Board of Directors
A native Houstonian, she was greatly influenced by the dichotomy of her parents’ professional lives. Her father spent his career as an educator in the Fourth Ward, and her mother worked in the business office of a local country club. Witnessing the intersection between intergenerational economic status and race, combined with the power of education and community, led Jessica to a career in the non-profit sector.
She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and began her nearly 20-year fundraising career in New York City and then Philadelphia before returning to Houston in 2012. Her experience ranges from small, early stage nonprofits to established organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Away from work, Jessica enjoys the outdoors and relaxing with her husband and two daughters. She is an active volunteer and passionate about investing in the community, especially in the areas of child development, literacy, and education.
Alex was born and raised in Russia and that multicultural experience brought about a unique understanding of empathy, belonging, and personal struggle. A graduate of St. Catherine University who went on to earn her MBA from Western Carolina University, Alex is a project manager enthusiast who tailored her career and education to align with her strong desire to make sense of corporate chaos.
After years of building strong client relationships and effective project teams in the corporate world, Alex switched gears to the world of nonprofits. She developed a compelling drive to help others after her daughter was diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. The ensuing journey gave her a great appreciation for the world of nonprofits and an even greater passion to get involved and make an impact.
Jayne received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis, and spent her early career working in healthcare finance as a strategy and management consultant with Accenture, and more recently in finance administration with NYU Langone Medical Center and Memorial Hermann Hospital. Jayne moved to Houston nearly 8 years ago and has loved exploring all that the city has to offer while spending time with her husband and three young children.
Outside of family and professional commitments, Jayne has served as an active volunteer in each city where she has lived over the last decade, from San Francisco to Boston to New York, and ultimately in Houston. Volunteering and serving on the Board of several local Houston nonprofits (including the Nature Discovery Center, Casa de Esperanza, and The Junior League of Houston, where Jayne most recently served as President) has given her a deeper understanding of the city of Houston and its needs. Jayne is thrilled to be a part of Impact100 Houston, which marries two of her passions: empowering women leaders, and fostering social change for good.
Arati (pronounced Ar-tee) is a business and estate planning attorney. She firmly believes that everyone should have equal access to the protections of the law and is passionate about educating and empowering her clients and community on how the law can protect and benefit them. Arati especially enjoys working with parents to protect their families, entrepreneurs, and women and minority business owners.
When she is not lawyering, Arati cherishes her time with her husband and two daughters. She also devotes her energy towards her family’s personal charity initiative, Akash’s Libraries, which builds libraries and funds literacy initiatives in impoverished communities across South and Southeast Asia, in memory of her infant son. Arati also enjoys off the beaten path and adventure travel – favorites include hiking with mountain gorillas in Uganda and wild orangutans in Indonesia, diving with sharks in Thailand, riding camels overnight through the Sahara Desert, and exploring remote regions of Mozambique for which guidebooks are not available.
Arati is a native Houstonian and loves her hometown. She is excited to play a formative role in Impact100 Houston’s growth.
Veta Byrd-Perez is a Senior Associate General Counsel at Rice University. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Veta received a B.A. in Economics from Spelman College and a J.D. from Yale Law School. She developed a passion for empowering women and girls while volunteering in Quito, Ecuador and meeting an amazing group of Afro-Ecuadorian women who had phenomenal ideas about how to improve their socio-economic status but lacked the resources to do so. Upon return to Houston, Veta became the founder and executive director of When and Where I Enter, Inc., a foundation that awarded more than $80,000 in grants to charitable organizations in Latin America to support Afro-Latina women and girls.
Veta is also active in the Houston community. Among other activities, she is a member of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College – Houston Chapter and a member of the African-American Art Advisory Association of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Veta serves as chair of the Grant Review Committee for Impact100 Houston.
Elizabeth’s career has been focused on partnering with individuals and organizations to facilitate their success and achieve their full potential. With over 25 years of corporate Human Resources leadership experience, Elizabeth prides herself on building collaborative partnerships and quickly establishing trust with her clients. Her commitment to her clients’ success led her to found DLP Coaching – Developing Leadership Potential.
Prior to opening DLP Coaching, Elizabeth worked as Director, Executive Development for Southwestern Energy. In this role, she led activities focused on executive succession and development, executive competencies and assessments and leadership coaching. Elizabeth’s experience also includes time with Shell Upstream Americas, where she was Vice President Human Resources, leading a global team with responsibilities for ~2000 clients in the Exploration, Technical and Health, Safety and Environmental functions. Prior to her energy industry experience, Elizabeth held senior Human Resources positions in various industries, including a global role with Nestlé S.A., based in Switzerland, where she was responsible for expatriate talent management in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and the Middle East.
Elizabeth is passionate about giving back to the community. She is an active alumnae Hermana of Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc./Latinas Promoviendo Communidad Sorority, Inc., the first Latina sorority founded at an Ivy League university. She has partnered with Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE) and facilitated their leadership development programs. Elizabeth has also been an active volunteer for her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop, serving as both leader and cookie manager. In addition, Elizabeth has spoken at various Human Resources conferences, sharing her expertise on high potential development and building resilience in the workplace. And, recently, she was featured on KUHF, Houston’s public radio station, discussing career transitions.
Elizabeth earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. She has participated in various continuing education programs and is certified in numerous leadership inventories including Myers-Briggs, Birkman and DiSC. In addition, she completed the CoachRICE program at Rice University and achieved her Associate Certified Coach in 2020 through the International Coaching Federation. Elizabeth also graduated from Leadership Women – Texas in 2021.
A proud San Antonio native, and Spurs fan, Elizabeth and her family reside in The Woodlands, Texas.
Tanya Easter is a Major Capital Project Supply Chain Manager at Chevron. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Management as well as an M.B.A., both from Texas Southern University. While she is a native of San Diego, California, she and her parents moved to Houston when she was in middle school and considers herself a Houstonian through and through.
For fun, Tanya enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends. She supports a variety of community organizations in Houston, including the Ivy Educational and Charitable Foundation of Houston, the Greater Houston Black Chamber and is a former board member of AVANCE-Houston. She is also a member of the Institute for Supply Management and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Jen Edwards is the Associate General Counsel of Litigation & Legal Technology at Occidental Petroleum Corporation, where she manages a diverse and complex litigation portfolio. In 2009 Jen was the recipient of the Houston Business Journal’s Best Corporate Counsel “Up and Comer” award, and she has been recognized by her peers multiple times in Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” as a top attorney in Texas. She grew up in Orange County, California and went on to earn her B.A. from Ole Miss, where she was captain of the women’s basketball team, and her J.D., cum laude, from Tulane Law School.
Jen has lived and practiced law in Houston for over seventeen years and is proud to call herself a Houstonian. She and her husband have identical twin boys, and they enjoy exploring the many parks and outdoor activities that Houston has to offer. Throughout her legal career, Jen has performed a significant amount of pro bono work, including representing impoverished and intellectually disabled clients in various matters. In 2013, she was a finalist for the Chambers USA Women in Law Public Service and Social Activism award. Outside of her legal practice, Jen is actively involved in several non-profits in the Houston community and previously served on the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board of the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center.
A native Houstonian, Katie Bailey Grahmann holds a BBA in Accounting and an MS in Finance from Texas A&M University and is a licensed CPA in the state of Texas. After investing seven years with PwC’s audit practice, Katie credits public accounting with giving her a passion for using numbers to make a difference and also introducing her to her husband, Scott. Katie currently works full-time for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as their Chief Financial Officer.
For over a decade Katie has volunteered in the community with the Junior League of Houston. Eventually realizing the synthesis between her professional world and volunteer work, Katie stepped into financial roles within the League, serving as Community Treasurer and then Financial Vice President. She also currently contributes as a board member of Arms Wide Adoption Services and works each summer as a Corporate Fellow with University of Houston-Downtown’s Marilyn Davies College of Business.
In her free time, Katie enjoys bike rides with her Dad, pretending she can cook, and practicing to be an old married couple with Scott.
Houston born and raised, Megan is a devoted wife and loving mother to her three daughters. With over a decade of experience in communications, brand management, and public relations, she is a sought-after brand therapist and valued resource for burgeoning businesses and luminary clientele nationwide.
Outside of work, Megan dedicates her time to fundraising and building awareness for non-profit organizations throughout the nation. Locally, she has served in many roles for the Junior League of Houston, including a board position, and currently serves as an Outside Board Representative for Community Family Centers. Megan is highly involved with Theatre Under the Stars, Memorial Park Conservancy, Bo’s Place, and Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation where she serves as a Communications Committee member for the Ladies for Literacy Guild. With a steadfast focus on delivering healthcare, arts, and education services to those in need, Megan shares her passion and willingness to serve others with Impact100 Houston as chair of the Marketing and Communications Committee.
A third generation Houstonian, Christine Laborde started volunteering with her family at six years of age. Christine holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University and a Master of Business Administration from The University of Houston and is continuing education at Cornell University.
After fifteen years in energy and real estate investing, Christine moved to real estate full-time. Within a year she attained top 1% producer across the entire city. Christine was previously Head of Investor Relations and had various roles in strategy at EP Energy and Transcocean. While at EP Energy, she received the Peak Ward for exceptional performance.
Christine serves on the Corporate Guild for Dress for Success. She previously served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Horses as well as the International Association of Drilling Contractors. Christine enjoys playing polo, snow skiing, dancing with her family and live music.
Born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, Kristin has a professional background in public relations and communications, which she began in Washington, D.C. and later transitioned to New York. There, she enjoyed 7 years at The New York Times Company, where she was a member of the communications team that launched the newspaper’s pivotal online pay model.
As a graduate of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond, Kristin fostered her interest in community involvement, which was first inspired by seeing her parents’ dedication to serving their community throughout the years. She hopes to set the same example for her children through her work with organizations in the wider Houston community.
Emily LeVasseur is a veteran Reading Specialist and Dyslexia Therapist with over nineteen years of experience in schools. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Rice University and her Master’s in Education from Stanford University. The first half of her teaching career was spent teaching and leading urban charter schools in New York City, where she served as the Dean of Teaching and Learning for the KIPP network. She then transitioned to Birch Wathen Lenox, an elite private school in Manhattan, where she served as both the Reading Specialist and Director of Teaching and Learning. When her family moved back to Houston in 2019, Emily seized the opportunity to pivot to private reading intervention and dyslexia therapy. She opened her own private practice, LeVasseur Learning Solutions, and now spends her time doing what she loves most: teaching struggling students to read.
Outside of professional commitments, Emily enjoys volunteering in various capacities at her children’s school and at her church. She and her family are thrilled to be in Houston and love to participate in the arts and cultural activities the city has to offer.
Maria Maso is an entrepreneur and investor, and currently serves as the CEO of both Business Angel Minority Association (baMa) and Building Bridges. Her work combines her passion for innovation and solid global expertise to support early-stage start-ups and small and medium businesses to scale up.
Maria’s experience includes more than ten years in corporate IT Strategy, IT Service Management, M&A, and IT International Program management for several Fortune 500 companies, focusing on finance process improvements from an international perspective.
She has lived in five countries (US, UK, NL, SPN & FR) and holds duel citizenship (US & SPN). Maria is a resident at Founder Institute Barcelona and she serves on the Houston Baptist University McNair Advisory Council. In addition to Impact100 Houston, she serves on the board of the Education and Family Foundation – Catalonia.
Maria’s awards in the US include: 1) Solo Mujeres Magazine Mujer Latina 2020: Soporte a la inversion award, 2) Houston Business Journal Women Who Inspire 2020 award, and 3) Houston Exponential Listees DEI Houston Champion 2020.
Simi’s passion to get involved in the non-profit space stems from her immigrant parents’ mantra of giving in any way you can. The combination of a background in finance/accounting and leading successful teams allows her to contribute her skills to make a difference. Simi is honored to collaborate with a diverse group of women leaders in Impact100 Houston to drive transformational change in her hometown community. She also serves on the board of Art Start, a NYC based organization providing educational opportunities in the creative arts for marginalized youth communities.
An ideal weekend for Simi includes exploring Houston’s beautiful parks, practicing yoga, impromptu dance parties with her three kids and husband, and spending time with family & friends.
Ayesha is a native of Galveston, Texas. She is the cofounder of Park Street Homes, a top producing realtor, and lead of The Ayesha Shelton Team. She has been working and serving within the City of Houston since 2001. Raised by Rev. Louis Simpson and Sue Johnson, both nationally recognized for their contributions to the Galveston community and the State of Texas, Ayesha was raised with a heart of service.
From contributions to the early childhood community including educating inner-city youth teachers with Collaborative for Children to co-founding the award-winning homebuilder Park Street Homes in 2016 serving the greater Houston community through housing and service. Ayesha started her career in early childhood education, completing her undergraduate at the University of Houston and continuing to complete her master’s degree at Texas Southern University.
After starting a second career in real estate she co-founded Park Street Homes in 2016. Park Street Homes has been featured in the Houston Chronicle, Fox 26, and was recently recognized for its outstanding projects and community work by winning the Pinnacle award from the Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce. Ayesha is a licensed realtor in the State of Texas and has sold over $10M in real estate since 2019 earning the award for top 20 realtors in Houston from HBREA in 2021.
Ayesha is the mom of 3 beautiful children, a loving wife, and her newest title is puppy mom. When she’s not selling or buildings homes, running behind her toddlers and the new puppy; you can find her nestled up with a good book playing classical music in the background.
Valerie Ly is a Senior Trial Counsel at Germer, PLLC, representing small business owners, corporations, insurance companies and individuals. She was raised in Angleton, Texas, and graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas with a degree in Finance, then went on to receive her law degree from SMU.
Valerie’s parents immigrated to the United States solely for the betterment of their children, wanting them to have freedom to make their own life choices and have a wider range of opportunities. Valerie has been motivated by their sacrifice throughout her upbringing. She has been a member of both the Dallas and Houston Volunteer Lawyer Programs and has been active in the ministries at St. Cecilia Catholic Church. While she is busy juggling a full-time job with three active young boys, Valerie has joined Impact100 Houston to continue to serve her passion to help others. She serves as a member of the Grant Review committee for Impact100 Houston.
Paola Alvarez-Malo, Vice President of Innovation at Texas Children’s Hospital
Karina Amanullah, Impact100 Houston Co-Founder & Head of People & Culture at Tekmetric
Semmes Burns, Managing Director at Megan Hotze Editorial
Valerie Garate Ramirez, Chief Development Officer at Avondale House
Kirsten Wilson, Senior Counsel Global Mergers & Acquisitions at Baker House