2008 - University of Houston
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2008 Biographies

Linda L. Addison

Linda Addison is an internationally-recognized litigator and corporate counselor who serves on the Executive Committee of Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P.  Described by Lawdragon “as equally skilled at keeping CEO’s out of the courtroom as she is representing them once there,” the Texas Lawyer named her in 2007 as the “Go-To Lawyer” in commercial litigation.  Linda was named one of the “50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America” in 2007 by the National Law Journal, and one of only 17 women among the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” named by the National Law Journal in 2006.  Honored as the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast 2006 Woman of the Year, she serves on the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad and on the boards of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Foundation, the Center for Houston’s Future, and Holocaust Museum Houston.  Next week she will be honored as the 2008 Outstanding Alumnus of The University of Texas School of Law, the first female practicing lawyer to receive the award in its 50-year history.  As lead defense counsel, she successfully negotiated the recent settlement of all claims against the former trustee of the Enron 401(k).


Roberta Anding

Roberta Anding joined the Texans in 2001 as the team’s sports dietitian.  In addition to being the team’s registered dietitian, Roberta works at Texas Children’s Hospital in Adolescent Medicine and Sports Medicine and is the dietitian for Rice University Wellness.  Roberta also teaches a course in the Department of Kinesiology. 

Roberta has twenty years of experience as a teacher, educator and media representative. Roberta is currently an ADA National Media Spokesperson and has received numerous teaching awards.  Prior to joining Baylor in 1999, she received the John P. McGovern Award for outstanding teacher of the year three times and was nominated seven times while with the University of Texas School of Nursing. 

Roberta has twenty-two scientific and consumer publications to her credit focusing on sports, supplements, diabetes and eating disorders.  Additionally, she is a contributor to the “Fitness Corner” authored by Dan Riley. 

A native of Racine, Wisconsin, Anding graduated from Louisiana State University with her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Nutrition.  Roberta and her husband Bob have three children-Keith a graduate student in criminal forensics, Katie a basketball and track standout at Emory University and Kevin, a soccer and track stud at The Kinkaid School in Houston.


Maida Asofsky 

Ms. Asofsky graduated from Smith College in 1964, earned a master’s degree at Columbia University in biology in 1967.  She graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1979.  From 1979 until 1990, she practiced as a trial attorney in the New York State Attorney General’s office, from 1990-1992, in the City of Houston, Department of Law.  She had a small private practice from 1992 until 2004 when she took her current position as Houston Regional Director for the ACLU of Texas. 

She has been active with the parents’ associations of her children’s schools, with her temples, both in Brooklyn and in Houston, with Leadership Houston, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Family Service, the Jewish Community Center, the Friends of Women’s Studies, and the American Civil Liberties Union.  She is currently on the boards of the Houston Ballet, the Jewish Community Center, and the Friends of Women’s Studies. 

She has an abiding interest in food, in cooking and baking, and in eating at fine restaurants. 

Her husband, Paul, who shares her interest in fine food, is a tax lawyer in Houston. The Asofskys have three children, all married, three grandchildren, and one orange cat. 


Lara Bell 

Lara Bell is host and producer for KTBU-TV Channel 55 and co-producer and host of their weekly entertainment show ‘Wild about Houston”. In her spare time, she is a writer for several magazines including Texas Family, Bay Area and Absolutely Memorial.  She is active in the broadcast community serving as Past President of the board for American Women in Radio and Television. 

Her charitable work is something she takes seriously including: support of medical organizations traveling to Nicaragua to give aid to the needy, co-chair of the Houston Fire Museum 100th Anniversary Ball; silent auction co-chair for UNICEF Gala and an avid supporter of AIDS Foundation Houston.   She has co-chaired a children’s Disco bowl to help raise money for Variety Clubas well as co-chaired of the Momentum Mini Grand Prix Gala for the Arthritis Foundation, The Starlight Gala for American Cancer Society, and Under the Big Top for Avondale House. 

Lara is a member of  the Houston Polo Club, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo BBQ Committee and the Junior League of Houston. Art is a passion of Ms. Bell’s and her membership includes Houston Symphony, the Ballet Guild.  In Lara’s spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband, Brent Milam, a professional golfer and her four-year-old daughter Dylan Michelle and one year old son Brooks Andrew Milam.


Ann Best 

Ann Best is the executive director of Teach For America in Houston.  Ann graduated from Oakwood College in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.  Upon graduation Ann was accepted into Teach For America and was assigned to teach kindergarten at Ed White Elementary School in Houston.  Ann taught for four years and while teaching held several leadership positions.  She was the grade level chairperson, a critical friends coach and a member of the school decision making committee.  Ann moved on from the classroom to the staff of Teach For America in 2000.  She began her work at Teach For America as a program director where she worked directly with Teach For America corps members to support them in the classroom and ensure they reached their ambitious goals for students.  Ann was the region's first managing director of program and was promoted to the role of executive director in 2004.  Ann has a passion for ensuring that children growing up in low-income communities have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.  Her work with Teach For America in the Houston community allows her to work toward making that vision a reality on a daily basis.


Chree Boydstun 

Chree Boydstun is the Chief development officer for Legacy Community Health Services, a non-profit health care facility that provides low or no cost health, social and educational services to the Houston community. 

Prior to her position with Legacy, Chree was the director of development for the Society for the Performing Arts (SPA) in Houston. In this role, Chree implemented strategic fundraising plans to raise more than $1.5 million for SPA and SPA's Education and Outreach programs. She also was responsible for writing grant proposals, executing direct mail campaigns and planning special events. 

From 2000 to 2002, Chree was the senior director of development for Cooperative Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) also in Houston. Chree was successful in securing major gifts in excess of $1 million for CARE and CARE's program needs. Prior to work with CARE, Chree held development and marketing positions with Amigos De Las Americas, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Lubbock Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

A member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Advisory Board, Girls Inc. of Greater Houston.  Formally, a member of the board for AIDS Foundation Houston and Houston Black Tie Dinner, Inc. She also has been active in Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Speakers Committee and the Greater Houston Health Care Congress. From 1984 to 1998, she was involved with the American Legion Auxiliary's sponsorship of Bluebonnet Girls State. 

Chree is a graduate of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and holds a Bachelor of Arts in speech communications and a minor in political science. She also has completed courses in grant writing at the Non Profit Management Center and meeting planning at Meeting Professionals International.


Judy Camarena 

Judy Camarena is the President of Houston based Taquerias Arandas Franchises, Inc. What began in 1981 with one taqueria and her father's dream of replicating the familiar way to meet and eat back home in Mexico has grown into a well-known restaurant company consisting of 35 taquerias across Houston and Dallas, 4 bakeries that sell to retail and wholesale markets, two full-service seafood restaurants, and a very active merchandising division with clients including Walmart and HEB. 

Judy literally grew up in the business. She started working in the bakeries in the weekends as a child, bused tables in the restaurant at 12, later advanced to helping in the corporate office and before long had her own list of direct reposts, all before she completed high school. Judy’s progression to the company’s top leadership position was a natural and swift one. 

Since assuming her role as President, the company has earned numerous awards and distinctions including: two MBDA Minority Retail Firm of the Year awards, the Sabado Gigante “El Sueno Americano” and the Scarborough #1 sit-down restaurant among Houston Hispanics. Under Judy’s direction, Taquerias Arandas is positioning itself for major growth through franchising and expects to expand into other national markets over the next several years. When not working on building the Taquerias Arandas brand, Judy enjoys the Fine Arts.


Elizabeth Campbell

Ms. Campbell is an attorney and diversity/employment law executive with a successful record of working as a business partner with other corporate executives and teams to accomplish organizational goals. She is a frequent speaker and author on the topic of diversity and inclusion strategy. As Chief Diversity Officer, Ms. Campbell devotes her efforts full time to overseeing the development and implementation of the firm's diversity and inclusion strategy. 

Ms. Campbell has more than 25 years of experience in administrative and employment litigation both in law firm and in-house counsel settings and has led human resources, employment relations and diversity strategies at large corporations. Before joining Andrews Kurth in February 2007, Ms. Campbell served as Vice President of Employment Relations and Corporate Diversity Officer for the ARAMARK Corporation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

She received her J.D. in 1978 from The University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and her B.A. in 1975 from The American University in Washington, DC.


Frances Castañeda 

Frances Castañeda begins her eighth season with the Houston Rockets as Director of Corporate Services / Key Accounts.  In her role, Castaneda personally manages the fulfillment and relationship development for many of Toyota Center's marquee corporate partners, and spearheads the development of innovative marketing programs designed to maximize return on investment for all Rockets corporate partners and the organization itself.  These uniquely tailored programs include media, signage, hospitality, community programs and promotions.           

Prior to joining the organization, Castaneda live and worked in Dallas for nine years for three prominent Hispanic advertising agencies.  In that capacity, she helped put together marketing and advertising campaigns for many Fortune 500 companies to increase awareness and educate the Hispanic market on the benefits of using her Clients' products and services.  In September 1999, Castaneda was recruited by Lopez Negrete Communications and returned to her hometown of Houston.  At Lopez Negrete Communications, she was Senior Account Supervisor responsible for all marketing, advertising and promotional efforts for several Fortune 500 companies.                      

A native Houstonian, Castaneda graduated from Milby High School. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  She is engaged to marry the love of her life, John Dyess this June, 2008.  Castaneda enjoys spending time mentoring and being a role model for her 19 nieces and nephews, training for one marathon a year and playing with her German Shepherd dogs, Stella and Lobo.


Anne S. Chao 

Anne S. Chao is currently studying for a graduate degree in Modern Chinese History at Rice University. She has a B.A. from Wellesley College, and an M.A. from Rice University. She sits on the boards of Houston Public Library, Houston Ballet, St. John’s School, on the advisory boards of the Alley Theatre, Inprint, Shepherd School of Music, Rice’s Asian Studies Advisory Board.  She has published articles on Chen Duxiu, the founder of the Chinese Communist Party, on global movement of ideas, and on Mme. Chiang Kai-shek. She is teaching this semester at Rice.


Anne Clutterbuck 

Anne Clutterbuck was elected to Houston City Council in 2005 to represent the people of District C in Southwest Houston. As a 2nd term Council Member, Anne serves as Chair of the Budget & Fiscal Affairs and Ethics Committees. Anne is committed to providing outstanding constituent service, promoting a fiscally responsible approach to City spending, and promoting policies based on open dialogue, consensus building, and the exchange of accurate and thorough information. 

At the beginning of January Mayor Bill White announced that Council Member Clutterbuck would serve as Chair of the Budget & Fiscal Affairs Committee and the Ethics Committees. She was elected by City Council in January 2008 to serve as a representative for the City of Houston on the Board of Directors of the Houston Galveston Area Council (H-GAC), a 13-county regional consortium that works on finding solutions to issues affecting our collective areas, this includes: transportation, air quality, community and environmental issues, public safety and security, human services, cooperative purchasing and regional data and geographic information system (GIS) services. 

In addition Council Member Clutterbuck is currently a member of the following City Council Committees that conduct public meetings on a monthly basis: Regulation, Development and Neighborhood Protection; Flooding and Drainage; Sustainable Growth; Quality of Life and Pension Review. 

Born in Atlanta, Anne came to Houston at the age of 3, attending Bunker Hill Elementary, Spring Branch Junior High and Memorial High School. She received her undergraduate degree from Baylor University and after spending two years in Washington, D.C., returned to Houston to receive her law degree from the University of Houston Law Center. 

 Anne has over 17 years experience working on federal legislative issues, including seven years as the District Director for Congressman Bill Archer, where she oversaw constituent services and flood control issues for the 7th Congressional District of Texas. Anne was an active volunteer in her neighborhood Civic Club where she served as President for 2 years. Until 1989, Anne was a part owner of 5-P Photographic Processing, the leading professional photographic processing plant in the region employing over 75 people in 4 locations. 

Anne and her husband, John Clutterbuck have two children and are active members of Houston's First Presbyterian Church where Anne has taught Sunday School. She is a Board Member of the Houston Holocaust Museum, Southwest Houston 2000, and the Westland YMCA, a member of the Advisory Board of Trees for Houston, an Ex-Officio Trustee of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and an Ex Officio Director for the 2008 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, as well as a member of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Speaker’s Committee. She is also a proud little league and soccer team mom, community volunteer, and amateur beekeeper.


Charlotte Coffelt 

Serving as the Presiding Officer of the River Oaks Area Democratic Women (ROAD women), Charlotte Coffelt is a retired public school teacher and administrator.  During the period of her life when her three children were young, Charlotte was elected and served two terms as a member of the Spring Independent School District’s board of trustees—the first woman to have been elected to that position (thirty years ago).  Caring deeply about her community’s commitment to public education, Charlotte has continued her support for public schools in a multitude of ways—even having served, in 2004 as the Democratic nominee for the Texas House of Representatives, District #127.  Although she did not win, in the general election—against the Republican incumbent, her candidacy called attention to the need for citizens to speak out on issues of importance to them. 

Charlotte was named a Woman of Achievement by Family Time Foundation in 2003 and received the 2006 Religious Liberty Award by the Greater Houston Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  She and her husband of forty-eight years have three adult children and five grandchildren.  They are members of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.


Colonel Eileen Collins 

Colonel Eileen Collins is a NASA Astronaut and a Colonel, USAF, Retired. She holds degrees from Syracuse University, Stanford University and Webster University, and graduated in 1979 from Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance AFB, Oklahoma. Since then, Collins has logged over 6,751 hours in 30 different types of aircraft and received numerous special honors including the Defense Superior Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Service in Grenada (Operation Urgent Fury, October 1983.) From 1986 to 1989 Collins was an assistant professor of mathematics and a T–41 instructor pilot at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado. She was selected by NASA in 1990 and became an astronaut in 1991. 

Collins has logged over 872 hours in space in four different missions over 11 years. She was aboard the first mission of the new joint Russian-American Space Program in 1995, and in 1999 she was the first woman to pilot a space shuttle. Her last mission, in 2005 was the two-week Return to Flight mission that docked with the International Space Station. As an astronaut she received further commendations including the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, Free Spirit Award, the National Space Trophy and the French Legion of Honor. 

Collins retired from the Air Force in January 2005, and from NASA in May 2006.


Captain Critchlow-Glenn 

Captain Critchlow-Glenn attended the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO before enlisting in the Marine Corps in May 1997. In January 1998, she was assigned as an organizational automotive mechanic in Sacramento, CA where she attained the rank of Corporal.

She attended Officer Candidate School, completing the Junior and Senior course in August 1999. Upon receiving a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Religious Studies, she was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in January 2001. In June of 2004, she received her Masters in Human Resource and Management. 

After completion of the Basic School in June 2002, Captain Critchlow-Glenn attended Adjutant School at Camp Johnson, North Carolina and was then assigned to Combat Service Support Group-1, MCAGCC, 29 Palms, California. She served as the Adjutant for Multinational Forces-Iraq (Baghdad, Iraq) from February 2005 to September 2005. She was then assigned as the 3D Marine Logistics Group (Okinawa, Japan) Adjutant until May 2007. She currently serves as the Houston Area Marine Officer Selection Officer. 

Captain Critchlow-Glenn is married to Ronald Peter Glenn II of Houston, TX.  They have three sons: Hayden Christopher-Fitzgerald Glenn (6 years old), Elijah Xavier-Jelani Glenn (4 years old), and Ashton Michael-Canaan Glenn (18 months).


Lily Chen Foster 

Lily Foster is an actress from the Shanghai Film Studio having starred in more than 20 films from China. One of her movies, The West Queen, was the largest produced Chinese film at the time. It was filmed in the Forbidden City and produced two subsequent sequels. She also starred in the BBC and Australian Broadcast Company miniseries, Children of the Dragon. 

Lily received her M.A. in drama from the University of Houston and has won numerous honors and awards. She is now a full-time mother of two, active in the Asia Society-Texas Center and on the Board of the Alley Theater.


Laura Genung 

Laura Genung joined Chilton Capital Management, LLC in 2005. Her previous associations include Woodway Financial, a Houston-based independent trust company where she served as vice-president and trust officer. She is a member of Attorneys in Tax and Probate, The Houston Estate and Financial Forum, Texas Women Lawyers, and the Estate and Probate Section of the Houston Bar Association. 

Laura has a BJ from the University of Texas at Austin and a JD from the University of Houston Law Center. She and her husband are raising four young children.


Elizabeth Gregory 

Elizabeth Gregory has directed the Women's Studies Program at the University of Houston since 1995. She is also an English professor and the author of a new book, Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood (Basic Books, December 2007). She is very proud to have been part of the action when the Friends held the first Table Talk in 1997. 

Though her training was in literature (Yale PhD, 1989), her work in the Women's Studies world has allowed her to undertake her current multi-disciplinary project.  Around the world, when given the choice, women all over the world are starting families later than their mothers did. And increasing numbers are starting their families much later -- at or after 35, by birth or adoption. Recognizing that the trend among women to starting families later involves a huge change in traditional life-sequencing patterns and in social dynamics, and that almost no research had been done on the causes and effects of this shift, she started a study. Her book draws on her interviews with 113 new later moms (most of them from Houston, and the rest from cities around the nation) and on her extensive collateral research in national databases. She explores the background to "the new later motherhood," and its effect on individual women, their families and the wider world. The book combines profiles of many of the women interviewed with analysis of the issues they pointed to as influencing their choice. It turns out that women's new ability to define for themselves when they feel ready for family creates many ripple effects, most of them quite positive, though that is not the impression you get in the media generally. 

In 2005, Elizabeth and the UH Women's Studies program hosted a national conference called 21st-Century Motherhood: Change, and in 2008 they will be hosting another conference, this time looking at Gender, Age and Creativity. 

Elizabeth's earlier publications include a book of literary criticism- “Quotation and Modern American Poetry: " 'Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads'"(1996)-and a collection of essays called “The Critical Response to Marianne Moore” (2003).  She is married to an architect and they have two terrific daughters.


Peggy Grodinsky 

Peggy Grodinsky assumed the job of Food Editor at the Houston Chronicle in 2005, after seven years as Editor-in-Chief at the New York-based culinary nonprofit organization, the James Beard Foundation. At the Chronicle, she has written about subjects from tofu to tailgating, from piloncillo to cowpeas, attempting to insert a Texas twang into her writing, if not her speech. Her favorite stories are those that chronicle unusual and obsessive characters at the fringes of the food world -  the Houstonian who went to fantastic lengths in his quest to make the perfect baguette, the Russian Jewish immigrant riveted by the traditional Asian art of carving fruits and vegetables; among his proudest achievements was carving the Ten Commandments into a watermelon for the bar mitzvah of a Houston boy. In 2005, Grodinsky won two awards for her story "A Vision of Independence: Cooking in the Dark/Sharp knives and boiling water don't faze this blind Houstonian," one from the Association of Food Journalists, the other a Barbara Jordan Media Award. 

Before moving to Houston, Grodinsky was an adjunct professor of writing at New York University's Food and Nutrition Studies Program in the Steinhardt School of Education. Her freelance articles have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere. Grodinsky spent three years as senior editor at the Japan Society in Manhattan. A few years later, the Society published a 100-page booklet on soy foods that she wrote. In the early 1990s, she lived in Tokyo, Japan, for two years, working as an editor at the Yomiuri Shinbun, Japan's largest newspaper. Upon her return to the United States, she won a Gannett fellowship to study Asia at the University of Hawaii. Grodinsky, a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, started her writing career at dailies in Vermont and New Hampshire. While working at the Valley News, she won an Associated Press Award for best feature.


Jada Hallmark 

Jada Hallmark is the Assistant Women’s Swim Coach, Rice University. She is a graduate of Kingwood High School and has a B.A in Kinesiology from Rice University where she was a four year letter winner for the swim team and its captain for two years. Jada holds an MS in Health and Exercise Science and Nutrition from Colorado State University and is a PhD Candidate in Kinesiology from University of Houston, concentrating on Environmental Correlates of Obesity. Jada has competed in several US National swim Championships and in the 2000 Olympic Trials. She participates in local triathlons and she swam the 2006 Escape from Alcatraz swim in San Francisco Bay. She has conducted several community studies identifying how our environments (physical activity resources) affect our health and how social class impacts choices in food and physical activity. Jada is married to Patrick Hallmark, Rice’s assistant baseball coach, and they have two sons.


Paula Harris 

Paula Harris was elected to the Board of Education in November 2007 and was chosen by her peers to serve as first vice president in 2008. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in petroleum engineering. In her 20-year career in the oil industry, Harris has held a variety of positions, including field engineer managing operations on offshore rigs throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Other assignments included sales engineer and North American recruiting manager. As worldwide training manager, Harris had the opportunity to develop business opportunities and teams in Europe, Africa, the Soviet Union, China, South America, and Australia. Her current assignment is managing community affairs. 

Harris has received numerous recognitions, including being named to Black Engineer’s 50 Who Make a Difference and Key Women in Energy as well as receiving the Women of Color in Technology award. She serves on the boards of Project Row Houses, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Hester House, Menil Development, the Mental Health Association, and The Ensemble Theatre, among others. She received a state appointment to the Texas Energy Planning Council. Harris has been profiled in Black Engineer, Graduating Engineer, and Money Magazine. 

Harris wrote the book For Sister: The Guide for Professional Black Women, published in 2003. She formed her own publishing company, Madison House Publishing. Harris recently wrote and published the children’s book When I Grow Up: I Want to Be an Engineer

Harris and her husband Dwayne are the owners of the DPM Alliance Home Health and DPM Alliance Home Hospice Agencies. DPM has a team providing skilled health-care services throughout the Houston–Galveston area. 

Harris and her husband have a seven-year-old daughter who attends an HISD school.


Natasha Kamrani 

Natasha Kamrani was elected to the Board of Education in December 2005 and was chosen by her colleagues to serve as second vice president of the board in 2008. She graduated from Miami University of Ohio in 1990, and upon graduation she applied to and was accepted into Teach for America, the national teacher corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit to teach for two years in inner-city and rural school districts that suffer from teacher shortages. Kamrani was placed at the Houston Independent School District's Thomas Edison Middle School to teach English as a Second Language to recent immigrants from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. 

Upon completing her two-year commitment to Teach for America, Kamrani spent the following four years as the local executive director of Teach for America, where she was responsible for training and placing more than 200 teachers in schools throughout the HISD and raising funds to sustain the organization. 

In 2000, Kamrani received her law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.  She is “Of Counsel” with a Houston law firm.  Kamrani also serves as the founding executive director of the Arnold Family Foundation whose philanthropic work supports K-12 education initiatives. 

In 1998, Kamrani married fellow Teach for America corps member Chris Barbic, who is the founding head of schools of the YES College Preparatory School District. Kamrani and her husband are the parents of two children, the older of whom is an HISD student. 

Kamrani currently sits on the advisory board of Teach for America and the Houston Heights Association's Education Committee, and she was a member of the task force that helped establish HISD's Woodrow Wilson Elementary Montessori School.


Renu Khator 

Renu Khator came to University of Houston to be the thirteenth President and eighth Chancellor to the University of Houston System on the 15th of January of 2008. Prior to this, she was provost and senior vice president at the University of South Florida (USF). She was appointed to that position in 2003, capping a twenty-two-year career at USF that included posts as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, faculty assistant to the president, director of the graduate program in the Department of Government and International Affairs, and professor of government and international affairs, among others. Dr. Khator is USF's first female provost and one of the first Indian Americans to become provost at a comprehensive research university. 

Dr. Khator was born in India where she completed her bachelor's degree in liberal arts. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Purdue University in political science with particular training in environmental policy. She has published five books, numerous book chapters, and journal articles in leading nationals and international journal articles. Her areas of specialization include water policy and the impact of globalization on the environment. 

The global community has recognized Dr. Khator's outstanding accomplishments. In January 2007, she and her husband, Dr. Suresh Khator, were awarded the prestigious Hind Rattan (Jewel of India), given to nonresident Indians for making outstanding contributions in their field. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services included Dr. Khator among its 2006 Outstanding Americans by Choice awardees. The award recognizes achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens. Also in 2006, Dr. Khator received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Purdue University's College of Liberal Arts and the Outstanding Educator Award from the American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture for enhancing Hellenic studies. 

Dr. Khator has a long history of community engagement. She recently served on the National Advisory Council of Environmental Policy and technology and serves on several local community boards. She enjoys writing poetry and fiction, several of which have been published.


Susan Koozin 

Susan Koozin is one of the most visible actors in Houston, best known for her roles in two of the longest-running productions in Houston's history, Always, Patsy Cline and The Great American Trailer Park Musical, both at Stages Repertory Theatre. A stage favorite, she portrayed Mae West in Dirty Blonde and other wide-ranging roles in Black Pearl Sings, Company, Nickel and Dimed, Bright Ideas, and Late…A Cowboy Song. Other Houston productions include Assassins (Bayou City Concert Musicals), Stop Kiss, The Man in the Trunk (Unhinged Productions), Defying Gravity (Main Street Theatre), Habeas Corpus, Private Eyes, and Wild Oats (Actors Theatre of Houston). Other favorite acting roles have been: Shirley in Shirley Valentine, Rosalind in As You Like It, Annie in Annie Get Your Gun, Amanda in Private Lives, Julie in Miss Julie, Belinda in Noises Off, Miss Hannigan in Annie, and Sister Hubert in Nunsense. She has done radio and television commercials, voice work in anime films, performed in comedy improv ensembles throughout the country, and appeared in Parenthood (with Steve Martin). 

Susan has directed more than 25 productions, including award-winning productions of Children of a Lesser God, The Foreigner, and How the Other Half Loves. Her Houston directorial debut was the recent production of Barbara's Wedding at Theatre Lab. Susan has also taught theatre and music classes for young children as well as high school and university courses. She is a member of Actors' Equity Association.


Cathy López Negrete 

Savvy. As chief financial officer and chief operating officer, Cathy López Negrete has been at the helm of Lopez Negrete Communications since she and husband Alex first launched the agency from their tiny townhome back in 1985. Today, all business, financial and operational departments are under Cathy’s able stewardship. She leads with kindness, plans with foresight and manages change without fear. The result is a business culture of exceptionally high performance and equally high reward. 

Artistic. But Cathy isn’t just about the nuts and bolts of agency management. Step into Lopez Negrete Communications, and you find yourself immersed in her lush, beautiful world. From the arched doorways, colorful chandeliers and elegant living room settings to the whimsical artwork, kooky knickknacks and old-world charm, the agency is resplendent with Cathy’s deft artistic touch. Lopez Negrete seems more like an ultra-hip Mediterranean villa than Houston’s premiere marketing agency. For her 170-plus Lopez Negrete “familia,” it feels just like home. 

Nurturing. Of course, Cathy is hardly all color palettes and rose petals, either. She assumes a major leadership role in new business acquisition, stays in constant communication with managers while setting goals for each team, and nurtures the creative department to help keep the work up to Lopez Negrete’s demanding standards. And when there is praise to be shared among employees, Cathy leads the charge. While she keeps a watchful eye on the fiscal bottom line, her other important bottom line is to ensure that Lopez Negrete is a great place to work. 

Hilarious. Meetings with Cathy are typically filled with lots of humor, lots of laughter and generally lots of fun. Simply put, Cathy is a stitch. You might even say a sense of humor is practically a job requirement at Lopez Negrete. After hours, Cathy loves to gather the troops for fiestas in the Lopez Negrete game room, elaborate holiday parties off campus, and special agency events that keep morale high and family unity strong.


Elena M. Marks 

Elena M. Marks was appointed by Mayor Bill White to serve as the Director of Health Policy for the City of Houston in January 2004.   Her responsibilities include oversight of the City’s Health and Human Services Department and the Office of Environmental Programming and coordination of environmental activities across all City departments.  Ms. Marks holds a Bachelor’s degree from Emory University, a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law, and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Texas School of Public Health.  Prior to joining the Mayor’s staff, Ms. Marks practiced trial and appellate law with major law firms, started and directed a successful legal placement business, and developed strategic, long range, and operating plans for service lines and system centers at St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System.


Fatima A. Mawji 

Fatima Mawji holds an MD and an MBA and is a practicing anesthesiologist and community volunteer with a passion for improving quality of life and assisting fellow human beings. She serves as Vice Chairman of Focus Humanitarian Assistance USA, seeking to enable disaster resilient communities and works with Andrea White’s office to assist evacuees from Hurricane Katrina and Rita. She has been a member of the health board – Southwest Council and of the UCP board of directors. She has volunteered with the flying doctors program in Kenya (where she was born) and the Lion’s Eye Bank, also in Kenya. Dr. Mawji is currently on the board of interfaith ministries, and is working with the new program social safety net, an initiative called The Aga Khan Foundation and His Highness Prince Agakhan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for the USA.

The program seeks to enhance the quality of life of our community through support systems and empowerment using trained volunteers to build the infrastructure required to sustain a standardized approach to social service delivery. Dr. Mawji enjoys exercising regularly with a special love for yoga. She is married with two sons and one daughter-in-law.


Susan McMillian 

Susan McMillian serves as Executive Staff Analyst in the Public Works and Engineering Department of the City of Houston. She has been with the City of Houston for twenty-three years serving in a number of varied capacities including Council District A Chief of Staff, Neighborhood Traffic Calming and Speed Hump Program administrator, and Utility Customer Service Collections Manager.  In her current position, she assists in the development of policy and proposed legislation related to such current issues as the regulation of high-density development; Building Permitting improvements; living conditions in multifamily complexes, and other issues involved in planning for the exponential growth Houston is expected to experience in the next ten years. Susan lives with her husband in the same Houston neighborhood in which they both grew up.  Their three children attended the same public schools as they did (and even had some of the same teachers).  They still enjoy the oddity of living in a “small town” within the 4th largest city in the country.  Susan enjoys travelling, reading, antique auctions, but more importantly attending the many activities and events in the lives of her four grandchildren.


Lisa Melancon Ganucheau 

Lisa Melancon Ganucheau is the president of The Junior League of Houston, Inc., an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.  Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. Its membership totals over 5000 women, approximately 1500 of which are active members. 

As President of the Junior League of Houston for 2007-2008, Lisa is responsible for the administration of all Junior League of Houston activities. Lisa works with the Board of Directors to identify critical needs in Houston and commit volunteers and financial resources to meet those needs.  Lisa represents the Junior League of Houston in dealing with nearly 40 community agencies and is the League’s primary spokesperson. As President, Lisa oversees and directs all development activities for the League including the annual Charity Ball, cookbook and children’s book sales, an endowment campaign, and the Tea Room operations.  She manages the League’s volunteers and staff, and she oversees all publications. In her twelve years of active service with the League, Lisa has held a variety of leadership positions within the organization.  She has served on the Executive Committee as the Recording Secretary and she has served on the Board of Directors and Community Council. 

In addition to her service to the Junior League, Lisa Ganucheau has served on the Board of Directors of the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary and on the School Board of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School, including Vice President.  Her other community involvement includes the Bellaire Little League and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. 

Lisa Melancon Ganucheau was born and spent most of her formative years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  She received her B. A. in Political Science from Louisiana State University and her Juris Doctor from the Loyola School of Law, New Orleans.  She worked as an Account Representative for the legal publisher, West Publishing Company, for four years.  She and her husband, Tom, have been married for 15 years and are the parents of Mary Clare, 12, and John Thomas, 11.


Merideth Melville 

Merideth Melville is President of Zenfilm, a boutique production and postproduction company located in Houston, Texas.  Founded in 2005 with her creative partner, W. Ross Wells, it satisfies a lifelong ambition to own her own business in a creative field.  Zenfilm creates award-winning work with advertising agencies and corporations throughout the country.  

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors from The University of Texas at Austin, Merideth honed her producer skills by serving on the board of many non-profit organizations (Planned Parenthood Federation of America; The Women’s Resource Center; Women in Film & Television; YWCA; Only in Houston; MFAH) or donating production services (The Women’s Home; House of Tiny Treasures; Initiatives for Children; Friends of Women’s Studies; Goodwill). 

For over 4 years, she produced and wrote travel documentaries shown on The Travel Channel.  This dream job gave her a backstage pass to what most travelers never see-actors preparing for the Chinese Opera in Singapore; staying in a Long House with an Iban Indian tribe in the jungles of Borneo; dining with royalty at their Rhine Valley vineyard; touring one of the many mosques in Kuala Lumpur; eating fish eyeballs in the Hong Kong market; spending the day as the only guest in King Ludwig’s II castle. 

The dream eventually ended and she came back down to earth with a job offer from NASA, where she was in charge of The Motion Picture Division in The Public Affairs Office.  Her staff made the films from images shot on board the shuttles.  While there, Merideth interviewed almost all the astronauts before they headed off to space.  

Throw in another 10 years, seven partners and two businesses later and here we are today.  Promising never to go into business with another partner again, she and Ross (who also happens to be her husband of 16 years), started zenfilm on a shoestring budget, with lots of loyal clients and great hope for the future.  Needing to double their space, zenfilm has recently moved into its new, cool space at The Dakota Lofts. 

When Merideth was 46 & Ross 41 they embarked on a new adventure – bringing a baby into their lives.  Open adoption was the only course they wanted to take.  Maybe it was all the good fortunes the tellers read in Merideth’s palms, because within two days of turning in their paperwork, they were matched with a birth mother. 

The open adoption allowed Merideth & Ross to get to know Tucker’s birth mom and for her to get to know them. They were both in the delivery room when Tucker was born Christmas Eve and they took him home Christmas Day, 2003. Tucker wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but he was born with a camera in his hand and at 4 is a pretty good photographer (his first picture taken at age 2 was of the ice cream container inside the freezer).  And, he is for Merideth, the best thing she’s produced yet.


Carolyn Moore Khourie 

Carolyn Moore Khourie is the Principal Scientist Liaison with the Texas Medical Center for The Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness, a division of the Coca-Cola Company. 

Since 1999, Carolyn has been helping to lead the juice and juice drink nutrition innovation for The Coca-Cola Company and the Minute Maid Company. She established the first Nutrition Advisory Board for the Minute Maid Company and was instrumental in forming the Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness for The Coca-Cola Company. She has overseen several clinical trials demonstrating new beverage product efficacy including a multi-nutrient beverage study in Botswana; a multi-nutrient beverage bioavailability study in Peru; a vitamin D bioavailability study in orange juice; two studies using plant sterols in levels and a study demonstrating reduction of abdominal fat when calcium plus vitamin D is delivered in juice. 

Dr. Moore has 20 years of health care experience in the Texas Medical Center in Houston as a faculty member of the Program in Nutrition and Dietetics for the University of Texas, Director of Nutrition of an outpatient cardiac rehabilitation and diabetes research center, and Manager of Clinical Nutrition for The Methodist Hospital. 

Dr. Moore has a doctoral degree in Public Health in Nutrition Sciences from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Bachelor and Master's degree from the University of California at Berkeley.  In 2001, Dr. Moore completed her Master's in Business Administration at Rice University, Houston, Texas.


Jane Moser 

Jane Moser has been manager at the Brazos Bookstore since May 2006. She was the founder and owner of Stop, Look & Learn, Houston’s first children's bookstore; and she teaches communications part-time at Houston Community College, University of Houston Downtown, Lamar High School and the Kinkaid School. Jane has served on the boards of Planned Parenthood, Writers in the Schools and ChildBuilders. She is married to attorney Bert Moser, and they have two adult children- both writers.


Susan Neptune 

Susan Neptune is the owner of Neptune Heritage Restorations. The strength of her belief in traditional ways is indicated in the fact that she does not email!


Melissa Noriega 

Melissa Noriega was elected to Houston City Council At-Large, Position 3 in June of 2007 and was reelected in November 0f 2007. During her campaign, she built a broad coalition of citizens, businesses and community organizations. As a Council member, she is the Chairman of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and serves on the Transportation, Infrastructure and Aviation; Budget and Fiscal Affairs; Flooding and Drainage; Human Services and Technology Access; Regulation, Development and Neighborhood Protection; and Sustainable Growth Committees. 

Melissa’s priorities on Council are public safety, public health and smart government and she believes that effective public service is accomplished through relationship building and the ability to set aside personal agendas for the greater good. Melissa has a unique perspective as a public school educator, a community activist and as a member of the Texas House in 2005. 

In June 2004, her husband, Representative Rick Noriega, a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army National Guard, was called by his country to serve in Afghanistan, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was stationed near Kabul for a year and a day and deployed for 14 months.  In 2005, Melissa left her job and her responsibilities at home to be the first person to serve in her spouse’s stead under a constitutional amendment approved by Texas voters in 2003. 

She was sworn in on January 11, 2005 and went on to serve in the 79th Regular Session as well as two 30-day Special Sessions on Education.  She was named Freshman of the Year by the Democratic Caucus and was awarded the first Joe E. Moreno Public Service Award by her colleagues. In the Texas Legislature, Melissa served on the Defense Affairs and State and Federal Relations Committee, which oversees military operations in Texas, as well as Homeland Security and the Corrections Committee. 

Melissa attended the University of Houston and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.  She was president of Phi Mu Fraternity, and Vice-President of the Pan-Hellenic Council.  She graduated with a Masters in Education, Counseling, from the UH College of Education, while beginning her career with HISD. 

At HISD, where she recently retired as a 27-year veteran, Melissa worked in the Education and Research Departments, district administrative offices and Professional Development, but her passion for many years was Parent Involvement, Leadership and Community Engagement. 

Melissa Meisgeier Noriega grew up in Austin and Houston and is a product of Scarborough High School in the Houston Independent School District.  Her father is a lifelong educator, as are two of her three siblings; her mother is a writer. 

The Noriega's married on Valentines Day, 1991, in anticipation of further conflict in Operation Desert Storm.  Melissa is stepmother to Alex, a student at Texas A&M and the mother of Ricky, Jr., born in 1997.  She has been President of the Eastwood Civic Association and has served as part of the Executive Committee of Parents for Public Schools. She and Rick are Life Members of the University of Houston Alumni. The Noriega family belongs to Christ Church Cathedral.


Michele Ostrander 

Michele Ostrander, M.A., is the Executive Director for the Houston Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure serving in this role since June 2005. A long-time advocate for women, Ostrander believes that “access to health care should be a right not a privilege.” Her passion is fueled by the women she works with every day who are not only surviving breast cancer but thriving. Ostrander has worked in the non-profit sector for more than 13 years and has extensive experience in fundraising, public relations, legislative advocacy and community outreach. Prior to working for the Komen Houston Affiliate, Ostrander was the Director at Tahoe Women’s Services in Northern California. Ostrander graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a Master’s degree in Psychology. She currently serves as a board member for the Friends of Women’s Studies at the University of Houston.


Sharon M. Owens 

Sharon M. Owens is Vice President of Centerpoint Energy’s Corporate Community Relations Department, oversees the strategic development of the company’s community- based programs specializing in Education and Consumer Affairs.  In addition to managing and developing her staff, she maintains a well-established professional relationship with key leaders and members of the business community, nonprofit agencies, schools and elected officials. She also oversees the company’s corporate giving. Prior to joining the company in 1977, Ms. Owens taught high school Voc. Home Economics in St. Paul, MN. 

Ms. Owens is active and holds officer positions on several professional and civic boards. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her leadership and invaluable service to the community, in which she works and lives. She was most recently recognized in the 2007 Inaugural edition of “Who’s Who in Black Houston” and in 2006 was honored by Leadership Houston as one of their “Top 25 Leaders”. 

Ms. Owens received her Associate of Arts Degree from St. Philip’s Jr. College in San Antonio, Texas, and her B.S. in Vocational Education from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee. She considers herself both a catalyst and conduit for people to achieve positive goals for themselves and their community. She has the ability and intuition to assess needs in the community and match the right people with the right causes to achieve the right results.


Cindy Pena 

Cindy Pena is Public Affairs Manager for the Houston Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. She is responsible for relationship management with financial institutions, community relations, and conference center promotion. She joined the bank in 1992 and previously worked in Human Resources, Business Development, and Sales/Marketing. 

Ms. Pena serves on the Board of Directors of Parish School and is a member of the Texas Bar Association’s Law Focused Education Committee. She also chairs the Partner Ambassadors program for Greater Houston Partnership and is a member of Leadership Houston, Corporate Community Relations Council, and Catholic Charities’ Marketing subcommittee. She is an active volunteer with United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Dress for Success, and St. Anne’s Catholic Church, and she was a recipient of the United Way’s 2006-2007 Campaign Hero award. Ms. Pena holds MBA and BBA degrees from the University of Houston.


Hazel Pierre

Hazel Pierre is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Houston She completed her first degree in Literature I English (First Class Honors) at the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine Campus), Trinidad. She was subsequently the first Caribbean candidate to win a Warwick research Fellowship which facilitated her research and successful completion of doctoral degree. Her areas of research include the literatures and cultures of the Caribbean diaspora, nationalism and migration. 

Hazel is a recent migrant to Houston and is currently acquainting herself with the diverse cultures and communities of the city.


Gilda Ramirez 

Gilda Ramirez is a native Houstonian and East Ender, joined the Port of Houston Authority in January 2002 as Manager, Small Business Development and was promoted to Director in March 2004.  Gilda’s responsibilities include overseeing the direct operation of the Small Business Development Program. 

Prior to joining the Port, Gilda worked at METRO for eighteen years.  During her tenure with the Authority, she has held various positions of increasing responsibility including Receptionist, Lead Customer Service Representative, Carpool/Vanpool Coordinator, Community Relations Representative II & III, Lead Business Development Representative, Manager of Business Development and Manager of Community Outreach. The last position she held at METRO was Director of Community Outreach & Government Affairs while simultaneously serving as the Chair of the Millennium Mobility Plan Education Team.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Administration and Boston College’s Certification in Corporate Community Relations.  Gilda is also a graduate of Leadership Houston Class XIII, United Way’s Project Blue Print and a current fellow of American Leadership Forum.  She has served on various boards and most recently served as the Chair of the East End Chamber of Commerce and currently serves as the Chair of Talento Bilingue de Houston.  She is an active member of several chambers of commerce and continues to work as a small business advocate. 

In her capacity at the Port of Houston Authority, Gilda is able to assist small businesses and helps make a difference in people’s livelihoods.  She enjoys the opportunity to work with small business leaders and to serve her community.


Mia Rogers 

Mia Rogers is the kind of woman most men would love to marry.  She is a woman who does not spend money on clothes.  In fact, other people buy clothes from her.  Mia is a fashion designer with her own original clothing design boutique in Upper Kirby, Eve Francis Boutique.   

Mia Rogers is originally from Beaumont. Mia began her design career in Atlanta after graduating from the University of North Texas.  Prior to becoming a fashion designer and boutique owner, she traveled the world as a Delta flight attendant.  However, since a child of 6, Mia has always wanted to be a fashion designer and own her own clothing boutique.  Self-taught in the art and mechanics of fashion design, Mia opened her first boutique in Atlanta's Virginia Highlands.  Her second boutique was located in Houston's Rice Village and now she resides in the Upper Kirby area. 

A new addition to the extensive, ever- increasing roster of in-town boutiques, this chic it-girl shop upped the ante to specialize in originals. Eve Francis boutique is a special place to shop because it provides women with the exclusivity so often missing in their shopping experience.  With very small quantities of each garment produced, shoppers can rest assured that they won't run into their twin.  Celebrities such as Cameron Diaz swear by small boutiques for that unique, special find that will set them apart.  However, Mia takes it a step further by making the line only available at Eve Francis boutique. 

If you want to walk into the room and have everyone turn around and go “who is that,” this may not be the right boutique for you.  Mia does not do extremely trendy or club wear.  However, if you would like to get the glances of admiration as well as the question we all love, “where did you get that?,”  this is the right shop for you.  Mia specializes in chic, sleek, classic but modern dresses and sportswear.  In other words, the easy, effortless, go anywhere dress.  Mia knows how to wink at the trends without making a dress unfit to wear for the next season.  Webster defines sleek as a polished well-groomed look, having a prosperous air, and having trim and graceful lines.  Mia Rogers defines sleek as Eve Francis, her little boutique nestled in Upper Kirby. 


Juanita Romans 

Juanita Romans is senior vice president of the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and chief executive officer of Memorial Hermann Hospital. Prior to that she was vice president and chief operating officer. She is the first registered nurse to join the ranks of Memorial Hermann CEOs and the first woman appointed to the organization’s senior executive council. Romans has nearly 20 years of clinical and administrative experience. 

Prior to joining Memorial Hermann, Romans was an executive vice president with Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, a three-hospital system affiliated with Northwestern University Medical School in Evanston, Illinois. She holds a Master of Science in nursing from Wayne State University and is an associate in the American College of Healthcare Executives. She serves on the board of Houston’s South Main Center Association.


Mary Sit 

Mary Sit is a blogger at METRO, launching the nation’s first blog at a government transit agency. A former business writer at The Boston Globe and Houston Chronicle, Ms. Sit was a freelance writer/producer before working at METRO. She continues to produce and host Asian Focus, a public affairs show on WHDH-TV in Boston, the NBC-affiliate. She also writes a monthly column for a national beauty magazine based in New York. 

In addition to writing the blog at METRO, Ms. Sit supervises the monthly lunchtime Web chats with METRO’s president and CEO, produces internal video blogs, and produces and hosts METRO’s new mini-talk show airing on Houston Media Source’s cable TV channels. 

A native Houstonian, Ms. Sit graduated magna cum laude from the University of Houston with a degree in journalism.


Naomi Smulian Mendel 

Naomi Smulian Mendel has over 30 years experience working with art in the magical world of children. She encourages spontaneity, at the same time providing a solid basis in the fundamentals of art. Naomi is an artist, a teacher and a writer of both children's books and a series of curriculums for schools and daycare centers called Love for Learning. Originally from Israel, she received her degree in Fine Arts and completed graduate courses from the Beaux Arts and Grand Chaumière of Paris, France. She also earned a teaching certificate in Education. While living abroad she has taught and exhibited in South America, Israel, England, France and Trinidad.


Marian Szczepanski 

Marian Szczepanski is a fiction-writer and freelance journalist who has received awards and fellowships from Clackamas Literary Review, Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, and Houston Press Club.  Her work has appeared in more than a dozen literary, special interest, collegiate, and expatriate publications.  She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College and is currently at work on her fourth novel. 

Marian is also president of Women in the Visual and Literary Arts (WIVLA), a 200-member organization of writers and visual artists working in a wide range of media.  WIVLA provides members with opportunities to exhibit and read their work throughout the greater Houston area, as well as workshops, retreats, salons, informative and inspiring programs, and annual grants to further their creative development.


Kiran Verma 

Kiran Verma opened the doors to Ashiana, a small restaurant in west Houston more than eight years ago, convinced there was a market for her classically prepared Indian dishes. Little did she know then that not only was there a market for her innovative food, but that she was pioneering a movement to bring her native cuisine to a new level of quality, imagination, and style.  In the ensuing years, she introduced Indian food to scores of new people and raised the expectations of how and where it can be served.  Suddenly, the passion with which diners in London and cities across Europe expressed for the cuisine found an outlet in Houston. 

In 2004, Chef Kiran sold Ashiana and began developing another dream - to create a fine-dining Indian restaurant in the heart of Houston's most competitive restaurant area.  In October 2005, her efforts paid off.  Kiran's stunningly designed restaurant at 4100 Westheimer at Mid Lane, just west of upscale Highland Village shopping center, officially opened its doors. 

 Kiran's nearly doubles the seating of Ashiana and more than 30 people are employed to create the level of service and attention envisioned. Meanwhile, the meticulous care that Chef Kiran puts into her dishes has intensified.  That care extends to the dining rooms, where the lighting is intimate, the colors warm, and the seating luxurious.  The dishes so carefully managed in the kitchen arrive on fine china, and the beverages, from cocktails to water to fine wines, are served  in sparkling crystal glasses and stemware. 

Considering herself a classic chef at heart, her menu is greatly influenced by the Mughlai style of northern India.  But in time her own tastes and techniques have evolved and been personalized, fusing French and American influences and exploring new combinations of spices, herbs, and other ingredients. 

Kiran's features house specialties including sea bass, lobster, lamb, and an array of the Chef’s own light and flavorful fruit chutneys and sauces.  Other dishes include magnificently flavored soups, chicken dishes, and vegetable creations, which are the most simple of true homestyle cooking prized by native Indians seeking childhood comforts. 

Chef Kiran has also taken an unprecedented step for Houston in creating a wine collection of over 400 labels, all carefully chosen to complement the myriad of flavors and complexities of Indian cuisine.  The collection has been praised and recognized by wine lovers, experts, and national publications.


Mia T. Vu 

Mia T. Vu is a Woman on the Move honoree of the Texas Executive Women Association and the Houston Chronicle in 2007. She is currently Special Projects Consultant at Reliant.  Until October 2007, Mia was Vice President of Product Solutions where she led the development of commodity products and structuring activities for commercial and industrial customers in Texas and Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland regions.  Prior to rejoining Reliant in August 2000, Mia was Vice President of Risk Products Structuring at Coral Energy where she initiated product strategies and actively marketed Coral's risk management services in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  Before Coral, she was with Houston Lighting & Power; the predecessor of Reliant.

In addition to her quantitative and risk management expertise, Mia has in-depth knowledge of the fundamentals of all energy markets -oil, gas, and power. She especially likes the complexity and challenges of the power business. 

Mia is the author of "Retail Energy Transactions in the U.S. -Valuation, Risk and Supply," a chapter in the Energy Risk Management book, published by London-based Energy Risk in March 2004.  The same magazine named Reliant "Energy Risk Manager of the Year -- Retail" at its 2004 annual awards ceremony, recognizing Reliant for its excellence in the field of energy risk management.  Most recently in December 2005, Energy Risk magazine also featured Reliant as a Pioneer in Innovation in Deal Structuring. 

Mia holds a Ph.D. degree in Economics and an M. S. in Mathematics and Economics from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is on the board of International Association of Energy Economics-Houston Chapter and the Houston YWCA. Her leisure activities include swimming, biking and classical music.


Andrea White

Andrea White – attorney, author, voracious reader, mother of three, and almost-lifelong Texan  -- grew up in Houston and attended Memorial High School.  After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas, she attended the University of Texas Law School and went on to become the second female partner at the law firm Locke Liddell. 

As Houston’s First Lady, she continues her years of work as an advocate for children, and a champion of progressive public school reform through a program called Expectation Graduation. 

Her publisher, HarperCollins released her book for pre-teens, Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083, in April of 2005.  Since the release in 2005, the book has been nominated for the Nebraska Golden Sower Award, the Texas Bluebonnet Award, the Utah Beehive Book Award and most recently, Florida's Sunshine State Young Reader Program.  Her next two books for teens are due out this year.


Belinda Windham 

The Reverend Dr. Belinda C. Windham is Pastor of New Hope Presbyterian Church, a position she has enjoyed for two years. Born in Bryan, Texas, she grew up in Humble oil camps in the Permian Basin of West Texas and the Caprock of southeastern New Mexico, moving with her family seven times by the time she was twelve. 

She earned a B.L.S. degree summa cum laude from St. Edward’s University, with a major in Health Care Administration.  Her Master of Divinity degree is from Austin Theological Seminary, with the award at graduation of the W. P. Newell Memorial Fellowship for outstanding academic achievement and showing promise for leadership in the church.  In 1996, she earned a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.  Prior to ministry Belinda had a 17-year career in health care administration in Austin.

Belinda has previously served congregations in Taylor, Livingston, and Houston, Texas, in solo, associate, and interim positions.  For 17 years she has served the larger church in the higher judicatories, including the General Assembly committee that writes and administers the comprehensive ordination examinations for the denomination, of which she was a part for eight years; and a recently completed term on the Synod Permanent Judicial Commission, which acts as a circuit court of appeals in ecclesiastical cases.  She currently serves New Covenant Presbytery as a member of the Administration Sub-Committee of the Committee on Ministry.  She is also a member of the Advisory Board of The Institute of Pastoral Studies and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Preaching at Houston Graduate School of Theology.  This month she was elected to the Board of the Austin Seminary Association. 

Belinda has a long-standing association with social advocacy issues, including reproductive rights, GLBT rights, and separation of church and state.  She has served as guest speaker on related topics at both South Texas College of Law and Rice University. Her most recent advocacy involvement is with religious freedom, for which she is one of the founding members of the Katy-West Houston Interfaith Clergy Association.

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