Christine Gendron, MPAff, Executive Director
This is Christine Gendron’s first year as Executive Director of TNOYS, but she has been connected to the organization for many years and did its public policy work in the past. She is an Aggie, but plays both sides of the field with a Master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin Christine has also worked as a senior research Associate at the LBJ School, where she evaluated several innovative state-funded initiatives to promote the well-being of children and their families. She has done private consulting work and authored publications on youth services. Ask Christine about her recent yoga backpacking trip in Yosemite!
Lara O’Toole, LMSW – Director of Professional and Program Development
Lara joined TNOYS in March 2013 with over 11 years of experience in a variety of youth and community services organizations and statewide initiatives. She has worked with and for children and teens of all ages, including in: a laboratory preschool; a school readiness initiative; an inner-city elementary school; domestic violence shelters; sexual assault prevention projects; a teen parent program; youth poetry slams; hip hop creative writing projects; and social justice theatre arts events. She also has experience in social marketing, communications/outreach, and professional development. Lara has an undergraduate degree from Vassar College and a graduate degree in social work from the University of Texas at Austin. She is originally from Philadelphia and settled in Austin in 2006. She enjoys being active in the community, yoga, movies, being outside, and exploring the city and world with her fiancée.
Jack Nowicki, LCSW- Senior Program Development Specialist
Jack has been with TNOYS for 14 years providing training and consultation services for youth services. He is also a lecturer at the UT School of Social Work. He has over 35 years of experience working with youth and families, including at Child Protective Services, Waco Center for Youth (residential treatment), LifeWorks here in Austin, and in a private practice for marriage and family counseling. Jack is a Licensed Clinical Social worker in the State of Texas. He is also certified in ICA Group Facilitation Methods, trained as a trainer in the “Strengthening Families Program,” and the “Be Proud! Be Responsible” curriculum, and a Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.His areas of expertise include strengths-based services, youth and family therapy, youth development, crisis intervention, solution-focused brief therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling adolescents, adult education, team building, clinical and staff supervision, and social work ethics. He received his Master of Science in Social Work with an emphasis in Direct Social Work practice from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1979. In his spare time Jack enjoys gardening and listening to live music.
Elizabeth Flint, Youth Programs Coordinator
Elizabeth flint is our youth development aficionado and expert. She is responsible for overseeing PEAKS Camp ( PEAKS stands for “Physical and Environmental Activities for Knowledge and Skills”), News For Us (a quarterly newsletter we distribute to teens in foster care), and the CYD Teen Summit ( an annual leadership conference for youth at risk of juvenile delinquency). Elizabeth has been working with TNOYS for three years and attended PEAKS camp when she was a kid. She recently graduated from The University of Texas At Austin with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work.
Duncan Cormie, Director of Operations
Duncan joined TNOYS in 2012. Prior to this adventure, he directed the Shelter and other residential programs at Lifeworks in Austin for almost 15 years. There he also co-managed the STAR Program, and did effective advocacy and youth engagement at the state and local levels. Duncan is an accomplished public Speaker and was founder and President of the Toastmasters chapter at Lifeworks. In past jobs, he has been a case manager for people with disabilities and a community organizer in Houston. He has a Masters in Social Work and is a Licensed Child-Care Administrator. When not out with his two children, you can find Duncan bird watching on a nature trail or in a pub watching Manchester United.
Sinclair Walker, Communications Specialist
Sinclair Walker is our communications specialist handling everything form graphic design and social media to marketing and video and photo media. You may have seen his articles in News For Us, the newsletter we produce for Texas foster youth. Sinclair has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Radio, Television, And Film from The University of Texas at Austin and he hopes to be a screenwriter on day.
Althea Pestine, Program Evaluation Specialist
Althea Pestine joined our team in 2013 to provide program evaluation support for TNOYS. Currently in the Masters of Public Affairs program at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, Althea studies a plethora of evaluation techniques useful for many different types of programs. Her prior experiences include providing support for a variety of nonprofits, including those oriented towards youth programming as well as social services. With a B.A. from the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) in Statistics and Religion, she has held internships in the actuarial field as well as gained field experience by teaching youth at local supplementary education programs (both mathematics and religion oriented). When not studying, evaluating, or teaching, Althea enjoys exploring Austin on foot and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.