Texas Emerging Leaders Board

TNOYS’ Texas Emerging Leaders Board (TELB) was developed in partnership with the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and Young Invincibles.

The TELB is made up of young people who have lived experience in systems and who have also faced disconnection from school or work. Throughout a 12-month term, TELB members advise on the creation of better pathways to career and academic success for systems-impacted youth and young adults. Learn more about the TELB here.

Texas Emerging Leaders Board (TELB) Bios

Chasity Williams (She/her)

Chasity Williams goes by she/her pronouns. Chasity was born and raised in New Mexico, is a first-of-the month baby, a Cancer, and a Junior undergrad at PVAMU majoring in Mechanical Engineering, with a minor in Biology. She loves painting and various sports. As a native, she wants to touch on major problems that minority youth face in the system that is commonly swept under the rug. In the future, she hopes to find a way to incorporate the navajo nation into more cooperative organizations. Chasity describes herself as very adaptable, “I can adapt to any situation. I’m very understanding and good at reading the room.” Chasity is currently learning Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Navajo.

Corina Dechi (She/her)

Corina is 24 years old and born and raised in El Paso, Texas. She is an Afro-Latina, who speaks both English and Spanish. Corina is a current student at El Paso Community College to receive a degree in child development, with future goals to earn a degree in social work. She is also an employee at El Paso Human Services, a non-profit organization. Corina specifically works with youth in the PAL program and has been doing so for over three years now. Along with those involvements, Corina is an active youth advocate with lived experience in foster care. Along with serving on the TELB, she is a part of the board for an organization called Breakthrough 915 that was created.

Elias Ramirez (He/him)

Elias Ramirez is a dedicated community advocate and leader in Galveston County, TX. Currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Service Leadership at the University of Houston Clear Lake, Elias is deeply committed to fostering positive change and empowerment within his community. He mentors students at WEIS Middle School on Galveston Island through AmeriCorps, while also advocating for animal welfare as a board member of Lifeline of Galveston County. In Texas City, Elias serves on both the CDBG Citizens Advisory Committee and the Keep Texas City Beautiful Committee, actively working to improve the quality of life for residents. Elias’s involvement in local politics is evident through his roles as a precinct chair and co-founder of Get Out The Vote Galveston County. Through his unwavering commitment to service and leadership, Elias Ramirez continues to inspire positive change and empowerment in his community.

Eugene Appiah (He/him)

Eugene, a first-generation American, brings a multifaceted perspective to the Texas Emerging Leaders Board (TELB). Born in New York City to Ghanaian parents, his upbringing instilled a strong understanding of the challenges faced by immigrant families. Eugene’s own childhood journey wasn’t without its hardships. Due to financial struggles, he and his family experienced temporary homelessness, forcing him to move from place to place. These experiences ignited his deep-seated passion: advocating for under-resourced families in Texas. As a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Eugene is driven by a desire to make a real difference. Having personally faced adversity, he understands the crucial role hope and opportunity play in shaping a brighter future. Eugene is eager to leverage his unique background and dedication to create positive change within the community.

Marlayna Gallegos (She/her)

Marlayna Gallegos is a sociology major and a member of TNOYS’ TELB. She believes that she is here on this Earth to make a difference for those who experience hardships in life. As someone who has experience with the foster care system, homelessness, and seeing a loved one struggle with drug addiction, she knows firsthand how strong an impact empathy can have on others. Her goals consist of serving, traveling and entrepreneurship. For her, working with TNOYS’ TELB is a step toward her passion. Marlayna describes herself as “assertive and passionate for change” and “enjoys teamwork.”

Mikaela McClain (She/her)

Mikaela is a driven student who is passionate about community service and committed to her personal and professional goals. Currently, she serves on the NXT Level Youth Advisory Board, where she actively supports young adults in reaching their NXT Level through educational, personal, and career goals. One of her stand out moments is participating in The Opportunity Youth Forum Cross-site Convening Conference this past October in Aspen, Colorado. More recently, Mikaela has been appointed to the Texas Emerging Leaders Board. In this role, Mikaela will continue supporting Texas youth in achieving their goals. She is passionate about world issues and when time permits, she volunteers at a local animal shelter. In her downtime, Mikaela enjoys learning more about coding, exploring the San Antonio walking trails and listening to K-pop.

Rayne Mouch (She/Her)

Rayne Mouch was born in Tennessee. She went to different schools throughout her childhood, finally graduating at Crandall High School in Texas. She then moved to Tyler to start her degree in early childhood education at the University of Texas at Tyler. She is just starting her sophomore year in college and hopes to become a third grade teacher in Texas. Before joining Young Invincibles Young Advocates Program, Rayne had no involvement in prior organizations but was hoping to expand her knowledge on subjects to help herself and the community around her.

Rebekah Solis (She/her/ella)

Bio to be published soon!

Ronald Smith (He/him)

Ronald Smith is an advocate, born and raised in Houston, Texas. He grew up feeling like he did not have a voice. With this experience, Ronald sees that his purpose in life is to help others find theirs and teach them wisdom that comes with being able to use their voices. Outside of advocacy, Ronald enjoys sports and math. He hopes to create policy changes and to leave the world better than he found it.

Sally Uzomba (She/her)

Sally Amara Uzomba was born in the western part of Nigeria and raised in San Antonio. She is currently classified as a senior at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, with majors in Biomedical Science and Biochemistry and minors in Mathematics and Physics. Sally is really passionate about bringing about change in the lives of fellow foster care youth, and using her story to impact the youths currently in care. She is also passionate about being an advocate and the voice for every youth whose lives have been affected by the stigma of being in care. 

Sarah Duke (She/her)

Sarah Duke is a current member of the Texas Emerging Leaders Board. After graduating from the YALC program, she felt that it was only right that she continue working with TNOYS, so she joined the TELB hoping to continue advocating for change. Sarah has been in and out of foster care for the majority of her life so she understands how other at-risk youth need fervent support. Sarah will soon begin her Masters of Social Work program, with one of her goals being to create more inclusive opportunities for foster youth who age out of care and experience homelessness. She hopes this includes, but is not limited to, policy change. Sarah believes the youth of our future need the helping hand she was afforded to continue her mission of peace and equity. She is grateful to be included.