Allie Lavoie Receptionist  |  Dallas, Texas

Allie Lavoie is a receptionist at Vela Wood. Her role includes overseeing many of the daily operations that support our entire team, including processing legal documentation, managing, scheduling, and client communications. Allie graduated from The University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing. She was a part of Kappa Delta Sorority and served as Vice President of Finance. Prior to joining Vela Wood, Allie was a content creator for Face North LLC and a local restaurant in Florida. Before moving to Texas, she finished a marketing internship with The First Dink Foundation, a non-profit Pickleball organization. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, wine and cheese tasting, playing pickleball, traveling, and trying local restaurants.

Allie has a food channel on Tik Tok and Instagram where she shares her culinary creations of toast.


April Smith Transaction Closing Assistant  |  Dallas, Texas

April is a Transaction Closing Assistant at Vela Wood. Her role includes preparing electronic closing binders. April graduated from Texas Woman’s University where she studied business, sociology, and dance.

April really loves:
cats, writing, travel, singing,
pizza, and Haiku.

When April was nine she was on a gameshow called Buster’s Ape Show.


Ashley Burnett Austin Office Coordinator & Executive Assistant  |  Austin, Texas

Ashley Burnett is the Vela Wood Austin Office Coordinator & Executive Assistant. Her role includes carrying out administrative tasks and ensuring the office is operating smoothly. She is also the Austin Coordinator for VW FWD, the firm’s social change initiative. Ashley graduated from East Carolina University obtaining a B.S. in Communication with a concentration in Journalism. Prior to joining Vela Wood, Ashley has experience in both employment and criminal defense law. Ashley enjoys running and cleaning. Her favorite activity is discovering a new spot in Austin to hang with her golden retriever, August.

Ashley was in the movie, Talladega Nights.


Branlyn Yarbrough Client Account Manager  |  Las Vegas, Nevada

Branlyn Yarbrough is the Client Account Manager at Vela Wood. Her role includes managing accounts receivable and monthly billing processes as well as overseeing client intake.

Branlyn is in the process of obtaining her personal trainers certification.


Jasmine Williams Operations Assistant  |  Austin, Texas

Jasmine Williams is an Operations Assistant at Vela Wood. Her role includes maintaining the Austin office, assisting staff, attorneys, and partners with saving and uploading client documents, as well as scheduling in-person meetings and calls for VW Partner Rad Wood. Jasmine graduated from Huston- Tillotson University in Austin, Texas with a B.A. in Political Science and minor in pre-law. Jasmine is currently studying for the LSAT and awaiting law school admission for Fall ’23. In her spare time, she loves to read, go on adventures, enjoy nature, and try any kind of food that she can get her hands on!

Jasmine is the first out of her twelve siblings to graduate from college.


Danielle Fields Legal Admin  |  Dallas, Texas

Danielle Fields is Legal Admin at Vela Wood. Her role includes supporting paralegals and attorneys in their legal environment, responding to potential clients and scheduling consultations, onboarding new clients, compiling and revising drafts of legal documents and reports, and maintaining and updating client file databases and tracking systems. Danielle graduated from Texas Christian University with a B.A. in Political Science where she was the director of Word of Truth Gospel Choir for two years. She enjoys hiking and kayaking, and will soon bring along her new puppy, Bear. She hopes to attend law school and rejoin Vela Wood as an attorney one day!

If I had to eat one type of food for the rest of my life, it would be tacos.


Joel Mathew, CPA Director of Finance and Operations  |  Dallas, Texas

Joel Mathew is the Director of Finance and Operations at Vela Wood. His role includes overseeing the finance and operations teams, publishing financial statements, and looking for efficiencies to maximize profits. Since joining Vela Wood, he has focused on establishing financial and operational processes, monitoring expenditures, and cash flow forecasting. Prior to joining Vela Wood, Joel was a consultant with Embark Consulting and was an auditor with EY, working in various industries for both companies. Joel has a BBA and a MS in Accounting from Southern Methodist University and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the State of Texas.

Joel was an intern with the marketing department of the Dallas Mavericks while he was at SMU!


Kait Palmer Marketing Coordinator   |  Dallas, Texas

Kait is the Marketing Coordinator at Vela Wood. Her role includes handling social media platforms as well as assisting in the planning and execution of events. She graduated magna cum laude from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with a B.S. in Marketing and Organizational Communications as well as a minor in Sports Program Planning. Upon moving to Texas in 2021, she accepted a position with the Texas Rangers as a Game Day Coordinator where she worked with them for the 2021 season. In her spare time, Kait enjoys exploring new cities, reading, and going to concerts.

Kait spent 6 weeks solo traveling the Pacific North West before moving to Dallas!


Kim Faussete Paralegal  |  Dallas, Texas

Kim Faussete is a Paralegal at Vela Wood. Her role includes preparing and submitting state and federal regulatory filings and notices. She assists attorneys with various corporate governance and capital raise matters. Prior to working at Vela Wood, Kim spent 3 years as a banker. She has been with Vela Wood for over 5 years.

Kim rescued a turtle from her dad’s lawn mower as a teen and has cared for Bob for over a decade. She sorely misinterpreted the longevity of life for a turtle and has since managed to pass him off (thankfully) for care and keeping to another VW employee.


Kristina Derr Paralegal  |  Claremore, Oklahoma

Kristina Derr is a Paralegal at Vela Wood. Her role includes assisting attorneys with entity formations, corporate governance and transactional assistance, and litigation matters. She is a remote employee based out of Claremore, Oklahoma. Kristina graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies from the Metropolitan College of Legal Studies in 2002. She obtained her Certified Paralegal certificate in 2009 through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and maintains an Advanced Certified Paralegal accreditation. Prior to joining Vela Wood, Kristina was a 15 year litigation paralegal for Holden Litigation. She has 23 years experience as a paralegal serving in different areas of the law, including criminal defense, oil and gas litigation, and general insurance defense. In her spare time, Kristina enjoys attempting to grow fruits and vegetables from her many raised beds, building yearly Halloween props to add to her already voluminous collection, and yelling at her two dogs (and husband).

Kristina and her husband play competitive virtual putt putt.


Lexie Bauman Legal Secretary  |  Dallas, Texas

Lexie Bauman is a Legal Secretary at Vela Wood. Her role includes assisting attorneys with entity formations, formatting transactional documents, and preparing electronic closing binders. Lexie graduated from The University of Texas at Arlington with a B.A. in Political Science and is currently pursuing her paralegal certification at the Center for Advanced Legal Studies.

Lexie is from New Orleans, so she knows what a real parade is.


Liz True Senior Paralegal  |  Dallas, Texas

Liz True is the Senior Paralegal at Vela Wood. Her role includes supporting attorneys and clients with debt and equity financings, mergers & acquisitions, entity formations and conversions, corporate governance, cap table and option plan management, complex closings, and much more. Liz also provides training and guidance to the legal staff and law clerks as the legal staff manager. Liz enjoys crochet, embroidery, jewelry making, fishing, camping, hiking, archery, board games, singing in the shower, dancing in the kitchen, feeding the homeless, registering voters, and sticking it to the man.

Liz almost met Lou Diamond Phillips once.


Mabel Lusengo Finance Manager  |  Dallas, Texas

Mabel Lusengo is the Finance Manager at Vela Wood. Her role includes supporting the finance team and managing accounting records for the firm. Mabel has a BBA in Accounting from University of North Texas, where she is currently pursuing her MS in Accounting.

Mabel is a Spiritual Life Coach and recently founded III Ways Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on supporting the dreams and aspirations of young adults on the African Continent with a particular focus on her home country, Zimbabwe!


Mikea Jackson Executive Assistant  |  Dallas, Texas

Mikea K. Jackson is an Executive Assistant at Vela Wood. Her role includes managing and coordinating calendars, drafting engagement letters, and supporting managing partner, Kevin Vela.  Mikea graduated from Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, TX with a B.S. in Strategic Communication. During her time at TCU, she was the President of the Black Student Association, the Vice President of the Kappa Lambda Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and worked all four years on diversity, equity and inclusion, advocating for marginalized populations. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and spending time with loved ones.

Mikea has always dreamed of becoming an attorney and plans to attend law school in the near future!


Mirth Hinojosa Legal Secretary  |  Dallas, Texas

Mirth Hinojosa is a Legal Secretary at Vela Wood. Her role includes assisting attorneys with entity formations, formatting transactional documents, and preparing electronic closing binders, and she is a Notary in the State of Texas. Prior to Vela Wood, Mirthelid was the head of the Human Resources department at a small Dallas construction company.

Mirth is that said VW employee that will care for and keep Bob the Turtle.


Nikki Rosema Marketing & Event Manager  |  Dallas, Texas

Nikki Rosema is the Marketing & Event Manager at Vela Wood. Her role includes brand strategy, content development, client relations, and event management. Nikki graduated summa cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Religious Studies. Nikki feels she lucked out getting to work for Vela Wood as her first job out of college and has been with the firm since 2016!

Nikki has trypophobia, an aversion to the sight of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps (it’s a real thing!). Honeycombs and sponges repulse her, so keep them far away!


Shammie Abagnale Operations Manager  |  Dallas, Texas

Shammie Abagnale is the Operations Manager at Vela Wood. Her role includes managing the operations team, ensuring that all clerical duties run smoothly, handling accounts payable, onboarding new employees, coordinating travel arrangements, and monitoring lead channels and projects. Shammie graduated cum laude at United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya. Before moving to the U.S., Shammie worked in China as an Office Coordinator at a travel agency and was a part-time teacher. When she is not spending time with her family, she enjoys binge-reading any book she can get her hands on.

Shammie speaks more than five languages.


Shena Phagan Paralegal  |  Hots Springs Village, Arkansas

Shena Phagan is a Paralegal at Vela Wood. Her role includes preparing and submitting entity filings with various State offices, corporate governance assistance, and transactional assistance. Shena graduated from Pulaski Technical College with an Associates of Arts in Paralegal Technology in 2004. Prior to working for Vela Wood, she was a Paralegal for 8 years with Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, PLLC, working with various practice groups involving Mergers & Acquisitions in the Public and Private sector, Corporate Governance, Banking and Real Estate industries, SEC filings, and State entity filings.

Shena loves sports. She may have started a tradition in her family when her softball team won 2nd Regionals and went on to Nationals. Since then, both of her girls have placed in or won a fast-pitch World Series. Now she is waiting to see if her boys will do the same in baseball.


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