Charley Wilkison became Executive Director in January 2014 after being promoted from Director of Public Affairs. He is CLEAT’s legislative director and chief lobbyist in the Capitol. Charley came to CLEAT from the field of government and politics. He worked in his first campaign as a volunteer in a County Sheriff race in the Texas Primary in the Spring of 1976, at age 18. During college, he ran political campaigns and worked as a speechwriter, media and political strategist. Prior to accepting a position at CLEAT in 1994, Charley’s governmental experience included the U.S. Congress, Texas Senate, and Texas House of Representatives. He holds a degree in Political Science from Texas A&M University, Commerce.
Susan Collins, Director of Finance
Susan graduated from New Mexico State University with a Bachelor's in Business Administration. She also attended St. Edwards University and received a Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership and Ethics. Susan joined the CLEAT staff in 1985 as Membership Secretary.
Shantaye Artis has joined CLEAT as the Accounts Payable/Payroll Specialist with over 10 years of financial, audit, and cash reporting experience. In her professional career, she has worked for Texas A&M University Central Texas and several for-profit companies. Shantaye was born in California and worked in California, Alabama and now Texas.
Bob Leonard, General Counsel
Robert is a retired NYC Police Officer and has been an attorney in the San Antonio office since 2005. He received a BA in History at the University of New York, Stony Brook, and his law degree from Brooklyn Law School. In 1983, Robert joined the U.S. Army and was a military police officer. In 1985 he joined the National Guard where he served honorably for 15 years. Prior to joining CLEAT Robert served as an Assistant District Attorney in Suffolk County, New York.
San Antonio, Texas
Karl Brehm, Staff Attorney
Karl is a San Antonio native who joined CLEAT in December 2007. Karl attended East Central High School in San Antonio and Texas Lutheran University in Seguin before going to law school at St. Mary’s University.
Morris Munoz, Staff Attorney
Morris returned to CLEAT in September 2014 after spending more than a decade in private practice specializing in labor and employment law. During that time, he also served as Detention Monitor and Intergovernmental Administrator for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, which has given him valuable insight on how jails are managed and operated. He also has experience in collective bargaining for public sector employees. Morris works out of the San Antonio office and serves members across South Texas as he did during his first tour with CLEAT in 2001 and 2002. He earned his J.D. from South Texas College of Law.
Tanner Barnes is a young attorney who was recently hired on by CLEAT after working in different law offices over the years. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2013, and a Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2016. Tanner has a passion for helping people, leading him to receive a certificate from the Texas Pro Bono College for his pro bono work during law school. Tanner’s goal when he was licensed to practice law was to help defend people’s rights and is thus perfect for our organization, where he spends time fighting for the rights of our members. Tanner obtained his license to practice law in Texas in 2017. Tanner was born in Austin, Texas, but has spent his entire professional career working in San Antonio.
El Paso, Texas
Jim Jopling, Staff Attorney
Jim joined CLEAT in 2008. He is originally from Fort Worth. Jim completed his undergraduate studies at UT Austin in 1986. He was a buyer at Lockheed Fort Worth Company before going to law school and graduated from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 1996.
Karen Y. Dykes was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. She graduated from Hampton University summa cum laude with a degree in Computer Information Systems, having received a full academic scholarship. Karen went on to The University of Texas School of Law where she was awarded a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. Since then, she has been licensed to practice law in Texas and California and has taken on a myriad of challenges as an Assistant District Attorney, working as an associate at a leading regional firm. She is excited to work with CLEAT and its members.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Abel Herrero has a long-standing relationship with CLEAT and Texas law enforcement as a local attorney and council member. But his connection to law enforcement is much more personal than that... His brother is a recently, honorably retired Corpus Christi police officer. Abel earned a political science degree at Texas A&M University, and a law degree at the University of Texas, Austin.
Paul earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. While in school, Paul volunteered at a few student-run nonprofit organizations. His drive to help others led him to South Texas College of Law in Houston. After receiving his Juris Doctorate in May of 2015, he passed the Texas State Bar and earned his law license in November of 2015. Before joining the CLEAT legal team in January of 2017, he spent his first year as an attorney getting a wide range of legal experience while trying to build his own practice. Paul was born and raised in Houston, Texas.
Bridgett Brumbaugh is a highly-accomplished attorney complemented with 8 years of legal experience specifically in the area of litigation, real estate, contract and family law. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Columbus State University and Juris Doctor from St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas. Bridgett has an extensive background in legal ranging from working in various law offices as a Law Clerk/Legal Assistant, Assistant District Attorney in Cameron County and managing Assistant Attorney General. She came to CLEAT as the owner of her own general practice.
J.R. Ramirez has over fifteen years of experience in law enforcement, working with the City of McAllen and Mission Police Department. JR found an interest and love for union work and was an executive board member of the local police union for thirteen years of his law enforcement career. JR also block walked and help put civil service on the ballot and did the same for binding arbitration. He began as a patrol officer and then became a detective. As a property crime detective for the City of McAllen, he focused on credit card fraud and financial crime cases, working alongside the Secret Service. His career led him to pursue a major in Criminal Justice and received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2009. He immediately continued his education and earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in 2011 from the University of Texas-Pan American.
Inspired by his younger brother and family, he went on to receive his Juris Doctorate in December 2015
Kathy has been practicing law for seventeen years in Austin, Texas, focusing on general litigation. Prior to joining CLEAT, she worked as an associate attorney with the Evans Family Law Group, West Short & Associates, and Mitchell Williams. With a background that includes family members in law enforcement, Kathy turned down more lucrative offers to come to CLEAT where she hopes to make a real difference by assisting those who protect and serve. Kathy was born and raised in Austin Texas. She received her Undergraduate Degree from the University of Texas at Austin and her law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law.
Alyssa Urban graduated from Texas A&M University School of Law with a concentration in workplace law. Prior to joining CLEAT, she worked in private sector labor relations representing unions and union members all over the country. During her work in private practice, Alyssa participated in the first civil service appeal hearing in Arlington, Texas. Alyssa has always had a strong passion for workers’ rights and advocating on behalf of first responders.
Fort Worth, Texas
Jane graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1987 and received her law degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1992. She is licensed to practice in the Northern and Eastern Districts of federal court as well as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. She began her law career as a staff attorney with Texas Conference of Police and Sheriff’s (TCOPS) in February 1993, a state-wide labor association headquartered in Dallas. While working for TCOPS, Jane represented law enforcement officers from various agencies throughout the State of Texas including Dallas, Irving, Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and Constables, Midland, TABC and Carrollton. Jane worked as a contract attorney for Dallas Police Patrolman’s Union (DPPU) from January of 1998 until September of 2003. Since then Jane has represented law enforcement officers primarily in the North Texas area in various administrative and employment-related matters as well as officer involved shootings and critical incidents, federal civil rights and whistleblower litigation, criminal defense, civil service arbitration, and mediation.
Benjamin Casey graduated Summa Cum Laude from The University of Texas at Dallas and Magna Cum Laude from Tulane University Law School. He has been licensed to practice law in the State of Texas since 2013. Benjamin comes to CLEAT after several years practicing healthcare law, corporate law, criminal law, and general civil litigation. He is honored to join such a dedicated team of professionals and looks forward to serving those who serve us.
Lance Sumrall, Staff Attorney
Lance received his Bachelor’s degree in Justice Administration from Wayland Baptist University in 2012 and his Juris Doctorate from Texas Tech University School of Law in 2014. He practiced general civil law in Lubbock, Texas after graduating from Texas Tech until February 2018. In 2018 Lance moved to Clovis, New Mexico to work as a criminal prosecutor for the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office before deciding to return to Texas and joining CLEAT in May 2019.
Joyce Lopez is one of the longest-serving members of the CLEAT Staff. She attended San Antonio College for her legal studies and obtained extensive legal experience before coming to work for CLEAT. She has over 25 years in serving CLEAT members in San Antonio and across South Texas.
Mayra comes to us from the District Attorney’s office in El Paso where she was an Administrator for two County Courts.
There she kept track of misdemeanor case files. Mayra holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.
Jeanette was born and raised in San Antonio. In 2014, she moved to Houston with her husband Joseph and their two daughters. Prior to working for CLEAT, she worked for Whataburger Home Office as an Administrator.
Ericka Gutierrez is a native of Dallas. She worked for many years with the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #588. She joined CLEAT in 2018 as a Membership Assistant and recently transitioned into the role of assistant to the Legal Staff in Dallas. She enjoys volunteering her time at Law Enforcement events, helping the families of fallen Officers, and providing overall support to Officers and their families, something she has dedicated her professional life to for more than 17 years.
Shay came to CLEAT in November 2019. She was in the Air Force JAG Corps as Paralegal for 12 years, the last five years working as an Area Defense Counsel Paralegal.
Michael Rickman, Corporate Counsel
Mike Rickman served as an officer in the Mesquite Police Department for nearly a decade before going to Texas Tech University Law School where he graduated in 1993. Mike met and married Mesquite Officer Gay Rickman, who is now retired. They have two sons.
Member and Support Services Director/Training Coordinator
Chris retired from the Houston Police Department in 2010 after 31 years of service. He has also been a member of CLEAT for 30 years and has worked for CLEAT over 25 years as a consultant or part-time employee. Upon his retirement, Chris was hired by CLEAT full time to work in the Public Affairs Division. Over the years, Chris has developed expertise in the technical aspects of the legislative process, including drafting legislation, amendments, position papers, and bill analyses. He has a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Houston.
Janet Cole grew up in Dallas, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Marketing. She came to CLEAT in 2008. She is a full-time organizer that focuses on targeted local associations in membership growth and helps them formulate strategies, leadership training, communication tools, and resolving local issues.
Local Union Services Director
John Kerr joined the CLEAT Field Services Division after retiring from the Fort Worth Police Department. John has served as President of the FWPOA and Vice President of CLEAT for several terms. He has negotiated contracts, recruited members and fought many public media and political battles in Fort Worth and across the state. He is a graduate of the Harvard Trade Union Program in Cambridge, Mass., and a veteran of the U.S. Army.
Tom was born and raised in Colorado. He served 7 years in the U.S. Army to include service during Desert Storm. He has an associate’s degree in law enforcement, is a Harvard trade union graduate and is a Master peace officer.
Danny Arredondo was a CLEAT member for his entire career as a San Marcos police officer. Danny served on the board of the San Marcos Police Officer Association as well as serving as President for the past decade. Danny was instrumental in convincing city leaders there to implement Meet and Confer after CLEAT passed the law back in 2005. Danny also negotiated every contract with the city, handled political endorsements as well as the everyday duties of being a local President.
Steve Ayala’s career in law enforcement started at the University of Texas at Tyler where he served two years as an officer. As an officer, he graduated from UT-Tyler with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Steve then returned back to his hometown where he’s been a police officer with the McAllen Police Department for over 17 years. Steve has served in several units in the department and has been an active board member for the CLEAT police associations in his department. Steve is a part-time Organizer and assigned to CLEAT’s newest office in the Rio Grande Valley.
Field Representative/Attorney at Law
Grant joined the CLEAT staff in November 2014 and is working at the State Headquarters. His experience resume includes service with the State of Texas as an attorney for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He earned his law degree at St. Mary’s University School of Law.
Ernie comes to CLEAT with over 10 years of law enforcement experience, most of which he served as a police officer in Fort Worth. He then went on to serve as a patrol sergeant and criminal investigations division sergeant for the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office. There he also served as the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Officers Association President which resulted in the recruitment of more members, grievances being filed successfully with discipline being overturned in favor of the member, back pay, overtime wages being paid out up to $35,000.00, and negotiating contract amendments that improved the overall well being of the sheriff’s office. Ernie also was a part of the U.S. Marine Corps as Sergeant. He has a son Joseph, and a daughter Cameron.
Has was born in Austria and moved to Buffalo – Niagara Falls, NY region where he grew up. He received his AAS Degree in Police Science from Genesee Community College, Batavia, NY, a BS Degree in Criminal Justice from State University of NY at Buffalo, NY and his Masters of Public Administration Midwestern State University, Wichita Fall, TX.
Hans has served as a police officer for the University of Chicago, Southern Pacific Railroad and ended his career as a Houston Police officer (31 plus years, Field Operations Command). In addition, he served on the Board of Directors for the Houston Police Officers’ Association (HPOA) from 1982-1996 and HPOU president from 1996-2008. He served as an integral part of changes that were made into transforming the HPOA into the Houston Police Officers’ Union (HPOU). Hans has 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren.
Cheri was born and raised in Killeen, Texas. Her career in the law enforcement community included over 15 years as a Correctional Officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and as a dual certified security officer with both the City and the County of St. Louis, Missouri. In addition, she served on the Local Executive Board of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees for the TDCJ Correctional Officers in Huntsville, Texas from 2014-2017 and as it’s President from 2017-2019. She was also very active in the Houston chapter of the Texas Young Active Labor Leaders, or Texas YALL, serving as the Recording Secretary for its inception year, from 2017-2018. She proudly joined the CLEAT family in 2019.
Jeff Lake was born and raised in the golden triangle of southeast Texas. After serving as an MP in the Army for 8 years, he returned to West Texas and went to work as a Texas peace officer. He has been a loyal CLEAT member since 2011 and can speak from experience of how important CLEAT legal protection is after being involved in an OIS in 2013. Jeff was recently certified as a TCOLE instructor. He has two sons, Conner and Dawson.
DJ first joined CLEAT in 1982 when he began my career in law enforcement at Southlake Police Department as a Reserve Officer and paid Dispatcher. In 1984, DJ moved to the Burleson Police Department where he served in Patrol, SWAT, and as an Accident Investigator. From 1987 – 2018, he worked for the Fort Worth Police Department. During this time, he was assigned to Patrol, Traffic, and Fugitive—including a 12-year assignment to the US Marshals Service Task Force. DJ served for 19 years on the FWPOA board as a Director and on the Executive Board as Secretary. After 30 years with FWPD, he retired from law enforcement. DJ has started as a Field Representative for CLEAT in 2019.
Kristi Hill, Membership Coordinator
Kristi has been with CLEAT since 1994 starting in the Membership Division. She also worked with the CLEAT Public Affairs team and coordinated events for the POMF before being promoted to Membership Coordinator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Concordia University and a marketing certificate from the University of Texas at Austin.Jeannette Foree, Membership Senior Support Assistant
Jeannette comes from a military family and moved around a lot both as a youngster and as an adult. But she’s lived in Texas on and off for the past 20 years. She started at CLEAT as a temporary employee and joined the Membership team permanently in late 2015.
Sonya Manor, Membership Support Assistant
Sonya came to CLEAT in November 2014 after working for the Travis Central Appraisal District for eight years. She was born and raised in Austin.
After college in New Jersey and New York, the Army moved him to South Carolina, Missouri and finally Texas, where he has lived since 2002. In 2005, he was hired with the Temple Police Department. Jayson has been a member of the Robbery Investigators of Texas since its’ inception in 2012. In 2017, Jayson began working for CLEAT in the Membership Services division. Jayson is married to a 911 dispatcher and has 5 children.
Sonia Godinez proudly joined CLEAT in 2018. She currently holds a position in membership and everyday recruiting. Sonia has always respected the service and sacrifice of first responders. In 1996, she worked for Dallas County as a Deputy Constable in Pct. 6 and in 2000 as a Police Officer in Cockrell Hill PD. Prior to joining CLEAT, Sonia worked for the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police for over 17 years. She is currently at the CLEAT office in Dallas. Sonia enjoys spending time with family, attending her boys' sporting events, the outdoors and traveling.
Alex joined CLEAT in 2016 after finishing up a social media/marketing internship with a Chicago based SaaS enterprise, behavioral analytics software company, called Mattersight Corporation. Alex is in charge of designing and producing all of CLEAT's Texas Police STAR Newsletters, Convention Books, Peace Officers Memorial Programs, as well as other printed materials. She is the videographer and editor for all of CLEAT's video material. She obtained her B.A. in Communication-Public Relations from Concordia University in Austin.
Jennifer Hackney Szimanski began her career in 2005 with the Texas Attorney General’s Office (Greg Abbott) after graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice from Texas State University. She was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division from 2005-2011where she worked on human trafficking, cybercrimes, and child abuse cases. In 2011, Jennifer joined the Austin Police Department. She worked patrol until transferring to the Austin Regional Intelligence Center as an intel officer. She worked for the next five years as an Intelligence Officer coordinating with the local JTTF on foreign and domestic terrorism investigations. In April of 2018, she promoted to the rank of corporal/detective and was assigned as a patrol Corporal in Central East Austin. Jennifer has a life-long passion for law enforcement’s political environment and has a long history of connection and involvement with State politics for many years.
Carol Whitfield, Program Organizer for RFTF and CLEAT Retirees
Carol has been with CLEAT since 1994 and is now a Certified Estate Planner assigned to the Legal Services Division as Wills Program Coordinator. In addition, Carol was recently assigned to become the CLEAT Retiree Association Coordinator, assisting the newly formed board with marketing and recruiting for the CRA. Prior to serving the legal division, Carol obtained both Life & Health and Property & Casualty insurance licenses and managed the CLEAT Benefit Plan, servicing the participating locals.