The Board of Directors of the White House Fellows Foundation
OFFICERS OF THE BOARD
President: Marc Thomas (1994-95)
Marc Thomas is the President & COO of NexGen Carbon Solutions (“NexGen”), and COO of Horizon Energy Global Corporation (“HEGC”). Prior to joining NexGen and HEGC, Marc was the CEO and Chief Government Affairs Officer of Wrap Technologies, Inc. (“WRAP”). As a White House Fellow, he worked in the Office of the Vice President for National Security Affairs with a portfolio that included but was not limited to: the Global Environment, Africa, U.N. Peacekeeping, Humanitarian Assistance, Refugee Affairs, and Counter-Terrorism. After serving over ten years on active federal duty with the U.S. Army Special Forces operating in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and as an assistant professor of Engineering Management, Department of Systems Engineering, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, Marc departed the military and joined McKinsey & Company where he focused on the energy, telecommunications and the consumer products industries. Additionally, Marc held senior executive and officer positions within General Electric and several private equity firms. His community service started with volunteering at the Regents Homeless Shelter in New York, and continues with mentoring countless numbers of teens and young adults throughout our great nation.
Marc holds a BS in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Stanford University, an MBA / MSIE from Columbia Business School and Columbia Graduate School of Engineering, respectively, and a JD from the University of Texas School of Law at Austin.
President-Elect: Will Webb (1986-87)
Will Webb is a proactively committed servant leader. As a career Army officer, he commanded attack helicopter and armored cavalry troops, an air cavalry squadron, and an aviation brigade. His units deployed to liberate Panama and implement peace in war-ravaged Bosnia, and he had record impact as Legislative Director for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Post-military, he served as President/CEO of a wireless communications company, and founding Chairman, then CEO, of Still Serving Veterans, a nationally acclaimed service organization that passionately helps Veterans and families maximize post-military careers/lives. SSV has secured over $1.46 billion in cumulative salaries, benefits, and services for Veterans…at no charge to clients or employers. He served on several Governors’ and Commanding Generals’ Veteran and community commissions, boards, and committees. Will is passionate about optimizing the WHF Program. Blessed to serve as a Fellow in the Executive Office of President Reagan (OMB), he has paid it forward as a Presidential Commissioner, Chairman/President of the WHFFA, on Regional selection panels, and WHF endowment campaign Development Officer. Will is a graduate of West Point and Harvard Business School, and is committed to lifetime public service in government, church, community, and family support missions. He and Kay are thrilled to have their three wonderful children with spouses and seven precious grandchildren all in North Carolina near their lake home.
Vice President: Sharon Kiely (1994-95)
Dr. Sharon Kiely is Principal of Sharon Kiely, MD, LLC a private client coaching company. In addition she is Co-founder and Principal Well-being Worx, LLC a physician-focused, professional education and group coaching company. She is Professor, Internal Medicine, at the Frank H. Netter School of Medicine, Quinnipiac University. She also teaches at the Thomas Jefferson University Healthcare Leadership Academy for Women and the Quality Improvement Patient Safety Leadership Academy. She is a physician Peer Coach with Vital Work Life, a national leader in wellbeing and burnout in healthcare.
Prior to launching her entrepreneurial career, Sharon was the Chief Wellness Officer & Associate Chief Medical Officer for Hartford Healthcare, a $5B healthsystem in CT. She led the organization’s well-being efforts during the global Covid-19 pandemic, ultimately seeing well-being incorporated into the health system’s management operating system.
As a White House Fellow, she worked in the Office of the Secretary, at the Department of Health & Human Services, with a portfolio that included but was not limited to: US/ Mexico border and Pacific Basin health and health & welfare waivers. After the Fellowship, Kiely spent over twenty five years in health system executive leadership. She was focused on eliminating harm, improving safety and quality and optimizing well-being in the West Penn Allegheny Health System, Pittsburgh, PA, and at Stamford Health, Stamford CT. At Stamford, founded and was President of The Physician Alliance of Stamford, LLC, a Management Services Organization (MSO) started so that independent physicians could thrive, and remain independent of large health systems.
Sharon has served on the Unified Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Board of Directors, the U.S. Department of HHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Xenotransplantation, the Agency for Healthcare Policy & Research (AHCPR) Advisory Council and the National Institutes of Health, NIAID Advisory Council. Sharon and her husband Michael’s community service to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, over 30 years, was recognized by JDRF with the 2020 T1D Community Champions Award.
Sharon holds a BS in Psychology from Georgetown University, a Doctor of Medicine (MD) from Georgetown University, School of Medicine and a Master’s in Public Management (MPM) from the Heinz School of Public Policy & Management, Carnegie Mellon University. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine.
Secretary: Kari Fleming (2014-15)
Colonel Kari Fleming is the Chief, Complaints Resolutions Division, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Col Fleming earned her Air Force commission in 2003 from the United States Air Force Academy. Her initial assignment was to fly C-17As at then Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina where she earned qualifications as a Special Operations Low Level II instructor pilot. After a follow-on assignments, Col Fleming return to Charleston to command the Pelicans of the 14th Airlift Squadron. After command, she was selected as a Secretary of Defense Executive Fellow with placement at Georgia Power. Recently she earned her Joint officer qualification as the Executive Officer to the Deputy Commander, United States Transportation Command and as member of the task force for Operation Allies Refuge.
She lives in IL with her spouse, Ryan, and their children, Jaden and Rayson.
Treasurer: Kevin N. Monroe (1996-97)
Kevin N. Monroe is a CPA and Retired Audit Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP. Kevin was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and grew up in the southwestern Iowa town of Carter Lake, Iowa. He received his B.S.B.A. with honors from Creighton University in 1983. Prior to his retirement in June 2019, Mr. Monroe served as the Professional Practice Director for the Firm’s Tennessee and Carolinas practice offices, with responsibilities for audit and accounting consultation matters, compliance, risk management, and quality control. He also served as a Partner in Deloitte’s National Office, with responsibilities for audit policy development. Mr. Monroe currently serves as the inaugural Partner-in-Residence at Lipscomb University, working with the accounting programs of the College of Business. In 1996, Mr. Monroe was selected as one of eighteen White House Fellows by the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. During his Fellowship year, Mr. Monroe served as Special Assistant to the United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman. In 2016, Mr. Monroe was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Accountancy. He currently serves as the Board of Accountancy Chairman. Mr. Monroe serves as the Treasurer and is a past-president of the White House Fellows Foundation and Association.
Immediate Past President: Cara LaPointe (2013-14)
Dr. Cara LaPointe is the Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Assured Autonomy which works to ensure that autonomous systems throughout society are safe, secure, and trustworthy. She also serves as the Program Director of the French American Foundation’s Cybersecurity Program. At Georgetown University, Dr. LaPointe is an Adjunct Professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and a nonresident fellow at the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation where she created the “Blockchain Ethical Design Framework.” For more than two decades, Dr. LaPointe served as an officer within the United States Navy, most recently helping to lead the development of the Department of the Navy’s strategic vision for unmanned and autonomous systems in all domains. At the Deep Submergence Lab of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), she conducted research on autonomy and underwater robotics. Dr. LaPointe has served as an advisor to global emerging technology initiatives at the National Academy of Medicine, the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. As a White House Fellow, she worked for First Lady Michelle Obama developing public-private partnerships in support of veterans and military families and later served as the Interim Director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. She is a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Educational Council, a patented engineer, and co-founder of Archytas, a strategic technology consulting firm. Dr. LaPointe holds a Doctor of Philosophy awarded jointly by MIT and WHOI, a Master of Science and a Naval Engineer degree from MIT, a Master of Philosophy from the University of Oxford, and a Bachelor of Science from the United States Naval Academy.
Development Officer: Pieter Boelhouwer (1998-99)
Pieter Boelhouwer is a Managing Director at RA Capital Management. Pieter’s primary responsibility at RA Capital is to lead major strategic initiatives and drive operational excellence across the firm. Pieter holds a BA from Trinity College and a JD from Yale Law School. Pieter previously worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, where he managed a variety of healthcare engagements, including pharmaceutical mergers, biotech product launch plans, OTC product rationalization, and hospital acquisitions. He held senior management positions at two successful start-up companies that were acquired and he has over 14 years of experience investing in the global healthcare sector, both as a Partner and Managing Director at Matrix Capital Management and as a General Partner and Managing Director at Ayer Capital Management, a healthcare-focused hedge fund. He also gained extensive legislative and public policy experience early in his career as a Legislative Aide to former United States Senator David Boren, and as a Domestic Policy Advisor to former Vice President Al Gore. Pieter currently serves on the Board of Directors of the White House Fellows Foundation and Imbria Pharmaceuticals.
Executive Director: David Moore (1996-97)
David Moore is the Executive Director of the White House Fellows Foundation and Association (WHFFA). He served for 25 years as an Air Force pilot, with over 3,000 flight hours in the A-10 Warthog and F-117 Stealth Fighter. As a White House Fellow in 1996-1997 he was placed at the State Department where he coordinated Latin American and Taiwan arms-transfer policy. After the Fellowship he returned to flying and in 1999 flew numerous combat missions in the F-117 during the Air War over Serbia, later going on to command the 8th Fighter Squadron “Black Sheep”. After his command tour he served 4 years at the Pentagon as Chief of Rated Force Policy. In 2005 he returned to fly the F-117 as Vice Commander of the 49th Fighter Wing. Colonel Moore retired from the Air Force in 2007 and worked for 7 years in the defense industry in CACI’s “The Wexford Group”. In 2015 he was selected to become Executive Director of the WHFFA. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Duke University in 1979, and a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1992. He has three grown children: Rider, Ian, and Cassandra – and two super-hero grandsons: Loren Lodore and Colby Moore. He is married to his White House Fellow classmate, Dr. Stefanie Sanford.
Ms. Rachel Evans (2017-18)
Rachel Evans is the Executive Director of CityBridge Education, a DC-based nonprofit committed to advancing equity and opportunity for children. CityBridge supports entrepreneurs and educators who wish to solve intractable problems facing students and families, invests in the best of their ideas, and brings to market the next generation of transformational educational ventures. Previously, Rachel was a White House Fellow at the Department of Defense. She began her career in education as a high school English teacher in Baltimore and later joined Teach For America staff as a recruitment director. After serving as a school administrator in San Francisco, she started at TNTP as the Site Manager for the Oakland Teaching Fellows program. Later, she launched TNTP’s statewide expansion from Phoenix into Yuma and the Navajo Nation as the Site Director for the Arizona Teaching Fellows program. In her final three years at TNTP, she built out the organization’s business development function as the Partner overseeing strategic growth.
Rachel is a graduate of Texas A&M (BA, English Literature), Johns Hopkins University (MA, Teaching), and the Quantic School of Business and Technology (Executive MBA). She lives in DC with her partner, Stephanie, and their dog, Toby.
Dr. Susan Yoshihara (1996-97)
Dr. Yoshihara is founder and president of the American Council on Women, Peace, and Security, advancing women’s leadership and their protection in crisis and conflict. She is a former U.S. Navy combat logistics helicopter pilot and a Gulf War veteran. Her scholarly work on human rights has influenced the debate at the UN for more than a decade and has popularized new ideas in fields dominated by academic dogma. She was among the earliest to alert the UN Security Council to the issue of children born of sexual violence in conflict. Her book on humanitarian intervention, Waging War to Make Peace: U.S. Intervention in Global Conflicts alerts policymakers to the moral dimension of armed conflict and Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics demonstrates how contracting population is a destabilizing force. She holds a Ph.D. in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, an M.A. in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School, a B.S. from the U.S. Naval Academy, and an MFA in creative non-fiction at Antioch University, Los Angeles. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband Dr. Toshi Yoshihara and their two daughters.
Immediate Past Class Director: Ms. Jenn Onofrio (2021-22)
Jenn was a member of the 2021-2022 class of White House Fellows and was placed with the Secretary of the Navy. She worked on a series of initiatives for the Department of Navy, including establishing the Naval Education Task Force to review the strategic priorities, alignment, and approach to sustainment of naval education for Sailors and Marines. She is currently an Expert in McKinsey & Company’s public sector practice, where she primarily advises government clients on agency-wide transformation efforts to improve outcomes for citizens and employees alike. Prior to the Fellowship, Jenn was the Director of Resource Management & Planning for security and policing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where she was responsible for providing financial, analytical, and logistical support to almost 2,400 employees (including over 2,000 police officers) protecting critical transportation assets in the New York City area. She joined the Port Authority in 2011 as a Leadership Fellow and rose through the ranks in positions of increasing responsibility within the Office of the Chief Security Officer, reforming the department into a data-driven operation in the course of a major reorganization. Prior to her career at the Port Authority, Jenn worked in criminal justice reform on improving reentry outcomes for incarcerated men and women, evaluating policies and practices in dozens of states across the country. She also taught job readiness and life skills to inmates at Rikers Island. She has served on the Port Authority’s Ethics Board, their Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, and the PAPD Civilian Complaint Review Board. Jenn is a Truman Scholar who received a B.S. in Liberal Arts from The New School and an M.P.A. from Princeton University.
Ms. Vanessa Cobarrubias (2022-23)
Vanessa Cobarrubias, from Harlingen, Texas, just completed her Fellowship at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the First Lady. After receiving a Bachelor of Communication Arts from St. Mary’s University, Vanessa was an accomplished educator and speech language pathology assistant. Since obtaining a Master of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, she worked tirelessly to serve the Rio Grande community (an area in which COVID-related deaths were twice that of the rest of the state of Texas) throughout the pandemic. Vanessa oversaw antibody infusions for over 13,000 patients and founded a door-to-door vaccine awareness program serving the region’s indigent population.
A community-recognized “Texas Healthcare Hero,” this daughter of educators and
granddaughter of immigrant farmworkers is driven to empower those who cannot speak for themselves.
Major General Rodney D. Lewis (2011-12)
Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Lewis is the Director for Strategy, Posture, and Assessments, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Integration, and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia. He assists with developing and synchronizing Air Force strategy, global posture and the alignment of Air Force planning efforts with Department of Defense strategic guidance.
He earned his commission in 1991 upon graduation from the United States Air Force Academy, where he was selected as the General John Hester Award winner for displaying the highest degree of loyalty, integrity and courage in his graduating class. Prior to his current position, the general served as Director, Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Executive Action Group.
A command pilot with more than 3,600 flying hours, principally in the C-17A Globemaster III, Brig. Gen. Lewis served in operations from Bosnia to Iraq. As a C-17A Instructor Pilot, he commanded combat-ready aircrews in various mission scenarios.
Brig. Gen. Lewis holds several degrees and certificates: Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University Legislative Studies; Aspen Institute Executive Seminar on Leadership, Values, and the Good Society; Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program; Georgetown Public Policy Institute Executive Certificate Nonprofit Management; and he was selected as a United States-Japan Foundation Leadership Program Fellow.
Dr. Warren Morgan (2016-17)
As the Chief Academic Officer for Indianapolis Public Schools, Dr. Warren Morgan oversees the academic vision, strategy, and policy the district that have led to improvement in student performance in ELA, Math, graduation rates, and school culture indicators. Prior to joining IPS, he served as Executive Director of Teach For America- St. Louis. He has also worked for Presidents Obama and Trump as a prestigious White House Fellow. Before his time in Washington, D.C., he was an Academic Superintendent in Cleveland where he supervised the city’s turnaround schools. Warren also served as a high school principal in Chicago Public Schools where he led a school turnaround and significantly improved outcomes. He taught Secondary Science in St. Louis through Teach For America and was awarded Outstanding Teacher of the Year. He began his career as a bill analyst for the Illinois Senate. Warren holds a B.A. in Psychology from Butler University, where he served as student body president; a M.Ed. in Educational Administration from UMSL; and an Ed.D. in Urban Educational Leadership from the University of Illinois–Chicago. He is an alum of the Leadership St. Louis program and has an executive certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from Washington University St. Louis. He is an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Inc.
Ms. Merrie Spaeth (1980-81)
Merrie Spaeth started her career as a writer, reporter and producer during the 1970s, including producing the first cable TV show funded by advertising dollars. Chosen as a White House Fellow in 1980, she was the first Fellow assigned to the FBI. She then served as Director of Public Affairs at the Federal Trade Commission and in 1983 was appointed Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and director of media relations at the White House where she pioneered the electronic White House News Service.
Marrying and moving to Dallas, in 1987 she founded a strategic training and consulting firm based on the recognition that most people approach communication thinking “What do I want to say?” but that the listener only remembers a few things. Her strategic planning model, The Influence Model,SM which aims to influence what a target audience hears, believes and remembers, is used by companies around the globe. As a crisis consultant, she has handled scores of highly sensitive issues including taking the largest retail jewelry chain through bankruptcy and handling the world’s largest global food recall.
Merrie teaches at SMU’s Cox School of business, and her seminars, Communication as a Strategic Business Tool, Humor as a Leadership Skill, and Story Telling as a Leadership Skill, have been awarded 55 Teaching Excellence Awards. Merrie writes regularly for a variety of publications including the Wall Street Journal. A noted speech writer, she worked for CBS’s legendary CEO, William Paley. Two of her books, MarketPlace Communications, a compilation of her commentaries on the nightly PBS show, and Words Matter, her columns for the UPI Business desk, are available free on her website, spaethcom.com. Merrie is a cum laude graduate of Smith College and a graduate of Columbia Business School where she was awarded the Jack Popper Achievement Award. As a teenager, Merrie was an actress in multiple TV shows and starring in a movie, “The World of Henry Orient,” with Peter Sellers and Angela Lansbury.
Mr. Nelson Diaz (1977-78)
In January, 2004, Nelson became the first independent Director of the Exelon Corporation that resulted from the merger of PECO Energy and ComEd. Exelon is a Fortune 66 company and is the largest competitive energy company doing business in 48 states, D.C. and Canada. This company, with $60 billion in revenues, employs over 40,000 people nationwide.
In 1975 he joined the Temple Hospital Board of Directors as Chair of the Professional Affairs Committee until 1993 when the President of the United States appointed him General Counsel to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He returned to Temple University as a Trustee in 1997 and served on the Student Affairs and Diversity Committee, Search Committee, Trustee Committee, as well as the Executive Committee.
Nelson was City Solicitor of Philadelphia from 2001 to 2004, Attorney for Philadelphia Gas Works (serving a million customers) and Counsel to both the Philadelphia Airport, the Philadelphia Water Department, as well as all city personnel.
Nelson was the first Puerto Rican to be admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar and the first Latino Judge in the Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania where he served for 12 years.
Nelson is a senior partner at Dilworth Paxson LLP where he concentrated his practice in litigation, dispute resolution, government relations, energy, and public housing development. His leadership as the Chair of the Diversity Committee, earned him the Philadelphia Bar Association Justice Sonia Sotomayor Diversity Award.
Nelson served on the President’s Commission on the White House Fellows from 2000 to 2012. He served as a WHF Commissioner from 2004 to 2012, a Regional Commissioner from 1978 to 1980 and 2011 to 2013, and has served on the WHF National Recruiting Committee since it’s inseption.
He was a Fulbright Scholar, a White House Fellow from 1977 to 1978 and has five honorary doctorate degrees and numerous National Awards. Nelson graduated with a B.S. in Accounting from St. John’s University and a J.D. from the Temple University Beasley School of Law.
Jack LeCuyer (1977-78)
COL Jack A. LeCuyer, USA (Ret) served 30 years on active duty after graduating from West Point in 1966. His service included 28 months in Vietnam; project engineer at Gathright Dam (VA); assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point; White House Fellow in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs; strategic planner and special assistant to GEN Alexander Haig (Supreme Allied Commander, Europe); Chief of force development for the 8th Infantry Division (Mech) in Germany; command of the 7th Engineer Battalion, 5th Infantry Division (Mech); Command Engineer, U.S. Southern Command; Commander of U.S. Army Engineer District, Sacramento (the Army’s largest engineer district), where he developed and implemented the U.S. government’s concept for military assistance for relief and recovery operations in California’s 1989 Loma Preita earthquake; and, Chief, Army Initiatives Group in the Pentagon.
Jack’s education includes two years of study at Tufts University, a BS in engineering and distinguished graduate from West Point, an MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and a Dottore de Scienze Polittiche from the Universita’ degli Studi di Firenze.
Following his retirement from the Army, COL LeCuyer was selected as the first Executive Director of the White House Fellows Foundation and Association in 1996, a position he held until his second retirement in 2015. As Executive Director, he worked with each Director of the WHF Program and each President of the WHFFA and their Boards of Directors to put the fledgling organization on firm organizational and financial footing, established a mentorship program for current Fellows, executed the $3.0 million Leadership and Commitment Campaign in 1996-97, and co-led the $8.5 Million Campaign for the WHF in 2013-15. Following his retirement as Executive Director, Jack has continued to serve the WHFFA through heavy engagement in the recruiting effort under the NRC, participated in reading groups every year, and served as a Regional Panelist. He was awarded the WHFFA Distinguished Service Medal upon his retirement.
Jack and his wife of 54 years, Karen, both grew up in Colorado and now live in Lafayette, CO. They have three children and six grandchildren ranging in age from 3 to 19.
CAPT Mac McFarlin (2013-14)
Captain Robert “Mac” McFarlin was Born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in Denver, Colorado. He is a proud member of the White House Fellows class of 2013-2014 where he was assigned to the National Economic Council at The White House. A Notable Graduate of the U.S. Naval class of 2000, he holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, and also an M.B.A. from the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business.
With over 20 years of active duty Naval service, Mac has served in various assignments at sea including commanding officer of the warships USS TYPHOON (PC 5) in the Middle East and USS BENFOLD (DDG 65) in Japan.
Ashore he has served at the Department of Naval Science at the University of Rochester, Navy Personnel Command, and in the office the Navy Chief of Legislative Affairs at the Pentagon. Currently he is assigned as a Battalion Officer at the U. S. Naval Academy where he is responsible for the mentorship and leadership development of 750 Midshipmen.
Mac’s volunteer work focuses on bridging the civilian-military divide, writing and youth outreach.
Melissa Goldstein (1999-2000)
Melissa Goldstein is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health at George Washington University, where she teaches bioethics, health policy, and law and conducts research on health information privacy and the legal and policy aspects of health information technology. Her recent publications have focused on privacy and security issues in health information exchange and the use of big data. During the Obama-Biden Administration, Professor Goldstein served as a senior advisor to the Chief Privacy Officer in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2010-2011), and as the Assistant Director for Bioethics and Privacy in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (2015-2016). As a White House Fellow in 1999-2000, she worked for Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. as a domestic policy advisor.
Commission Office Staff
Rose Vela serves as the Director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellows. Judge Vela is a retired Texas State District Judge and Texas Appellate Justice. She was appointed by President Biden in March 2021 to serve as Director of the PCWHF and has a 34-year career in law and politics. She holds a B.A. from Texas State University and a J.D. from St. Mary’s School of Law. After law school, Vela served as a law clerk to two Texas Courts of Appeals and then went into private law practice focusing on civil appellate work. In 1998 she was elected as a Texas State District Judge, where she presided over thousands of both complex civil jury and bench trials (class-action lawsuits, environmental litigation, medical malpractice, etc,) and criminal felony cases (capital homicides, aggravated sexual assault (of children and adults) aggravated robbery and kidnapping, prison gang-related homicides and other felonies). In 2007, Vela became an Appellate Justice on a Texas Court of Appeals where she presided over civil and criminal appeals and authored hundreds of legal opinions. She fully retired from the bench in 2016. Throughout her career, she has been a volunteer leader in numerous community and professional organizations including Court Appointed Special Advocates, CC Crime Control and Prevention District (Chair), Food Bank of Corpus Christi, Nueces County Juvenile Board, Nueces County Young Lawyers Association (President), Texas Center for the Judiciary, (Director), College of the State Bar of Texas, Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, and many more. She has also completed many professional programs such as NYU College for Appellate Judges, Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation, National Judicial College, and the Texas College of Advanced Judicial Studies. She is proudly the first in her family to receive a college degree, (neither parent having graduated from high school), after having worked various jobs throughout college and law school to support her education. Recently she was named 2022 Outstanding Alumni by Texas State University. She has been married to former Congressman Filemon B.Vela for 32 years
Esteban Tapetillo serves as the Deputy Director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellows. As the Deputy Director, he provides staff leadership, develops educational programming, and implements the Fellows program. Before his appointment to the Biden-Harris Administration, he served as a consultant at the Strathdee Group, a firm that specializes in building the political networks for members of Congress, candidates, and caucuses. His portfolio included leading the outreach and coalition building efforts of CHC BOLD PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. During the five years in this role, he recruited and supported diverse candidates running for the U.S. House and Senate. Esteban graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Political Science. Right after college, he dedicated a year to public service as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Acción USA, providing access to capital to micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses in the aftermath of the 2008 economic recession. His career in politics started in the great state of Arizona, working on federal races for U.S. House and Senate candidates. The grandchild of migrant farmers, he is a native of Tempe, Arizona. During his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family’s dogs, and visiting art museums and historic homes.
Kevin Lavery serves as the Associate Director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellows. In his role he supports the recruitment, application, selection, and placement of the incoming class of fellows. Originally from Hershey, Pennsylvania, Kevin worked for five years in higher education at his alma mater, Gettysburg College. Most recently, he served as Assistant Director of the Eisenhower Institute, where he managed undergraduate programs in leadership and policy designed to prepare students for lives and careers of service. Kevin holds a B.A. in History from Gettysburg College and an M.A. in European History, Politics, and Society from Columbia University. His interests include reading and hiking, and he has completed extended backpacking trips in Norway and Scotland.
The Current Commissioners
Chair: Demetra Lambros
Karen R. Adler
Cordell Carter II
Marco A. Davis
Dr. George E. Gabriel
Nomaan “Nomi” K. Husain
Elizabeth Rodke Washburn
Dr. Alfred Yung