Staff Voters’ Guide - University of Houston
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For Elections on June 17 - July 8, 2020


The 35th annual University-wide election for Staff Council representatives is scheduled for Wednesday, June 17, through Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Voting will be conducted online and the ballot can be accessed on or off campus.

2020 Voting Instructions

Online voting at will be available from 6:00 a.m. on June 17 through 5:00 p.m. on July 8. Select the Elections icon under University Services. You may need to refresh your icons if you do not see the Elections icon.

Voting in the 2020 election will be online only and in-person voting will not be available this year.

In order to vote during the 2020 elections, voters:

  • Must be benefits-eligible (50% FTE or greater) staff members.
  • Must know their CougarNet account username and password.
  • May cast their vote for no more than the number of open positions available for their division and for one At-Large candidate.
  • May write-in one candidate for their division (if the division has open positions) and one At-Large candidate.
  • May cast their vote from any computer with internet access.
  • May only vote once. The online voting site will reject any voter's attempt to go through the voting system more than once.

The representative divisions, total representatives, openings, and candidates are:


Division Total for
At-Large 3 1 4
Academic Affairs 18 4 6
Administration & Finance 12 5 5
Office of the President 2 2 2
Research 1 0 0
Student Affairs and Enrollment Services 4 1 1
University Advancement 1 0 0
University Marketing and Communications 1 1 1


Multiple vacant positions will be filled by candidates who have received the highest numbers of votes (votes will be ranked in order from highest to lowest).

2020 Candidates

This Voters' Guide includes a list of all candidates by representative division and a brief biography.

  • At-Large (1 opening)

    Taylor Ballard, C.T. Bauer College of Business

    A proud UH Alumna, Taylor obtained her B.S. in Hotel & Restaurant Management from the Hilton College and minor/certificate in Non-Profit Management from the Graduate College of Social Work. She serves on the UH Black Alumni Board as well as the UH Young Alumni board. Currently, Taylor is a Development Coordinator 2 in the Bauer College, managing department-wide stewardship efforts, special events, and student philanthropic efforts, and supporting UH to go beyond the billion. She is a proud dog mom to her Maltese, Sparkle, and will most likely be wearing pink when you see her. Go Coogs!

    Jason D. Gregory, University Marketing and Communications

    I serve as Division Administrator for the Division of University Marketing and Communications. My background consists of 26 years of experience in directing, managing, and overseeing administrative and human resources functions in higher education. Twenty of those years of service have been with UH System institutions. In addition, I have previously served one full 3-year term on Staff Council, assuming a one-year interim officer position as Treasurer. As a UH alumni, I have a love for the University that is enduring and my goal is always to make a difference and to serve whenever I can.

    Nam Nguyen, Athletics

    As a proud graduate of the Bauer College of Business (BBA 07, MS 08), I have been employed with the University of Houston since 2014 and serve as Assistant Business Administrator for UH Athletics. I currently serve as one of the At-Large Staff Council positions and have served as a committee representative for the Student Centers Policy Board and Campus Recreation Advisory Board. I am also the current University Advisor for the UH Vietnamese Student Association. I enjoy bringing a servant's heart to what I do at the University and would continue to enjoy bringing the same Cougar Pride and enthusiasm serving Staff Council to promote the needs of all the staff here at the University of Houston while providing a valuable representative voice for UH Athletics. Thank you for your support and Go Coogs!!!

    LaRahia Smith, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication

    LaRahia Smith is the communication manager at the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication. In the five years since she has been in this position, she has orchestrated various campus-wide events, such as the Big Talk series and The Game Changers: From Raised Fists to #TakeAKnee. An active member of the Public Relations Society of America's Houston chapter, LaRahia is committed to using communication to help our university and the Houston community excel.
  • Academic Affairs (4 openings)

    Stefanie Florencio, University Libraries

    Stefanie Florencio is the Executive Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Libraries at the University of Houston Libraries. Before joining UH, Stefanie worked as a Program Analyst with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security. She joined the University of Houston in March of 2019. Since joining UH, Stefanie has participated in Catalyst trainings and Lunch & Learns, has attended numerous events on campus, and continues to find ways to stay involved. She is part of the Library Scholars Selection Committee in the Library and looks to participate in more committees now that she has completed her one year at UH. She enjoys being involved in the community and believes that joining Staff Council will not only be a great opportunity to meet and get acquainted with staff members throughout other departments, but also learn more things about the University as she is also relatively new to the Houston area.

    Diedra Fontaine, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

    Diedra B. Fontaine is the director of alumni relations for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. She received her MBA from Texas Southern University and her BBA in computer information systems from the University of North Texas. Prior to joining UH, she served as executive director in the Office of Development at Prairie View A&M University. She has extensive alumni-relations experience and has coordinated alumni outreach initiatives, planned special events, and overseen strategic planning. She has held director-level roles in health care, aviation, and sales. Fontaine has also served as an adjunct instructor in the Jesse H. Jones School of Business. Additionally, Fontaine is active in the community, a proud sister of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and a longtime volunteer of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

    Sarah Holloway, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design

    Sarah came to the University of Houston in February of 2018. She stepped into her current role as the Director of Alumni Relations for the College of Architecture and Design in April of 2019. She has served on Staff Council for the past year, which led to serving as a Staff Representative for the Student Center Policy Board and a member of the Staff Affairs Committee.

    Scott Mason, Hobby School of Public Affairs

    My name is Scott Mason, and I'm currently a Program Manager 2 in the Hobby School of Public Affairs, where I manage our graduate programs and perform other duties. Prior to joining the Hobby School about five years ago, I worked in the Office of Online & Special Programs for seven years. My undergraduate degree in Management and graduate degree in Public Administration are both from UH. In addition, I'm a Life Member of the UH Alumni Association, and a season ticket holder in football and men's basketball. I currently serve on Staff Council in Academic Affairs, and hope to continue serving and advocating for staff interests. Thank you for your consideration. Go Coogs!

    Fariba Pouraryan, UH Law Center

    My name is Fariba Pouraryan and I have been staff member at the Law Center for over 7 years. I have two kids at UH. I have previously served on the staff council for three years. I am very interested in being involved in the university's affairs that affect staff and students.

    Caleb Prestridge, Chemistry

    Caleb has previously been on Staff Council before and enjoyed it. He would be a great asset to our team to help bring new and fresh ideas to our campus.
  • Administration & Finance (5 openings)

    Thomas Brents, Facilities / Construction Management

    I am a facilities planner in the UH Planning Department starting two years ago, adding to my many years of facilities management combined with planning / design management experience in Houston. I am currently finishing my first year on the Staff Council serving on both the Staff Affairs Communications Committee and the Student Housing Committees. I have been active on the following Staff Council programs: Weeks of Welcome, the Sock & Blanket Drive, the Conversations with Staff programs, and recently honoring our essential staff during the campus stay-at-home order. In addition, I have contributed to the U of H Campus Giving Campaign. My community involvement includes serving on the USGBC Regional Council and the Houston Buildings & Standards Commission, and as President of my Community Association. Also I am a part-time adjunct professor teaching technical design at Houston Community College System, where I advise on the education curriculum. Both my wife and my youngest daughter are University of Houston alumni, and I am a graduate of Texas A&M.

    David Frankfort, UIT

    David has been at the University of Houston for over 25 years and is also a UH graduate. David has previously served with student government as a student and recently on Staff Council as the Parliamentarian, and previously served as Staff Council Historian and Cougar First Impressions co-chair. He currently serves on several University committees representing staff as well. David always has a smile, is open to communicate and listen to everyone, and is ready to help at a moment’s notice. David's focus is the representation of staff when issues occur and is always ready to speak for pay increases, cost of living adjustments, and better benefits. His goal is to make the University a better place to work with better pay and benefits as well as being a safe environment.

    Ronald Harris, UHIT Campus Safety

    I have been employed with the university since 2015. I was hired as a manager and was promoted to a Director after 2 years.

    Carla Tisby-Riggs, Facilities Management

    My name is Carla Tisby-Riggs and I really enjoy being a part of the Staff Council. I have been with the University for 14 years and I have been a part of the Staff Council now for 2 terms. I would like to continue to be a part of a team that makes a difference for the University. I am willing to help out wherever I am needed.

    Adrienne Wade, Facilities Management

    Adrienne Wade has been with the University for 7 years now. Adrienne is a dispatcher for the FIXIT call center and is a great team player. She would be a great asset to Staff Council representing Administration & Finance. She would like to join the UH Staff Council to be a part of an organization that serves as the "voice" for the campus and that focuses on improvements to make sure that the University continues to thrive and maintain the highest level of excellence. As a FIXIT dispatcher, Adrienne communicates on a daily basis with students, staff members, and faculty. As a Staff Council member, she could provide valuable insight into how we can continue to serve each group effectively.
  • Office of the President (2 openings)

    Karl Hearne, Office of Neighborhood and Strategic Initiatives

    Karl Hearne serves as the Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Neighborhood and Strategic Initiatives (NSI). He provides direct administrative support to the Vice President while daily managing the office and maintaining the Third Ward Initiative and UH SECC websites. In the absence of the Vice President, Karl Hearne serves as a liaison to various university groups. Hearne serves as the Chancellor/President's representative for Staff Council and is the current Historian. Karl has previously served as Appointments Committee co-chair. Hearne's interest in Staff Council includes advocating for UH staff; assisting in the planning, promotion, and execution of events; and capturing and chronicling the history of Staff Council through photography and lending a helping hand wherever it is needed. Hearne is the 2019 recipient of the University of Houston President's Excellence Community Service Award. He also serves diligently as the University of Houston co-coordinator to the State Employee Charitable Campaign, which raises thousands of dollars annually for local charities in Texas.

    Leslie Pruski, Office of the General Counsel

    Leslie Pruski has worked on campus since 2002. She began as a legal secretary and is now the Assistant to the VC/VP for Legal Affairs. She currently serves on Staff Council as a member of the Events Committee and the Cougar Card Advisory Committee, and as Secretary of Staff Council. Leslie Pruski is a firm believer in giving individuals the tools to succeed and letting them flourish. She believes staff can be the best asset to a Tier One university. She also believes staff have an obligation to do their best to become that asset. Leslie Pruski is a graduate of the University of Houston though the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. She is a season ticket holder for Cougar football and believes the Cougar baseball team is the best in the nation.
  • Research

    There are no openings for Research this year. Staff members in Research will be able to vote for or write-in an At-Large candidate.
  • Student Affairs and Enrollment Services (1 opening)

    Therese Sanchez, Center for Students with DisABILITIES

    Hello! I am the University of Houston's coordinator of interpreting and captioning services for our deaf or hard-of-hearing students at the Center for Students with DisABILITIES (CSD). I have worked for 7 years at the University of Houston in this position and am always looking for ways to expand my role and serve our students and staff. I look forward to working with the other members of the Staff Council!
  • University Advancement

    There are no openings for University Advancement this year. Staff members in University Advancement will be able to vote for or write-in an At-Large candidate.
  • University Marketing and Communications (1 opening)

    Amber R. Rangel, University Marketing and Communications

    I have been with the university since 2012 as a full-time staff employee, where I started in the Graduate College of Social Work through their undergraduate initiative before my role in University Marketing & Communications as a member of the Brand Management, Licensing & Trademarks team. As a proud Cougar, I pride myself in taking my experiences as an undergraduate and now staff member in doing my part to enhance the experience at UH by being a team player, hard worker, and compassionate individual. In my free time, I enjoy crafting, volunteering, and contributing my time to community projects. The opportunity to serve on Staff Council has been one of my long-term goals since I began at UH and I am delighted to have been appointed for an interim role as well as looking forward to running for the next full-term role.