Meet our Speakers



Carrie Adams, Politics & Government Outreach, Facebook

Carrie Adams works on Facebook’s Politics and Government Outreach team in Washington, DC ensuring that federal-level Democrats use Facebook and its family of apps to the best of their abilities in an ever-changing digital world. Carrie recently came to Facebook after 6 years on Capitol Hill as a digital director and speechwriter. She is a hot yoga aficionado, loves independent films, holds a provisional patent, and is a native New Yorker.

D'Andrala Alexander, Candidate, Dede for D10

D'Andrala Alexander is a mental health professional and career public servant. She grew up in Plano, TX where you could typically find her playing basketball in the tight-knit Douglass Community. D'Andrala attended college at Washington University in St. Louis and returned home to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Habitat for Humanity. SHe eventually went to graduate from the University of Houston Victoria to become a mental health professional and has been working in the field ever since. D'Andrala currently works as a mental health clinician for the Dallas County Juvenile Department.

Devan Allen, Tarrant Country Commissioner, Precinct 2 

As the Founder and Principal of Allen Realty Advisors (ARA), Devan is opening doors for those pursuing business investments or the dream of homeownership. But, growing up as the youngest child of incarcerated parents and having faced homelessness at a young age, Devan didn’t conceive that her own path would lead her to becoming an entrepreneur and an advocate for at-risk youth and women. At the heart of her successes is her core belief that success is attainable if one is willing to work diligently to achieve it.

Prior to launching ARA, Devan built a solid career in politics, serving as the District Director in both the Texas Senate and House, and most recently served as Campaign Manager for State Representative Chris Turner, chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Devan has also served Tarrant County as a Council Aide to a Fort Worth Mayor Pro Tem, and as Senior Director of External Affairs for the University of Texas at Arlington. Once headed for a career in the healthcare field, including serving as a nationally and state certified Emergency Medical Technician, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from UTA, including undergraduate coursework at Tarrant County College.

Known for her passion for public service, her diplomacy and a proven track record of connecting people and resources successfully, Devan has been tapped to serve on a number of boards and commissions and with a host of non-profit organizations including: Day Resource Center, Chair of the Arlington Community Relations Commission, inspirED Advisory Committee, New Leaders Council Advisory Board, Women Inspiring Philanthropy, and is a founding member of BRIDGE Young Professionals. In 2015, Fort Worth CEO Magazine named her one of “20 Women to Watch in Business.”

When Devan is able to kick up her heels, she laces up her running shoes. An avid outdoor enthusiast, Devan enjoys training for and participating in marathons. She is also certified as a Dietary Guidance Provider through the Cooper Institute.

Devan resides in Arlington with her husband Mark Allen, a Commercial Real Estate Broker and Principal of Allen Multifamily Advisors. They enjoy traveling, attending sporting events, hiking, following cutting-edge developments in business and technology, and spending time with friends and family.

Patricia Arvanitis, CEO, Leadership ISD

Patricia Arvanitis is CEO of Leadership ISD, Texas, guiding the organization’s development and impact. As one of the founders of the organization, Patricia has been instrumental in developing both the structure and the programming. Under Patricia’s stewardship Leadership ISD has grown into a highly regarded school board leadership development and advocacy program preparing community leaders to influence educational equity and excellence from the campus to the capitol.

Mayor Pro Tem Jennifer Berthiaume, City of Murphy

Mayor Pro Tem Jennifer Berthiaume was elected to the Murphy City Council in May 2016. She previously served on the Murphy Community Development Corporation (MCDC) and Planning & Zoning Commission. Ms. Berthiaume is a member of the Murphy Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which is a natural extension of her skills gained from her degrees in Geography and Disaster Management. In her professional life, Ms. Berthiaume is a GIS Consultant for an international environmental engineering firm. In her spare time, she actively pursues learning self-defense techniques using Krav Maga. She and her fiance, Ryan, live in Murphy with their two dogs.

Ariel Boxman, Rabbi, Temple Shalom

Rabbi Ariel Boxman is the rabbi educator at Temple Shalom in Dallas, Texas. She was raised in the U.S Virgin Islands as the daughter of a Reform rabbi. She graduated from American University with a Bachelors degree in 2007 and from Hebrew Union College with Ordination in 2012. In 2013, Boxman earned her Masters in Jewish Education. She currently lives in Plano with her husband and son, Jacob.

James Canup, Texas Director of Major Gifts, IGNITE

For two decades James Canup has worked for progressive change in nonprofit, advocacy and political settings. A native Texan, James is devoted to growing communities of leaders and supporters on behalf of civic engagement and political change. With roots in Dallas and East Texas, James lives in Austin. He served in fund development and executive roles with Annie's List, the American Red Cross, the Texas League of Conservation Voters, the ACLU of Texas and Planned Parenthood. James volunteers as a facilitator in NAMI support groups for adults with a parent with mental illness and was founding national co-chair of the Red Cross LGBTQ+ Pride affinity group. At IGNITE, James partners with volunteers and donors to empower women of all backgrounds to become the leaders our nation needs them to be.

Brandy Chambers, Candidate, Brandy Chambers for Texas House 112

Brandy is a seasoned employment and labor counsel with significant experience advising international corporations on best efficient and effective practices for their organizations. 

Brandy was born and raised in Muskogee, Oklahoma. In 1991, she left Muskogee and ran to the University of Oklahoma to start her seven-year stint as a college student. During law school, Brandy interned at Woska, Hasbrook, and Underwood where she discovered her love for employment law while representing a plaintiff on a wrongful termination claim. After law school, Brandy worked for an insurance defense firm, Pierce, Couch, Baysinger & Green in Oklahoma City where she practiced a broad range of employment, medical malpractice, civil rights defense and basic commercial litigation.

In 2001, Brandy was offered the opportunity to move to Dallas, Texas by becoming employed by Royal & SunAlliance Insurance Company/ St.Paul/ Travelers.  She couldn’t resist the chance to move to Dallas so she accepted the position of Professional & Financial Claims Litigation Counsel providing substantive legal analysis and litigation strategy to defend a wide variety of matters nationwide and internationally.

Yearning for more responsibility, Brandy left Travelers to become Sr. Corporate Counsel of Employment with a Chinese telecom, Huawei Technologies USA Inc. Brandy was the primary advocate and advisor for risk avoidance, compliance, contractual obligations and internal policies regarding labor and employment issues. 

Brandy joined LSG Sky Chefs as Deputy General Counsel in 2013 as the sole Employment Counsel to a workforce of 9,000 employees in 41 locations nationwide including California. 

The Honorable Dr. Harryette Ehrhardt

The Honorable Dr. Harryette B. Ehrhardt was born in Hattiesburg MS on August 4, 1934 and graduated from Highland Park High School and attended SMU for her B.S. and M.A. with Departmental Distinctions. She received her Doctor of Education degree from the University of Houston. These achievements were the beginnings of a career as an educator, politician, activist, and concerned citizen for Dallas and Texas.

Harryette’s professional experiences include State Representative, Texas House of Representatives for eight years. As a Representative, she served on the Texas State Legislature Committees of Urban Affairs, Financial Institutions and Elections. She was an elementary teacher and principal in Dallas and other school districts. Harryette was an associate professor and lecturer at SMU, Texas Women’s University and other colleges. She is Professor Emeritus in the Dallas County Community College system.

As a concerned citizen, she served on the Dallas Independent School District Board, the Dallas Health Alliance as First Chair. She served as Vice Chair of Trinity Ministry to the Poor. She served on the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. Her city appointments include Permits and License Appeal Board and Community Block Grant Committee. Harryette has been a delegate to Senate, State and National Democratic Party Conventions.

Always an activist, some of Harryette’s past and current activities include: Chair of the Greater Dallas Community Relations Commission, Women’s Council of Dallas, Secretary for the Dallas Summit, Founder of the Dallas Women’s Foundation, Founder of Historic Preservation League, Board Chair of the Art Institute of Dallas, Founder and Chair of the Dallas Women’s Political Caucus, Chair of the Texas Women’s Political Caucus, and Founder and Chair of People Empowerment Project. 

For her service and activism, Harryette has won numerous awards and honors. A few of those awards include the Dr. Harryette Ehrhardt Library at Zan Holmes Middle School, DISD, the Women Helping Women Maura Award, the Texas Outstanding Public Service Award on Consumer Issues, the Houser Award Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, the Outstanding Service Award for the Mentally Ill, the Outstanding State Official from the Texas Human Rights Foundation, the Trailblazer Award from IGNITE, Independent Bankers of America, the Kuikling Award from Dallas Black Tie, the Dallas Bridge Builder from Turtle Creek Chorale, Southwest Jewish Congress Inspiring Women of the  Southwest Award, and from the NAACP the Community Service Award. 

Harryette was married to the late John A Ehrhardt, M.D., and they had five children, thirteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Corinne French, Vice President, Valley View ISD and TASB Board of Director Region 11

Corinne French was appointed to the VVISD board in 2012, elected in 2013, and ran unopposed in 2016. She currently serves as the board Vice President. Ms. French received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Family Sciences from Texas Woman’s University and a Master’s Degree in Higher Education from the University of North Texas. She works at the University of North Texas and coordinates district involvement with the Eagle Advantage program. She serves as the advisor for the HerCampus UNT student organization. French also serves on the executive board of the North Texas Area Association of School Boards (NTAASB) and on the Board of Directors for the Texas Association of School Boards. Ms. French is a 2015 Leadership TASB graduate and has served as a member of the Legislative Advisory Council.

Karla Garcia, Associate, College Access & Success, Dallas County Promise

Karla Garcia is proudly Dallas-born and raised in Pleasant Grove, Southeast Dallas. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Karla understands first-hand the transformative power of investing in others, especially the youth. Karla is an alumna of the Irma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School in South Dallas and is the first in her family to graduate from high school and college, having earned her bachelor's in Public Policy and entrepreneurship from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She now serves as an Associate of College Access & Success at the Dallas County Promise, working directly with staff, students, and families on their journey to postsecondary opportunities. Karla believes public education is the pinnacle of opportunity for students like her and is committed to serving students and families.

Michelle Landry, Campaign Manager, Dede Alexander for Dallas City Council Place 10

Michelle is the campaign manager for Dede Alexander for Dallas City Council Place 10. She is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas with a BA in Historical Studies.

Sheena Morgan, CEO, Lengo

Sheena began her career in the small and diverse business industry in 1999. She has been the Executive Director of two non-profit organizations responsible for the certification of minority and women-owned business enterprises. 

She currently manages the supplier diversity program for Atmos Energy Corporation, through which she has created the first Mentor-Protege Program and participates in several boards and committees.  She is also the owner of Lengo, a business consultancy suite that assists clients in developing focused-based plans which align with their company's vision and goals. 

Sheena exercises her servant leadership as a Planning & Zoning Commission for the City of Glenn Heights where she has been a resident for 2.5 years. She is currently a candidate for Mayor to fill the unfinished term of the former mayor. 

She received a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Dallas and a Bachelors of Business Administration with an emphasis in Organizational Development from the University of Phoenix. 

She has a son who is attending his Freshman year at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and enjoys spending time with her family, friends and church as well as volunteering and being active in her community.

Gwendolyn Caldwell Morrison, Trustee, Tarrant County College Board

An educator by vocation and advocation, specializing in human development, Gwendolyn has invested her life in service to people as a teacher, organizer and developer of people and organizations; focuses on equity and excellence in education and economic development. Has served 43 years as an elected official other services as a board member for adult literacy, genealogical society, Efforts to eliminate hunger and preservation of history.


Representative Victoria Neave, Texas House of Representatives

Victoria Neave represents Texas House District 107, which includes parts of Dallas, Mesquite, and Garland. She serves on the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence and the House Committee on County Affairs.

Victoria regularly mentors students and believes that investment in education is one of the most critical issues facing our state. Her priorities are advocating for working families, women, small businesses, and Veterans.

Victoria grew up in the barrio in Pleasant Grove in Dallas and comes from a working class family. Her parents emphasized the importance of education and having compassion for others. The daughter of a father with a sixth grade education who had a small TV and VCR repair shop off of Galloway and Town East in Mesquite, Victoria became the first in her family to graduate from college earning her degree in Government and Politics from The University of Texas at Dallas and then graduating magna cum laude in the top 3% of her law school class at Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Victoria began her legal career as an Attorney in the Complex Commercial Litigation group at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, one of the top ten law firms in the country. 

Victoria has been involved in community service throughout her life, and has been recognized for her pro bono work in the legal community. She has led and served on various boards, including serving as Chair of a Chamber of Commerce, served on the Dallas Civil Service Commission, a civil rights advocacy group, organizations serving senior citizens, served as General Counsel to the National Latino Law Enforcement Organization, and as the Board Attorney for the F.L.A.G. Program, which teaches students how to fly, lower, and gather, the American flag. In 2013 Victoria was named Lawyer of the Year by the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and was named a Pro Bono Champion by the Texas Bar Journal. She received the Pro Bono Award, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in 2011 and 2012. She was awarded Lawyer of the Year by the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program in 2013. She also received the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association Estrella Award in 2013, and was honored as the Access to Justice Pro Bono Champion by the Texas Bar Journal in 2013.

Victoria runs her own law firm, where she represents individuals and businesses in civil litigation and employment law.

Lillian Salerno, Co-host, Pod Bless Texas

Bio coming soon. 

Kendall Scudder, Former Democratic Nominee, Texas Senate, Dist. 2

Kendall Scudder, a native of Sulphur Springs, TX and public school advocate, is a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee and the only millennial to be nominated for the Texas Senate. Following his defeat in Nov. 2018, Scudder established the Texas politics podcast "Pod Bless Texas" with Co-host and former Obama administration appointee Lillian Salerno.


Libby Spears, Owner, Bravo cc

Bio coming soon. 

Candace Valenzuela, School Board Trustee, Carrollton Farmers Branch ISD

Candace Valenzuela is a first-generation college student from El Paso, TX. After majoring in Government at Claremont McKenna College, Candace spent time working in different facets of education, including with group home teens, special needs teens, and students needing general guidance for college admission. It was a natural fit when she decided to run for the school board nearly two years ago. Candace's policy priorities center on immigrant students, closing the achievement gap, and college/career readiness.

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

In 2004, Lupe Valdez shook the political establishment in Dallas County, becoming one of the first Democrats elected countywide in many years.  Lupe was ultimately elected to four terms as Sheriff of Dallas County and served from 2005-2017.  She was the only Latina Sheriff in the United States and one of very few LGBTQ Americans serving in public office.

Prior to becoming Sheriff, Lupe worked to protect the lives and property of American citizens at home and abroad as a captain in the U.S. National Guard and as a federal agent.

The daughter of migrant farmworkers and the youngest child in a family of ten -- Lupe learned the value of a strong work ethic and the opportunity that comes with education. Educar para elevar, educate to elevate, are words she has lived by.  She put herself through college to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Southern Nazarene University, sometimes working two jobs to pay for her education. Later, while working as a federal agent, she completed her Master’s in Criminology from UT-Arlington.

As a federal agent and sometimes undercover, Lupe investigated fraud and abuse in the United States and money laundering from criminal organizations in South America. 

While Sheriff, Valdez worked diligently to address deep structural problems that had developed over the preceding 20 years.  The county jail was understaffed, overpopulated, and unsanitary.  With her team and the leadership of the County Commissioners, she succeeded in tackling many of the challenges that had plagued the Department such as improving the quality of care for mentally ill inmates, changing culture, and striving to ensure any individual touched by the criminal justice system was treated with respect and dignity.