Blog Archives

Harriet O’Neill

Justice Harriet O’Neill retired from the Supreme Court of Texas in June of 2010, having served two terms on the Court and nearly eighteen years in the judiciary.  With a special interest in improving the lives of abused and neglected children in foster care, Justice O’Neill spearheaded the Supreme Court’s creation of the Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families, which works to improve judicial handling of child-protection cases through strategic collaboration, technology, training and innovative pilot projects.  As a member of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, Justice O’Neill worked to assure low-income Texans access to our civil courts for basic legal needs like protection from domestic violence, and securing benefits for veterans.  In recognition of her outstanding service, Justice O’Neill has been named to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and received numerous awards, including the Chief Justice Jack Pope Professionalism Award, the Texas Appleseed Good Apple Award, the National Center for State Courts Distinguished Service Award, the American Bar Association Friend of the Family Award, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner’s Award, and was twice named “Appellate Justice of the Year” by the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists.

After leaving the bench, Justice O’Neill founded the Law Office of Harriet O’Neill, PC, in Austin, where her statewide practice concentrates primarily on complex business litigation and appeals.  Justice O’Neill is a frequent author and speaker.  In 2001, she was First-Prize winner in the National Law Day Speech Awards.  She also writes and lectures for continuing legal education programs.  And she continues her interest in child and family welfare by serving as Chair Emeritus of the Children’s Commission.

Harriet enjoys reading, golf and traveling, particularly with her husband, Kerry Cammack, and their three children.

Nelda Luce Blair

A proud 5th-generation Texan, Nelda Luce Blair is a triple Board Certified real estate attorney and founder of The Blair Law Firm.  Nelda just completed three terms as Chairman of the Board of The Woodlands Township during its transitional phase into a unified government, and she continues to Chair the Board of The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau.  Nelda serves as President of the Conroe ISD Education Foundation and on the Chancellor’s Advisory Board for the Lone Star College System.  The South Montgomery County/Woodlands and the Greater Houston Women’s Chambers of Commerce Boards of Directors also include Nelda Blair.  Governor Rick Perry appointed Nelda to the University of Houston System Board of Regents, where she now sits as Chairman.

Alison L. Meador

Alison Meador has spent the last fifteen years in Special Event Planning and Fundraising for both nonprofit entities and political campaigns.  A graduate of the University of Alabama, Alison and her husband, Jeff, have raised their family in Austin, Texas.

Alison is a member of the Helping Hand Society, past member of the Junior League of Austin,  The Elizabeth Ann Seton Board, where she served as Ways and Means Chairman, and the Alzheimer’s Association Board of Directors.   She served as Director of External Relations for the Austin based HeartGift Foundation.   Currently, Alison is employed by House of Friends, an Alzheimer’s respite program, as a Fund Development Specialist.

Louri O’Leary

Louri O’Leary serves in the Elections Division as the Administration Manager for the Secretary of State John Steen and previously served Governor Rick Perry as the Research Manager in the Economic Development & Tourism Division. In 2010 Louri was appointed by Governor Perry to the State Employee Charitable Campaign State Policy Committee.

Previous occupations include Governmental/Political Relations at the Texas Association of REALTORS; Senior Analyst at MGT of America; Executive Director at the Texas Federation of Republican Women; Governor Bush General Counsel Division; and elementary school teacher.

Ms. O’Leary is a member of St. Theresa Catholic Church Pastoral Council. Louri is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington and has her Master’s in Education Administration from Texas State. Louri is married to Jim Harrison who is the Director of the Intergovernmental Relations at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Jennifer Ransom Rice

Jennifer Ransom Rice serves as executive director for the Texas Cultural Trust, after 20 years of marketing and communications experience in public relations and state government.  As chief of staff for state Senator Florence Shapiro, Jennifer was afforded the opportunity to utilize her skills in politics, government, communications and management.  She previously served as Communications Director for the Texas Comptroller; in addition to authoring a weekly column in The Citizen’s Journal, a newspaper in East Texas; working as News Director for a small radio station; and serving as Assistant Director of Public Relations at Wadley Regional Medical Center Foundation in Texarkana.  She has also worked on several local and state political campaigns.

But her love is in the arts, and Jennifer believes in the importance of art in our everyday lives, and the impact it can have on student learning in the classroom.  Through her work in the Texas Senate, she advocated for a stronger emphasis on arts education in public schools.  At the Trust, she continues that mission, promoting arts as an economic driver and increased exposure to the arts in the classroom.  She is actively involved in her community, volunteering with a variety of organizations in Austin, including the Junior League of Austin, Women’s Fund of Central Texas, Dell Children’s Medical Center, Art Alliance Austin, Zach Theatre, Umlauf, Women’s Symphony League, Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, and JDRF Austin.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Midwestern State University, and her master’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas, where she serves on the advisory council for the College of Fine Arts, as well as the 1883 Council and as public affairs chair for the Texas Exes.  She is a graduate of Leadership Austin, Class of 2006, and was in the 2010 class of Power Pipeline, administered by Leadership Texas.  She and her husband, Chuck, have one son, Charles.

Jamy Kazanoff

Jamy Kazanoff was bitten by the airport bug 15 years ago, when she was tapped to lead a communications effort to help gain community buy-in to convert an old air force base into a state-of-the-art commercial airport—the award-winning Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Today, quality customer service, building the best team in the industry, and achieving superior financial results are her anecdotes for soothing grumpy passengers and harried airline executives.  Ms. Kazanoff is Assistant Director for the City of Austin Aviation Department, the municipal government entity that owns and manages the commercial airport. Her work focuses on expanding air service options for customers, improving non-airline revenue sources for the self-sustaining airport, and directing Airport Public Information and Marketing.  Customer Service, Art and Music, Visitor Information, Community Outreach, and Advertising Sales are also in her group.

Jamy serves on the executive team of the 9 million passenger Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and reports to the CEO. Jamy holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Before her employment with the City of Austin, she worked for advertising agencies, Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, and American Heart Association National Headquarters. In all, she brings 25+ years of public and private sector experience to her programs and efforts.

Jamy is on the Airports Council International North America (ACI-NA) International Steering Group. She’s also a member of the Austin Airport Task Force and Austin Business Travel Association. She chaired the 2008 Marketing and Communications Steering Group of ACI-NA, a national trade organization of airport members enplaning virtually all domestic and international airline passenger and air cargo traffic in North America.

Jamy Kazanoff loves to cook, travel and enjoy the great outdoors. She lives and tries to stay cool in Austin, Texas.


Lauren M. Fincher

Lauren M. Fincher is an attorney at the law firm of Locke Lord LLP in Austin, Texas. Locke Lord consists of approximately 650 attorneys who have earned a solid national reputation in complex litigation, regulatory and transactional work. Ms. Fincher practices in business and financial services litigation.  She has experience representing clients in state government litigation and regulatory matters, including deceptive trade practices actions, fair ‎debt collection actions, and food and drug regulatory matters. Ms. Fincher also has experience ‎representing clients in a variety of matters in both state and federal courts, including online copyright infringement, mortgage lending and servicing ‎practices, consumer protection, credit reporting practices, and contract claims.‎

Ms. Fincher is a former Judicial Clerk for The Honorable Nathan L. Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court. She is a member of the Texas Young Lawyers Association and the Young Women’s Alliance and also serves as a guardian ad litem for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).  Ms. Fincher received a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Cecilia Phalen Abbott

Cecilia Abbott has devoted her life to serving others.  She was a teacher, vice-principal and then principal at several schools across Texas.  Most recently she served as the principal of the Cathedral School of St. Mary in Austin from 1996 to 2001.  Governor Perry appointed Cecilia to the State Board of Educator Certification where she served from 2001 to 2008.

Cecilia has also focused on health care for seniors. From 2004 to 2013, she served as the managing director of community relations at Harden Healthcare, a network of senior adult health care facilities and services.

Cecilia is a product of the American Dream.  The granddaughter of immigrants from Mexico, Cecilia was raised in San Antonio by parents who were both educators.  They instilled in Cecilia, her sister and two brothers the power of education. Cecilia took the lesson to heart and went on to study two years at the University of Texas and then earned three degrees from the University of St. Thomas in Houston: a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in Theology.

Cecilia believes strongly in giving back to the community that has given her so much. She serves on the University of St. Thomas Board of Directors, Huston-Tillotson Board of Directors as well as the advisory boards for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Holy Trinity Seminary, and the Austin Diocesan School. She is also a member of the Women’s Symphony League, the National Charity League, and the Dell Children’s Women’s Trust.

Cecilia is a proud wife and mother. She and Greg have been married for 33 years, and they live in Austin with their daughter, Audrey.

Donna Baker

With over 25 year’s expertise in leadership positions  in  advertising, marketing and media  in both New York City and Houston, Donna Baker is currently President of Clear Channel Outdoor Houston division, which operates in a 10 county area and is one of the company’s largest markets.

Ms. Baker has long been recognized as a leading professional in strategic planning, budget preparation, compensation and incentive plan development and has expertise in developing custom cross platform media sales programs.  Prior to returning to Houston, she served as President Eastern Region for Gannett Outdoor for six years and  General Manager of the Clear Channel Outdoor Mall Division in New York City for four years.

Her management and marketing skills have been used in her own firm, The Baker Advantage,   TAA Media;   and Clear Channel’s predecessor, Patrick Media Group.  Prior to joining various media companies Ms. Baker worked in several advertising and sports marketing firms in both Kansas City and Houston.

A native of Missouri, Ms. Baker attended Central Missouri State but moved to Houston in 1975.   She is active in a number of non-profit organizations including: Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as a donor, sponsor and committee member; the President’s Council of the Houston American Advertising Federation; the Houston Mental Health Association; the Advisory Council of Media Alliance and the Advisory Council of The Dream Fund.  She is a current member of the board of the Houston Better Business Bureau.  She is a past president of the Houston Advertising Federation.  She was recognized for achievements by past employers such as Gannett where she developed and launched new media products establishing New York City’s subway system as a viable media product.   She has also been featured in Ad’s Week Magazine’s “Women to Watch” issue.

Melissa Jackson

As Executive Director of Community and Donor Relations, Melissa Jackson leads the Office of Community and Business Relations at The University of Texas System.

A fourth generation Austinite, Melissa has been involved in numerous community organizations and has served on the boards of The Junior League of Austin (President and Sustaining President), The Women’s Symphony League, Helping Hand Home for Children, Paramount Theatre and American Lung Association.  She was appointed to the Governor’s Commission for Women.

Currently, she serves on the Community Advisory Board of Helping Hand Home for Children. She also serves as on the board of the Beacon State Fund, a non-profit organization which supports the Governor’s Commission for Women.

Melissa earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

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