Board of Directors & Advisory Board

Aubrey Lavery Meyers

Board Chair

Aubrey Lavery Meyers is the Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of a Texas-based home loan company.  Prior to her in-house role, she was an associate at Holland & Knight and Patton Boggs. Aubrey has focused on giving back to the community through mentoring, pro bono legal work, and educating young lawyers on how they can do the same. She continues to give back to her alma maters, mentoring pre-law students from the John Marshall Pre-Law Society at the University of Texas at Dallas, and current students at the University of Illinois College of Law. She began volunteering as a pro bono attorney for the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas in 2011 and has developed a passion for helping those who are seeking asylum in the United States.


Almaz Woldeab, CPA

Board Treasurer

Almaz Woldeab has been a supporter and volunteer of HRI since 1999, and had a profound passion for the vision and mission of HRI. She currently works in accounting and finance at Texas Instruments, Inc., a leading technology and manufacturing company based in Dallas. Ms. Woldeab has degrees from the University of Texas at Dallas (B.S.) and Southern Methodist Unviersity (M.B.A.). She is also a Texas Certified Public Accountant.

A native of Ethiopia, Ms. Woldeab, came to the U.S., as a refugee in 1985 at the height of political turmoil and civil war in her home country. She has also served on the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Grant Panel from 2005-2007.

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Serena Connelly

Co-Founder

Ms. Connelly is one of the co-founders of Human Rights Initiative. She is a social worker and serves as Vice President of the Harold Simmons Foundation, assisting nonprofits with funding.  She has served on the boards of Dallas Women’s Foundation; Foundation for the Education of Young Women; Dallas Zoological Society; Texas Christian University’s Institute of Child Development; Texas Association for the Protection of Children; and University of North Texas’ Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute.


Greg Curry

Board Chair-Elect

Greg Curry is a Practice Leader in Thompson & Knight’s Trial Group.  He focuses his practice on oil and gas, general commercial, real estate, and insurance coverage disputes. Curry has a long history of community and bar involvement and is actively involved in several organizations, including the International Association of Defense Counsel, Texas Association of Defense Counsel, State Bar of Texas, Dallas Bar Association, and DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar, where he currently serves as Texas State Representative. He is a Fellow of the American, Texas, and Dallas Bar Foundations, and is a member of The College of the State Bar of Texas. Curry has been recognized by numerous publications for his outstanding legal work, including The Best Lawyers in America® by Woodward/White Inc. and Texas Super Lawyers® by Thomson Reuters. Greg is currently serving also on the Executive Committee and the Advisory Board of the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.


Robert D. Graham

Mr. Graham is an Executive Vice President of Contran Corporation. He also serves as Executive Vice President – Chief Legal Officer of Valhi, Inc., Executive Vice President for Kronos Worldwide, Inc., and President & Chief Executive Officer of NL Industries, Inc. Mr. Graham previously was a member of the Board of Directors, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Software Spectrum, Inc., a global business software and technical services provider. In addition, Mr. Graham was a partner with Locke Lord, LLP (formally Locke Purnell Rain Harrell) in Dallas, concentrating on corporate and securities law. He is the recipient of the 2008 Robert H. Dedman Award for Ethics and Law from the Texas General Counsel Forum.


Risa Gross

Risa Gross is the chief grants officer at Leland Fikes Foundation, a Dallas-based funder that primarily supports medical research, health and social services, family planning, public interest groups, and education and cultural programs. Previously, Risa was the development director at Attitudes and Attire, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting personal growth for women seeking self-sufficiency.


Elizabeth (Betsy) A. Healy

Co-Founder

Ms. Healy was instrumental in founding Human Rights Initiative in 1999, and served as Executive Director until November 2005. Betsy remains firmly committed to the agency’s mission. Prior to her years with HRI, she was an associate with Cowles & Thompson, PC. She also completed a judicial clerkship at the Dallas Court of Appeals.

Betsy is currently Grants Director with the Harold Simmons Foundation, Dallas, TX. She also serves on the Boards of the Dallas Women’s Foundation and the Parkland Foundation.


Hind Jarrah Ph.D.

Hind Jarrah is the executive director of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, a non-profit who aims to empower women and their families through education, philanthropy, outreach and social services, which she co-founded in 2005. In 1982, she co-founded the Arabic Heritage Society, a non-profit, educational organization. After 9/11, Dr. Jarrah became a frequent guest speaker on Islam, women in Islam and interfaith relations. She recently pioneered the ISNA/URJ Muslim-Jewish Dialogue in DFW.

Dr. Jarrah holds degrees from the American University of Beirut (B.S. in Pharmacology); University of Texas Health Science Center in Dallas (Ph.D. in Pharmacology); and the University of Texas at Dallas (M.S. in Neuroscience and Cognition). She previously served on the Faith and Feminism Committee and the board of trustees for the Dallas Women’s Foundation.

 


Natalie Nanasi

Natalie Nanasi came to the United States as a refugee in the early 1980s. She is now the Director of the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women at Southern Methodist University (SMU), Dedman School of Law, where she supervises students’ representation of survivors of a range of gender-based harms. Professor Nanasi was previously a Practitioner-in-Residence at American University, Washington College of Law and the Senior Immigration Attorney and Pro Bono Coordinator at the Tahirih Justice Center, where she advocated for immigrant women and girls fleeing human rights abuses such as female genital mutilation, domestic and sexual violence, forced marriage and honor crimes.


Laura J. O’Rourke

Ms. O’Rourke is a partner with Baker & McKenzie, LLP. She has been actively involved in pro bono services throughout her legal career and is a member of the Dallas office (Baker & McKenzie, LLP) Pro Bono Committee. She has also been an avid supporter of Humans Rights Initiative of North Texas since she started practicing law in 2002. She currently is a member of the HRI Pro Bono Attorney Liaison Committee. Ms. O’Rourke is also an active supporter of various civic endeavors in the Dallas community including Susan G. Komen; Salvation Army; and others.


Sanjeeb Samanta

Sanjeeb Samanta leads Global Customer Support Experience Operations at Texas Instruments (TI). Sanjeeb has been with TI for over 20 years and prior to joining TI worked with companies such as IDM, Technip, Price Waterhouse, and IBM in Asia, Europe and the US. He is an alum of UT Dallas. Sanjeeb is the winner of TI’s 2015 Founders Community Service Awards and is actively involved in helping the refugee community in the metroplex partnering with HRI and Heart House. He is a member of the US India Chamber of Commerce, President of Dallas Squash, and is one of the Ambassadors (leaders) of InterNations Dallas, among other roles he plays in the community.


Advisory Board Members

Kenneth Z. Altshuler, M.D.
Cecilia Boone
Patricia Cook, MD*
Steve & Barb Durham
Lauren Embrey
Don Glendenning*
Lisa Hembry
Amb. Swanee Hunt
Sarah Losinger
The Hon. Ann Margolin
Michael Meadows
Caren H. Prothro
Lekha Singh

*Honorary life members