswaran migrated from India to the U.S. in 1973. She obtained her MA in Family Therapy from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. A family therapist in private practice, Lakshmy is also an activist, speaker and writer. She is a founder of Daya Inc., the only Houston-based non-profit organization serving South Asian victims of abuse and violence. As a board member and president, Lakshmy has been serving Daya since its inception in 1996. Currently, she serves on the board as a professional consultant. 

Lakshmy has developed culture-specific materials on family and date violence and sexual assault issues and provides training on the same to professional and community groups. She also speaks extensively on topics dealing with gender-based violence. Her writings have appeared in publications including the Houston Chronicle, Women's eNews and Hinduism Today. She has been featured in the Houston Chronicle and The Hindu, a national daily newspaper of India. Lakshmy is married to Dr. P.G. Parameswaran, and they have two sons.


Kate Pogue 

Kate Pogue received her undergraduate degree in Theatre from Northwestern University and her master's from the University of Minnesota. She was the founder of the Drama Program and writer of the theater curriculum for Houston Community College where she taught for over twenty years. During this time she was the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare by the Book Festival in Fort Bend County, Texas, and a founder, Artistic Director and Resident Librettist for Opera to Go, the educational outreach performance company for Houston Grand Opera. As a stage director she has worked for Houston Community College, Shakespeare by the Book, Houston Shakespeare Festival, Stages Theatre, Unity Theatre and the newly founded Summer Shakespeare at Notre Dame among other companies. As a librettist she has had commissions from Minnesota Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Texas Opera Theatre, Houston Grand Opera, and the Houston Symphony among others. 

She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.A frequent lecturer on Shakespeare, she is currently a freelance playwright, librettist and stage director living in Houston, Texas, her home for the past thirty years. Her most recent projects are directing The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Shakespeare by the Book Festival, writing the text for a musical adaptation of the fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red for Early Stages, completing the adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit for Houston Grand Opera/Opera to Go and writing a book on Shakespeare entitled Shakespeare's Friends. She is married to Bill Pogue and has two children and three grandchildren.


Susan Rafte 

Susan Rafte is the Houston Project Director of the Pink Ribbons Project, Dancers in Motion Against Breast Cancer. Susan is a nine and a half-year survivor. She was diagnosed in 1994 at the age of 30 and a new mother. Susan's sister Jane co-founded the Pink Ribbons Project in New York City in 1995 after Susan's initial diagnosis. In 1998, after Susan recovered from a stem cell transplant, Jane and Susan brought the project to Houston. The Project is the first dance initiative founded solely to promote awareness about breast cancer and help raise funding for breast cancer advocacy, education and research. Since the Project's inception, they have raised more than $800,000 for the cause. 

Susan also was instrumental in initiating a breast cancer survivor's desk at MD Anderson Cancer Center where she and other survivors meet and visit with newly diagnosed patients giving hope to those with a similar diagnosis. Susan gives her volunteer hours to Hope Stone, the sister organization of Pink Ribbons, and the Anderson Network. She is on the advisory board of Young Audiences, and has been a longtime supporter of Family Service Center and The Rose. This April, Susan will be travelling to Austin to receive the 2004 Carpe Diem Spirit of Survivorship Award from the Lance Armstrong Foundation. She also is a parent volunteer for Roberts Elementary School. Susan is married to Alan and has a ten-year-old daughter Marika. She loves yoga, dance, pilates, music, skiing, hiking, relaxing at their country place in Brenham and hanging out with her family and dogs. Most importantly Susan is honored and grateful to be alive.


Yael Ravia-Zadok 

Yael Ravia-Zadok assumed her duties in August 2002 as Consul General of Israel to the Southwest, based in Houston. Under her direction, the Consulate General of Israel in Houston was awarded the Foreign Ministry's award for "Outstanding Staff for 2003." In recent years, she served as Deputy Director of the South American Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1992, she was appointed Consul at Israel's Consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and was responsible for press, academic information, cultural and consular affairs. She was also in charge of cultural relations between Israel and Brazil. Yael received the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' "Outstanding Public Service" award for her diplomatic work in Sao Paulo. 

Her professional career has included a wide range of voluntary activities in the Foreign Ministry. She was elected chairwoman of Israel's Diplomatic Employees Committee, where she led efforts to strengthen the diplomatic service and staff. She was a founding member of the Foreign Ministry's "Women's Forum" which advocates equal opportunity and representation for women in the Israeli diplomatic service. She was a key member of "MFA 2010", a special committee tasked with charting the future of Israel's diplomatic service. Yael holds a BA in geography, sociology and anthropology as well as a Master's degree with honors in geography and urban studies from Hebrew University. She completed her military service as an officer in the IDF. Yael was born in Israel and is married with three children.


Andrea Roberts 

Intellectual and literary, yet often irreverent and experimental in nature, Andrea R. Roberts' writing has serves as a catalyst for dialogue, empowerment, and progressive social change. Her poetry, essays, fiction, and radio commentaries document her work as a journalist at alternative weekly newspapers in New York and Houston, a housing and literacy advocate, grassroots activist, poet, and political organizer. Her work has appeared in Poetry.com, Our Texas, Chronogram Magazine, Tongue Magazine, The Informer Newspaper, Hudson Valley Woman, The Hudson Valley Black Press, Coyote Magazine, The Curbside Review, The Gaither Reporter, as well as in the following books: Poet on Watch, Bum Rush the Page: Def Poetry Jam, and the 2001 Austin International Poetry Festival Anthology. 

Formerly an Outreach Coordinator for the Houston READ Commission, Andrea now works as a resource development consultant to emerging non-profit and grassroots organizations, conducts writing workshops and is currently at work on American Apostle, a groundbreaking compilation of poetry and essays. If you have any questions or would like any additional information about Andrea, please contact Monneke Jones at 281-948-3148 or monnekejones@rosstheadore.com.


Varsha Shah 

An Indian-American citizen, Varsha grew up in the Western state of Gujarat, India. She completed her undergraduate degrees in commerce and law prior to immigration to the U.S. in 1974. She received her MBA from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona and is a CPA with public accounting, financial analysis, and audit experience in various industries. She currently works as a senior analyst for Westlake Group and lives with her family in Houston. 

Varsha finds her fulfillment in poetry. Her work is inspired by love for the small wonders of life, nature, and the arts. She enjoys reading translated works of Latin, Middle-Eastern, and European poets as much as American and Indian poets. Her formal exposure to the craft of English poetry began in 1998 at an Inprint workshop. In 1999 she was a featured poet in the Houston Poetry Fest. Her work has been published in Borderlands, The Houston Review and Houston Poetry Review and is forthcoming in the Texas Observer. Her first body of work was recently published by the Mutabilis Press in an anthology, Five Inprint Poets. Varsha has given poetry readings for Women in Visual and Literary Arts, Houston International Poetry, and Voices Breaking Boundaries. She writes poetry in Gujarati as well. Her poetry and an essay won first place in a competition held by the Gujarati Society of Dallas-Fort Worth in 2003.


Josanna Smith 

Josanna Brattis Smith calls Duncanville, Texas, home where she graduated as Salutatorian and Miss DHS. While at the University of Houston she was listed in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities, on the National Dean's List, a Cheerleader, a Student Senator, and President of the Women's Association. Josanna graduated with a degree in psychology in 1980. She married Thad "Bo" Smith, started her married life overseas in Iran, and traveled extensively with her husband for 17 years. Bo is a fellow Cougar, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Regents. Josanna and Bo have two daughters, Melani and Rachell and all are avid Cougar fans. 

Josanna has led many UH campaigns as a "Die-hard" Cougar, and has served on several charity events and boards. From her service, travel and because of 9/11, Josanna has found her second mission in life: WWW United Inc., whose motto is: Lighting Lamps for Education Worldwide. So far, most efforts have been focused on Afghanistan, Iraq, China, Vietnam and Mexico. She wants to share this important work with all who are interested. Josanna believes we can all do something to help our nation and our world, and thus ourselves, in this growing crisis which was unveiled to many starting with 9/11.


Terrie Sultan 

Terrie Sultan is the Director of the Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston. Prior to joining the Blaffer Gallery, she was curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, a position she held for 12 years. During her more than 17 years as a museum professional Terrie organized more than 50 exhibitions and publications. She has traveled extensively throughout the United States and abroad, published and lectured on issues related to contemporary visual art and culture. Terrie is a member of the International Council of Museums and the International Association of Art Critics, and was recently awarded a Chevalier of Arts and Letters from the French Government.


Alice Valdez

Through the combination of community service and art, the life of Alice E. Valdez has touched thousands. She is the founder and Executive Director of MECA, Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts, an internationally known cultural arts organization that provides classical and ethnic arts education, multicultural artistic performances and events, and support services to over 2,000 students and their families a year, helping to build discipline, self-esteem and cultural pride. For 27 years Alice has been the bedrock that has developed this organization through her dedication to at-risk inner-city youth and arts education.

Currently Alice is leading the Capital Campaign to raise $10 million to restore and endow the historic Dow School, recently given to MECA by the City of Houston and the neighborhood Old Sixth Ward T.R.Z. She has been recognized for her achievements through such honors as the Barbara Jordan Leadership Award and the Whitney M. Young Humanitarian Award. She now serves on the boards of National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, Houston Media Source and the Foundation for Modern Music. Alice is also an accomplished musician who plays the oboe, English horn, flute, and guitar as her principal instruments.


Jennifer West, Ph.D.

Jennifer L. West, Ph.D., is a professor of bioengineering at Rice University. Her research is focused on the development of novel biofunctional and biomimetic materials, particularly polymers and nanoparticles. She has published over 60 peer reviewed manuscripts, holds sixteen patents, and has given over a hundred invited lectures. She has research funding from NSF, NIH, DOD, and various private and corporate sources. Her research has fostered the development of several FDA approved products and three successful start-up companies.

Jennifer is also the associate editor of the Annals of Biomedical Engineering and sits on the editorial boards of several other major journals in her field. She is currently a member of the NIH Surgery and Bioengineering Study Section and the NIH NHIBI Nanotechnology Advisory Group, and she has served on the Defense Sciences Study Group.


Andrea White

Andrea White grew up in Houston and attended Memorial High School. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from University of Texas, with a double major in English and Plan 19. She attended University of Texas Law School and went on to become one of the first female partners at the firm now known as Locke Liddell. In 1995, Andrea joined a five-member board that funded and oversaw the submission of a $60,000,000 grant proposal to the Annenberg Challenge. She served as president of the board of the non-profit founded to receive that grant, the Houston Annenberg Challenge for five years. She is still active on the board of A plus Challenge, as it is now called. She is a graduate of American Leadership Forum and Leadership Texas. She was a founding participant in COPE, American Leadership forum's leadership training initiative for school principals. In September, Andrea signed a contract with Harper Collins. Her first book for juveniles, No Child's Game, has a Spring 2005 publication date. Andrea is married to Mayor Bill White and is Houston's First Lady. 


Lynn Wyatt

Lynn Wyatt, a third generation Houstonian, is internationally recognized for her donation of time and energy to cultural foundations, boards, and events. Lynn serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Houston Grand Opera and is a Trustee for the Alley Theater in Houston. Currently, she is chair of the Opera's upcoming 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee celebration. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Houston Ballet, where she heads the Artistic Committee. She is a Trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, where she founded the Film Committee, and she is a member of the Exhibition Committee, European Art Sub-committee and the Executive Committee. Her contributions to these organizations have raised the level of the arts in Houston to a world-class level.

Lynn has received numerous awards and honors which include decoration by the French government as 'Un Chevalier de L'order des Arts et des Lettres,” presented by the French Minister of Culture. She also received the woman of Outstanding Achievement Award presented in Birmingham, Alabama; was one of ten honorees named to Elle Magazine's Most "Elle"gant Woman Award, and received the Rome, Italy Most Elegant Woman Award. Lynn is married to Oscar S. Wyatt, Jr. and they have four sons and two grandchildren.


Gwendolyn Zepeda 

Gwendolyn Zepeda is the author of a short story collection entitled To the Last Man I Slept with and All the Jerks Just Like Him, which will be published by Arte Publico Press in September of 2004. A native Houstonian, Gwen has also written humorous pieces for various critically acclaimed websites, including her own award-winning online journal, www.gwenworld.com. She was recently awarded an Individual Artist Grant by the Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County, which will fund the snacks and gel pens necessary to the creation of her second book. 

When not writing, raising her three sons or toiling at her corporate day job, Gwen relaxes by planning literary extravaganzas. She will host the second annual Quinceañera You Were Too Poor to Have, a celebration of art fueled by deprivation, later this year.