Christine Gendron, MPAff, Executive Director
Christine joined TNOYS as the Executive Director in 2012. She has been connected to TNOYS for many years and was the Public Policy Coordinator in the past. Previously, Christine was a Senior Research Associate for the Center for Health and Social Policy (CHASP) at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affair, where she did program evaluation work focused on services for children, youth, and families. She has also done private consulting work, including for community-based youth service agencies and philanthropists interested in investing in youth services. Christine has authored publications on child welfare services, transitioning youth/emerging adults, early childhood education policy, and child well-being. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Texas A&M University and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. When Christine is not working she enjoys yoga, hosting potluck dinners, traveling, hiking, cooking, and playing with her pets.
Caroline Bowers, Administrative Director
Caroline joined TNOYS in 2012. She moved to Austin from Tennessee where she worked for several nonprofit organizations, including Habitat for Humanity. She has a wide array of experience including membership, communications, event planning, and office management. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In Caroline’s free time, she enjoys seeing live music, playing poker and exploring the city with her husband.
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.
Duncan Cormie, Youth Policy Specialist
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.
Elizabeth Flint, Youth Development Specialist
Elizabeth provides support for TNOYS in the following areas: youth development, youth camps, planning and implementing camp counselor training and curriculum, group activities, teambuilding, youth Engagement, youth leadership development, event planning, and creative arts programming. She is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Certificate of Business through the Business Foundations Program. She plans to continue her education in the field of Social Work and attain her MSW upon graduation.
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.