City of residence: Clear Lake
Current title/place of business: Attorney at law, Bill De La Garza & Associates
Education: 2014 – University of Houston Law Center – JD; 2006 – NYU Tisch School – MFA Dramatic Writing; 2003 – Vassar College – BA English; BA Hispanic Studies
Family: Married to Thomas Frantezekakis; daughter of Sallye Stapleton and Bill De La Garza
Professional responsibilities: I work as a family law and child welfare attorney in Galveston and contiguous counties. I typically work in a court-appointed capacity. I also work on private cases, including adoption, divorce and child custody. While it is difficult work, I am grateful for the opportunity to help children and families through this important time in their lives.
Accomplishments/honors: Over the course of time, I have been honored for social and community service participation. I also have been honored for excellence in writing. I am currently the incoming chair of the Burta Rhoads Raborn Family Law Inn of Court and was a previous recipient of the North Star Award through that organization. I serve as a member of the Collaborative Council of the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children ("the Children's Commission"). I also serve as a member of the Children’s Commission’s Training Committee and its Dual-Status Task Force.
Community involvement: I have been volunteering and working in the community since I was a child. My first volunteer assignment was working at a resale shop as a kid. Later, in high school, I volunteered at the Wesley Community Center and organized various volunteer service projects including a clothing drive. In college, I interned for a battered women's shelter in Poughkeepsie, a social services organization for the Community of Madrid and the FMF in Beverly Hills, California. Since that time, I have continued to provide service to my community. As a law student, I organized a clothing drive to benefit Dress for Success Houston simultaneously with an event for fellow law students to discuss the importance of first impressions with members of the local bar and judiciary. As a barred attorney, I have continued my dedication to social and community service by fostering community services projects. I truly believe my early introduction to social and community service led me to a career in a "helper" industry.
Why did you go into your particular field?
While in education, I realized there was more I could do to help the children with whom I was working. This led me to go back to school where I ended up in a clinical program that allowed me to act as a student attorney in family law and child welfare matters. I ended up working on this one case that changed everything. After that, there was no question I would end up where I am.
Why did you go into your particular field?
While working in education, I realized there was more I could do to help the children with whom I was working. This led me to go back to school where I ended up in a clinical program that allowed me to act as a student attorney in family law and child welfare matters. I ended up working on this one case that changed my everything. After that, there was no question I would end up where I am.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a writer.
What was your first job?
My first paid job was working in an investigative firm as an administrative assistant.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I have received a lot of great advice so this is a hard question to answer. However, my paternal grandfather once told me while I was working on my undergraduate degree that I should never be afraid to take a break. I think he specifically said to put down whatever I was working on and take a breather. The caveat was that you have to go back to it eventually ... and finish. This is great advice for life. And at the time, it was great advice for an overwhelmed senior writing two theses.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Helping children and families. Meeting people and learning about their lives.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your career?
I wish I had realized earlier not to take things so seriously. And to take more breaks. See best advice above.
Who do you consider to be your greatest mentor and why?
This is another hard question to answer because I have had so many wonderful mentors over the course of my life. I would have to say that my parents have been the best mentors because they each come from such diverse backgrounds and both have such interesting ways of looking at the world. I pride myself on being an open and nonjudgmental person because of that guidance and insight.
When you’re not at work, what do you do to relax?
In my free time, I enjoy cooking. I also love spending time with my husband and the family.
What is something about you that most people don’t know?
I failed Algebra in junior high.
How do you hope to grow in your career?
I hope to become board certified. I also hope to grow my ability so that I may improve outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system.
If you couldn’t do what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
I would probably still be teaching high schoolers.