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STCL HOUSTON ALUMNA POSITIVELY IMPACTS YOUTH, DIVERSE COMMUNITIES AS ATTORNEY, VOLUNTEER

 

“I am at my best when my hands and mind are busy and I am connected to something outside myself, working with others to solve problems,” said STCL Houston alumna Brittny Mandarino Curry ’20.

Her intention to make an impact on education reform figured prominently in her decision to become a lawyer. She works for the Harris County Public Defender’s Office in the juvenile division, representing the interests of justice-involved youth in matters of discipline, special education and educational access.

“Students frequently have difficulty navigating their re-entry to school after involvement with the juvenile justice system,” Curry said. “The stigma attached to justice involvement is pervasive in education, and it’s my job to help identify the students’ needs — on campus and off — and collaborate with the school district’s staff to see that the student receives the appropriate support during this transition to return to school.”

She gets tremendous satisfaction out of working with a team of former educators and passionate youth advocates at the Public Defender’s Office.

“My teen clients want and deserve to be heard,” she said. “As their attorney, I may be one of the very few adults in their lives to ask what they want and to advocate for the outcomes they desire. By making a case for their stated interest, I can help them develop a sense of agency and become empowered to make positive, productive decisions in the future.”

Curry’s desire to make an impact and inspire others drives her to be an active and passionate volunteer.  While at STCL Houston, she was involved with several student organizations, including the Women’s Law Society, The Black Law Students Association and AMICUS — the school’s affinity group for LGBTQ+ students. Curry also was an active leader with the South Texas Law Review and the Houston Young Lawyers Association.

Curry was recently elected the 2022-23 president-elect of the Houston Young Lawyers Association (HYLA). She has served as a board member and committee co-chair for HYLA’s Know Your Rights Committee, an initiative that focuses on promoting healthy interactions between youth and law enforcement in our communities.

“These programs, and those like it, are critical for increasing positive outcomes for youth in the Houston area,” Curry said. “We are all responsible for supporting this next generation, and what better way for our lawyers to be involved than in educating young people about their constitutional rights. It’s a rewarding experience and the kids are engaged.”

Curry also is a member of the Houston Bar Association’s Gender Fairness Committee, which is committed to promoting awareness of issues related to gender parity in the legal profession.

 “As a lawyer and female person of color, who also identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, my presence and representation is noticed, and I have the incredible opportunity to pull others in,” she said.

Curry uses the platform provided by the Gender Fairness Committee and the Houston Coalition for Diverse Bar Associations to encourage meaningful dialogues and conversations about diversity, equity and fairness in the workplace, and its impact is far reaching.

The Gender Fairness Committee published its most recent Gender Fairness Commitment Statement in 2021, welcoming more than 60 Houston law firms and government agencies who pledged support to advancing gender equity in their respective organizations.

“There’s room for so many more at the table,” Curry said. “I urge stakeholders to sign on and commit!”

As a member of the coalition, Curry supports its mission to advance diversity in the legal profession and to address common concerns and strategic goals of organizations like the Mexican American Bar Association of Houston, the South Asian Bar Association and the Houston Lawyers Association —Houston’s African American bar association.

Interested in service opportunities that were not legal in nature, Curry discovered Covenant House Texas (CHT) and the Hollyfield Foundation. Curry and her wife, Nahdra, are active in Covenant House Texas’ Young Professionals group. They slept on a sidewalk recently as part of the organization’s annual “Sleep Out” fundraiser to bring attention to the experience of homeless individuals.

Curry hopes to continue volunteering to support CHT’s mission to shelter and support homeless, abused and abandoned youth in Houston and across Texas. “LGBTQ+ youth have an increased risk for homelessness and are especially vulnerable to trafficking and other harmful victimization, and we are committed to sharing our time and talents to this cause,” she said.

The Hollyfield Foundation also benefits from Curry’s involvement. This organization is a Houston-based endowment that funds nonprofits on the front lines who serve the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS populations.

“We donate to historically underfunded initiatives, providing the financial means to help these organizations advance in their work,” Curry said. “It makes a real difference, and we see those dollars invested back into our community. Our impact is far-reaching, and I am blessed to be able to do this work.”

Curry is dedicated to doing things that bring her joy. This includes competitive bowling, cycling and enjoying Houston’s exciting food scene.

“If you’re on social media, please follow my friend and fellow STCL Houston alum John Nechman ’95 as he highlights Houston’s best undercover food finds,” Curry said.

She is also dedicated to personal growth as she continues to give of herself to make the world a more equitable place. “I am constantly evolving as an individual and as a leader, and I am excited for what’s in store!” she said. “What’s for certain is that I will continue to show up, be present and listen, and do what’s in my power to move the needle toward a more just and inclusive world.”

STCL Houston Alumnus Wins Nautilus Award for Book About Camp Logan Soldiers

Jaime Salazar, a 2015 alumnus of South Texas College of Law Houston (STCL Houston), recently won a 2022 Nautilus Award for his book “Mutiny of Rage,” based on the 1917 Camp Logan riots that occurred in Houston.

The Nautilus Award’s core mission is to celebrate and honor books that support positive social change and social justice, amid other goals. Salazar’s book, released by Prometheus Books in August 2021, includes a foreword by Geoffrey S. Corn, the Gary A. Kuiper Distinguished Professor of National Security Law at STCL Houston.

Salazar was a former student of Prof. Corn while in law school, and Prof. Corn has been actively involved in trying to restore honor to the Camp Logan soldiers.

“ ‘Mutiny of Rage’ does something few books have attempted before: it contributes to a present-day awareness of the tragic end that befell these soldiers,” wrote Prof. Corn, who also is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army.

STCL Houston Professor Kenneth Williams also praised the book. “Salazar recreated an important yet overlooked moment in Texas and American history with a searing narrative about the Camp Logan race riots of 1917. Mutiny of Rage is at once gripping and vital in understanding the injustices that African Americans too often endure in the American criminal justice system.”

Prof. Corn notes that the end of the Camp Logan story has not been written. STCL Houston faculty and students, with a variety of external collaborators, continue working on a justice  initiative related to these soldiers.

“At the very least, we must understand these events and learn from this tragedy,” Prof. Corn said.

Salazar, who lives in Houston, is a lawyer, engineer, soldier and author. He wrote the 2005 memoir Legion of the Lost, which recounted his experiences joining and subsequently fleeing the French Foreign Legion. He also co-authored Escaping the Amazon. He currently practices immigration, patent and criminal law. When not practicing law, he is dedicated to his passion for writing narrative non-fiction and to physical activity. He competed in the 2020 Houston Marathon.

Life Experience Leads STCL Houston Managing Attorney to Serve Through Pro Bono Legal Clinics

Vinh Ho,  the managing attorney of the Civil Practice Clinics and Immigration Initiatives at South Texas College of Law Houston, has a personal understanding of the challenges faced by refugees and immigrants.

He and his family were refugees after the Vietnam War, fleeing by boat in the early 1980s. Rescued and placed in refugee camps in Indonesia, they eventually resettled in Houston.

“My passion for public interest work for immigrants and refugees stems from this background,” Ho said. “To pay it forward, I have done advocacy work at the local, state, federal and international levels, focusing on Southeast Asia — just as others have advocated for me and my family.”

Ho began his career as a public interest attorney, mostly representing immigrants and refugees — first at YMCA International Services, then at Boat People SOS. His duties and roles at BPSOS expanded and became increasingly managerial and administrative over time.

“I served as the executive director for a couple of years before deciding I missed the practice of law,” he said. His desire to return to legal pursuits brought him to STCL Houston, where he was able to develop and enhance a clinical program he thought was “ripe for expansion.”

Not long after arriving at South Texas in August 2014, Ho launched the Immigration Initiatives — a program that enveloped an existing Asylum/Human Trafficking Clinic and a newly created Immigration Clinic. He felt the Immigration Clinic was long overdue as a service, with the added benefit that students would find the subject matter appealing and could pursue it as a potential career path.

Under Ho’s management, the Civil Practice Clinics have doubled in size, including the addition of Veterans, Expunction/Nondisclosure, and Landlord/Tenant clinics. The pro bono work of the STCL Houston Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics is vitally important to the law students and the community.

“First-year and other doctrinal courses help students think like lawyers,” Ho said. “Clinics help students become lawyers, applying their knowledge to real issues, clients and cases. These cases involve people with compelling stories, seeking access to justice but lacking the funds to do so. Without legal aid and volunteer legal service programs, many would be denied the right to work, live and protect their families.”

Ho has taken the clinics directly to the people of Houston. “Instead of serving as a hub where applicants or clients come to receive services, we have worked hard to embed our teams in the community,” he said.

For example, during the latter part of 2020, Ho and the clinic students and staff partnered with government entities and community-based organizations to hold drive-thru clinics. They helped hundreds of individuals facing housing instability be able to stay in their homes.

“It’s fulfilling to see the students appreciate that this gives them the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves — to see they can effect change in the lives of families,” he said.

Last year, Ho co-taught the Immigration Clinic and the Asylum/Human Trafficking Clinic. His students were not just taking a class about procedure and paperwork. They were seeing things through the lens of Ho’s lived experience, which has come full circle as he helps others in similar circumstances. “The students’ perspective was equally changed by the clients’ stories, and they understood how complicated the whole situation is for immigrants or refugees,” he said.

According to Catherine Burnett, associate dean for experiential education and professor of law at STCL Houston, Ho’s work has both impact and reach.

“As managing attorney, Vinh has been a critical part of expanding our onsite clinics while staying true to our founding vision of excellence in service and education,” Prof. Burnett said. “His leadership ensures a high, demanding degree of professionalism in our legal practice. That’s essential for the school’s ‘public interest law firm.’  It impacts the services our clients receive and models best practices for our students.”

Ho feels strongly that telling his story can help fight existing cultural biases and attract more Asian Americans to a career in law.

“In many Asian communities, there are negative stereotypes about lawyers,” he said. “We take it for granted that the legal profession garners respect here in the U.S. If you grow up in a place where lawyers are not respected or trusted, you cannot see yourself in that profession. Hopefully, my story and the work I am doing will change the way the profession is seen by first- and second-generation Asian Americans who have no other point of reference.”

Burnett agrees that Vinh plays a key role as bridge builder, within the law school and the larger community. “He seeks out and creates collaborative opportunities and keeps us connected with the larger legal needs facing the communities we serve. We are lucky he is here.”

 

Bright Futures: South Texas Student Secures Army JAG Position

Heaven Smith will soon leave South Texas College of Law Houston with a J.D. degree and a commitment to serve in the U.S. Army. She will proudly join the ranks of South Texas graduates who have served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the U.S. Army — or JAG officers.

The American Bar Association notes that new lawyers are becoming JAG officers more frequently, working in all legal matters involving the military. The work mirrors almost every aspect of civilian law, and JAGs are selected for each of the five U.S. military branches: Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Air Force.

Smith is from the small town of Lake, Mississippi. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2014, and her Master of Social Work at Jackson State University in 2017.

Heavily involved in the Black Law Students Association, Smith served first as the social media chair then as president this past year. She said her most notable accomplishment during her time at STCL Houston was chairing the most successful Black Law Students Association scholarship gala to-date. The event produced $10,000 funding for student scholarships, and Dean Helen Jenkins was honored that night with a lifetime achievement award.

Smith also served as a Langdell Scholar for Professor Shelby Moore’s Torts 1 Class. “It was an honor to be chosen after scoring the highest in the class. Now I get to help teach and review with students. I’m helping reinforce their knowledge,” Smith said. She noted that Professor Moore has been Smith’s own mentor since year one, encouraging her to be a better law student and a better attorney.

Smith’s proudest moment was helping her mentee, Callie, earn an A-plus in the class her first semester. “Callie’s very humble, dedicates herself and is such a hard worker,” Smith said. “Seeing her success made me happy and helped me to know that what I’m doing matters.”

Smith also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board as a voice for the student body. The group takes issues to President and Dean Michael F. Barry then helps troubleshoot and find solutions.

Choosing a path
Smith says she went to a JAG interest meeting and saw Professor Matthew Festa there. “He  took me under his wing and answered all of my questions. He was integral to steering my path,” she said.

It had been Smith’s dream since high school to go into the military, but she decided to go to college rather than pursue active duty. Once at STCL Houston, she realized she could combine her law degree with military service and set her sights on becoming an Army JAG.

Both Professor Festa and Professor Daniel Correa were supportive of Smith, and Correa wrote her a letter of recommendation.

While Smith said all her classes were applicable to her future career — as JAGs handle everything from matters of national security to administrative law, fiscal law and contract law —her 2021 summer internship at the Aviation Center of Excellence in Fort Rucker, Ala., provided invaluable exposure to the legal field.

Learning the ropes
“The internship was mind-blowing, to see everything in action,” Smith said. While there, she participated in line-of-duty investigations of airplane and helicopter crashes, as well as administrative separations and punishments. “We negotiated a 150-page contract for light bulbs, if you can believe it. I also was given a special assignment from an attorney to construct an identity theft package to investigate a disputed incident.”

Smith even drafted opine statements about court martials in different stages, from recommendation up until the actual court date. Smith said her experience solidified her desire to become an Army JAG.

While she doesn’t know her assignment yet, Smith will report to Fort Benning for officer training after she gets her Bar results in October. After that, she’ll head to Charlottesville for JAG school in either March or August. She looks forward to serving alongside her husband, who is serving in the Army.

Smith encourages other students who are interested in a career as a JAG to network within the South Texas community.

“I found a great support system of both professors and other students who helped throughout the application process,” she said. “I can’t wait to get started!”

LEARNING FROM TRIALS AND ERRORS

Judge Donna Roth

Harris County District Court Judge Donna Roth is not just a South Texas College of Law Houston alumna — class of '87. She is also the mother of an STCL Houston graduate and a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. She, and her daughter, regularly attend new student receptions. Additionally, Judge Roth volunteers her time to support Advocacy Program's moot court and mock trial teams.

Yet, giving our current students real-world experience as interns in her courtroom could be the most significant contribution to her alma mater. Since her election to the 295th District Court and assuming office in 2019, five STCL Houston students have completed an internship with Judge Roth.

During the 2021 summer, rising 3L Trevor Finster and incoming 1L Armon Mehrinfar each joined her staff. While she typically hires students who have completed their state procedure course, she met Armon when welcoming new students, resulting in a unique opportunity to intern before stepping foot in his first law school class. Trevor, who she hired through a more traditional process, will continue his work with her this fall.

While she doesn't hire STCL Houston students exclusively, she appreciates that the law school goes beyond GPAs and LSAT scores when recruiting new students. In a recent conversation, she shared her perspective on the profession regarding students and young attorneys.

On her priorities when hiring:
"I want someone who is really open to learning, someone who has research skills, someone who is going to be able to watch and learn."

On what she wants her interns to experience:
"How the court works, how hearings are won and lost, how to write a brief, because some of the best examples of how to write a brief are looking at a bad one. The importance of being nice to court staff."

On the value of working in a courtroom:
"The way we answered that all summer long was telling the interns, 'Did you see what he just did? That's what you're not supposed to do.' Some of them are just simple things like don't forget to stand when you address the court. Don't interrupt the judge. But one of the most important things you can gain by watching others is familiarity and comfort in the courtroom."

On preparing for a career in law:
"Find someone who you are comfortable with, that you can go to for questions and problems — a mentor who can listen to you and work out issues and problems with you. Also, if you want to be successful in this business, you have to want it. You have to really want to be a lawyer. People who think, 'Oh, I don't know what to do, so I'll go to law school, probably shouldn't go to law school.'"

INTRODUCING PROF. RYAN NELSON

 

A wide breadth of knowledge and an insightful approach to teaching: That’s what students can expect when Professor Ryan Nelson joins South Texas College of Law’s faculty this fall. Inside the lecture hall, he will teach Civil Procedure I and II. Outside, he will continue his scholarship in sexual orientation discrimination and promoting equality, especially within the workplace.

In fact, it was South Texas’ commitment to diversity that first drew him to Houston. After Nelson got the job offer from STCL Houston, the stars aligned quickly; Nelson’s husband received an offer at Texas Children’s Hospital, sealing the couple’s move from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast.

Despite his impressive experience, this fall will be the professor’s first opportunity to work with 1Ls. Nelson is eager to get started, seeing this as a chance to get in on the ground floor and mold educational paths from the very first day of law school. However, Nelson doesn’t expect to simply teach those first year students. Two of his favorite law school professors showed him “the importance of humility and recognizing that even they didn’t know everything.”

Instead of lecturing, he envisions his role as a discussion leader, first getting on his students’ level in order to leverage his experience and help guide them. He says, “Let’s figure out the law together. That’s an important part of my process in working with my students.” And Nelson can’t think of any better course than Civil Procedure to validate that process. He sees Civil Procedure I and II as practical, realistic courses that will help STCL Houston students in the real world after graduation, and notes that only the best lawyers know how to leverage civil procedure and maximize their ability to represent clients.

That sentiment ties directly into a second characteristic that attracted the professor to South Texas: the school’s commitment to creating practice-ready students. “It’s important to show students how to marry scholarship with practice, and that creativity isn't just a classroom tool. You can dream up new, exciting ways to leverage the law in order to support clients AND make positive change in the world,” he says.

Making positive change is something with which Nelson is quite familiar. He’s currently researching the moral hazards of Workplace Harassment Law, hoping to disincentivize would-be harassers and tear down company policies that protect and encourage abusers. The professor’s extracurricular activities also include work with the nonprofit organization One Fair Wage and the National LGBT Bar Association. Nelson’s collaboration with One Fair Wage first developed out of an article he was writing about restaurant worker wages. After connecting with president Saru Jayaraman, Nelson realized the potential of the pair teaming up to fight for fair wages for restaurant workers. Working alongside the National Legal Advocacy Network and Gerstein Harrow LLP, they filed a lawsuit against Darden Restaurants this past spring, hoping to combat inequitable take-home wages among restaurant employees, especially those caused by race-based tipping disparities.

As for The National LGBT Bar Association, Nelson praised the opportunities he and other attorneys have received in connecting with LGBT+ attorneys and allies, saying “They’ve helped more than any other organization to invigorate my thinking on LGBT+ issues.” That’s especially the case when it comes to distinguishing between fighting for formal equality and substantive equality for members of the LGBT+ community. Regarding formal equality, Nelson sees a lot of promise for equal treatment under the law in the future. Substantive equality, however, is an issue he believes is far from a lasting resolution. He points to gender biases in healthcare, as well as equitable employer policies that need to support LGBT+ couples with the same types of perks as heterosexual couples, as examples.

Prior to joining STCL Houston, Nelson’s resume includes a research fellowship with the Harvard Law School Project on Disability. He also has adjunct faculty experience at Boston University School of Law, New England Law Boston, and New York Law School.

30 YEARS OF LGBT ADVOCACY

Mitchell Katine with pride flags

When Mitchell Katine ’85 decided to attend law school, he did not have a particular career path in mind. Katine, the son of a court reporter, studied mass communication as an undergraduate and was more interested in knowledge than vocation.

“At that time, mine was not really a practical position,” he said. “I just enjoyed learning; studying law was fun and challenging, but I wasn’t sure I’d make a life out of it.”

Nevertheless, Katine’s passion for learning earned him impressive marks in law school. He graduated fourth in his class, a distinction that landed him job interviews with several major firms.

“I didn’t land any of those jobs, however,” Katine said. “I was too honest in my interviews. When they asked what kind of law I wanted to practice, I told them I genuinely had no idea!”

Katine did eventually land a job and he has since built a successful career in real estate law. However, he found his true calling in the cases he picked up as a volunteer.

In 1986, the HIV/AIDS epidemic reached the United States, leaving in its wake many sick, marginalized patients — most of them young, gay men like Katine himself. While he personally did not face a diagnosis, he witnessed many of his friends fall ill and take on the insurmountable task of planning their own funerals. It was a grim situation caused by a disease mysterious to both the medical community and the public at large. The epidemic also created an uncharted legal landscape.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) did not pass until 1992; until that point, HIV/AIDS patients had little protection from employment termination, eviction, health and life insurance revocation, or denial of medical treatment. Katine took on these cases, helping dozens of clients protect their families and live out their final days with dignity. He also educated the public through seminars and workshops, many of which he hosted at STCL Houston.

His dedication to this work earned Katine a reputation as a champion for marginalized individuals, and in 1998 when a civil rights case involving LGBT clients arose in Harris County, he received the call to represent them.

Responding to a reported disturbance at John Lawrence’s apartment, police allegedly witnessed Lawrence and Tyron Garner engaging in a private, consensual sexual act. They arrested the two men and charged them with violating a Texas law that forbade same sex persons to engage in intimate sexual conduct. Katine and Lambda Legal, a national legal organization dedicated to LGBT advocacy, took on the case. A five-year legal battle ensued, rising from the county criminal court up to the Supreme Court, which reached its decision in June 2003.

Katine was in his office at Williams Birnberg & Andersen, surrounded by news cameras, when his colleagues called from Washington, D.C. to deliver the verdict. The court had ruled in their favor, reversing its original 1986 opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick, and concluding that the Texas statute violated the due process clause. Since then, Lawrence v. Texas has set precedence for several civil rights cases; Justice Anthony Kennedy even referred to the case in his majority opinion on Obergefell v. Hodges, which established marriage rights for same-sex couples. In a full-circle moment, Katine and his husband Walter Avila were married four years later.

“It’s an honor to have played a role in such an impactful case as Lawrence v. Texas,” Katine said. “My work with HIV/AIDs patients was equally, if not more, rewarding because we were helping people for whom we often were the last hope. I have two kids now, and I’m most grateful to look back on some difficult times and be able to say honestly, ‘I did what I could when others couldn’t or wouldn’t.’”

Today, Katine is a partner at Katine Nechman McLaurin LLP, where he represents diverse clients in complex legal areas with a focus in real estate litigation, estate planning, and human resources matters. He and his law partner, John Nechman ‘95 continue to advocate for marginalized and underserved individuals through LGBT family law cases and a robust immigration law practice.

Organization Blog
STCL HOUSTON ALUMNA POSITIVELY IMPACTS YOUTH, DIVERSE COMMUNITIES AS ATTORNEY, VOLUNTEER

 

“I am at my best when my hands and mind are busy and I am connected to something outside myself, working with others to solve problems,” said STCL Houston alumna Brittny Mandarino Curry ’20.

Her intention to make an impact on education reform figured prominently in her decision to become a lawyer. She works for the Harris County Public Defender’s Office in the juvenile division, representing the interests of justice-involved youth in matters of discipline, special education and educational access.

“Students frequently have difficulty navigating their re-entry to school after involvement with the juvenile justice system,” Curry said. “The stigma attached to justice involvement is pervasive in education, and it’s my job to help identify the students’ needs — on campus and off — and collaborate with the school district’s staff to see that the student receives the appropriate support during this transition to return to school.”

She gets tremendous satisfaction out of working with a team of former educators and passionate youth advocates at the Public Defender’s Office.

“My teen clients want and deserve to be heard,” she said. “As their attorney, I may be one of the very few adults in their lives to ask what they want and to advocate for the outcomes they desire. By making a case for their stated interest, I can help them develop a sense of agency and become empowered to make positive, productive decisions in the future.”

Curry’s desire to make an impact and inspire others drives her to be an active and passionate volunteer.  While at STCL Houston, she was involved with several student organizations, including the Women’s Law Society, The Black Law Students Association and AMICUS — the school’s affinity group for LGBTQ+ students. Curry also was an active leader with the South Texas Law Review and the Houston Young Lawyers Association.

Curry was recently elected the 2022-23 president-elect of the Houston Young Lawyers Association (HYLA). She has served as a board member and committee co-chair for HYLA’s Know Your Rights Committee, an initiative that focuses on promoting healthy interactions between youth and law enforcement in our communities.

“These programs, and those like it, are critical for increasing positive outcomes for youth in the Houston area,” Curry said. “We are all responsible for supporting this next generation, and what better way for our lawyers to be involved than in educating young people about their constitutional rights. It’s a rewarding experience and the kids are engaged.”

Curry also is a member of the Houston Bar Association’s Gender Fairness Committee, which is committed to promoting awareness of issues related to gender parity in the legal profession.

 “As a lawyer and female person of color, who also identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, my presence and representation is noticed, and I have the incredible opportunity to pull others in,” she said.

Curry uses the platform provided by the Gender Fairness Committee and the Houston Coalition for Diverse Bar Associations to encourage meaningful dialogues and conversations about diversity, equity and fairness in the workplace, and its impact is far reaching.

The Gender Fairness Committee published its most recent Gender Fairness Commitment Statement in 2021, welcoming more than 60 Houston law firms and government agencies who pledged support to advancing gender equity in their respective organizations.

“There’s room for so many more at the table,” Curry said. “I urge stakeholders to sign on and commit!”

As a member of the coalition, Curry supports its mission to advance diversity in the legal profession and to address common concerns and strategic goals of organizations like the Mexican American Bar Association of Houston, the South Asian Bar Association and the Houston Lawyers Association —Houston’s African American bar association.

Interested in service opportunities that were not legal in nature, Curry discovered Covenant House Texas (CHT) and the Hollyfield Foundation. Curry and her wife, Nahdra, are active in Covenant House Texas’ Young Professionals group. They slept on a sidewalk recently as part of the organization’s annual “Sleep Out” fundraiser to bring attention to the experience of homeless individuals.

Curry hopes to continue volunteering to support CHT’s mission to shelter and support homeless, abused and abandoned youth in Houston and across Texas. “LGBTQ+ youth have an increased risk for homelessness and are especially vulnerable to trafficking and other harmful victimization, and we are committed to sharing our time and talents to this cause,” she said.

The Hollyfield Foundation also benefits from Curry’s involvement. This organization is a Houston-based endowment that funds nonprofits on the front lines who serve the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS populations.

“We donate to historically underfunded initiatives, providing the financial means to help these organizations advance in their work,” Curry said. “It makes a real difference, and we see those dollars invested back into our community. Our impact is far-reaching, and I am blessed to be able to do this work.”

Curry is dedicated to doing things that bring her joy. This includes competitive bowling, cycling and enjoying Houston’s exciting food scene.

“If you’re on social media, please follow my friend and fellow STCL Houston alum John Nechman ’95 as he highlights Houston’s best undercover food finds,” Curry said.

She is also dedicated to personal growth as she continues to give of herself to make the world a more equitable place. “I am constantly evolving as an individual and as a leader, and I am excited for what’s in store!” she said. “What’s for certain is that I will continue to show up, be present and listen, and do what’s in my power to move the needle toward a more just and inclusive world.”


Monday, June 20, 2022 12:50:00 PM

STCL Houston Alumnus Wins Nautilus Award for Book About Camp Logan Soldiers

Jaime Salazar, a 2015 alumnus of South Texas College of Law Houston (STCL Houston), recently won a 2022 Nautilus Award for his book “Mutiny of Rage,” based on the 1917 Camp Logan riots that occurred in Houston.

The Nautilus Award’s core mission is to celebrate and honor books that support positive social change and social justice, amid other goals. Salazar’s book, released by Prometheus Books in August 2021, includes a foreword by Geoffrey S. Corn, the Gary A. Kuiper Distinguished Professor of National Security Law at STCL Houston.

Salazar was a former student of Prof. Corn while in law school, and Prof. Corn has been actively involved in trying to restore honor to the Camp Logan soldiers.

“ ‘Mutiny of Rage’ does something few books have attempted before: it contributes to a present-day awareness of the tragic end that befell these soldiers,” wrote Prof. Corn, who also is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army.

STCL Houston Professor Kenneth Williams also praised the book. “Salazar recreated an important yet overlooked moment in Texas and American history with a searing narrative about the Camp Logan race riots of 1917. Mutiny of Rage is at once gripping and vital in understanding the injustices that African Americans too often endure in the American criminal justice system.”

Prof. Corn notes that the end of the Camp Logan story has not been written. STCL Houston faculty and students, with a variety of external collaborators, continue working on a justice  initiative related to these soldiers.

“At the very least, we must understand these events and learn from this tragedy,” Prof. Corn said.

Salazar, who lives in Houston, is a lawyer, engineer, soldier and author. He wrote the 2005 memoir Legion of the Lost, which recounted his experiences joining and subsequently fleeing the French Foreign Legion. He also co-authored Escaping the Amazon. He currently practices immigration, patent and criminal law. When not practicing law, he is dedicated to his passion for writing narrative non-fiction and to physical activity. He competed in the 2020 Houston Marathon.


Thursday, June 9, 2022 12:31:00 PM