December 15, 2020


Matthew Alexander, co-founder and CEO of innovative retailer Neighborhood Goods, opened a second location last year, this one in New York City. Melissa Broussard Carroll joined law firm Bradley Arant boult Cummings as an associate in its Houston office. Colin Fitzgibbons joined Hunt Realty Investments as its president. Nina Flournoy recently published a biography of Dallas businessman, entrepreneur and major SMU supporter Howard Schultz, Schultz’s Ledger: Parlaying Errors into Success on the Path to the American Dream, available on Amazon. She taught communications studies in the Meadows School of the Arts for 18 years and was a longtime director of SMU-in-London. Learn more at ninaflournoyeditorialservices.wordpress.com. She earned a Master’s of Liberal Studies from SMU. Hope Hicks is a public relations consultant who was named counselor to President Donald Trump in February. Eun Chong Ju, first violinist with the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, in Irving, Texas, released her first digital album. In 2019, she took third prize in the Golden Classical Music Awards International Competition, which included performing at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. In addition to performing, she has taught violin for more than 15 years. Shelby Justl is defending her Ph.D. dissertation in September in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. She is on the new Disney + gameshow called the Big Fib as the Egyptology expert. James Landen Jr. became Texas market president of Security National Bank’s first location in the state this spring. The full-service bank has 13 locations throughout Nebraska and Iowa. Caroline Madden and Pedro Rodrigues were married last summer at the Troutbeck Estate in Amenia, N.Y. Kyle Manley joined BNY Mellon Wealth Management as a senior client strategist in its Dallas. Denise Mudigere joined the Dallas law firm Holland & Knight as a partner on its tax controversy and litigation team. Jonathan R. Sparling joins First Federal as senior director of commercial lending in its Port Angeles, Washington office. Chris David Westover, assistant professor of music and coordinator of wind and brass studies at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, recently won recognition in two music competitions: First Prize at the Warsaw Wind Ensemble Conducting Competition in October 2019, which includes the honor of premiering Artur Słotwinski’s Overture “The Year 1918,” and an invitation to lead a concert with the Warsaw University of Life Sciences Representative Orchestra in the coming season; and from The American Prize for performances led at Denison in three categories. Megan White was recently honored for her 10th year of active service and leadership as a member of the Junior League of Milwaukee. Since graduating, she also completed a year-long master’s program in the School of Fashion at Instituto Marangoni in Milan.


Ashley Withers Dobson is part of the founding team of Avid Core, a new strategic communications firm launched in April that is focused on responsible and sustainable development of large infrastructure projects. Tara Garcia joined Dallas-based TDIndustries as its vice president of multifamily overseeing the commercial services firm’s North Texas and Denver operations. Brad Holdbrook joined Haynes and Boone, LLP as a partner in the firm’s real estate practice group in Dallas. Hil Horne is a fourth-year associate attorney with Chamblee Ryan PC, focusing on civil defense litigation. He has experience in medical malpractice, FINRA arbitration, multi-party construction litigation, equine veterinary litigation, premises liability and general personal injury. Phillip L. Kim joined Haynes and Boone, LLP as a partner in the firm’s healthcare practice group in Dallas. Morgan Pieper (M.S.A. ’12), opened Feed Me Pronto, a reimagined the convenience store that features healthy and eco-friendly snacks, in Dallas’ Victory Park neighborhood. Roger Plasterer joined healthcare technology firm MPOWER Health as its vice president of data analytics and IT. Jody Rodenberg was named to the Thomson Reuters Texas Rising Stars listing for 2020 and the D Magazine annual list of Best Lawyers Under 40 for 2020. Lauren Smart served as a jurist for the Shreveport Regional Arts Council’s Artist Fellowship award selections. Matthew Swerdlow was elected to partner at law firm Thompson & Knight LLP in Dallas.


Chris Banjo agreed to a contract to remain with the NFL Arizona Cardinals. In 2019, he joined the team as a safety. Bridget R. Bennett joined Keloland Media as evening news anchor for the CBS TV affiliate in Sioux Falls, S.D. Janielle Kastner, Dallas actor, podcaster and playwright, and Brigham Mosley (’10), a playwright and solo performer, wrote Playwrights in the Newsroom, an immersive new play about journalism and the search for truth, which premiered in March at the Wyly Theatre in the Dallas Arts District. The play evolved from a conversation between SMU journalism professor Lauren Smart (’11) and a Dallas Morning News editor. Kastner and Mosley wrote the play after two years of observation and interviews with Morning News reporters. Ignite/Arts Dallas (I/AD) at Meadows School of the Arts provided a $5,000 commission to the playwrights to bring the work to fruition and has served as a key co-developer for the project. Andrew M. Kaufman joined network security firm Critical Start as chief financial officer. Chris Mavros joined the commercial real estate design firm Ware Malcomb as regional director in its new Dallas office. Calder Lamb is a member of the 2019 class of Ignatian Law Scholar Awardees, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law’s highest honor for new law students. The award recognizes promising members of the entering law school class whose records reflect the Jesuit values of commitment to academic excellence and service to others. Law Scholars receive a renewable full Dean’s Scholarship and participate in special programming to help with the transition to law school and practice. Betty Grace Roberts married Dillon Gayle Goins last fall at The Barn at Lost Creek in Pearcy, Ark. Rev. Dr. Blair Thompson-White (D.Min. ’18) joined the Texas Methodist Foundation as the director of leadership ministry, working with clergy and congregations to address critical missional needs of the church. She was senior pastor at Arapaho United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas. Lauren Werner is the owner of Willow House hotel in Terlingua, Texas. The hotel was named to Travel + Leisure magazine’s “It List” for 2020.


Ashley Aten was promoted to shareholder at law firm of Munsch Hardt Kopf and Harr in its Dallas office. Ted Gwara joined investment banking firm Pinecrest Capital Partners as an analyst in its Dallas office. Matthew Kull was promoted to CIO at the Cleveland Clinic academic medical center, where he has worked since 2018. Hannah Park Lee (’19 M.Ed.) has joined SMU’s Alumni Relations and Engagement team as the assistant director for affinity groups managing programming for Black Alumni of SMU, Hispanic Alumni of SMU, SMU Pride, Military Alumni of SMU, President’s Scholars of SMU Alumni and Hunt Leadership Scholars Alumni of SMU. Andrew McDonald was promoted to shareholder at law firm of Munsch Hardt Kopf and Harr in its Dallas office. Chris Morgan, acquisitions manager at Caddis, was awarded a 2020 “40 Under 40” Award from The Dallas Business Journal for his leadership and valuable contributions to his organization and his community. He earned an M.B.A. from the Cox School of Business. Jason J. Nelson was appointed to The Woodlands, Texas, Township Board of Directors. He is a senior pastor at Rose Hill United Methodist Church. Dr. Lauren Richman joined Indiana University’s Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art as assistant curator of photography. Isake Akanke Slaughter performed in School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play for the True Color Theatre Co. in Atlanta. Her other acting credits include The Secretaries (Out Front Theatre); An Octoroon (Actor’s Express) and Winnie-The-Pooh (The Alliance Theatre).


Paul Bishop is an associate attorney at Goldman & Peterson PLLC in San Antonio, Texas. He joins fellow alumnus and named partner Larry Goldman (’82). Additionally, Paul recently married Dr. Lauren Fuller in Galveston, Texas. Fellow SMU alumni Albert Young (’12), Andoni Vossos (’12), Alexander Cheng (’15, ’16) and Jonathan Bates (’19) attended the seaside celebration. Joshua Bauer, an associate at the law firm of Hicks Thomas, has been selected for the 2020 list of Texas Rising Stars. Kent L. Boyer earned his Ph.D. in humanities from UT Dallas after defending his dissertation titled, “Subverting Propriety: The Intimate, Habitable Poetics of Frank O’Hara.” He teaches at El Centro College in downtown Dallas. He earned an MLS degree from SMU. Harrison Higgs partnered with the middle-market investment bank Generational Group in an endorsement agreement that runs through next year. Higgs, a PGA golfer since 2014, has played on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica in 2015 and 2018. Jesus Martinez composed the soundtrack for Three Hours in Dallas, a short documentary chronicling the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The film regularly runs at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. Martinez is the assistant band director at Sam Houston High School in Arlington, Texas. Carson McCain has been named artistic director of Second Thought Theatre in Dallas. A member of the organization since 2014, her recent directing credits include the hit productions of Empathitrax and Great God Pan. Jordan Miller, who works at Titus Industrial in Dallas, was a featured honoree in Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 list of the world’s top young entrepreneurs. Lane M. Webster joined the Dallas office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP as an associate in the Litigation and Government Enforcement and Investigations practice groups.


Lauren Castle, a criminal justice reporter for The Arizona Republic, was selected for the 2019 fellowship class of the Journalist Law School at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Last October, she was a guest speaker for the American Bar Association’s Litigation News board meeting. Taylor Goerke Eager and Paul Eager were married on August 24, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. Brigitte Mena (M.E. ’17), the Texas-based singer-songwriter, has released two singles. Maniac is based on the Netflix program of the same name. Say You Love Me is a collaboration with Sherri DuPree-Bemis, the frontwoman for the band Eisley. Find both songs on Spotify or iTunes. Jake Nice, a Dallas actor, sound designer, musician and composer, produced and directed the play Slide By written by Thomas Ward, which premiered in January 2020 at the Wyly Studio Theatre. Robert Seals and Daniel Gresham ’18 launched the Vuzag app, a location-based search engine that connects users with current local events. Tori Titmas wrote and starred in the feature film The Girls of Summer, directed by John Hancock. Michael A. Wood was inducted into the Trinity School of Midland Alumni Hall of Honor, his high school alma mater in Midland, Texas. Wood is the founder of the Loan Star Policy Institute, a Dallas-based independent think tank that advances public policy solutions that encourage enterprising spirit, expand personal and economic freedom, and improve the quality of life for the people of Texas.


Rev. Scott Gilliland joined Arapaho United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas as senior pastor. His wife, Raegan, will serve as the associate minister of adult discipleship at Christ United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas. They have two children. They received their M.Div. degrees at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. Chase Helms and Annie Kennelly were married last fall at the Marriott Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa in Point Clear, Ala. Haley Manley cofounded Shut Your Mouth, a Texas-based company inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company offers a facemask that features a zipper across the mouth, which allows the wearer to drink without removing the mask. Learn more at shopshutyourmouth.com. Product sales support the Water Charity Foundation. Manley is a research associate at the Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston. Jim Thompson has moved from Amsterdam to Copenhagen for a new job as solution architect for IBM Cloud.


Evan M. Brown signed with the NFL Cleveland Browns as a center. He holds a B.B.A. degree in finance from SMU. Meghan Klein participated in the virtual career panel Working in Sports, presented by the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore and GEICO Military. Klein is the manager of partnership marketing for the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Madison Marchetti owns a digital marketing company for medical professionals in San Diego. Ashley Park joined SMU’s Development and External Affairs division April 27 as fund stewardship coordinator on the Donor Relations team. Bryant Phelps is pastor of the Church of the Disciple in DeSoto, Texas. He was featured in the Dallas Morning News as a community outreach leader during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Mark Pollack works at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and was selected for the 2020 United Way Fellowship Class with United Way Worldwide. The Fellowship Program is a year-long leadership development experience. He earned his MLS from SMU. Jo-Jo Steine played Nurse Kelly in WaterTower Theatre’s Harvey in February. She also recently performed at Dallas Theater Center, Kitchen Dog Theatre and Stage West. Courtland Sutton, wide receiver for the NFL Denver Broncos, was named to the 2020 Pro Bowl. Sutton was profiled in Sports Illustrated magazine for his rocketing success after two seasons in the league. Sean “S.J.” Albro Tuohy, Jr. joined Liberty University as its assistant athletic director of football operations.


Laura Bull, an independent brand consultant and speaker, has published From Individual to Empire: A Guide to Building an Authentic and Powerful Brand. She holds a Master of Liberal Studies degree from SMU. Ricardo Ceballos de la Mora won the inaugural Biennial Lone Star Vocal Competition hosted by the Dallas Opera Guild. He received a cash prize and an invitation to participate in the Dallas Opera’s semifinals national competition in spring 2021. Drake Genna joined Kemp Smith Law as an associate in its El Paso, Texas office. Alison Machabee presented her original choreography, “If I Had One More Day,” at a performance to raise funds for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in March at the New York Live Arts Theatre. The event aimed to raise suicide awareness while celebrating the beauty of life through numerous special performances from contemporary dance companies, including Complexions Contemporary Ballet, under the artistic direction of Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, who served as adjunct professors during Machabee’s time at Meadows School of the Arts. Dr. Melanie Magee joins Terrell Independent School District as its deputy superintendent of leading and learning. She holds a Ph.D. from SMU. Myria Perez was a guest on the CBS TV show Mission Unstoppable as an If/Then Ambassador for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The program promotes STEM field careers to girls. Perez is a fossil preparator the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas. See her story at dallasobserver.com. Francois Reihani opened La La Land Kind Café in Dallas, which provides support and jobs to youth who have outgrown the foster care system. Yi-Nuo Wang kicked off the 2019-20 Concert Artist Guild season with a piano performance at Carnegie Hall in New York.


Nida Bangash, a McKinney, Texas-based visual artist, debuted The History House at Dallas’ Talley Dunn Gallery. The two-channel video installation explores colonialism and the intersection of feminism and race. Connor Barbe joined Sloan Law Firm, in Longview, Texas, as an associate. Xxavier Carter is a North Texas-based artist. In June, his collage Start Livin in a New World 2020 was on exhibit at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. Ashlyn Lee curated the Time and Temperature contemporary ceramic exhibition at El Centro College Art Gallery, in Dallas, where she serves as director. She holds an M.F.A. degree from SMU. Austin Kent is the Dallas franchise owner of Self Made Training Facility (SMTF), which will open in August in the Dallas Design District. SMTF employs personal fitness trainers as independent contractors, who run and operate their businesses out of the facility. Also working at the facility are Jarret Spencer (’16) and Justin Sorrell (’12). Tiffany Lustig co-founded Park Lane Pantry. The company’s gluten-free granola products recently expanded to Central Market. James Proche was selected as wide receiver by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL draft. Allie Thornton, a former member of SMU’s women’s soccer team, signed a professional contract to play overseas with French club HAC Feminines in Le Havre, located in northern France’s Normandy region. During her four years of playing soccer for the Mustangs, she was named to the American Athletic Conference First Team four times, AAC All-Tournament Team twice, United Soccer Coaches All-Region Team twice and earned a United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-Region Honor. Tri T. Truong joined law firm Munck Wilson Mandala as a litigation associate in its Dallas office. Lidya Winnie launched Konjo Beauty, a line of natural skin care products inspired by women of color. Winnie recounts the inspiration for her beauty brand in a recent D Magazine profile. See the story at dmagazine.com. Carson D. Wright starred as Dr. Sanderson in Water Tower Theatre’s Harvey in February.


Nathalie Alfonso is one of six artists chosen by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth to have their work placed on billboards in under-served communities. Her work, Banner Anatomy, 2020, was featured at 6602 Lancaster Ave. on the outskirts of downtown Fort Worth. She earned her M.F.A. from SMU. Jerry Crayton joined Dallas-based Sunwest Communications public relations firm as a multimedia and account coordinator. Crayton is a U.S. Navy veteran, and holds a bachelor of arts from SMU. Molly Searcy has joined the Diane and Hal Brierley Resident Acting company for the 2020-21 season at Dallas Theater Center. She will appear in High School Play: A Nostalgia Fest, A Christmas Carol and The Sound of Music.