The Holdsworth Center
Excellence in Education Leadership
Dr. Ruth Simmons
ChairPrairie View A&M University
Ruth J. Simmons is the President of Prairie View A&M University and former President of Brown University from 2001-2012. Under her leadership, Brown made significant strides in improving its standing as one of the world’s finest research universities.
A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons held an appointment as a Professor of Africana Studies at Brown. After completing her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and literatures at Harvard, she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of important academic initiatives, including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college.
Simmons is the recipient of many honours, including a Fulbright Fellowship to France, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University. Simmons is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the boards of Texas Instruments, Chrysler, Mondelez and Square, as well as a number of non-profit boards. Awarded numerous honorary degrees, she received the Brown Faculty’s highest honour: the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal in 2011. In 2012, she was named a ‘chevalier’ of the French Legion of Honour.
Dr. Shari Albright
Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation
Dr. Shari Becker Albright serves as the Murchison Distinguished Professor in Education and chair of the Department of Education at Trinity University. She also serves as president of the Texas Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (TACTE) and the statewide Council of Deans of Education.
Previously, she was the executive director of education at the Asia Society and CEO of the Asia Society International Studies Schools Network headquartered in New York.
Shari also served as the principal of a public magnet school in San Antonio, Texas – the International School of the Americas – and was named the Texas High School Principal of the Year for 2004 by the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards. In 2004, her school was awarded the Goldman Sachs Prize in International Education. She also served as an elementary school administrator, central office administrator, and elementary teacher in East Central ISD prior to teaching on the faculty of Trinity University.
Shari earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Trinity University and her doctorate in educational leadership from Teachers College – Columbia University.
Elisa Villanueva Beard
Teach For America
Elisa Villanueva Beard became the sole chief executive officer of Teach For America in 2015, after serving as the co-CEO alongside Matthew Kramer for two years. Prior to her role as CEO, she led Teach For America’s field operations as the chief operating officer. Elisa also returned to her hometown after teaching three years as a 1998 Phoenix corps member to serve as the executive director of the Rio Grande Valley region. Under her leadership, Teach For America currently impacts more than 750,000 students in over 2,600 schools. Elisa has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from DePauw University.
Bruce H. Esterline
The Meadows Foundation
Bruce Esterline is Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Grants at The Meadows Foundation and has had a 40-year career in the government and nonprofit sectors. After ten years in state government and creating and managing a statewide nonprofit organization, in 1983 he joined The Meadows Foundation’s Grants Department as one of its first Program Officers.
In 1992, he was elected Vice President for Grants for the Foundation. From this position he oversees the process of reviewing grant applications and preparing recommendations for the Foundation’s President and Board of Directors. Last year the Foundation evaluated over 600 grant applications and awarded approximately 200 grants totaling over $20 million dollars to nonprofit organizations across the State of Texas.
The son of a career diplomat, Bruce spent most of his childhood living abroad including India, Sri Lanka, Egypt and the Philippines. Bruce earned a B.A. in History from Stanford University and after completing two years of military duty obtained a M.A. from the L.B.J. School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Bruce currently serves on the OneStar Foundation, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation and other nonprofit associations and commissions. Bruce and his wife Diana live in Dallas. Diana and two of their three children work for nonprofit organizations.
Dr. Robert M. Gates
Robert Gates served as the 22nd secretary of defense (2006-2011) and is the only secretary of defense in U.S. history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected President. President Barack Obama is the eighth president Gates has served. He previously served under President George W. Bush.
On Gates’s last day in office, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.
Before becoming secretary of defense in 2006, Gates was the president of Texas A&M University, one of the nation’s largest universities. Prior to assuming the Texas A&M presidency on August 1, 2002, he served as interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001.
Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional. During that period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council, the White House, serving four presidents of both political parties.
Gates served as director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. He is the only career officer in CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director. He served as deputy director of Central Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser at the White House from January 20, 1989 until November 6, 1991, for President George H.W. Bush.
Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, has three times received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received CIA’s highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.
He is the author of three books, A Passion For Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service, published in 2016, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, published in 2014, and From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, published in 1996.
Gates currently serves on the board of directors of Starbucks and is partner in the consulting firm, RiceHadleyGates LLC, with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. He has also served on the board of directors and executive committee of the American Council on Education, the board of directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges and the national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America. He served as president of the National Eagle Scout Association from 1996-2006 and National President of the Boy Scouts of America from 2014-2016, where he remains on the executive committee and chairs the nominating committee.
A native of Kansas, Gates received his bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary, his master’s degree in history from Indiana University and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University. In 1967, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served as an intelligence officer at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
In February 2012, Gates was installed as chancellor of the College of William & Mary. He is the first William & Mary alumnus in the modern era to serve as chancellor of the college.
Wallace B. Jefferson
Alexander Dubose & Jefferson LLP
Wallace B. Jefferson served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas prior to joining Alexander Dubose & Jefferson LLP in 2013. Appointed to the Supreme Court in 2001 and named Chief Justice in 2004, Wallace made Texas judicial history as the Court’s first African-American Justice and Chief Justice. He led the Court’s efforts to fund access to justice programs; helped reform juvenile justice; and inaugurated a statewide electronic filing system for Texas courts. During his time on the bench, Wallace was elected President of the Conference of Chief Justices, an association of chief justices from the 50 states and U.S. territories.
A graduate of the James Madison College at Michigan State University and The University of Texas School of Law, Wallace is the namesake for Wallace B. Jefferson Middle School in San Antonio. He has been honored with the 2014 Texas Center for Legal Ethics Chief Justice Jack Pope Professionalism Award, honoring a judge or attorney who personifies the highest standards of the legal profession; the 2014 Texas Appleseed J. Chrys Dougherty Good Apple Award because of his leadership in seeking equality for all Texans, especially the less fortunate; and the 2015 Anti-Defamation League Austin Jurisprudence Award, honoring an outstanding member of the legal community who exhibits a commitment to equality, justice, fairness, and community service. In 2016, he was honored with the Presidential Citation Award from The University of Texas. This award recognizes extraordinary contributions of individuals who personify the university’s commitment to transforming lives.
He is Treasurer of the American Law Institute, Chair of the Texas Commission to Expand Civil Legal Services, and serves on the Board of Advisors of the Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Judicial Selection Initiative. Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1993, Wallace has twice won cases he argued in the Supreme Court of the United States. He is listed in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Best Lawyers in America, and Texas Super Lawyers.
Chair, Advancement CommitteeConceptual MindWorks, Inc.
Elaine Mendoza is founder, President, and CEO of Conceptual MindWorks, Inc. (CMI). Established in 1990, CMI is a biotechnology and medical informatics company located in San Antonio, Texas. Within the biotechnology industry, CMI’s strengths lie in building scientific and technical teams to develop and deliver unique solutions to address issues in areas such as chemical/biological defense and population health. CMI’s core competency in medical informatics revolves around CMI’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) system, branded as Sevocity®. Sevocity empowers physician practices and health centers to embrace EHRs by delivering an easy-to-use, cloud-based system.
Ms. Mendoza was appointed to the Board of Regents (BOR) of the Texas A&M University System in 2011 by Governor Rick Perry. In 2015, she was elected Vice Chairman of the BOR. She remains as, and has been since 2011, the Chair of the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs (CASA). Through her leadership, the BOR established “EmpowerU” which gives transparency to all data relevant to student success, outcome measures and institutional financial data. Further, Ms. Mendoza’s committee launched an initiative encompassing eight goals to ensure the Texas A&M University System’s ten Colleges of Education are not only given more visibility as to their importance, but also ensures the A&M System is doing all they can to keep a priority on educator preparation. Educator preparation and the importance thereof continue to be an emphasis of her committee.
Appointed in 2013 then reappointed in 2015, Ms. Mendoza serves as Chair of the Early Childhood Education Municipal Development Corporation Board of Directors, which is responsible and accountable for the PreK 4 SA program implementation. (Ms. Mendoza was a member of Mayor Castro’s Brainpower Committee, the precursor to PreK 4 SA program.) She is also a member of the P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County. She serves as chair of the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System Board of Directors. Recently, she joined the Health Care Service Corporation and The Bank of San Antonio Boards of Directors. And, she is Public Affairs Council Chair for the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
Ms. Mendoza has been involved in community initiatives revolving around the expansion of educational opportunities, health care, and economic growth both locally and nationally. She was a member of Mayor Castro’s SA2020 Charting the Course for the Next Decade Steering Committee. Mayor Hardberger appointed her as Co-Chair for P16 Council Formation Committee and as a member of the Task Force on Corporate Recruitment and Retention. In January 2006, Governor Rick Perry appointed her to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on which she served as Secretary of the Board, Chair of the Committee on Closing the Gaps and, in 2010, as Vice Chairman. Governor Perry also appointed her to the Commission for a College Ready Texas in April 2007.
Ms. Mendoza served as a member of the “Code Red” task force, a blue-ribbon, 17-member task force assembled by the Academic Health Science Centers of Texas to study Texans’ access to health care. She also served as the 2004 and 2005 Chair of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and served as the 2001 – 2003 Chairperson of the Board of the Alamo Workforce Development, now Workforce Solutions Alamo. In 2000-2001, Ms. Mendoza served on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Special Commission on 21st Century Colleges and Universities and, nationally, she was appointed by Senator Trent Lott to the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology (CAWMSET) in 1999-2000, later being selected as Chairperson.
Ms. Mendoza has received numerous awards and recognition. Most recent examples include being selected as the 2016 Texas A&M San Antonio Dream Maker, being inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016, receiving the Women’s Legacy Award from the Aggie Women’s Association in October 2014, and in April 2013 receiving the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M. In October 2013 Ms. Mendoza received the ATHENA Leadership Award from the North San Antonio Chamber.
Elaine Mendoza received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University. She and her husband, Larry Gay, have two daughters.
Chair, Academic Affairs CommitteeNew Teacher Center (Retired)
Ellen Moir is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of New Teacher Center (NTC), a national organization dedicated to improving student learning by accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers, experienced teachers, and school leaders. She is recognized as a passionate advocate for our nation’s newest teachers and for the students they teach.
Ellen founded NTC in 1998 to scale high quality teacher induction services to a national audience. NTC strengthens school communities through proven mentoring and professional development programs, online learning environments, policy advocacy, and research. Today NTC has a staff of over 150 who work closely with educators and policymakers across the country. NTC seeks to work in high-poverty schools in underserved communities to ensure that the nation’s low-income, minority, and English language learners, those students most often taught by inexperienced teachers, have the opportunity to receive an excellent education.
Ellen is widely recognized for her work in beginning teacher development and school reform. She has extensive experience in public education, having previously served as Director of Teacher Education at the University of California at Santa Cruz and worked as a bilingual teacher. Ellen has been named as a recipient of the 2015 Mary Utne O’Brien Awards for Excellence in Expanding the Evidence-based Practice of Social and Emotional Learning, the 2015 California Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (CASCD) Outstanding Instructional Leader award, the 2014 Brock International Prize in Education Laureate, and is a recipient of the 2011 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Other major awards include the 2013 NewSchools Venture Fund Organization of the Year Award, 2010 Civic Ventures Purpose Prize Fellow, 2008 National Staff Development Council Contribution to the Field award; the 2008 Full Circle Fund Impact Award; the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. 2005 Prize in Education; and the 2003 California Council on Teacher Education Distinguished Teacher Educator Award. Ellen has also co-authored many publications, including Keys to the Classroom and Keys to the Secondary Classroom, New Teacher Mentoring: Hopes and Promise for Improving Teacher Effectiveness, and Blended Coaching: Skills and Strategies to Support Principal Development.
Dr. Diana Natalicio
The University of Texas at El Paso
Diana Natalicio was named president of UTEP in 1988. During her long and distinguished career with the University, Dr. Natalicio has also served as vice president for academic affairs, dean of liberal arts, chair of the modern languages department and professor of linguistics. Her sustained commitment to provide all residents of the Paso del Norte region access to outstanding higher education opportunities has helped make UTEP a national success story.
During Dr. Natalicio’s tenure as president, UTEP’s enrollment has grown from nearly 15,000 to more than 23,000 students, who reflect the demographics of the Paso del Norte region from which 90% of them come. More than 80% are Mexican American, and another 5% commute to the campus from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Since 1988, UTEP’s annual budget has increased from $65 million to nearly $450 million. UTEP is designated as a research/doctoral university, recognized nationally for both the excellence and breadth of its academic and research programs. UTEP’s annual research expenditures have grown from $6 million to over $90 million per year, and doctoral programs from one to 21 during this same period. To accommodate steady growth in enrollment, academic programs and research, the university has recently completed nearly $300 million in new and renovated facilities expansion in science, engineering, health sciences, and other student quality-of-life related infrastructure.
Dr. Natalicio has served on numerous boards including Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), ACT, the Rockefeller Foundation, Trinity Industries, Sandia Corporation, U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science (FUMEC), American Council on Education (chair), National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and Internet 2. She was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to membership on the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans and by President Bill Clinton to the National Science Board, where she served two six-year terms, including three two-year terms as NSB vice-chair.
In 2016, Dr. Natalicio was honored with the Hispanic Heritage Award in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and she was included on the 2016 TIME 100 list of most influential people in the world. In 2015, The Carnegie Corporation of New York honored Dr. Natalicio with its prestigious Academic Leadership Award in recognition of her exceptional achievements during the transformation of UTEP into a national public research university.
In 2011, the President of Mexico presented her the Orden Mexicana del Aguila Azteca, the highest recognition bestowed on foreign nationals. She also received the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence and the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award at The University of Texas at Austin, and awarded honorary doctoral degrees by Victoria University (Melbourne, Australia), Georgetown University, Smith College and the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leon.
A graduate of St. Louis University, Dr. Natalicio earned a master’s degree in Portuguese and a doctorate in linguistics from The University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Nolan E. Perez
Gastroenterology Consultants of South Texas
Dr. Nolan Perez is the CEO of Gastroenterology Consultants of South Texas, located at 512 Victoria Lane, Suites 2 and 3, in Harlingen. He is married to Sandy Perez and they have 2 children—Nolan, age 16, and Natalie, age 14.
Dr. Perez grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and graduated from Port Isabel High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas at Austin and a Medical Doctorate from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). After medical school he served in the U.S. Navy as a Medical Corps Officer and received the Navy Commendation and Navy Achievement Medals. He completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) in Harlingen, and fellowship training in Gastroenterology at Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center. He is board certified in Gastroenterology, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. He is a Clinical Associate Professor at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine.
Dr. Perez has a passion for mentoring, education and community service. He created RGV Mentors to inspire high school students and help them transition into post-secondary education. Since 2010 he has been serving as a Trustee for the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, and is Past-President of the board. He is also a Regent for Texas Woman’s University, appointed by Governor Greg Abbott in 2015.
Dr. Perez also serves on many other local and statewide boards including Communities Foundation of Texas-Educate Texas Committee, The Texas Lyceum, UT System Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee, The University of Texas at Austin Development Board, UTRGV Development Board Executive Committee, UTRGV Football Feasibility Committee, RGV Angel Network, FIRST in Texas Foundation, Lone Star National Bank, Medical Director for Platinum Surgery Center, and Expert Panelist and Chart Monitor for the Texas Medical Board.
Pennzoil-Quaker State (Retired)
Jim Postl retired as President and Chief Executive Officer of Pennzoil-Quaker State Company, following its acquisition by Shell Oil Products U.S in October 2002.
Postl joined Pennzoil in October 1998, prior to the formation of Pennzoil-Quaker State Company. He was named president and chief operating officer and was elected to the board of directors when the new company was formed. In May 2000, he was named president and chief executive officer.
Postl has more than 30 years of management experience in consumer products. Over the course of his career, he has been responsible for a broad array of consumer products ranging from snack foods to soft drinks to health and beauty aids. He served as president of Nabisco Biscuit Company from 1996 to 1998 and was president and chief executive officer of Nabisco International from 1994 to 1996. Prior to joining Nabisco, Postl held a variety of management positions with PepsiCo, Inc. over a 19-year period. Prior to his tenure at PepsiCo, Postl held several brand manager positions at the Procter & Gamble Company.
He currently serves on the boards of American Funds and Pulte Homes, and in the past, has served on the boards of Pennzoil-Quaker State Company, Cooper Industries, Pan American Beverages, Auto Zone, Northwest Airlines and Centex.
Postl is also very active in the community. He is chair-elect of the national board and immediate past chair of the SouthWest Affiliate board of the American Heart Association. He serves on the Council of Overseers for Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University, and on the boards of the Society for the Performing Arts, Memorial Hermann Hospital System, Houston Zoo, and the Foundation for Jones Hall. He serves on the board and executive committee of the Greater Houston Partnership, and is Chair of Early Matters, a historic coalition on early childhood education. In the past, he has served on the boards of the Houston Area Women’s Center and the United Way of the Greater Houston Area. He was the 2005-2006 Chair for Houston’s United Way Campaign and the Hurricane Relief Fund.
Mark C. Rohr is chairman and chief executive officer of Celanese Corporation, a Fortune 500 global technology and specialty materials company based in Dallas, Texas. Celanese is a leader in the development and production of materials used in most major industrial and consumer applications. Rohr was named chairman and CEO in April 2012 after being a member of the company’s board of directors since 2007.
Under Rohr’s leadership, Celanese has delivered record earnings growth and aligned around two complementary business cores to create continued value for its customers. He has fostered a deeper commitment to corporate social responsibility and volunteerism by establishing the Celanese Foundation, an employee-led effort dedicated to improving the quality of life for people around the world.
Prior to Celanese, Rohr was executive chairman and director of Albemarle Corporation. During his 11 years with Albemarle, he held various executive positions, including chairman and CEO. Earlier in his career, Rohr held executive leadership roles with companies including Occidental Chemical Corporation and Dow Chemical.
Rohr serves on the board of directors of Ashland, Inc. In 2016, he also served as chairman of the American Chemistry Council’s Executive Committee and chairman of International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA).
Rohr earned his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and chemical engineering from Mississippi State University and serves on the advisory board for the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Rohr is active in a number of philanthropic areas with a focus on education. He is dedicated to organizations that strive to improve student achievement through educational support. He serves as board chair for City Year Dallas and on the board of the Commit! Partnership. With a passion for creating a culture of volunteerism, Rohr was named 2016-2017 United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Campaign Chairman. Rohr is also an active supporter of the International Rett Syndrome Foundation (IRSF) and the Emerge Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Board Relations and Corporate SecretaryThe Charles Butt Foundation
In addition to her role at Holdsworth, Debra Salge serves as chief administrative officer of Raise Your Hand Texas helping to direct organizational operations. She has a thorough understanding of both organizations’ mission and vision and shares the belief that education is an investment, not a cost.
Debra brings a wealth of administrative, financial, project management and philanthropic experience to her role, including 35 years serving as executive assistant to H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt.
She is a graduate of Leadership Texas and is a former board member of Impact San Antonio, the World Affairs Council of San Antonio, and the Blue Star Art Complex. Debra currently serves on the Teach for America San Antonio Regional Board and SA Reads.
Chair, Governance CommitteeThe Houston Endowment
Ann Stern is the President and CEO of Houston Endowment, a private foundation with assets totaling approximately $1.8 billion. Created by Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones in 1937, Houston Endowment’s mission is to enhance the vibrancy of greater Houston and advance equity of opportunity for the people who live here. The Endowment invests approximately $80 million each year in organizations that support and promote education, the environment, health, human services, arts and culture. Since its inception, the Foundation has contributed more than $1.6 billion.
Prior to joining the Foundation in 2012, Ms. Stern was executive vice president of Texas Children’s Hospital. She previously served as vice president and general counsel for the Hospital. Prior to joining Texas Children’s, she practiced law with Beck, Redden & Secrest and Andrews Kurth, and she taught business law at the University of St. Thomas.
Stern received her bachelor’s degree in Plan II from the University of Texas at Austin, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. She also received a Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2011, she received the Law School’s Distinguished Alumnus Award for Community Service.
Stern currently serves as a director on the boards of Invesco Funds, The University of Texas Law School Foundation and Good Reason Houston. She previously served as the chairman of the board of St. John’s School and on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and Texas Children’s Hospital.
She and Karl Stern, an attorney with Quinn Emanuel, have two children and two grandchildren.
Marta Tienda is Maurice P. During ’22 Professor of Demographic Studies and Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, where she directed the Office of Population from 1998-2002. Prior to joining the Princeton faculty in 1997, Dr. Tienda held appointments at the University of Chicago, where she served as chair of the Department of Sociology and editor of the American Journal of Sociology, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Dr. Tienda is past president of the Population Association of America, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. She is an external fellow of The American Institutes for Research.
Professor Tienda’s research has focused on the demography of racial and ethnic inequality, social policy, and international migration. In addition to lecturing about underinvestment in public education, she directed a decade-long study about equity and access to higher education, and is currently studying the formation of teen romantic relationships using diaries administered on smartphones.
Dr. Tienda is an independent trustee of the Teachers Insurance Annuity Association (TIAA), the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Jacobs Foundation of Switzerland, and the Urban Institute. Previously she has served on the boards of Brown University, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the W.T. Grant Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation.
Dr. Tienda received a B.A. from Michigan State University (Spanish, 1972) and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin (1976).
Chair, Finance CommitteeSouthern Distributing
Guillermo (Memo) Trevino is president of Southern Distributing, a multi-brand beer and soft drink distributor.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors of BBVA Compass USA, the Board of Trustees of Rice University, and the Board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
He has served as a Director of the San Antonio Branch of the Dallas Federal Reserve and as a member of the Board of Directors of the International Bank of Commerce and International Bancshares Corporation. He has also served as President of the Laredo Boys and Girls Clubs, the Laredo Chamber of Commerce, the Laredo Development Foundation, the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association, and as Jefe de los Caballeros de la Republica del Rio Grande. He has also been a member of the Board of the Texas Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, the Texas A&M International College of Business Advisory Council, and Casa de Misericordia shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Trevino earned a BA from Rice University and received an Option II MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Lindsay Whorton
Dr. Lindsay Whorton is proud to be a founding member of The Holdsworth Center. As its leader, she is dedicated to living the center’s values to be of service, believe in people and drive for excellence and equity.
Lindsay’s story with Holdsworth began in 2015, when she was tapped to develop the blueprint for the center’s inaugural program while working as a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Washington D.C. Lindsay worked with the Holdsworth Center Organizing Board leading up to the launch in January 2017, and was quickly recruited to work for the new organization.
As managing director of district support, Lindsay designed the strategy for supporting partner districts in their efforts to grow their pipeline of great leaders. In April 2018, she was named vice president and dean and in March 2019, president.
Prior to working for BCG, Lindsay served as legislative director for Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston. She also led the Urban Leaders Fellowship, which recruits up-and-coming leaders from across the country and builds their skills in policy and leadership.
Lindsay’s dive into education research began in 2009, when she was named a Rhodes Scholar and went on to earn a master’s degree in comparative social policy and a doctorate in social policy from Oxford University. Her research focused on the role of teachers’ unions in education reform.
During her time at Oxford, Lindsay spent a year at the University of Helsinki, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. She visited schools and classrooms to understand Finland’s world-renowned teacher education system. In 2015, Routledge published her book “Teachers Unions and Education Reform in Comparative Contexts.”
Lindsay earned bachelor’s degrees in English and secondary education from Drake University in Iowa, where she now serves on board of trustees. During her time at Drake, Lindsay was a captain of the women’s basketball team, an Academic-All American, the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament MVP, a 2-time conference champion, and an NCAA tournament participant.
Lindsay is a graduate of the public school district in Independence, Missouri, where her fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Francis inspired her to go into education. She loves books, board games and crab Rangoon, and once applied to be on the reality TV show Survivor.
Dr. Pauline Dow
Dr. Pauline Dow brings more than three decades of experience in public schools, a deep expertise in bilingual education and a passion for serving students and educators of all backgrounds to her role at Holdsworth.
Pauline most recently served as deputy superintendent for San Antonio ISD (SAISD), where she helped reduce the number of low-performing schools by 50 percent in one year under TEA’s 2017-18 accountability system. During her tenure, she oversaw the implementation of curriculum and instruction districtwide and focused on establishing active learning for students to equip them with the academic, social and emotional skills they need to excel in college and future careers. She also led a team of district leaders responsible for coaching 90+ principals in the district.
Prior to joining SAISD, Pauline was chief instructional officer for North East ISD, and chief academic officer for Austin ISD. She was a fellow for the Kellogg National Leadership Program, where she traveled to different countries to broaden her intellectual horizons and bolster her leadership capacity through self-directed, experiential learning and group participation. Pauline also participated in Harvard Graduate School of Education’s program for public educators, which brings leaders from around the country to Cambridge to focus on the challenges their districts are facing and to explore potential solutions.
An El Paso native, Pauline began her career in the classroom as a bilingual teacher and has continued to champion bilingual education. She served as a board member for the Texas Association for Bilingual Education, and was a 2016 recipient of their public education award. She also served on the Texas Latino Policy Task Force and received McDonald’s Hispanos Triunfadores award from the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which honors community members who serve as outstanding role models to youth.
Pauline earned her bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and a doctorate from The University of Texas at El Paso, and is a 2009 recipient of the university’s Gold Nugget Award for alumni who have excelled in their professions and contributed to their community.
Pauline and her husband are aviation enthusiasts and love to fly their single-engine airplane to visit friends and family in California and the Four Corners region of the U.S. Her passion for adventure and hiking have led her to complete the Inca Trail in Peru and 14K hikes in the Colorado Rockies.
Managing Director of Programs
A native of Austin, Texas, Marina left a law career to pursue her passion for educational equality. A product of Round Rock ISD and Austin ISD public schools, Marina earned her bachelor’s degree in political science at Yale University and her law degree at Columbia Law School.
Marina worked in London as a corporate lawyer at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP before deciding her heart was in ensuring that all children get equal access to the opportunities that a great education creates. She completed a master’s degree in education, policy and society at King’s College London and joined The Future Leaders Trust, a non-profit leadership development organization that trained principals and CEOs to lead disadvantaged schools across the UK. As director of strategy and impact, Marina led new business and program development as well as strategy, impact and career progression work. Most recently, she led the merger of The Trust with another leadership charity to create Ambition School Leadership.
In 2013, Marina was selected as one of 50 women around the world to join the Banco Santander W50 program at UCLA’s Anderson Business School.
She returned to her hometown to join The Holdsworth Center as managing director of programs.
Marina is conversant in Mandarin and enjoys playing bluegrass and gypsy jazz fiddle. She is also a classical pianist and played a Mozart piano concerto with the Austin Symphony when she was 12 years old.
Jennifer L. Chidsey
Managing Director of Research & Evaluation
Jennifer Chidsey is an innovative and experienced educator focused on designing and developing new school models and programs. Her focus is addressing the future of learning, promoting international perspectives and developing capacity in other educators. She is the founder and CEO of Ammonite Education, LLC, an education organization providing services in curriculum design, staff development, school and new program design, and grant writing.
She was formerly president and chief academic officer of Ross Institute, where she provided inspired leadership and clear directives for the school’s diverse faculty and staff. In addition, Jennifer ensured excellence and rigor of the Ross Learning System and its physical and intellectual assets including content, assessments and professional development. While at Ross Institute, she also held the roles of chief education officer, chief operating officer, and co-director of Ross Institute Sweden.
Jennifer was also director of data services and curriculum for the Asia Society’s International Studies Schools Network and director of K–12 Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. She has taught elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and graduate students in public, public charter, independent school and university settings.
Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in education and social policy from Northwestern University, a certificate of advanced study in educational leadership at the University of Pennsylvania, a certificate in critical and creative thinking from the University of Massachusetts, and has completed graduate work in science education emphasizing teacher preparation, informal science learning, and geoscience education from the University of Iowa. She is currently completing her doctoral degree at the University of Southern California.
Jenn is a graduate of Medina City Schools in Ohio, where her teachers instilled in her a love for science that led to an undergraduate research project mapping the genes on the 4th chromosome of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. To this day, with an unaided eye she can tell you something about the genetics of any fruit fly she comes across. She credits Jeanne Pritchard, a high school teacher and mentor whom she still seeks out today, with helping her learn to work within and around school systems. In her spare time, Jenn loves running, kayaking, hiking, and traveling.
Managing Director of District Support
With experience working in education in Texas, Washington D.C., and Louisiana, Katie Jaron joined The Holdsworth Center to work alongside educators across Texas who are committed to ensuring all students succeed.
Katie began her work in education as a teacher in the Houston Independent School District. Later, she coached beginning teachers and served as a dean of instruction.
Katie has held several leadership roles at Teach For America, including senior managing director on the national teacher support and development team, working with regions and program teams across the country. She also served as vice president of teacher leadership development in Houston, where she led a team that trained and coached around 400 teachers each year and led a redesign of the program model. Katie also served as deputy chief of staff for the Recovery School District in New Orleans, where she helped establish a pilot program of in-school behavioral health clinics.
She joined The Holdsworth Center in 2017 as a District Support Team Lead and worked to support several districts in our first cohort in Dallas and San Antonio.
Katie holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and master’s degree in educational leadership and policy studies from The University of Texas at Arlington.
She loves yoga, cooking, exploring Austin, and has a life goal of hiking in every major national park in the U.S.
Jason Sierra brings over a decade of experience in leadership development and organizational effectiveness in both the private and social sector. In his role at Holdsworth, Jason leads our team of embedded support consultants serving districts in years 3-5 of our partnership. Together the District Support Team works to build world-class leadership and talent development systems that effectively respond to the needs and context of the districts we serve.
Previously, Jason was a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, where he developed strategic and operational solutions for retail, health, financial services, and public sector clients, including multinational corporations and international non-governmental organizations. Jason brings expertise in data-driven analytical frameworks, as well as a deep understanding of the human dimensions of complex organizational challenges.
Jason spent the previous seven years working in the Episcopal Church, including as the national officer for young adult programs. In this role, Jason created innovative workshops and online resources to increase the pipeline of young leaders in an organization of 2 million people. A skilled facilitator and mentor, Jason worked with multicultural teams of young adults to empower greater involvement on the local, national, and international stage. Jason is also a professional graphic designer and visual artist.
Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Stanford University and an MBA from Duke University. While a Colorado native, he graduated from East Central ISD in San Antonio, having lived both there and in the Rio Grande Valley while growing up. Both the American and Mexican sides of Jason’s family were in the United States before it was a nation, arriving before the American and Texas revolutions respectively.
Outside of work, you can find him running around Lady Bird Lake, learning a new artistic medium, or exploring the city with his husband, Josh.
Director of Human Resources
Aleshia Anderson brings 15 years of human resources experience in various industries including education, sports, healthcare and retail.
Most recently, Aleshia was the HR Director for Tenet Health in Dallas, Texas where she led the corporate function.
Aleshia’s first experience in the education industry was working for a start-up called Academic Partnerships in Dallas, where she built new infrastructures for coaching and developing new leaders.
Aleshia thrives when she is given the opportunity to be creative, build partnerships and deliver management coaching. She is known for her calming demeanor and high-level of professionalism, which has helped her navigate and succeed in rapidly changing environments.
Aleshia holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas State University and a master’s in human resource management from Keller Graduate School of Management.
A proud graduate of Lockhart ISD (a Holdsworth partner district), Aleshia is excited to be back in Central Texas and closer to family.
She enjoys traveling, attending music festivals and concerts, watching movies and spending time with her rescue dog, Maggie Day.
District Support Consultant
Alexandra Arroyo’s passion lies in educational advocacy and leadership, building and honing her skills in organizations such as YES Prep Public Schools and Teach for America.
At YES Prep, Alexandra served as director of talent development, where she created more than 30 professional development experiences per year for more than 400 educators. She has also served as director of academic programs coaching instructional leaders to support teachers in planning curriculum and instructional execution, as a dean of instruction supporting curriculum development, and as an instructional coach. In prior roles, Alexandra served as a department head for math, science and tech, where she trained faculty, organized benchmarks, and analyzed student data.
At Teach for America, Alexandra took on a variety of roles, from recruiter and math content team leader to curriculum specialist and curriculum coordinator.
Alexandra has taught algebra and psychology, created AP curriculum and dedicated extra time to tutor and advise at-risk students. As an 8th and 9th grade mathematics teacher for Houston ISD right out of college, Alexandra led her students to a 92 percent commended score on the state test and was named Teacher of the Month.
Alexandra earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami, a teaching certificate from the University of St. Thomas and a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Houston.
She is a graduate of Pine Ridge High School in Volusia County, Florida and loves reading, drawing and Puerto Rican food.
Dr. Pat Baccellieri
As a leader in district administration, Dr. Pat Baccellieri’s goals are to set clear and precise program expectations while providing comprehensive educational guidance to enhance and improve academic excellence for all.
Pat has over 30 years of experience as an educator and has developed and implemented major initiatives with a direct impact on public school enhancement. His prior experience includes teaching at the high school and collegiate level, non-profit management, school and district-level administration and advanced academic work. Pat’s leadership skills are enhanced by his multicultural experience, successful team building and effective communication style.
Pat holds a bachelor’s degree from Portland State University in Oregon, a master's degree in theological studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, a master's degree in education from Seattle University in Washington and a doctorate in urban educational leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is an alumnus of New Leaders for New Schools, and author of “Professional Learning Communities: Using Data in Decision Making to Improve Student Learning.”
In his free time, Pat enjoys exploring local espresso cafés, spending time with family and going on walks with his four-legged buddy.
District Support Senior Consultant
Adriana is passionate about transformational leadership. She believes every child deserves a holistic education that promotes healthy development of the mind, body and spirit, and that this vision is key to closing academic achievement gaps and fostering creativity and social and psychological well-being. This has been Adriana’s vision and mantra throughout her career, from Pre-K teacher to administrator to consultant.
She holds a master’s degree in early childhood education from The University of Texas at San Antonio and has 13 years of experience in the field in Mexico, Spain and the United States.
In her previous role as assistant director of professional learning and program innovation at Pre-K 4 SA in San Antonio, Adriana learned the importance of shared vision, strategic planning, innovation and differentiated professional development while developing a startup into a program hailed as among the best in Texas by the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards in only four years.
Adriana joined Holdsworth in June 2017 because she was excited about the opportunity to support Texas school districts in their journey to strengthen leadership. She has a strong belief in people and knows our schools have the talent needed to provide students with what they deserve. She enjoys helping districts define leadership, create a vision for talent development and begin creating systems to unlock leadership potential at every level of the organization.
In 2019, Adriana became a senior consultant specializing in long-term support, providing creative and differentiated support to Holdsworth’s first cohort of seven districts. Adriana is committed to go above and beyond to help district leaders consolidate their work and ensure their new systems are sustainable.
Adriana grew up in Juarez, Mexico and comes from a big family of educators. Her other passion is traveling and learning about different places, people, food, culture and spiritual practices. She recently welcomed her first child, Joaquin Alejandro, and is over the moon about her new role as a mom.
As a classroom teacher and, later, as a campus and district leader, Melanie Calton has grown her knowledge of the Texas public education system and honed her problem-solving and strategic planning skills. Melanie developed a strong foundation in operations and project management in her early years at Teach For America before expanding her expertise to include human capital work.
After serving as managing director for Teach For America, where she founded and managed a training and support program designed to improve hiring practices and one-on-one coaching, Melanie became a campus operations manager for YES Prep Public Schools. In this position, Melanie oversaw all aspects of the general business operations of the campus, from finance to campus safety.
Before joining Holdsworth, Melanie served as director of operations and design at Promise Community Schools at Baker-Ripley. In this role, Melanie established relationships with key business stakeholders, designed and implemented an innovative teacher hiring process, and co-led the Director Leadership Team.
She is inspired by Holdsworth’s focus on talent development as a means of influencing systemic change and stronger outcomes for students.
Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Birmingham-Southern College, where she graduated magna cum laude with a distinction in leadership studies.
She is a graduate of Mobile County Public Schools in Alabama and enjoys home décor, reading and spending time with her husband.
Chief Financial Officer
Charlie Clines serves as the chief financial officer in the Office of Charles Butt, where he coordinates financial and investment planning on behalf of Charles and acts as the financial liaison between Charles and his philanthropic activities. Charlie also serves on The Holdsworth Center board, and as chief financial officer for Raise Your Hand Texas and The Raise Your Hand Texas Education Fund.
Previously, Charlie was a partner in the Houston office of RSM, LLP (formerly Margolis Phipps & Wright). In this role, he directed the delivery of the firm’s financial and tax planning services to its high net worth clients. Charlie began his career with the Houston office of KPMG, rising to partner before joining Margolis Phipps & Wright.
Charlie has five sons and lives with his wife Stacy in San Antonio, Texas.
Manager of Strategic Initiatives
Jake Cohen has built his career leveraging public policy and citizen power to improve local education.
Before joining Holdsworth, Jake served as state education organizer with Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) Network in Maryland, where he developed a statewide leadership team focused on re-writing the state’s formulas to fully fund Maryland’s public education system. This involved creating and delivering training, developing power analyses and creating local action coalitions.
In 2015, Jake was appointed lead organizer of People Acting Together in Howard (PATH), the IAF affiliate of Howard County, Maryland. In this role, Jake worked with top clergy and education leaders to secure significant victories, including a commitment for over 900 affordable housing units in Columbia, Maryland and the hiring of more than 100 paraprofessionals in Howard County Public Schools. He often joined local colleges, nonprofits, and conferences as a guest lecturer or trainer, including Goucher College, Teach for America, and the Maryland State Education Association.
Jake’s first post with the IAF was as an associate organizer for Child First Authority, where he led and won local and citywide campaigns, including a school construction bond that generated $1 billion to rebuild 24 schools in the city. Baltimore has the oldest school buildings in Maryland.
Outside of his work with IAF, Jake volunteered to help lead the Zeke Cohen Campaign for Baltimore City Council, where he consulted on campaign strategy, messaging, and field organization.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, including a correlate in Africana studies, from Vassar College.
Jake is a graduate of Northampton Public Schools in Massachusetts and loves hiking, reading, and games. He was once a professional ultimate frisbee player for the Washington DC Breeze, where he was compensated chiefly in Subway gift cards.
District Support Team Lead
Colin joined the Holdsworth Center as a district support consultant in 2017 as the organization onboarded its inaugural cohort of districts. He is currently a team lead with the Holdsworth Center supporting districts to identify and implement key changes to their talent management systems.
Prior to joining the team at Holdsworth, Colin worked at Urban Leaders Fellowship, an organization that recruits future leaders and pairs them with local elected officials to drive change through policy. As founding Regional Director for the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Colin partnered with board members from Dallas ISD, Fort Worth ISD, and the State Board of Education to establish the organization in a new region. Colin tripled the number of policy fellows in the region over his tenure and supported fellows and elected officials to design and implement policies to improve the outcomes and educational environment for students across Texas.
Colin’s interest in education policy was sparked by his career as a high school science teacher. Colin worked as a chemistry teacher and district chemistry team leader for Uplift Education in Dallas, designing curriculum for 10 campuses and professional development for the district’s science teachers. Colin’s desire to get students involved with modern, high-level science led him to partner with The University of Texas at Dallas and The University of Texas at Arlington to connect high school students to the advanced science concepts they need to thrive in college.
Colin graduated from Boston College with a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in health sciences. During college, he worked as a research assistant in the Neurosurgery Department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, but he came to feel a stronger draw and sense of accomplishment from volunteering as a tutor in his spare time. He joined Teach for America to change his path and became a teacher.
Colin loves painting, reading, and being outside. He has two dogs named after the best burger joint in Texas (any guesses?) and is currently struggling to teach them to go for runs with him.
Michelle Darling is a creative and courageous educator with 30 years of experience in diverse roles and expertise in implementing innovative programs. Her work has resulted in improved staff, students and school performance. She is committed to continual learning for herself and others in order to benefit the children of Texas.
She began her career in education in 1986 as a second-grade teacher and has since served as an education specialist for campus leadership at the Region 4 Education Service Center, a principal in Spring Branch ISD and as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in Galena Park ISD. Michelle retired as principal of San Marcos High School in 2014.
Michelle was selected Principal of the Year in 1995 by the Galena Park chapter of the Association of Texas Professional Educators and is a regular presenter at professional conferences. She believes it is the responsibility of school leaders to provide service, space and support for staff and students to do the greatest work of schools — learning.
Michelle is a proud graduate of Galena Park ISD and loves telling jokes, reading and watching movies. In college, she was named Intramural Athlete of the Year, which she claims is more representative of the quantity of her playing than the quality.
Throughout her professional career, Kesha DeJarnett has always held a strong dedication to providing high-quality programs that ensure students are equipped with the knowledge and skills to choose and follow their own path.
Before joining the Holdsworth Center, Kesha led talent development at the Tennessee Department of Education. In this role she oversaw licensure, the model for educator and administrator professional development, strategies for recruitment and retention, and the approach to coaching for career and technical education (CTE) statewide. She led a team of eight regional consultants and targeted support to approximately 125 districts in the state.
Prior to that, she worked with The New Teacher Project in various roles focused on growing the key skills, knowledge and mindsets of new teachers working toward their teacher certification. This included developing and facilitating content, coaching teaching fellows toward mastery of lesson planning, lesson delivery and classroom management as well as managing a team of teacher development coaches to coach, facilitate staff training sessions and conduct formal observations and evaluations of fellows.
Kesha has also worked as an instructional coach observing and providing feedback to middle school teachers. She started her career as a seventh-grade English teacher in Tennessee.
Kesha holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Auburn University and a master’s degree in teaching from Belmont University.
She is a graduate of Autauga County Schools in Alabama, where she grew up on a farm growing vegetables and raising cattle. Kesha enjoys working out with Camp Gladiator and any recreational activity that gets her outdoors.
Elizabeth Del Toro
Director of Communications
Elizabeth has 15 years of leadership experience in communications at Fortune 500 companies, specializing in corporate social responsibility and employee engagement.
Elizabeth spent more than 10 years in Ohio working for GE where she developed a keen interest in and a passion for public education. For nearly seven years, she managed a $25.3 million education grant between the GE Foundation, Cincinnati Public Schools and GE’s aviation business, which aimed at ensuring that all students graduate ready for college with the math and science skills and knowledge to succeed.
While at GE, she also crafted and executed a marketing and communications plan for helicopter engine product lines and drove internal and external communications across 18 global manufacturing sites with an employee base of 7,000 across the global supply chain division.
Other career highlights include leading global sustainability communications for Kimberly-Clark Corporation – the makers of Huggies and Kleenex brands – and social impact programs focused on improving access to water, hygiene and sanitation throughout countries in need.
A Dallas native, she started her own communications consultancy with the goal of serving nonprofits and other companies with their communications needs. Her clients included Dallas-area Habitat for Humanity and a global travel tech business.
Elizabeth holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas and a master’s in public administration from Northern Kentucky University. She is a graduate of Grand Prairie ISD, where English teachers throughout her schooling encouraged her to read, think critically and discuss topics that shaped the world.
Elizabeth loves reading and listening to podcasts, salsa dancing, trying new restaurants and spending time with her husband and young daughter.
Ray DuBeau Jr.
Ray DuBeau brings a diverse array of experience in various industries to his role supporting Holdsworth leadership.
Ray’s career began in the United States Air Force working primarily in radar surveillance and simulations. Later he became the first-ever simulations manager at the Korean Air Simulation Center at Osan Air Base, South Korea, setting the precedent on developing effective simulation policies and training procedures. Stationed around the globe, Ray ultimately managed $37 billion in live aircraft and equipment with zero loss-of-life incidents by emphasizing the importance of efficient communication, training, and mentoring of supervisors and team members.
After an honorable discharge, Ray worked in information technology, providing tech support at American InterContinental University in Houston and The University of Texas at Austin while pursuing his undergraduate degree.
Upon graduation, Ray made a successful and fulfilling transition into administrative and organizational support in the private sector as well as higher education. At Austin Community College, Ray helped support numerous special projects and fundraisers, raising a total of $45,000 in scholarship funds for students.
Ray holds a bachelor’s in sociology from The University of Texas at Austin and is working on a master’s in human resources development at The University of Texas at Tyler. He is a firm believer in lifelong learning and its importance to professional and personal development.
Ray loves Italian and Creole cuisine and playing ultimate frisbee, and once paid to jump out of an airplane at 13,000 feet.
Campus Leadership Program Director
Sharon Foley is passionate about supporting the growth of campus-based leaders in order to increase equity for students across Texas. Through her work in school systems and non-profit organizations, Sharon has dedicated her career to building capacity in students, teachers, school and system leaders.
Before joining Holdsworth, Sharon worked as KIPP Texas’ deputy chief of teaching and learning, where she ensured literacy and social studies curriculum, instructional strategies and assessments were research-based, rigorous and relevant in order to drive college-readiness for over 29,000 students in 55 schools across Austin, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston and San Antonio.
Sharon also held several leadership roles at Teach For America, including senior managing director of design, where she led the first comprehensive redesign of the organization’s teacher training program.
Sharon began her career in education as a teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools and later served as a teacher and an instructional coach in Fairfax County Public Schools.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs and religious studies from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in teaching from American University.
Outside of work, you can find Sharon playing card and board games with her husband, Jason, and her daughters, Nora and Maggie. She also practices yoga and is an avid reader.
Director of Finance
Amanda is an experienced financial professional specializing in the nonprofit and public sectors.
Most recently, Amanda spent 11 years working in nonprofit financial management, accounting and operations at The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive.
In addition to managing finances and operations for the organization’s Texas chapter, Amanda developed metrics and reporting tools for a successful $100 million fundraising campaign and played a key role in a project to replace the nonprofit’s finance system.
Prior to her role at The Nature Conservancy, she worked on policy and budget issues for state and local government in Texas and New York.
Amanda is a native New Yorker who moved to Texas for graduate school and never left. Amanda is a CPA and has master's degrees in public affairs and accounting from The University of Texas at Austin, and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University.
Amanda lives in Austin with her three daughters and a sweet spaniel and is a proud graduate of New York City public schools. Her hobbies include swimming, cooking and weaving.
Rachel Gallardo brings more than 10 years of experience in teaching, educational leadership and teacher development to her role supporting districts with leadership pipeline planning.
Prior to joining Holdsworth, Rachel served as managing director of program innovation at By the Hand, an afterschool program for children who live in high-risk, inner-city neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois. In this role, she led the creation of a new program model for the organization and restructured the talent development system. As a result of her innovation and work across the city, program and school leaders are helping children flourish academically.
Rachel began her career in education as a science teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina and soon began working in leadership positions for Teach for America in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Chicago. Throughout her tenure, she successfully worked alongside teachers and district leaders to impact student achievement gains, designed and executed high-impact professional development sessions for adult learners, and coached elementary, middle, and high school teachers to help them deliver rigorous instruction.
Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas A&M University. She is a graduate of New Boston ISD outside of Texarkana and enjoys running, gardening, wood working and spending time with her husband and young daughter.
Chief of Staff
Angela brings two decades of administrative and organizational experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors.
Prior to joining Holdsworth, Angela served as associate director for the Museum of the Southwest in Midland during a time of rapid institutional growth and change, including a $5 million renovation of the art museum and the celebration of the institution’s Golden Anniversary. She was responsible for managing transparency, logistics and financial stability for the museum, as well as internal and external procedures, budgets, records and projects. Angela’s efforts helped to lay a foundation for the museum’s financial health and future success.
Committed to serving nonprofits, Angela received a certification in nonprofit executive leadership from the Nonprofit Management Center and her master’s in public administration and leadership from University of Texas of the Permian Basin. As a lifelong learner, she believes in the power of education to transform both lives and communities.
Angela is a graduate of Andrews ISD outside of Odessa, where she was inspired and encouraged by an extraordinary librarian, Mrs. Virginia Callahan. Her rules of thumb for life include; tacos not burritos; red wine never white; always heels, flats are for tall people.
Dr. Liz Garcia
Lead Coach Facilitator
Dr. Liz Garcia uses her knack for navigating interpersonal dynamics and building psychologically safe environments to help leaders engage in the vulnerability and self-reflection needed for growth. She supports them in creating developmental goals and implementing personal growth plans to ensure they get the most out of their Holdsworth experience.
While the foundation of what it means to teach and learn was laid in her early experience as an elementary school teacher, the majority of Liz’s career has been dedicated to leadership development through coaching, facilitating adult learning and organizational development. She is most passionate about creating safe spaces for people to reflect upon and own their stories so that they can show up more authentically as daring leaders.
Liz holds certifications in a variety of curriculums, including Crucial Conversations, Crucial Accountability, and Influencer; True Colors; and Dr. Brené Brown's Dare to Lead™.
Prior to joining The Holdsworth Center Liz founded Courageous Feats, where she created customized coaching and workshop experiences for leaders and organizations. Previously, she served as the national director of coaching for Leading Educators and led the Coaching and Leadership Development Center out of the Region 13 Education Service Center.
Liz holds a master’s and a doctorate in educational administration from Texas State University, where her research focused on understanding how our stories impact the way we show up in our work and in our lives.
Liz was named the 2019 Texas Big Sister of the year for Big Brothers Big Sisters. She lives in Austin with her two rescue dogs, Ferris and Hannah Blue.
Mikayla Garrison brings a diverse background in economic policy and public service to her role as a research data analyst with The Holdsworth Center.
Most recently, Mikayla served as a policy analyst at the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, where she evaluated the transparency, fairness, governance and efficiency of several state agencies’ operations. Mikayla also interned for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Europe and Eurasia Bureau and the International Youth Foundation.
Mikayla holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies with minors in Africana studies and French from Texas A&M University, and a master’s in international development and economic policy from Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. During her time at the Bush School, Mikayla edited a book analyzing the history of U.S. foreign aid and development theories. She has studied abroad in Tanzania, Senegal and France.
An Austinite of three years, Mikayla is the head coach of a club volleyball team with Total City Sports, a nonprofit organization aimed at making participation in club sports accessible for families in Central and East Austin. She is also a member of The Well Community Church in East Austin, where she and her husband Jordan lead a community group. When she’s not reading NPR news headlines, you can find her flipping through Backpack Magazine and planning her next hiking trip.
As a user interface engineer and WordPress developer, Brian Gillespie has built his web development career creating goal-oriented, mobile-friendly websites for small- to medium-sized businesses. With his own business, Gigabeep, Brian operated a one-man web development shop.
Brian began his career in Tokyo, Japan at Gillespie Consulting performing cross-cultural consulting and developing business plans for companies seeking Asia-Pacific expansion. He then launched a Tokyo office for LockStream, a digital rights management start-up based in Seattle, Washington. Later, at GCG Alliance, Brian performed analyses of domestic and international strategic investment opportunities.
A Texan to his core, Brian loves Torchy’s tacos and rooting for the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys. Outside of work, he is known as “Beep,” a childhood nickname derived from his first and middle initials, BP.
A former teacher and track coach, Brian Gilson’s knack for guiding and influencing students developed into a talent for recruiting, managing and cultivating talent in educational systems.
Before joining Holdsworth, Brian served as chief people officer of Achievement Schools, the five directly-operated schools of the Tennessee Achievement School District (ASD). In this role, Brian oversaw all talent management, recruitment and human resources.
Prior to Achievement Schools, Brian held a variety of positions with Teach For America – Greater Nashville, from coaching teachers to providing leadership development to aspiring school leaders. He also served as interim executive director of the organization for a brief period of time.
Before joining the Teach for America staff, Brian taught English as a second language at the elementary and middle school level in Memphis. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Denison University, a master’s in education from Lipscomb University and is a graduate of the Broad Residency in Urban Education in Los Angeles.
Outside of work, Brian is an avid runner and has completed the Boston Marathon three times. He is an Eagle Scout, and was also appointed by two different mayors in Nashville to serve on that city’s Community Education Commission.
Jordan Greenberg brings diverse professional experiences in education, leadership development, and nonprofit management to the Holdsworth team. Prior to Holdsworth, she worked in public affairs and social services in New York City. Born and raised in Austin, she’s thrilled to return home and have the opportunity to support public school leaders in Texas.
From 2018-2019, Jordan was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs in New York City. Through Coro, she learned key frameworks in leadership development and explored cross-sector approaches to promoting equity. During her fellowship, she worked on projects with a range of institutions including the New York City Department of Education, the Fresh Air Fund, and Propel Capital.
Previously, Jordan worked in Brooklyn as the development and communications manager at the Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC), a nonprofit organization providing wrap-around social services to immigrant youth and families. At AAFSC, Jordan diversified the organization’s funding streams, nearly doubling their net assets, and supported youth-led social justice initiatives. Working with students and families at AAFSC inspired her to pursue work focused on supporting youth and schools.
In Brooklyn, she also served as an Education Pioneers Fellow on the operations team at Brooklyn East Collegiate, a school within the Uncommon Schools network.
Jordan holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, History, and Arabic from The University of Texas at Austin. While at UT, she was a mentor at KIPP Austin College Prep. Throughout college, she studied in Morocco, Jordan and Israel, and wrote her senior thesis on contemporary art in the Middle East.
Jordan is a graduate of Austin ISD schools. She loves to spend time with her family, especially her young niece and nephews, and loves spending a full day in a library, especially the new Austin Public Library.
Dr. Michael Greenwalt
Director of Coaching & Facilitating
Dr. Michael Greenwalt joins The Holdsworth Center with 25 years of experience in the education field and a strong belief that education, rooted in good teaching and leadership, is indispensable for all. According to Michael, every educator’s goal should be to work tirelessly to open a door of opportunity for each student.
Prior to joining Holdsworth, Michael served as senior coordinator of continuous improvement at the Region 13 Education Service Center in Austin, where he led a team of 20 dynamic individuals in providing planning, coaching, and other skill-building services and supports to schools and districts throughout the state. Previously, he served as a director within the School Improvement Division of the Texas Education Agency, a director at the Texas Center for District and School Support, and a campus principal and teacher.
Michael specializes in effective planning, creative thinking, conceptual and practical design of coordinated programs and grants, engaging presentations, influential speaking and writing, leading the collaboration of multiple partners, leadership coaching, and team building.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from Abilene Christian University, a master’s in education from Schreiner University in Kerrville and a doctorate in education from The University of Texas at Austin.
Michael is a graduate of Medina ISD and grew up in a children’s home. He has met Michelle Obama and her dog, sung in a barbershop quartet, worked as a hospital and hospice chaplain, and he juggles.
Ana Guerrero comes to Holdsworth with nearly 40 years of diverse experience as an administrative assistant in legal, corporate and educational settings.
Most recently, Ana worked for 13 years in the Texas public school system, serving as an executive assistant to senior administrators in Canutillo, Ysleta, Austin, Eanes, North East, and San Antonio ISDs. In those roles, Ana tracked admissions, oversaw student transfers, coordinated revisions to policies and regulations, analyzed district geographical data, designed informative and creative district publications and translated district documents.
Prior to her service in public schools, Ana worked as an administrative assistant in the School of Nursing at The University of Texas in El Paso, where she supported the graduate nursing program.
In previous decades, Ana provided administrative support to a law office, the CEO of Zaragoza Corporation and the Twin Plant manager at the Philips Corporation.
Born and raised in Ciudad Juárez, Ana graduated from the Colegio Internacional de Comercio in 1979.
Ana loves to travel and explore new places, but also has a long-time passion for the performing arts. She once directed the Jesus Christ Superstar musical with children and youth from two underprivileged shelters in Ciudad Juárez.
Sarah Hobson joined The Holdsworth Center in 2019 and works with partner districts to identify and implement key changes to their talent management systems.
Sarah began her career as a kindergarten teacher in Dallas, where she was a founding teacher at Uplift Heights Elementary School and spent several summers attending Columbia University’s Teachers College. Through a partnership with The Teaching Trust, Sarah attended Southern Methodist University for a principal preparation program and earned a master’s degree. She served as an assistant principal for two years before becoming the principal of Uplift Infinity Preparatory. By the end of her tenure, Uplift Infinity significantly reduced suspensions for students by focusing on trauma-informed and social-emotional supports for all students. Uplift Infinity grew in positive staff and student culture, which in turn led to strong academic gains. Sarah used a distributive leadership model to empower teachers across campus.
Prior to joining Holdsworth, Sarah was executive vice president of culture and people development at Embark Consulting. She helped support the firm’s expansion from one to four cities in one year, led companywide values alignment conversations, and focused on implementing people strategies and initiatives around best practices in management.
Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a concentration in ethics and leadership from The University of Texas at Austin. During college, Sarah worked as a research assistant for Professor Sean Theriault for his book on party politics. During her spare time, she volunteered at The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Matthew’s Elementary School. She applied to Teach For America in order to become a teacher, like her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother before her.
Sarah loves reading (especially non-fiction) and exploring great places to eat in Dallas. She spends her free time volunteering at Our Friends Place and enjoying the outdoors with her beloved dog Atticus.
A former elementary school teacher and assistant principal, Kirsten is passionate about helping create school systems that are learning organizations for all, including staff, students, families and the community. She shares many of her ideas about making an impact on leadership and learning in her blog, Leadershift.
Previously, Kirsten served as associate executive director for instruction at the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA). For nearly nine years, Kirsten planned professional learning for 5,800 members in pre-K-8 school leadership. She also served as a voice for principals in front of policymaking bodies such as the Texas Legislature, the State Board of Education, the State Board of Educator Certification, the Texas Education Agency and other education consortium groups.
Kirsten’s career in public education included teaching first and second grades and serving as a specialist for English language learners at several elementary campuses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She served as assistant principal for two years in Coppell ISD before joining TEPSA in 2008.
Kirsten holds a bachelor’s degree in applied learning and development with a minor in Spanish from The University of Texas at Austin and master’s degree in education administration from the University of North Texas in Denton. She also holds a certification in Dr. Brené Brown's Dare to Lead™ curriculum.
Kirsten is a graduate of the Phoenix Union High School District and was director of the UT Dance Team. She is a wife and mother of two teenaged boys and loves to spend time with her family traveling, hiking or playing on a beach somewhere.
Mohammad Taher Ibrahimi
Information Technology Support Specialist
Mohammad Taher Ibrahimi brings over 10 years of experience in information technology and technology projects to his role at the Holdsworth Center.
Before joining the team, Mohammad worked as an information technology support technician for National Financial Partners in Austin, installing and resolving users’ desktops, software and hardware issues in person and assisting thousands of remote users over the phone in the U.S. and Canada.
Mohammad previously worked for the Embassy of the United States in Kabul, Afghanistan as a computer management assistant team lead. Mohammad supervised, planned and directed a team of 12 to 15 computer management assistants to provide exemplary customer service for more than 2,000 internal customers in the United States Embassy.
Mohammad began his career as an information technology support professional for the Joint Training Center/U.S. Army Project in his hometown of Herat, Afghanistan, where he built and refurbished computers, strengthened computer hardware and did software troubleshooting, and fulfilled video teleconferencing installation and customization.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science with a concentration in network administration from Herat University. Outside of work, you can find Mohammad walking, reading and playing volleyball.
Operations and Planning Manager
Michele King brings educational experience, business management and a consulting background to her role supporting the implementation of campus and district leadership training.
Before becoming an educator, she spent 10 years in the technology sector building websites and managing projects for clients.
Transitioning to the education field in 2003, Michele worked towards her master’s degree in the evenings while teaching in a first-grade bilingual classroom at a Title I school. She went on to become an administrator for Austin ISD, where she oversaw the district’s data management system and supported the 6,000 educators using it to inform their instruction.
Michele has also managed major technology implementations for Dallas ISD and worked closely with the University of North Texas to open the UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center. Recently, Michele was a member of the board of directors and board chair of Open Door Preschools, an Austin non-profit organization serving families of diverse socio-economic backgrounds.
Though she has spent most of her life in Texas, Michele has had the opportunity to live and work in the Pacific Northwest, Mexico and Switzerland. She is bilingual in Spanish and maintains an active Texas teaching certification.
Michele holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Austin College in Sherman, Texas and a master’s degree in education from Texas State University in San Marcos.
She is a graduate of Richardson ISD in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and enjoys photography, playing piano and gardening. She’s a lefty and always has trouble with gadgets, scissors and tools made for right-handed people.
Lisa Lawrence has devoted much of her 34 years in education to impacting schools through the coaching and development of leaders. She believes leadership coaching is an act of service, one that allows her the privilege of building high-trust relationships to help leaders grow personally and lead successful change efforts that ultimately benefit students.
Prior to joining Holdsworth, Lisa spent the last 15 years working as an independent leadership consultant and coach to both district and campus leaders. She also worked on conducting competency-based interviews to help districts match schools with strong leadership potential.
Lisa received her leadership coaching training from Breakthrough Enterprises and co-designed the Coaching for Educational Leadership program through Texas’ Region 13 Education Service Center. Lisa also worked for Region 13 as a coordinator for the educator certification program.
She is a native Austinite and holds a master’s of education in curriculum and instruction from The University of Texas at Austin.
Lisa treasures quality time with her husband and four adult children, and you can often find her happily covered in paint in her art studio.
Scott Lipton has been a leader at the forefront of innovation, technology, and design in education throughout his career.
With a diversity of experience over more than two decades, Scott has served in a variety of roles across the education spectrum. As the senior director of Globaloria, a startup e-learning company, he led all aspects of the company’s operations, including providing direction and strategies for growth and implementation. Scott was also the co-founder and assistant director at Griffin School, a high school principal at Del Valle ISD, a school district administrator at Austin ISD and an education entrepreneur.
Additionally, Scott is the co-founder of EdTech Action, an education innovation incubator, consulting firm, and community service organization in Austin. This combination of institutional and marketplace leadership experience – along with an in-depth understanding of technology and innovation in the field ¬– gives Scott a unique perspective into educational systems, results-based analytics, and organizational design.
Scott holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in educational administration from The University of Texas at Austin, as well as a certification in business management from UT’s McCombs School of Business.
Scott enjoys biking, hiking, basketball and music and once upon a time he spent a year living in his car while traveling the American West with his dog.
Director of Strategy
Meg Loomis has spent her 20-year career in the philanthropic and healthcare fields, beginning with her first job fundraising for homeless programs in downtown San Francisco.
Before joining the Holdsworth team, Meg served as capacity building officer at Methodist Healthcare Ministries, where she helped lead a multi-funder initiative to advance the impact and sustainability of healthcare organizations across 74 counties in South Texas, with special focus on clinics in the Rio Grande Valley.
Previously, Meg lived ten years in Anchorage, Alaska and worked as the executive director of the National Association of Social Workers and as a senior consultant for Agnew::Beck, Alaska’s premier public health consulting firm. While at Agnew::Beck, Meg aided corporations, foundations, nonprofits, state agencies and tribes to develop innovative healthcare and behavioral health programs.
Meg has a passion for gender equity and women and girls’ healthcare. After college, she founded a self-defense training institute serving at-risk communities in the Bay Area. In 2014, she helped found Fund Texas Women, a nonprofit start-up which gives low-income women in rural Texas access to reproductive healthcare.
Meg holds a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Alaska, where she was also an adjunct faculty member. She is currently finishing her MBA at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.
Senior Manager of Communications
A former education writer turned marketer and communications professional, Melissa has spent her career advocating for public schools by telling and amplifying their stories in a compelling way.
Before joining the Holdsworth team, Melissa worked as a senior account lead at The DeBerry Group, a full-service marketing and communications agency based in San Antonio. She led publicity strategies for the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards, a program that rewards outstanding educators in Texas public schools, as well as a first-of-its-kind marketing campaign called Go Public that works to promote San Antonio’s public school districts. Melissa also led successful campaigns featuring standout teachers, students and programs in San Angelo ISD and Tomball ISD through video storytelling and digital amplification.
She led recruiting and awareness campaigns for the Centers for Applied Science and Technology, or CAST, a series of industry-led, career-themed schools backed by H-E-B and other San Antonio based companies and developed in partnership with local school districts.
In 2017, Melissa led publicity for the initial announcement of The Holdsworth Center, which quickly grew into a full-blown communications strategy including development of the center’s blog and advertising for the center’s ElevatEd conference in Dallas.
Prior to the DeBerry Group, Melissa spent six years covering higher education at the San Antonio Express-News, garnering national beat reporting awards from the Education Writers Association and from Hearst Newspapers. She began her career as a journalist covering politics, courts and K-12 education at the Austin American-Statesman. She holds a bachelor’s in English from Trinity University in San Antonio and a master’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.
Melissa is also a musician and fronts the pop/Americana Melissa Ludwig Band with her husband.
Dr. Dan McCormack
Senior Manager of Data Analytics
Dr. Dan McCormack believes public education is the bedrock of a healthy democracy and a powerful tool to level systemic inequality. He works to support the mission of the Holdsworth Center by conceptualizing and measuring the center’s interventions to understand how we can better serve districts in delivering quality public education to all children in the state.
Before joining The Holdsworth Center, Dan worked at the Gerson Lehrman Group, where he designed and fielded survey instruments on behalf of financial services clients.
Dan holds a doctorate in political science from The University of Texas at Austin, where his dissertation won the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award in Social Sciences, Business, and Education. He spent the following two years on a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, where he completed a book investigating sources of international conflict.
Throughout his academic career Dan has worked as an educator, including serving as a writing tutor at his undergraduate institution, a course instructor at The University of Texas and the University of Pennsylvania, and a mathematics tutor to underserved communities in both Austin and Philadelphia.
Dan is a graduate of Williamson County Schools in Franklin, Tennessee. Outside of work, he enjoys reading, writing, hiking and a good cheeseburger from a dive bar. A history buff, he has two cats named Henry Kittenger and Madeleine Pawbright.
Liz Mitlak has spent the last four years working to support, train and empower leaders in the social justice non-profit sector and has experience executing broad leadership development strategies and launching new initiatives.
In her previous role at the Religious Action Center, the social justice hub of the Reform Jewish Movement, Liz organized fellowships, conferences, workshops and webinars for clergy and lay leaders across North America. She oversaw the Brickner Clergy Fellowship and trained cohorts of rabbis and cantors over a 20-month period.
Liz has also worked as a religious schoolteacher at Temple Sinai and knows firsthand the critical role that educators play in childhood development and intellectual growth. After undergoing a responsive classroom training, Liz saw from the user perspective what makes a training program effective and used that to create lesson plans for her classroom that experimented with various teaching techniques. This experience has sparked a passion for improving training and teaching programs for leaders in education.
Liz is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she earned a bachelor’s in social justice studies and minored in marketing. She loves yoga, hiking and is interested in competing to become the next Chopped Champion on the Food Network.
Manuel Olguin brings more than seven years of international sales and client service experience in the financial sector in New York City and Hong Kong to his role helping school districts build systems and structures that will grow and support great leaders at all levels.
A native of San Antonio, Manuel grew up in a low-income neighborhood and understands firsthand the importance of a quality education. He is passionate about improving access to education and transforming the educational landscape in Texas.
Before joining Holdsworth, Manuel worked as a manager at Accenture Strategy in New York developing strategic, financial and operational solutions for growth-minded clients in the financial services and professional services industries. Prior to Accenture, Manuel worked at S&P Capital IQ in New York and Hong Kong creating programs that dramatically increased revenue and savings for his clients.
Manuel has previously served on non-profit boards including the Latino Educational Achievement Partnership in Durham, North Carolina, the League of United Latin American Citizens’ national executive board, and the LULAC National Educational Service Centers executive board.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, as well as a certification in business strategy from INSEAD.
Manuel also used to be a mid-stakes poker player, but these days you’re more likely to find him fishing, watching college football and spending time with his wife and young son.
After moving from Arizona to open and lead the first BASIS charter school in Texas, Tiffany O’Neill fell swiftly in love with the Lone Star State.
After consulting with other charter networks on school startup and turnaround, Tiffany worked with Teach For America-San Antonio managing internal operations and talent, acting as chief consultant to the executive director and leading a portfolio of strategic external relationships including those with school districts, community partners, local officials and the media.
Tiffany has taught students in every K-12 grade level and has also worked as faculty to undergraduate and graduate students at the university level.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Arizona. A Wildcat for life, Tiffany is undergoing an identity crisis as she pursues a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from her alma mater’s rival, Arizona State University.
Her research interests and expertise center around teaching and policymaking benefitting students who are gifted and talented, with a particular focus on twice-exceptional students who are intellectually gifted and have an identified disability.
Tiffany is the proud, tired mother of a teenage spitfire, Alina, and is grateful to live in a community with a passion for education. Her parents immigrated to the United States from Poland. To keep up with her ancestral language, she watches Polish Netflix and has read all seven Harry Potter books in Polish.
Julia Perry joins The Holdsworth Center team from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO), where she worked as an education programs coordinator. She brings a passion for education and extensive experience in event planning and program management to her role supporting Holdsworth’s Campus Leadership Program.
During her time with the BSO, Julia oversaw the adult education program, known as BSO Academy. She acted as a primary contact for participants, vendors and volunteers. Julia also collaborated with various departments to schedule events, plan repertoire, confirm guest artists and compile a Midweek Concert Teacher Resource Guide.
Julia holds a bachelor’s in music performance and music education from Ithaca College, where she graduated magna cum laude, and a master’s degree in music performance from the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University.
An avid musical theater fan, Julia directed a musical theater camp for 10 years and now enjoys catching the latest touring Broadway shows. She loves discovering new restaurants and local eateries, especially those offering birthday cake ice cream, homemade lemonade and pork belly bao.
Shanthi Radhakrishnan joined The Holdsworth Center team from OneGoal, a teacher-led college persistence program, where she helped launch the organization’s first expansion site in Houston and managed a portfolio of 30 high school partners across three districts. In that role, Shanthi oversaw school partnerships with campus and district leaders and directed student and teacher recruitment processes.
Prior to OneGoal, Shanthi worked as an analyst on the Houston Foundations team with The New Teacher Project (TNTP). In this role, she advised clients on teacher recruiting, selection and staffing strategies for Houston ISD as part of the district’s Effective Teachers Initiative. She managed the collection, analysis and application of data related to talent acquisition and management and consulted with cross-functional teams to employ the strategic use of data to improve operations.
Shanthi began her career as a special education teacher through Teach For America in Houston. She holds a law degree from South Texas College of Law and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
Shanthi is a California girl turned Texan and has also spent significant time in the Chicago area. For several years, her immediate family spanned three continents – North America, Asia, and Europe. On weekends, you will find her spending time with her husband and two kids in various parks and soccer fields around Houston.
Esther Rivera brings a diverse set of skills to her role with Holdsworth, including educational programming, operation management, communications, grants, exhibit planning, and event planning. She enjoys using creative thinking to tackle new challenges and is always seeking ways to encourage others to succeed.
In her varied career, Esther has served as the digital education program manager for the Texas State Historical Association, where she produced the Texas Quiz Show serving more than 1,000 students across the state, instituted digital programming for K-12 teachers, managed a cross-curricular digital platform for 24 partners through TeachingTexas.org, and was managing producer for the acclaimed Texas Talks webinar show.
Previously, Esther served as operations manager of the Nave Museum in her hometown of Victoria, Texas and spent her nights teaching adult education courses and coordinating a grant for Victoria College.
During graduate school, she worked as an education program assistant at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, where she planned educational activities including distance learning programs and taught courses virtually to schools across Texas.
Esther earned a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology from The University of Texas at Austin and holds a master’s degree in history from Texas State University.
Esther is a proud product of Victoria ISD schools and is a former cheerleader and gymnast. She served a stint as the director of Amazing Feats managing clients and teaching cheerleading and gymnastics classes.
Director of Development
Bryan Rubio brings more than two decades of development experience and a passion for public education to his role as director of development. At Holdsworth, Bryan works to create and execute a comprehensive fundraising strategy to achieve the organization’s goal of sustainability in the years to come.
Prior to joining Holdsworth, Bryan served as chief development officer at Waterloo Greenway, where he oversaw a $265 million capital campaign and $2.5 million annual operating campaign. During his time there, Bryan implemented a multi-year campaign strategy, brought in significant key donations and helped the organization raise more than $166 million from individuals, foundations, corporations and government sources.
At Breakthrough Central Texas, Bryan built a strong major gift program and culture of philanthropy within the organization. Under Bryan’s leadership, the organization doubled its annual fundraising efforts and added a new cohort of future first-generation college graduates to the program.
Bryan holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from The University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in business administration from St. Edward’s University, where he was named Graduate Student of the Year. Bryan is also a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).
Bryan and his wife, America, share a love of music and met while playing in bands after college. They share this love with their two children and have always hoped to start a family band, but their kids say it is highly unlikely.
Digital Communications Manager
Kirk Scarbrough joined The Holdsworth Center in 2019, but his history with supporting public education was sparked much earlier. Fresh out of college, he joined Teach For America – San Antonio’s charter teaching corps as an elementary teacher in San Antonio ISD. After his two-year teaching commitment, he moved to New York City to join the Teach For America national communications team. For four years, Kirk developed and launched innovative ways for the organization to share news, celebrate accomplishments, and disseminate important information through live and produced video.
Kirk eventually made a move back to San Antonio to reconnect with a community that he loves and joined the marketing and communications team at KIPP San Antonio Public Schools to help tell the organization’s story across various outlets including social media, earned media, internal communications, email marketing, graphic design, digital advertising, photography, video production, and out-of-home advertising. Prior to joining The Holdsworth Center, Kirk helped to create and launch the new KIPP Texas Public Schools brand as the director of marketing.
Scarbrough holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from West Texas A&M University, where he served as president of the student body, and is a graduate of Holliday ISD, a small rural district outside of Wichita Falls.
In his spare time, Kirk can be found chugging coffee, practicing and teaching yoga, eating tacos, and exploring the ever-changing San Antonio community.
A native Houstonian and graduate of both Columbia University and Rice University, Melanie Singleton has a passion for building schools and serving underprivileged communities.
Melanie put her ideas to work at Teach for America Houston, where she served as senior managing director of community and alumni partnerships, working with school districts across Houston to train and coach first-year and alumni teachers. Most recently, she worked as head of schools, where she developed a strategic plan for school expansion.
Previously, Melanie spent two years as a school director at YES Prep Public Schools Spring Branch campus in collaboration with the SKY partnership. She helped found the 13th campus, YES Prep Hoffman, the first partnership school with Aldine ISD.
Melanie majored in English literature and African-American studies at Columbia University while participating in law-oriented internships. As college graduation neared, however, Melanie decided to defer law school and explore teaching opportunities. That fall, she headed back to Houston to teach seventh and eighth-grade English for Houston ISD. She discovered a passion for teaching and found her professional home at YES Prep Public Schools.
She holds an MBA and principal certification from the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. She recently completed a master’s degree in counseling and is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Houston.
Melanie is a product of Houston ISD public schools, and has traveled internationally every year since she was 19. Outside of work, you will find her singing, writing, cooking or working her eye for interior design.
Dr. Danielle Bustillos SoRelle
Manager of Data Analytics
Dr. Danielle Bustillos SoRelle has two decades of experience in behavioral and education research, specializing in data management and data analysis. She enjoys research in any form and its power to tell the stories about people and organizations.
Danielle is also an advocate for data accessibility and has a passion for educating others on the importance of data research.
Before coming to Holdsworth, Danielle spent 11 years as a database coordinator/data management specialist working for the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk (MCPER) in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. While at the center, she developed a database system and established protocols and procedures aimed at ensuring the reliable collection and maintenance of data. Danielle’s system also allowed primary investigators to easily navigate and collect data needed for their analyses.
Prior to working for MCPER, Danielle earned a doctorate in human development and family studies from Texas Tech University. Her dissertation focused on women in recovery from eating disorders. Danielle earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, with a focus on health service organizations. Recently, Danielle earned a certificate in data science from a six-month data analytics and visualization bootcamp.
A graduate of Houston ISD, Danielle is invested in making sure all students in Texas receive the highest level of education. Outside of work, she enjoys playing with Legos, reading, traveling and spending time with her husband and three sons.
With more than a decade of experience working for and with public schools, Patrice Watson believes all students regardless of background should experience a positive school culture rooted in strong leadership and rigorous and relevant instruction.
Most recently, Patrice served as executive director of college and career pathways at the Tennessee Department of Education, where she led work-based learning initiatives, early postsecondary opportunities, student readiness and pathways, and school counseling services. Patrice joined the department in 2013 and under her leadership, early postsecondary enrollment doubled statewide.
To achieve those results, Patrice created the Early Postsecondary Opportunity Potential Project to help close the gaps between historically disadvantaged and underserved students and their more advantaged peers when it came to college readiness. The project helped identify and enroll high-potential students in more rigorous coursework who may not have enrolled on their own. She also worked to develop one of the only statewide dual credit programs in the country, growing from a few pilot classes to full development of nearly a dozen courses.
Prior to her position at the department, she worked as an educational consultant for Pearson Education, and spent several years as an elementary education teacher.
Patrice earned a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Tennessee State University. She treats every encounter as a learning opportunity and seeks to live by her favorite Mahatma Gandhi quote: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Outside of work, Patrice enjoys spending time with family, traveling and cycling.
Curtis Wilson brings nearly two decades of experience in the public and charter school sectors to his role at The Holdsworth Center, where he focuses on helping district leaders transform their districts into world-class leadership development organizations.
Before joining the Holdsworth team, Curtis was the secondary principal for seven years at NYOS Charter School in Austin, Texas, where he led the 6th-12th grade program. NYOS – which stands for Not Your Average School – is dedicated to educating the whole student and is ranked among the top 10 high schools in the Austin area by US News & World Report. Curtis brings experience in developing effective teams, analyzing student performance data and developing teacher leaders.
Curtis holds a bachelor’s degree in history and government and a master’s degree in educational leadership from The University of Texas at Austin.
Born in New Jersey and raised in Santa Clara, California, Curtis has had an opportunity to live on both coasts. Outside of work, Curtis enjoys reading and spending family time with his wife and two lovely daughters.
We believe that good work starts with good people. We’re always looking for passionate, talented individuals to join our team.