Election Results for our 2016 Board of Directors
The following dedicated individuals were elected to serve as our 2016 Board of Directors. At our November Monthly Meeting on 11/19 2015, each of the following were elected to serve in a position on our board of directors. Only one of the positions was contested: Executive Director – Cara Bonin and Mara Herrmann both ran for the position. Each candidate spoke to those in attendance about their goals for the organization going forward. A vote was held among 37 members who were present at the meeting. Cara Bonin won the election with 67.5% of the vote. All other positions were uncontested and were elected into their positions via voice vote by the body of members present at the meeting.
Executive Director – Cara Bonin
Cara Bonin is a sixth generation Katy, Texan, an entrepreneur, private contractor and is committed to animal rescue. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Business and minor in Animal Science from Sul Ross State University. Cara became more aware of the injustices of the war on drugs while living near the Mexican border while at college. “Our liberties are being stripped from us while others gladly give them up.” Upon returning home Cara made it her mission to help restore liberty back to the lives of her fellow Texans by advocating for limited government. Cara serves on the local government committee for Senate District 18 as a delegate for the HCRP.
Cara was inspired to take on the mission to end marijuana prohibition in Texas by Ann Lee, founder of RAMP and mother of Richard Lee who founded Houston NORML back in the 90s. As a fiscal conservative she believes that Texas would save millions by reforming marijuana policy in the Lone Star State. As one who believes in personal responsibility, Cara believes that responsible adults should be allowed to have access to cannabis for recreational use and people of all ages should have access to medical cannabis as prescribed by a doctor. Marijuana prohibition has failed this country and the great state of Texas, but most of all it has failed the people.
As our Katy Regional Director, Cara hosts a public meeting once per month in Katy and is in charge of directing our efforts in Katy and surrounding areas which include part of Waller County, Fort Bend County and West Harris County. If you are in the Katy area please join Cara and Houston NORML at our local monthly meetings. Together we can make a difference.
Deputy Director – Demetrius Russell
Demetrius Russell Sr is a US Navy Veteran and proud father of three. He has over 20 years experience in the construction industry for both commercial and residential projects. Demetrius is currently studying Construction Engineering at Houston Community College.
This year, Demetrius has taken a more hands on approach with his advocacy. Participating in citizen lobby day in Austin with the statewide coalition Texans For Responsible Marijuana Policy and attending events for Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) as well as volunteering at multiple events for Houston NORML.
Demetrius is seeking the position of Deputy Director for Houston NORML, he said “I feel that this position will help others like myself, get involved into push for marijuana reform in Texas. I look at this opportunity as a chance to further my experience while building a new resume in a new industry. Cannabis is a God-given gift that government should have no control over.”
Treasurer – Andrea Wimberley
Andrea is a native Houstonian, growing up on the south west side of Houston, graduating from Kerr High School. She has a background in both education and accounting, but currently dedicates her time as a stay at home mom and cannabis activist. Andrea and her husband Robert, now reside in Katy, Texas, where they are raising their amazing, five year old son. For over a year now, Andrea has been active with her local Katy NORML chapter, and educating people about cannabis and epilepsy.
“After being diagnosed with epilepsy over 22 years ago, I have dedicated myself to researching epilepsy and seizure disorders as well as cannabis. I found years ago how helpful cannabis can be with epilepsy and feel that every human being should have the right to be well and healthy and should not have to become refugees or criminals in order to do so. My goal is to help all people have access to this natural plant, whether it is for medicinal benefits or recreational use, and I don’t intend on stopping until I see full legalization.”
Communications Director – Jason Edward Miller
Jason has been involved with NORML for over 5 years. He is the President and CEO of Internet LAVA, LLC, a web development and internet marketing company that provides services to law firms all over the country. Jason graduated from The Art Institute of Houston in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Web Design and Interactive Media. He has been a speaker and panelist at many seminars on the topics of social media, website design and internet marketing. Jason started his company in 2010 and began hiring college graduates into full-time positions while he was still a student. His company has since grown to include clients in more than 20 different states across the U.S.
Jason’s company has sponsored the past 8 consecutive NORML Legal Seminars in Aspen and Key West. Over the years, Jason has gotten to know many of the staff at National NORML as well as many of the lawyers on the NORML Legal Committee. He has also attended the Texas Regional NORML Conferences and has been able to gain valuable insight into marijuana policy and activism.
As a business owner and entrepreneur in the field of online media, Jason is experienced with blogging, publishing, journalism and drafting press releases. Jason has been doing communications, email marketing, web development, press, and social media work for Houston NORML since 2014. He also has also been designing the web graphics and event flyers. Jason served as Communincations Director for Repbulicans Against Marijuan Prohibition (RAMP) from Jan through June 2014. During this time, Jason helped RAMP develop a professional logo and website and wrote blog articles. Jason was elected Executive Director of Houston NORML in June of 2014 and is currently serving in that position.
Jason is a member of the Houston Interactive Marketing Association (HiMA), the Houston Young Republicans (HYR), and an associate member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
Jason is co-founder of the social media website LawyerLegion.com, a national lawyer directory that emphasizes lawyer’s board certifications and involvment in voluntary bar associations. Lawyer Legion is the technology that powers the lawyer directory on lawyers.NORML.org. Jason’s company has provided pro-bono web development services to Houston NORML, National NORML, and several voluntary bar associations across the country.
Jason is the proud father of an 8-year-old son. He was born and raised in Tulsa, OK and moved to Houston in 2009.
Public Information Officer – Kris Banks
Kris earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center in 2008 and was admitted to the Texas Bar. He is experienced as a journalist and is involved in local municipal politics. He is a Past President of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, he serves on the board of the Texas Bar’s LGBT Law Section, and is a member of the City of Houston’s Independent Police Oversight Board.
Kris has been a member of Houston NORML since August 2014 and has worked on filing public records request and drafting press releases for Houston NORML. Kris currently works as the Director of Legal Publications for Internet LAVA, LLC, a web development and internet marketing company based in Houston. Kris is experienced in submitting Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) requests and open records requests. Kris contributed to a report published by Houston NORML on the results of the first 11 months of Harris County’s First Chance Intervention Program based on data sent to him from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Director of Patient Outreach – Cheryl Loudd
Cheryl has spent the past 10 years in healthcare education, working as a training administrator for a medical residency program for 8 years and spending the last 2 years as a clinical placement coordinator for nurse practitioner students. She received her Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) with an emphasis in Health Care Leadership in 2013 from the University of Texas School of Nursing. Cheryl is currently working on her Doctorate in Healthcare Admin (DHA) with an emphasis in Health Policy & Advocacy.
Cheryl is seeking the position of Director of Patient Outreach, regarding her nomination she said:
“I feel that awareness of the beneficial effects of responsible cannabis use needs to be brought to the forefront. There is the all too familiar “stoner” stigma surrounding marijuana use, but there are so many people who consume it for other medically efficacious reasons–as a sleep aid, for pain relief, possible improved lung capacity, seizure control, decreased anxiety. These peoples’ stories must be heard if we are going to have any realistic chance of successfully legalizing marijuana in Texas.
Additionally, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2010. While I have been fortunate enough not to experience pain or much spasticity from my presentation of the disease in these 5 years, many people with MS do have pain, tremors, anxiety, and spasticity that can and have been positively affected by marijuana use. I would like to advocate for not only MS patients, but for anyone suffering with conditions that cannabis can positively impact & improve their quality of life.”
Director of Veterans Outreach – Christopher Sum
Christopher Sum was born and raised in Houston, TX and is a proud Houstonian. He served honorably with the US Army Elite 2d 75th Ranger Regiment having multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Growing up in Houston he lived in the Heights and Oak Forest areas. Christopher is a very active person who loves the outdoors, traveling, and extreme sports. He is currently back in school perusing an undergraduate degree. He established his own company, Rgr Sum Armory, which he is a Gun/Fitness/Motorcycle trainer and an Armorer.
Christopher first heard about NORML back in 2009 at Seattle’s Hempfest in Washington State where he was stationed. He slowly started getting involved with NORML, due to his military job he was very hesitant to get active, but was a big supporter. He got out of the military in early 2011 and attended his first Houston NORML meeting that summer. That’s when he met then Director Steve Nolin. Steve told Christopher Houston NORML operated like a guerrilla operation which hit home with him, from his military service. He officially moved back to Houston in 2012 and started to get more involved and has not looked back. Chris has served as the committee chair for the Houston Art Parade, the Co-director of The Houston’s NORML Athletic Department, and is also the chapter’s Veterans liaison.
He hopes his involvement with the organization will have an impact on the community. Christopher says, “I’m very proud to be a part of this organization, I plan to continue to fight for the cause until the laws are changed. Free the Weed!”
Rangers lead the way!