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.
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, Commercial Counsel, Doordash
Brook has lived in Austin since 2014, and currently serves as Commercial Counsel at Doordash. 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.
Romy Fischer Parzick, SVP Implementation and Client Experience, Virtual Incentives
Romy Parzick is SVP of Implementation and Client Experience for Virtual Incentives (VI), a fintech company that delivers innovative payment solutions for global firms and startups. Parzick has two decades of fintech innovation, operational excellence, and leadership experience. Her work spans the consumer and commercial finance sectors, where she has worked across organizations to launch new products, drive operational scaling, transform struggling business units, and manage large-scale change initiatives.
Prior to VI, Parzick’s experience includes being CEO of Vault.co, leading operations and client experience for the commercial division of a $4B consumer payments company, implementing national consumer advocacy initiatives at the Financial Health Network, and overseeing the retail banking division of a leading Community Development Financial Institution.
Passionate about leveling the playing field for women and people of color, Romy is an active and outspoken First Movers Fellow and advisory board member with the Aspen Institute. She holds an M.B.A. from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and a B.S. from Carnegie Mellon University.
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.
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.
Esperanza Bedolla, Division Director of Permanent Housing, LifeWorks
Esperanza’s career in youth services began 20 years ago in Los Angeles California as a Behavioral Support Specialist working with children and youth in Title V schools. She then transitioned to St. Anne’s Maternity Home in Los Angeles as an Assistant Director of Transitional Housing and Residential Services. She worked with individuals experiencing homelessness and with pregnant or parenting teens. After 10 years, she moved on to other roles and organizations working in grants and contracts compliance where she was responsible for auditing agencies providing social services to the homeless community in Los Angeles County.
Ultimately, Esperanza missed working within organizations providing direct services. In her transition to Austin, she realized that she would “go home” to serving our youth which landed her at Lifeworks! She has been a powerhouse ever since – bringing an impeccable work ethic and person-first approach to all she does. She has been there for over four years, and last year she actually won the June Bucy award at TNOYS’s conference! In her spare time, you can find her hiking, caring for her extensive plant collection or fostering medically needy or senior pets in hospice.
Veronica Constante, FAYS Director, Deep East Texas Council of Governments
Veronica received her degree from Lamar University in 2021 and has worked for Lufkin ISD and Texas Workforce Solutions between 2006 and 2015. She then transitioned to DETCOG in 2015 as a Family Support Service and was recently promoted to serve as Director of FAYS in 2023.
Jeff Alexander, Deputy Executive Director, Harris County Resources for Children and Adults
Jeff Alexander has worked with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems since 1995. In 1999, he began working for Harris County Resources for Children and Adults where he has held various leadership positions. Currently, he serves as the department’s Deputy Executive Director. Though generally responsible for all department activities, Jeff’s primary areas of oversight include: strengthening and creating new community partnerships, implementation of department mission and goals, strategic planning and coordination, community outreach, Council on Accreditation, Performance and Quality Improvement, and Training. Early in his career, Jeff also worked as a Juvenile Probation Officer in Walker and Harris counties.
In addition to his administrative duties for Harris County Resources for Children and Adults, Jeff is Adjunct Faculty with the Lone Star College System where he has taught Sociology since 2005. Jeff attended Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Criminology/Corrections and a master’s degree in Sociology. Additionally, Jeff is a Senior Fellow with the American Leadership Forum (Criminal Justice Class 5).
Derrick McKnight, Program Manager, Austin Public Health
Derrick McKnight is a dedicated public health leader with over 20 years of experience in contract management, workforce development, and health disparity prevention programs. As an equity partner, he tackles challenges with a panoramic view, excelling at crowdsourcing insights and fostering inclusive decision-making. Derrick holds a Master of Science in Counseling and Education and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, providing him with a unique perspective on community and workforce development. His diverse educational background equips him with a comprehensive skill set, making him a well-rounded professional capable of addressing multifaceted challenges in public health and community advocacy.
Derrick’s extensive expertise in public health, program management, and community development, combined with his commitment to inclusive decision-making, positions him as a valuable leader in his field. In addition to his professional pursuits, Derrick volunteers at CASA Travis County, showcasing his dedication to making a positive impact in the community. His involvement with CASA underscores his passion for helping those in need, particularly advocating for the well-being of vulnerable children in the legal system.
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.
Larry Anazia, AI Product Program Manager, Meta
Larry is the AI Product Program Manager at Meta. He has a passion for the social sector and a history of working with City of Austin, Mission Capital, and has partnered with Lifeworks, American Youthworks, and others in his community. He earned his MPAff from The LBJ School of Public Affairs in 2011.