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
Kathy Bennett, Vice President, IBM, STG Global ISV Technical Enablement
Sharon Foster, Consulting CF, VCFO
- Sharie Bourbeau, Leadership Consultant, self-employed
- Afton Cavanaugh, Law Offices of Cavanaugh and Quintanilla, PLLC
- Tyler Coleman, Professional Employer Consultant, SOI
- Michelle Deskins, Treasury Management Officer, First United Bank
- Dimple Malhotra, Travis County Judge
- Daniel Mennega, Senior UX Writer, eBay Inc.
- Ron Oliveira, Oliveira Public Communications
- Jacob Swaab, Family Violence, Travis County Prosecution
- Celeste Villarreal, Attorney
- Sally Hernandez, Travis County Sheriff
Founding Board Chair:
James Y. Bryce, Attorney at Law
Founder and Executive Director Emeritus:
James CudjoMendez Middle School
James is a graduate student at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He was born in Oklahoma but has lived all over the world as a “military brat” when his father was in the U.S. Army and then again as a member of the U.S. Air Force. James spent 13 yrs. in the classroom teaching Social Studies/History to 6th graders, 8th graders and high schoolers. James enjoys working with adolescents and young adults. His favorite classes in his programs have been Addictions Counseling and Human Growth & Development. If you don’t find him exploring all of the unique restaurants in town you will find him in the kitchen preparing a wide range of dishes from his travels. James is also a huge music fan and listens to all genres and styles. His long term goals are to pursue a post-graduate degree in Counseling Education and prepare others for the counseling world.
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.
Angela VelaGus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy
Zakeia AllenDobie Middle School
Jackie GeeCrockett High School
Jackie moved to Austin,TX in August 2018 from San Diego, CA to attend a music ministry school. It was then that she discovered that Austin would be home sweet home. Jackie has worked with at - risk youth since 2012. She has made it her goal to serve youth and their families diligently to empower, encourage and promote growth and healing in the areas of mental & emotional health. She believes it is vital for underserved families to be connected to natural supports and community resources to achieve their goals.She graduated from University of Phoenix with her B.S in Human Services specialized in Children, Youth & Families. Jackie has served in different roles such as peer support, rehab specialist and case manager & it is her passion to serve youth in the community. Jackie enjoys jamming on her guitar and singing tunes & loves exploring Austin coffee shops with her husband.
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.
Deena PerkinsBedichek Middle School
Deena was born and raised in the Dallas, TX area, but got to Austin as fast as she could. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, a Master’s degree in Social Work, and teaching certification (Social Studies, grades 7-12 and Special Education), all from the University of Texas at Austin. Deena has had a variety of careers, including as a reporter, graphic designer, policy wonk, teacher, and social worker. Having studied macro social work, Deena thought she could change the world through policy. After five years at the Texas Association of Community Development Corporations, she realized she missed working one-on-one and decided to combine her love of history and her passion for social justice to become a teacher. After five years of teaching at an alternative discipline education school, Deena is thrilled to be working to prevent children from getting into the criminal justice system and educating adults on ways to positively work with students who are dealing with issues that may affect their education and behavior. Deena and her husband, Madison, have two incredible grown sons who are working on making the world a better place. In addition to two cats at home, they have four grand-pets: three budgie birds and one cat. In her spare time, Deena enjoys reading books on history, being outdoors, exercising, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.
Ayanna EdwardsManor Middle School
Ayanna Edwards is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Houston. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX in 2017. Ayanna’s passion for helping others sparked at a young age and has always had the desire to help children reach their full potential. Ayanna enjoys spending her time volunteering in the community, lifting, and hanging out with her pet snakes and 3 pups.
Bianca DelgadoBurnet Middle School
Bianca Delgado was born in Brownsville, TX but spent the first six years of her life living across the border in Matamoros, Mexico. Bianca is a native Spanish speaker and has eight years of experience working with youth in many different settings. In 2014, Bianca started a job at an emergency shelter for unaccompanied minors while she worked on her Bachelor's degree in Psychology. She learned a lot about the difficulties families face in some of the Latin and Central American countries and the reasons why they migrate to the USA for a better quality of life. Working with this population fueled her passion to help others and she knew it was the kind of work she wanted to do for the rest of her life. A few years later, she was offered an opportunity to live on a ranch where she helped run camps and family events in an attempt to help parents bond with their children and strengthen their relationships. Bianca finished her Bachelor's in Psychology in 2018 and moved to Austin and took a job at a residential treatment center where she worked with teenage girls who had been rescued out of sex trafficking. There she learned about Trust-Based Relational Intervention, mental health disorders, crisis intervention, and therapeutic care. She then went on to work for 4ATX Foundation as a soccer coach and mentor through a program called Verde Leaders. In this program, soccer is used as an educational tool to teach youth conflict resolution through restorative justice circles and how to manage their emotions with mindfulness exercises. Bianca also helps run a youth leadership program with a select group of students to dive deeper into what it means to be a leader on and off the soccer field. Bianca hopes to continue her education and pursue a master's degree at UT in the future.
Kirsten StrandDel Valle Middle 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.
Yasmin PerezWebb 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.
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.
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 bachelor's degree in fine arts and my focused study was glass blowing. After graduating SIU I went on to gain my Master's degree in Counseling from 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 enjoy 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.