September 16 meeting is ONLINE ONLY
via Zoom 1pm – 3pm
Please join us for a special afternoon with Former Judge Renee Yanta and Texas Supreme Court Justice Jane Bland. It will be a very informative class as you get an insider look at our District Courts, Appellate Courts, and the Texas Supreme Court. Please bring your questions and your prayers for these delightful public servants.
Zoom continues to allow us to have a fruitful class in these strange Covid-19 times.
Civics is an excellent way for your children to learn first-hand how our political system is organized and about the inner workings of multiple occupations. We have lively discussions at all of our classes as we interact with our speakers. During the Civics Zoom classes, we hear from elected officials and prominent leaders who serve our communities. Please log-in early at 9:45am on for a Zoom Scavenger hunt before our first speaker.
Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
Please try to secure your Zoom sign in link from Gale at email@example.com at least a week in advance. It will be emailed to you after you RSVP here on the FEAST website. If you have not attended our Civics Zoom class, Gale would also like to speak with you, in the evening, by phone prior to the class to confirm your attendance and answer any questions. Please email Gale at firstname.lastname@example.org for her phone number.
This Month’s Speakers’ Bios
Former Judge Renee Yanta
Raised on military bases, Renée has always found ways to give back, from volunteering for the Red Cross to serving as the first female student commander of the Judson HS Junior ROTC. That’s what led her to first become a public school teacher.
Renée started her teaching career at an at-risk district where she developed into a master teacher. She returned home to San Antonio after her first child was born and taught at MacArthur High School for 7 years.
Renée loved teaching. But after nine years, she decided to take a different path of service. She went bold! She cashed in her teacher retirement, took out huge loans, and headed to St. Mary’s Law School. From day one, Renée loved the law, leading her to serve as Editor in Chief of the Law Journal and graduate at the very top of her class.
As a new lawyer, Renée dove into litigation, juggling motherhood with her professional growth. Many a supreme court brief was written from the Little League stands. She eventually became board certified in civil appellate law, was named a Super Lawyer, and developed a nationwide reputation. She started teaching and writing about the law, even co-authoring a book all judges use at trial. She also served as an Adjunct Professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law; Texas Civil Procedure. Despite her success, she never lost sight of what called her to law in the first place: helping others.
So it was no surprise when Renée decided to serve her community as a District Court Judge. In her seven years on the Bench, she was one of the hardest working judges in the courthouse. A problem solver, Former Judge Renée built a coalition to launch PEARLS Court, which, to this day, continues to transform the lives of teen girls in foster care.
Former Judge Renée left the Bench in December 2018, returning to the practice of law and her specialty as a civil appellate lawyer. She also mediates cases. She has been blessed to continue working with PEARLS Court by leading the PEARLS Foundation.
Texas Supreme Court Justice Jane Bland
Justice Jane Bland was appointed to the Supreme Court of Texas in 2019 by Governor Greg Abbott. Before her appointment, she served for six years as a state district judge in Houston and then for 15 years as a justice on the First Court of Appeals.
Justice Bland earned her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Texas, graduating with high honors. While in law school, she was Vice-Chancellor and an editor on the Texas Law Review. Following law school, Justice Bland clerked for the Honorable Thomas Gibbs Gee on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
She began her practice at Baker Botts, where she handled a broad range of trial and appellate matters. Before her appointment to the Court, she was a partner at Vinson & Elkins in Houston. She is board certified in civil appellate law and civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Throughout her legal career, Justice Bland has been recognized for her work to improve our state’s judiciary. In 2010, Chief Justice John Roberts presented her with the William H. Rehnquist Award for exemplifying the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics. She was named Appellate Judge of the Year in 2007 and 2015 and Trial Judge of the Year in 2003 by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She has chaired the board of Houston Volunteer Lawyers and the Oversight Committee for the Texas Pattern Jury Charges. She is a member of the American Law Institute. Justice Bland serves as the Court’s liaison to the Judicial Commission on Mental Health and deputy liaison to the Court’s Rules Advisory Committee.
Justice Bland and her husband Doug have two college-aged children. In addition to her two decades of judicial service, Justice Bland has been involved in her church and community in her hometown of Houston.
Civics is an excellent way for your children to learn first – hand how our political system is organized and about the inner workings of multiple occupations. We have lively discussions at all of our classes as we interact with our speakers. During the Civics classes, we hear from elected officials or prominent leaders who serve our communities. Please arrive early to mingle with our guests and attendees.
The FEAST Civics Class started over 15 years ago and we have hosted scores of city leaders as well as state level dignitaries. Training the leaders of tomorrow is very important for the community. Our speakers share about their personal journeys and about their vocations. They entertain questions from the students and parents. Speakers can also take questions during their presentation. Business Casual is our dress. We conclude at noon with a complimentary lunch.
This class is offered completely FREE the third Wednesday of each month, but your donations are appreciated. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet influential political figures and to educate them about the values of homeschooling!
Email Gale at email@example.com with any questions about the FEAST Civics Program.
Former Speaker Biographies
Justice Brett Busby served on the Fourteenth Court of Appeals from 2012 to 2018, and Governor Greg Abbott appointed him to the Supreme Court of Texas on February 21, 2019. Brett is an experienced appellate litigator and a former partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in Houston. Brett served as a law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court after law school, and he later argued one case and briefed many others in that court. He also handled dozens of appeals in the Texas Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals, and he argued jury charges and handled legal issues in many trials. He represented individuals, small businesses, and large companies as plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of civil cases, and he regularly volunteered to provide free legal services in both civil and criminal cases.
Super Lawyers selected Brett as one of the top 100 lawyers in Texas in 2012, in Texas in 2012, and Chambers and Partners named him a leading Texas appellate lawyer for four years in a row. He is Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and he received an AV peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell.
Brett is dedicated to improving the courts and the legal profession. In 2018, his fellow Texas appellate lawyers elected him as Chair of the State Bar Appellate Section, and his fellow judges elected him as Chair-Elect of the State Bar Judicial Section. Brett has chaired the Texas Access to Justice Commission’s Rules and Legislation Committee and served on the Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee, which recommends changes to state rules. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a member of the Federalist Society. Brett has also served as chair of the State Bar Committee on Pattern Jury Charges (Business, Consumer, Insurance, and Employment Volume), co-chair of the Houston Bar Association’s Teach Texas Committee, and a director of the Texas Young Lawyers Association. Brett is also a frequent author and speaker at continuing legal education conferences. Before taking the bench, he served as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas Law School, where he taught the U.S. Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Brett is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation Eagle Scout. He graduated with high honors from Duke University and Columbia Law School. Brett is a graduate of the American Leadership Forum and the Center for Houston’s Future Leadership Forum. He and Erin support many other community organizations, including the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Helping a Hero, and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. Brett is a Fellow of the Texas and Houston Bar Foundations and the Houston Young Lawyers Foundation.
Crystal Chandler, Judge of County Court #13. I see this court as integral to the health and safety of our community because it affords the judge an opportunity to address the root causes of domestic abuse and works to stop the sometimes deadly cycle of domestic violence.
Raised by my grandmother in a small Texas town with a single blinking yellow light in humble conditions, I knew that to make it in life I had to focus on getting an education. At sixteen, I moved to San Antonio and upon graduating from Winston Churchill High School, I put myself through college at The University of the Incarnate Word where I graduated with honors. I was the first person in my family to obtain a college degree. I attended law school at St. Mary’s University and began my career in public service because I wanted to help create change for those who may have come from similar backgrounds.
I took the bench in 2015 with a deep commitment to public service and extensive criminal law experience, having spent 2 years as a judicial briefing attorney at Texas’ highest criminal court, and more than 15 years as a prosecutor with the Bexar County Criminal District Attorney’s office.
As a felony trial prosecutor, I spent several years specializing in the prosecution of domestic violence murders, death and serious child abuse cases, sex crimes against children and other violent crimes. As an appellate prosecutor, I handled these cases before the appellate courts, including the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. While a prosecutor, I also sought other ways to help people. I taught criminal justice classes at San Antonio College where I encouraged my students to believe in themselves and to strive for the extraordinary. I helped found a national human trafficking organization – Chapter 61 Ministries (now known as Truckers Against Trafficking) – a world recognized anti-human trafficking non-profit.
As a former felony trial and appellate prosecutor specializing in the field of criminal family violence and child abuse, and while serving as judge of County Court #13, I’ve met with thousands of victims, defendants, and their families. I have personally witnessed the impact family violence has had on them. It’s this hands-on experience during my 20 years of practicing criminal law that allows me to identify how to help ensure the safety of victims while taking a comprehensive approach with defendants by imposing just sentences and providing tools to help them change their pattern of behavior.
As a judge, I have handled over 7,000 cases, presided over more than 60 jury trials, cleared the case backlog, ensured that police are aware of orders of protection as bond conditions on violent offenders and enforced compliance of firearm surrenders in domestic violence cases. I’ve also created two initiatives at no additional cost to the taxpayers that help young adults and people with mental illness get their lives back on track. I routinely speak about family violence and human trafficking. I am a member of several legal and community organizations, including the Bexar County Task Force on Family Violence. I have been married to my husband, Scott Zimmerer, for nearly 20 years and am the proud parent of two wonderful teenage sons, Luke and Thomas. We are also part of the Community Bible Church family. Bexar County is our home and I want to make a positive difference.
Domestic violence affects all members of our Bexar County community, and County Court #13 is about making home a safe place for every person in every family.
Amy Clark is a 6th generation Texan and a graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio. Afterwards, she worked in the Washington, D.C., area with the National Rifle Association. Upon moving back to the Lone Star State, she has worked as a freelance marketing consultant for a variety of groups, events and campaigns, and has traveled the state training grassroots activists in effectively speaking out for their beliefs.
Mark Collins as General George Washington and Judge Juanita Vasquez-Gardner– Chief of Misdemeanor Division for the Bexar County District Attorney’s office
Have you met George Washington?
With his snowy white hair and 6’ 4’’ frame, Mark Collins bears a remarkable resemblance to our founding father, George Washington. Having the same build and general appearance as the famous statesman has proven to be fortunate for Collins, he has been asked to portray Washington both on TV and in movies, most recently in “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.” With six children of his own, Mark’s first love remains the teaching of children in the classroom. If you could ask George Washington a question, what would it be? He especially loves to field questions from children as part of the presentation.
Mark Collins as George Washington has been married to his wife, Devy for 37 years. He has six children and many grandchildren. He is the Pastor of First Baptist Yorktown, Texas.
Film: The Revolution (13 part Mini-Series) – History Channel, National Treasure II, Hunting the Lost Symbol- The Discovery Channel, Revelation the movie 2015, George Washington the Warrior (2008), Behold A Pale Horse – Heartland Pictures (summer 2011), Deadliest Warrior – Spike TV, Revelation the trilogy 2018, “No time to run to” be released in theaters spring of 2020.
COL(Dr.) Paul Colthirst is Board certified in Dental Public Health and is the Consultant to The Surgeon General for Dental Public Health. His Military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3 OLC), Army Commendation Medal (3 OLC), Army Achievement Medal (4 OLC),Valorous Unit Award, Army Superior Unit Award, Public Health Service Commendation Unit Ribbon, Public Health Service Citation Ribbon, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Military Outstanding Voluntary Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and the Overseas Service Ribbon. He is also a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit. COL Colthirst has been married to Debra Colthirst (nee’ Greenidge-from Barbados) for 25 years and has two children.
Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick
Christi Craddick is in the forefront of the newest wave of conservatives in leadership roles in Texas. Raised in a strong conservative household, retained as legal counsel by prominent Texas firms, and shaped by more than a decade as a trusted political adviser, Craddick has set a clear standard of integrity, self-reliance and innovation in her position as Commissioner at the Railroad Commission. Since her tenure on the Commission began in November 2012, Craddick has pushed to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of an energy industry that is driving the state’s unparalleled economic success. In the process, she has repeatedly proven that sensible regulations, careful listening and plain talk can foster innovation that has solidified Texas leadership in the energy sector.
Making it a top priority, Craddick has worked to educate the public about the oil and gas industry and its impact in Texas. She has fought against Washington’s one-size-fits-all environmental policies that would kill jobs and stifle energy production growth. Craddick has advocated for recycling in the oilfields, helping to drive the percentage of reclaimed water upwards, an essential achievement in a state enduring a multi-year drought. As part of her efforts to modernize the agency, Craddick has championed an Information Technology overhaul at the Commission, seeking improvements that would upgrade the Geographic Information System, increase public access to the agency’s data, and speed up inspections and permitting times.
A native of Midland, the heart of the Permian Basin, Craddick earned both her Bachelor’s Degree as a Plan II graduate and her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from The University of Texas at Austin. During her career as an attorney, she specialized in oil and gas, water, tax issues, electric deregulation and environmental policy. Following the example of her father and mother, Craddick has been drawn to public service and politics. As president of a grassroots advocacy firm, she took the lead on work in coalition building in the public policy arena and development and implementation of issue strategies. Craddick serves her community as an active member of organizations including the State Bar of Texas, University of Texas Liberal Arts Alumni Advisory Council, and Dell Children’s Medical Center Foundation.
Pete Flores is the Senator for Texas Senate District 19. Pete was born and raised in South Texas and is a lifelong public servant: he served the state of Texas as a Game Warden for 27 years, rising to the rank of Colonel. His District stretches across west Texas from San Antonio to Pecos, sharing hundreds of miles with Mexico’s border. As a State Senator, Pete Flores plans to secure the border and work with other state leaders to enact policies that promote job creation and respect conservative values. Pete Flores currently resides in Pleasanton, TX with his wife of 36 years, Elizabeth.
Judge Juanita Vasquez-Gardner is the Chief of the Misdemeanor Division. She is responsible for managing the Misdemeanor Division Assistant District Attorneys in thirteen County Courts at Law including specialty courts. She ensures the efficient operation of the Division.
In January 2015- December 2018, she served as the Chief Administrative Attorney and was responsible for managing the legal, financial and personnel administrative operations for the District Attorney’s office.
From January 2013- December 2014, she was the Staff Attorney for Criminal District Court Judges. She assisted, advised and conducted legal research for judges; reviewed orders and correspondence to judges from Courts of Appeals (including Court of Criminal Appeals and the Western District of Texas) and responded accordingly; represented judges in mandamus and contempt proceedings; prepared jury charges; and prepared judges’ Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law on Applications for Writs of Habeas Corpus.
In September 2000- December 2001, she was the Judge of the 399th District Court for the State Of Texas where she presided over felony criminal cases. Her duties included: jury trials; bench trials; probation revocation hearings; evidentiary hearings; pre- and post-trial hearings; and special assignments to attorney disciplinary and contempt hearings throughout the state of Texas. From January 2008- December 2016, Judge Vasquez-Gardner served as a member of the Committee of Authors on the Texas Criminal Pattern Jury Charges Committee (State of TX). She had been appointed by the President of the State Bar of Texas to provide guidance and input to the Committee responsible for the publication of modem Texas Criminal Pattern Jury Charges used throughout the State of Texas. She served admirably. In November 1989 -August 2000, she was the First Chair Prosecutor of the 290th District Court as an employee of the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office (SanAntonio, TX). She was assigned to Misdemeanor, Family Violence, Felony, Intake (Felony and Misdemeanor), Juvenile, and Drug and Violent Task Force sections. Her responsibilities as a Prosecutor included the presentation of cases to Grand Jury; pre-trial hearings; and trial preparation and presentation of cases to juries and judge. She conducted 115 jury trials which included Capital Murder, Murder, Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, Aggravated Robbery, and Possession of Controlled Substances cases. Judge Vasquez-Gardner was educated at the University of Texas School of Law (Austin, Texas where she received the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in May 1989. She attended the University of Texas at San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas) graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Criminal Justice in August 1985. She is a proud graduate of Robert G. Cole, Jr. Sr. High School (Fort Sam Houston, Texas).
Juanita’s community involvement includes serving at the Family Justice Center, as an Advisory Board Member. She is a member of the University of Texas at San Antonio Alumni Association and the Cimarron Homeowner’s Association. Judge Vasquez- Gardner is a parishioner at St. Anthony Mary Claret Catholic Church. She is a lifetime member of the Ladies Auxiliary Veterans of Foreign Wars. Juanita is married and has one child.
Karen Harris of Austin is owner and CEO of Proton Mechanical Systems, which provides delivery of radiology medical services. She and her husband have owned and operated radiology medical service businesses in Texas for more than 25 years. She is the Chaplin for Safe Harbor Compliance, founder of Medicine for the Heart Ministries, Inc., and a former prayer ministry team leader at Summit Worship Center. She is a former gubernatorial appointee to the Health and Human Services Council and served as an appointee to the advisory committee to the Texas Education Agency for Academic Achievement Distinction. Harris received an Associate of Science in radiologic science from Virginia Commonwealth University – Medical College. Additionally, she is an ordained minister with training in Christian counseling from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and the Therapon Institute.
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar
Glenn Hegar was elected as the 36th Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in November 2014. Hegar is Texas’ chief financial officer — the state’s treasurer, check writer, tax collector, procurement officer and revenue estimator. Upon taking office, he reorganized the agency for quicker and more effective decision-making and reduced its administrative footprint by working with the Legislature to eliminate inefficient programs and transfer others that didn’t fit core missions. Additionally, the Comptroller recommended that the Legislature repeal eight taxes, six of which were administered by his agency. Hegar is focused on his agency’s constitutional duties and committed to improving its customer service and transparency. He believes a less-burdensome tax system will foster a better environment for job creation and business expansion, and thus a healthier Texas economy. As CFO for the world’s 10th-largest economy, Hegar monitors Texas’ financial health to ensure it maintains strong fund balances. During his term in office, he has emerged as a passionate advocate for conservative financial management and fiscal transparency at all levels of government. Among other initiatives, Hegar founded the “Transparency Stars” program, which recognizes Texas local governments that provide the public with detailed information on various aspects of their finances. Hegar has worked hard to bring public and legislative attention to long-term financial obligations facing the state, such as health care coverage for public school teachers and employees, infrastructure maintenance and state employee pensions — needs that have caused major financial difficulties in other states. These obligations rarely receive adequate attention in the give-and-take of Texas’ biennial legislative budgeting process, and the longer the state waits to address them, the greater their ultimate costs will be to Texas taxpayers. To avoid potential risks to the health of the state’s finances and the maintenance of its triple-A credit rating, Hegar is recommending a more prudent and fiscally responsible approach to managing the state’s $11 billion Economic Stabilization Fund — the “rainy day fund” — to create a Texas Legacy Fund, a permanent endowment for the state that would earn investment income to begin paying down Texas’ long-term obligations. Hegar guided the formation of the nation’s first state-administered precious metals depository, which began accepting deposits of precious metals on June 6, 2018. Hegar forged a unique public-private partnership with a Texas-based company to create a depository offering state-of-the-art security features and top-flight customer service at no cost to the state. Before his election as Texas Comptroller, Hegar served in the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate, where he worked on a wide range of common-sense solutions to problems affecting Texans in areas such as public education, transportation, tax reform, government transparency, Second Amendment rights, water issues and tort reform. As chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission, Hegar eliminated inefficiencies in state agencies and abolished six, saving Texas taxpayers more than $160 million. In his last session as a state senator, Hegar oversaw state and local revenue matters and helped cut $1 billion worth of taxes. Hegar is a 1993 graduate of Texas A&M University and a graduate of St. Mary’s University, where he earned a Master of Arts and his law degree. At the University of Arkansas, he earned his Master of Laws. Hegar is a sixth-generation Texan who grew up farming land that has been in his family since the mid-1800s. His upbringing taught him the core values of hard work, honesty and integrity — the same values he and his wife Dara work to instill in their three children. Hegar’s most important title throughout his years of service is the one closest to home: Dad!
As State Representative for the 61st District, Phil King represents the people of Parker and Wise counties in the Texas Legislature. He has earned a reputation as a principle-driven conservative who consistently provides key leadership in passing some of Texas’ most sweeping public policy legislation.
King serves on the National Board of Directors for the American Legislative Exchange Council and was the 2015 National Chair. He also chairs ALEC’s Center for Innovation and Technology. King also serves on the Board of Directors of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute. In the Texas House, King chairs the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee and serves on the Energy Resources Committee.
Phil was a police officer for 15 years and continues to serve in the Texas State Guard. He is a practicing attorney and small business owner. Representative King and his family have been active members of Trinity Bible Church since 1984. Phil and his wife Terry are the proud parents of six children, nine granddaughters, and five grandsons.
Ms. Kriewaldt’s career background spans a wide variety of disciplines. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and also studied Political Science at Texas A&M University. She worked in the Fast Static Design Engineering Department of Motorola for seven years, provided three years of business administration service to Robinson, Architects of Austin, was the sole proprietor of a residential design service and personally managed every stage of a real estate investment venture for eight years. She has enjoyed many years of performance art in classical ballet and figure skating.
Ms. Kriewaldt’s volunteer hours are spent as a citizen-lobbyist at the local, state and national level. She mentors student-lobbyists in effective civil discourse, prepares them for public testimony at legislative hearings and volunteers to speak in support of American civics education at secondary and university campus clubs. She considers herself a perpetual student of the Holy Bible. She is most proud of her stay-at-home years, caring for her two sons.
Ms. Kriewaldt is a Texas Certified Teacher in 7th-12th Social Studies and is currently lecturing at Faith Academy of Marble Falls, Texas, in Government, Economics and American History.
Ken Mercer, School Finance/Permanent School Fund, Jan. 1, 2017 – Jan. 1, 2021
Ken Mercer is a technology project manager, as well as a former member of the Texas House of Representatives.
Mercer, a Republican, was elected to State Board of Education in November 2006 and re-elected in 2010, 2012 and 2016. He is currently a member of the Committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund. The committee’s duties include overseeing the Permanent School Fund, the nation’s largest education endowment.
During his tenure on the board, he has also served as chair of the board’s Committee on School Initiatives, vice chair of the board’s Committee on School Initiatives and vice chair of the board’s Committee on Instruction.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Business Administration from UT-San Antonio. He also has a Master’s of Business Administration in finance and management from St. Mary’s University. Mercer was a member of the Delta Mu Delta Graduate Business Honor Society.
The former state representative served as an advisor to the governor as a member of the state Homeland Security Council, He has also served on the State Republican Executive Committee. Mercer was named 2005 Alumnus of the Year by UTSA and was given the Distinguished Legislator Award by the Texas Republican House Caucus. In 2003, the San Antonio Police Officer’s Association named Mercer the Legislator of the Year. Mercer represents the following counties: Blanco, Caldwell, Comal, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Hays, Kendall, Kerr, Llano, Mason, San Saba and parts of Bexar and Travis counties.
Mr. Grant Moody is delighted to spend time sharing about his recent trip to Israel. Mr. Moody’s topic is Israel: Our Partner in the Middle East. He recently traveled to Israel and will share much exciting news. Mr. Moody will capture your heart.
Grant is a business executive at a large military financial services firm headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. He previously served 10 years on active duty as a Marine F-18 pilot with combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He continues to serve as a Major in the Marine Reserves. Since leaving active duty, Grant has been politically active supporting veterans for public office. In 2017, he was appointed by Texas Gov Greg Abbott to serve on the Texas Veterans Land Board alongside Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Soldiers’ Angels a national non-profit. Grant is a distinguished graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. in Quantitative Economics. He also holds an M.S. in Statistics from Texas A&M University and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School. Grant is married with 3 young children. They reside in San Antonio.
We are excited to welcome The Honorable Susan Narvaiz as the speaker for our Civics class. This is your time to listen, to share and to ask questions of a former elected official. Susan is warm and unpretentious. Susan loves the Lord and loves to share how God governs her life. She is the former mayor of San Marcos, Texas where she was re-elected to her third term as Mayor on Nov. 4, 2008. She was first elected by the people of San Marcos in 2004 and was re-elected in 2006. Before serving as Mayor, Susan was elected to Place 3 on the City Council in 2002. Narvaiz was the Republican Nominee for U.S. Congress TX35 and a Republican Primary Candidate for U.S. Congress TX21. Susan is the Chair of Hill Country Church Advisory Council. As a member of a Military Family, Mayor Susan was born in Dayton, Ohio, and moved to San Antonio when she was young. She became a resident of San Marcos, TX in 1995 until moving to New Braunfels in 2014. She is married to Miguel Narvaiz and they share in the lives of their grown children and ten grandchildren.
The son of Thomas and Linda Newell, David was born at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, though he grew up in Sugar Land, Texas with his much taller, older brother, Robert Newell. David graduated cum laude from William P. Clements High School. He earned his undergraduate degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing at the University of Houston. He graduated magna cum laude, earning University honors and honors in his major. He received his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1997 before returning home to work in the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office. He served as an appellate prosecutor for 16 years, first in Fort Bend County and later in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office from 2007 until his election to the Court.
Judge David Newell has twice served as the Chairman of the Editorial Board for the Texas District and County Attorney’s bi-monthly journal, The Texas Prosecutor. He also co-authored a regular byline for the journal, “As the Judges Saw It,” a column that analyzed and summarized the significant decisions of the Court of Criminal Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. He served repeatedly on the planning committee for the Advanced Criminal Law Course for the State Bar of Texas and he has presented the Court of Criminal Appeals Update at the Texas Conference on Criminal Appeals, the TDCAA Criminal and Civil Law Update, and the Texas State Bar’s Advanced Criminal Law Course.
Judge Newell is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in both criminal law and criminal appellate law. He is also licensed by the State Bar of Texas and admitted to practice before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. In 2013, David received the C. Chris Marshall Award for Distinguished Faculty from the Texas District and County Attorneys’ Association. David and his beautiful wife, Shayne, currently live in the Houston area with their two sons.
Willie Ng, Blue Armor Security Services, Inc
In 2003, Willie Ng founded Blue Armor Security Services, Inc., and serves as owner, President and Chief Executive Officer. Willie is leading, guiding and overseeing the performance of the organization. Willie Ng served the Bexar County Criminal District Attorney’s Office from January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2018. Prior to joining the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office as Chief Criminal Investigator, Willie served the city of San Antonio with the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) for 22 years. During his time with SAPD, Willie began as a Patrol Officer patrolling all areas of San Antonio, then served as a Detective Investigator where he investigated various criminal offenses in the Repeat Offenders Program (ROP) and Financial Crimes Unit. Prior to retirement from SAPD, Willie worked with the United States Secret Service where he was deputized as a Special Federal Deputy Marshal and served within the unit for over seven years. Willie’s in-depth training as a law enforcement professional ranges from Hand-to-Hand Combat & Self-Defense, Hand-Written Forgery, Counterfeit Currency & Credit Card Fraud, to Lie Detection, Narcotics and Emergency Management training by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Willie is a certified Trainer for Active Shooter and Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response from Texas State University.
Willie has a Master Certification in Law Enforcement by the State of Texas. Willie is a deputized Special Federal Deputy Marshal with the United States Secret Service. In addition to public service and economic development, Willie is tireless in his efforts toward non-profit work. Willie provides community support and consulting to business leaders, entrepreneurs, law enforcement and various local and national organizations. Willie contributes his time serving on various boards, to include but not limited to, Executive Board Member and Chair of Small Business Development of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of the San Antonio Education Partnership (SAEP), Board of Director for Child Advocates of San Antonio (CASA), Co-Founder of the Maestro Entrepreneur Center and Maestro Leadership Development. Willie is a member of the Criminal Justice Reform Committee of the Texas Associations of Business (TAB) with headquarters in Austin, Texas, where he worked in conjunction with the team to create and implement the initiative Texas House Bill 918 in 2019 which goes into effect in January 2020.
Lani Popp is a speech-language pathologist, small-business owner, musician, volunteer and most important of all, a passionate educator. She has spent her life serving Texas students, including working 16 years teaching in public and private schools. She currently works with students with disabilities in Northside Independent School District.
Lani has volunteered for multiple political campaigns, helped found Hill Country Conservative Neighbors, and has been a precinct chair since 2012. She has attended all except one State Convention since 1996.
Judge Daphne Previti Austin
When the Honorable Daphne Previti Austin was elected to the 289th District Court in 2014, she saw a need for a boys mental health court. Bexar County already had a national award-winning specialty court to serve girls that were started by the Honorable Laura Parker but there wasn’t an equivalent program for boys. She is pleased that her court was awarded the first grant for which they applied and has now started the first juvenile boys’ mental health court in the country.
Judge Previti Austin began her advocacy career in the St. Mary’s University Law School Clinic for Legal and Social Justice when she wrote an appellate brief and argued before the Fourth Court of Appeals and prevailed. She quit while she was ahead and continued with a courtroom practice. She spent many years at the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office and several years as a solo practitioner concentrating on Criminal and Juvenile defense in State and Federal Court. She became Board Certified in Juvenile Law in 2002.
Jason Kenneth Pulliam was born in 1971 in Brooklyn. Pulliam earned a B.A. in political science, cum laude, from the City University of New York – Brooklyn College in 1995, an M.A. in political science from the City University of New York – Brooklyn College in 1997, and a J.D., cum laude, from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in 2000. In law school, Pulliam served on the law review. After his graduation, Pulliam spent three years as a Judge Advocate in the United States Marine Corps.
After leaving the Marines, Pulliam spent the next six years as an associate in private practice, moving between The Carlson Law Firm, Ball & Weed P.C. and Ford & Murray PLLC. In 2011, Pulliam became a Judge with the Bexar County Court of Law No. 5. In 2015, he was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry as a Justice on the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals. In 2016, Pulliam joined the law firm of Prichard & Young where he worked as he was considered for appointment to his current post as United States District Judge to the San Antonio Division in the Western District of Texas. On March 5, 2019, President Donald Trump nominated Pulliam for appointment as a U.S. District Judge. The U.S. Senate confirmed Pulliam on July 31, 2019, and he received his commission to the bench on August 5, 2019. Pulliam was the first African American Republican to be a Bexar County judge when he was appointed in 2011. He then became the first African American to sit on the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals and, now is the first African American to hold a bench on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
Judge Bert Richardson is a native and resident of San Antonio, Texas. His father was an Air Force, fighter pilot, who flew 160 missions over Vietnam.His mother operated a fine art gallery. He graduated from Judson High School, received his BS from Brigham Young University, and his legal degree from St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio, Texas. Richardson began his legal career included serving as an Assistant District Attorney, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas and in 1999, Governor George Bush appointed Richardson to the 379th District Court Judge position where he served for 10 years. Richardson, who is board certified in criminal law, also serves as an adjunct law professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio.
He is married and has one son.
Chip Roy is a genuine and principled conservative running to represent the 21st Congressional District in Texas. Chip’s Texas roots date back to the 1850s when his family settled in Central Texas, near Dripping Springs. Chip is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds a law degree from the University of Texas.
Chip worked as an investment-banking analyst with NationsBanc Capital Markets and is a former federal prosecutor. Chip has served as general counsel to Sen. John Cornyn and held several top leadership positions for Texas elected officials, including the First Assistant Attorney General of Texas under Ken Paxton, Chief of Staff to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and senior advisor to Texas Gov. Rick Perry—and serving as his director for State-Federal Relations.
Previously, Chip served as the Vice President of Strategy for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. In that role, Chip helped spearhead Life: Powered, TPPF’s major initiative to change the national dialogue on energy and promote the use of affordable and reliable fossil fuels.
Currently, Chip serves as general counsel for Brigham Resources, an oil and gas company headquartered in Austin,
Texas. In this role, Chip advocates for responsible energy production empowers clients to provide reliable energy at an affordable price through the free market and is a champion of American energy independence.
Most importantly, Chip is a dedicated husband and father. He is married to Carrah Roy and they live in Austin, TX with their two young children Charlie and Virginia.
Judge Melisa Skinner is a 6th generation Texan who was born and raised in San Antonio. She attended Providence High School, the University of Texas at Austin and St. Mary’s School of Law, graduating with honors from all three. Judge Skinner was licensed to practice law in 1993 and began practicing criminal law as a solo practitioner. In 1994, she became an Assistant Criminal District Attorney for the County of Bexar. She then served the community for almost 15 years as a prosecutor representing the State of Texas against those accused of crimes ranging from misdemeanor offenses to cases in which the State sought the death penalty. She was honored as Best Lawyer in Prosecution in 2006, 2009 and 2010 before she was elected as Judge of the 290th Judicial District Court. As the judge of the 290th District Court, she has presided over every type of felony offense, including multiple Capital Murder cases. Judge Skinner has extensive experience in the area of criminal law as a trial lawyer and now, as a State District Court Judge.
Tommy Stolhandske is the judge of the Bexar County Court at Law No. 11. He was elected in 2014 and took office January 1, 2015. Judge Stolhandske has heard thousands of criminal cases and presided over many jury trials. In addition to his regular court, Judge Stolhandske also presides over the Bexar County Adult Drug Court, which is a special court that provides judicial intervention by supervising the highest risk and highest need offenders suffering from drug addictions in Bexar County. He was born and raised in San Antonio and is a graduate of Churchill High School. Stolhandske earned an undergraduate degree from Texas Lutheran University, where he was a three-time All-American basketball player and then went on to receive his J.D. from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Stolhandske worked as an attorney in Bexar County from 2009 until his judicial election in 2014. He is a husband and is a father to a beautiful 3-year-old daughter with a son due in December. Judge Stolhandske loves sports and is a die-hard fan of the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Cubs!
Judge Scott Roberts
Judge Scott Roberts- Judge, County Court at Law #12, Bexar County, Texas, 2011
– Southwest Texas State University, B.S. in Education, 1984
– St. Mary’s University School of Law, J.D., 1989
– Texas State University, M.A. in History, 2009
– Judge, County Court at Law #12, Bexar County, Texas, 2011 – current
– Assistant District Attorney, Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, 1998 – 2010
– Solo Law Practice, 1996 – 1998
– Briefing Attorney, Fourth Court of Appeals, Justice Phil Hardberger, 1994 – 1996
– Associate, Law Offices of Pat Maloney, 1990 – 1994
– Briefing Attorney, Supreme Court of Texas, Justice Lloyd Doggett, 1989 – 1990
– Teacher, Pleasanton High School, Pleasanton, Texas, 1985 – 1986
Justice Beth Watkins was elected to Place 2 on the Fourth Court of Appeals in 2018. Before joining the Court, she represented clients in more than 200 appeals to state and federal appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court, the Texas Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and most intermediate appellate courts in Texas. Justice Watkins has been Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law since 2008.
Justice Watkins is a committed community servant. She is a Past President of the San Antonio Bar Association, San Antonio Bar Foundation, and Community Justice Foundation. She has served on the State Bar of Texas Grievance Committee, the Amicus Committee of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, and the Boards of Directors of the San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association and St. Mary’s Law Alumni Association. She is a Life Fellow of both the San Antonio Bar Foundation and Texas Bar Foundation. She currently serves on the Board of Editors for the Texas Bar Journal.
In addition, Justice Watkins has held several teaching positions at her alma mater, St. Mary’s University School of Law. From 2005 through 2008, she served as the Associate Director of the Office of Academic Excellence. She also taught legal research and writing to first-year law students from 2006 to 2016. And from 2015 until 2017, she served as the law school’s Institutional Legal Research Manager.
Jim Wright is the Republican nominee for the office of Texas Railroad Commission. He is a successful businessman who owns and operates four oil field services companies that offer services ranging from consulting and transportation to industrial recycling.
A lifelong South Texan, Jim is a 5th generation Texan and 5th generation rancher.
Jim was in the national finals of the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) when he attended Calallen High School in Corpus Christi. He rode bulls for over 20 years and was a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA). He has also been involved in numerous civic activities including as a board member of C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Special Advocate) of the Coastal Bend and the Robstown Area Development Commission.
A strong Christian, Jim and his wife have five children and they live on a ranch. Jim is a Lutheran and when possible attends many of the state’s Cowboy Churches, where his son Luke is a well-known speaker and preacher. Jim and his wife, Sherry, have five children.