Erin Whelan, Division Director of Housing and Homeless Services, LifeWorks
Erin Whelan is the senior division director for Housing and Homeless Services at LifeWorks and has a demonstrated history of working in nonprofit organizations. Erin is a strong operations professional skilled in nonprofit organizations, building teams, public speaking, program development, community outreach, and program management. Erin has worked in the Social Service field for over 13 years working with youth experiencing homelessness and as a therapist at Teen Living Program in Chicago and Settlement Home in Austin which is a residential treatment center for girls. Erin’s current work focuses on the National Movement to End Youth Homelessness by 2020 and currently co-leads the Austin initiative. Erin is also a Licensed Professional Counselor and Supervisor.
Celeste Garcia, Executive Director, BCFS Health and Human Services
Celeste has been the executive director at BCFS since 2015. Celeste oversees BCFS’ community-based operations, which offers services in every Texas county ranging from case management and counseling to life skills trainings, parenting classes, college and vocational tuition vouchers for youth in foster care, shelter for young adults struggling with homelessness, and more. Celeste has 14 years of experience advocating for children and families. She earned her Master’s of Science in social administration at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Brook Bulcha, Legal Counsel, Cirrus Logic
Brook has lived in Austin since 2014, and currently serves as legal counsel at Cirrus Logic. Previously he served as manager of contracts and compliance for Facebook, where he managed and supported a team who draft, review, and negotiate a broad range of global inbound commercial agreements. Brook studied at Northwestern University and received his law degree at William and Mary Law School, receiving the Public Interest Law Initiative Fellowship; and interning at the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia where he provided free legal services in civil matters to qualifying low-income Virginians. While in law school, Brook interned at the Environmental Law and Policy Center where he provided legal support to help develop and lead successful strategic advocacy campaigns to improve environmental quality and protect our natural resources. In his free time, Brook loves hiking the Austin Greenbelt and traveling the world.
Jacob Huereca, Chief Executive Officer, Connections Individual and Family Services, Inc.
Jacob Huereca is currently the chief executive officer for Connections Individual and Family Services in New Braunfels, Texas. Prior to joining Connections, Jacob was the executive director at New Life Children’s Center and has spent the majority of his career working with at-risk youth and their families. Jacob received his undergraduate social work degree from Colorado State University-Pueblo and his Master’s degree in social work from The University of Texas at Austin. Jacob studied Community and Administrative Leadership with a focus on nonprofit management and has a strong passion for organizational science and organizational culture. Jacob became an Andeavor Fellow through the San Antonio Area Foundation in 2019, was a graduate of the 2020 class of New Braunfels Leadership and is a sought after trainer as a Trust Based Relational Practitioner.
Andrea Costley, Contract Administration Manager, Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Andrea Costley has over twenty-five years of experience in contract and grant management. Ms. Costley is the contract administration manager at Texas Health and Human Services Commission where she takes on many different roles and previously served as a Contract and Grants Specialist. Andrea Costley has lived in Austin for 20 years. She graduated with honors from Mart High School in Mart, Texas and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from East Texas State University now Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Joel Levine, Executive Director, Harris County Resources for Children and Adults
Joel Levine is the executive director for Harris County Resources for Children and Adults. Joel has a long history as a child welfare professional; he has worked with Harris County Resources for Children and Adults for the past 22 years and was appointed to his current position in July, 2016. Joel has also served as a chairman of the TNOYS board for five years in total, having served from 2006 – 2008 and again from 2018 – 2021. Joel is a LCSW and he holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Macalester College and a Master of Arts in social services administration from University of Chicago.
Richard Singleton, Chief Executive Officer, STARRY Inc.
Richard is a creative, visionary chief executive leader, with 20 years experience empowering at-risk children and families. Richard’s experience includes over ten years leading teams to achieve high levels of performance outputs and outcomes in an ever-changing landscape of child and family services. Richard’s specialties include state/federal contract acquisition, retention and expansion; non-profit management; budget creation/evaluation; team building; program expansion; community collaboration; fundraising; legislative advocacy; counseling supervision, and grant writing.
Candreas Jones, Program Director, Andrews Center
Candreas has been employed at Andrews Center for 24 years. During this time, she worked as a case manager for children’s mental health in Smith County, where she performed case management and crisis services. Candreas is currently the director of the Andrews Center FAYS program (formally STAR), a position that enables her to work closely with judges, courts, juvenile probation and other youth agencies for prevention and early intervention services for youth and families. She serves as a board member for both East Texas Network for Children (ETNC) and Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS). Candreas possesses a Bachelor of Science degree from Sam Houston State University. She is currently working towards her license for LCDC, and is certified for three years as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor.
Leslie Bourne, Chief Executive Officer, Covenant House
Prior to her arrival at Covenant House in 2017, Leslie was the CEO for Ronald McDonald House Houston from 2007-2017. Leslie also worked at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center for fourteen years, primarily in pediatric administration at the Children’s Cancer Hospital. From 2005 – 2006, Leslie served as a Texas Quality Examiner for Malcolm Baldrige award applicants. Leslie holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas Health Science Center and a Master’s in Healthcare Administration from Texas Women’s University. Leslie currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS), and the Homeless Youth Network. Leslie is also a Senior Fellow with the American Leadership Forum.
Beth Senger, Executive Director, El Paso Center for Children
Beth’s nonprofit career began after experiences as an electronics instructor overseas, a small business owner, and a member of the Air Force. After a few years on food stamps and copious student loans she finally finished her Master’s in Social Work, writing her first grant to help start Big Brothers Big Sisters in El Paso. Seventeen years later she joined El Paso Center for Children, a 101-year old multi-service organization focusing on child welfare and services for homeless youth. The first four high-energy years of her tenure included tripling their program offerings, nearly doubling their budget, and achieving national accreditation (COA) in February 2020. Beth loves leveraging the strengths of team members to innovate and improve client outcomes, but she admits she would travel and hike full-time if she could only find a sponsor. She serves on the TNOYS Board of Directors and is a member of the Texas Children’s Justice Act Task Force.
Charles Wolford, Chief Executive Officer, Promise House
Currently the chief executive officer of Promise House, Charles has over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit space serving disenfranchised populations battling poverty, homelessness, incarceration, untreated addictions and mental illness. Prior to joining Promise House, Charles served as the executive director for Mission Central. He also served as the associate pastor of outreach and the executive director of the Turn Around Agenda, the social outreach arm of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.
Ashley Elgin, Chief Executive Officer, Lena Pope Home, Inc.
Ashley Elgin was appointed as chief executive officer to Lena Pope Home Inc. in November 2019. Dr. Elgin previously served as vice president of visiting nurses association of Texas & Meals on Wheels. Her dedication to mental health and community services includes positions such as CEO of Promise House in Dallas, COO of Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Vice President of Client Services of SafeHaven of Tarrant County, Director of Clinical and Professional Services of Genesis Women’s Shelter, and many other roles as both a therapist and director for organizations providing services to at-risk populations. Dr. Elgin has also been published in multiple scholarly articles in concentrations of play therapy for children in clinical settings.
Nick Sedlachek, Assistant CEO, Pegasus Schools, Inc.
Nick Sedlachek has worked at Pegasus Schools Inc. in Lockhart, TX since April of 2019 as a case manager and Assistant CEO. He is passionate about helping youth and enabling them to realize their potential. As the juvenile justice system continues to evolve, Nick wants to be as involved to support those in care and those who provide care to the youth in need.
DaVina Morris, Director of Family and Youth Services, DETCOG
DaVina is the Director of Family and Youth Services at Deep East Texas Council of Governments. She has a demonstrated history of working in the individual and family services industry including previous work for Texas Health and Human Services Commission. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in Human Science.
Aurora Harris, Southern Regional Director, Young Invincibles
Aurora (she/her) is a queer, black, feminist educator, organizer, researcher and policy advocacy strategist. Drawing on Black intellectual and grassroots organizing traditions, Aurora is a versatile player in fights for structural social change. Her current movement work focuses on storytelling, cultural organizing, and youth leadership development. She is the Southern Regional Director for Young Invincibles. Based in Houston, Texas she leads the strategic direction, programming, and policy priorities on health care, higher education, workforce/finances, and civic engagement for the organization. Aurora was part of Houston’s New Leaders Council Class of 2017 and she sat on the City of Houston’s first ever Mayoral LGBTQ Advisory board. She joined Say Her Name Texas in 2021 as the Volunteer Chairperson. Aurora received her B.A. in English and African- American Studies from the College of Charleston. She has roots in the Gullah Geechee culture of the Southeast and enjoys reading, volunteering, and cooking.
Noelita Lugo, Self-Employed Consultant
Noelita has several years of experience with state government and public administration, technical training, training development and delivery, grant administration and project development and much more. She specializes in transforming groups into results-based teams, designing and implementing operational efficiencies, and achieving program goals through data-driven decision making and collaborative influence. She holds a BA in english and psychology from UT Austin as well as her MSSW in Social Work at UT Austin.
Sarah C. Narendorf, Associate Professor, University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work
Sarah has been the associate dean for the Research and Faculty Department at the University of Houston for 1 year, and she has held roles as the university for the past 8 years. Sarah’s research focuses on ensuring a successful transition to adulthood for marginalized young people. She is particularly interested in the transition to young adulthood for youth with mental disorders who face additional challenges including homelessness and involvement in foster care or the juvenile justice system. Sarah holds a PhD in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis and a MSW from the University of Houston.
Randy Turner, Self-Employed Consultant
Randy Turner is a self-employed independent consultant. Randy spent 42 years working with youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems before retiring as the chief juvenile probation officer in Tarrant County, TX, in 2016. He currently provides consultation and management services for effective program development and implementation, strategic planning, assessment and case planning, grant writing and monitoring, program auditing, and other general management of juvenile justice systems and services. Randy studied at Sam Houston State University and holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice/Social Rehabilitation & Social Services.