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May, 2018




Remarks and the Year in Review Lisa Sharp, Spring President’s Luncheon Rita Mae Brown once said. “People are like tea bags you don’t know how strong they are until they get in hot water. In times of trouble you not only discover what you truly believe but whether or not you can act on your beliefs.” I had so many plans in April and then by September everything changed. We were all in hot water or just plain water because of Hurricane Harvey. The HBAA suffered along with everybody else, not only by a loss of members but resources as well, which were diverted to other areas where justifiably, there was a greater need. I needed to change my plans and the number one goal for me was to be kind. We are in the membership business but the members are people and we need to turn their attention elsewhere. My second goal was to remain solvent. If I followed through with my plans, I would have spent so much money the organization may have a hard time digging itself out. Keeping those two goals in mind, I figured out what didn’t cost me anything was to be present and making sure our members felt appreciated. The board and I reached out to everyone directly affected by the flood with a note and gift card. At every board meeting, attendees signed notes to members suffering from hardships and loss. I never missed an HBA or TLA meeting, I went to every party, event, and conference that didn’t conflict with my kids schedule in order to meet lawyers and their spouses. I let them know we are still here. I asked questions and I asked for help. We were lucky this year in having Travis Sales who approved our $1500 request to fund a new mold of the family statute for the Jaworski award and when I mentioned the printer of the Now You Are 18 pamphlets closed their business, Alistair Dawson said, “We will print them!” I got ideas on how to reach out to larger firms not based in Houston and how to get them involved. I didn’t always call the right plays but I called the plays I thought would help us win because I wanted to do right by this organization and the people in this room. My heart was always in it and the hearts of the members of the board, committees and volunteers were in it too. We did some things really well this year. We made more money this year at the Chili Cookoff than any other year previously. Our nominee for Volunteer of the Year was the best in the country, but you could just as easily say she was the best, full stop. Thanks to Marsha and Yvonne, we have more people here today than we had last year, these are things to be proud of and this is what I hope you will take from this year as a starting point and something to build on for next year. I would like to thank all of you who served with me this year and those who offered words of encouragement and support. I would also like to thank you for the extreme honor and privilege for allowing me to serve as your President. I am optimistic about our new board. They are ready to go and they have so many great ideas and energy it will be a pleasure for me to sit on the side and watch them work.

Introduction of the 2018-2019 HBAA President By: Lisa Sharp, Spring President’s Luncheon This is the year of the Griffins. Your new president is a native of Waco so he learned to shiplap in the womb. Professionally he has served as Director of Marketing and Business Development for various law firms for over 10 years. In addition to several positions in the HBAA and Charitable Fund he has served on the board of The Legal Marketing Association and recognized as a Rising Star by the League of Women Voters and Houston Business Journal 40 under 40. I can’t think of anyone more qualified or able than the person I am handing this gavel to now. Gregory H. Griffin.

A Word from Your President First I want to say thank you to Lisa Sharp. A wise man recently said, “You prepare for the presidency that you expect to have, and you adjust to the presidency you are handed.” Lisa, your dedication and commit to this organization through one of the most interesting years in Houston shows the strength of you as a person and your commitment to this organization. I believe I speak for everyone when I say, Thank you. To my board, thank you. By you saying “yes” to serving, you acknowledge and support me as your president and for the future of this organization. I look forward to working with you, listening to your thoughts and ideas, and carrying this organization into a new year. Thank you to everyone that has served in any position of this organization throughout the years. This organization is what it is today and what it will be in the future because of you. It may not have been in the vision of the founders to see someone like me standing before the organization accepting the position as president. I sometimes get asked why I am so involved in this organization. The answer is clear to me. Years ago, when I worked for Dominique Varner, I received a call from her asking if I would sit in on meeting to assist in a new event. The Chili and Pie Cook off. I was frantic because I was on my way to the office wearing boots, jeans, and an oversized Baylor fishing shirt. On that Friday, I started to work with a group of women that made my decision clear and throughout the years, my interactions with them and members have grown. I have seen that this organization isn’t just a group of women interested in bettering the legal community, but a group of women that you can quickly call your friends. My vision for the next year is simple. I want to grow the organization, revitalize programs that we have had in the past, like Jaworski, increase the interactions between other organizations in the Houston legal community and I want to introduce new programs that increase the awareness and efforts of the organization. Doing more charitable events are at the core of who I am. Some of you may not know, but I was born with a rare muscle disorder and if it weren’t for the Shriners at the hospital here in Houston, I would not be standing here today. I am honored to accept the position of President that you have bestowed upon me. I look forward working with each of you throughout this year and I hope to never let you down. I welcome any thoughts, ideas and guidance from you. You are the roots of this organization and because of you, we will continue to bloom. Thank you Greg

2018– 2019 Houston Bar Association Auxiliary Executive Board Officers


President: Greg Griffin

Sue Bennett

President-Elect: Keisha Phillips

Nicola Brown

Past President: Lisa Sharp

Kathy Redden

Vice President: Shameeza Alli

Ansley Buttram

Secretary: Kelly Greenwood

Michelle Glickman

Treasurer: Cathy Sharp

Betty Griffin

Membership Chairman: Gigi Zientek

Sarah Lane

Parliamentarian: Lindsey Moorhead

Alisa Porter

2018-2019 HBAA CHARITABLE FUND BOARD President: Dominique Varner Past President: Hazel Donato Secretary: Diane Lee Vice President: Anne Boss Treasurer: Phyllis Dent 2018 – 2021 DIRECTORS

2017 – 2020 DIRECTORS

2016 – 2019 DIRECTORS

Lisa Ganucheau

Wendy Dawson

Phyllis Dent

Marsha Orloff

Diane Lee

Hazel Donato

Susan Osterberg

Dominique Varner

Anne Boss

2018 President’s Luncheon

Monday, April 9, 2018 More pictures on HBAA Facebook page

A THANK YOU LOVE LETTER FROM BETTY GRIFFIN As most of you know, I am rarely at a loss for words. But the phone calls from Phyllis and Lisa, left me totally speechless! I was overwhelmed by their announcement regarding the prestigious HBAA Volunteer of the Year Award! My first reaction was total shock followed by an emotional burst of tears! What? No! “I do NOT deserve this distinction particularly in view of the fact that I have been less involved this year than any of my previous 25 year membership.” My commitment the past year has necessarily been to family and, particularly to my 101 year old mother-in-law who resides in another city. In reading many of the lovely remembrances of former first lady, Barbara Bush, I learned we shared a common moment. At some point she pondered what her purpose was in life. Our common conclusion -VOLUNTEERING! Whether for a community project, an educational project, a Church project, or an organization, helping where needed and for worthy causes has been my goal. Blessed with time, desire, and willingness to serve, I jumped in when and where I could contribute. Service has long been a driving force for me and has brought much more to me than I have given. The gift of your friendship has inspired me as we have bonded as if family- our HBAA family! Perhaps these words best express the challenge I have given myself: “Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Has anyone’s burden been lighter today, because I was willing to serve? Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty and love.” Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this memorable Honor. I will treasure this award just as I treasure our friendships – ALWAYS! BETTY

2018 HBAA Charitable Fund Scholarship Recipients Calvin McKnight – University of Houston Law Center Calvin McKnight is a J.D. candidate at the University of Houston Law Center, where he is in the top 25% of his class. He is the Business Editor of the Houston Journal of International Law, received the Lex Award in Torts, and is active in several student organizations. Calvin is a native of Louisiana where he attended Louisiana State University and received his B.S. in Engineering. Prior to attending the Law Center, Calvin had a career as both an Engineer and a Project Manager in the energy industry, the area in which he hopes to practice law once he completes his J.D. Calvin mentors 8th grade students at Lawson Academy and 6th graders at Marshall Middle School. He also served as a committee member of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Greater Houston Storm Relief Fund Oversight Committee. Calvin credits much of his success in Law school to the support of his wife, Sabrina, and his two children, Julianna and Parker. Heather Penning – South Texas College of Law Heather Penning is a second-year law student at South Texas College of Law – Houston. She is in the top 10% of her class, was an assistant note and comments editor on Law Review in Fall 2017, is currently an assistant editor, and was newly selected to serve on the board as Research Editor. Heather was recently awarded the “Dean Elizabeth Dennis award for Distinguished Service.” She is also a rep for LexisNexis and a Langdell Scholar, teaching supplemental classes to 1L students in Property and Constitutional Law. She is also an officer in the Christian Legal Society, the Family Law Society, and a member of several other student organizations. Before coming to law school, Heather was a teacher, teaching the extreme ends of the spectrum- starting in kindergarten and later finding her niche at the college level, teaching at Lonestar College for 8 years. Her husband, parents, and brothers are all teachers, so she is the first person in her family to stray into the field of law. She tells us she has really loved all aspects of law school- the professors, the classes, the reading, and oddly enough, the homework. (She thinks she may be the only person in history who has ever enjoyed law school!) However, while she has enjoyed the role of law student, her favorite role is that of MOM! She is mom to 4 world leaders, so when she is not in class, she is a chauffeur, cook, soccer mom and referee to fighting kids.

Miguel Sarkis – Thurgood Marshall School of Law Miguel Angel Sarkis is a second-year law student at Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Miguel grew up in Brownsville, Texas, and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. Post-graduation, Miguel worked in both chambers of the Texas Legislature. Under Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., Miguel worked on legislation restricting the proliferation of colonias, residential areas lacking basic living necessities along the Texas-Mexico border. Specifically, Miguel worked alongside the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs to appropriate resources providing safe and affordable housing to the underprivileged families formerly living in colonias. As Representative Eddie Lucio, III’s district director, Miguel worked to re-appropriate funds from the Texas General Land Office Disaster Recovery Fund to families in South Texas still suffering from damages caused by Hurricanes Dolly and Ike. Currently, Miguel is ranked in the top 10% of his class and serves as the Criminal Law tutor for the 1L class. Recently, Miguel was elected as the Hispanic Law Students Association president for the 2018-2019 academic year. Miguel was the 2018 Houston Bar Association – Appellate Section – writing contest winner. He has volunteered with Help the Homeless, the Houston Food Bank, and the Hurricane Harvey Relief effort at NRG stadium. Miguel’s goal is to clerk for a federal district court judge to continue serving his community.

For an Update on Past Recipients or to Apply Please visit

2017 HBAA CF Scholarship Recipient’s Story Has Gone Viral Across the Nation Single Mom Of Five Goes Viral With Inspiring Law School Graduation Photo April 11, 2018 Ieshia Champs has wanted to be a lawyer since she was 7 years old. In her teenage years, however, the odds began stacking up against her and it appeared that her dream might be permanently out of reach. "I really didn't have any stable guidance at that time. My mom was addicted to drugs. My dad was deceased. And I was homeless," Champs told CBS News. "I lived with friends or whoever would take me in. Then I got pregnant with the first of my five children, and things just went from there." Ieshia dropped out of high school and got a job at a call center to support her growing family. Then, in 2009, when Ieshia was pregnant with her fourth child, she suffered a crushing barrage of losses. She lost her home to a fire. She lost her job. She lost her children's father to cancer. And then, she says, she lost her sanity. In the depths of despair, Iesha tells CBS News she tried to commit suicide. Shortly afterward, she received a fateful phone call from her pastor.

Ieshia Champs with her five children. "Of course there's no me without them!!!" she wrote in a post on Facebook.

"Pastor Louise Holman called me one day and said that God told her to tell me to go back to school and get my GED, because that lawyer I wanted to be, I'll be it!" Champs recalled. "I thought it was a little crazy because I was too old and I had three children with my fourth child on the way."

But if God had willed it, this woman of faith figured she should probably listen. Ieshia dutifully enrolled back in school and got her GED. Then she went on to Houston Community College, and to the University of Houston-Downtown after that. Now she's set to graduate from Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law in May. And to the joy of people across the social media world, she commissioned a set of photos to commemorate the occasion.

The now viral photo of Ieshia Champs and her children.

"I took the pictures with my kids because they helped me through school. They're graduating too!" Champs joked proudly. "They would help me review with flash cards while I cooked. They would sit as a mock jury while I taught them what I learned that day. I would sit in my closet and pray and cry because I was overwhelmed and my oldest son, David, would gather his siblings, give them a snack, make them take a bath, gather their school clothes, all to make things easier for me. And I had no knowledge of him doing that until I went to do it!"

In one of those photos, which has now gone viral, Ieshia stands with one heel on a pile of books in front of her five kids. In her hands, she holds a chalkboard with the words, "I did it!" written on it. Her children stand behind her holding chalkboard messages of their own: "We did it!" "I helped too!" "Me too!"

"When I look at the pictures, I cry, I smile, and I'm very grateful," Champs told CBS News. "I see a woman who at one time knew that the odds were against her. Looking at that picture reminds me of the fact that I didn't just defy the odds, me and my children destroyed them." "As a mother and a woman who's interested in law school - id love to ask her of her best advice in deciding to pursue & thrive in law school," one Instagram user wrote, adding, "Congraaaaaaaats! #goals" The photo rapidly garnered tens of thousands of likes on social media, with comments rolling in from all corners of the country.

Internet slang aside, this is indeed a story about goals -goals set, goals that for a time appeared to be dashed, and goals finally accomplished with the help of faith, resilience and the power of the human spirit.

4th Annual Chili and Pie Cook Off Results Amount Raised: $22,600.00 Benefiting the HBAA Charitable Fund providing scholarships to 2L law students at each local law school; University of Houston, South Texas College of Law, and Thurgood Marshall School of Law. 2018 Scholarship recipients will be announced on Monday, April 9th Hosted in partnership with Houston Young Lawyers Association and the Houston Bar Association Chili Results: 1st Place

2nd Place

3rd Place

Lane Law Firm

Hughes Watters Askanase

Yetter Coleman

“Come and Take It” Hickory Smoked Brisket Chili

“Houston Wild Ass Chili Team” El Dorado Texas Red Chili

“To Bean or Not to Bean” Black-Bean and Bacon Chili

1st Place

2nd Place

3rd Place

Caramel Chocolate Pecan

Lemon Meringue


Hazel Donato

Tasha Snipes

Scott Dollinger

People’s Choice Donors Harris County Democratic Party Judicial Coordinated Campaign A Traditional Texas Red Chili

Pie Results:

Best Booth: Fireman Theme ExxonMobil

Judges: Pie Contest Judges 1. Judge Michael Landrum, 113th 2. Sharron Sanborn – Food Blogger Chili Judges 1. Judge Debra Ibarra Mayfield, 190th 2. Judge Mike Engelhart, 151st 3. Associate Judge Raul Rodriguez, Municipal Courts 4. Judge Lynn Bradshaw-Hull, Retired Senior District Judge 5. Judge Steven Kirkland, 334th 6. Judge Eileen Gaffney, Associate Judge 312th Booth Judge Alistair Dawson, HBA President (Beck Redden)

SAVEthe DATE Tuesday, May 29th

Wednesday, June 20th



HBAA & HBAA Old Board/ New Board Meeting

State Bar Cocktail Party hosted by HBAA

Hazel Donato’s Home

Judy and David Beck’s Home

***Anyone welcome***


HBA Board of Directors President Warren Harris

1st Vice President Jennifer A. Hasley

Treasurer Bill Kroger

President-Elect Benny Agosto

2nd Vice President Chris Popov

Secretary David E. Harrell, Jr

Directors 2017-2019 Daniella Landers Hon. Erin Lunceford Collin Cox Lionel M. Schooler

Directors 2018-2020 Greg Moore Robert Painter Greg Ulmer Diana Gomez

HYLA Board of Directors President John Furlow

Treasurer Krisina Zuniga

President-Elect Samantha Torres

Secretary Drew Bivona Directors

Akilah Craig Alvin Adjel Kelly Hanen

Leah Buenik Leslie Gardner Liza Garcia

Lori Yount Miriam Anderson Patrick Yarborough

Chairs & Volunteers Needed Fall Coffee Leon Jaworski Award Do the Write Thing 5th Annual Chili and Pie Cook Off Lunch and Learns Easter Egg Hunt Courtesy and Condolences Host/Hostess for Board Meetings And many more!

Contact Greg at or attend the board meeting on May 29th

May 2018 newsletter  
May 2018 newsletter