Board of Directors

Cindy Atmar – President
cindy-atmar-photoCindy joined M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in 2014 with more than twenty-five years of fund development and management experience. Over her career she has served in regional and national capacities for the American National Red Cross, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Since both her mother and her grandmother were patients at M.D. Anderson, she is especially honored to be working with our wonderful donors to create legacy gifts that will make a lasting impact.

She is a member of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, Association of Fundraising Professionals and National Association of Cancer Center Development Officers (NACCDO). Her volunteer leadership roles include serving as a board member and 2010, 2016 and 2017 Conference Chair of the Planned Giving Council of Houston, founding Chair of Community Health Charities of Texas and Co-Chair of the NACCDO Planned Giving Committee.  Cindy, a cum laude graduate of UMass Boston and a Certified Fundraising Executive, enjoys traveling, reading and real estate.  She and her husband Richard, a third generation Houstonian, also enjoy time with their teenage son, Jack, and two German Shepherds.

Tanya Castro – Membership Co-Chair
Mrs. Castro has sixteen years of experience in the financial services industry. She is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Houston with a B.A. in Finance.  She is an alumni of Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Gamma Sigma, as well as a graduate of the Cannon Financial Institute’s Trust School. She obtained the Certified Trust & Financial Advisor (CTFA) designation from The Institute of Certified Bankers and holds her Series 7 and 66 Securities Licenses. Her long standing memberships include Houston Estate & Financial Forum, Planned Giving Council of Houston, Financial Women in Texas – Gulf Coast Chapter, and the American Bar Association.

She started her career at a major bank in its Retail Banking Department and is now a part of Cadence’s Trust group in Houston, Texas and is the assigned Marketing Officer for all of South Texas.  Mrs. Castro is a proud wife and mother and makes her home with her family in Katy, TX.

Robert (Bob) King – Treasurer
Mr. King joined the University of Houston in 2014 as the Director of Gift Planning in the Office of University Advancement. In his current role, Bob oversees the University’s gift planning function and assists University fund raising professionals with both donor development and gift planning strategies as well as the legal, tax, policy, and due diligence issues of giving charitable gifts to the University. He works with current gifts, bequests, beneficiary designations, charitable gift annuities, charitable trusts and various assets. He assists in making gifts acceptable to the University, including negotiating gift agreements, assisting the University in adopting policies regarding charitable gifts, and other matters relating to donating to the University.

Bob currently serves on the board of the National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (NAEIR) and previously served on the board of directors of the Knox County YMCA, the Galesburg Civic Art Center and Galesburg Area Crimestoppers.

Before joining the University of Houston, Bob was the Senior Director for Gift Planning and Special Counsel for Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. Prior to entering the field of charitable planning, Bob worked in estate administration at  The Northern Trust Company in Chicago, Illinois and later served as Senior Vice President and Senior Trust Officer for the Farmers and Mechanics Bank in Galesburg, Illinois where he managed all matters relating to trusts, estates, tax and investments. Bob holds a B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois and a J.D. from the Illinois Institute of Technology-Chicago Kent College of Law in Chicago, Illinois.

Debbie Ballard – Secretary


Richard Buffett – Programs Co-Chair
richard-buffetRichard is currently the Director of Major Gifts and Legacy Planning for the Houston Grand Opera. He is a Certified Wealth Advisor and previously worked for the Cleveland Institute of Music as Director of Development and the Cleveland Clinic as Director of Gift Planning. After spending 24 years at KeyBank (Cleveland, Ohio) as a Senior Vice President for Institutional Asset Management and Trusts and Estates and was the Discretionary Trust Distributions Chair of KeyTrust, Richard decided to enter the gift and legacy planning profession. Richard also serves as Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Ars Lyrica Houston, sings with the Christ Church Cathedral Choir and has served on various not for profit boards for a number of years while residing in Cleveland, Ohio.


Tina Melo – Programs Co-Chair
Tina Lundy Melo received her J.D. from the University of Virginia in 1981, and graduated with high honors from the University of Tennessee in 1977 with a joint degree in political science and journalism. Prior to joining Fizer, Beck, Webster, Bentley & Scroggins in 1991, Ms. Melo was an associate attorney with the Houston law firm Vinson & Elkins and the nationally-recognized health law firm of Wood, Lucksinger & Epstein.

During her over thirty years of legal practice, Ms. Melo has represented a wide variety of tax-exempt and governmental organizations, has lectured on numerous topics affecting such entities, and has served on the faculty of the LINE (Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives) continuing education course at Rice University. In addition to tax-exempt work, her practice has included estate planning for individuals, charitable giving, and general corporate work.

Ms. Melo is currently a member of the planned giving council at the University of Virginia.  She is a past chairman of the planning committee for the University of Texas Annual Nonprofit Organizations Institute. Locally, Ms. Melo is a past director of Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts, the Junior League of Houston, Inc., the Houston Alumnae Panhellenic Association and its tax-exempt scholarship foundation, and currently serves on the board of the Center for Hearing and Speech Foundation.

Ms. Melo is licensed to practice law in the state of Texas.

David Starnes – Sponsorship Chair

David currently serves UT Health Sciences Center Houston as the Senior Director, Estate and Gift Planning. Prior to joining UT Health, David served as Senior Director of Gift Planning at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Director of Gift Planning at Baylor College of Medicine and the Director of Gift Planning at the University of Houston. Since starting his fundraising career David has focused on gifts of non-cash assets and helping individuals develop a gift plan that will produce beneficial results for the donor and their family. Memberships include the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, Planned Giving Council of Houston, and Houston Estate and Financial Forum. David has also served on the speaker committee for the National Conference on Gift Planning.

David and his wife Sheri have been married for 34 years and have 2 boys, and two granddaughters.




Aaron Dobbs – Communications Chair

T. Aaron Dobbs is an attorney and shareholder with Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey PC.  Aaron leads the firm’s estate planning, probate and trust administration practice.  He is board certified in estate planning and probate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Aaron routinely advises clients on the development of estate plans to achieve their post-mortem objectives and to mitigate income and transfer taxes.  Aaron also assists beneficiaries, fiduciaries, creditors, and nonprofit and charitable organizations in all aspects of estate and trust administration, probate, will contests, trust and fiduciary litigation, creditor claims, and guardianship disputes before trial and appellate courts across the state of Texas, and he is admitted to practice before the United States District Court, Southern District of Texas.

A seventh generation Texan, Aaron previously worked as a Legislative Aide to U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and as a Legislative Counsel for the Texas Legislative Council. During his tenure with the Texas Legislature, Aaron was a member of the team of lawyers responsible for drafting the first installment of the new Estates Code, which replaced the Texas Probate Code on January 1, 2014.

Aaron holds a B.S. from Texas A&M University and a J.D. from South Texas College of Law – Houston.

Scott Brasington – Conference Chair


Richard Bennett – Board Member


Stephanie Dugan – Board Member