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Intern News

January News


Congratulations to Jason LaBarbera (MPP ‘20), a recent Master of Public Policy graduate and former CHIP intern (Office of Rep. Jim Murphy) and Hobby Fellow (Office of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick). He was accepted into the Public and Social Policy doctoral program at St. Louis University to study computational spatial statistics, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), demography and urban policy. LaBarbera is a perfect example of the powerful knowledge and skills students can attain while at the Hobby School, especially when introduced through the undergraduate programs.




Carolina Lopez-Herrera and Kryss Schofield are the 2020 Richard Murray Endowed Scholarship recipients. They were selected for their passion for politics and policy, their strong academic standing and dedication to public service. Richard Murray, the Hobby School's Senior Research Fellow, is known as one of the leading experts on public polling, election and demographic research, as well as for his service to the Houston community. Lopez-Herrera is seizing opportunities in public service and hopes to utilize her experience to help underserved and underrepresented populations. She works at a firm in preparation for a career in law and is a junior studying philosophy and political science.








December News


Teneshia Hudspeth became the first African American woman elected Harris County Clerk in November 2020. She began her political career as a UH Center for Public Policy undergraduate on Capitol Hill working for Congressman Chet Edward as a Mickey Leland Congressional intern. Taneshia graduated from Texas Southern University. She also is an alumna of Leadership Houston and the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. Thank you for all your support, and congratulations, Teneshia!



November News


Congratulations to Hobby School alumnus Carlos Villegas (MPP '17) on his new position as Assistant Policy Researcher with the RAND Corporation. Villegas is a Ph.D. candidate at the Pardee RAND School with a focus on emerging technologies, disaster response and recovery, urban resilience, housing policy, smart cities, and urban governance. Villegas was formerly a staff researcher at Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.




Six former Hobby School interns were selected as 2020-2021 Rising Stars for their contributions to civic life and leadership potential. They will participate in training and volunteer opportunities, interact with civic leaders to develop new skills, and discover new affinities. Stars include: Elizabeth Bille, Mariah Grayson, Ilhaam “Illy” Jaffer, Valerie Luna-Pena, Julia Ossemi-Seied, and Katherine Summerlin.



October News


CHIP alumnus Alex Obregon is joining the University of Houston Alumni Association Foundation board of directors. Obregon is a Certified Public Manager program instructor and also is teaching public finance for the Hobby School MPP program for the first time this fall. He is the COO and Deputy City Controller for the City of Houston; has an MBA from the UH Bauer College of Business and bachelor’s degrees in psychology with a minor in global affairs from UH. A Hobby School advisory board member since 2017, Obregon was selected as the UH Alumni Association Rising Star in 2019. 



CHIP alumnae Edith Santamaria, Karla Rodriguez, and Julia Seied turned the mic over to the fall 2020 Civic Engagement Internship Program (CHIP) students for questions about their previous intern experiences and current positions.

A Master of Public Policy candidate, Santamaria works full-time in Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s office. Rodriguez serves in the office of State Rep. Mary Ann Perez.  A 2016 CHIP intern and current deputy chief-of-staff of communications, Seied introduced her boss Council Member At-Large, Sally Alcorn. Alcorn’s kernel of wisdom: Proactive interns get the most out of their experience. 


September News


President Barack Obama endorsed former Hobby School intern Natali Hurtado who is running for Texas State House District 126 in northwest Harris County. Hurtado is a deputy executive director at Hawes Hill & Associates.





Congratulations to former Mickey Leland Congressional intern Teneshia Hudspeth, who was unanimously selected as the Harris County Democratic nominee for Harris County Clerk. Elections are in November.




August News


Miguel Macias, a 2020 Leland Fellow, received the Sarada Scholarship from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Science to help complete his degree in political science with a minor in business. Apart from the Leland Fellows award, Macias had never received a scholarship before. “I am positive that my experience in D.C. played a big part in it,” he said.





July News


Mary Davis, a former Leland Fellow and Civic Houston intern, has been accepted to the inaugural class of the LBJ Women's Campaign School, a program to increase the number of women in elected office and campaign senior staff positions. Davis is the deputy district director for Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX). This first class is comprised of 50 women leaders from eight states. Go Coogs! Go, Mary!




Former Mickey Leland Congressional Intern Teneshia Hudspeth is running for Harris County Clerk. The Harris County Clerk has the responsibility of carrying out statutory electoral functions outlined by federal and state laws.





Giovanni Perez, a second-year student at the University of Houston Law Center, was named the runner-up of the Paper Chase Files Legal Writing Competition. Perez was a 2017 Hobby Fellow in the office of Texas State Rep. Armando Walle.





June News


2020 Leland Fellow José Reyes has taken a position as the research manager for an initiative by Houston Justice, which is creating an interactive helpline for Houstonians to find the resources they need during the pandemic. He was also selected as a state delegate for the Democratic National Convention and is currently running for a national delegation seat.







Zehra Zaidi, 2020 Leland Fellow and 2019 Civic Houston intern, has been hired to work on special projects for Husain + Law Associates. She will put her research and writing skills to good use while exploring areas of law for her future as an attorney. Zaidi interned in the Washington office of Congressman Filemon Vela during the 2020 spring semester.





Jon Garcia has joined the Graduate and Professional Students Association as the 2020-2021 Secretary-Treasurer. Garcia is an MPP candidate, former CHIP intern, and Hobby and Leland Fellow. He is currently an assistant policy advisor with Harris County.





Congratulations to CHIP intern, Maya Ali as the Spring 2020 CHIP Award recipient. She exemplified outstanding professionalism and collegiality during her spring 2020 internship at the Center for Civic and Public Policy Improvement Ali is an undergraduate student in political science and public health. She worked hard to encourage college students to fill out their census forms, before and after the restrictions to mitigate the current pandemic.



May News


Fatimah El-Ibrahim (UH ’19) has accepted a position as Staff Assistant with Texas Rep. Lizzie Fletcher. El-Ibrahim said, “I can honestly say that this (Civic Houston Internship) program, in which I was a part of twice, aided my resume and made me stand out.” Congratulations, Fatimah!




April News


Undergraduate students in the Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP) are now going virtual this semester. CHIP interns are working remotely for their host offices including governmental offices and non-profit organizations. For their semester project, the 22 CHIP students are focused on educating communities about participating in the U.S. Census using technology and creativity — phone calls, texts, YouTube, websites, graphic software, social media — while working with community partners such as Houston in Action, NALEO, and Mi Familia Vota. Previously, they reached out to undercounted populations at large gatherings, in neighborhoods, door-to-door, or face-to-face presentations. COVID-19 health precautions have changed the methods, but not the dedication. Good luck, CHIP students!



Rasheed Warsame has accepted a position with the City of Houston Controller’s Office. Warsame was a CHIP intern in the offices of the Houston City Controller and City Council Member James Rodriguez in 2011 and 2012.





Hobby School Fellow and CHIP alumna Crystal Tran, who is a Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan, is surviving the COVID-19 outbreak abroad. Tran is adjusting to “the new normal,” and wants everyone to know she is safe and healthy, and wishes the same for everyone in Houston. Keep up with Tran’s life abroad on Instagram at @crystaltran.





Former Leland and CHIP intern Natali Hurtado won the Democratic nomination for state representative for Texas House District 126. She has worked as a campaign assistant for a Harris County Civil District Court candidate and as a district director for a Texas State House Representative. Currently, she is the Deputy Executive Director for the International Management District with the consulting firm Hawes Hill & Associates. Her opponent will be incumbent Rep. Sam Harless.  



March News


The spring 2020 Civic Houston interns have been hard at work this semester serving in various government, nonprofit, and campaign offices. During the February session, Hobby School advisory board member Keith Wade spoke to the interns about public service and leadership. They also received insight about Census 2020 by Mi Familia Vota's Marla Lopez, and Elizabeth Bille, the Texas director of the National Organization of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO). In addition to their weekly hours in their assigned offices, the Civic Houston interns are completing work on Census education and outreach projects throughout the Houston area.



Hobby School alumnus Matthew Conner has accepted a position as Director of Governmental Relations for Houston Independent School District. He previously worked as district director in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Deputy Regional Director for the U.S. Senator, John Cornyn. Conner was a 2013 Leland Fellow and CHIP intern in 2012.




February News


Congratulations to the 2020 Leland Fellows, who began their congressional internships in Washington, D.C. in January. Through generous donor support, Leland Fellows provides paid housing, monthly stipends and round-trip airfare while the interns work on Capitol Hill and complete independent study assignments. Their office responsibilities include legislative research, writing reports and correspondence, meeting with constituents and stakeholders, attending committee hearings, and working on special projects.



Former Civic Houston Intern, Hobby Leadership Award recipient and recent CPM grad Gareth Morgans has been promoted to deputy chief of staff for Houston City Council David Member Robinson. He was also recently selected as a League of Women Voters Rising Star.




Former Civic Houston Intern and CPM alumna Paige Powell was recently promoted to Public Policy Analyst at Air Alliance Houston. Powell has been with Air Alliance Houston since 2013 and is scheduled to complete her MPP degree in May 2020.





Kayla Vazquez is the recipient of the fall 2019 Civic Houston Intern Award for her outstanding public service as a local government intern. Vazquez served in the office of State Representative Jon Rosenthal. Congratulations, Kayla! A $500 award is presented to one outstanding intern each fall and spring semester.




Elizabeth Bille, Texas state director of the NALEO Educational Fund, and former Hobby School Civic Houston Intern and Mickey Leland Congressional Intern (’07), spoke with Houston Public Media reporter Elizabeth Trovall about the potential 61% increase in the citizenship application fee. 

The Spring 2020 Civic Houston interns learned what to expect in their internship offices this semester at the spring 2020 Orientation. In addition to their office duties, students will take part in a Census 2020 education project, funded by Houston in Action, a collective initiative to build a culture of civic engagement. 


January News


MPP alumnus and former CHIP and Hobby/Leland Fellow William Janowski (’19) has accepted a position as a policy analyst position in the new Harris County policy department for Commissioners Court. Janowski has been working as the Science and Innovation Officer for the British Consulate General, Houston.




The students in the fall 2019 Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP) completed 388 hours as volunteers on Houston mayoral campaigns and voter registration projects. The volunteer hours are in addition to the 4,232 hours the CHIP interns worked in their assigned offices, which ranged from City Hall to the Texas Senate to non-profit organizations.  In total, the Civic Houston interns completed 4,620 hours on making Houston a more civically engaged city.