Several Houston ISD parents, multiple business professionals and one former school teacher are now in control of governing Texas’ largest school district.
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced Thursday that he’s replacing HISD’s elected school board with a nine-member board of managers, the result of state sanctions largely tied to chronically poor academic ratings at Wheatley High School. He also appointed former Dallas Independent School District chief Mike Miles as HISD’s new superintendent.
In selecting the board, Morath leaned heavily on parents with children attending HISD campuses, as well as local professionals with a range of legal, financial and nonprofit experience. He largely eschewed individuals who have worked in schools, picking just one educator with classroom experience.
The board largely reflects the diversity of the district, where roughly two-thirds of students are Hispanic and one-quarter are Black. However, it’s not geographically representative. Seven of the nine board members live in Houston’s more-affluent neighborhoods west of downtown.
Here’s an early introduction to the nine appointed board members, whose identities were a closely held secret until Thursday morning. HISD made four board members available for interviews with the Landing on Friday. Efforts to reach the remaining board members have been unsuccessful.
Audrey Momanaee is a Houston-based trial lawyer and partner at Balch & Bingham, where she leads the national law firm’s Texas litigation practice. Momanaee has counseled clients in the energy, construction and real estate industries, among others. Her work has focused in part on business disputes, trade secret protection and litigation and more.
Momanaee, who has two children attending HISD schools, said her family has had a great experience with the district. But she knows other kids can’t say the same, which she wants to fix.
Momanaee said she comes from a “long line of educators.” Her mother spent about three decades as a teacher and librarian, while her grandparents were educators and her aunt teaches special education.
“I’m a product of a public school education, K-12, and I went to state schools here in Texas, so I would not be where I am but for public school education,” Momanaee said.
Momanaee serves on the board of directors of Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the largest provider of free legal services in the Houston area, and Community Family Centers, which offers social and educational services to low-income families in Houston’s East End. In 2022, she won the Pro Bono Coordinator Award from the State Bar of Texas for her numerous pro bono initiatives, including extensive work in guardianship cases.
Momanaee was previously a partner at the firms Gardere Wynne Sewell and Foley & Lardner. An Iranian-American, she is also a director on the board of the Association of Women Attorneys – Houston.
Momanaee said the new board represents Houston through the diversity of its members’ backgrounds. The role of the board is to represent the vision of the community, she said, which it will achieve through community outreach.
Ric Campo is the chief executive officer of Camden Property Trust, one of the largest multifamily real estate investment trusts in the U.S. Campo serves as chairman of the Port of Houston Authority, the lead advocate for the Houston Ship Channel.
He has also served on numerous public and private boards, including Central Houston, which advocates for the city’s downtown area; the Greater Houston Partnership, the region’s largest chamber of commerce; and BakerRipley, a prominent nonprofit dedicated to supporting low-income families. In January, he joined the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ Houston branch, where he provides input on regional economic conditions.
The grandson of immigrant farmworkers, he was the first in his family to graduate from college.
When asked why he sought the position, Campo pointed to his grandmother, an immigrant from Spain who couldn’t attend school past second grade but “never stopped learning.” She taught him that “education is number one,” making Campo eager to create “lifetime learners” through his role.
Campo’s first priorities are to begin understanding the HISD system and community. He described Miles, who is promising dramatic changes in the district, as a “rockstar.”
“We’ve had some limited interactions with him, but enough to figure out that his number one priority is helping kids and educating folks,” Campo said.
Angela Lemond Flowers
Flowers is an educator with 25 years of teaching and administrative experience in Houston-area schools. She began her career as a teacher at HISD’s Jesse Jones High School, since renamed Jones Futures Academy.
Lemond Flowers most recently served as executive director of Writers in the Schools, a nonprofit that connects children with writers and artists. She previously worked in alumni development for Teach for America, an organization that places college graduates in schools primarily serving lower-income students. She also worked as an administrator at St. Francis Episcopal School and the St. John’s School, two of Houston’s largest private schools. She taught at Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District early in her career.
Lemond Flowers is a single mother to four children, two of whom graduated from HISD schools last year.
“I have three special ed students,” she said. “I have a deaf daughter. I had a daughter experiencing long COVID. I have kids with ADD, I have all of the alphabet soup … I can really identify with the struggle that families have navigating this system.”
Flowers said she struggled at times to raise her children in HISD. Given her experience as an educator, this led her to wonder: “If I can’t figure this stuff out, and I’m set up to be successful, how in the world can anybody else?”
Flowers said she was excited by HISD Superintendent Mike Miles’ “bold vision.” She said she could not point to specific changes she would like to see made. Instead, she said her role is to create a “climate and culture” that reflects and addresses the community’s needs.
A native Houstonian, Rolando Martinez is an HISD graduate with three children attending schools in the district. He serves on the HISD District Advisory Committee, where parents, students and community members advise the board and superintendent on numerous issues in the district. Martinez also works as a human resources manager at a healthcare system in the Texas Medical Center.
Martinez was previously outspoken about his opposition to the TEA’s takeover of HISD. Martinez previously told Houston Landing that neglect by the state and district spurred Wheatley High School’s poor performance, but he trusted the elected board more to remedy the situation. He previously said he was “supportive of the idea of fighting until the very end” in court against the elected board’s ouster. He added that those representing the district should know the community and be known by residents.
Once it became clear the elected board would be ousted, however, Martinez said he felt a “moral obligation” to apply.
Martinez said he doesn’t have any personal priorities coming into the position, though he underlined the need to close achievement gaps. The board will work in partnership with Miles to improve the schools they’re focusing on, rather than coming in with their own priorities, he said.
“We know that changes have to occur in the district and change sometimes is difficult,” Martinez said. “We believe (Miles) is the right individual for the job.”
Paula Mendoza is a longtime Houston resident and the mother of a Houston ISD graduate.
An entrepreneur, Mendoza founded Possible Missions in 2001. The company primarily acquires and distributes medical, laboratory and safety equipment. Possible Missions worked to distribute personal protective equipment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mendoza is the vice president of mentoring on the Texas Executive Women’s board of directors, a statewide organization of female executives. She is the president of the Houston Minority Development Council, a nonprofit focused on minority-owned business growth. She also serves as the board chair for the Houston East End Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which aims to drive economic growth in the area.
Mendoza has also served on various governmental boards, including the University of Houston Board of Regents, Texas Ethics Commission and Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.
Adam Rivon is the parent of a Houston ISD student. In 2017, he started his small real estate business, 3rd Degree Home Inspections, which provides residential and commercial inspections, property consulting and renovation services to the Greater Houston area. He also founded Rep My Vote in 2016, a startup that focused on providing candidate information to voters.
Rivon began his career as an intern at NASA and later served as a U.S. Army operations officer, earning a Bronze Star for his leadership during combat operations in Iraq.
Michelle Cruz Arnold
Michelle Cruz Arnold, the mother of an HISD student, leads government relations and advocacy work for College Board, a national nonprofit organization focused on college access. The nonprofit is best known for developing standardized tests, including the SAT and Advanced Placement exams. The organization recently received some backlash regarding the modification of the African American Studies Advance Placement courses following conservative criticism of the curriculum.
Cassandra Auzenne Bandy
Cassandra Auzenne Bandy is a Houston native and an HISD graduate whose children attend school in the district. A chemical engineer by training, she works as a business strategy manager at Accenture, a global information technology services and consulting company.
Janette Garza Lindner
Janette Garza Lindner is a management consultant in the energy industry and a mother of two children who attend HISD. She grew up along the Texas border in Brownsville, and has lived in Houston for more than 20 years. Her civic advocacy work includes education, health and safety issues.
Garza Lindner ran for the HISD school board in 2021 seeking to represent District I, which covers the north side of the district. She lost in a runoff election to incumbent Elizabeth Santos, receiving 49.5 percent of the vote.