Leland Fellows 2020
Front: Zehra Zaidi, Ariz Karim, Germayne Eaton, Rachel Myles, Alleanne Anderson, Maria Almaguer
Back: Azali Jeffrey, Jose Reyes, Miguel Macias, Jonathan Ezemba, Rogette Saba
Maria Almaguer was a senior at the University of Houston pursuing a dual degree in economics and political science with a minor in Mexican American studies.
While employed at the University of Houston Law Center, Maria gained interest in the legal and public sectors. She continued volunteering for homeless initiatives at local Houston organizations, including Serviam, a Catholic student organization.
As a Leland Fellow, Maria worked for Congresswoman Veronica Escobar. She gained experience in the legislative process, ranging from the development of the impeachment trial to constituent services and advocacy of undocumented minorities in the district. As a member of the Committee on Armed Services, Congresswoman Escobar and her staff gave Maria the opportunity to attend Department of Defense meetings and briefings where she gained interest in the armed services. Serving under Congresswoman Escobar, who represents parts of the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, strengthened Maria’s interest in immigration issues.
Alleanne Anderson was a post-baccalaureate student at the University of Houston. She was awarded dual degrees in political science and psychology in fall 2019.
Alleanne gained experience in public service through the Civic Houston Internship Program in fall 2018, interning in the office Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen. She was also selected as a 2019 Hobby Fellow and worked as a legislative aide for State Representative Mary Gonzalez.
As a Leland Fellow, Alleanne worked in the office of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. She was able to staff the Congresswoman at events, attend meetings, and draft correspondence. One of her favorite experiences was attending an all-Black bipartisan panel hosted by Senator Tim Scott entitled “21st Century Solutions: Same Challenge, Multiple Paths”. During the panel, they discussed different economic solutions to provide upward mobility of Black people in America.
Germayne Eaton was a junior double majoring in political science and history.
Germayne gained experience as an intern through the Civic Houston Internship Program in the office of Senator Borris L. Miles and through campaigning for mayoral race candidate Dwight Boykins. These opportunities allowed her to obtain direct insight into organized program coordination and constituent engagement.
Through the Leland Fellows program, Germayne worked in the office of Congressman Henry Cuellar. She was exposed to a unique environment in which she was able to observe an office operate while the Congressman was in the district facing a strong primary challenge. Germayne was also exposed to large scale event planning, as she was involved in the planning of Laredo Day, one of the largest receptions in DC Another highlight of her experience was meeting Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who Germayne greatly admires.
Jonathan Ezemba was a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in law, values, and policy.
Jonathan has served as the Chair of Children of Education for the Metropolitan Volunteer Program, Director of Outreach for the Black Pre-Law Student Association, and a resident advisor on campus for three years. Through the Hobby-Laney Fellowship, Jonathan worked as a legislative aide for State Representative John Turner during the 86th Legislative Session in the House of Representatives.
As a Leland Fellow, Jonathan worked in the office of Congressman Marc Veasey. Jonathan developed networking skills through scheduling frequent “coffees” with prominent people on Capitol Hill to explore their paths to their positions. He also relished the opportunity to witness the impeachment process firsthand. His work in the office mostly consisted of constituent relations, researching and providing information on a cosponsor request or vote recommendation, and attending briefings and hearings.
Azali Jeffrey was a junior at the University of Houston, majoring in political science and with a minor in Spanish.
She was a member of the Dean of Students Leadership Council, Collegiate 100, the Black Pre-Law Association and previously served as an Undergraduate-at-Large Senator with the Student Government Association.
Azali gained experience as an intern through the Civic Houston Internship Program with the office of Congressman Al Green in spring 2019.
Through the Leland Fellows program, Azali worked in the office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She was tasked with substantive legislative work in a fast paced environment, which helped her to develop vital skills in time management, writing, and handling stress in high pressure environments. She submitted numerous co-sponsor forms, handled communication between the office and the Congresswoman on the House floor, and created photo props for floor statements.
Ariz Karim was a senior at the University of Houston majoring in political science with a minor in law, values, & policy.
Ariz gained internship experience in the City of Houston's Office of Sustainability through the Civic Houston Internship Program. As a Hobby Fellow, Ariz gained legislative experience while working for State Representative Armando Walle and facilitated the passage of two higher education bills, aided the Representative in authoring two op-eds, and served as the point person on over ten policy areas including public health and higher education.
As a Leland Fellow, Ariz worked in the office of Congressman Joaquin Castro. In the office, she was fortunate to receive legislative work early on in the field of education. She conducted section-by-section analyses of some of the bills Congressman Castro passed while he was in the Texas House of Representatives to convert them into federal legislation. She also attended hearings and drafted memos for the staff. One of her favorite memories of DC was being able to take a tour of the White House.
Miguel Macias was a senior at the University of Houston pursuing a degree in political science and a minor in business administration.
Miguel was a proud Texas DREAMer and a first-generation college student. As a DACA recipient, he was passionate about issues regarding immigration reform. Miguel also had interest in in getting involved in legislation regarding the quality and funding of STD and HIV/AIDS treatment in low-income communities in Texas. Upon being selected for the Leland Fellows program, Miguel was excited to bring passionate advocacy to Washington DC on these issues.
Miguel worked in the office of Congressman Vicente Gonzalez. During his time at the Capitol, Miguel was able to pursue his passion for issues that coincided with the priorities of his office by attending briefing and panels on immigration, affordable housing, and veterans’ affairs. Miguel truly enjoyed assisting the legislative staff by conducting research for bills such as the Affordable Homeownership Access Act (AHAA) and Repatriate Our Patriots Act.
Rachel Myles was a senior at the University of Houston pursuing a degree in political science and minor in history.
Rachel first gained experience through working as a fellow on the Colin Allred for Congress campaign in 2018. She was involved in various activities of the campaign, such as phone banking, block walking, and volunteer coordination.
As a Leland Fellow, Rachel was able to see the fruits of her efforts on the campaign pay off in the Capitol by working in the office of Congressman Colin Allred. As Congressman Allred served on the transportation and infrastructure, foreign affairs, and veteran affairs committees, Rachel was able to attend briefings regarding these issues. Congressman Allred is the representative for Rachel's home district, meaning that a good amount of the research and legislation Rachel worked on would impact her own community. Rachel especially enjoyed being able to expand her knowledge regarding veterans’ affairs, incarceration, infrastructure, and healthcare.
Jose Reyes was a post-baccalaureate at the University of Houston, graduating fall 2019 with a major in political science with a minor in history.
Jose first gained experience as an intern through the Civic Houston Internship Program in the office of Council Member Robert Gallegos. He also worked in State Representative John Bucy’s office during the 86th regular legislative session through the Hobby Fellows program.
As a Leland Fellow, Jose worked in the office of Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia. In his first week at the office, Congresswoman Garcia was named an impeachment manager for the trial of President Trump. Jose worked heavily on media outreach for Latino markets and focused on other related projects for the impeachment trial. After the trial concluded, Jose shifted his focus to healthcare and immigration, where he worked on a variety of tasks including writing relevant speeches for the Congresswoman. Jose enjoyed being able to experience this historic event while also working on different aspects of the political process.
Rogette Saba was a senior at the University of Houston pursuing a degree in political science with a minor in phronesis.
Rogette first gained political experience through the Civic Houston Internship Program in fall 2019 in the district office of Congressman Pete Olson. While there, she worked with the casework director on immigration related cases as well as veterans' affairs issues. She represented Congressman Olson at field events and meetings, and also organized the academy nomination applications for congressional support.
Rogette continued to work for Congressman Olson for the Leland Fellows program in his DC office. She worked on a wide range of public policy and foreign affairs issues that Congressman Olson was involved in due to his committee assignments. Through conducting bill research for the member, attending meetings on behalf of his legislative staffers, and working closely with various federal and state organizations, she found herself a part of the conversation to enact policy change.
Zehra Zaidi graduated from the University of Houston in fall 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in law, values, and policy.
Zehra gained experience through the Civic Houston Internship Program in fall 2019 in the office of the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). During her time at CAIR-Houston, Zehra executed many projects and functions, including forming a voter’s legislative guide for the fall 2019 election.
During her time as a Leland Fellow, Zehra worked for Congressman Filemon Vela. Though his office, Zehra drafted numerous letters of support on behalf of the Congressman for various projects having to do with his district, ranging from infrastructure to community event plans. Zehra frequently wrote responses to constituent letters on behalf of the Congressman as well. As one of Zehra’s interests is healthcare policy, she was able to attend over 50 healthcare related briefings. She also spent a copious amount of time researching relevant legislation and participated in meetings regarding co-signing of bills.