In January, 2016 Shana Fox assumed the role as the Executive Director for CARY. While this role was new for Shana, her involvement in nonprofits and with CARY was not. Shana has dedicated 10 years to working with the at-risk students that CARY serves, both in a direct capacity as a CARY Youth Advisor, and serving as CARY’s Deputy Executive Director.
Shana came to CARY after attending Texas State University where she studied Social Work, with a specific focus on vulnerable populations and social justice issues. While Shana was in graduate school she had many life changing experiences. One of the most influential occurred when she visited a juvenile justice facility and saw, first hand, what happens to our youth when they get “locked up.” She knew then that she wanted to target this trend of at-risk youth becoming involved in the “pipeline to prison.” Shana quickly learned that her passion and profession would align, to allow her to follow her dream of making a positive change in the lives of children and families.
While working directly with thousands of high risk youth has been the highlight of her career, Shana’s professional pursuits inspired her to seek opportunities for community leadership and administrative stewardship. She returned to the classroom to gain more education in those areas, and began to gravitate towards policy, governance, and management. She is humbled to serve CARY in a leadership role and views her work within the community as a privilege.
When Shana is not working, she can be found exploring her community, enjoying live music, and plotting outdoor adventures with her 4-year-old son, Kai. She also enjoys traveling , yoga, and climbing.
I have been contracting with CARY since 2005 as the bookkeeper/accountant. A graduate of UT with a BA in Accounting, I am responsible for all things financial at CARY. I have been married for 22 years and have 3 children.
Ashley is a born and raised Texan, having grown up in the small town of Shiner. She is an avid cyclist, teacher, runner, yogi, dancer, wife, and mama of four precious kids. Ashley studied Dance Education at Kilgore College and Communications and Behavioral Psychology at Concordia University. Amid her academic studies, she became a yoga instructor and a massage therapist. It was with her love of movement, education, and healing arts that she wrote a Creative Movement program adopted by AISD. After 10 years of teaching dance, movement, yoga and body work, Ashley landed a preschool teaching job at St. George’s Episcopal School. Over her 4 years of teaching at St. George’s, Ashley married and had children. Soon she found herself ready for the next venture in life, so Ashley created a small event planning business, leveraging her love of hosting, eye for detail, and passion for helping others. She coordinated weddings, special events and fundraisers. Ashley’s energy, integrity and planning skills also landed her the role of St. George’s PTF board President and the St. George’s Episcopal Church board President. Ashley is thrilled to continue her life adventure here at CARY, continuing to love-on her family, having fun with friends, all the while supporting the noble and generous act of philanthropy.
Belinda joined CARY in 2015. She has devoted her career to public service and brings over 18 years of experience to the team. She began her career in her hometown of Alice, Texas, where she worked for the local police department. Since moving to Austin in 2000 to pursue her B.A. in Government and Mexican-American Studies at the University of Texas, Belinda has proudly worked for several local and state entities. She has a passion for working to support the community's most vulnerable, and is most proud of the years she served as a mentor via Austin Partners in Education, her participation in the Texas Governor's Fellowship Program, and her service providing legislative support and outreach assistance to the Texas Attorney General's Office. Joining the CARY team has been a perfect opportunity to put her experience to work and to continue to serve Austin's at-risk youth. She currently assists with the planning and implementation of various projects, and as always, encourages you to contact CARY with questions about how to support and become involved. When not at work, Belinda is an avid reader and enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, traveling to the Texas coast and barbecuing with family and friends.
Steve Belt, VP of Engineering, Wayne Fuel Systems
Seth Winick, Haley Romero Winick & Kroll, Inc.
Bill McKean, Retired, Freescale
Kathy Bennett, Vice President, IBM, STG Global ISV Technical Enablement
Kami Burnette, Managing Director, Paramount Lodging Advisors
- Jeff Biela, Attorney, Wayne Wright, LLP
- Afton Cavanaugh, Law Offices of Cavanaugh and Quintanilla, PLLC
- Tyler Coleman, Professional Employer Consultant, SOI
- Kay Fowler, Director, Mt. Sinai Christian Academy
- Michelle Jones, Treasury Management Officer, First United Bank
- Daniel Mennega, Senior UX Writer, eBay Inc.
- Ron Oliveira, Oliveira Public Communications
- William Parr, Retired, Texas Legislative Board
- Michael Turner, Retired Software Executive, Development Chair
- Lt. Chris Vallejo, City of Austin Police Department
- Celeste Villarreal, Attorney
- Mike Wifley, Consulting CFO, VCFO
- Sally Hernandez, Travis County Sheriff
Founding Board Chair:
James Y. Bryce, Attorney at Law
Founder and Executive Director Emeritus:
Nicole GerardManor Middle School
Nicole Gerard is a Licensed Master Social Worker and has been with CARY since 2012. She earned her Bachelors degree in Social Work at Abilene Christian University and her Masters degree in Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. Nicole is married to Kellen Gerard, whom she met working at a Wilderness Therapy Camp in the woods of North Carolina. Nicole and Kellen have 2 daughters; Charlie, 5yo and Lucy, 3yo. As a family they enjoy traveling and being outdoors.
Melissa AxtonDel Valle High School
Melissa Axton has served as a CARY Bilingual Youth Advisor in AISD schools including DAEP, for 6 years. Raised in Houston, TX, Melissa moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas, where she majored in Psychology and minored in Mexican American Studies. She became a lifelong sister of Sigma Lambda Gamma and graduated a year early with honors. At Texas State University, Melissa joined the Phi Alpha honor society and earned her Masters of Social Work - Direct Practice. In addition to work at CARY, she also directs a summer camp for under privileged youth with another agency she has served for over 5 summers. She has mentored the same youth for 6 years as a volunteer for Big Brother's Big Sister's. Areas of past professional experience include health and environmental street outreach, clinical and community based adult mental health and after school programming, She is also a certified Zumba instructor. Melissa is passionate about Aztec dance, health, animal rights, and promoting resilience in youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
Chantille ReesWebb Middle School
Chantille grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and received her undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University. She furthered her education and received her Masters of Arts degree in clinical mental health counseling from South University and is currently pursuing her license as a professional counselor. Professionally, Chantille has worked as an ABA therapist and parent educator for eleven years dedicating her work to children with developmental disabilities and mental health issues. In November of 2015 she took a position with CARY as a school based youth advisor and leads violence prevention groups as well as individual counseling. She uses a strengths based perspective and incorporates mindfulness and the arts into therapy to empower each individual. In her free time, Chantille enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, kayaking, and enjoying Austin’s music scene.
Tiffany WoodyLBJ High School & Dobie Middle School
Born and raised in Kansas, Tiffany has lived in Texas for 10 yrs. She graduated from Emporia State University in 2006 with her Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. Tiffany has a strong passion to work with youth and has been employed as a Youth Adviser for CARY for two years. She is dedicated to empowering her students through mentoring, counseling, and service learning opportunities. Tiffany also works part-time at Safe Alliance. In her free time, Tiffany enjoys baking with her daughter.
Nancy SalazarDel Valle Middle School
Nancy Salazar is a native Austinite. She attended St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas and graduated in 2012 with a B.A. in Criminology. During college she volunteered at an alternative high school and realized that she really enjoyed connecting and engaging with the children. As a first generation Mexican American she is very proud to have graduated college and found a career that not only does she like but truly cares about as well. Nancy began working with youth and children straight out of college in the nonprofit area. She has a passion and dedication for working with the children. She enjoys building lasting relationships with the kids, meeting them where they are and helping them through their problems. On the weekends Nancy enjoys spending time with her two children, 1 and 13 years old, and her husband. Festivals, pumpkin patches, bouncy houses they do it all. If she isn’t trying to be mom extraordinaire she enjoys binge watching shows on Netflix or reading a good book.
Darius PettwayGus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy
Darius grew up in Detroit Michigan and was raised by his beloved mother and grandmother Tara and Evelyn Hunter. Being taught at a young age a unique skill of never quitting and perseverance Darius set himself out to be the first person in his family to walk across a college stage. As his college career started Darius attended several universities where he would major in Criminal Justice and take on the challenge of being a student athlete (football). However, as times became harder his motivation and faith became stronger. In December of 2014 Mr. Pettway would reach his dream by receiving his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Saginaw Valley state university. With a passion to work with at-risk youth Darius made it his mission to instill resiliency in every young man and woman he could come across. Over the years, Darius has worked in group home residential programs as well as community based sectors including foster care, day treatment and managing a supervised living facility. Shortly after receiving his bachelors he would go on to receive his Master’s Degree and relocate to Texas to begin working for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Darius is also a LCDC-I. When Darius is not at working, he enjoys watching sporting events, cooking and fishing.
Jennifer GoldsteinBurnet Middle School
Jenny was raised in Miami, Florida and moved to Austin to study English at the University of Texas. She worked in residential direct care with abused and neglected children before pursuing her Masters in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. Last year, she completed her training hours to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. Jenny has worked in two residential facilities; one serving male teens with violent charges and one serving emotionally disturbed adolescents with abuse histories. She also spent one year working with behaviorally challenged students with autism spectrum disorders before coming to CARY. This will be her third year with the organization. Jenny employs a strengths-based perspective and TBRI in her client interactions and incorporates sports, art, music, and play therapy principles daily into student groups and individual sessions. In her free time, Jenny enjoys outdoor adventures, live music, photography, and volunteering with animals.
Amy FletcherMartin & Bedichek Middle Schools
Amy was born and raised in Southern Illinois and graduated with a degree in Liberal Studies from the University of Southern Illinois at Edwardsville. She headed for warmer climates and enrolled in massage school in Phoenix Arizona. After practicing massage professionally for a decade, and moving to Austin, Amy began working with youth outdoors as an Outdoor Educator. Wanting to move into Social Work, Amy then took a role with youth in foster care at a residential treatment center, which led to a position with CARY as a Youth Advisor. In her spare time, Amy enjoys rock climbing, running, yoga, backpacking, learning how to cook and play the guitar and travelling to new destinations.
Da’ Sean WalkerAlternative Learning Center
Mr. Da’ Sean Walker was born and raised in East Austin. He was raised in a loving and devoted family. The members of his family whom inspired him the most are his parents and grandparents whose dedication to their marriages provided him with the foundation that has given him the inspiration to work with students and dedicate his time to the youth of today.
He played on the varsity team in all the sports in which he participated in high school which included baseball, basketball, and football. His love for football was seen by others because he was offered a scholarship to Widener University located in a suburb in Philadelphia. At Widener, Mr. Walker earned his bachelor’s in business with a minor in marketing while playing college football.
Mr. Walker found his way back to Austin where he begin to work in education. He began working at Kealing Jr. High School as a coach then moved onto Barbra Jordan Elementary School. Mr. Walker enjoyed working with teenagers, so he slowly found his way to Austin Can Academy and became their Athletic Director where he led his team to an undefeated season of 36-0 which gave them the state championship title for charter schools that year. Mr. Walker turned the discipline that he provided the football team to become the Athletic Director and assisted with discipline at East Austin College Prep.
Mr. Walker took his love of the youth down a different path and was the Truancy Director of a school district in the San Antonio area. In that position his focus was assisting students with their attendance issues and providing solutions and services to students and their families. Mr. Walker decided to return to the youth in Austin and became a member of CARY where he provides mentoring, teaching, and resources for at-risk youth at the Alternative Learning Center for AISD. In addition, to the services he provides at ALC, Mr. Walker volunteers at Fulmore Middle School where he spends 3-4 hours with at-risk youth where he has the opportunity to reach youth to prevent future negative predicaments.
Denisse Plotycia, MSSWOjeda Middle School
Denisse is a native Texan who attended Fordham University for a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Masters of Science in Social Work, Clinical Concentration. Professionally, Denisse has an interest in working with school age children. She has experience in various school and hospital related settings. She speaks English, Spanish, and French. Denisse has been with CARY for two years, first as a social work intern and then as a Youth Advisor. In her free time, she enjoys baking, swimming, and trying to start a garden.