BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Tal Tversky is a Director of Analytics at Apple Inc., where he leads a team of data scientists developing analytic solutions to problems that involve fraud, waste and abuse company wide. Tal received a B.S. in Physics from Yale and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin specializing in artificial intelligence and vision. As a child, he imagined he would be a spy or a scientist. Today he imagines he fights crime with his mind. Tal has four school aged kids attending various AISD schools, and a wife who has been an educator in AISD for more than 10 years. Tal has always been passionate about education and kids and is delighted to be serving on the board of CIS.
Immediate Past Chair
Troy Madres is a Vice President with Morgan Stanley, a global investment bank. He serves as a banker to local and statewide municipal issuers around the country and has executed over $25 billion in bond transactions in an advisory or underwriting role in his career. Troy’s focus is on infrastructure, with significant experience with surface transportation, mass transit, airport, utility, economic development, and P3 clients. Troy was born and raised in Philadelphia, and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the CIS Board, Troy was a board member at Creative Action, and previously served as a Vice President in the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association, and was on the board of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates. He was also a co-founder of Young Involved Philadelphia, a non-profit that aims to increase civic engagement among recent college graduates. Troy moved to Austin in 2006, and resides in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood with his wife, a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology, and two sons who attend Austin ISD schools.
Cameron Brown is an Audit Partner in KPMG’s Austin office focusing on clients in the life sciences and technology industry sectors. Cameron began his career with KPMG in 1999 in the Austin office and spent a two-year rotation from 2003 to 2005 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Cameron holds a B.S.M. in Accounting and Finance from Tulane University and is a Texas and New York Certified Public Accountant. In addition to his role on the Communities In Schools of Central Texas Board, Cameron serves on the Finance Committee of SAFE, serves on the Audit Committee of Trinity Episcopal School, and is a volunteer runner with Back On My Feet. Cameron enjoys traveling with his wife and two kids and is an avid runner.
Patrick Patterson serves as Asst. Vice President of The Longhorn Center for School Partnerships. He has been at The University of Texas at Austin since 2010, when he retired from Austin ISD having served thirty years in public education as a teacher and administrator. He started his career in Chicago, where he taught and coached at the high school level from 1981 until 1983. Then from 1983 until 1990, he taught several grade levels at Blackshear Elementary School in Austin. In 1990, he became asst. principal at Summitt Elementary for two years until his first principal job at Reilly Elementary in 1992. From 1996 until 2010 Patrick became the only person in AISD history to serve the district as principal at each level, having lead Dobie Middle School, Lanier High School and LBJ High School. Both Lanier and LBJ were named in Newsweek’s top 1200 High Schools in America during his time as principal. In 2009, Patrick was named Principal of the Year in Austin ISD. In 2010, he was named the Texas Association of Journalism Educator’s Administrator of the Year for the State of Texas. In 2014, AISD honored Patrick with the HL Gaines Community Service Award for his continued work on behalf of the children of Austin, Texas. Mr. Patterson earned his bachelors and master’s degrees from Chicago State University in 1981 and 1983, respectively. He earned two post-graduate certifications (elementary education and mid-management administration) from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos in 1987and 1990. He has two adult daughters, Avaire and Amani, and he is married to his lovely wife, Anita.
Executive Committee Chair-Elect
Felicia Peña is a public affairs professional working in brand engagement and corporate social responsibility. She is currently working as Public Relations Manager for The Coca-Cola Company. Previously she held the position of Public Affairs Manager for H-E-B in the Central Texas Region. Felicia graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a certificate degree in Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofits. After graduation, Felicia worked as a Campaign Associate for United Way for Greater Austin assisting with the State Employee Charitable Campaign. For 5 years, Felicia worked with the Central Texas Food Bank, serving in a few different roles, most recently as Director of Community Engagement. Felicia currently serves as a board member at large with Communities In Schools Central Texas. Other community involvement includes board membership of the YWCA Greater Austin, Shoal Creek Conservancy, Young Hispanic Professional Association of Austin, YNPN Austin, and the Young Women’s Alliance. Felicia was also a participant in the 2013 class of Leadership Austin Emerge and the city of Austin CityWorks Academy.
Laura grew up in Houston and earned her BBA in Management Information Systems from UT Austin. She was a programmer and a software trainer for Dell before becoming the director of New Product Development at the technology industry research firm, IntelliQuest.
For the past 20 years, Laura has been immersed in the non-profit world as a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters and as a fundraiser for Good Shepherd Episcopal School, American Cancer Society, Trinity Episcopal School, the Nature Conservancy and the Colorado River Alliance. Her most rewarding fundraising endeavor was the seven years she spent with the Jeremiah Program, taking it from a concept to a bustling campus serving under-resourced single mothers who are working toward a college degree. Laura recently joined the Philanthropy Circle of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, an organization that seeks to amplify the female perspective in conflict resolution around the globe.
Laura and her dog, Ella, were a therapy team at Dell Children’s Hospital for many years until her dog reached retirement age. She and her husband, Kyndel, have a daughter currently at UT studying sustainability and a son at University of Southern California pursuing a career in film. She completed the TOWER Fellows program at UT in May of 2023. Laura spends her off-time paddle boarding on Lady Bird Lake, playing pickleball, riding horses, and wrestling with Mother Nature in her vegetable garden.
Ramirez & Company, Inc.
Dr. Chris Cervini
Austin Community College District
Dr. Chris Cervini is currently Vice Chancellor for Community and Public Affairs at Austin Community College District (ACC). In this role, he is responsible for engaging ACC’s external stakeholders to create deeper connections between the college and community. Cervini works with local chambers of commerce, community organizations, and elected leaders at the local, state, and federal levels to advocate for the college and its students. In this role, he oversees the Center for Nonprofit Studies (Nonprofit Austin), ACC’s elections and voter registration efforts, and its Community Engagement Office. Dr. Cervini believes higher education is the best strategy for achieving upward social mobility in a society increasingly imperiled by rising inequality. He received his doctorate in higher education leadership at the University of Texas at Austin, has a master’s degree in political science from American University in Washington, D.C., and received his bachelor’s degree in political science and journalism/mass communications from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Dr. Melissa M. Chavez
The University of Texas at Austin, Assoc. VP, Division of Diversity & Community
Dr. Melissa M. Chavez is the Associate Vice President of The University of Texas at Austin. She has almost 30 years’ experience in K-12 and higher education. For over 20 years, she has been the Executive Director of The University of Texas Charter School System, a university sponsored public charter school with partnerships across the State of Texas. She currently sits on the Presidential Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS) Steering Committee at the University of Texas at Austin. The HIS committee works with university campus leadership to advise and recommend ways the university can contribute and strengthen efforts to support the Hispanic student community. Recently, she has started a new community project as Network Lead of the Austin 2030 Network. The network is a diverse group of Austin community leaders passionate about education and motivated to take transformative action together. The network’s mission is to increase the number of students accessing and completing postsecondary education or training, with a focus on historically marginalized, first generation, and low-income students.
Dr. Creslond Fannin
Austin Independent School District, Executive Director of ECHS & PTECH
Dr. Creslond Fannin is the Executive Director of College, Career and Military Readiness for Austin ISD. She has held various positions in several districts across Central Texas including Federal Programs, Parent Engagement and Homeless Education Services for Manor ISD, a Principal for the Dallas County Juvenile Detention Center, Executive Director of College and Career Readiness at Lancaster ISD, and faculty at El Centro College and Texas A&M University – Commerce. As an advocate for first generation college students, Dr. Fannin served on the Dallas County Promise Steering Committee and was named Top 40 under 40. In 2007 she became a member of the Fulbright Scholar Program where she traveled to Africa and served as a visiting scholar at the University of Ghana at Legon, and in 2012 she led a grant writing team and successfully became the first T-STEM Designated District in Texas. She is a former Harvard University Summer Fellow, a graduate of Baylor University, holds a Master’s degree in Secondary and Higher Education from Texas A&M University – Commerce, as well as a Doctorate degree in Theological Studies with an emphasis on Youth Counseling. She is a Past President of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Incorporated of Dallas and a proud charter member of the Alpha Alpha Nu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Dr. Fannin serves on the University Interscholastic League Board for extracurricular academics, athletics, and music contests as well as the TEA Partnership Turnaround Initiative and the Austin Community College District Dual Credit Growth and Sustainability Taskforce. She is the Inaugural President of the Greater Austin Area Alliance of Black School Educators, a TABSE /NABSE Affiliate. In her free time she enjoys playing golf and spending time with her beloved pet pug, Gucci.
Tesla, Public Policy Associate
Walter Gonzales joined Tesla in 2021 as a Legislative Policy Associate on the Tesla Public Policy and Business Development team covering state and local government in Texas. Walter works closely with local and state governments and stakeholders to further Tesla’s mission while also leading Tesla’s Texas Community Impact Program.
Walter has a solid background in government and community relations, public policy and urban planning. Previously, Walter served as the Director of Government Affairs for the Downtown Austin Alliance managing local and state issues. He has held leadership roles with Expedia Group, Cresleigh Management, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Booz Allen Hamilton and the California State Legislature, among others.
Walter holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s Degree from the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research.
Craig Hester, CFA has been actively involved in professional investment management since 1972. Prior to becoming Principal with Luther King Capital Management in January 2013, he served as CEO and founder of Hester Capital Management, LLC from 1989-2012. Mr. Hester currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Employees Retirement System of Texas, and is a Member of the Advisory Committee of the MBA Investment Fund, LLC of the University of Texas Graduate School of Business. He is a Member of the Board of Directors of the St. David’s Foundation, and is Chairman of the Investment Committee. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts. He also serves on the Board of Directors of San Jacinto Services. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin (BBA, 1971; MBA, 1972), he received the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 1977 and the Chartered Investment Counselor designation in 1992.
Devi Shah serves as a board member with Communities In Schools Central Texas. She has 20 years of professional experience and currently leads the digital growth marketing team at Charles Schwab. Prior to joining Charles Schwab, she championed marketing and sales growth insights at Colgate-Palmolive for Hispanic and Low-Income consumer segments. Outside of her professional roles, she served on the founding board at Youth Rise Texas and led the Multicultural Effectiveness Council at the Advertising Research Foundation. Devi graduated with an MBA from the Stern School of Business at NYU and a BS in Engineering from the University of Central Florida.
Kevin Sooch is a Development Manager at Stratus Properties. Kevin joined Stratus in December 2016. Kevin’s role focuses on overseeing real estate developments through the various phases of acquisition, design, permitting, financing, construction, operations, and disposition. Prior to joining Stratus Properties, Kevin worked as an Applications Engineer at National Instruments. Kevin holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from The University of Michigan. Before joining the Board of Communities In Schools, Kevin served as a board member of the KDK-Harman Foundation. Kevin and his wife, Alexandria, live in Central Austin with their son, Hayden. Kevin is an active volunteer for Foster Village, Saint Louise House, and Pop-Up Birthday.
The University of Texas at Austin
Karl Spencer has worked in higher education for over 20 years. He currently serves as Assistant Director of Outreach and Scholarships at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. In his role, Karl leads the business school’s undergraduate recruitment efforts and programming, coordinates internal transfer admissions, and serves as Co-Director of summer camps. Karl’s community efforts include serving as a board member of First Tee Golf, President of the 100 Black Men of Austin, Inc., and served on various non-profit boards over the past 6 years. Karl is passionate about serving the youth, driving his antique cars, and enjoys spending time with his wife Gayla, sons, Damarquis, Carl, Kyle, Isaac, Wynton, and granddaughter Anaya.
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Ryan Sutton is a licensed psychologist and serves as an Associate Dean of Dell Medical School. He is passionate about creating access, exposure, and opportunities for young people in a way that helps expand and realize their personal narratives and success. His passions are supported through his research, experience working with community programming serving youth and young adults, and his teaching.
Nicole Treviño Consulting
Nicole has spent over 10 years in the nonprofit, government and social sector with specific focus on strategies that incorporate inclusion, collaboration, and high-quality services. Her work has helped address challenges faced by social service systems, organizations, and professionals to improve services for people across a range of diversities and identities. More recently, she has begun working with corporate organizations to support organizational improvement initiatives, including addressing structures that create disengaging work environments.
Nicole provides consulting, coaching and training on overcoming challenges and improving programs, services and organizations at multiple levels. Her work has helped equip professionals and organizations with the tools and strategies needed to best serve others and create equitable environments. She has worked in a variety of locations and settings, from small nonprofits and tribal communities to statewide organizations, large government systems and international corporations.
Nicole is a Founder of the Health Youth Partnership, an organization designed to provide training and development to social service and healthcare professionals. She is also the co-founder of a local Diversity Leadership Conference for youth and adults in Austin, Texas. She is the co-author of EngenderHealth’s Native Youth Adaptation Manual- a guide for creating cultural inclusion into curriculum-based programs and the co-developer of the second edition of the We R Native health curriculum. Through her work in creating inclusion and honoring diversity in youth and health services, she has provided training, development and coaching to professionals and executives across the world to develop their openness and skills for inclusive work.
Kerry Ugarte is a Wealth Advisor, advising clients in areas of wealth planning and preservation, such as managing their wealth and passing the wealth on to family or charity in a tax-efficient manner. Kerry began her career as a management consultant with a global consulting firm and then became an estate planning attorney. Prior to joining J.P. Morgan, Kerry was a shareholder at Graves Dougherty Hearon& Moody in Austin, Texas. There she helped clients design and implement estate planning and wealth transfer solutions. She joined J.P. Morgan Private Bank in 2014 as a Wealth Advisor for Central Texas. Kerry is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She serves on several non-profit boards in the Central Texas community. Kerry received her undergraduate B.B.A in Honors Business and B.A. in Plan II from the University of Texas. She also received her M.B.A. and J.D. from The University of Texas. While not working or volunteering, Kerry enjoys traveling with her husband and their three school-age children.
Javier Valdez is the Executive Director for NAMI Central Texas. For the past 25 years, Javier has served as a corporate and non-profit leader. He has led several local and national non-profits and is also an alumni of Leadership Austin Essentials and a McBee Fellow. Throughout his career, Javier has also served in executive and senior leadership roles at Oracle, Electronic Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), Cisco Systems, Inc., in addition to others. As a leader, Javier has a talent for building strong relationships, facilitating communications between stakeholders, encouraging a collaborative team-centered culture, and managing organizational operations. When Javier is not working, he loves participating in various fitness activities, honing his foodie skills, traveling, and enjoying live music.
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Chronika Winn serves in the Strategic Enrollment Division at the University of Texas San Antonio as an Associate Registrar. She is John H. Reagan High Communities in Schools program alumna. She earned a B.S at Texas A&M and is the proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie c/o 2011! Whoop! She earned a M.B.A from Hallmark University. Her journey in higher education started over 11 years ago at Hallmark University a private non-profit institution. Her desire to serve and support students heightened there and became her mission. Her experience in academics, assessment, student services and registrar provide extensive understanding of the student life cycle. This sparked her interest to help K-12 students explore pathways and enter higher education. She serves as the Vice President, Board of Directors for Black Girls Do Engineer Corporation a membership based non-profit focused on advocating for minority girls in STEM. She developed and oversees the mentorship, college preparation and training programs. She is passionate about education, volunteering and making an impact.
Isabel Welland has lived in Austin for 21 years. She grew up in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Isabel worked in sports marketing for men’s professional tennis in the days of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. She was an Advertising Manager for AT&T in Basking Ridge, New Jersey during the long distance wars. She retired from a career in advertising to raise her two children. She has been a choral singer in church choirs and with Chorus Austin. Over the past 12 years, she has served on several boards in the Austin area, including KIPP Austin, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, The Sooch Foundation, Lifeworks, the Planned Parenthood Community Board, and Communities In Schools of Central Texas.
Jenny Whittemore currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Endeavor Real Estate Group and is responsible for providing the leadership, management, and vision necessary to ensure Endeavor achieves goals and business objectives. Jenny serves as a permanent member on Endeavor’s rotating five-person Operating Committee, providing dedicated operational focus, depth, and continuity for the company. She oversees and manages day-to-day operations, drives best practices across the organization, and ensures effective communication at all levels of leadership. Throughout her career, Jenny has had numerous operational leadership positions across various functions, primarily in the high tech and consulting industries. She has had broad experience leading complex, cross-functional projects to drive increased performance through company growth. Jenny received her B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering and her M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. When Jenny is not working, she enjoys spending time in the outdoors camping or on the lake with her husband, Jason and two children, Kent and Ellie.
Circuit of the Americas, LLC
Harry Zimmerman is CFO and General Counsel of the Circuit of the Americas. Prior to that he had been either General Counsel, CFO or both for several companies based in Austin, including Encore Medical Corporation and Pathway Partners (now Thrive Vet Healthcare), each of which were, after significant growth, acquired by large private equity firms. He received his undergraduate degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (cum laude) and his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law (with honors). He is licensed as both an attorney and a certified public accountant in the state of Texas. He currently serves of the Board of the Capitol Area Boys Scouts of America, the Anti-Defamation League and is a director and treasurer of Swan Songs, Musical Last Wishes. He has been a member of the Finance Committee of CIS for the past 2 years. He has been married to Cindy for over 40 years and they have 2 grown children and 2 grandsons that they spend a lot of time with. When not working, volunteering or spending time with his family, he enjoys travel and listening to live music.
LEADERSHIP CIRCLE MEMBERS
Austin Independent School District
Suzanna Caballero and John Caballero
Vantage Bank and Austin Independent School District
Haynes and Boone, L.L.P.
Cole Law Firm
Mary Lockwood Crouch
Bank of America
Charlotte and Sam Hanna
SGH Management Company, LLC
Chief Audit Executive, AMD
Charisse Hughen and David Hughen
Jo Lyn Kallison and Kal Kallison
Rogers & Whitley, LLP and Community Leader
CEO, Leadership Austin
Michael R. Levy
Michael R. Levy Charitable Foundation
Honorable Mike Lynch
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Dr. Anna Pedroza and Robert Chapin
Community Leaders and Arcadis, Inc.
Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette
Kate Rhodes and Dr. Richard Rhodes
Austin Community College District
Southwest Strategies Group
Principal, HR Directions
Enviro Water Minerals Company, Inc.
Sabrina and Bill Streusand
La Corsha Hospitality Group
Dr. Gregory Vincent
Dr. Gloria Williams
Austin Independent School District
Susan Wittliff and Reid Wittliff
Price Wealth Management and Wittliff Cutter, PLLC