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 13 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 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.
Trisho 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. Trisho has been married for 22 years and has 3 children.
Randa is a recent 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 be 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 paddle boarding 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 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.
Bill McKean, Retired, Freescale
Steve Belt, VP of Engineering, Wayne Fuel Systems
Sean Milberger, Managing Partner, Austin’s Park N Pizza
Kathy Bennett, Vice President, IBM, STG Global ISV Technical Enablement
William Parr, Retired, Texas Legislative Board
- Kami Burnette, Managing Director, Paramount Lodging Advisors
- 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
- Major Henry Opolot, US Army Retired
- Grant Sadowski, Senior Sales Executive, Saratech, Inc.
- Lt. Chris Vallejo, City of Austin Police Department
- Celeste Villarreal, Attorney
- Sally Hernandez, Travis County Sheriff
Founding Board Chair:
James Y. Bryce, Attorney at Law
Founder and Executive Director Emeritus:
Lela Thomas PigottBedichek Middle 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.
Myah G. WilliamsLively Middle School
Myah was born in Stuttgart, Germany but spent the majority of her childhood raised in Copperas Cove, Texas. Both of her parents were in the U.S. Army which provided her with many opportunities to interact with a diverse group of people. Myah received her Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Georgia (UGA) in 2015. While completing her Masters program Myah interned for the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) working in the Foster Care department. Myah later worked ,professionally, for DFCS in the Investigations department. During that time she also worked as a Tutor at elementary schools in Athens county. Myah also mentored student-athletes at UGA. Myah enjoys working with at-risk youth and families. She also has a passion to help young athletes cope with stressors and find a healthy balance in their life. When Myah’s not working she is playing and cuddling with her partner of 8 years - her dog Meech. She watches Anime everyday and proudly considers herself an Otaku ,i.e.,a Japanese term for a person obsessed with anime and manga. Myah plans to visit Tokyo in the summer of 2020 to totally immerse herself in Anime culture while also supporting Team USA in the Olympics.
Vicki HutchisonWebb Middle School
Vicki first joined CARY as a Youth Advisor in 2003. Over the years, she worked in several different schools and capacities, before taking some time off in 2011 to be at home with her three amazing children (Harper, Hathaway and Cash). Her passion for empowering children, youth, families and communities brought her back to CARY in 2019, where she is now the Youth Advisor at Webb Middle School. Vicki received both her Bachelors and Masters in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin. In her free time she loves spending time with her husband, Kevin, and their children. She also has a love for theatre, and believes it can be therapeutic!
Da’ Sean WalkerRound Rock Opportunity 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.
Rebecca MixxManor Middle School
Rebecca Mixx is a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern and received her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Texas at Tyler. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University. Rebecca has multiple years of experience providing therapy services to children and adolescents in the public-school setting and has also worked in community mental health. She is extremely passionate about the work she does and especially enjoys working with the middle school population. Rebecca believes in building genuine, honest relationships with the adolescents she serves to foster a safe environment that will allow them to make positive changes in their lives. In her free time Rebecca loves to spend time with her boyfriend, Dylan, and their toy Aussie, Fang. She also enjoys Texas country music and exploring all the gems that Austin, TX has to offer. She is excited to be a part of the CARY team and continues to dedicate herself to working with the adolescent population.
Stephanie ZmijaBurnet Middle School
Stephanie grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. She went to college in Southern Illinois at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL where she earned her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education/ Children and Family Services. After college she stayed in Carbondale, IL where she worked at a local Boys and Girls club. There she fell in love with the community and with serving the community. After working there for a couple years she went back to college to get her Masters Degree in Social Work. She wanted to be able to continue to help her community to the best of her abilities. Over the years Stephanie worked at the Boys and Girls Club building their teen programming, she started her own non-profit REACH618 where teenagers could come and play basketball a couple nights a week and have positive role models to build relationships with, and worked as an MST therapist. Stephanie moved to Texas in 2018 and joined the CARY team. She is excited to continue her work in communities in Texas. In her free time Stephanie enjoys hanging out with her friends, working on her tan and exploring Texas.
Kirsten StrandDel Valle High School
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.
Paul LaBarberaDailey Middle School
Paul grew up in Nacogdoches Texas where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Stephen F Austin State University with a minor in Sociology. He later obtained a Master of Education Counseling degree at the University of Houston in Victoria, Texas. He has always had a passion for working with mental health and the special needs population. He has worked as a counselor for at risk youth in the schools and with the incarcerated youth at Giddings State School. He has also worked quite extensively for the mental health and mentally challenged population as a counselor, case manager, and direct care staff. He most recently worked for Brain Injury Rehab at Mary Lee foundation before beginning work at CARY. Paul is a current board member of the Brain Injury Association of Austin.Paul has always had a passion for music. He enjoys singing at karaoke bars and has performed with local bands.
Kristy Montes-GuardadoDobie Middle School
Kristy was born and raised in California and recently moved to Austin with her family. She has been married to her husband Franklin for 7 years and they are the proud parents of two kids under two, Ileana and Jayden. Kristy has worked for the Union Rescue Mission’s Hope Gardens Family Center for 9 years as youth and family case manager and has a strong background working with individuals experiencing homelessness, domestic violence and drug abuse. Kristy has completed her Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary. It is Kristy’s passion to develop authentic relationships and provide a safe space where students can express themselves and process life’s situations. Kristy enjoys the outdoors, weightlifting, and building relationships. She loves spending time with family and savors the moments she has with her kids.
Daniella CatalfumoGus Garcia Youth Mens Leadership Academy
After teaching art for 3 years in New York City, Daniella Maria Catalfumo attended Long Island University, Post to study Clinical Art Therapy and Counseling, and received her Master of Arts degree in January 2017. Daniella is endlessly passionate about working with youth and has multiple years of experience providing art therapy and counseling services to children in the New York City public school system, adolescents at a residential treatment facility in Long Island, and youth of all ages at a private practice in Staten Island. Daniella is excited to be a part of CARY and work with the youth of Austin!
Clint WilkieDel Valle High School
I grew up in a small town in Southern Illinois known as Marion. I went to college at Southern Illinois University and received my bachelors degree in fine arts and my focused study was glass blowing. After graduating SIU I went on to gain my Masters degree in Counseling form Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis Missouri. I worked in my local community at a crisis stabilization unit providing services to people who were in need. I have also worked as a child therapist providing services to students in need in the school setting. I love to see students succeed in things they like and find their motivation for success. I worked as an All-Star Cheer Coach for 9 years, I enjoys seeing kids put their minds to a task and accomplish their goals that they have set weather that be in sports, education, or the arts. On my off time I enjoy anything traveling and being by the water soaking up the sun, I love creating and doing art, painting, glass blowing, and ceramics.