City of Houston WomensCommission

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Commission Member Short Bios

The Houston Women’s Commission will serve to advance equality and equity for women in the City of Houston by identifying and addressing disparities in healthcare, employment, safety and security across communities and industries, both in Houston’s public and private sector. Twenty-five women with diverse backgrounds and experience, representative of Houston with regard to race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, LGBTQ+ status, and industry, have been appointed to serve. 

Beth Matusoff Merfish is the Chair of the Department of Liberal Arts, College of Human Sciences and Humanities and Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Houston - Clear Lake. She was a member of the inaugural 2015 class of fellows of New Leaders Council Houston and is an activist with particular interests in reproductive freedom, gender equity, and family-friendly workplace policy. She is a proud mother of two daughters. She collaborated with Council Member Abbie Kamin to propose the commission and serves as Chair. 

Carmen Peña Abrego is the Project Manager of Author Events and Literary Initiatives for the Houston Public Library, Office of Systemwide Programs. She is an active member of the Houston Organization of Public Employees and recently was elected to serve on the negotiations team for the union. 

Kristy Bridges is the Department Chair of Exceptional Education for Houston Independent School District. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Academic Studies from Sam Houston State University.  

Elizabeth Gonzalez Brock is the Vice President, Energy Solutions and Businesses at CenterPoint. In 2019, she served as Chair of the Board of Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce. 

Barbara Burger is President of Chevron Technology Ventures and Vice President of Innovation. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry, a PHD in Chemistry and an MBA in finance.  

Elsa Caballero is the President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Texas with 20 years experience as an organizer, focusing on the needs of workers in the service, healthcare, and public sectors.  

Rogene Calvert is a Principal of Outreach Strategies. She was previously Chief of Staff for Houston Mayor’s Pro Tempore Gordan Quan and Director of Personnel and Volunteer Initiatives for Mayor Bill White. From the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast to the Child Abuse Prevention Network to St. Luke’s Episcopal Charities to the Asian Chamber of Commerce, she has helped shape the direction of countless institutions across Houston.  

Haley Crain Carter is a former U.S. Marine officer and retired professional women’s soccer player. She competed in NCAA Div I soccer at the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated with honors in 2006. After earning her commission, she served nearly eight years as a Marine Corps Logistics Officer, making two combat deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In addition to her degree from the Naval Academy, Carter has an MBA with Distinction from the University of Liverpool and a Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center. 

Dr. Lori Choi is a vascular surgeon, creator of a vascular surgery training program at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and co-founder of I’ll Have What She’s Having, an organization raising funds and awareness for women’s healthcare in Houston. 

Carvana Cloud is the Director of Community Affairs for Houston Police Department. She holds a JD from South Texas College of Law and is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She has also worked in the community around domestic violence response.  

Hon. Phyllis Fyre is an Associate Judge for the Houston Municipal Courts. She is the first openly transgender judge appointed in the United States, a U.S Army veteran, a licensed engineer, an attorney, and a prominent activist.  

Juliana Garaizar is the Head of Houston Incubator, Vice President of Innovation at Greentown Labs. She was an early stage investment committee chair for Houston Exponential. She holds an MBA in finance/entrepreneurship and is a Kauffman fellow.  

Eureka Gilkey is the Executive Director of Project Row Houses, a community-based arts and culture non-profit in Houston’s Third Ward. She has over a decade of experience in development, activism, and outreach, and previously served in the Obama Administration.  

Elizabeth Gregory directs the Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies Program and the University of Houston Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality. She is also an English professor and has written three books, has written multiple scholarly articles has her own blog titled Later Motherhood and the Politics & Economics of Women’s Work.  

Glenda Joe is a Chinese-Irish-Texan business owner, activist, and Asian festival director. Glenda organized her first civil rights rally at age 13 and has since been a prominent voice for the Asian-American community in Houston, serving as a consultant for Asian issues in the Houston Police Department, writing the Asian Merchant's Handbook to reduce interracial conflict in Asian-owned stores, and investigating hate crimes against Asians, to name a few. Her business, Great Wall Enterprises, is dedicated to helping Asian-Americans and she has done advertising and public awareness campaigns raising awareness for immunizations, voting, and the census that targeted towards the Asian community, especially recent immigrants.

Nancy McGregor is former Special Counsel to the Director of Central Intelligence with decades of non-profit, government, and private sector experience. She has a life-long commitment to advocating for the equitable treatment of women in society.  

Jenalia Moreno Co-owner and Producer at The Storyhive. She holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Houston and attended Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She received an SABEW award for a video on Spain’s oil industry and a 2015 Bronze Telly Award.

Chau Nguyen is the Chief Public Strategies Officer of the Houston Area Women’s Center, a licensed masters social worker, and an expert in strategic communications with 15 years of television journalism experience.  

Tanuke Smith is a Customer Service Representative for Samsung with over 19 years of experience providing customer service, training, and management. She is an active volunteer with Texas Organizing Project and Right 2 Justice.  

Angie Wiens-Talbert is the Chief Strategy Officer at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, where she oversees the development, implementation, and execution of PPGC’s strategic vision and initiatives and also leads the Strategic Partnerships division. During her tenure with the organization, she has championed tirelessly for reproductive rights and equitable access to health care in Texas and Louisiana.   

Tammi C. Wallace is Co-Founder and President & CEO of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce with a passion for economic inclusion focused on the LGBTQ+ Business Community. She previously served as Chief Growth Officer at KIPP Houston Public Schools, Chief of Staff to former Texas State Representative Ellen Cohen, and Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Houston Equal Rights Alliance.  

Dr. Codi Wiener is a physician performing obstetrical and gynecological services at Texas Children’s Hospital. She is a medical advisory board member of I’ll Have What She’s Having, an organization raising funds and awareness for women’s healthcare in Houston.  

Christine S. Willie is an attorney at Law Office of Christine M. Sampson, PLLC who will bring energy, ideas, and commitment along with decades of professional and legal experience to serve the women of Houston.  

Alison Young is the Executive Director - Wealth Advisor for J.P. Morgan Securities. She brings significant financial and board experience, and she aims to ensure Houston is welcoming and inclusive to all, regardless of background or income level.