About Our Team

Christine Gendron, MPAff, Executive Director 

Christine has served as executive director of TNOYS since 2012, and has been involved with the organization since 2008. In her role at TNOYS, she serves as a resource for policymakers, funders, service providers and others looking to make informed investments to strengthen services for youth and young adults. Prior to becoming executive director of TNOYS, Christine worked as a Senior Research Associate at the LBJ School’s Center for Health and Social Policy, where she was managed evaluations of several innovative state-funded initiatives to promote the well-being of Texas children and their families. Christine has led an array of consulting projects for youth service agencies and authored numerous publications relevant to youth services and child well-being. Christine received her master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and her bachelor’s degree in History and Women’s Studies from Texas A&M University.

 

Lauren Rose, MPAff, Director of Public Policy

 Lauren joined TNOYS in January 2019. She has worked both inside and outside of the Texas Capitol. The 86th Texas Legislative Session is her 7th legislative session – with the bulk of those years focused on policy change to improve the lives of Texas children and support at-risk and system-involved youth. Lauren worked at Texans Care for Children for 8 years and has been volunteering as a mentor through the Seedling Foundation for 6 years. Lauren received her master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs and bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Government all from the University of Texas at Austin. 

 

Sarah Prager, MPH, Program Director

 Sarah joined the TNOYS team in February 2020 to lead projects supporting youth service providers and stakeholders. Prior to joining TNOYS, Sarah led evaluation and dissemination efforts for the National Center for Farmworker Health and managed projects for the Sustainable Food Center. Sarah has also consulted on various public health planning and evaluation projects and facilitated strategic planning sessions. Sarah received her master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina and her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Ann-Charlotte Proffitt, MPAff, Program Manager

Ann-Charlotte joined TNOYS in January 2019 to lead planning and coordination for major TNOYS programs, including conferences, projects, and initiatives. Ann-Charlotte’s current initiatives include managing a statewide project to keep children and youth safe from abuse, neglect, and exploitation during and after natural disasters; leading coordination of TNOYS’ Annual Conference on Services to Youth and Families; and leading TNOYS’ work to support providers in responding to COVID-19. Prior to this role, Ann-Charlotte worked for the Child and Family Research Partnership at the University of Texas at Austin on evaluations of state- and federally-funded initiatives. She has also worked with foundations managing grants, developing investment strategy, and coordinating events and with a youth and family nonprofit organization providing services, conducting financial research, writing grant applications, and supporting coordination for an annual fundraising event. Ann-Charlotte received her master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs and her bachelor’s degree in Plan II Honors and French, all from the University of Texas at Austin. 

 

Rachel Brownlie, Program Coordinator

 Rachel joined TNOYS in February 2019 to manage and facilitate TNOYS initiatives related to youth homelessness following Hurricane Harvey, human trafficking, and training and technical assistance to the youth services field. She brings a wealth of experience in the areas of nonprofit management, grants management, youth advocacy, community organizing, and community engagement. She began her career as a Transitional Living Social Worker at a residential treatment facility in Indiana. Rachel is actively engaged with direct work with vulnerable youth with TNOYS member agency Houston reVision, including managing a club soccer team made up primarily of young men who are refugees from civil war torn areas in Africa. Rachel completed all coursework for an MA in Urban Affairs and Public Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington. She received a BA in Sociology from the University of Evansville in Indiana.

 

Mary Bergeron, Director of Communications

 Mary has worked with TNOYS since November 2019 and came on as TNOYS’ Communications Director in April 2020. She has over a decade of experience in marketing, communications, and product management, having worked in both nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Prior to joining TNOYS, Mary led marketing and product management at an education technology startup, where she helped to drive year-over-year growth, increase social impact, and position the company for a successful acquisition. Mary has worked with a range of mission-driven organizations, and she hopes to use her experience to help TNOYS further important projects that impact youth and young adults.

 

Lyric Wardlow, Youth Specialist

 Lyric is a young entrepreneur and advocate working to create new opportunities for young adults and youth. She joined TNOYS in December 2018 as the Youth Specialist to lead the Young Adult Leadership Council and ongoing youth engagement efforts. She experienced homelessness at a young age and, since becoming an adult, strives to make a significant difference for those who have faced similar challenges. She currently serves as a member of the Ending Community Homelessness Council and the Austin Young Chamber.

 

Justin “Prince” Hayward, Policy Specialist

 “Prince”, Is a young adult advocate whose friends call him Prince. His positive and negative experiences in CPS and being homeless have made him into the man he is today. Currently Mr. Hayward is an active leader in the Houston area and a member of two other formal youth advocacy boards, including TNOYS and National Youth Forum on including TNOYS and National Youth Forum on Homelessness. He has been blessed to overcome the statistics of being an African American male in and out of various systems as a youth and is a champion for change on all levels for the next generation.

 

Alexander Polk, Communications Specialist

Alex Polk is passionate about using his skills and his lived experience to help other young people overcome challenges. A talented writer and photographer, he assists the TNOYS team with communications, web, and photography work. He previously served as a member of TNOYS’ Young Adult Leadership Council and has presented multiple times at TNOYS’ Annual Conference and on training webinars, particularly on youth homelessness and LGBTQ issues. Alex has also partnered with Lifeworks presenting in panels, sharing his story, and educating participants on LGBTQ topics. As a transgender activist himself, Alex prides himself on his ongoing efforts towards inclusion, education, and empowerment. In addition to his work at TNOYS, Alex is a full-time aquatics specialist at Emler Swim School, where he serves as an instructor for children and youth. 

 

Beth Duke, Office Manager

 Beth joined the TNOYS team in 2013 to oversee administrative and bookkeeping functions for the organization. Over the past 17 years, she has worked in this capacity for other organizations and also has 16 years of experience in a direct service agency serving pregnant youth and adoptive families. She attended the State University of New York and Schenectady County Community College, earning an Associate of Arts degree in Humanities and Social Sciences.