May 15, 2012


Karen Elliott was appointed chief executive officer of the Florida-based Rafiki Foundation, where she has worked for 10 years. Rafiki is a Christian charity and mission agency helping Africans to know God and improve their standard of living through Bible study, childcare, classical education and economic opportunities for widows. She previously served 10 years as a missionary in Nigeria after 10 years in banking.

Linda Newman has joined Sammons Enterprises as vice president, general counsel and secretary, handling governance issues, providing legal advice to Sammons’ business units and supporting the board of directors. She gained 17 years of commercial lending, management and merger and acquisition experience with Bank of America’s legal department.

Gordon M. Shapiro practices law at Jackson Walker LLP in Dallas. Recently he was named a “Best Lawyer in America” for 2012 in a vote by legal peers across the country.


Tony Jack Howard (M.L.A. ’98) was consecrated bishop of Texas Sept. 24, 2011, for the Universal Catholic Church, an independent church within the Liberal Catholic Movement. He is pastor at St. Clement of Alexandria Cathedral in Allen, TX. He and his wife, Victoria, celebrated the birth of son Gabriel May 9, 2011.

William Joyce is well-known as an author, illustrator and now filmmaker. At February’s Academy Awards presentation, he received an Oscar for the best animated short film of 2011, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” which he co-directed. This was the first project for Moonbot Studios, which he co-founded in Shreveport.

Barry Sellers was honored this spring with an exhibit at the Hartford (CT) Stage, where he has been a draper for 30 years, helping create more than 1,000 costumes for almost 200 theatrical productions. He makes designers’ sketches three-dimensional and wearable by first developing patterns from which he creates the costumes.

Regina Taylor, author of “Crowns,” is a playwright in residence at the newly expanded Signature Theatre in New York City. As such, she is guaranteed three productions over a five-year period and receives a $50,000 cash award and health insurance.


Reunion Chairs: Richard Neely and Ann Swisher

Mark T. Josephs is an attorney at Jackson Walker LLP in Dallas. He was recently voted by his peers as a “Best Lawyer in America” for 2012 in the new edition of that publication.

Kathleen M. LaValle was named in the peer-selected Best Lawyers in America 2012. She practices in the Dallas office of Jackson Walker LLP.


Debra Ann Engelke married Phillip J. Olsson Sept. 18, 2010. Her daughter, Alicia Votaw, graduated from Simpson College in 2011, and her son, Paul Votaw, attends Bradley University.

Lance McIlhenny has joined the Dallas office of CresaPartners, focusing on local and national business development. Previously he was senior marketing director at CASE Commercial Real Estate and senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle, formerly The Staubach Company, where he was named a “Top Achiever” for 16 years.


Cynthia Colbert Riley ’85 has been appointed the vice president for institutional advancement by the University of St. Thomas (UST) in Houston. Riley will lead the University’s fundraising efforts, which includes funding for a new performing arts center. Riley, who earned a Bachelor’s degree in communications from SMU, has more than 24 years of experience in institutional leadership in healthcare, higher education and public broadcasting. Most recently she served as the interim executive director and vice president for development at The Methodist Hospital Foundation in Houston. Riley is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She earned a Master of Liberal Arts degree from UST in 1995.


Kazem BuAbbas earned a Ph.D. degree in international law from the University of Edinburgh (UK) in 2004. He is a deputy head in the Department of Legal Advice & Legislation, State of Kuwait, as well as chief editor of the department’s legal journal and contributor of legal, social and political articles for local newspapers

James R. (Jim) Griffin was named a “Leadership Dallas Alumni Hero” by the Dallas Regional Chambers’ Leadership Dallas program for the class of 2003 and received his award Dec. 6, 2011, at the 35th Annual Leadership Luncheon. An attorney at Jackson Walker LLP, he was selected as a “Best Lawyer in America” for 2012 by that peer-review publication.

James Houghton founded New York’s Signature Theatre as an Off Broadway nonprofit in 1991 and remains artistic director as well as director of the drama division at the Juilliard School. Following a capital campaign of $70 million, he opened Signature Theatre’s new home last January, the 70,000-square-foot Pershing Square Signature Center with three theaters and café and bookstore open to the public. The glass marquee lights a stretch of New York’s West 42nd Street near 10th Avenue.

John Michael Kennedy has been promoted to vice president at the New York-based public relations firm Goodman Media International, which he joined in 2008 to manage projects in the entertainment, travel, media and other creative industries. He has more than 25 years of experience in media relations, crisis communications and legislative affairs.


Reunion Chairs: James Outland and Karen Lynch Parkhill

Dr. Eileen Baland (M.L.A. ’97) is a student of poetry in the M.F.A. writing program at Spalding University in Louisville, KY.

Michael (Mike) McKay is manager of the southwest regional office of the Peace Corps and was a guest speaker Jan. 31, 2012, at SMU’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Corps.

James (Jamie) Moreland and his wife, Francesca, announce the birth of their first child, Jack William, Nov. 15, 2011. They live in Shreveport, where Jamie has been in the commercial real estate business for more than 20 years.


Craig R. Taylor has been appointed to the Midwest BankCentre South County Regional Board. He is president and chief executive officer of U-Gas convenience stores and Dirt Cheap retail storefronts, overseeing operations, strategic planning, new store development and programming for all 30 locations of his companies. He is on the operating committee and incoming 2013 president of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. His home is Wildwood, MO.

Matthew (Matt) Thompson is a new partner at law firm Jackson Walker LLP, specializing in U.S. immigration and nationality law and global business immigration. He was recognized in The Best Lawyers in America under Immigration Law (2010-2012) and also was named a “Rising Star” by Thomson Reuters in 2005.

Find out more about Reunion Weekend here.