Author Archive

Tanzeem Chowdhury (’16)

“Being is a Coog is a lifestyle and what better way to showcase that love than showing everyone the UH Flag and our Coog Paw!

As a proud alum, I carry both of these things during my travel, so everyone knows where I belong and who I am.”

– Tanzeem Chowdhury (B.S. in Civil Engineering, 2016)

Lary Barton (’80)


AUSTIN, TX – HeartGift is excited to welcome Lary Barton as a new member of the Community Impact Board for the organization’s Houston chapter. Since its inception in 2000, the nonprofit organization has provided more than 1,000 free, life-saving heart surgeries to patients with congenital heart defects who live in countries where specialized pediatric cardiac care is either scarce or non-existent. The announcement was made by Christy Casey-Moore, HeartGift CEO, which is head-quartered out of Austin.

Barton has a proven record of over 40 years of exceptional customer service and sales in IT Outsourcing, hardware sales, integration, and support services for one company and retiring in May of 2021. Lary is currently enjoying “Chapter 2” as a Realtor with Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty. Lary has also served on the Boards of numerous other nonprofits in the Greater Houston metro area focused on homelessness and the arts including Healthcare for the Homeless Houston, Bering Omega Foundation, Bering Church, Avenue 360, Open Gate Homeless Ministries. Lary is also a supporter of the Houston Grand Opera, The Houston Ballet, as well as the Alley Theater and 4th Wall Theater.

Barton holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Business and Organizational Behavioral Management from The University of Houston.

“I first learned about HeartGift from my dear friend Jan Larsen. Her enthusiasm is contagious no matter what she is involved with, but her love for HeartGift and its mission to save the lives of children got my attention. In 2022, I attend my first fundraiser – Songs for the Heart – and I was hooked. In 2023, I was honored to be asked to join the board and attend this year’s event as a proud board member. I am looking forward to doing all I can to save the lives of more children,” says Barton.
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About HeartGift (
Since its inception in 2000, HeartGift has provided nearly 800 life-saving heart surgery to children worldwide with congenital heart defects (CHD). Over one million children around the globe are born each year with CHD, and most do not have access to the specialized care they need. HeartGift’s vision is a world where children born with CHD have access to the surgical repair they need, regardless of where they live. Each year, HeartGift provides hundreds of surgeries in the United States, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Pediatric hospitals, talented surgeons and medical staff dedicate their time and talents, as well as a diverse network of donors and volunteers, help make HeartGift’s procedures free and create a hopeful future possible for children around the world.

Donna Marie Barr (’74)

Donna Marie Barr’s memoir, My View from the House by the Sea: A Life Transformed by Samoa and the Peace Corps, has been published by White Hawk Press.
After growing up in Nebraska, Donna joined the US Air Force which brought her to Texas where she was stationed at Carswell AFB in Fort Worth. She enrolled at the University of Houston after discharge and completed her Bachelor of Arts in English in 1974 and received her Master of Arts from UH in 1976 in Public Administration.
Donna began her career in Houston at Andrews, Kurth, Campbell and Jones as a paralegal on the contested estate case of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. For the next fifteen years she worked as a real estate paralegal and law office manager for the Denver offices of Kutak, Rock and Campbell and Kirkland and Ellis. Transitioning into real estate portfolio management, Donna was Director of Real Estate for the Archdiocese of Denver and retired in 2004 as Real Estate Asset Manager for the State of Colorado.
At the Community College of Aurora in Aurora, Colorado, she taught paralegal courses for 14 years and was instrumental in the founding and development of the American Bar Association approved paralegal program at that institution.
Upon retirement, Donna returned to the Big Island of Hawaii where she has family and had lived for a time in her 20s. There she worked for two non-profits and at the age of 57 went to the South Pacific islands of Samoa as Peace Corps volunteer. That life-changing adventure prompted her to write My View from the House by the Sea, her first book.
Her memoir tells the story of adapting to unfamiliar customs and foods, and also to the post-retirement phase of her life. Among the tales of life in Samoa—harrowing bus rides, challenging projects, rewarding relationships, and the joys of living by the sea—she reflects on how the experience changed her and continues to be a vital part of her life today.
My View from the House by the Sea is available online at and other booksellers.

Leonard J. Nowak (’70)

Leonard J. Nowak, 75, died November 10, 2023, at home in Houston, Texas surrounded by family and friends.
Leonard was born on October 2, 1948, in Houston, Texas. He is preceded in death by his parents Stephen and Edna Nowak and brother Michael Nowak. He is survived by his wife Sandra Nowak, brother Theodore Nowak (Cora) and sister-in-law Marjorie Nowak and many nieces and nephews.

Leonard graduated from St. Thomas High School and the University of Houston and worked as a Geophysicist in oil and gas exploration. Leonard served in Vietnam as a soldier of the United States Army. Leonard loved playing golf, listening to music, traveling, going to UH football, basketball, and baseball games. He was an active and faithful member of St. Theresa Catholic Church.

Leonard will be fondly remembered by many nieces, nephews, family, and many friends. The family would like to extend their gratitude to all of his relatives, friends and caretakers for their love and support.

Visitation with the family will be from 12:00 – 12:30 PM at St. Theresa Catholic Church, 6622 Haskell St. Houston, Texas 77007 on Tuesday, November 21, 2023. The Rosary and Funeral Mass will follow beginning at 12:30 PM. Graveside to follow at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery, 6900 Lawndale St. Houston, Texas 77023 beginning at 3:00 PM.

Remembrances may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, in memory of Leonard J. Nowak.

Kelly Anne Berretta (M.S.W. ’98)

Kelly Anne Berretta, 51, born on September 28, 1971 in Houston, Texas, recently passed away on October 28, 2023.

Funeral service will be held on October 30, 2023 at 2:30 PM in Kagan-Rudy Chapel at Emanu El Memorial Park, located at 8341 Bissonnet St., Houston, TX 77074.

Kelly Anne Berretta attended Trinity University and the University of Houston.

Michelle Gray (J.D. ’11)

Michelle Gray (J.D. ’11) has been named by The Houston Business Journal as one of 90 honorees for the 2023 Women Who Mean Business Awards, recognizing women in leadership roles who have demonstrated excellence in their careers and community. Gray said “So many organizations tout the fact that they are hiring and even promoting women and minorities… but the real question is this: Are you changing the culture of your organization to reflect the needs, talents, and character of a wider, more diverse human experience? Let’s not merely open the doors, but let’s redecorate the place with a new corporate culture that invites others in.”

Maj. Gen. (ret) Barrye Price (’85)

Maj. Gen. (ret) Barrye Price (’85)
Maj Gen (ret) Barrye Price (’85), author of several books, wrote a screenplay about Martin Luther King titled “Interview with a King”. The screenplay is now an animated short-film that’s entered in numerous film festivals. You can view the trailer.
Price’s journey started at military college before he transferred to the University of Houston, where he attended what was then known as the College of Business Administration.
“After a season in a military school, where you’re outside every day for formation in the dead of winter, I remember one winter day freezing, standing, saying ‘Man, I’ll be in Houston next year. There won’t be any of this this type of weather,’” Price said.
After graduating in 1985, Price served in the United States Army, earning the rank of Major General, one of just 150 in the entire branch. After retiring in 2016 with countless honors and designations, Price again turned his focus to serving others through leadership in a new role.
“My roommate my last three years of college, Carl, was exposed to crack cocaine by his girlfriend and unfortunately, he was addicted and suffered from substance use disorder for 30 years,” Price said. “A year before I retired, Carl succumbed to addiction, and that was probably the greatest failing of my life my feeling that I couldn’t help him. All I was armed with was ‘just say no.’”
Price now serves as the President and CEO of the non-profit Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), an organization that emphasizes the power of community coalitions to prevent substance misuse through collaborative community efforts.
“Carl’s picture sits on my desk right now every day as a reminder of what I’m doing right now,” Price said. “I was ill-equipped to help my roommate, but since I couldn’t help him, I decided to take this job so that I might help scores of others who are similarly suited, and it’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life today.”
Price also lends his service to his alma mater, actively involved with Bauer College as a donor and mentor.
“When my wife died, I wanted to create a legacy to immortalize her, and so the thing that I thought of, especially since her parents and her family were all from Houston, was to gift the school and create a memorial scholarship in her name,” he said. “That has been a remarkable opportunity for me to re-engage with the school and for me to see the difference in the school.”
Price continues to build on this legacy by connecting with current Bauer students to share the perspective and wisdom he’s earned through his personal journey, most recently become active in connecting with students in the Bauer in D.C. Fellowship Program.
“I’ve just recently connected with some students who are here in Washington, D.C., and I want to be a part of the sowing of the new seeds of paying it forward to the next generation,” he said. “I want to show them that a part of growing up and becoming a leader is to give back.”

Brenna Fraser (M.Ed. ’15)

Principal shows up as herself, purple glasses and all
Meet Your Administrator: Brenna Fraser

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
October 9, 2023

Wyoming — Brenna Fraser is the new principal at Parkview Elementary School. SNN gets to know her in this edition of Meet Your Administrators.

Brenna Fraser’s Converse sneakers, blazer and big glasses are all shades of purple, matching the decor in her office and the Wyoming Wolves school colors seen on the walls.

It’s her Friday look, she said, describing her personal style and how it helps her connect with students. She has seven pairs of glasses and likes to wear the purple ones to finish off the school week. She sports her red frames when she needs a “fun pop of color.”

“To me, this really comes back to being able to live in a way that you can show up as yourself,” Fraser said, explaining how she wants every student to feel like they belong.

“No matter the personality, we want our scholars to feel like they can be themselves.”

— Parkview Elementary Principal Brenna Fraser
“I’m someone who loves vibrant and colorful. It’s important as leaders that we are also modeling showing up as our true selves, so I try to do that all the way down to the glasses I choose for the day. … Without belonging, we are not going to get very far.”

Here are some other facts about Fraser:

Previous jobs in education:

first- and fourth-grade teacher and instructional coach in Houston, Texas
Instructional coach in all Wyoming Public Schools elementary buildings
Kent ISD early literacy coach

Northview High School graduate
Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Grand Valley State University
Master’s degree in administration from University of Houston

Parkview Principal Brenna Fraser brings her own personal style to school
What would you like to share about your family? “I am a wife and a mom. I’ve been married for five years to Matt, and we have two girls, Bella (1) and Ava (3).”

Describe your leadership style in seven words or less. “Everything is better with a team.”

What do you like about being a principal at an elementary school? “Joy. There is so much joy in being around students and it’s contagious.”

What were you like as a student? “I was shy! It’s definitely been a long journey for me to become a little bit more outgoing.

But another thing that is so amazing (about Wyoming Public Schools) is that no matter the personality, we want our scholars to feel like they can be themselves.”

What are your interests and hobbies? “I love to read, especially now as a mom it’s a staple in our house. I love to play with my kids. I love food!

Your perfect sandwich: “A good, solid BLT is always a good decision, with some thick-cut bacon.”

What else would you like people to know about you? “I know, because I’ve worked here before, that Parkview is an amazing building. It was such a gift to come back and collaborate and lead all of us together. Not everybody has that awareness when they step into an administrative role. I have a lot of gratitude for working with such amazing people. Our hearts are all around our scholars here.”

Raymond Charles Winter (J.D. ’91)

Governor Greg Abbott announced the appointment of Raymond Charles Winter (J.D. ’91) as Inspector General for Texas Health and Human Services. The announcement was issued September 26, 2023.

Winter joined the Office of Inspector General in June 2023 as Assistant Deputy Inspector General for Complex Litigation. He previously served at the Office of the Attorney General of Texas for more than 24 years, including 15 as Chief of the Civil Medicaid Fraud Division. Prior to joining the Office of Attorney General, Winter was a staff attorney at the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, now the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and a U.S. Army infantry officer and paratrooper. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a law degree from the University of Houston.

Winter will succeed Sylvia Hernandez Kauffman, who was appointed in 2018 and announced her planned departure in August 2023. Although Kauffman has decided to embark on a new phase of her career, she has had an indelible impact on the state of Texas. In her six years leading the Office of Inspector General, she implemented transformative methods in combating fraud, waste and abuse that resulted in $2.4 billion in recoveries for Texas taxpayers.

October 2, 2023, will be Kauffman’s final day as Inspector General as she returns to the private sector. Winter officially takes office on the same day for a term set to expire on February 1, 2024.

Lance Funston (’67)

Lance Funston, entrepreneur and philanthropist passes at 80. On July 5th, 2023. Lance Thomas Funston of Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, and Villefranche-sur-Mer, France passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving wife, Christina and his six children. A successful entrepreneur, media mogul, avid golfer, Olympian, poker enthusiast and artist. Lance was a true renaissance man–his plethora of diverse interests, achievements and zest for life often granting him the title, “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” Lance was born in 1942 in Kansas City, Missouri. He was raised by his devoted parents Ida Paschall Hill and Harold Mitchell Funston. Lance graduated in 1961 from Milby High School in Houston, Texas. Lance received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Houston in 1967, where he would later sit on the Board of Visitors. In 2009, Lance made a gift to his alma mater that allowed for the construction of the Lance T. Funston Communication Center, a state-of-the-art production studio within the Valenti School of Communication. In 1967, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson appointed Lance assistant to the director of the FDIC and subsequently as special assistant to a governor of the Federal Reserve Board. In 1968, Lance moved to Boston to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School which he received in 1970. It soon became clear that Lance possessed an untamable entrepreneurial spirit. In the midst of confronting the rigors of Harvard academics, he formed Portfolio Management Systems, which developed management systems for major financial institutions such as Fidelity Mutual and Bank of America. The company later created a private equity real-estate fund, which proved to be the start of a successful real-estate development career, marked by creativity and a unique vision. In 1986 Lance moved to Philadelphia and founded a merchant banking firm which specialized in leveraged buyouts. Of his most notable acquisitions was Larami Toys, where Lance was the marketing genius behind the remarkable Super Soaker. The 1990’s saw the addition of media to Lance’s already diverse repertoire. In 1993 he founded TelAmerica Media, a media aggregate representing over 90% of the cable television industry. Pursuing his dream of competing in sport at an elite level, Lance joined the American Samoan Bobsled team. He proudly served as a driver throughout the World Cup circuit and as first alternate at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. He also served on the board of the United States Bobsled Federation from 1992 to 1996. In 2000, Lance married Christina Husianycia of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and relocated to the suburbs to raise their two daughters. In 2007, the couple founded the Save A Mind Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers financial aid to youth in Philadelphia’s charter school system. Lance was dedicated to his passions–Bible study, golfing, car remodeling, acting, abstract painting, and professional poker, to name a few. In 2005 Lance, a complete rookie at the time, played in the World Series of Poker Main Event–nearly winning a major tournament live on ESPN. His love-affair with the game, combined with his passion for philanthropy, led him to establish Poker Players with a Heart, a foundation organizing tournaments in which all proceeds were donated. A true visionary, a problem solver, a “larger than life” individual who emanated charisma, wit, and compassion. Lance was an adventurer, a lover of nature and travel, and an adoring father and beloved grandfather. He wholeheartedly believed in others and instilled a sense of self-worth in every soul he touched. His unconditional love, affection, philanthropic spirit and by living life always to the fullest, he will be remembered by all for generations. Lance and Christina spent summers in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France where he experienced the utmost happiness and peace. Lance is survived by his wife, Christina and their daughters Zale and Quinn, his children, Lance “Will” (Kitty), Heather, Brent (Melissa), Blake (Rufus), five grandchildren, two brothers, nieces and nephews. Lance is preceded in death by his parents Ida and Harold, brother Christopher, aunt and uncle Evelyn and Jerry Jackson, and granddaughter, Luciana. A Memorial Service will take place in Narberth, PA in the Fall of 2023. Details to follow. In remembrance of Lance’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to the following organizations: Narberth Presbyterian Church, 205 Grayling Avenue, Narberth, PA 19072 or Philadelphia Museum of Art, Attn.: Gift Processor, PO Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646 (Click Donate, choose Tribute and Memorial gifts in memory of Lance Funston).
Published by The Philadelphia Inquirer on Aug. 2, 2023.