April 7, 2021

Candidates Announced for AYLA Board of Directors

Elections to be held april 12 to may 3, 2021

The Austin Young Lawyer Association announces its candidates for the 2021-22 board of directors. A link to the electronic ballot will be sent in an email from BallotBox Online on Mon., April 12. The election will close at 5 p.m. on Mon., May 3. The new slate of officers and board members will begin their terms on July 1, 2021:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, voting will be available online only. Please add noreply@ ballotboxonline to your allowed email addresses so the message gets past your spam filter.


The only contested officer race is for the office of secretary. Candidates are Ben Dower and Emily Morris.  The elected secretary will join the following officers who are running uncontested:

  • Rachael Jones, President
  • Blair Leake, President-Elect
  • Sarah Harp, Treasurer

Ben Dower practices civil litigation at the Office of the Attorney General of Texas. He has been an ex-officio member of the AYLA board of directors since 2016 and a director since 2019. Last year, he was honored to accept AYLA’s Outstanding Director award. He is also involved in the Barbara Jordan Inn of Court and the Texas Law Mentoring Program. He has served on numerous AYLA committees, including the Runway for Justice and Leadership Academy Committees. He is currently chair of the AYLA Publications Committee and co-chair of the AYLA Rules Committee.


Emily Morris is the principal attorney of the Morris Law Firm, which focuses on corporate and real estate matters for small business owners. Morris is dedicated to the Austin legal community, demonstrated by substantial service to the Austin Bar, Austin Young Lawyers Association, and Travis County Women Lawyers Association.  She served for two years on the Austin Bar/AYLA Leadership Academy committee before becoming the committee’s co-chair for two more years. She currently serves as co-chair of the AYLA CLE Committee.



Five candidates are vying for four two-year terms on the board of directors. The four elected board members will join directors Jessica MacCarty, Callie Haley, Ciara Parks, and Morgan Shell, whose terms expire in 2022.

Brian Aslin is an Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Attorney General’s General Litigation Division. He currently serves as the OAG representative to the AYLA board of directors. Aslin graduated from Baylor Law School and Baylor University. Aslin is currently serving on the Austin Bar/AYLA Leadership Academy Committee and has served on the AYLA Judicial Reception, Bar & Grill, and Rules committees.



Eric Cuellar is a litigation attorney at Ramos James Law. He is currently the solo/small firm representative to the AYLA board of directors. Cuellar’s AYLA committee involvement includes serving on the Docket Call, Speed Networking, and Austin Bar/AYLA Leadership Academy committees.


Jenna Malsbary works for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.  She is completing a two-year term as a director on the AYLA board and is seeking re-election for another term.  She currently serves as co-chair of the AYLA Community Service Days and MLK Day of Service committees. She is also a member of the Membership and Pro Bono committees



Lena Proft works for the Texas Secretary of State. She has been a member of AYLA since moving back to Austin in 2018. She has served as the AYLA government attorney liaison to the AYLA board of directors for the past two years and was a member of the 2020 Leadership Academy class. Her current AYLA committee involvement includes the Rules Committee, Community Service Days Committee, and MLK Day of Service Committee.


Gracie Wood Shepherd practices family law at Friday Milner Lambert Turner. She attended Texas A&M University and Baylor Law School. Shepherd was a member of the Austin Bar/ AYLA Leadership Academy Class of 2019 and is currently serving on the Leadership Academy Committee.