Professional Certifications and Affiliations

  • Licensed as an Attorney and Counselor at Law, Texas, 1996

  • Texas Bar College (honorary society for Texas lawyers who attend at least double the Continuing Legal Education required by the State Bar of Texas)
  • State Bar of Texas – Real Estate, Probate & Trust Law Section
  • Houston Bar Association - Co-chairperson, Elder Law Committee, 2015-16; Probate, Trusts & Estate Section
  • Disability and Elder Law Association (DELAA)
  • Attorneys in Tax and Probate (ATP) - CLE Chair, 2017 - present
  • Certified to practice in guardianship matters

  • Regularly appointed by Harris County probate courts as an Attorney Ad Litem and Guardian Ad Litem

Personal Background and Service

Tonya leads through service, and is involved in various civic and educational volunteer activities, including:

  • Leadership Houston, Class XXXVII (2018-2019)

  • Cohen Ambassador Program, Garden Oaks Ambassador for Mayor Pro Tem Ellen R. Cohen (2018)

  • Garden Oaks Kids (GO Kids), Founder, a community organization that now serves as a resource for more than 350 local families

  • Friends of Montessori and Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet PTO (2006 - 2015, various positions including Chapter President of FOM)

  • HISD Volunteer of the Year and the Texas State Board of Education Heroes for Children, Nominee for each

  • Harriet & Joe Foster Family YMCA (Board Chair 2014-2016; Volunteer of the Year 2016)

  • St. Paul’s United Methodist Church Foundation (Director, Board Chair 2017- 2019)

  • Volunteer, providing pro bono legal services through the Houston Bar Association (Co-chair of the Elder Law Committee, 2015) and the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program

Tonya was born in the small town of Hillsboro in Central Texas. She was adopted by a local high school teacher and a football coach, who taught her to value education and appreciate the merits of hard work. Tonya moved around the state of Texas as she grew up. In high school, she ran track, was Editor of the school newspaper, served on the student council, and earned admission to the National Honor Society.

She was active in her church youth group, as well as two leadership programs that took her to Washington DC and Philadelphia. Those experiences led to a thirst for law, governance, and her contribution to a more just and civil society.

Tonya started college at Texas Christian University on an academic scholarship and later transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, where she made the Dean's List, earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and was active in Phi Beta Chi women’s business fraternity. During her years at UT, Tonya worked part-time to support her studies and interned for Judge Charles F. Campbell, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Upon graduation from UT, Tonya pursued a Juris Doctorate at the University of Houston Law Center and distinguished herself in mock trial, moot court, and mediation competitions. She received awards for her work in evidence and legal research and was selected as a judicial intern for Judge Carolyn Clause Garcia, 151st Civil District Court.

Licensed as an attorney in 1996, Tonya started her legal practice in commercial litigation, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal court, including business disputes, securities fraud claims, and consumer and employment cases. Tonya successfully settled the great majority of her clients’ disputes, and practiced family and adoption law as a volunteer, pro bono.

She also started her own family, and successfully reunited with her birth families to build a loving extended family relationship that includes her husband Rick and her three children.

Tonya is a proud graduate of the Texas public school system and remains a tireless advocate for children from all walks of life. Her mission is to serve families. Her practice reflects an appreciation for the needs of families, the values of hard work and citizenship she learned growing up, and the conviction that individuals doing good things every day can create a better world.