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 18 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. She also enjoys traveling, yoga, and climbing.
Nicole Gerard is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been with CARY since 2012. She earned her Bachelors's degree in Social Work at Abilene Christian University and her Master's 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 and Lucy. As a family, they enjoy traveling and being outdoors.
Tisho has been contracting with CARY since 2005 as the bookkeeper/ accountant. A graduate of UT with a BA in Accounting, she is responsible for all things financial at CARY. Tisho has been married for 22 years and has 3 children.
Randa is a graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos with a Bachelor's degree in Public Relation, minoring in Psychology. She is a native Austinite, having been born and raised in Austin - and proud of it! While searching for a start in her career she came across CARY, falling in love with the message and purpose of the nonprofit. Randa has a passion for learning and education with plans of continuing her college career to obtain a Masters and Ph.D., dreaming to become a college professor. Her motivation to help others stems from her grandmother, who was a social worker in Killeen where she worked with at-risk youth, and her great grandfather, who was the first commissioner of education in Texas. With big shoes to fill, comes a deeper drive to help others find motivation and achieve their goals. In her spare time, she can be found hiking with her beloved pit bulls, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding or with her nose deep in a book.
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 bodywork, 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.
Major Henry Opolot, US Army Retired
Bill McKean, Retired, Freescale
Sean Milberger, Austin’s Managing Partner
Kathy Bennett, Vice President, IBM, STG Global ISV Technical Enablement
Sharon Foster, Consulting CF, VCFO
- Sharie Bourbeau, Leadership Consultant, self-employed
- Tyler Coleman, Professional Employer Consultant, SOI
- Michelle Deskins, Treasury Management Officer, First United Bank
- Ron Oliveira, Oliveira Public Communications
- Celeste Villarreal, Attorney
- Sally Hernandez, Travis County Sheriff
Founding Board Chair:
James Y. Bryce, Attorney at Law
Founder and Executive Director Emeritus:
Illiana SerranoMendez Middle School
Leah UrieDecker Middle School
Leah grew up in Central Texas and attended college at LeTourneau University where she studied Psychology. Afterwards, she knew she wanted an adventure in the Pacific Northwest and moved to Portland, Oregon for graduate school where she studied Marriage and Family Therapy at George Fox University. Her role as a trauma-informed therapist has cultivated her ability to value individual differences, develop meaningful relationships, and recognize cultural diversity – all while creating joy in chaotic or stressful seasons of life. After working professionally in Oregon and Washington for several years as a Child and Family Therapist, she moved back to Texas, settled in Austin, and started working for CARY. When not working, Leah loves to play arcade games, explore new coffee shops with her partner to read and play cribbage, and bake treats for her three-legged pup, Jack.
Morgan WoodwardOjeda Middle School
Morgan is a graduate student at Capella University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She was born outside of Seattle, Washington and lived there until going to college at Eastern Washington University. After obtaining her bachelor's degree in Applied Developmental Psychology, she moved to Portland, OR and worked with teenagers in the Juvenile Justice System for three years before moving to the Austin area. Her role as counselor as allowed her to teach adolescents skills that will be helpful throughout their life while building meaningful relationships. When not at work, Morgan enjoys playing with her puppy, Raina, drinking coffee, or exploring the Austin area.
Kirsten StrandGus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy
Kirsten, originally from Houston, moved to Austin to attend St. Edward’s University where she studied social work. During her time at St. Edward’s she worked at an emergency shelter for foster youth and became very connected to vulnerable populations who have experienced trauma, particularly youth. Here, she saw firsthand the power that positive relationships and warm connections can have. She continued on to obtain her Masters in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin, where she would find more opportunities to serve and support youth who have experienced different forms of trauma, such as drug abuse, physical abuse, and sexual assault. When she’s not working with kids, Kirsten loves to cook, especially for friends and family, traveling, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two dogs.
Zakeia AllenDobie Middle School
Brian MannasMartin Middle School
Brian Mannas was born and raised in Austin and received a Bachelor's Degree in Communication from UTSA and a Masters of Science in Education in the field of Community and Social Change with an emphasis in Youth Advocacy from the University of Miami. While attending graduate school, he served as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) at Florida International University where he helped grow initiatives designed to fight hunger and homelessness on campus and coordinated volunteer and community engagement opportunities for students. After his year of service in the AmeriCorps, he served in the Peace Corps as a Youth Development Volunteer in Costa Rica where he focused on asset-based approaches to youth development and trained youth in life skills and leadership to encourage healthy lifestyles and community engagement. After the Peace Corps, Brian spent a year traveling through Central and South America as well as Southeast Asia and now serves at Martin Middle School as our Youth Advisor. While not at work, he enjoys playing with his Golden Retriever, learning new skills, traveling and enjoying the outdoors.
Yasmin PerezLively Middle School
I was born and raised in Houston, Texas and I have been living in Austin for a little forever two years now. I graduated from Texas State University with my Bachelors in Social Work. In my free time, I enjoy taking my pup, Luna, hiking, and exploring. I also love painting, pottery, weaving, and gardening. I also just started a small business selling handmade earrings! (which I am wearing in my photo). Family is very important to me, which is why I like to maintain a strong bond with my younger brother and sister. I have experience working with at-risk youth with other non-profit organizations in Central Texas. I am passionate about empowering and providing resources to our youth, which is what drew me to social work.
Destiney BrooksNavarro High School
Katherine TaylorManor Middle School
Brandy MartinDel Valle Middle School
Kenny CampbellWebb Middle School
Randy BrownDailey Middle School
Randy's journey in educating youth began in 2004 with violence prevention programs tailored for at-risk schools, detention centers, and Rikers Island using improv acting and role plays to help youth find their voice and break unwanted cycles. After being awarded with a scholarship in LAByrinth Theatre's Master Class, Randy expanded his service to after school programs bringing drama, literary arts and sports to a myriad of schools throughout NYC. In 2015 Randy shifted his focus to Restorative Circle and Social Work creating alternatives to punitive processes within school environments. The effort lowered suspension rates, raised attendance and raised student retention resulting in Automotive High School reaching all requirements to be taken off the list for At risk schools. Randy went on to work as a Restorative Justice Coordinator and Part 146 Certified Court Mediator during the start of the Covid Pandemic, bringing Professional Developments and virtual restorative work to 2 Staten Island high schools, as well as workshops that provided resources to citizens and bring the community together.
Lela Thomas-PigottDel Valle High School
Born and raised in Alaska and Washington State, Lela Thomas Pigott recently relocated to Austin, Texas after graduating from Western Washington University. Over the past six years Lela has lived in several different countries such as Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Spain; working as a cook and English language learner (ESL) instructor. Lela has a background in chemical dependency, foster care, and working with at-risk youth. She enjoys crafts such as knitting and sewing, as well as reading, and running. Lela has had a passion for the work that she now does professionally, since she was thirteen years old.