Meet Cohort 4
This fourth class is made up of 65 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 kicked off in May 2023, with monthly trainings through November.
- LBJ Women's Campaign School Inaugural Cohort (2020)
- LBJ Women's Campaign School Cohort 2 (2021)
- LBJ Women's Campaign School Cohort 3 (2022)
Amy M. Abbott
Amy M. Abbott served 23 years in both the Army and Air Force, deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and working with female engagement teams in Afghanistan, journalists in Iraq, and the United Nations in Somalia. She earned a Bronze Star and a Combat Action Badge. Abbott holds a master’s degree in military sciences with a concentration in leadership. Her thesis on countering terrorist propaganda won the Strategy and Warfare Studies Research Award and was the catalyst for curriculum used to train troops with the African Union Mission in Somalia. She is passionate about people, an ardent supporter of the arts, an advocate and voice for marginalized communities, and a voracious dog lover.
Annette Addo-Yobo is an award-winning orator, youth mental health advocate, and researcher. She serves as Miss Dallas 2023, advocating for equitable access to educational and mental health programming and resources for youth at risk for incarceration. She earned her bachelor's degree in psychology and child learning & development from The University of Texas at Dallas, and her master's degree in clinical psychology at Sam Houston State University.
Nicolette M. Ardiente
Nicolette M. Ardiente officially became a proud Texan in 2012. Originally from the New York/New Jersey area, she and her partner Marty have made San Antonio their home alongside their lovable cat, Butters. She graduated from Seton Hall University with a B.S. in international relations and diplomacy, and a minor in French. A daughter of Filipino immigrants, Ardiente is an activist, organizer, and advocate for the San Antonio and South Texas community. She strives to fight for the expansion of voter rights and education to build a more equitable and representative government for all.
A public servant with nearly 15 years of government service, Arlinda Arriaga is active in numerous organizations primarily focused on community engagement, education, and personal empowerment. Her efforts reflect values instilled in her while growing up in the greater Dallas area: “Everyday people doing good everyday to contribute to a better community.” Her formal education includes a B.A. in journalism and a Master of Public Administration.
Rev. Crystal Bates
Rev. Crystal Bates is a first-generation college graduate in her family, recognized by The University of Texas at Arlington as the ninth African-American woman to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and a minor in business administration. As president and founder of the nonprofit organization CBATES (Communities Building Attitudes To Encourage Success), she helps achieve its mission of uplifting underserved community members by uplifting their voices and empowering them through social services, the 101 Civic Engagement Student Training & Voter Registration Initiative, the Holiday DEI Initiative, the Nonprofit Incubator Initiative, the College Intern & Volunteer Program, and more. Through CBATES, Bates addresses systemic issues of oppression and injustice/inequity and presents practical solutions to resolve them through social impact.
Suzanne Ferris Berman
Suzanne Ferris Berman is a highly regarded policy and communications professional who is passionate about bringing people together to enact social change. She has decades of experience designing and implementing advocacy strategies for nonprofit organizations and executing communication plans within federal agencies. Most of Berman’s focus has been on issues of gender parity, education, and equitable access to health care. A proud mother of three, Berman is active in her community and local schools.
Heather Bredimus is a passionate community leader and courageous communicator known for her energy, creativity, and determination to serve others — especially vulnerable and at-risk populations. Her years of experience as a foster parent has given her opportunities to create meaningful support systems for foster children and adoptive families. She developed a mentor program for the Basin Dream Center for Orphans and co-founded and leads a support group for foster/adoptive families through St. Joseph’s Ministry. Bredimus’s community involvement includes serving as a certified rape victim advocate with the Crisis Center of West Texas, as an award-winning volunteer with the Midland Community Theatre, as a board member for the Rotary Club of Midland and the League of Women Voters, and as the creator of many local nonprofits, including Thank A Healthcare Hero and the Matthew 25 Ministry.
Cerissa A. Brown
Cerissa A. Brown is a mental health advocate with over 21 years of experience in outreach and community organizing. She ran for mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, in 2021 with a platform focused on mental health. Brown also founded Reecee's Reach, a Christian nonprofit organization providing comprehensive support to Black and Brown women experiencing homelessness and mental health challenges in Birmingham. She is committed to advocating for mental health and helping marginalized communities, and organizes an annual MLK day of service feminine hygiene drive to provide essential products to those in need.
Dominique Brown is a social worker who is committed to serving and advocating on behalf of underserved and disenfranchised communities. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in social work from Southern Arkansas University and is currently continuing her post-baccalaureate education in Public Administration. Her professional experience consists of working with disability and mental health services at MHMR of Tarrant County and Texas Health and Human Services. She has also she served as the director of operations and constituent services in the U.S. House of Representatives and legislative aide in the Texas House of Representatives. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a commitment to advancing policies and initiatives that promote social justice, human rights, and equity.
Marcaé Bryant is a humanitarian, social impact strategist, and certified security thought leader who has spent the past 20 years helping organizational leaders create world-class solution portfolios and promote systemic change to advance their mission across business verticals. Recognized for her innovative approach and strategic insight, her public service includes 10 years serving in the Air Force, nonprofit board service, mentorship and sponsorship. She is a motivational speaker and author, elevating more women of color and actively advocating for underserved communities. In her free time, she mentors with Cyber P-TECH at Sam Houston High School, Cyber POD Mentor at CAST High School, and with the Community of Schools (CIS) InspireU Workplace mentoring program. Bryant was featured in “Google’s Silicon Valley Women of Cybersecurity” and as Grace Hopper Celebration & Texas Cyber Summit Conference Speaker, and is a member of San Antonio Rotary Club, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and New Leaders Council.
Julissa Cantu-Alvarez is a proud native of Mission, Texas, whose passion for public service and politics were first sparked by accompanying her grandfather to local polling sites. Her grandfather, a naturalized citizen, always stressed the importance of voting to bring change within the community. After discovering her passion for service, she served as an Orange Key University Ambassador, TRIO Mentor for first-generation students, Honors College Ambassador and the recruiter for a co-ed academic criminal justice fraternity during her time at Sam Houston State University. Cantu-Alvarez is currently involved with the nonprofit RGV Gives Back as a board member who works to create support, opportunities and scholarships for Rio Grand Valley residents. The earned a Master in Public Affairs from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and works as a paralegal specializing in mass torts cases.
Angel Carroll is an Austin native and passionate advocate who draws from her experiences in the juvenile justice and child welfare system to inform and improve outcomes for system-involved individuals. She began her advocacy as an undergraduate at Texas Tech University, testifying before the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Criminal Court of Appeals to push for the creation of a state-level commission to bridge together experts, judges, and policymakers. She was recognized by Gov. Greg Abbott with an appointment to the Texas Juvenile Justice Advisory Board. Carroll now works with nonprofits and government agencies across the country to ensure systems are equitable, efficient, and sustainable. She is passionate about social justice and believes that everyone deserves access to quality services. Through her work, she hopes to make the world a fairer and more equitable place for all.
Ann-Marie Coyne is an activist, organizer, higher education administrator, and mission-driven nonprofit campaign specialist. She connects her various roles by building consensus, creating a sense of community, and developing high-impact experiences that connect a wide range of audiences. Born and raised in Central New Jersey, Coyne has been a lifelong advocate and ally of disadvantaged and underrepresented women and children. Her relocation to Texas mid-pandemic drove her to dive into the political arena to preserve voting rights, campaign for candidates to defend democracy, and lift the voices of the women and children to demand gun safety reform and public education funding.
Andrea Cubillos is a first-generation American and first-generation college graduate who has served the public in government from the city of Houston and the Texas Capitol to the United States Congress. Passionate about educational equity and civil rights, she is fiercely dedicated to serving the public by advocating for policies that create equitable outcomes. Cubillos graduated magna cum laude from the University of Houston, where she was a Leland Fellow, Hobby Fellow, Arete Fellow, Student Government Deputy Chief of Staff, and member of Pi Sigma Alpha. In 2022, she was named a Hobby School Elizabeth D. Rockwell scholar for her concentration on public interest law and passion for social justice. She is looking forward to continuing her education and utilizing her skills and knowledge to create positive societal change.
Korina DelaPeña, a South Texas native, has been involved in her community through her work in multimedia production, school administration, and volunteering with various children’s nonprofits. As a wife and mother, she is passionate about advocating for and educating on issues that affect the most vulnerable. She is recognized for her steadfast ability for advocacy and justice and through her work in the legislative arena, she has learned that our political system requires our voices to affect change in our laws.
As a seasoned political and communications strategist, Jessica DeLoach is a sought-after commentator for national and international media outlets. With over 15 years of experience, she has provided critical strategic guidance to political candidates and community leaders, managed statewide campaigns for corporations and nonprofits, and has overseen the political strategies and external affairs for a statewide Democratic party and a national network of pro-growth, progressive elected officials. Currently, DeLoach is focused on strengthening the federal government by overseeing an initiative to bolster cross-agency collaboration and strengthen the storytelling skills of top federal communicators while she studies to become an authority on disinformation.
Jenny Flanagan is a mom, a certified coach, and progressive activist. Before entering politics, she worked in marketing and business development and then as a women’s empowerment coach. Flanagan’s love for service was sparked in college through a leadership development program that exposed her to the important work of nonprofit organizations in Denver, Colorado. Since then, she has focused on women’s and children’s issues, advocating for every woman and child’s right to live a meaningful, fulfilling life.
Kerry Fossler is a master enthusiast in Bastrop with an uncanny to be everywhere at once. Whether she’s birding, gardening, dancing, writing, volunteering, running candidate forums, hosting community concerts, or collaborating with neighbors, her heart for humanity shines through in all she does. Fossleer delights in unifying unlikely parties and encouraging citizens to participate in local government to create the world they want to live in.
Dawn E. Freeman
Dawn E. Freeman is an accomplished nonprofit leader, corporate executive, speaker, and consultant who is nationally recognized for her expertise in public safety and criminal justice reform. Throughout her career, she has earned a reputation as a transformational leader that causes change in individuals, organizations and social systems.
Maria Froemming has a lifelong passion for politics and the political process. She is a graduate of Texas Tech University and a longtime resident of Coppell, Texas. She spent 20 years raising her three children and volunteering in her community before transitioning into local business management. Froemming has volunteered and worked for local, state, and national political campaigns, and is committed to educating, registering, and turning out as many voters as possible to increase political participation.
Rosana Galaviz is a strategic public policy and communications professional with more than 10 years of experience in the public and private sectors. She specializes in the effective and deliberate implementation of public policy initiatives designed to promote greater accountability, transparency, inclusivity, and accessibility. Her passion for public service began in high school and evolved as part of Harvard University's Phillips Brooks House Association, a student-led organization mobilizing volunteers in collaboration with Boston and Cambridge partners to address gaps in opportunities and resources. Galaviz is committed to expanding pathways to success for people of all backgrounds and addressing systemic inequities through her work in local government.
Lizabeth Garza-García is a native Texan and bilingual education advocate whose career has been dedicated to improving educational opportunities for emergent bilinguals. While serving part-time as a newcomer tutor in college, she witnessed educational inequities in advanced academics and dual-credit course offerings for emergent bilinguals and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Garza-García is focused on ensuring that all students in U.S. schools are informed and allowed every educational opportunity for advancement. Her latest advocacy efforts have highlighted the teacher shortage, school funding, and grow-your-own programs toward teacher certification.
Jennifer M. Gracia
Jennifer Gracia is an award-winning community advocate, professional home healthcare attendant, and community organizer. She is a graduate of the Texas Partners in Policymaking program and Del Mar College. Her dedication to public service has helped to bring accessibility, awareness, and connection to marginalized communities throughout south Texas.
Brandy Groth is a native Texan with a BIG Texan public-serving heart! Recognized for her community leadership and outreach as well as her exceptional fundraising experience, she works hard for a noble purpose and will to continue supporting her community.
Teresa D. Gutierrez is a native Texan, reared in El Paso. She has been an attorney for over 20 years and primarily works in the public and government sector. She spent several years at the Texas Legislature as a legislative aide and director, and knows her way around the State Capitol grounds. Gutierrez hails from a large family of four sisters and three brothers, and her motto is “Family First.” Gutierrez is interested in protecting rights of the elderly, the anti-defamation league, the pro-life movement and adoption agencies. She attends Saint Theresa Catholic Church and calls Austin, Texas, home.
Monica Guzmán is a native Austinite, community leader, and policy nerd. Her experiences as a single parent, as a student who worked her way through both degrees, and as an advocate with more than a decade of public service and volunteering led her to a life of helping others. Her public life began more than 10 years ago when she joined the Texas State Employees Union. She marched for workers’ and immigrants’ rights, did community organizing, and supported policies reflecting the needs and expertise of vulnerable residents — especially those in Austin’s Eastern Crescent. Her passions include public education, housing affordability, Latinx community health, social service systems, domestic violence, and researching her family history.
Katherine Haskel is a business professional who is passionate about building pathways to upward economic mobility in under-resourced communities. Her introduction to public service began with her selection to the Tennessee General Assembly Legislative Internship Program as an undergraduate student. Since then, Haskel has been an active servant leader in her community, being primarily interested in arts and culture community enrichment, gender equality, education programs, and poverty intervention.
Renee Hicks is an accomplished small business owner and board member committed to making a positive impact by raising awareness for social causes and volunteering within her community. Her engagement with local leaders and residents sparked a passion for politics and a drive to be instrumental in her community’s future. As a campaign manager, Hicks has successfully led multiple winning city council campaigns.
Maiesha Hossain graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2022 with a degree in political science, history, and anthropology. She has been interested in government and politics since a young age and has a deep passion for public service. Having grown up in more than seven states and travelled extensively, Hossain is naturally inclined to motion and hopes to experience a dynamic career that takes her to every corner of the world.
Beckie Irvin, M.Ed.
Beckie Irvin is a nonprofit founder and a highly sought-after consultant in the social sector. With over a decade of experience in outdoor education, she is passionate about combining her love of outdoor recreation and action sports with her drive to make a positive impact on local, regional, and national communities. Irvin understands the challenges faced by historically marginalized populations and the role that organizations play in making a positive difference. She uses her skills in leadership, fundraising, and strategic planning to help nonprofits effectively communicate with potential funders and raise support for innovative solutions. Whether through community programs, mutual aid, active transportation infrastructure, capital investments, and/or access to resources, she is dedicated to empowering individuals and communities to create a better future.
Daisy Jamaica is a first generation Mexican-American, born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She developed an interest in politics from an early age and earned her B.A. in political science and sociology from Southern Methodist University. She has dedicated the majority of her grassroots work to local candidates and issues in the Dallas area, and hopes to personally enter the political realm to effect meaningful change one day.
Angela Genean Johnson
Angela "AJ" Johnson is an activist, retired law enforcement officer, small business owner, and mother of three (two daughters and a 29-year-old son). She spent 23 years working in the oil and gas industry, and the last 10 in law enforcement. In 2017 she founded Simple Choice Staffing Solutions, which focuses on formerly incarcerated individuals needing job placement in Houston, Texas. Johnson has a passion for public service and a devotion to children, seniors, and individuals with justice-related issues. She is a natural community organizer; her sole purpose in working in communities across Texas is to educate the public and provide tangible resources that can be accessed and used in time of need.
Cortney Jones is the founder and executive director of Change 1. She works diligently to elevate the voices of those with lived experienced in the Texas foster care system. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from The University of Texas A&M-Commerce and master’s degree in social work emphasizing administrative leadership from Texas State University-San Marcos. She has worked in policy development, advocacy, public education, housing, and individual case management for more than 15 years. Jones was appointed by the governor to serve on the Family and Protective Services Council, which is charged with studying and making recommendations to the commissioner regarding the management and operation of the Department of Family and Protective Services. Jones is an advocate for change within the system and change within youth. Her life’s mission is to help others find their true potential while inspiring children, youth, and families to never let their past situations determine their future.
Kimberly Jones is an experienced masters prepared registered nurse specializing in public health, nursing leadership and education. She is the founder and chief design officer of Speak Black Health™️, the only T-shirt brand that sparks conversations about racism and implicit bias toward Black people in health care, with a goal to promote health equity and justice in the communities. Jones has collaborated with like-minded professionals and hosted health education discussions on social media platforms pertaining to health education, developed school health processes and training materials, led projects in pandemic and emergency preparedness, COVID Immunizations/COVID testing, Project Saving Smiles for 2nd graders in underserved areas, See 2 Succeed for grades pre-K-5 without insurance, vaccination mobile clinics for underserved and/or uninsured school aged children and adolescents, electronic medical record implementation, and has taught Stop the Bleed Training, CPR, and voice training to nurses and school personnel.
Ariel Lara is a lifelong Brazoria County resident dedicated to her community by focusing on veterans and small business owners. She is a founding member of The Warriors Refuge and serves veteran business owners through the Houston Regional Veterans Chamber of Commerce. Lara serves on various nonprofit, chamber of commerce, and civic boards, and is a proud Christian, veteran, and published author.
Lindsey Linder is an accomplished and dedicated senior policy attorney with a proven track record of achieving exceptional results in public health-oriented criminal justice policy. She developed and led the Texas Center for Justice and Equity's “Justice for Women” campaign, including authoring two first-of-their-kind reports on the treatment of women in Texas’s justice system and contributing to the passage of eight women's justice bills at the Texas Legislature. Her criminal justice reform efforts have been covered by the New York Times, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Ms. magazine, Austin Women’s Magazine, The Texas Tribune, and more. Linder was a 2020 Austin Under 40 Awards finalist, and she is a proud alum of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Louisiana Tech University, and Southern University Law Center.
Rhonda Lopez has spent more than 20 years as a health care professional, including working in managed care for children and families with limited income and resources. She is passionate about accessible health care for all Texans, and excels in provider relations management, marketing, and the ability to find common ground. She has a passion for serving her community, and serves on the Community Development Advisory Committee and the Fire Control, Prevention and EMS board for the City of Baytown; and the board of directors of the Marcelous-Williams Resource Center. Lopez is also a member of the League of Women Voters.
Ashley Losoya works as a political communications strategist and writer, crafting engaging campaign and constituent outreach. Previously she served as communications director for former Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison. A graduate of Pepperdine University and Syracuse University, she started her career in communications as a local news anchor and reporter. As an Air Force spouse and mother, Losoya is passionate about advocating for policies that will improve the lives of our service members and their families, and frequently contributes to Military Families Magazine.
Sarah Luhtanen is a mother, former educator, community activist, and volunteer in Northwest Arkansas. For 13 years, she taught English and sponsored student advocacy and service groups to amplify young people’s voices in civic engagement. After leaving the classroom, she continued her advocacy for young people and their families by working with nonprofits, public schools, and political organizations to ensure that all Arkansans have access to the resources they need to build a brighter future.
Angelina Macias credits her immigrant parents for showing her to have compassion toward everyone. As a multilingual community leader whose passion for public service began over 25 years ago, she worked alongside hundreds of immigrants from all over the world, training individuals on technology, assisting with immigration issues, and informing employees on worker’s rights. Macias holds a BSBA and an MBA, and volunteers on various economic development organizations specifically geared toward minority-owned businesses.
Elizabeth Rebecca Martinez
Elizabeth Rebecca Martinez is a devoted public servant, a Texan, and a first-generation Mexican-American who grew from humble beginnings in San Antonio, Texas. She was the first in her family to go to college and law school. Throughout her 11-year career as an attorney, she has dedicated herself to serving the people of San Antonio. She has a passion for public service and is a born leader who excels in finding commonalities between us beyond our differences, taking time to learn from our past to understand our future.
Jess Moore Matthews
As the founder and Chief Good Troublemaker at Backbone Digital Leaders, Jess Moore Matthews’s expertise in digital marketing and political organizing comes from her leadership on several presidential and down-ballot campaigns. She has also worked in industries from tech to state and local government. A longtime trainer, coach, and mentor, her activism has always empowered underestimated leaders to claim their seat at the table.
Elizabeth Caudill McClain
Elizabeth Caudill McClain is a recognized expert in education public policy, career pathways, and workforce development. A North Texas native, she has spent over a decade working with higher education institutions, regional businesses, and the Texas Legislature to increase access to post-secondary education and living wage jobs. She is a graduate of the Harvard Public Leadership Credential and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Texas Christian University. She served a year in AmeriCorps VISTA at Northwestern University before earning her Master of Education in higher education public policy at Southern Methodist University.
Heather McMinn has spent her legal career as a zealous advocate in both the criminal and civil courts of Texas. She served two terms as the elected district attorney of the 25th Judicial District, and then went into private practice, which allowed her more time with her four active children. She is board certified in criminal law and has spent a significant amount of her career fighting for the most vulnerable in our society. McMinn believes in serving her community, and as an AmeriCorps member she completed 1,800 hours of community service with the Youth Volunteer Corps.
A modern architect of the energy workforce, Katie Mehnert is an executive who has spent over 25 years in the global energy industry. She is an entrepreneur, speaker, author, thought leader, and trusted source on the intersection of energy, climate, and people.
Sofia Miranda-Fred graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a double major in economics and political science, and now works as a government management consultant in foster care advocacy at the statewide level. A San Antonio native who moved to Dallas, she is a queer Latina determined to empower marginalized identities through professional development and personal mentorship while working toward a career in law. Her work volunteering with Black Tie Dinner and the Resource Center, and as a local titleholder in the Miss America Organization inspire her to be a lifelong servant leader.
Gabrielle Moore is a community leader who has dedicated her life to making a positive impact. An award-winning Realtor® whose passions center on environmentalism, land use policy, inequity in housing and transportation, and voting access, she serves on nonprofit boards focused on these and other issues on behalf of those lacking a political voice.
Yvonne Muñoz, M.A., is a researcher, educator, public servant, and social justice advocate who has been recognized for her work by "Diverse Issues in Higher Education" and "Women in Higher Education.” She is dedicated to empowering communities of color with the knowledge and tools to disrupt systemic oppression and advance equity in all vectors of social life. Her experience working in public policy, advocacy and politics, include contributing her expertise to the California State Assembly, Yes on 16 Campaign, The Education Trust-West and Texas State House of Representatives, among others.
Paula Marie Naranjo
Paula Marie Naranjo has dedicated the last 18 years of her life to public service, believing that investing in children and community can impact generations. She has lobbied for change at the city and county levels, led organizing efforts advocating against unfair labor practices and for bringing policy change to the elderly. Her focus always begins with youth, and by mentoring with love and compassion she hopes to alter the trajectory of change in our divested communities.
Irene Nuñez was born and raised on the Northside of Houston, Texas, and is the daughter of immigrant parents from Honduras and Mexico. She is a first-generation college graduate with a B.A. in communications studies, and is an MBA candidate at the University of Houston-Downtown Marilyn Davies College of Business. She is a board member of Women Professionals in Government-Houston, where she helps promote the enhancement, education, and empowerment of women in government and related sectors. Her passions revolve around Latino advocacy issues, advancing Latina leadership representation, and mentoring women.
Shelbi Orme is an environmental activist, sustainability scientist, and climate communicator who has spent the past 10 years helping businesses, communities, and citizens bring sustainability to the forefront of their priorities. After successfully building an online community of hundreds of thousands of followers, Orme intends to use her skills to strengthen her community through advocacy for people and planet in her home city of Austin, Texas.
Paige P. Powell
Paige Powell has worked in the public, nonprofit, and education sectors for nearly two decades, helping to promote environmental stewardship, advance social justice, and improve quality of life in the greater Houston region. She holds degrees in economics and public policy from the University of Houston (Go Coogs!); serves as a Community Fellow in Environmental Studies at Rice University; and is a founding member of Houston Climate Movement. Powell is also a mother, Scouter, Unitarian Universalist, backyard gardener, and musician.
April Prim (she/her) is a knowledgeable attorney and community advocate in The Woodlands, Texas. Her passion for civics and social justice has driven her to become involved in countless endeavors aimed at helping others thrive.
Kendra Ross is a strategic community advocate and entrepreneur. She is involved with several community-based and nonprofit organizations focused on providing educational resources and assistance to individuals and families in need. Her educational and professional experiences have fueled a passion to serve marginalized communities.
Melissa Ross is a highly regarded leader with a strong track record in education, advocacy, and coalition building. Her passion for equity and social change is evident in her tireless work to advance causes that benefit the community, inspiring and mobilizing others to work toward shared goals. Her commitment to making a positive impact on the world is evident both professionally and personally.
Michelle Rubio-Garcia is a proud product of Laredo, Texas, a bestselling author, transformative educator, and national award-winning choreographer/coach. She has spent the bulk of her career in higher education in the realms of freshmen composition and public speaking while directing dance teams and finding deep purpose in building up underestimated students and undervalued spirit programs. A champion of human capital, her attention to detail in her leadership is reflective of an insatiable desire to impart integrity, vision, and pride to young adults and the communities she serves.
Amanda Elise Salas
Amanda Elise Salas is a political activist, community organizer and campaign strategist who began as a volunteer and quickly became a go-to expert in Latino outreach. Born and raised in the Río Grande Valley on the Texas-Mexico border, her upbringing in a conservative home to a large Mexican-American family and her later work in advancing communities such as hers gives her authenticity in working with communities of color and other marginalized populations. Salas’ expertise in Latino advocacy and outreach continues to be utilized in local, state, and national campaigns.
Meridith Silcox is native to the Houston area and has a passion for public service. She holds a master's degree from the University of Houston and has dedicated her career to serving in the nonprofit sector. Silcox is a disability rights advocate who speaks both locally and nationally to promote accessibility and full inclusion in communities. She serves as a governor-appointed advocate and expert in developmental disability issues in public policy, policy reform, and policy priorities. Silcox is committed to continuing her service in the disability rights movement.
La-Tieka Sims is a passionate, civic-minded community member with a heart for service. Her interest in advocacy was sparked during her time as a student at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. As someone who was incredibly involved on her campus, she found becoming more involved her community to be an effortless transition. Sims has worked as a city council staffer, serves on the board of Driving Single Parents, Inc., is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and serves as a mentor.
Lindsay S. Upson
Lindsay Upson is a daughter, sister, and mother who believes in small and minority businesses; racial justice, equity, and equality; women's rights and safety; education; and voter empowerment. A native of North Carolina, Upson has provided entrepreneurs and political candidates with assistance in marketing, communications, and branding since 2013.
Amy Urbanovsky is a special education certified educator, a steadfast champion for students with diverse learning needs, and a committed advocate for improving the quality of public education. As the wife of an elected official, she has played a lead role in numerous local campaigns serving as a political strategist and campaign manager. Urbanovsky is highly engaged in the local and state issues that impact her community in Buda, Texas, where she resides with her husband and their blended family of four children.
Nikki Vaghela has spent the past 20+ years helping clients reach their financial goals while winning multiple awards through client nominations and professional milestones. She is most fulfilled through hands-on volunteer work with her community.
Brittany Van Pelt
Brittany Van Pelt is a social change agent, lifelong learner, and public affairs professional, passionate about using social media and other digital channels as mediums for storytelling and content creation to amplify advocacy efforts. She aims to inspire and build a coalition of women of color running for all levels of public office across the South. Van Pelt is a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University in Greensboro, North Carolina, and American University in Washington, DC.
Priscilla Vigliante has a spirit of excellence and is an accomplished health care leader with a proven track record of helping physicians and hospital systems create more access to care. She is passionate about improving neighborhoods and serves locally as a City of Irving planning and zoning commissioner. She also leads her neighborhood association and is an active League of Women Voters of Irving member.