Mariame has worked in nonprofit legal services for almost a decade. A lifelong Houstonian, after graduating from Rice University, she completed an M.L.A. in International Studies at University of St. Thomas. Mariame attended University of Houston Law Center, where she was a member of Houston Law Review and also received an M.B.A. She has been active in HYLA since 2018 in capacities including as Director and co-chairing the Nonprofit/Government, Leadership Academy, Generation Generosity/Community Service, and Spanish Committees. Mariame is multilingual and licensed in three U.S. jurisdictions, while recently passing the admission exam for the Law Society of England and Wales.
Brooksie is a trial and arbitration attorney at Shipley Snell Montgomery. She is best suited for president-elect from her experience leading diverse groups of attorneys in bar work since completing HYLA Leadership Academy: serving as two-year HYLA and HYLF Board member, currently as HYLA treasurer, gaining detailed understanding of financial operations; co-chairing 2022 HYLF Adopt-an-Angel Program, reaching nearly 4,000 children; and co-chairing three HYLA and HBA committees, presently as editor-in-chief of The Houston Lawyer. As an older “young lawyer,” Brooksie plans to engage HYLA’s more senior membership with tailored programming, to the benefit of newer members seeking organic mentorship opportunities.
A Houston native, Benjamin Ritz has trained under the past four presidents as HYLA Secretary and co-chair of the HYLA CLE Committee and Leadership Academy. He was instrumental in HYLA’s transition from physical to virtual events and back. Ben has received the Outstanding Committee Chair Award twice, the TYLA publication award for the HYLA newsletter, and Adjei’s President Award. Ben, a former government attorney and law clerk, practices complex commercial insurance litigation and appeals at Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons, LLP. He enjoys board games, theater, Houston’s food scene, and volunteering with his son, Charlie, at the Food Bank.
Barbara is a trial associate at Beck Redden LLP. As a 2022–2023 HYLA Director, she was appointed to sit on the Board of Trustees of the Houston Young Lawyers Foundation and co-chair the HYLA Spanish Committee. Barbara was a Teach for America corps member and taught middle school outside of Baltimore, Maryland. After graduating from UT Law, Barbara clerked for Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht and Judge Lynn N. Hughes. When she is not practicing law, Barbara can be found making her way through Houston’s food scene and running along the Bayou—but probably not in that order.
Carter is an associate at Jackson Walker where he practices energy, business, and first amendment litigation. He is a 2018 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center where he earned his JD and LLM. Carter served HYLA as the student representative for UH from 2016 to 2018, he is a HYLA Leadership Academy graduate, and he has served on the Board of Directors since 2021 as co-chair of the Leadership and Corporate Counsel Committees. Carter is running to serve as the HYLA Treasurer, where he plans to align HYLA’s budget with its mission to “lead, learn, network, and serve.”
Ciara is a litigator at Winstead PC. She has been a HYLA member since moving to Houston in 2018 and serves on the HYLA Board and the Board of the Houston Lawyer Referral Service. Ciara is a Leadership Academy alumnus and now co-chairs the Leadership Academy. Ciara previously served as a treasurer for The Junior League of Houston, one of Houston’s largest non-profit organizations, and she hopes to utilize her business and non-profit volunteer background to serve as HYLA’s Treasurer. If elected, Ciara would like to continue to promote mentorship and young attorney involvement in the bar and non-profit communities.
Ally is a San Antonio native who now calls Houston home. While studying philosophy at Rice University, she fell in love with Houston’s food and arts scenes. During law school, Ally served on the board of First Generation Professionals as the Academic and Professional Development Chair. She focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation matters in state and federal courts. Ally is a member of the HYLA Leadership Academy Class of 2020-2021 and serves on the Hispanic Bar Association’s Mentorship Committee. She is also a member of the Houston Arboretum, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, and Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
Nick Beekhuizen is a litigation associate at Munsch Hardt. He recently moved to Houston from South Florida, where he attended the University of Miami. At UM, Nick served in several leadership roles, including as a Dean’s Fellow, Vice President of the Honor Council, and Editor-in-Chief of his law journal. Nick is currently a member of the HYLA Leadership Academy where he works with HYLA members to create an event benefiting Team Catapult, a non-profit organization.
Samantha is a third-year litigation associate at Thompson Coe. She is a first generation college graduate, a native Houstonian, and Thompson Coe’s current salsa making champion. Samantha has been active in HYLA since 2018, serving as Law Student Director from 2018-2020 and co-chairing HYLA’s Women Lawyers Committee from 2021-2022. In her capacity as co-chair, Samantha helped organize “On Track for Success,” a speed mentoring program for high school girls who are interested in pursuing higher education and careers in law. Samantha is passionate about serving her community and looks forward to continuing to do so alongside her fellow young lawyers.
Aditi Deal is a first-generation attorney. She started her career as a middle school teacher and instructional designer before attending law school at the University of Houston Law Center. Aditi is a second-year litigation associate at Locke Lord LLP and currently serves as the co-chair of HYLA’s Mentorship Committee. Outside of work, she enjoys trying the many new restaurants always cropping up on the Houston food scene and taking way too many photos of her adorable dog, Whiskey.
Brigette A. Dechant is a recent graduate of South Texas College of Law and a new member to the Texas Bar. She is currently a Judicial Law Clerk in the Southern District of Texas. Brigette wants the opportunity to serve as a Director with HYLA to build her social capital and community engagement, while also learning from the leaders before her. She is eager to learn and build on the foundational knowledge of the organization as a whole and through the committees. Brigette and her husband Matt have two pups: Kiwi a 12-year-old Chiweenie and Snow a 9-month-old Basenji.
Sherles Durham is Associate General Counsel at Cadence Bank. Currently, Sherles is in the HYLA Leadership Academy and serves as an Emerging Leader for Camp for All. Prior to moving to Houston Sherles served on the Young Advisory Board for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham as Secretary and interim Vice President and also participated in their one-on-one youth mentoring program. Sherles received her B.A. from the University of Alabama and her J.D. from Samford University, Cumberland School of Law. Sherles is looking forward to serving HYLA and watching HYLA continue to thrive.
Ryan Frankel is a business litigation associate at McGuireWoods LLP. He is a native Houstonian and a double-longhorn (B.A. ’16, J.D. ’19). His practice consists of commercial disputes of all stripes in both state and federal courts, but he has a particular emphasis on trade secret misappropriation cases and oil and gas disputes. Ryan has served as the chair for the Evening with the Judiciary, HYLA’s preeminent networking event, for two straight years. Ryan also currently serves on the Board of Directors for HYLA’s 2022-2023 term and as the co-chair for HYLA’s corporate counsel committee.
Chris Mahfouz currently serves as a member of the HYLA Board of Directors and practices personal injury trial law at Abraham Watkins. Chris is a double bear – so you know who he will be cheering for during March Madness (Sic ‘em). He earned both his undergraduate degree and J.D. from Baylor University with honors. Chris has successfully represented clients in a variety of personal injury matters, securing a $7,110,000 verdict in Harris County as lead counsel in 2021. He previously served as Vice President of the Jefferson County Young Lawyers Association before relocating to Houston to join Abraham Watkins.
John is an attorney in Norton Rose Fulbright's Houston office. Prior to joining NRF, he worked for a global energy company as the Capital Projects Contracting Intelligence Lead. John is a natural leadership who brings a determined, driven, and resilient work ethic. He is in the current 2022-2023 HYLA Leadership Academy cohort, and continues to be present and supportive of HYLA events. John’s community service goes a long way back, from being a Big Brother in the Big Brother-Big Sister Organization, an Eagle Scout, UHLC Young Alumni Committee, HBA Golf Committee, and NRF’s HYLA representative.
Lisa Luz Parker is a current HYLA Board Director and co-chair of the judiciary committee, where she organizes CLE lunch events featuring local judges. She is running again as Director to continue to organize events that are relevant to HYLA’s diverse membership. Throughout her legal career, Lisa has worked in nonprofit, firm, and government offices and wants to ensure that HYLA continues to cater to members in various practice fields. She is currently an Assistant U.S. Attorney representing the United States in civil lawsuits. Her hobbies include trying the latest Trader Joe’s snacks and traveling to the best hiking spots.
Emily is a litigation associate at Baker Botts where she practices energy and securities litigation. She earned her undergraduate degree at UT in 2016 and her J.D. from USC in 2021. Emily is a Director on the HYLA Board and served as co-chair of the HYLA Pro Bono Committee. She also serves on the HBA Gender Fairness Committee and LGBTQ+ Committee. Emily is running for a second term as Director and plans to continue to support HYLA’s mission to serve the greater Houston community.
Lena has been a HYLA member since moving back home to Houston in 2020 after clerking in El Paso (WDTX). Lena co-chairs HYLA’s Spanish Committee, coordinating salsa classes and monthly Consejos Legales (Spanish legal line) volunteer socials. She regularly participates in HYLA’s Allyship Book Club. And she’s on the Houston Hispanic Bar Association (“HisBA”) Board—co-Chairing its Mentorship Committee. She looks forward to fostering collaboration between HYLA and HisBA, building off a judicial fireside chat that she co-moderated last Fall. When not busy doing trial work at Beck Redden, she salsa dances, runs, and gets outdoors as much as possible.