Student Bar Association

2011-2012 Student Assembly | Board Members

Jim Silliman President: Jim Silliman
Jim currently serves as the 2011-2012 President of the Student Bar Association, and previously as Treasurer and 1L Representative.  He also represents the Law Center as Speaker on the 2012 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition Team.  Outside the Law Center, he clerks part-time for the law firm Donato, Minx, Brown & Pool, P.C.  Jim is a native of Houston and graduated with Honors from Southwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and German.  In May 2006 he moved to Washington, DC and served as a Legislative Assistant, for over four years, to a Texas Congressman.  He handled a portfolio including Banking/Financial Services, Tax, Budget, 2nd Amendment Rights, Housing, Labor, Retirement Security/Pensions, Government/Election Reform, Postal, Social Security, Military/Defense, and Veterans Affairs.  During his time on Capitol Hill, Jim led efforts in the drafting and advocacy of Public Law No. 110-363—the Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Act—signed by the President on October 8, 2008 (minting 350,000 one-dollar coins providing seven million dollars to expand Scouting) and H.R. 4586—the TBI Treatment Act—passed unanimously through the United States House of Representatives on May 27, 2010 (authorizing a fifty million dollar treatment reimbursement program making cutting-edge brain injury treatments available to soldiers and veterans).  Jim is an outdoors enthusiast and enjoys cycling, camping and hiking with his wife and golden retriever.
Courtney Walsh Vice President: Courtney Walsh
Courtney currently serves as the 2011-2012 Vice President of the Student Bar Association, and previously as a 1L Representative.  She is also the Treasurer of the Energy and Environment Law Society, as well as a member of the Moot Court team and the Houston Journal of International Law.  Courtney is a native of Arlington, Texas and graduated with honors from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a minor in Classical Studies.  During the summer of 2011, Courtney was an intern at Murr & Yanochik, a Houston-based litigation firm, and a law clerk at Wentz & Zavarelli, a Dallas-based insurance defense litigation firm.  Courtney is a sports enthusiast who loves playing and watching sports in her free time.
Jeff Adams Bookswap Director / 2nd Vice President: Jeffrey Adams
Jeff was the Student Bar Association's Second Vice-President and Bookswap Director for the 2011-2012 academic year. At the same time, he served as President for the campus chapter of the ACLU as well as being involved with IPSO, the International Law Society, and the American Constitution Society. Before coming to law school, Jeff worked for fourteen years as a network engineer and consultant. His focus in law school is information law, intellectual property, commercial and international transactions, technology transfer, and information archiving. In his 1L summer Jeff worked in London as a legal advisor for a major internet services company where he participated in the 2011 European Data Protection Intensive global summit, provided guidance on new EU regulations on privacy, delivered training and guidance on software licensing, and researched other emerging legal topics. He has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Brown University where he graduated with Honors for a senior thesis he wrote on subjective semantics and mereology. Outside of law school, Jeff loves to travel by plane, train, automobile, boat, jet ski, motorcycle, bicycle, snow skis, scuba fins, parachute, or hiking boots.
James Santangelo Secretary: James Santangelo
James serves as the Secretary of the Student Bar Association for the 2011-2012 school year. He is a member of Advocates and has participated in events like the People’s Law School free consumer law clinic and the 2011 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, where he served as a bailiff. In the summer of 2011, James was the recipient of a University of Houston Law Center Public Interest Fellowship and enjoyed a summer clerkship at Lone Star Legal Aid in Houston. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida, where he majored in Political Science and minored in Italian studies. At Florida, James played trumpet in the Pride of the Sunshine Fightin’ Gator Marching Band, and his current interests include music, art, exercise, and cooking.
Nathan Stone Treasurer: Nathan Stone
Nathan is currently the Treasurer for the 2011-2012 UH Student Bar Association, and previously served as a 1L Representative. He is a candidate for the Houston Journal of International Law and is also pursuing his MBA at UH-Bauer College of Business. During his 1L summer, he worked in the Consumer Dispute Resolution Center at UH and served as an intern for Justice Massengale and Justice Brown at the Texas First Court of Appeals. Nathan is originally from Houston and graduated with a degree in Corporate Communications from the University of Texas-Austin. Post-college, he moved to Dallas where we worked for a small investment bank serving as an associate on numerous public and private equity transactions. Nathan enjoys playing intramural basketball and football and spending time with his girlfriend and his family.
Paula Bonavides Internal Affairs Director / 2L Representative: Paula Bonavides
Paula Bonavides currently serves as the 2011-2012 Director of Internal Affairs of the Student Bar Association. Some of her responsibilities include advertising for SBA, managing the lockers for the student body, and corresponding with many organizations and corporations regarding co-sponsoring events with SBA.  She also works as a part-time editor for a Latin American academic journal of constitutional law, which aggregates articles with constitutional themes from various European and Latin American countries. During her first year at UHLC, Paula served as a 1L SBA Representative and tutored students on the LSAT at a test preparation company. Having grown up all over the world, Paula is fluent in three languages and deeply interested in international law and cultures.  She enjoys spending time with friends and family as well as staying active outdoors.
Samantha Soliz ABA Representative: Samantha Soliz
Samantha serves as the 2011-2012 ABA Representative for the Student Bar Association. She also serves as the Executive for Special Events for the Advocates and represents the Law Center as a member of the Mock Trial Team.  Additionally, she clerks for a local non-profit dedicated to preserving Galveston Bay. Samantha is from Humble and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. Prior to entering law school, Samantha served as a Staff Assistant in the South East Texas Regional Office of United States Senator John Cornyn. During her free time, Samantha enjoys running and watching college football.
Catherine Zarate Large Events Director: Catherine Zarate
Catherine currently serves as the 2011-2012 Large Events Director of the Student Bar Association and previously as Director of Internal Affairs and 1L Representative. She also serves on the Houston Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors as the Law Student Director and as the University of Houston Law Center Head Representative of Barbri. Additionally, she clerks part-time for a midsize Houston Business Immigration law firm. She previously has clerked for Disability Rights Texas and the Texas Attorney General's Office in the Child Support Division. Catherine is originally from a western suburb of Chicago, Illinois and moved to Houston during her early middle school years.  She graduated with Honors from the University of Houston with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology in December 2003. She went on to earn a Masters Degree in Education with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston in May 2005. Catherine worked as an Elementary school teacher for a total of 4 years before entering law school in the Fall of 2009. Catherine enjoys cooking and volunteering with the community.
Courteney Taylor Small Events Director / Social Director: Courteney Taylor
Courteney Taylor currently serves as the 2010-2011 SBA social director. She is a member of the Houston Journal of International Law. She is the Vice President of Lawhorns and a UHLC Honor Court Representative. Furthermore, she represents the law school as a UHLC Student Ambassador and as a UHLC 1L Peer Mentor. In addition to those activities, during the 2010 summer Courteney held a clerk position at Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts in Houston, Texas and also worked at Azman Davidson, a midsize law firm, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Courteney graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with dual degrees in public relations and print journalism and went straight into law school after graduation. She had the opportunity to develop marketing, advertising and PR plans for USAA Bank and Do512 while at UT and some of Courteney's published works, including an article regarding Austin's ban on texting and driving, are available both online and through UT Austin. Being a Longhorn, Courteney thoroughly enjoys watching UT football and spending time in the Texas Hill Country. She also speaks Spanish and spends time traveling throughout Southeast Asia with her family.
Russ Gifford Texas Bar Liaison / External Affairs Director: Russ Gifford
Russ currently serves as the 2011-2012 Texas Bar Association Liaison. Russ also represents the Law Center as President of the Military Law Society as well as setting aside time to act as a student mentor. Russ was born in southern California, where he lived most of his youth before moving to San Antonio, Tx to attend high school. After high school graduation, in September 2001, Russ left Texas to serve in the United States Navy as an Engineering Aide. The majority of his time in the service, he was stationed with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion THREE aboard Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, Ca. Following his tour aboard NMCB THREE, Russ then accepted a position with Amphibious Construction Battalion ONE in Coronado, Ca. His duties took him around the world multiple times, including combat tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and eastern Africa. Following his time in the military, Russ spent a year employed by a government contractor installing and repairing security and medical diagnostic equipment. This job took Russ to such exotic locales as Managua, Nicaragua and Portland, Oregon. After deciding to go back to school, Russ returned to San Antonio to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio where he received his Bachelors of Arts in Political Science in three years. While at UTSA, Russ met and began dating his fiancé, who is an Air Force officer currently stationed in San Antonio. Russ enjoys surfing, rock climbing and singing in the car when no one is around. He shares a loving home with his dog, Atticus, who is pretty awesome too.
Brian Albert Intramurals Director: Brian Albert
Brian currently serves as the 2011-2012 Intramurals Director of the Student Bar Association.  He also serves as Treasurer for the Asian Law Students Association, Associate for the Board of Advocates, and is a Member of the Houston Business and Tax Law Journal.  Brian grew up in Southern New Jersey and graduated from American University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance.  Following an early graduation from college, Brian remained in Washington, D.C. and served as a Research Intern for the National Association of Counties.  During this time, Brian collaborated with county government officials across the country and authored multiple publications that circulated throughout Capitol Hill.  Brian is an American Whiskey enthusiast and enjoys fishing, music composition, and cooking.

2011-2012 Student Assembly | Representatives

Tamecia Harris 3L Representative: Tamecia Harris
Tamecia Glover Harris is a third year law student at the University of Houston Law Center and serves as a 3L Representative and immediate Past President of the Student Bar Association.  Tamecia is currently the President of the Black Law Students Association, 3L Representative of Corporate and Taxation Law Society, a UHLC Student Ambassador, and a KaplanPMBR Student Representative.  She gained legal experience by interning at the Harris County Attorney Office’s Compliance Division and in the 165th Harris County Civil District Court. Outside of the law center, Tamecia serves on the University of Houston System Board of Regents and represents the perspective of over 63,000 students system wide. For fiscal year 2011-2012, Tamecia will serve as a member of the Academic and Student Success Committee and the Audit and Compliance Committee. Prior to law school Tamecia attended undergraduate school at University of Houston where she studied Accounting and Political Science.  She worked as a Licensed Investment Representative at Banc One Securities and most recently as a Staff Accountant for Hines Real Estate Investment Trust. Tamecia plans to receive her Juris Doctorate from University of Houston Law Center and a Master of Business Administration from University of Houston Bauer College of Business in May of 2012.  The native Houstonian plans to pursue a career in Corporate, Tax or Securities Law.
Andie Zepeda 3L Representative: Andie Zepeda
Andie Zepeda is from Austin, Texas, and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. After working in the chemical industry for several years, she entered the University of Houston Law Center in the Fall of 2009. During her tenure at UH, she has served SBA all three years as the 1L representative, ABA Representative, and 3L Representative. Andie is also a member of the Moot Court Team and competed in the Spring of 2011 in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition Team as a speaker. Andie served as the event coordinator for the Hispanic Law Students Association (HLSA) and as the fund-raising chair the Advocates during the 2010-11 academic year. Additionally, Ms. Zepeda works a law clerk at a small plaintiff's firm and has worked on a variety of cases including products liability, FLSA/WARN Act, class actions, and multi-district litigation cases. When she is not working or preparing for school, Andie enjoys swimming, traveling, reading, and watching movies.
Matthew Michels 3L Representative: Matthew Michels
"Matthew is currently a 3L Representative for the Student Bar Association, previously serving as Secretary during his 2L year.  He also participates in volunteer mediations through the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center.  Having lived in Austin most of his life, he attended the University of Texas, where he graduated with a Bachelor of the Arts in Government.  Since relocating to Houston in 2009, he has worked closely with the University of Houston legal clinics, where he has litigated various family law and small claims cases for indigent clients.  Matthew is an avid food, travel, and music enthusiast and plays the piano, as well as the bass and guitar, of which he owns several."
Kelsi Wade 2L Representative: Kelsi Wade
Kelsi currently serves as 2L Representative for Student Bar Association, and previously as a 1L Representative. Additionally, she is also a member of the Houston Journal on Health Law and Policy. Kelsi is a native of Dallas and graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Last summer, Kelsi worked as a judicial intern in Dallas where she conducted legal research on various areas of the law. During her time at Baylor University, Kelsi was selected as Baylor’s Bob Bullock Scholar to serve as a Texas Legislative Intern in Austin, Texas. In January 2009, she moved to Austin where she interned for the Senate Education Committee during the 81st regular session. There, Kelsi served as an assistant policy analyst for the senate committee where she researched and analyzed laws relating to public and higher education. Kelsi is alum of Alpha Chi Omega and enjoys distance running and watching college sports, especially her alma mater, the Baylor Bears.
Mary London Lehman 2L Representative: Mary London Lehman
Mary London currently serves as a 2L Representative for the Student Bar Association.  Additionally, Mary London is a candidate for the Houston Journal of International Law, will be representing the Law Center for the John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition, and is a member of the Advocates Board.  Originally from Alabama, Mary London graduated magna cum laude and with honors in history from The University of the South in 2008.  Mary London enjoys spending her free time assisting an award-winning photographer, speckled trout fishing, traveling, and cooking.
Lindsey Blankenau 2L Representative: Lindsey Blankenau
Lindsey currently serves as a 2L representative for the Student Bar Association, and previously as a 1L representative. Lindsey is the Vice President and a founding member of the Law Students Assistance Program, a member of the Houston Law Review and the tutor for Professor David Dow's Contracts class.  During the summer after her 1L year, Lindsey clerked at Baker Botts Houston, in the Corporate and Global Projects sections.  Lindsey is originally from Hallsville, Texas, though she spent three and a half years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she graduated with High Honors and a BA in History and International Studies, with minors in Russian and Communication Studies. When she is not at UHLC, Lindsey collects regional cookbooks and enjoys traveling with her husband and family, most recently to Indonesia to visit relatives.
Karol Furmaga 2L Representative: Karol Furmaga
Karol currently serves as the 2011-2012 2L Class Representative of the Student Bar Association.  He also holds the position of Vice President for the Federalist Society, in which he previously acted as a class representative.  He is an active member of the Law Center’s Moot Court team, to which he was admitted as both a speaker and writer, and contributes to the Houston Business and Tax Law Journal.  Karol graduated from Williams College in 2009, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Legal Studies.  He was an active member of the varsity tennis team and became a USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) certified professional shortly after graduation.  Last summer (2011), he interned for the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Southern District of Texas and for Judge David Mendoza at the 178th Criminal Court.  Karol is a sports enthusiast and enjoys travelling, particularly to his native country of Poland, where he resided for seven years.        
Sofia Morales 2L Representative: Sofia Morales
Sofia graduated magna cum laude from the University of Houston with a B.A. in Economics and Political Science. She currently serves as a class representative of the Student Bar Association and is also a member of the Houston Business and Tax Law Journal. Last year, Sofia received an AmJur Award Certificate in Legal Research and Writing for the Spring 2011 semester. In her free time, she enjoys running outdoors and spending time at the park with her two dogs.
Rissel Durand Evening Representative: Rissel Durand
Rissel is currently a 2L part-time student and an active member of the University of Houston Law Center community. She serves as a Student Bar Association (SBA) representative for part-time students for the 2011-2012 term and is an SBA mentor for 1L students. Rissel is also a contributing candidate to the Houston Journal of International Law.  Professionally, Rissel is completing her seventh year as an Immigration Officer for the Citizenship and Immigration Services Agency under the Department of Homeland Security. She has adjudicated citizenship and residency cases and also oversees a residency renewal program. Rissel was raised in Houston and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and minor in Spanish from Pomona College in California. In her spare time, Rissel enjoys volunteering as a mentor at her high school alma matter, The Chinquapin School.  She is also an avid traveler and movie buff.
Morgan Bellmor 1L Representative (Section A): Morgan Bellmor
Morgan is currently a 1L Representative for Section A for the 2011-2012 term. Morgan graduated from Texas A&M University in 2011 with a B.A. in Political Science, as well a certificate in Leadership Studies and a certificate in Law and Policy. While attending Texas A&M, Morgan was a member of the Corps of Cadets and Sigma Nu Fraternity. Morgan commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps upon graduation from Texas A&M, and is currently inactive ready reserve until graduation from UHLC. Morgan completed USMC Officer Candidates School Platoon Leaders Course Juniors and Seniors. Morgan enjoys running, the outdoors, and of course, Aggie football.
Katy Gray 1L Representative (Section A): Katy Gray
Kathryn is currently pursuing a JD/MBA dual-degree program at the University of Houston. Her law school activities include participation as: the section A 1L representative for SBA, a team member on the University of Houston Law Center’s Mock Trial team, and a participant in Christian Legal Society.  Kathryn graduated from The Red McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin in 2011 with a B.B.A. in Management. She currently works for Pearland Independent School District part-time as a special projects coordinator concerning Federal Grants and funding programs. Kathryn is a native Houstonian who enjoys playing volleyball and volunteering at her local church.
Justin Ratley 1L Representative (Section A): Justin Ratley
Justin currently serves as a 2011-2012 Student Bar Association 1L Representative, Federalist’s Society 1L Representative, and PILO 1L Representative.  Justin graduated Suma Cum Laude from his undergrad with double majors in Criminal Justice and Security Administration.  Professionally, he has more than 11 years’ experience in Federal Law Enforcement investigations, and military intelligence.  Immediately before moving to Houston for Law School he worked concurrently for the DOD protective service detail, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.  Justin enjoys coaching his children’s youth sports and chipping away at his honey-do list.
Timothy Dyer 1L Representative (Section B): Timothy Dyer
Tim currently serves as a 1L Representative for the Student Bar Association and 1L Representative for the Health Law Organization.  He is new to Houston and enjoys being eaten alive by mosquitoes.   He has worked as a Legal Assistant at a small law firm in Oregon and more recently worked as an analyst for a small medical cost containment firm.  He has worked on complex commercial litigation cases with 30 to 250 million dollars in dispute, medical billing fraud detection, and automating workers compensation pricing methodologies.  He enjoys cooking simple meals and playing softball.
Megan Daic 1L Representative (Section B): Megan Daic
Megan is a 2014 J.D. candidate who currently serves as a 1L Representative for the Student Bar Association at The University of Houston Law Center. She is also a member of the Blakely Advocacy Institute’s Mock Trial team. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007. Since then, she has interned for a Texas Congressman in Washington, DC, worked as a Junior Research Analyst for a political polling firm in Virginia, as well as held multiple positions in various non-profit organizations in the Houston area. She started a half-marathon training program for the Houston Gulf Coast Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America in 2010, and has helped the organization raise over $110,000 over the last year and a half. Megan is an avid dog-lover and philanthropist, and she can frequently be found cooking, writing or reading in her “spare” time.
Evan Blankenau 1L Representative (Section C): Evan Blankenau
Evan is a 1L representative for the Student Bar Association.  Before coming to law school, he worked as a Teller at Wells Fargo.  Evan is originally from Nebraska, and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he triple majored in History, International Studies and Russian.  During college, Evan spent a summer studying abroad in Russia, learning about culture and economics.  Evan enjoys kayaking and reading historical fiction novels.
Temi Siyanbade 1L Representative (Section C): Temi Siyanbade
Temi currently serves as a 2011-2012 1L Section C representative for the University of Houston Law Center. Prior to attending the Law Center, she served the Alief Independent School District as a Teach For America Corp Member teaching 8th grade writing. Temi graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in English. In 2010, she served as the Scholarship Chair for AfriPro Houston. Temi spends her free time writing and participating in musical performances with gospel choirs.
Adam Weaver 1L Representative (Section C): Adam Weaver
Adam currently serves as a 1L Representative for Section C. Originally from San Antonio, he attended Rutgers University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Sociology and Political Science.  While at Rutgers he competed and served as President of The Rutgers University Mock Trial Association. He earned awards for oral advocacy in both regional and national competitions in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. While in New Brunswick, he worked as a clerk at a boutique law firm that worked in the personal injury arena. Adam is happy to finally be back in the Lone Star State.
Jason Beesinger 1L Representative (Section E): Jason Beesinger
Jason Beesinger is an evening student at the University of Houston Law Center and represents the part-time section to the Student Bar Association.  Before coming to law school, Jason spent over 7 years with the Texas Transportation Institute, receiving his BA in Communications from Texas A&M in 2007.  His areas of research include transportation safety, transportation planning, and environmental impacts analysis.  Mr. Beesinger co-founded Thinkwidgets, LLC in 2006 as a creative outlet for his entrepreneurial ambitions.  He sold his stake in the company in July 2011 to focus on school.   In his free time, Jason likes cooking and traveling with his wife.
Cameron Dernick 1L Representative (Section E): Cameron Dernick
Cameron currently serves as the 2011-2012 1L Representative of the Student Bar Association. Cameron is a native of Tomball, Texas. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts in Government, and a minor in Economics.  In college, he was invited to join Pi Sigma Alpha (the National Political Science Honor Society), interned for U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, and worked at a downtown Austin law firm.  After graduation, Cameron left his legislative internship to serve as Executive Assistant to the managing partner at the firm. Cameron is also an Eagle Scout, cooking enthusiast, and college sports fanatic.