Christine Gendron, MPAff, Executive Director
Christine Gendron has been working with TNOYS since 2008. 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. Prior to joining TNOYS as the Executive Director in 2012, Christine worked as a Senior Research Associate at the LBJ School, where she was involved in the evaluation of several innovative state-funded initiatives to promote the well-being of 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. When Christine is not working, you can find her cooking, at a yoga studio, or hiking the Barton Creek Greenbelt with her dog. 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 more than 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 theater 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 wife.
Sondra Lehmann - Director of Development and Operations
Sondra joined TNOYS in September 2013 with more than 10 years of experience in fundraising, event planning, finance and operations. She has worked with a variety of non-profit organizations including Texans Care for Children, The Caring Place, Annunciation Maternity Home, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and American Cancer Society. Sondra has undergraduate degree in Communications from Texas A&M University. In her free time, Sondra enjoys traveling with her husband and supporting her Texas Aggie football, baseball and basketball teams.
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 more than 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.
April Ferrino, Senior Policy and Evaluation Specialist
April Ferrino joined TNOYS in February as the Senior Evaluation and Policy Analyst. She has 17 years of state government experience, ten of which were at the Legislative Budget Board (LBB). As an LBB analyst with the Agency Performance Review team she researched policy issues and became a subject matter expert on graduate medical education, the long-term care workforce, the health and safety of persons with intellectual and development disabilities, veterans issues, and children’s foster care. She achieved tangible results through reports she authored for the LBB Government Effectiveness and Efficiency Report (GEER). Many of her reports were the basis for enacted legislation that resulted in improved employment screenings for persons working with vulnerable populations and enhanced access to health care benefits for veterans. In 2013 April was one of three Americans chosen for the Ian Axford Fellowship in Public Policy in Wellington, New Zealand. During her 8-month fellowship she worked for the New Zealand Ministry of Health where she researched how the quality of care in rest homes can be improved through regulatory process. As a result of her research, recommendations from her published report are in the process of being implemented by the Ministry of Health.
She has a Bachelor of Science in Radio, Television and Film and a Master of Science in Social Work both from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a licensed master social worker and a certified mediator. When not working, she enjoys planning her next overseas adventure and landscape photography.
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.
Beth Duke, Administrative Specialist
Beth joined TNOYS in December of 2013 as the Office Manager. She returned to Austin from San Antonio, where she was an office assistant for eight years. She served over fifteen years at Austin’s Marywood Children & Family Services, beginning as a volunteer and ending as the Post Adoption Coordinator. A native of upstate New York, she is a lifelong Giants fan, enjoys cycling with her husband at Brushy Creek, kayaking, paddle boarding with her sister, and playing with her dog.