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.
A Certified Leadership and Executive Coach with 12+ years’ experience in Talent Development, it is her passion to help spark personal and professional growth in her clients. Karina is energized by strong women who share a similar vision of making this world a better place for future generations.
She is a Dallas native who earned a B.A. from Southern Methodist University and an M.A. from St. Mary’s University. Outside of work, Karina enjoys family time with her husband and three young kids. She is also the Board Chair for Plant It Forward Farms, which is a local non-profit that empowers refugees to develop sustainable farming businesses that produce fresh food for the Houston community.
A native of Mexico City, Paola Álvarez-Malo is Vice President of Innovation at Texas Children’s Hospital focused on entrepreneurship, analytics and strategic projects. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a master’s degree in science from Boston University. Paola began her career in the energy industry and later moved into healthcare, where she has found her passion in pediatric healthcare.
Outside of work, Paola enjoys traveling with her husband and two daughters. She is committed to demonstrating to her daughters the importance of community involvement. She is currently on the PTO executive board of her daughters’ school and volunteers with numerous organizations.
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 Senior Director of Accounting and Controller.
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.
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.
A native Houstonian who spent some of her formative years living overseas, Semmes Burns brings a varied educational background to Impact100. She received her nursing degree at the University of Texas in Austin and then went on to attend law school there. Semmes spent her early professional years as a Pediatric ICU nurse in Houston before opting to stay home with her two children during their younger years. She is now a public relations and marketing professional and maintains her involvement with the healthcare community through ongoing volunteer work.
Outside of spending time with her husband and two children – usually exploring new restaurants and plotting their next travel adventure – Semmes has enjoyed volunteering with Houston non-profits serving a variety of needs. From chairing underwriting for a recent Junior League of Houston Charity Ball, sorting food at the Houston Food Bank, and providing vaccines via the Harris County Medical Reserve Corps to organizing events for her children’s school and sports leagues, Semmes places great value in giving back. She is thrilled to serve on the Impact100 board to encourage women to be advocates for change.
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.
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.
Valerie Garate Ramirez is a Senior Nonprofit Consultant for Treviño Consulting Group. She began her career as an Events and Fundraising Coordinator at a cancer center in the Rio Grande Valley. In 2015, she moved to Houston and served as the Director of Communications and External Operations for Kids’ Meals, Inc. before becoming the Director of Development for CanCare. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of Texas-Pan American, a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Texas A&M University, and a Masters in Nonprofit Management from the University of Houston-Downtown.
Outside of work, Valerie enjoys volunteering with local nonprofit organizations and serves on the Board of Directors for Latin Women’s Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to making a difference in the lives of Latin women and children. She is a member of the Junior League of Houston and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
She enjoys cooking, writing, and spending time with her husband and Boston Terrier.
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.
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.
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. Kristin serves as chair of the Membership Committee for Impact100 Houston.
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.
Kirsten Wilson is Senior Counsel, Global Mergers and Acquisitions, for Baker Hughes, where she manages complex international transactions. In 2013, Kirsten received the Houston Business Journal’s Best Corporate Counsel “Up and Comer” Award. She also served on the State Bar of Texas Grievance Committee for six years, including two years as District Chair for Harris County, and on the Houston Young Lawyers’ Association Board of Directors. A native of San Francisco, California, Kirsten obtained her B.A. from Stanford University, and her J.D., cum laude, from Tulane University. Like the saying goes, she got to Texas as quickly as she could and has proudly made Houston her home for the last 18 years.
Outside of work, Kirsten stays busy with her two children’s school and sports activities and enjoys opportunities to serve the Houston community. She has been a Young Leader for both Planned Parenthood and the Houston Area Women’s Shelter and is thrilled to continue sharing her passion for empowering women through Impact100 Houston.