Board of Trustees

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Chair

Email Whitney

Whitney Larkin is with Union Pacific Railroad. A native Houstonian, Whitney received her undergraduate degree from University of Houston and law degree from University of Houston Law Center.

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Chair-Elect

Email Sherry

Sherry Rodriguez entered the nonprofit sector in 2019 as a Development Director for Texans Can Academies, a network of Texas high schools serving students who have difficulty excelling in a traditional school setting. In her role, she is responsible for cultivating external relationships and securing resources to assist the organization in meeting its mission.

Prior to entering the nonprofit sector, she worked as an estate planning attorney in Houston. She joined the HYLF Adopt-an-Angel committee in 2015 and served as...

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Secretary

Email Kristen

Kristen Bates is an associate attorney at The Strong Firm, P.C. in The Woodlands, Texas where she represents clients in civil litigation, real estate and bankruptcy matters. Kristen is the chair for the Law Day Luncheon which is a nation-wide celebration to honor the rule of law and how the legal process contributes to our society. Additionally, Kristen has participated in the Adopt An Angel program since her beginning her practice in 2010. She has served on the Adopt An Angel committee since 2015, including holding a...

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Treasurer

Email Veronica

Veronica is an associate at Stibbs & Co., P.C. Her practice focuses on transactional matters related to acquisition and disposition, corporate structuring, trademark matters, private equity offerings, and commercial contract negotiation and review. Veronica received her J.D. from South Texas College of Law and attended Southwestern University for undergrad. She is a past Treasurer and Director of the Houston Young Lawyers Association. When she’s not lawyering, Veronica enjoys hot yoga, live concerts, and fine wine. Her...

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Immediate Past Chair

Email Alex

Alex is a partner at Beck Redden LLP. He represents both plaintiffs and defendants in complex commercial litigation, business disputes, employment, trade secret, products liability, personal injury, and professional liability matters. Alex represents clients in the energy, legal, financial, and real estate sectors, among many others. He also maintains a strong commitment to pro bono legal work and is actively involved in community service activities across Houston. Before joining the firm, he served as a law clerk to Judge Lee...

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Officers

Trustees

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Email Mariame

Mariame is an attorney licensed in Texas, New York, and Washington D.C. She has been working as a Houston-area non-profit lawyer since 2014, practicing in the fields of immigration and family law.

After her undergraduate degree at Rice University in English and in French Studies, Mariame acquired a Master in Liberal Arts in International Studies at the University of St. Thomas. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, where she was a member of Houston Law Review and Order of the Barons....

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Email Femi

Femi Aborisade is a Director on HYLA’s Board of Directors. Before becoming an Energy and Infrastructure Associate at Sidley Austin LLP, Femi graduated from the University of Texas School of Law, where he served as President of the Student Bar Association and was a member of Thurgood Marshall Legal Society.

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Email Brenda

Brenda represents plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of commercial litigation matters at Susman Godfrey. Prior to joining Susman Godfrey, Brenda worked as an attorney at a law firm where she represented plaintiffs in labor and employment disputes. Brenda earned her law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in May of 2016 where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Tennessee Journal of Race, Gender, & Social Justice and Articles Editor of the Tennessee Law Review. Brenda is serving as...

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Email Michael

As an attorney at Perdue & Kidd, Michael Clinton represents plaintiffs in personal injury claims as well as pharmaceutical and medical device litigation across the country. Michael earned his B.B.A. in Financial Consulting from Southern Methodist University while also performing as a drummer in SMU’s Mustang Band (a.k.a. “The Best Dressed Band In The Land”). Michael then earned his J.D. from Baylor Law School while competing in multiple interscholastic advocacy competitions. Before leaving Waco, Michael worked at...

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Email Akilah

Akilah is an associate in the Houston office of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, and is a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment group. Akilah currently serves as the Co-Chair of HYLA’s Diversity Committee and is a Trustee of the Association of Women Attorneys Foundation. Akilah was a member of the 2017 class of HYLA’s Leadership Academy, which raised over $12,500 to benefit the HAY Center. Akilah graduated from Baylor Law School in 2012 and received her Bachelor of Arts from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster,...

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Email Alex

Alex is actively involved in the Houston Bar Association, and is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Miami, cum laude.

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Email Amy

Amy’s practice at Yetter Coleman focuses on commercial litigation with experience that includes representing clients in a diverse range of disputes involving class action securities, intellectual property, and complex contract issues. She received her J.D. from The University of Texas, where she graduated with honors and served as the Symposium Editor for the Texas Review of Litigation and as Staff Editor of the Texas Journal of Women and the Law. Prior to joining the firm, Amy practiced with Baker Botts in Houston and Dallas....

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Email Tara

Tara Grigg Garlinghouse is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Foster Care Advocacy Center, a nonprofit in Houston that provides multidisciplinary legal advocacy for children and parents involved with the child welfare system. Prior to that, she was a Staff Attorney and Skadden Fellow in the Houston office of Disability Rights Texas, providing direct representation to foster children with disabilities in state child welfare proceedings and ancillary proceedings, such as special education litigation and Medicaid appeals. She has...

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Trustee

Email Oliver

Oliver Fankhauser is an associate at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP and this is his first year serving as a HYLF Trustee. Oliver has a corporate and securities practice with a focus on public and private offerings of debt, equity and preferred securities, mergers and acquisitions, and regularly represents public companies on SEC reporting and general corporate matters. In addition to serving as a HYLF Trustee, Oliver serves as the co-chair of the HYLF Golf Committee. Oliver graduated cum laude from the University of Houston Law...

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Email Leah

Leah Buenik is a commercial litigation associate at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. Leah has been a HYLA member since 2013, serving on the HYLA Board from 2014-2016. Leah graduated cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center in 2016, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013. When not working, Leah enjoys running and biking the Heights Bike Trail, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her family.

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Email Kelley

Kelley is a litigation associate at Gray Reed & McGraw LLP, focusing on energy and commercial disputes and appellate matters. Kelley also serves on the Board of Directors for the Houston Young Lawyers Association and completed the HYLA Leadership Academy in 2016. Kelley is a HYLF Fellow and served as the HYLF Law Day Luncheon Co-Chair from 2015-2017. Through her involvement with the Junior League of Houston, Kelley regularly volunteers at the Children's Museum of Houston. She received her B.A. and B.B.A. from University of...

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Email Michael

Michael is with Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP and practices labor and employment. Michael represents clients in federal and state court and before various federal and state administrative bodies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Labor Relations Board, and Texas Workforce Commission. He is a contributing author to the firm’s Employment & Labor Perspectives blog. Graduated from Texas Tech University School of Law.

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Email Joe

Joe R. Savoie is an associate at Crain, Caton & James, P.C. He serves clients in the areas of fiduciary litigation, probate, trust, and guardianship litigation, and commercial and business litigation. He has experience in a wide variety of matters, including the prosecution and defense of claims for breach of fiduciary duty, will and trust disputes, and guardianship proceedings.

Joe also has considerable experience in other areas of litigation including products liability, insurance and personal injury defense, and...

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Email Kristy

Kristy Gabrielova is a long time member of the Houston Young Lawyers Association and the Houston Young Lawyers Foundation. She has served on the Board of HYLA from 2012 to 2016, acting as the Treasurer and Secretary in the more recent years on the Executive Committee. Prior to that, between 2008 and 2012, Kristy chaired the Arts & Entertainment Committee, which puts many HYLA functions such as the yearly favorite, Evening with the Judiciary. On HYLF side, Kristy has been involved with both Adopt an Angel program, helping...

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Email Lori

Lori Yount represents businesses in all phases of disputes, with a focus on construction-related litigation. Lori came to the firm in 2018 with significant experience in insurance defense and commercial litigation. She has devised litigation strategy for both third-party and first-party claims in close partnership with clients and insurance representatives. Lori treats each dispute as unique and guides clients and insurance representatives to a favorable resolution, or disposition, with efficiency in mind. Before...

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Email Zahra

Zahra Usmani is an energy associate at Jones Day. Her practice focuses on domestic and international transactions in the energy industry, including M&A, project development, joint ventures, and strategic transactions. Her experience includes representing public and private energy companies, strategic investors, and private equity firms in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, securities offerings, securities compliance issues, and general corporate matters.

Zahra is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law...

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Executive Director

Email Lucy

Lucy has been with HYLA/HYLF since May 2015. Before working with HYLA/HYLF, she was with the Houston Bar Association (HBA) for over 30 years. She worked in several departments during her employment with HBA: Executive Administrative Assistant, Director of Membership, Community Education Coordinator and Director of Education. A native Houstonian, married to Greg Cain and have five wonderful children.

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