Friday, November 3, 2023
Approved for 4 hours of Texas MCLE, of which .50 is ethics
Approved by the Texas Center for the Judiciary for 4 judicial FV credit hours
Presented via Zoom
Judge Richard (“Rick”) Bell
Judge Richard (“Rick”) Bell graduated from South Texas College of Law in 1997 and practiced primarily as a family law attorney in Fort Bend and surrounding counties. He currently serves as the Associate Judge of the 387th Judicial District Court. Judge Bell is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education conferences. Judge Bell has served on the boards for several non-profit organizations and is an active volunteer in many community service programs.
Jacqueline Bostic McElroy
Jacqueline Bostic McElroy has been with the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s office for the past four years. She is currently a prosecutor in the Domestic Violence Division. Prior to joining the district attorney’s office, she was in private practice for 18 years.
Jacqueline received her bachelor’s degree from Texas Southern University and her law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law
Lauren Bunch is currently serving as a staff attorney with Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA), a nonprofit agency assisting survivors of domestic violence. She graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in May 2021. She interned with AVDA in summer of 2021 before taking the bar and joining AVDA full-time as a staff attorney that fall. Her practice handles divorce and custody matters, including custody modifications. Before becoming an attorney, she worked as an administrative and finance manager for an IT services company and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M University – College Station.
Maisha Colter, LCSW, JD, has dedicated her professional life to advocating for the needs of
children and families in crisis. Maisha has always found work that allows her to draw on the
strengths of her educational training in social work and law. Maisha attended school in New
York, graduating from Syracuse University with dual bachelors’ degrees in Social Work and
Public Policy. After obtaining her Masters in Social Work from New York University, Maisha
was a licensed social worker in Brooklyn, New York, working tirelessly with children and
families involved with the State’s Child Protective Services Authority. She received her law
degree from Rutgers University in 2001. After relocating to Texas in 2003, she learned about
AVDA and reached out to the Executive Director to volunteer, and was instead hired as the
agency’s only staff attorney in 2004. She remained with the agency for almost 4 years and
returned in 2012 to lead the distinguished staff of attorneys and paralegals charged with fighting
on behalf of countless victims of domestic abuse in Harris, Fort Bend, Austin, Grimes, Waller
and Washington Counties. She was selected after a nationwide search to serves as AVDA’s Chief
Executive Officer on August 1, 2019.
Judge Damiane D. Curvey
Judge Damiane D. Curvey presides over the 280th Judicial District Court in Harris County. The 280th Judicial District Court is Harris County’s protective order court, focusing solely on domestic violence cases. Judge Curvey is a native Houstonian and has 17 years’ experience as a practicing attorney. She has handled almost two-thousand family law, criminal, juvenile, and probate cases during her career. In addition to being admitted to the Texas State Bar in 2005, she is also licensed to practice in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Vanessa Goussen is the lead attorney for the Protective Order Section of the Domestic Violence Division in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. She is a Houston native and a first generation college graduate – obtaining a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M University and graduating Magna Cum Laude from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. As a bilingual prosecutor, she has been instrumental in assisting the Latino community and hopes to dedicate her life to empowering all survivors of domestic violence.
Judge Janet B. Heppard
Judge Janet B. Heppard, whose judicial term began on January 1, 2021, graduated from the University of Houston with a joint JD/MBA degree. Prior to law school, Judge Heppard worked as a geophysicist at Amoco Production Company in Houston, Texas. Judge Heppard worked in the clinical program at UHLC beginning in 1995, first as a staff attorney and later as director of the Civil Practice Clinic, then becoming the Clinic Director in 2008 and a full Clinical Professor in 2019 before retiring to begin her judicial term. Judge Heppard continues to teach at UHLC as an adjunct. In addition to her work in the clinic, Professor Heppard has also taught doctrinal and writing courses in domestic violence and a course titled Immigration and Family Law.
Jorge has been a licensed attorney for 13 years and has practiced almost exclusively family law. From 2013 to 2016, Jorge worked at AVDA helping low-income victims of domestic violence with their family law issues, including divorces and custody matters. After leaving AVDA, Jorge opened his own practice and continued to work in all aspects of family law. In 2022, he was appointed as the Associate Judge of the 245th District Court of Harris County, and he helped the 309th District Court transition to a new Associate Judge at the beginning of 2023. Jorge now splits his practice between helping private clients, and acting as a mediator in family law cases.
Karla Perez is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Tahirih Justice Center in Houston. Formerly undocumented, she became a DACA recipient in 2012. Inspired by other young immigrants who fought for DACA, Karla joined the immigrant rights movement to fight for greater protections against deportation during college and law school at the University of Houston. Karla is passionate about working with immigrant survivors of gender-based violence in underserved communities. Prior to joining Tahirih as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, Karla completed internships with the Immigration and Citizenship Program at Baker Ripley, Tahirih Justice Center, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Carolyn Cook Robertson
Carolyn Cook Robertson is board certified in family law. She graduated from the University of Houston Law Center in 1993 and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
Josephine SorgweJosephine Sorgwe is the Managing Attorney for BakerRipley's Immigration & Citizenship Program. Josephine completed her undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. After completing her undergraduate studies, she attended the University of Houston Law Center where she received her Doctor of Jurisprudence. From 2015 to 2021, Josephine worked as a clinical supervising attorney at the University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic.
Currently, Josephine works with a robust team of attorneys, DOJ accredited representatives, social workers, and immigration specialists to provide pro bono legal services to immigrants in the Greater Houston area. In addition, she provides direct pro bono legal representation to immigrant victims of crime, domestic violence, and human trafficking. Josephine has always had a passion for people from diverse places and for helping those in need. Thus, she thoroughly enjoys representing each of the immigrants who walk through their doors.
Barbara J. Stalder
Barbara J. Stalder, former presiding judge of the 280th District Court, is currently the managing attorney for the Houston Office of Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA). Prior to being elected to the bench in November 2018, Barbara worked in private practice where she represented victims of domestic violence, mediated divorce, handled custody disputes, and was appointed as Amicus Attorney in high conflict custody matters. Barbara is also a former clinical professor at UH Law Center where she spent eight years supervising law students in a variety of civil matters, including divorce and custody matters. Barbara began her legal career as a distinguished Equal Justice Works fellow where she created a nonprofit organization representing children in abuse, neglect and family violence cases. In addition, Barbara served as a staff attorney for AVDA. After leaving the bench, Barbara rejoined the staff at AVDA earlier this year. Barbara has been married to her husband Fred for over 31 years, spends her spare time spoiling her fur kids and enjoys cheering on her Houston Coogs and last year’s Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs
Ann E. Webb, Ph.D., J.D., LCSW-S
Ann E. Webb is an attorney, a licensed clinical social worker, and a 2019 Ph.D. graduate of the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Dr. Webb’s research focuses on the intersection of social work and the law, with a particular interest in interdisciplinary practice involving social workers and lawyers, particularly trauma-informed practice affecting children and families. She has served as faculty on collaborative projects involving social work and law students assisting detained families seeking asylum, and has developed a unique experiential learning program to engage social work students in practice arenas involving law and social work. Her scholarly agenda is informed by her experience as a lawyer and social work clinician, and by her role as an advocate for underserved populations. As adjunct faculty at the University of Houston, Dr. Webb teaches assessment and advanced social policy, and has provided guest lectures to both social work and law students on topics relating to social work and the law, social work with immigrants and refugees, and trauma and secondary trauma as it impacts immigration law and practitioners.
Tasha Willis is the Alternative Dispute Resolution Director, Mediation Clinic Professor, and a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Houston Law Center. Professor Willis supervises mediation clinic students who provide services to the local Houston courts and who collaborate with the U.S. State Department to provide mediations in Hague Convention International Kidnapping cases. Professor Willis also teaches a 40-hour mediation certification training, a 30-hour family law specialty certification training, Client Counseling, and Intro to European Union Law. She is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas and South Texas College of Law.
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One institution and an EEO/AA institution
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