2021 Board of Directors

President: Retha Youell

VP for Records: Gloria Conover, PhD

VP for Finance: Caroline Gallagher, CPLP

VP for Communication: Alyssa Besly, APTD

VP for Membership: Sami Jabarkhail

VP for Professional Development: Dea Polk

President-Elect: Vacant


Retha Youell has been a member of the Brazos Valley Chapter of ATD since 2013. She is the owner and CEO of The Youell Group, a management consulting firm that focuses on human resources, risk management and employee relations issues in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Retha has extensive experience in state, county and municipal government as both a risk manager and a local elected official. Her private sector experience includes commercial real estate, insurance, and adult education. A graduate of Southwest Texas State University in Journalism, and the Protocol School of Washington, she is a certified trainer in International Protocol and Business Etiquette, and has educated adults on three continents. Retha holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources certificate from the Human Resources Certification Institute and is also President of the Brazos Valley Society for Human Resource Management. She is past Austin chapter president of the international Association of Workforce Professionals, and is active in the Public Risk Managers Association and the International Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment. In 1988, her accomplishments were recognized in the publication, Notable Women of Texas. 

VP for Records

Dr. Gloria Conover is the Director of Medical Student Research at Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center, College of Medicine.
Dr. Conover received a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Wellesley College and Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Microbiology from Tufts University School of Medicine. After completing her postdoctoral research at the University of Arizona, she moved to Texas A&M University and was awarded a Scientist Development Grant from the American Heart Association while she was a Research Assistant Professor. She has 25-years of research experience in infectious and cardiac disease. As a graduate student, using a forward genetic screen in the respiratory microbe, L. pneumophila, she discovered the first mutant for an effector protein translocated inside macrophages. Using state-of-the art methodologies she defined the kinetic binding assembly of several pairs of cytoskeletal proteins. Her studies gave important insights for the molecular etiology of familial cardiomyopathy. She is an author of 30 poster papers, and 11 peer-reviewed journal articles. Dr. Conover has delivered 24 invited talks at national and international conferences, and has mentored 30 undergraduate and graduate students. She now directs the Medical Scholar Research Pathway Program. One of her office’s key goals is to match medical students with research opportunities that enhance their education and future careers as physicians.

 VP for Finance

VP Communications, Caroline Gallagher

Caroline Gallagher, CPLP, has been a member of BV-ATD since 2007 and currently serves as the VP for Finance. She has been working in the learning and development field for more than 16 years. Her areas of expertise include curriculum design; instructional design, for both instructor-led (ILT) and web based training (WBT); technical writing for end-user application documentation; and 508 accessibility. In her instructional design experience, she has gained extensive knowledge and experience with applying the principles of adult learning theory and leading her team to also apply them to produce content that is both engaging and ensures knowledge transfer to the adult learner. In addition, she has also played a key role in performing needs analysis, design, development, implementation, scheduling, and quality control for both ILT and WBT courseware. She has also led the development of multiple learning and development projects, building curricula for both federal and commercial clients. Ms. Gallagher is also experienced in working with federal clients to develop learning content that is compliant with Section 508 requirements.

VP for Communication

Alyssa Besly is currently an instructional designer at K2Share and has assisted with research on the effectiveness of distance learning for special educators in rural areas with the Department of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University. Alyssa received her Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) certification from ATD in 2020 and obtained her Masters of Science in Visualization from Texas A&M University in 2018 after defending her thesis, Exploring New Training Applications for Educators Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has a passion for making learning enjoyable and accessible for users of all abilities.

VP for Membership

Sami Jabarkhail is a Fulbright scholar. Currently he pursues his Ph.D. in Human Resource Development at the Department of Education Administration & Human Resource Development at Texas A&M University. His research focuses on leadership, culture, and human development in the national context. Currently, he is the instructor of record for EHRD 391- Measurement & Evaluation in HRD/TCM. Previously, Sami has served as a co-instructor for graduate courses: Principles of Leadership and Training and Development. In 2014, Sami was selected by the Atlantic Council in a worldwide competition to attend the NATO Future Leaders Summit in Wales, UK.

VP for Professional Development


Dea Polk has been a member of the BV-ATD for four years and is now serving in the capacity of VP of Professional Development.  She is the Dual Career Program Coordinator for the Texas A&M University Dean of Faculties Office. She began this role in 2015. Dea is responsible for assisting the partners of potential and existing faculty members find non-faculty employment opportunities.  She has placed over 60 clients within TAMU as well as the Bryan/College Station community. This San Antonio native holds a BA from Angelo State University in Journalism with a Communications minor. She has over 20 years of expertise in Professional Development/Training and Facilitation. She is currently undergoing her re-certification for Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP). Ms. Polk is also a Writing Tutor for Blinn College (Brenham Campus). She is a member of Brazos Valley Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce and the College of Science Diversity Committee.

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