2011 - University of Houston
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2011 Biographies

Kafah Bachari Manna 

Kafah Bachari Manni is an Iranian-American writer. She is the co-founder of Pink Iftar and the Director of the Houston Palestine Film Festival. Currently, she is working on a collection of short stories focusing on issues of identity, cultural assimilation and alienation, generational conflict, religious piety and love in the Iranian American community. 


Annie Belford 

Rabbi Anne Belford, a native of El Paso, Texas, received a BA degree in Creative Writing from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles in 1998, an MA degree in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 2003 and rabbinic ordination from HUC-JIR in 2004. 

Rabbi Belford is honored to serve Temple Sinai since July, 2009, as one of the first women solo rabbis in a Houston congregation. Between student pulpits, High Holy Day pulpits, and full-time pulpits, she has previously served congregations in Missouri, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Connecticut, and Bombay, India. She also worked for the Union for Reform Judaism Press and is the author of A Teacher's Guide to a Taste of Text. She enjoys working with numerous interfaith and community organizations, and is currently on the leadership team of Katy/West Houston Interfaith Clergy Association. She loves teaching people of all ages and falls in love with Torah—again—every time she studies it. She is an avid reader, enjoys travelling, and loves nothing more than spending time with her husband, Rabbi Ari Vernon, and her beautiful boys Lev and Eiden. 


Nancy Bolduc, DVM 

Nancy Bolduc is a graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. Before that, she received undergraduate degrees from the University of Virginia and Texas A&M. She began practicing in the River Oaks area in 1983 and came to the River Oaks Animal Hospital in 1998. She has a special interest in preventive medicine and wellness care. With her mother, a native Houstonian, and father, a career army officer, and her eight siblings, she has enjoyed living in New York, Georgia, Okinawa, Virginia, Kansas, Paris, France, and Hawaii. Her family's dachshunds accompanied them and shared their home with a variety of birds, fish, mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs. 

Nancy enjoys the outdoors, the performing and visual arts, movies of all kinds, and reading, especially novels and mysteries. She has had the pleasure of living with her dogs Max, Bea, and Bob, and cats Stanley and Frank. Nancy loves the Texas Hill Country, where she began visiting her grandparents as a child. She continues to enjoy practicing her profession and feels fortunate when she thinks of all of the wonderful people, dogs, and cats she came to know and care for.


Maria Boyce 

Maria Boyce is Partner in Charge of the Houston office of Baker Botts and is a senior partner in the litigation department. She tries lawsuits in state and federal courts involving complex commercial disputes. Maria also has extensive experience representing plaintiffs and defendants in intellectual property litigation, including numerous patent infringement and trade secret lawsuits. 

She recently tried a patent infringement case for a major computer company to a Delaware federal court jury and a commercial fraud case for a major software company to a Texas state court jury. Maria serves on the Board of Directors of the Alley Theatre and the Board of Trustees of the Bishop Quin Foundation of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Maria received her undergraduate degree from Connecticut College and her law degree from Northwestern University School of Law. 

Maria is married to Justice Bill Boyce of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston and is the proud mother of two daughters, Emily (Age 16) and Julia (Age 12).


Waynette Chan 

Waynette currently serves as Mayor Annise Parker's Chief of Staff for the City of Houston. Ms. Chan assists the mayor in the management of Houston; she develops, advises on, and implements policies. Additionally, Ms. Chan participates in the preparation of Houston's budget, guides, and monitors city services, and advises on items for the council agenda. 

Prior to becoming Chief of Staff, Ms. Chan worked extensively for the City of Houston. She served for five years as the Chief of Staff for Public Works (PWE). Ms. Chan has served the City of Houston for 25 years and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.


Emily Conner 

Emily was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Episcopal High School in 1996. Five days before she was supposed to leave for the University of Denver, on a dance scholarship, she had an accident, which left her a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. However, with determination and a wonderful support system, she survived and became the woman she is today. 

While still in rehabilitation at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR), she and her family were approached by Howard Wolfe, the President of TIRR at the time, about raising money for this dream he had, which was Mission Connect, a unique multi-million-dollar collaborative neurotrauma research project to translate scientific knowledge, the product of research, into pioneering medical treatments to help people who have sustained neurological injuries. They started the TIRR Emily Endowment in 1996 to raise the seed money to begin Mission Connect, which is now over a 30-million-dollar project. 

In 1999 she was a Founding Committee Member of TIRR Family which is a volunteer organization that creates financial support for TIRR Foundation and Mission Connect as well as developing community awareness. Although she has not sat on the Board since 2005, she continues to be involved in all that TIRR Family does. 

In 2001-2002, she sat on the Executive Committee of Friends of Camp for All, which is a unique camping and retreat facility that enriches the lives of people with special needs and challenging illnesses. 

In 2002, she graduated with a degree in Communication from the University of St. Thomas. She then went to South Texas College of Law and received her J.D. in 2006. Currently, she is the Manager of Compliance at Goodwill Industries of Houston, where the mission is changing lives through the power of work. At Goodwill, she has the unique opportunity, every day, to combine the work of one of the fastest growing companies in Houston with the work of a non-profit organization. They are a second chance employer, which gives people with barriers to employment a chance to succeed. 


June Deadrick 

Since February of 2004, June Deadrick has served as the Director of Texas State Relations (Government Affairs) for Center Point Energy. In her current position she is responsible for interaction with municipal, county, state and federal elected officials and their staff. In addition to advocating policy positions for Center Point Energy, she also works with elected officials and their offices on special requests and projects. A native of Palacios, Texas, June graduated from the University of Texas with a BA and received a Master of Liberal Arts, with a concentration in political science, from the University of St. Thomas-Houston. Currently a Director for the Texas Lyceum Association and graduate of Leadership Houston Class XIX, June serves as a volunteer and board member for several non-profit organizations including Miller Theatre, HPAC, Theatre Under the Stars, HoustonWorks, Hermann Park Conservancy, Houston Media Source, Lon Morris College, and The Texas Bowl.


Suzan Deison 

Suzan Deison, a native Houstonian, started her professional career in the non-profit arena as a receptionist for the Conroe Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce in 1976. She worked her way up the ladder to become the Director of the Conroe Visitor and Convention Bureau. In the early eighties, Suzan opened a clothing boutique in Conroe and also owned a travel agency in the Woodlands. After several years, she sold her businesses and returned to the non-profit arena as District Director for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and later, Vice President of the Easter Seal Society. 

In 1998, Suzan was appointed President of the North Houston Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce and served for four years and then, in 2002 became President of the Galleria Chamber of Commerce. Under her leadership, both Chambers prospered tremendously. In late 2005, Suzan, using her knowledge of Houston's market, changed career paths, and became a successful real real estate investor/agent, specializing in properties "inside the loop." In December 2007, Suzan founded the Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce and now serves as its President. The Chamber has grown to an over-500-member businesses under Suzan's leadership. The Chamber's mission is dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of women through avenues of leadership, education, advocacy, and mentoring.


Margarita de la Vega-Hurtado

Margarita De la Vega-Hurtado is the Executive Director of International Film Seminars, organizers of the Flaherty Film Seminar. She holds a Doctorate in American Culture, focusing on Film Studies, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was an Adjunct Professor. She has also taught at the University of California in Santa Cruz, Merrill College. She has programmed, curated, and presented film programs in Latin American and Latino Cinema, Independent American Cinema and Documentary Cinema, and published papers on those subjects, as well as Colombian cinema, Louis Malle, and Luis Bunuel.


Mimi Del Grande 

Mimi Del Grande and her husband, chef Robert Del Grande, for three decades owned the legendary Houston restaurant Café Annie. Their new ventures, RDG + Bar Annie, are the next evolution of the brand, patterned to meet the changing trends in dining. Housed in a spectacular new building on Post Oak Boulevard, the new restaurant has captured all the qualities of the past in a stunning and dramatic new look. With vast windows overlooking Post Oak and the addition of an outside Terrace, RDG + Bar Annie looks to the future and the past simultaneously. Robert and Mimi Del Grande are always at the helm; much is new and the best remains the same.


Barbara Duganier 

Barbara Duganier is the Origination Sales Lead for Resources for Accenture's Business Process Outsources business. In this role, she is responsible for working with clients in the chemical, energy, utilities and natural resources sectors to maximize their business performance. Prior to joining Accenture, she was with Arthur Andersen for 23 years, where she held various leadership positions, including Global Chief Financial Officer and Partner in Charge of the Southwest Region Business Consulting practice. In addition to other civic and charitable activities, Barbara is a member of the Executive Women's Partnership, which is part of the Greater Houston Partnership, and a member of the Board of the Society for the Performing Arts. She was also the Chair of the 2010 American Heart Associations' Go Red for Women Campaign. Barbara graduated from John Carroll University in Ohio and is a Certified Public Accountant.


Carolyn Farb 

Houston's premier volunteer fundraiser, author and event creator, Dr. Carolyn Farb exemplifies the essence of public service and philanthropy. She is a native Texan whose passion shines not only throughout the Lone Star State, but internationally. No one can equal her passion for embracing a cause, living it, breathing it, nurturing it and championing it until others become true believers as well. 

Dr. Farb's fundraising style, spirit and successes have set national standards with each succeeding project with which she is involved, and it is rare to find an individual who won't be receptive to her causes. One secret of her success is her total commitment and concentration, giving 200 percent of herself, her time and her considerable expertise. Her tireless devotion to charitable fundraising is embraced with each new project, from medical research, child-related causes, and women's issues to her appreciation for the arts, education and the environment. www.carolynfarb.com for more information.


Cathy Fitzpatrick 

Cathy Fitzpatrick Cleary has taken Image Consulting to new heights. Based out of Houston, Texas, Cathy has been a Fashion and Image Consultant for 26 years. She is affiliated with Fashion Group International, and serves on the advisory board for Dress for Success. 

Whether one on one, in a seminar, or at a luncheon, she never fails to mesmerize and motivate her clients - helping them put their best foot (and shoe) forward. She conducts seminars for corporations and groups throughout the country where she not only educates but entertains her audiences. By applying her passion for helping others and her background as a teacher, she helps others create their own best personal style. 

Cathy empowers women to realize greater self-confidence and to become more effective in their lives. Through improved personal appearance, their spirit and confidence shine.


Ali Gallegos-Templer 

Ali Gallegos-Templer is the Senior Director of Events at Lakewood Church. She stays on her toes coordinating over 1,000 events per month and travels monthly all over the country to help make Joel Osteen's 'Night of Hope' events run smoothly. Ali was born and raised in Houston, TX, and is the granddaughter of former HISD school board member Olga Gallegos and daughter of Texas State Senator Mario Gallegos Jr. Married to Bill Templer, Ali enjoys chasing after their three-year-old daughter and running marathons.


Carmen Geddit 

A West Virginia native, Chrissy Grove began her career at Enron after completing her undergraduate degree from Shepherd University in Computer Science. After a few years, she found a new job with Spectra Energy focusing on Information System Security. Upon completing her master's degree in Information System Security & Project Management at the University of Houston, she began to focus on securing cyber assets in critical infrastructures across the US and Canada. 

Chrissy is also a founder and active member of Houston Roller Derby (HRD) where she is better known as Carmen Geddit. The mission of our league and federation is to promote and foster the sport of women's Flat Track Derby by facilitating the development of athletic ability, sportswomanship, and goodwill among member leagues. The governing philosophy is, "by the skaters, for the skaters." Women skaters are primary owners, managers, and operators of each member league and of the WFTDA (Women's Flat Track Derby Association). Carmen Geddit holds a position on HRD's Board of Directors, Training Committee, and skates for both a home team, Psych Ward Sirens, and the Houston all-star travel team, Hard Knocks, which competes nationally for rankings. In addition to ensuring her league is successful Carmen holds positions within the Human Resource pillar and Nerd Herd for the WFTDA, which is owned and operated by skater representatives from each participating league.


Rachel Hecker 

Rachel Hecker was born in Providence, RI. She received a BFA in Sculpture from Moore College of Art, and an MFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design. She is an Associate Professor of painting at the University of Houston School of Art. 

One-person exhibitions have included venues such as the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, the Dallas Museum of Art, and ArtPace in San Antonio. She has shown in numerous museum exhibitions such as Postmodern Americans: A Selection at the Menil Collection in Houston, and in commercial and university galleries and alternative spaces throughout the United States. 

Hecker has received extensive critical attention in newspapers and magazines including: The Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Papers, and ArtReview (published in London). A portfolio of her work was reproduced in Grand Street in 1996. 

She received a National Endowment for the Arts Award in painting and is represented in many public and private collections including the Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and New Orleans Museums of Art; the General Services Administration, and the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas. Hecker has participated in civic art programs as a design team member for various projects and received the 1999 Artist Award from the American Institute of Architects Houston Chapter for those contributions. Rachel Hecker is represented in Houston by Texas Gallery.


Kathy Heinzerling 

A graduate of Barat College and the University of St. Louis with an M.S.in Biology, Kathy is the Executive/Program Director for Breakthrough Houston, a tuition-free, year-round program for promising middle and high school students from educationally underserved backgrounds. She previously served as science Department Head, advisor, and teacher for the Chinquapin School, the first college-preparatory school in the greater Houston area to target economically-disadvantaged but academically promising students. 

Kathy is also the founder and director of Baytown Recycling Works, a multicollection facility sponsored by chemical industries, as well as a speaker for public and private organizations on the topic of solid waste and recycling and a panelist for Galveston Bay Foundation, Protecting Our Watersheds with Students. She was presented with the "Keys to the City of Houston" in 1989 in recognition of the Chinquapin School's service to the Greater Houston community, and she is the recipient of the Green Jeans Award in 2004 for her dedicated horticultural education of youth and the Hope Stone Award in 2003 for her sustained effort in giving hope to so many of today's youth through her work at the Chinquapin School.


Kathy Hubbard 

Houston's First Lady, Kathy Hubbard, has lived in Houston since 1980. She grew up in Buffalo, New York along with 2 sisters and a brother. Two of her siblings also call Houston home. She is an enrolled agent by profession - licensed by the Internal Revenue Service to represent taxpayers before the IRS. She started her firm, Hubbard Financial Services, over 20 years ago to help individuals, small businesses, non-profits, and estates with tax-related issues. She frequently lectures other professional groups on various aspects of the ever-changing tax code and its procedures. 

Kathy is on the board and/or volunteers for numerous community organizations and charities including the Montrose Management District and United Way. She continues former first lady Andrea White's We're All Neighbors group, which focuses on bringing together diverse groups in innovative ways. She and her partner, Mayor Annise Parker, have 3 children, ages 15 to 34.

Kathy enjoys music, dance, the arts, travel and people.


Rosalie Hyde 

Rosalie W. Hyde has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in practice for 25 years. She is a Voluntary Faculty at Baylor College of Medicine, and as a traumatologist she has expertise in the treatment of a wide range of trauma related disorders including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dissociative Disorders, Affective Disorders, Somatization Disorders, Eating Disorders, Substance Abuse and Personality Disorders. 

Rosalie has developed a comprehensive training program providing continuing education credits for clinicians on the diagnosis and treatment of trauma related problems. She has identified the need for psychoeducation of traumatized people and their families and developed a 10-week program for survivors and their partners. She has a special interest in the vicarious trauma to the worker, and providing support and training to alleviate the impact of secondary trauma. 

Rosalie has a passionate commitment to people of the world affected by war and genocide and has in recent years worked with refugee women and with refugee workers. She has furthered her specialty in global mental health with certification by the Harvard Refugee Trauma Global Mental Health Certificate Program. In the fall of 2010 as Clinical Director of the Institute, she became a field placement supervisor for the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work and pioneered a new multidisciplinary program at the University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic providing Social Work support to victims seeking asylum in the US after torture, domestic violence or sex trafficking from other countries.


Anita Jaisinghani 

Anita Jaisinghani is the chef and owner of Indika restaurant. As a youth of Sindhi origin and growing up in the western state of Gujarat, she wanted to study at a culinary school in Bombay (now Mumbai), but instead dutifully followed the paternally approved path to a graduate degree in biochemistry. Years later, when the opportunity presented itself, she opened the original Indika on a shoestring. Her goal was to create a restaurant worthy of respect. Not a great Indian restaurant, per se, or a superb ethnic restaurant but simply an excellent restaurant. Now, bankrolled by her ex-husband and business partner, Ravi Jaisinghani (who also designed the establishment's sleek exterior), she has clearly reached her goal. At press time, her new restaurant Pondicheri was scheduled to open on March 2, 2011.


Betsy Kamin 

A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Houston Law Center, Betsy Kamin is a partner at Strasburger & Price, LLP. She currently serves as Partner-In-Charge of the firm's Houston office, where her practice focuses on both tort and business commercial litigation as well as arbitration. Ms. Kamin regularly tries and arbitrates cases for clients involving complex issues in tribunals across Texas. 

Outside the office, she is on the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts San Jacinto Council; she's the President-Elect of the Board of Directors for the Houston Affiliate of Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; and she's a Fellow of the American Leadership Forum, Class XXIV.


Natasha Kamrani 

Natasha Kamrani has most recently served as the founder of the CORE, an education advocacy organization committed to public education reform in Houston. Previously, Kamrani served as the executive director of the Arnold Family Foundation and as an elected member of the Houston Independent School District's board of trustees. She previously served as the executive director of the Teach for America office in Houston. Upon graduation from Miami University of Ohio in 1990, Ms. Kamrani applied to and was accepted into Teach For America as a corps member, teaching English as a second language to recent immigrants from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala in the Houston Independent School District (HISD). 

She currently sits on the advisory board of Teach for America and the Houston Heights Association's Education Committee. Ms. Kamrani was a member of the task force that helped establish HISD's Woodrow Wilson Elementary Montessori School. She is married to Chris Barbic, the founder of YES Prep public charter schools. Natasha and Chris have two children, both of whom are HISD students. Ms. Kamrani is a graduate of the University of Houston Law Center and was a practicing civil litigator for seven years.


Beverly Kaufman 

Beverly Kaufman's 35-year career in public service began when she joined the staff of the Harris County Judge. During this time, she has chaired projects involving all county departments including the annual blood drive, the United Way campaign and the Recycling Committee. She was liaison to the County Library System, Personnel Committee, Risk Management and the County Clerk's Office, as well as area Chambers of Commerce and Cultural Arts Councils.

On March 11, 1994, Kaufman accepted the appointment of Harris County Commissioners Court to the office of County Clerk. She was elected to a full four-year term in November 1994 by sixty-one percent and reelected in 1998, 2002, and 2006. Her administration has expanded and streamlined services as well as introducing electronic voting to our county. She was born in Houston and grew up on a farm in Waller County. She was married for 39 years to the late Al Kaufman, retired printing salesmen, and their daughter, Vanessa, is a media production coordinator in Los Angeles.


Eugenie Kleinerman, MD 

Eugenie Kleinerman is a renowned pediatric oncologist and scientist who has pioneered innovative research and therapies in pediatric oncology for 35 years. Her translational research has improved long-term survival rates in young bone cancer patients for the first time in more than 20 years. Kleinerman joined the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1984 as Assistant Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology and the Division of Pediatrics. Through her leadership skills and research accomplishments both in the clinic and in the lab, Dr. Kleinerman was appointed Head of the Children's Cancer Hospital at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2001, becoming the first and only female Division Head in the history of MD Anderson. Dr. Kleinerman was one of only 15 women in her medical class at Duke University. Kleinerman has an international reputation in sarcoma research and the development of novel therapeutic approaches for this disease. She has authored more than 150 articles and 21 book chapters.


Alexandra Knight 

Formerly a fashion editor and stylist with Condé Nast for eight years, where she infused her creative vision into influential magazines such as Vogue and Vanity Fair, Alexandra Knight has proven that her imaginative flair transcends photos and print and can be realized, and owned by those in search of a unique statement. She is one of the world's most innovative designers of handmade alligator handbags. Her stylish clientele includes red carpet regulars such as Sandra Bullock, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams and Hilary Swank. Her handmade pieces come with over 200 exotic skin options such as python, lizard, ostrich and alligator and in a staggering array of signature shades from black and white zebra alligator to gold and silver wash finishes. Knight is dedicated to wish fulfillment...if she doesn't have exactly what you want, she'll color-match with anything.


Gina Luna

Gina is Chairman of JPMorgan Chase in the Houston Region and Chief Executive Officer of Middle Market Banking. She is active in recruiting, mentoring and leadership development programs within the organization. Prior to her current role, Gina was Chief Marketing Officer for Chase Commercial Banking, directing marketing and communications for the national commercial banking business. She has held a variety of other positions in private banking and commercial banking. Gina has spent her entire career with JPMorgan Chase. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Texas A&M University with a BBA in Finance and Management. 

Gina is married to Carl Luna and they have two sons, Tyson (8) and Carson (5). As an active community member, she serves on the executive committee of the Greater Houston Partnership. She is on the board of directors for The Children's Museum of Houston, serving on the executive committee as the vice president of contributed income. She is also active in the Young Presidents' Organization and All KIDS Alliance. She is involved with several community organizations and youth programs and is an active volunteer at her church and her sons' schools.

She loves spending time with her family, is an avid runner and enjoys reading.


Suzanne McCarron 

Suzanne McCarron is the President of the ExxonMobil Foundation and General Manager of Public and Government Affairs for Exxon Mobil Corporation. In her capacity as President of the ExxonMobil Foundation, Ms. McCarron has responsibility for the primary philanthropic arm of the ExxonMobil Corporation. She is also a member of the ExxonMobil Foundation Board of Trustees and Chair of ExxonMobil's Women's Economic Opportunity Initiative that manages the corporation's philanthropic initiative to equip women and girls in developing countries with the resources they need to fulfill their economic potential. 

As General Manager, Public and Government Affairs, Ms. McCarron is responsible for the Company's public and government affairs activities for all of its operational affiliates in the upstream, downstream and chemical sectors worldwide. These activities include government relations, global corporate positioning, NGO outreach, external and internal communications strategy development, and media relations. 

Ms. McCarron serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the United States Council for International Business, the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations, and is a Corporate Member of the Women's Leadership Board at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Eisenhower Fellowships program which engages emerging leaders from around the world to enhance their professional capabilities.


Cristal Montañéz Baylor 

The Executive Director of Hashoo Foundation USA, Cristal leads initiatives to promote women's and girl's empowerment through skills training, economic development and micro-credit in the remotest areas of Pakistan. She believes that expanding income-generating programs will strengthen the communities and help prevent the influence of extremism in Pakistan. 

She has more than 25 years of experience in Public Relations, Marketing, and Development of International Social Projects. Prior to joining Hashoo Foundation USA, a progressive entrepreneur, Cristal managed the marketing of a cutting edge gourmet foods company and maintained its international relations with South / Central America and North Africa. 

Cristal is a former Miss Venezuela and professional model. She is very passionate about her work empowering women, promoting democracy and helping children around the world. Variedades Magazine distinguished her as one of Latin American's most prominent Humanitarians. 

Currently, Cristal serves on the University of St. Thomas Center for International Studies Micro-Credit Program (UST MCP) Honorary Board led by Professor Mohammad Yunus. Also, she serves as an International Director/Advisor for the Frente Patriotico (FP) in Venezuela, and represents HF USA in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Global Philanthropic Circle (GPC), among others global networks.


Eileen Morris 

Eileen J. Morris is a director, actress and educator. She worked closely with the founder of The Ensemble Theatre, George W. Hawkins, from 1982 until his death in 1990. She has served on several boards and panels during her 30 years as an artist and has held the office of president, immediate past president, vice-president and secretary with the national organization Black Theatre Network from 1994-2004. She has also served on the board for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Alliance and Xpressions Dance Company. 

She currently serves on the board of The Midtown Management District. She has served on panels with the Cultural Arts Council of Houston, Harris County, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; the Heinz Foundation; the Multi-Cultural Arts Council of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh Foundation High School Arts and Scholarship Committee; Pro Arts; the National Endowment for the Arts, and Theatre Communications Group. As artistic director, she has produced over 72 plays, which include four world premiers and 50 regional premieres. In 2007, The Ensemble Theatre was named Best Theatre by the Houston Press and 2007 Best Showcase for African American Actos by the Ultimate Section of the Houston Chronicle. Eileen enjoys all aspects of the arts, because art is and breathes life. 


Mica Mosbacher 

Mica Mosbacher, widow of former Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher, was commissioned as an Honorary Consul of Iceland on March 9, 2010, by the Foreign Ministry of Iceland and concurrently accredited by the U. S. State Department. Proud of her Icelandic roots, her position involves promoting culture and trade opportunities and protecting the rights of Icelanders in the Houston area. 

Mica was appointed to the University of Houston System Board of Regents in 2008 by Governor Rick Perry and was elected Secretary of the Board of Regents in 2010. An award-winning journalist, she has published many energy-related articles as well as historical features for several publications. Active in fundraising for many charitable organizations including Houston Ballet, the American Hospital of Paris and Best Men/Best Friends, she has been honored numerous times for her philanthropy. She was awarded the 2007 Philanthropist of the Year by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) for her advocacy for assault victims, and in 2010, she was accorded the honor of Dame – receiving the Grand Cross for public service by the Duke of Castro, House of Bourbon of the Two Sicilies, King Francis I. 

She currently serves as Statewide Chairman for Texans for Rick Perry's Leadership Team. She previously served as the 2007 Texas Inaugural Chair for Governors Perry and Dewhurst. She was the National Co-Chairwoman for Women for McCain during the presidential races and is active in national politics Fundraising. 

Born in Florida, Mica grew up in Houston and attended Hollins University and University of Texas. She has a son and daughter-in-law, Cameron and Brittanie Duncan and a grandson, Donnie.


Emily Neff 

A native Houstonian, Emily Ballew Neff is curator of American painting and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She received her B.A. at Yale University, with a stint at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London; an M.A. at Rice University; and a PhD at the University of Texas at Austin—all in the history of art. She has served at the Jameson Fellow at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens in Houston, and she was a Whitney Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Austin. In addition, she was a Fellow at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, and a scholar at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Research Center in Santa Fe, NM, where she conducted research on the role of the American West in American modernism. 

Emily was also a Visiting Senior Scholar at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC., where her research formed the basis of a forthcoming exhibition on the subject of eighteenth-century American artists Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley, and John Trumbull, presented in the context of a transatlantic world. A panelist for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Luce Foundation of American Art, she also is a consultant at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody. WY, where she serves on a committee that authenticates works by Frederic Remington. In the fall of 2009, she received a scholarship to attend the Royal Collections Study Program, Attingham Trust, London. In the spring of 2010, she was a HERE Distinguished Lecturer in the department of art history at Rice.


Judy Nyquist 

Judy's primary volunteer, philanthropic and leadership activities have centered on raising funds and awareness of emerging artists and institutions such as the Contemporary Arts Museum, The Glassell School of Art, The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, The Blaffer Gallery, The Houston Center for Photography and the Rice University Public Art Program. She has served on the Boards of several of these institutions in a variety of roles all aimed at bolstering education, exposure and availability to wide audiences. Judy is a true believer in the transformative power of art. She believes art has the unique ability to expand understanding, communication, expression and tolerance between multiple generations, ethnic groups and socioeconomic divides. This belief has fueled her dedication to raising critical funds for other important organizations such as Hope Stone, Inc. - a groundbreaking dance and movement program for at risk children, Art Lies Journal and Glasstire art website - unique outlets for critical writing about the Texas art scene, and The Houston Symphony. Her role as board member of The Houston Seminar has allowed her to help produce programming from continuing education for adults.


Evelyn Pappas 

Evelyn Pappas was born and raised in Houston. She studied visual arts and art history at Duke University and then pursued a master's in architecture at Harvard University. After completing her architecture degree, Evelyn worked for a boutique architecture firm in Cambridge, MA which focused on non-profit projects in Lebanon. She returned to Houston (to get married) and began working for Gensler, a corporate architecture firm. There her work centered on designing sustainable corporate office facilities. During this time, Evelyn returned to school in the evenings and received an MBA at Rice University, an important complement to a successful architectural career. After three years at Gensler and the arrival of a beautiful baby girl, Evelyn decided to work for her family's business. Currently, she works as an in-house architect at Pappas Restaurants overseeing restaurant remodels and new restaurant construction.


Bela Patel, MD 

Bela Patel attended the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, and completed her residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Now employed at her alma mater, her areas of interest include Pulmonary Hypertension, Critical Care, Quality Improvement, Patient Safety, Clinical Trials, Sleep Disorders, Innovative teaching methods.


Mary Ann Perez 

Mary Ann Perez is currently a member of the Houston Community College Board of Trustees, representing District 3. Perez is committed to working with area employers to match training and class work with the jobs of today and tomorrow and with area school districts to keep our children in school and continue their Education. 

Perez has a successful Farmers Insurance and Financial Services agency in Houston's East End. She is a graduate of Houston Community College (HCC) with Honors, where she was recognized by Who's Who in Community Colleges and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. While working and raising two young boys, Perez continued her education at the University of Houston and graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Business Administration.


Mary Tere Perusquia 

Born in Mexico City, Mary attended the Universidad Anahuac, in Mexico City, and received her Law degree in 1988. For the past 18 years she has been living in Houston with her husband, Ricardo Perusquia, and their three children. Mary's passion for giving back to her community can be seen in the volunteer work and numerous board positions she has lent her talent and time too. Most recently Mary served on the Children's Museum Advisory Board, the Latin Women's Initiative Advisory Board, and the Fundacion Gigante, Mexico City Board. She also worked as co-chair for the Latin Women's Initiative Luncheon and the Baylor College of Medicine Gala; and is President of the Latin Women's Initiative.


Juanita Rasmus 

Juanita Rasmus is a pastor, Spiritual Director, and contemplative with a passion for outreach to our world's most impoverished citizens. Pastor Juanita co-pastors the St. John's United Methodist Church located in Downtown Houston with her husband Rudy. 

Beginning with 9 existing members in 1992, over 12,000 people (4,000 of the total were homeless or formerly homeless) have joined St. John's making it one of the most culturally diverse congregations in the country, where every week people of every social and economic background share the same pew. 

Pastor Juanita is a Certified Spiritual Director and a member of the Board of Directors of Renovare Inc., founded by renowned author Richard Foster. Juanita travels extensively speaking on spirituality and on the lessons she learned after a life-altering major depressive episode in 1999. She is currently authoring a book entitled, "Learning How to Be in a Do-Do World." 

She founded Bread of Life, Inc. (a not-for-profit corporation) with Rudy in 1992 and began serving dinners to the homeless in the sanctuary at St. John's. Years later the Bread of Life changed the landscape of Downtown Houston by providing 9 tons of fresh food weekly to hungry families, 12,000 hot meals monthly and nightly housing to hundreds of homeless men and women. The Rasmuses also developed the Temenos Community Development Corporation and thanks to a generous donation from long time members Beyoncé, Tina, Mathew, and Solange Knowles the $6 million Knowles-Temenos Place Apartments recently opened providing 43 formerly homeless residents a permanent-supportive apartment to take significant steps in improving their lives after personal and natural disasters. 

Juanita and Rudy have been married for 25 years and are the proud parents of two daughters, Morgan and Ryan.


Hanadi Rifai 

Hanadi Rifai is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Houston. She is Director of the Environmental Engineering Graduate Program. Dr. Riſai was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon where she received her Bachelor's in Engineering from the American University of Beirut. Her interest in water protection and conservation led her to the Gulf of Mexico and Rice University where she received an MS and a PhD in Environmental Engineering. Upon receiving her doctorate, Dr. Rifai accepted several appointments at Rice University including serving as the Executive Director of the Energy and Environmental Systems Institute between 1993 and 1997. She began her career at the University of Houston in 1997 and has taught since at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Rifa's research has focused in recent years on water quality in the Gulf Coast region with emphasis on Galveston Bay. She is a nationally recognized expert on the fate, transport, and natural attenuation of pollutants in the environment. Dr. Rifai is a council member of the Galveston Bay Council and she is a Director of the Scientists and Engineers Division of the National Ground Water Association.


Sarah Rothenberg 

A pianist of "heart, intellect and fabulous technical resources” (Fanfare) and "power and introspection" (The New York Times), Sarah Rothenberg was recently described by The Wall Street Journal as "a prolific and creative thinker." Active as performer, writer, artistic director and educator, she creates unique multidisciplinary performances linking music to literature and visual art. In 2009/2010, Sarah's The Blue Rider in Performance commissioned by Works & Process at The Guggenheim, premiered to sold-out houses at New York's Miller Theater; she performed Chopin in Paris: Epigraph for a Condemned Book at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, and her newest CD, Messiaen's Visions de l'Amen (with Marilyn Nonken) was released by Bridge to rave reviews. She has performed over 80 world premieres, and recent new music performances include Wuorinen's Ashberyana (commissioned by Da Camera and dedicated to Sarah Rothenberg) under the direction of conductor James Levine. 

Sarah has been Artistic Director of Da Camera of Houston since 1994, which under her leadership has been a three-time winner of Chamber Music America-ASCAP's Adventurous Programming Award, and received a unique Special Commendation for Creative Programming Concepts from CMA in 1999. She has been a Senior Fellow at the New School's Vera List Center for Art and Politics in New York, and was visiting artist-in-residence at the Cynthia Mitchell Center for Collaborative Arts at the University of Houston in 2008. A graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music, she has also studied the music of Olivier Messiaen in Paris with the composer's wife, Yvonne Loriod. In 2000, she was awarded the prestigious French Medal of Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.


Courtney Sarofim 

Courtney Lanier Sarofim is a longtime Houstonian and committed to community service. 

A 1992 graduate of Columbia University in New York City, she worked as an analyst at Smith Barney in New York. She returned to Houston in 1993 to attend the University of Houston Law Center and practiced at Fulbright & Jaworski before moving to Landar Holdings, LLP, where she served as vice president for nine years. 

She serves on the boards of both the Museum of Fine Arts and the Menil Collection. She is also involved with the Baker Institute, Texas Children's Hospital, the Houston Zoo, St. John's School, and Columbia University's Barnard College. 

She is the wife of Christopher Sarofim, President of Sarofim International and Vice Chairman of Fayez Sarofim and Co., and the daughter of former Houston Mayor Bob and Elyse Lanier. She has three children – Louisa (8), Fayez (4), and her stepdaughter, Gillian (16).


Laura Buss Sayavedra 

Laura Buss is vice president and chief financial officer of Spectra Energy Partners, LP, the $2.7 billion master limited partnership formed by Spectra Energy Corp. Buss joined the company in 1995, and she has managed a broad range of assignments in natural gas transmission, midstream gas, merchant energy and international businesses. Before being named to her current position in May 2008, Buss served as vice president of strategic development & analysis for Spectra Energy Corp, leading strategy, market and portfolio analysis, along with the financial evaluation of expansion projects, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations and economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1989, and a master's degree from Columbia University in 1991 with a focus on International Political Economy and Business. 

She is currently president of the board of directors of the DaCamera Society of Houston (a chamber music and jazz arts organization) and a member of the St. Anne Catholic School Board, she is also a member of the United Way Young Leaders and Women's Initiatives, and is active in the Greater Houston Partnership Education Committee. 

The Milwaukee native and her husband, Leo, have two sons.


Algenita Scott Davis 

Algenita Scott Davis grew up in Houston's Fifth Ward, and graduated from its historic Phillis Wheatley High School. She earned her undergraduate degree from Howard University School of Business Administration in 1971, and her JD from Howard School of Law, in 1974. After five years as a tax attorney with Shell Oil Company, Davis became general counsel for the Port of Houston Authority and Port Development Corporation. By appointment of Mayor Kathy Whitmire in 1987, she began her service as a member of the City of Houston Planning Commission and has been re-appointed by the three succeeding mayors to continue or re-instate that service. 

In 1989, Ms. Davis joined Texas Commerce Bank and served as Senior Vice President and Community Affairs Officer of TCB and its successor, JP Morgan Chase. She has chaired many nonprofit efforts, including the William A. Lawson Institute for Peace and Prosperity, the Houston Downtown Management District, and the Greater Houston Women's Foundation, along with many others. In September 2006, Davis became the Executive Director of Houston Habitat for Humanity, a faith-based, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life by building affordable homes for area families. Widowed after a long marriage, she and her now husband, Ardie Segars, Jr., are the parents of five adult children.


Bapsi Sidhwa 

Bapsi Sidhwa is an internationally renowned writer, the author of Cracking India and Water, among other novels.


Jade Simmons 

Concert pianist and arts entrepreneur Jade Simmons has toured the U.S. extensively taking innovative performances to major concert halls and intimate alternative spaces alike. A true Renaissance woman of the millennium, Simmons' diversified career includes writing, lecturing and serving as Founding Director of the Impulse Artist Series, which provides performance opportunities and career-building assistance to emerging artists. This summer Jade will serve as the webcast host for the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow, a role she inaugurated at the 13th Van Cliburn piano competition in Ft. Worth, TX at www.jademedia.org.


Laura Spanjian 

In April, 2010, Laura Spanjian joined the City of Houston as Mayor Annise Parker's Sustainability Director, where she is responsible for directing and coordinating projects and initiatives that improve air, land and water quality, and support and expand renewable energy, energy efficiency, green buildings, recycling and composting, alternative and clean transportation, local food production and more livable and vibrant neighborhoods. Her career includes roles as Assistant General Manager—External Affairs at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), where she managed four divisions, including sustainability planning and legislative affairs; and Government Affairs Director at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) Muni. 

Some of her environmental accomplishments include leading final negotiations and approval for an urban 5 MW solar project-positioning San Francisco as having the nation's largest municipal solar installation, launching and implementing a $15M SF Solar Incentive Program to encourage residents and businesses to install rooftop renewable energy systems, directing the passage of numerous state legislative bills, including the expansion of indoor and outdoor graywater use, mandating replacement of inefficient water fixtures in residences and businesses and expansion of large-scale renewable power generation, leading passage of federal appropriation funding for numerous initiatives, including $1M for a grease-to-biofuel plant and $1M for design study of a Civic Center Sustainable District, and directing the creation of MTA Muni's Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program, which led SF to having the nation's 3rd-largest hybrid bus fleet.


Leah Stolar 

Leah Stolar is a Partner and Management Committee Member of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, a national law firm providing professional collection services to government clients. Leah received a Bachelor of Music Degree and a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Leah has represented taxing jurisdictions Harris County, the City of Houston and Houston Independent School District in the collection of ad valorem property taxes since 1991. As a member of the firm's Management Committee, Leah is also co-chair of the firm's Information Technology Subcommittee and a member of the Benefits Subcommittee, overseeing the Firm's Wellness Program. 

Ms. Stolar has worked for many years with the City of Houston to help redevelop blighted areas in the City. Working with the Land Assemblage Redevelopment Authority and the City of Houston, she directs Linebarger's program to implement the "Houston Hope" project. This public/private partnership was recognized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in January 2007 for its efforts to revitalize older neighborhoods and derelict properties in Houston. 

She also supports HISD through its business partnership with Blackshear Elementary School, placing Linebarger employees as volunteers in the 21st Century After School Program, in which Leah herself returned to her roots to teach music. Leah also serves on the boards of the Houston and Texas Hillels: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. 

Leah and her husband, family lawyer and mediator Bruce Kessler, have a daughter studying playwriting at UT Austin and a son in graduate school at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying computer science.


Lilas Taha 

Lilas Taha is the president of Asians Against Domestic Abuse (AADA). She is an American Muslim of Palestinian origin who grew up in Kuwait and migrated to the US in 1991 as a result of the first Gulf War. She graduated from Kuwait University with a bachelor's degree in Electric Engineering. When she moved to the U.S. she pursued a master's degree in Human Factors Engineering from the University of Madison-Wisconsin. She moved to Houston in 1993 and established a family with her husband. 

Lilas saw a need in her community and so established a volunteer program for women to implement social services and to provide a support group for women in distressed situations. Mrs. Taha has boon working in the field of advocacy for domestic abuse victims specifically for the past 10 years, She works on educating the public about the many societal elements affected by domestic abuse. She also focuses on educating decision makers and law officers on the multiple barriers facing domestic abuse victims from different cultural and religious backgrounds. Lilas Taha is a proud wife and a mother of two children.


Andrea White 

Andrea White was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but has spent most of her life in Houston, Texas. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas. After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, Andrea joined the Houston law firm of Locke, Liddell & Sapp, where she became one of its first female partners. Upon the birth of her second child, she retired from the practice of law. 

Since then, she has published three historical fiction books. Written for Middle School students, Surviving Antarctica tells the story of the Robert Scott expedition to the South Pole, Window Boy weaves the extraordinary life of Winston Churchill into a 1950's setting, and Radiant Girl focuses on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. In 2006, Surviving Antarctica was selected for the Bluebonnet list, and the Texas State Reading Association awarded Andrea the Golden Spur award for the best book by a Texas author. Most recently, she published a journal describing her years as a political spouse (P.S. Passionate Supporter, Political Spouse). The first volume of her trilogy UpCity Chronicles is due out in March. Windows on the World is the story of a young girl who attends a time traveler's academy and rescues her great-grandmother from the Twin Towers. 

In addition to writing, Andrea also serves as an active community volunteer. In an effort to address the drop-out rate, Andrea and her husband, former mayor of Houston Bill, have partnered with the Houston Independent School District Board to found Expectation Graduation. Annually, on its "Reach Out to Drop Outs" walk hundreds of volunteers go door-to-door to ask students who have dropped out to reenroll in school. As a result of the walk, over 8,800 students have returned to school in the Houston area alone. The program has spread to 20 school districts, 15 Texas cities and to the state of New Mexico.


LaTonya Whitfield-Horhn, AIA, LEED AP 

La Tonya Horhn is a Project Manager with PBK, a Houston-based A/E design firm that specializes in Educational Facilities. Her experience as a Project Manager from renovation to new construction. La Tonya is involved in all aspects of a project including schematic design development and construction documents. LaTonya is a LEED accredited professional who assists clients and PBK's design teams in setting sustainability goals for projects and ensuring their successful implementation during construction. 

LaTonya received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Community Development from Prairie View A&M University. In addition to being active in state and local components of AIA, she is a charter member of the Houston chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects and serves as a board member of the Rice Design Alliance. LaTonya is also a member of the Houston Chapter of the USGBC and frequently gives lectures on sustainable school design and strategies for enforcing sustainable design goals in contract documents.


Gwendolyn Zepeda 

Gwendolyn Zepeda was born in Houston, Texas in 1971 and attended the University of Texas at Austin. She began her writing career on the Web in 1997 as the first Latina blogger and one of the founding writers of entertainment site Television Without Pity. Her first book was a short-story collection called To The Last Man 1 Slept With and All the Jerks Just Like Him (Arte Público Press, 2004). Her first novel, Houston, We Have a Problema won praise from Booklist for its wit and upbeat story. Publishers Weekly says Zepeda's second novel, Lone Star Legend, presents "a funny and smart heroine that readers will easily pull for." 

Zepeda regularly lectures at universities throughout Texas and has also written two award-winning bilingual picture books, Growing Up with Tamales and Sunflowers. Her upcoming books include two children's stories, I Kick the Ball and Level Up, and her third novel from Grand Central Publishing.


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