Fedora Galasso, MPAff, MSSW, Chief Executive Officer (She/Her)
Fedora Galasso is the Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) where she leads the organization in strengthening services for Texas youth and young adults. Prior to joining TNOYS she was the Southern Regional Director for Young Invincibles, a national, nonpartisan policy research and advocacy organization committed to amplifying the voices of young adults and expanding their economic opportunity.
Fedora has extensive state government experience. At the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, she managed several innovative statewide programs that fostered public and private partnerships to expand access to health, education and economic supports for Texans. At the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Fedora worked as a senior policy analyst and Child Protective Services investigator and legal liaison. In these roles she identified and disseminated evidence-based best practices, program models, and policies to improve the child welfare system.
Fedora graduated with dual master’s degrees in Public Affairs and Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin where she specialized in social and economic policy with a focus on innovative child and family social policy and programs. During this time she worked at Ascend at the Aspen Institute and the Texas Council on Family Violence, researching, implementing, and evaluating family economic security programs. She received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University – Commerce.
Fedora was born and raised in Guyana, South America, and has lived in Texas for the past twenty years. In her spare time, Fedora enjoys teaching and practicing yoga, swimming at Austin swimming holes and parks, and eating breakfast tacos.
Natalie Ferguson, Operations Manager (She/Her)
Natalie Ferguson is the Operations Manager at TNOYS joining in early 2021. She graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelors in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. Since moving to San Marcos, TX, Natalie has been very involved in her community. In the city, she volunteers with scholarship organizations as well as mentoring new students at Texas State University. Natalie worked with Young Invincibles TX to further their youth programming and facilitate discussions around healthcare and higher education advocacy. She is extremely passionate about uplifting the voices of young people in the political process. Natalie is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration.
Lauren Rose, MPAff, Director of Public Policy (She/Her)
Lauren Rose joined TNOYS in January 2019. She has worked both inside and outside of the Texas Capitol. The 86th Texas Legislative Session was her 7th legislative session – with the bulk of those years focused on policy change to improve the lives of Texas children and support at-risk and system-involved youth. Lauren worked at Texans Care for Children for 8 years and has been volunteering as a mentor through the Seedling Foundation for 6 years. Lauren received her master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs and bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Government all from the University of Texas at Austin.
Pablo Pratt, Policy Coordinator (He/Him)
Pablo Pratt serves as the Policy Coordinator at Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) and is an active member of the Texas Emerging Leaders Board (TELB). With over four years of experience advocating for underserved communities, Pablo is dedicated to empowering young adults in Texas by recognizing their strengths, amplifying their voices, and ensuring access to essential resources, support, and opportunities. Pablo is currently pursuing his M.S. in Information Security & Privacy from the University of Texas at Austin. He aspires to combine his passion for technology, public policy, and advocacy to make a meaningful and lasting impact in the lives of young Texans.
Ann-Charlotte Proffitt Minifee, MPAff, Director of Practice (She/ Her)
Ann-Charlotte joined TNOYS in January 2019 to contribute to, and eventually lead, TNOYS’ practice strategy. In this role, Ann-Charlotte develops and oversees strategies to provide training, technical assistance, and capacity-building support to youth-serving organizations across the state. Major practice initiatives include conferences, emergency preparedness and response, and building Texas’ capacity to prevent and address commercial sexual exploitation of youth. Prior to this role, Ann-Charlotte worked for the Child and Family Research Partnership at the University of Texas at Austin on evaluations of state-funded initiatives. She has also worked with foundations to manage grants and develop investment strategies, as well as nonprofit organizations to conduct financial research, write grant applications, and support fundraising. Ann-Charlotte received her master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs and her bachelor’s degree in Plan II Honors and French, all from the University of Texas at Austin.
Sedoo Ijir, MPH, Program Manager (She/ Her)
Sedoo Ijir (pronounced “Se-Doe”, rhymes with “Meadow”) is passionate about creating effective programs and resources to meet the health and well-being needs of youth and marginalized communities. Before joining TNOYS, Sedoo was an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the University of Houston-Downtown’s (UHD) Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning. As part of UHD’s hub for community engagement, she recruited and collaborated with staff, students, faculty, and community organizations to support high-impact learning practices while also conducting effective community engagement projects. Sedoo provided technical assistance to over 20 projects and, through her community relationships, connected them to the people and resources they needed to thrive. Sedoo also has experience working with immigrant and refugee youth at Football United, as well as identifying the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals and developing trainings for service providers with the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago. Sedoo earned her master’s in public health at Northwestern University and her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Global Health also from Northwestern.
Alexander Polk, Program Coordinator (He/They)
Alex Polk is driven by using his skills and lived experience to help young people overcome challenges and adversity. At TNOYS, Alex develops and presents training content on youth issues, supports program development for member organizations and external stakeholders, and supports the coordination of conferences and other training events. Alex started with TNOYS as a member of TNOYS’ Young Adult Leadership Council in 2017 and has presented numerous times at various conferences and on training webinars, particularly on youth homelessness, CSEY, and LGBTQ issues. As a transgender rights advocate, Alex prides himself on his ongoing efforts towards equity, inclusion, education, self-care, and empowerment.
Jermaine Neblett, Director of Partnerships (He/Him)
Jermaine Neblett is a nonprofit leadership professional with experience in the arts, social services and youth services sectors. He received degrees from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa, TX; as well as The New School in New York City. Previously, he served the Houston community by leading his team to provide the best possible disaster response and volunteer experience to over 84,000 volunteers and pushed 100,000,000 pounds of food to the Greater Houston Area providing vital nourishment to those in need. In addition, Jermaine managed the Salvation Army Greater Houston’s Young Adult Resource Center, where he became a Trauma-Informed Care advocate by providing a plethora of direct services to young adults ages 16-25 experiencing homelessness and other barriers.
Neblett moved to Houston in 2015 after managing a nationwide arts and writing program in NYC. In his free time, he is a multidisciplinary artist working in poetry, photography, and conceptual art; he has work published in literary publications including Obsidian: Literature & Art in the African Diaspora. He is working on projects that uncover the subtleties of masculinity, perceived welcomeness, and the push and pull of intra-community discrimination. He lives in North Houston with his husband, Cory; and their fur babies, Barack and Andrew.
Grace Goetz, Partnerships Specialist (They/Them)
Grace Goetz joined TNOYS in 2021 as a Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) member and was part of the first Texas Emerging Leaders Board (TELB) cohort in 2023. Now, Grace serves as the Partnerships Specialist for TNOYS under a collaboration with Austin Public Health. The systems that Grace has expertise in include Education, Workforce, and Behavioral Health. Supporting YYA is an important role to Grace because they have had lived experience as an opportunity youth and they want to shine light on the importance of systems involved youth letting their voices be heard and making change in their communities. They are passionate towards advocacy work, especially relating to YYA healthcare and teen pregnancy. Grace lives in Austin with their son Jace.
Mary Bergeron, Director of Communications (She/Her)
Mary Bergeron has worked with TNOYS since November 2019 and came on as TNOYS’ Director of Communications in April 2020. She has over a decade of experience in marketing, communications, and product management, having worked in both nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Prior to joining TNOYS, Mary led marketing and product management at an education technology startup, where she helped to drive year-over-year growth, increase social impact, and position the company for a successful acquisition. Mary has worked with a range of mission-driven organizations, and she is excited to work with TNOYS to further important projects that impact youth and young adults.
Tessa Ammons, Outreach Manager (She/Her)
Tessa Ammons Ammons joined TNOYS in July 2021 as the Outreach Manager. She is passionate about using her lived experiences to guide her work in managing the TNOYS membership program, events, and data. Before joining TNOYS, Tessa received degrees in Biology and Social Science with a focus on Leadership in Criminal Justice. Her professional experience includes work in the juvenile justice system and as a Career Technical Education curriculum developer and educator in the state of Oregon. Tessa loves spending time with her husband and daughter and is excited to continue work to positively impact youth in the community.
Alexander Pryor, Graphic Designer (He/Him)
Alexander Pryor joined TNOYS in August 2020 to support the communications and marketing needs of the organization. His bread & butter is in graphic design. Through his mosaic of experiences, Alex is well-versed in other areas such as social media content and video editing. His full-time experience has primarily been through digital communications roles in the non-profit industry but has a history of supporting start-ups and small businesses as well. Alex was born in Washington, D.C. and received his bachelor’s degree in American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Meet The Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC)
Anaya Carter (she/her)
Anaya was born and raised in Houston, TX. She currently serves as a member of the YALC and is an Audio Engineering student at Full Sail University in Florida. Her lived experience includes involvement with CPS as well as CSEY and homelessness. Anaya is motivated in building up herself and others and dedicated in showing the youth that they are supported and loved and that they can all have a voice in many areas and in all walks of life. She is excited to be a part of the TNOYS YALC and looking forward to molding her leadership qualities so that she can go onto public speaking and helping to heal youth across the country.
Davi Garcia (she/her)
Davi is from San Antonio, TX. She currently serves as a member of the YALC and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in science. Her professional experience includes 4 years in youth advocacy where she has been in various statewide meetings and spoken on behalf of youth with the state senate. Her lived experience includes aging out of foster care and homelessness.
De’Asia Wiggins (she/her)
De’Asia (she/her) is originally from Washington, DC, but lives in Houston, Texas. She currently serves as a member of the YALC and is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. De’Asia has a passion for foster care reform and hopes that one day she can make a dent of change in the system.
Kirsten Comparetto (she/her)
Kirsten is from Abilene, TX. She currently serves as a member of the YALC and is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. Her lived experience includes involvement with CPS. She has worked closely with outreach organizations meant to help former foster kids such as BCFS. Kristen has a strong passion to help others, especially regarding systems change and youth in foster care. She is very excited about her position as a YALC member as she hopes it will increase her ability to advocate for what she believes in.
Karen Jackson (he/him)
Kyren is from Houston, TX. He currently serves as a member of the YALC and is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology. His lived experience includes homelessness, including experiences such as sleeping on the street, in cars, and enduring multi–hour commutes to school. Kyren takes every moment he can to exhibit perseverance and resilience. Kyren aims to be a light in the world, with a passion to spread inner peace and be a service to all walks of life. Long term, he aims to become a detective and advance his leadership skills so that he can be disciplined, independent, and continue to inspire the world.
LaBraia Owens (she/her)
LaBraia is from Denton, TX. She currently serves as a member of the YALC and is a double major in business computer information systems and economics at the University of North Texas. From a young age, LaBraia has been academically and leadership driven. Her professional experience includes 7+ years in event planning skills and 6+ years in fundraising for nonprofits. She has a unique background in career tech organizations and business which allowed her to gain leadership qualities and experiences. LaBraia is motivated in building up herself and others and dedicated in showing the youth that they are supported and loved and that they can all have a voice in many areas and in all walks of life. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve on the YALC cohort for TNOYS and share her story for advocacy.
Marvin Terry (he/him)
Marvin Terry (he/him) is from Fort Worth, Texas. He currently serves as a member of the YALC and is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Marvin joined the YALC to align his passion for technology with a commitment to making a positive impact in the community.
Monique Talamantes (she/her)
Monique Talamantes is from Austin, TX. She currently serves as a member of the YALC and is a proud mother of 3 daughters. She attended ACC to complete her High School Equivalency (HSE) after having to drop out of school due to teenage pregnancy. She plans attending ACC for classes in 2024 to become a paramedic on her journey to become a firefighter. Her lived experience includes homelessness, mental health, and involvement with CPS.
Ricko Cesar (he/him)
Ricko (he/him) is from Houston, TX. He currently serves as a member of the YALC with 2+ years of youth advocacy experience. He is currently working on learning more ways to effectively help homeless youth and teens learn about resources and how to speak for what they need. Ricko has been involved in multiple community work groups, such as CWG, to spread awareness of youth and teen homelessness as well as how to better advocate for them. He has been featured twice in magazines that spread homeless awareness and youth advocate missions that were sold at Houston Zine Fest. He is very passionate about lowering the rate of youth/teen homelessness as well as teaching them how they can achieve and prioritize their goals to become the best person they can be. Ricko aspires to be an easy-going, fun-loving, and goal-oriented individual that is adamant about achievement and accomplishing anything put in front of him.