Fedora Galasso, MPAff, MSSW, Executive Director (She/Her)
Fedora Galasso is the Executive Director of the Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) where she leads the organization in strengthening services for Texas youth and young adults. Prior to joining TNOYS she was the Southern Regional Director for Young Invincibles, a national, nonpartisan policy research and advocacy organization committed to amplifying the voices of young adults and expanding their economic opportunity.
Fedora has extensive state government experience. At the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, she managed several innovative statewide programs that fostered public and private partnerships to expand access to health, education and economic supports for Texans. At the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Fedora worked as a senior policy analyst and Child Protective Services investigator and legal liaison. In these roles she identified and disseminated evidence-based best practices, program models, and policies to improve the child welfare system.
Fedora graduated with dual master’s degrees in Public Affairs and Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin where she specialized in social and economic policy with a focus on innovative child and family social policy and programs. During this time she worked at Ascend at the Aspen Institute and the Texas Council on Family Violence, researching, implementing, and evaluating family economic security programs. She received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University – Commerce.
Fedora was born and raised in Guyana, South America, and has lived in Texas for the past twenty years. In her spare time, Fedora enjoys teaching and practicing yoga, swimming at Austin swimming holes and parks, and eating breakfast tacos.
Lauren Rose, MPAff, Director of Public Policy (She/Her)
Lauren Rose joined TNOYS in January 2019. She has worked both inside and outside of the Texas Capitol. The 86th Texas Legislative Session was 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.
Dana Hill, Mental Health Policy Fellow (She/Her)
Dana Hill joined TNOYS in 2021 as the Mental Health Policy Fellow and is focused on building capacity to support Texas’s highest needs youth through policy change. Dana is a recent graduate of The University of Texas at Arlington. She earned her master’s degree in macro-level social work and is passionate about creating less hostile systems for youth and emerging adults in Texas. Prior to TNOYS, Dana worked as a research assistant collecting and analyzing data to serve youth who are experiencing homelessness. She too experienced homelessness as a runaway youth. Dana is also a member of a local Tarrant County task force to address commercial child sexual exploitation, and much of her work revolves around raising youth voices.
Justin “Prince” Hayward, Policy Specialist (He/Him)
Justin “Prince” Hayward, 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 not only a member of two other formal young adult advocacy boards, including Youth Collaboratory and National Youth Forum on Homelessness, He is also an appointed member of DFPS Public Private Partnership Council (PPP). For TNOYS, Prince has led a number of trainings such as preventing runways and has also been very effective at using his story to advocate for policy changes & budget increases at the state capitol. 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.
Ann-Charlotte Proffitt, MPAff, Director of Practice (She/ Her)
Ann-Charlotte joined TNOYS in January 2019 to contribute to, and eventually lead, TNOYS’ practice strategy. In this role, Ann-Charlotte develops and oversees strategies to provide training, technical assistance, and capacity-building support to youth-serving organizations across the state. Major practice initiatives include conferences, emergency preparedness and response, and building Texas’ capacity to prevent and address commercial sexual exploitation of youth. 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-funded initiatives. She has also worked with foundations to manage grants and develop investment strategies, as well as nonprofit organizations to conduct financial research, write grant applications, and support fundraising. 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.
Sedoo Ijir, MPH, Program Manager (She/ Her)
Sedoo Ijir (pronounced “Se-Doe”, rhymes with “Meadow”) is passionate about creating effective programs and resources to meet the health and well-being needs of youth and marginalized communities. Sedoo’s background in public health has really helped to shape these ideals. She earned her master’s in public health at Northwestern University after earning her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Global Health also from Northwestern. Before joining TNOYS, Sedoo was an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the team at University of Houston-Downtown’s (UHD) Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning. As part of UHD’s hub for community engagement, she worked with the team to recruit and collaborate with staff, students, faculty, and community organizations to support high-impact learning practices while also working to conduct effective community engagement projects. By building relationships and familiarizing herself with established and rising community leaders and institutions, Sedoo was better able to provide technical assistance to the over 20 projects she managed and connect them to the people and resources they needed to thrive.
Sedoo also has experience working with immigrant and refugee youth at Football United, and she has worked to identify the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals and create training for service providers with the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago. Sedoo is excited to utilize her education and range of experiences to support TNOYS’ mission and vision for Texas youth.
Alexander Polk, Training Specialist (He/They)
Alex Polk is driven by using his skills and his lived experience to help other young people overcome challenges and adversity. Alex’s role within TNOYS consists of developing and presenting training content on youth issues, supporting program development for member organizations and external stakeholders, and supporting coordination of conferences and other training events. 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. As a transgender rights advocate himself, Alex prides himself on his ongoing efforts towards equity, inclusion, education, self-care, and empowerment.
Tiona Moore, Director of Partnerships (She/Her)
Tiona Moore has close to a decade of non-profit leadership experience in areas such as: Program Development/Non-Profit Management, Infant and Maternal Child Health/Development, Special Needs, and much more. Her experience ranges from urban to suburban areas on the east coast, specifically in NJ/MD. More recently, in her role as the Director of National Programs, she worked to develop and implement programs for a national autism organization. Her experience has been spread across both the private and public sector managing programs. She holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Monmouth University and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Rutgers University. Tiona is a New Jersey native, born and raised! She recently moved to Texas with her husband, a U.S. Army Drill Sergeant, and her son. Tiona enjoys traveling and family time during her free time.
Josue Rodriguez, Engagement Manager (He/Him)
Josue Rodriguez has extensive experience in advocacy and elevating the voices of youth leaders. Previously, he served as Texas Organizing Coordinator at Young Invincibles (YI). In this role, he assisted with the management of the Young Advocates Program (consisting of close to 30 interns in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio), and the Southern Youth Advisory Board. Josue also served as a member and co-chair of YI’s National Youth Advisory Board.
Josue has been involved with different immigration rights organizations such as United We Dream and FIEL. He is a recurring immigration consultant with the Neighborhood Centers for Greater Houston immigration center, and has worked in law firms as a certified paralegal, arbitrator, and mediator. In 2017, Josue received the Houston Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Youth Activist Award. This award recognizes a young Latinx person between the ages of 15—25 for outstanding work through volunteer projects that inspire our youth to become the future leaders in the Latinx community. Josue was born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, but moved to Houston when he was eight years old. Josue earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies from the University of St.Thomas—Houston.
Kennedy Huerta Quintanilla, Partnerships Coordinator (She/Her)
Kennedy Huerta Quintanilla is a Native Texan born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was here that she first built out her passion for helping youth in the justice system, by getting involved with CASA of the Coastal Bend and Nueces County Court at Law #5. She is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin where she received a Bachelor of Science in Political Communication. She has built out her young career in the nonprofit space and gained nonprofit management experience from her two and a half years at Young Invincibles, a policy advocacy group aimed at expanding economic opportunities for young adults. She also gained public affairs, organizing, and legislative experience as a Bridges Fellow for Texas American Federation of Teachers, a statewide education union with over 66,000 members. She is very excited to bring the skills from her previous roles into the Partnerships Coordinator position so that she can better advocate for marginalized youth in Texas.
Daphne Allen, Intern (She/Her)
Daphne is very excited to intern with TNOYS! She is originally from, and recently moved back to, Lynchburg, VA. Daphne went to Old Dominion University and graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice and Human Services in 2017. For the past 3 years, she has worked as a Victim Advocate for the court system and helped victims of violent crime navigate the criminal justice process. She is now at Virginia Commonwealth University to pursue her Masters in Social Work. TNOYS is her first field placement for the program, and she is very eager to learn everything she can!
Mary Bergeron, Director of Communications (She/Her)
Mary Bergeron has worked with TNOYS since November 2019 and came on as TNOYS’ Director of Communications 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 is excited to work with TNOYS to further important projects that impact youth and young adults.
Tessa Ammons, Outreach Manager (She/Her)
Tessa Ammons Ammons joined TNOYS in July 2021 as the Outreach Manager. She is passionate about using her lived experiences to guide her work in managing the TNOYS membership program, events, and data. Before joining TNOYS, Tessa received degrees in Biology and Social Science with a focus on Leadership in Criminal Justice. Her professional experience includes work in the juvenile justice system and as a Career Technical Education curriculum developer and educator in the state of Oregon. Tessa loves spending time with her husband and daughter and is excited to continue work to positively impact youth in the community.
Alexander Pryor, Communications Consultant (He/Him)
Alexander Pryor joined TNOYS in August 2020 to support the communications and marketing needs of the organization. His bread & butter is in graphic design, however, through his mosaic of experiences, Alex is well versed in other areas such as social media content and video editing. His full-time experience has primarily been through digital communications roles in the non-profit industry but has a history of supporting start-ups and small businesses as well. Alex was born in Washington, D.C. and received his bachelor’s degree in American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Matt Taylor, MPA, Director of Operations (He/Him)
Matt Taylor joined TNOYS in 2021. He has nearly a decade of experience working in the education and nonprofit fields as a teacher, case manager, fundraiser, and director. Prior to joining TNOYS, Matt served as Executive Director of Elevate New Orleans, a sports-based youth development organization where he increased revenues by over 30 percent, made all programs free-of-charge, and led the organization through the pandemic. He previously worked in development at IU-Health Positive Link and served a fellowship at CCS Fundraising. In his hometown of New Orleans, Matt began working in education as an academic interventionist in the School Turnaround AmeriCorps program. He then continued his career as a teacher and case manager while receiving his teaching certification in English and Special Education. Matt has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado-Boulder and master’s from the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.
Natalie Ferguson, Operations Manager (She/Her)
Natalie Ferguson is the Operations Manager at TNOYS joining in early 2021. She graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelors in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. Since moving to San Marcos, TX, Natalie has been very involved in her community. In the city, she volunteers with scholarship organizations as well as mentoring new students at Texas State University. Natalie worked with Young Invincibles TX to further their youth programming and facilitate discussions around healthcare and higher education advocacy. She is extremely passionate about uplifting the voices of young people in the political process. Natalie is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration.
Lauren Dimitry, MPAff, Grants Consultant (She/Her)
Lauren Dimitry joined TNOYS in August 2020 to support the grant and contract needs of the organization. Lauren is a government relations professional with multifaceted experience in policy, stakeholder engagement and communications. Lauren has worked in and around government and nonprofits her entire career. Most recently, she oversaw a multimillion dollar federal grant program and large-scale process improvement projects in different roles at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. In her work, Lauren strives to address systemic challenges and influence others to move toward strategic, mission-focused goals. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Government and received her Master’s of Public Affairs from UT Austin’s Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs.
Meet The Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC)
Brenda Woolley, YALC Member (She/Her)
Brenda Woolley is originally from Haiti, but currently resides in Denton, Texas. She is currently in pursuit of her Master’s in Public Administration, with a focus in Nonprofit Management. Being from a third world country, Brenda has witnessed the struggle of living in a world of limited resources and has experienced the impact of social and economic injustice. Brenda joined the Young Adult Leadership Council in hopes of learning and advocating for those in need of assistance-mentally or physically. Brenda joined with the intent to make a difference and learn more about how and why things are done a certain way.
Britney Dollison, YALC Member (She/Her)
Britney was born and raised in Odessa Texas, She lived in Abilene Texas for months, but now she is back in Odessa, Texas. Britney is currently classified as a senior in High School at ISchool Virtual Academy.
A fun fact about Britney is that she wants to be a nurse practitioner when she is older because she loves to help others in need. Britney is looking forward to learning more about others and she is looking forward to learning more about our legislators.
Desirae Perales, YALC Member (She/Her)
Desirae Perales was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She is a senior attending Texas A&M Corpus Christi University pursuing a criminal justice degree. She’s excited about bringing advocacy for policy change and the opportunity to share her experiences to inspire and help navigate those youth who need a voice. She’s also passionate about bringing change in the system and in the lives who have been affected.
Jorge Leyva, YALC Member (He/Him)
Jorge Leyva is a young adult advocate. As a young adult who has past and current involvement with the homelessness system, Jorge has extensive knowledge on the ways our Texas system works. When it comes to involvement with the Texas Network of Youth Services, Jorge serves as a YALC member, offering his own experience(s) to the network in regards to what needs reform.
Kedrick Spivey, YALC Member (He/Him)
Kedrick is from Huntsville , TX and I’m currently going to Houston Community College (Central Campus). He is currently taking classes to become a CNA. A fun fact about Kedrick is that he loves to cook. Kedrick is looking forward to being a part of this amazing organization to help better the system!
Sabrina DeBreau, YALC Member (She/Her)
Sabrina is 19 years old and currently working as a member of the YALC through TNOYS. She is originally from San Antonio Texas; however, she attends Texas Tech University where she is pursuing a B.A. in Philosophy and B.S. in Astrophysics. She is an avid bookworm and plans to lead her career in the more academic intensive route with research. She is very ecstatic to be a part of YALC and to promote advocacy (amongst youths and peers with life experiences similar to hers) through policy work and skill building!
Sally Amara Uzomba, YALC Member (She/Her)
Sally Amara Uzomba (she/her) was born in the western part of Nigeria and raised in San Antonio. She is currently classified as a senior at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, with majors in Biomedical Science and Biochemistry and minors in Mathematics and Physics. Sally is really passionate about bringing about change in the lives of fellow foster care youth, and using her story to impact the youths currently in care. She is also passionate about being an advocate and the voice for every youth whose lives have been affected by the stigma of being in care.
Shaylynn Wylie, YALC Member (She/Her)
Shaylynn is from Abilene, Texas. She currently goes to college at Angelo State University and is majoring in psychology with a minor in social work. A fun fact about Shaylynn is that she is looking forward to being able to advocate for change in a system that desperately needs it. Shaylynn hopes that her love of change will inspire others. After hearing about her story, Shaylynn hopes to inspire more foster youth to go to college.
Zane Ocon, YALC Member (He/They)
Exzaniel Ocon is a former member of the foster care system and has grown into a strong advocate for other foster care youth. Through their writing and vocalization of their lived experience, Exzaniel Ocon hopes to help the foster system improve and be an advocate for those who otherwise may not have a voice. His passions surround social issues such LGBT and racial injustices and is a persistent advocate for these issues.