Meet our third cohort
This second class is made up of 64 women leaders from around the country — lawyers, teachers, nonprofit leaders, business executives, entrepreneurs, community activists and change-makers who are determined to serve their community in the political arena.
The program will kick off in April 2022, with monthly trainings through November.
- LBJ Women's Campaign School Inaugural Cohort (2020)
- LBJ Women's Campaign School Second Cohort (2021)
Ashley Alaniz-Moyer is an award-winning nonprofit leader, education champion, EDI advocate, community volunteer and podcast host. She began her career in service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, and has over a decade of experience working with education and nonprofit organizations serving various underrepresented student populations. She is deeply passionate about creating opportunities for marginalized communities in education.
Jacqueline Odessa Alonzo
Jacqueline Odessa Alonzo's interest in public service sparked as a young high school student. She served as school president throughout her four years of high school, and was involved in several philanthropic projects. After earning her bachelor's degree in criminal justice, she became a police officer in Lakeway, Texas, and saw firsthand how women still face many challenges in a male-dominated field. Alonzo made it her mission to run for office so she could create positive and lasting change for young women who also have a passion for public service and plan to enter law enforcement. She is currently studying for her LSAT, and plans to become an attorney. Alonzo has volunteered for several campaigns, including David Fuentes (Hidalgo County Pct 1 Commissioner) and Marla Cuellar (275th Hidalgo County District Judge). She also actively volunteers with Rescue PAC, a nonprofit dog rescue group in Buda, Texas.
Genesis D. Arizmendi
Genesis D. Arizmendi is a researcher, educator, clinician and advocate whose career has been dedicated to improving life outcomes for marginalized communities with and without disabilities. She is a native border town Arizonan who earned her bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. in speech, language, and hearing sciences at the University of Arizona. Arizmendi is committed to equity for all, with an eye toward bold ideas in innovation of current systems, collaboration across fields, and a focus on social, racial, economic and environmental justice.
Lexi Bachran is a master social worker and strategic community advocate with a passion for people-centered policy development in state and municipal government. She has worked alongside elected officials, industry leaders and grassroots organizers to more effectively leverage resources by engaging in data-driven outreach to targeted communities. Bachran is a native of San Antonio, a proud graduate of the Latina Leadership Institute, and a mother to her son (Beckett) and his sidekick Smidge (the cat).
Heather Betancourth has 18 years of professional communication experience working in a corporate business environment and as a journalist. She is a skilled writer and dynamic communicator with experience leading creative projects on print and digital platforms. She is also an elected representative on Baytown City Council, serves on the board of directors for the Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce, co-chairs the East Harris County Manufacturers Association's legislative committee, and advises the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region on communications. She is married to Robert Betancourth and stepmother to his four children. In her spare time, she enjoys entrepreneurial pursuits in real estate and fostering animals at risk for euthanasia. She currently has three rescue dogs: Lucy, Lola and Luna.
Trish Bode has spent over 20 years working in advocacy and government relations, equipping individuals as they share their voice during the legislative and rulemaking process. She began her journey and love of policy when she was elected president of the Texas State University student body and participated in the LBJ Debate Society, where her skills and coordination included working with lawmakers to address student needs on campus. Bode has focused her latest advocacy efforts on the vital role public education provides to students and equipping individuals to build the best educational environment for Texas students.
Emily Brizzolara-Dove is a Colorado native with a lifelong passion for public service. She graduated magna cum laude from Baylor University, where she led an on-campus political engagement group and worked at a Waco nonprofit. She began her career in the Texas Senate, and has continued her work in state government at the Health and Human Services Commission. In her free time, she leads a group of volunteers in service of Austin's refugee community.
Laurel Bush is a dot connector. As a community engagement expert, strategic adviser and thought partner to several national, regional and local nonprofit organizations, she has a proven track record of helping executives and political leaders launch and scale successful fundraising campaigns. She is sought after for her innovative approach to building systems that scale, which has helped to raise more than $1 million in donations to date. A lifelong patron and advocate of the arts, Bush has served in leadership positions on The Dallas Museum of Art and The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Cultures' young professional boards. Honoring a core value and belief that leaders must first be servants, she has volunteered with the Junior League of Collin County for more than 10 years.
Maria Isabel Campos
Maria Isabel Campos is a servant leader with over 20 years of experience in social justice. She has deep expertise in strategic planning, policy analysis, program development and management, and executive leadership, and has been committed to serving organizations that support quality education and technology access for youth, lead transformational change, and build communities. Born and raised in East Austin, her family has a long history of leading the Chicano movement, labor activism, and pioneering bilingual education in Austin and statewide, as well as public service which has led her to continue serving her local community as a grassroots leader, disrupting systems of inequity.
Campos earned a Master of Public Administration in Non-Profit Management and Public Policy from the City University of New York, where she was awarded the distinguished National Urban Fellowship. She is a proud alumna of the New Leaders Council and St. Edward's University, where she was recognized for academic excellence and outstanding community service. Campos has been nominated for the Child Advocate of the Year Award from Children at Risk, has served as a youth mentor and child advocate over the past 20 years, and proudly serves on the board of the Austin Urban Technology Movement (AUTMHQ).
Amy T. Colvin
Amy T. Colvin is a mother, wife and dedicated volunteer who was recognized by the National Center For Urban School Transformation (NCUST) as an America's Best Urban School (ABUS) Outstanding Volunteer. Her dedication to public service, especially with youth and education began when her children entered preschool, and is driven by a "let's make it happen!" attitude and "never give up!" approach, along with her creativity, organizational skills and ability to the see positive in any situation. Her interest in politics is driven by her desire to support a candidate(s) who is fair, transparent and for ALL the people.
Katherine S. Culbert
Katherine Culbert (she/her) is an entrepreneur and engineer who is dedicated to pursuing environmental justice. She is active in several community organizations, primarily focused on the energy industry, where she works to increase the awareness of environmental impacts from industry actions. She strongly believes in a fair democracy and that being an informed and active voter is one of the most important undertakings one can have.
Marianne DeLeon is a career nonprofit fundraising professional with over 20 years of experience leading mission-driven organizations. She currently serves Pease Park Conservancy, raising much-needed funds to revitalize Austin's oldest public park, and she has dedicated her volunteer service to the boards of Waterloo Counseling Center, Thinkery and Austin Outside. She believes wholeheartedly in the importance of bridging philanthropy with social work and activism.
Lindsey Deringer spent almost a decade raising her strong, independent and caring children. She is an empathetic community leader and is passionate about advocacy, building relational bridges, and service within her community. She has given countless hours of volunteer and activist work to her church, Moms Demand Action and several political campaigns.
Michelle Diggs, a rural Texas native, has spent over 25 years as a Six Sigma Black Belt and marketing leader in a Fortune 100 company. She is a dedicated philanthropist and civil rights activist with a strong history of serving local and international organizations that address financial literacy, arts education, and aligning resources for families with special needs. She is focused on equalizing educational disparities and increasing representation throughout the community.
Cindy M. Dinh
Cindy Dinh is a civil litigator and second-generation Vietnamese American who is passionate about bringing immigrant voices into mainstream politics. She earned her Bachelor in Arts degree in sociology and health policy at Rice University, where she represented the state of Texas as a Harry S Truman Scholar, and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She went on to pursue a joint degree in law from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and continues to give back by mentoring students and serving in leadership roles with bar associations.
Jessica Dunn is an award-winning leader and tireless advocate for her community who has worked in the nonprofit sector in North Texas for over 16 years. She was recognized in 2021 by the Dallas Business Journal with the Outstanding Directors Award and in 2022 was honored by American Mothers as Texas Mother of the Year. Through her work to make Highway 380 safer and to help represent the thousands of residents who live in unincorporated areas in that area, she has also been recognized with a Proclamation by the Denton County Commissioners Court for her work with Make 380 Safe.
Jamie Eickhoff is an award-winning marketing and advertising agency owner who has been working for three decades on changing consumer behavior and affecting outcomes through public affairs campaigns. She founded a significant grassroots political group that helped double primary turnout in two years and found her place working with candidates, clubs and the party in senior leadership roles. Eickhoff also has dedicated herself to serving on community and government boards focused on accelerating small/minority business growth, building workforce development, and expanding mental health care access for underserved communities.
Roxanne Evans is an award-winning journalist and PR professional. Her decades of public service include work for Texas Gov. Ann Richards, two state governments, two school districts and one municipality. She has also been a paid and volunteer consultant on a variety of political campaigns.
Patricia A. Freitag
Patricia Ann Freitag is a military spouse who has spent the last 20 years as a public servant leader. She is an award-winning ambassador with the Corpus Christi Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a former Naval Ombudsman, and she has served every school, church and community she has been a part of with her whole heart. She is recognized for her ability to impact lives through engagement and advocating for the needs in her community. Freitag is known for her tenacious spirit and loving approach to reaching people regardless of their background, history and culture.
Rachel Gallardo is a proud product of New Boston, Texas and Texas public schools. She is a visionary, people-centered and data-driven educational professional who has spent the past 15+ years working alongside teachers, campus leaders and system leaders to pursue excellent and equitable outcomes for all students. Her love for others and drive to pursue change through improving systems is a product of watching her dad, a pastor, dedicate his life to using his words and actions to meet the needs of a diverse community.
Irene Chavez Galvan
Irene Chavez Galvan is an award-winning small business advocate, community activist and experienced nonprofit professional. In addition to working on various political campaigns, she enjoys supporting her community by utilizing her experience in small business, leadership development and advocacy to address multifaceted issues. She is servant leader, an MBA graduate of St. Mary's University, and also a mother of three.
Born to a Ghanaian father and African-American mother, Afua Giles is a proud Texan with a unique perspective and passion for uplifting and educating women. Growing up in a single-parent household, she had to work harder than most of her peers, from an extremely young age, to provide for herself. She has seen and lived firsthand, the shortcomings and injustices of our political system. Since graduating from The University of Houston, Giles has worked tirelessly as a Black businesswoman, wife and mother of three to build a life she is proud of. With her professional and life experiences, her strong sense of self, and her engaging, electrifying personality, she is a fearless advocate for the everyday woman. Nothing means more to her than proving to her sons and daughter, to other women of color like herself, and to all members of her community how important their voices and their vote really are.
Lesli A. Gray
Lesli A. Gray is an experienced government affairs professional. Her professional and personal life have been focused in the public service arena and she has spent time in both the executive and legislative branches. She enjoys the opportunity to serve the public through her work, is involved in her community and serves on the Turtle Creek Conservancy Board. She has been actively involved in local and national campaigns.
Phyllis Durbin Grissom
Phyllis Durbin Grissom is a Fort Worth-based community activist who for the past 30 years has focused her public service on issues and organizations that impact women, children and public education. She is known for strategic vision, sensitivity to the challenges facing the varied members of the human family, and an ability to honor differences with ease. Her work as an advocate for women has made a difference in her family, her sorority, her schools, her neighborhood, in Fort Worth, in Texas and beyond.
Holly Heinrich has served the public at all levels of government, from the city of Austin to the Texas Capitol to the White House. Before becoming an attorney, Heinrich interned in the offices of State Sen. Kirk Watson, Rep. Donna Howard, Rep. David Farabee, and President Obama's White House Council on Environmental Quality. She also interned in the prosecutor's office for a UN tribunal in The Hague. Heinrich is a double Longhorn who earned both a J.D. and a B.A. in government from The University of Texas at Austin, in addition to an MPhil in Public Policy from the University of Cambridge. Heinrich has been published in Texas Monthly, the Texas Tribune, and the Texas edition of the New York Times. She was recently named the editor of Essentials of Texas Water Resources. Heinrich was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and has been involved in the community throughout her life as a volunteer with organizations such as Mobile Loaves & Fishes, and as a mentor to students at a local elementary school and the University of Texas School of Law.
Jessica Herrera is nonpartisan legislative attorney, proud first-generation college graduate, and advocate for nonpartisan legislation and policies that further advance women’s rights and expand educational access to minority students. Before law school, she served as a Gregory Luna Scholar for the nonpartisan Texas Senate Hispanic Research Council as a legislative aide for Texas Sen. Royce West, the vice chair of the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee, and she interned for Texas Rep. Eddie Rodriguez as an undergraduate at UT. After graduating from UC Hastings Law, Herrera clerked for the District of Columbia Superior Court in the Child Abuse and Neglect Section and is a licensed attorney in DC and Colorado, with eligibility to transfer her bar license to any UBE jurisdiction.
Born and Raised in Houston, Texas, Dawn Jones is community organizer, activist, mother of two, and a proud graduate of Texas Southern University. She has dedicated the past seven years to social justice advocacy, where she has been able to hone her community organizing skills and discover her true passion for civic engagement and ground-level community interaction. With prior experience working on presidential and senate campaigns, Jones has excelled as a leader of change with a strong commitment to public service.
Tiffany Jones-Smith is an award-winning nonprofit leader, community activist, writer and professional speaker who has who has spent the last five years stopping the progression of kidney diseases. She is a radio and television host recognized as a trailblazer because of her innovative commentary, "On the Record with Tiffany."
Abbey Judd (she/her/hers) is an urban planner and researcher who is passionate about the roles of culture, music and affordable housing in local policy and regional planning. After graduating from Rhodes College with a degree in urban studies, she began her career building community partnerships while working in nonprofit arts organizations in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2021, Judd completed a dual degree master’s program at The University of Texas at Austin in community and regional planning at the School of Architecture and public affairs at the LBJ School, fueling her desire to work locally as a public servant and continue to work toward more equitable, thriving communities.
Basketball enthusiast and Dallas native Kiara Kabbara holds a deep passion for advocating for civil rights, education equity, and advancing opportunities for Black small business owners. While at UT Austin she served as the 2021–22 student body president of UT Austin; reinstated and served as president of UT NAACP chapter; Leading Women of Tomorrow UT Austin Chapter president; and Black Student Alliance's Big XII Delegate. She founded the nonprofit organization B.A.L.L.O.U.T (Building A Lasting Legacy while Overcoming Unique Trials), whose mission is to provide opportunities to create a culture of continuous excellence and elevate social mobility for the advancement of our community.
Anagha Kikkeri is a proud Texan, American and Indian. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, where she was the first Indian-American woman to become student body president. On campus, Kikkeri spearheaded several longstanding equity solutions, specializing in diversity and inclusion initiatives to support women of color, build community and educate students. She received the honor of Outstanding Senior of the Class of 2021, the Dean's Dozen award and the Hyperion Award. She is passionate about racial and gender equity, community building, and representation. Kikkeri is never afraid to break down barriers, and will continue to do so!
Tonya L. Knauth
Tonya Knauth is a servant leader who, for more than 25 years, has put down deep roots as an attorney and community volunteer in Houston. As a fourth-generation Texan, she understands the history of our state and believes in a future where all people can thrive. Her public service reflects the values of hard work and citizenship she learned growing up, and the conviction that individuals doing good things every day can create a better world.
Miriam Laeky is a dedicated ambitious community organizer and government staffer who has worked on numerous grassroots campaigns and in the halls of the state capitol. She is a first-generation Ethiopian/Eritrean-American from Allen, Texas, and she is a committed advocate working to ensure that our communities not only have seats at the table, but also a voice. Laeky aims to inspire other young first-generation women of color to blaze their own political trails ambitiously and audaciously in the state of Texas.
Em Landon is an award-winning author, law professor, conflict resolution specialist, philanthropist, legal strategist and professional speaker who cultivates positive systemic change by challenging ineffective norms, promoting peace and encouraging diversity of thought. Recognized for her innovative engagement and collaborative leadership, Landon is responsible for leading statewide efforts to eradicate human trafficking and authored Texas's first-ever strategic plan to combat sex and labor trafficking. Continuing her commitment to social justice, Landon has focused on dismantling the pervasiveness of gender inequality, litigated constitutional rights cases, and drafted and passed groundbreaking legislation. Harnessing the power of bringing our differences together to transform conflict — from conflict resolution to conflict revolution — Landon works to spark peaceful and positive change.
Cassidy Lee is a queer researcher, advocate and mentor who is passionate about increasing awareness of community resources and programs. As a 2022 graduate from the Honors College at the University of Houston, her interests include LGBTQ+ equality, women's rights, access to education and mental health services, and diversity and inclusion for all. She is a member of Women Professionals in Government-Houston and Phi Beta Kappa, and she is motivated to continue her civic education and service.
Katherine Longoria is a first-generation Chicana born and raised on the border. She earned two degrees from New Mexico State University in journalism & mass communications and government, and is currently a graduate student at St. Edward's University. Her passion for politics and public policy began during her undergraduate studies, when she volunteered for political campaigns and served as an intern in a congressional office. After college, she worked in the Texas Legislature, where she gained immersive knowledge of the legislative process and had the opportunity to advocate for her border community as chief of staff for State Rep. Art Fierro.
Tanya Lowery, Ph.D., is a seasoned educator, leadership mentor, and a diversity, equity and inclusion advocate. A proud Texan and Longhorn, she has a heart for being a change agent to make her community and the world a better place. Recognized as a servant leader, Lowery is often sought after for her strategic thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills. Her interest in the political arena stems from seeing her family and educational mentors embrace the importance of volunteerism and community advocacy.
Jaymie H. Mangelsdorf
Jaymie Mangelsdorf was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. She has lived in San Antonio for 19 years and earned a bachelor's and master's degree in political science from UTSA. Mangelsdorf is currently enrolled at Texas A&M and is seeking a second master's in jurisprudence.
Marliza Anahi Marin
Marliza Anahi Marin was born and raised in the border town of El Paso, Texas. She is the proud product of generations of strong Mexican women. Her passion for public service began at a young age as she watched her grandmother organize rallies and meetings for the Border Network for Human Rights. Marin attended Texas State University, where she graduated cum laude with three Bachelor of Arts degrees: political science, history and psychology.
Carol K. McCutcheon
Carol McCutcheon is passionate about serving her community and has been a community leader for the past three decades. She strives to keep her city a safe and welcoming place for people of all backgrounds to call home.
Sonia Melendez Reyes
Sonia Melendez Reyes is a communications strategist and advocate with more than 20 years of experience establishing new partnerships and leading outreach campaigns with national leaders to help champion women's policy issues including access to quality education, equal pay, affordable child care and paid family leave. She previously led advocacy and policy efforts at a transnational philanthropic organization, the nation's largest organization for women in politics, and served in the Obama administration as a senior adviser to former U.S. Secretary of Labor and former U.S. Rep. Hilda L. Solis. Melendez Reyes was a journalist earlier in her career, working at news organizations including CBS News, CNBC, KABC-TV, Hispanic Link News Service and KTLA-TV.
Nelly Montellano-Nugent is a proud Brownsville, Texas, native, a child of migrant immigrants, a first-generation Texan and University of Texas college graduate. A dedicated public servant, she has served as an Army veteran in Operation Provide Comfort, a legislative aide in the Texas House of Representatives and at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Montellano-Nugent has taken the lessons learned from family values, local, state and federal service and developed a passion for making a difference in the community by empowering all Texans to become knowledgeable, effective and engaged members of the community.
Gabriela Ibarra Noriega
Gabriela Ibarra Noriega is an education advocate, community event organizer, small business supporter and professional social service worker who has helped families for the past seven years in continuing in their educational journey. She has created a campaign to raise awareness of scholarship in higher education including graduate programs. She serves as a committee board member for The Board Room Project and supports the Latina Vote initiative.
Emily Norwood is a proud Texan with a passion for local politics. She graduated from UTSA with a B.A. in political science and since then has worked on local and congressional campaigns. She is committed to engaging and registering voters to improve turnout and representation in elections.
Ciara Parks is a servant leader who has spent over 12 years helping keeping communities safe through advocacy and persuasion in the courtroom. Her abilities and talents go beyond the courtroom to her service on several nonprofit boards in the community and mentorship to young lawyers across the nation.
Erica I. Peña-Vest has worked for 25 years as a public and media relations professional while serving her community through service on charitable boards, community activism and political involvement. Currently a military spouse constantly moving around the country with her naval aviator husband, she is a caregiver for their two kids, two dogs and a parrot, and has devoted her time and attention to completing her graduate degree; achieving various graduate certificates; training as a special needs advocate for military families; serving her sons' school as PTO president; and serving on a number of town boards and committees in her current region. Military life has introduced her to various duty stations across the country and has given her a unique view on issues involving military families, the educational system, and multicultural and minority relations. It has inspired her to focus her talents and experience on advocating for others and serving her community.
Candace D. Queen
Candace D. Queen is a culturalist, interdisciplinary designer, creative director and educator committed to advancing racial equity through design and revitalizing forgotten spaces. She brings a sharp eye for new trends and an affinity for creating data-driven work that subtly pushes our society forward and upward, by addressing cross-cultural disparities head-on. Recognized as one of "100 People Who Make Advertising Great" by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's) and an ADCOLOR® Unsung Hero, she has spent over a decade working with brands, nonprofits and change agents to identify and implement strategic solutions to generate positive impact both in the private and public sector.
Bianca I. Ramirez
Bianca Ramirez is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and founder of the nonprofit organization Student Parents Empowered. A passionate human rights advocate, she advocates for child care, disability rights and social justice issues. She served on the board of directors for the Autism Society of Texas as the vice president of legislative affairs and graduated from Texas Partners in Policymaking.
Joanna Ramirez is a mom, wife, political activist and government affairs professional. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela and currently resides in Austin, Texas. Her experiences watching Venezuela crumble at the hands of a socialist dictator motivated her to get involved politically. She has spent almost a decade working and volunteering in the political arena through issue advocacy, political campaigns and nonprofits, and has been featured on Fox News and TheBlaze.
Claudia Sanchez has been a community activist and organizer in San Antonio and across Texas for over two decades. She has worked in the areas of education, immigration, environment, labor rights, voting rights and civil rights. She has become politically active to help elect leaders that will work with and include the community in the decision-making process of legislation. Sanchez has helped various elected officials at the local and state levels with their campaigns, and has been selected to serve as a board member and executive director with local and statewide organizations. Among her greatest accomplishments have been a 39-day hunger strike advocating on behalf of the Dream Act, and being selected by the Department of Education to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She plans to continue working in her community to bring awareness about the importance of being politically active and part of the decision-making process of laws through politics.
Sarah Sem is a communications professional and entrepreneur who has been advocating for issues impacting young people globally with a focus on women's rights for nearly a decade. Her extensive leadership experience spans a wide variety of areas, including food insecurity, women’s education, justice, diversity, equity and inclusion, particularly in the social media space. Sem has been committed to politics and public policy for most of her life, working on congressional and gubernatorial races, and is tireless in her pursuit of creating community and opportunity wherever possible.
Thea Setterbo is a public affairs professional who has dedicated more than a decade to developing and managing multiplatform communications strategies for San Antonio's public and nonprofit sectors. A steward of democracy and civic engagement, Setterbo is focused on increasing accessibility and transparency of local government while uplifting the voices of residents in the public process.
Mina Shekarchi is the proud daughter of an immigrant, a staff member for Austin Mayor Pro Tem and Council Member Alison Alter, and a consultant for local nonprofits and campaigns with policy interests in climate change, watershed management, immigration and violence against women. She has worked for five different Austin-area nonprofits including the Sierra Club Climate Change Committee and Save Our Springs Alliance, also helped organize —and spoke at— the 2019 Youth Rally for Climate Action at the Texas Capitol. A certified Texas Master Naturalist, Shekarchi is a graduate of UT Austin's Plan II Honors program, where she studied sustainability and Persian, and wrote a thesis on Austin's relationship with the Texas Colorado River.
Ana Marie Silbas
Ana Marie Silbas is a Freeport, Texas, native who became immersed in public policy and civic engagement at an early age through her involvement in the League of United Latin American Citizens. She is also a founding member of the Brazoria County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Committee and Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce Young Professionals Committee; a member of the Scholarship Alumni; and Go Tejano Committeeman of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Silbas, a former Moreno-Rangel Fellow, is a graduate of the University of Houston and aspires to enter into the political realm to make a difference at all levels of government.
Samantha M. Smith
Samantha M. Smith is an attorney who has dedicated her legal career to pursuing equity and justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. She graduated with honors from St. Mary's School of Law, where she was recognized by her peers for her leadership and service to the community. There she earned distinctions including serving as the managing executive editor on the board of The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race & Social Justice; the 2019 St. Mary's Women in Law Leadership Award; and the Pro Bono and Public Service Award.
Hannah M. Spurr
Hannah Mackenzie Spurr is a proven leader who has chosen to dedicate her life to public service. Her introduction to public service began during her undergraduate studies, where she was elected to serve as the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Student Senate, which served around 70,000 students. Spurr received her B.S. in political science from Texas A&M University, and will be earning her Master of Business Administration from Auburn University.
Whitney Stuard, Ph.D., is a researcher, medical student, writer and community/policy advocate who is committed to championing the voices of underserved communities by combining her knowledge and experience to generate structural improvements in health care. She earned her bachelor's degree in biology from UT Dallas and is completing her dual-degree studies in the M.D./Ph.D. program at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, where her policy advocacy began through organizations such as the American Medical Association and the Texas Medical Association. She has served her community through organizations such as the Dallas County Medical Society, the Society of Student-Run Free Clinics, DFW Hepatitis B Free Project, and Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and has been the recipient of the Tylenol Future Health Scholarship, The Texas Medical Association Student of the Year award, PEO Scholars award, a Schweitzer fellowship, and the Kappa Alpha Theta 30 under 30 award.
Lauren Swords is a physician, South Texas native and mother of three. Known for her work in the Houston Methodist System, she advocates for reproductive health and works to reduce health care disparities. She also deeply cares as a parent for education in public schools. A passionate volunteer in her community, Swords now looks forward to using her skills to help publicly in health care and education.
Monique M. Tate
Monique M. Tate is a public servant who has spent the past 20 years actively supporting those in education, from early learners to adults. She is passionate about advocating for populations that are marginalized, and also works with law enforcement agencies to promote equity, diversity and inclusion to promote community engagement.
Jenny Bridgett Tavarez
Jenny Tavarez is a West Texas native, author/illustrator and entrepreneur. She is a proud alumna of Sul Ross State University and UT Austin. After working for members of Congress in Washington, DC, and San Antonio, Texas, she continues to advance small business, women's equality and economic development affairs. Her creativity and passion to serve her community led her to found her consulting agency supporting elected officials, small businesses and nonprofits through branding and creative design. In 2020, she founded Capacity Technologies™️, an application that bridges users and businesses with real-time occupancy information. Jenny's greatest joy is spending time with her family and raising her 2-year-old daughter with her husband, Donovon.
Kimberly Villarreal Thaggard
Kimberly Villarreal Thaggard is an award-winning teacher, lifelong learner and champion for education. A fourth-generation teacher, her love of politics brought her to her predestined career while working for the U.S. Senate Majority Leader during legislative discussions and passage of "No Child Left Behind." She is well known for her energy, enthusiasm and commitment to teachers and students, for whom she advocates in published editorials, blogs and podcasts. Thaggard is also strongly dedicated to her local community, serving as a chairperson of some of its most distinguished boards and philanthropies, including Denton Benefit League and the Denton Public School Foundation.
Makia Akinola Thomas
Makia Akinola Thomas is a passionate equity advocate and champion for public education who has served as an early childhood educator, dual language teacher, school administrator and professional development specialist. Her dedication to social action and stakeholder engagement continues through her work and service as a National Black Child Development Institute Policy Fellow and a member of FuelEd's inaugural fellowship class. Thomas holds a B.S. in applied developmental psychology and an M.Ed. in early childhood education from the University of Pittsburgh.
Na'Cole Thompson is a purpose-driven leader and dynamic public speaker who is passionate about helping others change their situation, life and legacy through education, financial literacy and entrepreneurship as demonstrated by her more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry and her community engagement and education efforts. Serving others has long been a part of Thompson's life, and by age 19, she had branched out by forming her own organization to serve financially disadvantaged youth in the Austin area. Her dedication to public service has been widely recognized and continues to remain at the forefront of her thoughtful leadership style, her work on several executive boards and her volunteerism with various local nonprofits, political action committees and youth education and advocacy programs.
Born into a historic South Texas pioneering family, Cynthia Valadez-Mata encompasses the commitment to public service and equitable representation, development of community leadership via full engagement and participation, and implementation of best strategies and interventions required to improve the quality of life for all residents. Her experience building relationships necessary for systemic change in education, social and criminal justice, health care, economic opportunities and housing has been the basis for her achievements as an advocate and leader for organizational and policy change. A tireless, passionate champion for all peoples, she continues to be a practical problem solver who utilizes all tools to create a nurturing and supportive societal environment that overcomes disparities.
Patricia A. Vojack
Patricia Vojack is a lifelong servant leader beginning as a nurse in inner-city emergency rooms, where she witnessed health inequities and translated those experiences into effecting social policy change through state legislative and congressional leadership positions. Adept at "reading the room," she is skilled at developing winning strategies, communicating complex concepts and bringing an organization through change. As a leader, Vojack is frequently sought out to mentor people first entering the political and government landscapes, where she imparts knowledge and empowers individuals to reach the highest levels in public service.