Judge Heppard graduated from the University of Houston with a joint JD/MBA in 1993 and earned a BS, Summa Cum Laude, in Geology, from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, in 1981. Prior to law school, she worked as a geophysicist at Amoco Production Company in Houston, Texas.

After graduating from the University of Houston Law Center (UHLC), she worked for a solo practitioner before being hired as a staff attorney in the UHLC Clinical Program in 1995 where she primarily practiced in the area of family law while providing free legal services to low income members of the local community. She worked in the clinical program for 26+ years until her election to the 387th Court in 2021, becoming the Clinic Director in 2008 and a full Clinical Professor in 2019.

Since 1995, Judge Heppard has received the Longevity of Exemplary Service to the Houston Bar Association Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program from the Houston Bar Foundation, an Award of Merit from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for her work on Hague Convention International Kidnapping cases, the Lonestar Legal Aid "Most Litigated Pro Bono Cases" Award, the Lonestar Legal Aid Community Partner Award, and the Ethel M Baker Faculty Award for her leadership in promoting greater interaction between the University and the local community.

Judge Heppard continues to teach as an adjunct at the UHLC in the areas of domestic violence and immigration and the family and to supervise Law Center externs and HS interns.