Speakers

Young Women Run Houston

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Nancy Bocskor

Director, Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy, Texas Woman's University

Nancy Bocskor, tagged a “Democracy Coach” by a major German newspaper, teaches citizens in the United States and internationally how to communicate with passion to affect change in their communities.

Nancy is the new Director of the Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy at Texas Woman's University in Denton, TX, where she will launch its programs to promote civic engagement and leadership in public service.

The author of “Go Fish: How to Catch (and Keep) Contributors: A Practical Guide to Fundraising,” Nancy Bocskor is an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management where she taught both online and in-class fundraising courses.

Nancy is on the board for Running Start, an organization that encourages young women to run for office and an advisor for the Veteran's Campaign, a program that encourages Veterans to enter public service. She served on the board of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale for seven years, where she chaired the school’s Curriculum Committee for five years. 

Most recently, Nancy was chosen as “Mentor of the Year” by PLEN (Public Leadership Education Network) for her work advising college women interested in careers in public service. In 2016, she was selected by the Washington Academy of Political Arts & Sciences as one of the "Top 12 Women Changing the Face of Political Communications in Latin America." 

Nancy was the recipient of the 2010 the Distinguished Alumni Award at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio for “her passion to affect change in national and international communities, training and consulting with the nation's and world's political leaders, and commitment to educate others, particularly women, around the world.”

Nancy Bocskor spreads democracy throughout the world…..the lively American travels from one country to the next coaching candidates on how to win elections, especially encouraging women to make it into parliament.

Ashley Dedmon, MPH, CHES

Healthy Living Matters Project Coordinator, Harris County Public Health 

Ashley is currently the Healthy Living Matters Project Coordinator for Harris County Public Health. Healthy Living Matters is a collaborative that mobilizes policy action to curb childhood obesity in Harris County. Prior to joining Harris County Public Health, Ashley served as a Community Outreach Specialist for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, where she managed corporate partnerships, grants, volunteer efforts, and various community outreach and public health endeavors. She also spent ten-years as a physical education and health education teacher and health curriculum writer in the Texas Public School System.

She is a cancer advocate and public speaker. She is a patient speaker with Myriad Genetics and consultant advocate with Houston Methodist Research Institute: The Center for Immunotherapeutic Transport Oncophysics (CITO) Physical Sciences-Oncology Network (PS-ON), and serves on a myriad of professional workgroups and committees. 

Ashley is on the advisory board for The Women’s Fund of Houston, the Prairie View A&M College of Education, and a member The Greater Houston Women’s Chamber Health Network of the Texas Medical Center and the Greater Houston Black Chamber. She is a member of the Texas Breast Health Collaborative, The National Breast Cancer Coalition, and the Penn Medicine: Basser Center for BRCA Young Leadership Council. She actively volunteers with Susan G. Komen, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE), as a peer navigator, an Ambassador for Got Boobs?, and Ovacome Inc. She serves on the health and wellness committee at her church, The Fountain of Praise, and is a member of the Missouri City-Sugarland Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc.

Ashley is a native Houstonian and holds a Bachelor of Science in Community Health, a Master’s Degree in Public Health and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. She is an advocate for all health and wellness efforts. She believes, achieving optimal health is a lifelong process of making healthy choices, and implementing healthy behaviors and practices.

She is the founder and owner of Pink Legacy 50/50, a platform that educates, equips, and empowers individuals who are impacted by or high-risk for breast and ovarian cancer. She the author of “The Big Discovery.” A children’s book that facilitates and guides families through a breast cancer diagnosis.

Her greatest accomplishment is being a wife to her husband, Cameron for five years, and a mother to their daughter.

Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia 

Representing the 29th District, Texas

Sylvia R. Garcia was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2018, becoming the first Latina ever to represent Texas 29th Congressional district.

Sylvia is a native of Palito Blanco, a South Texas farming community. The eighth of ten children, Senator Garcia saw her parents struggle to raise her and her siblings. Senator Garcia's parents taught her that with hard work and a good education she could accomplish anything. As a result of these lessons, Senator Garcia dedicated herself to success at school. She earned a scholarship to Texas Woman's University in Denton, where she graduated with a degree in social work and political science. Senator Garcia then received her Doctor of Jurisprudence from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, working several jobs to pay for her tuition. Just as her parents believed in her future, Senator Garcia believes the children of Texas can do anything. Garcia has dedicated her life to her community and to public service. As a social worker and legal aid lawyer early in her professional career, she protected our community's most vulnerable, old and young, and ensured no one was forgotten.

Sylvia continued her public service career by serving as Director and Presiding Judge of the Houston Municipal System for an unprecedented five terms under two mayors. In 1998, she was elected City Controller, the second highest elected official in Houston city government and its chief financial officer. She quickly earned a reputation as the taxpayers' watchdog, fighting to protect the pocketbooks of working families and ensuring the City was transparent and accountable.

After two terms as Controller, Sylvia was elected to the Harris County Commissioner's Court. The first Hispanic and first woman to be elected in her own right to the office, she continued her advocacy for working families and made certain Harris County took care of its most defenseless, all while making certain Harris County led the way for new jobs and economic development.

Sylvia was sworn in to the Texas State Senate on March 11, 2013, representing Senate District 6. She became the seventh woman and the third Hispanic woman to serve in the upper chambers after winning a special runoff election for the seat of the late Senator Mario Gallegos.

In 2018, Sylvia decided to take her fight to Washington. She ran to represent her community, country and family in Congress. On Jan 3, 2019 she was inaugurated to represent Texas Congressional District 29. She became the first Hispanic member of the Houston Congressional Delegation and one of the first two Latinas to represent the State of Texas in the U.S. Congress.

Ericka Graham

Executive Director, Project 88 Foundation & Freelance Teaching Pastor, Ecclesia Houston

After completing graduate school at Rice University and doing her Capstone under the Hebrew Scholar, Dr. Matthias Henze, Ericka went on to teach English at a low-income high school. In 2014, Ericka left teaching and started Project 88, a NPO that connects underserved students to college advising and career training. Since then, Project 88 has raised almost 1.5 million dollars for students in the city of Houston and beyond. Ericka is also the co-founder at Unitee Values, a values-based t-shirt company that encourages students, teachers, and children to live their 5 core values with intention: kindness, courage, creativity, grit, and friendship. More recently, Ericka went back to seminary to expand her theological imagination at the Iliff School of Theology. She also serves on the advisory board for several non-profits in Houston, and she enjoys yoga, running, preaching, and learning from other pastors, students, and professors.

Judge Lina Hidalgo 

County judge for Harris County, Texas

Lina Hidalgo was raised in an immigrant family. She knows first-hand the sacrifices hard working Texans make every day to pave a better life for their families. Lina was born in Colombia, when the drug war still raged and everyone knew someone who had been kidnapped. Her parents had two goals: to make sure she had a good education and to get the family to a safer place. Lina grew up in Peru and Mexico, where her parents were offered job opportunities, before emigrating to America in 2005. Lina is a proud product of Houston-area public schools and, as her parents dreamed, was the first in her family to attend college in the U.S. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in political science the same year she became a U.S. citizen. Since arriving in Texas, Lina has been committed to giving back.

Lina has dedicated hundreds of hours to our County’s most vulnerable communitiesfrom her time at the Texas Civil Rights Project to serving as a Spanish-English medical interpreter at the Texas Medical Center and supporting immigrants in search of lost loved ones. Over the past few years and while pursuing a joint degree in law and public policy at NYU and Harvard, Lina conducted research on criminal justice policies and coordinated with advocacy groups and governments to push for criminal justice reform. Before that, Lina worked throughout Southeast Asia to promote transparency and accountability by supporting journalists, bloggers and artists. She helped create and fund a program to bring Stanford students to public policy positions and has served the immigrant and incarcerated communities at any opportunity and in various states.

 

Lisa Hunt

Rector, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

Lisa Hunt is the rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Houston. She serves on the Montrose Tax Increment Redevelopment Board for the City of Houston. She is the mother of 3 adult children and a former member of the Metropolitan Nashville Public School Board.

Abbie Kamin

Candidate for Houston City Council, District C, Abbie Kamin Campaign

Abbie Kamin is a candidate for Houston City Council District C. She serves as the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Associate Regional Director for the Southwest Region, working to combat hate and bigotry while advocating for civil rights issues in our region and beyond. She is graduate with honors from Tulane University and holds a Juris Doctorate, with honors, from American University.

While studying at Tulane, Abbie worked with various organizations, including serving as a student organizer for environmental and coastal restoration efforts. Following graduation, she stayed in New Orleans, working on Mitch Landrieu’s campaign for Mayor and Transition Team and later worked as a paralegal at the law firm of Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith. During her time at American University’s Washington College of Law in D.C., she interned on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Department, as well as for the Lone Star Project.

Abbie, a native Houstonian, moved back to Texas in 2014 to begin her professional legal career, assisting voters obtain voter photo-ID and became an Associate Attorney at Brazil & Dunn, LLP. The youngest member of the firm, Abbie was involved in a wide range of civil practice areas, including, in particular, voting rights and civil rights suits. Wishing to focus her attention on policy and advocacy issues around the state, Abbie most recently served as the Committee Director for the Texas House Human Services Committee for the 85th Legislative Session. 

Today she focuses on civil rights policy and advocacy issues in our state with the Anti-Defamation League, as well as through other organizations. Serving as the Co-Chair of the Houston Steering Committee for Annie’s List, Abbie supports efforts to elect progressive women to state and local office. In addition to her involvement with Annie's List, Abbie serves on the Mayor's Commission Against Gun Violence, is a Board Member of ROAD-Women, a Member of the Board of Trustees at Emery/Weiner School, and is involved with the Jewish Federation, and Shady Acres Civic Club.

Jannelle Watson

Southwest Lead, Facebook

Jannelle Watson works on Facebook’s Politics and Government Outreach team in Washington, DC where she focuses on helping state and local elected officials build a best in class Facebook presence. Prior to coming to Facebook she worked for Governor Jerry Brown's Office of Business and Economic Development and President Obama's Community Solutions team.