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2016 Dallas Public Voices Greenhouse Participants

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Rebecca Acuna Executive Director, Latino Center for Leadership Development
Bianca Anderson Educator, Greenhill School
Angela Ards Associate Professor, Southern Methodist University
Patricia Arvanitis Executive Director, Leadership ISD
Priscilla Collins-Params Managing Director, Uplift Education
Erin Crosby Director of Operations and Communications, Budd Center at Southern Methodist University
Stephanie Farquhar Formerly Director, Children’s Health Systems
Halima Francis Consultant, Francis Communication and Development Partners
Michelle Kinder Executive Director, Momentous Institute
Lizzie MacWillie Senior Design Manager, bcWorkshop
Tori Mannes President and CEO, Child Care Group
Janette Monear President and CEO, Texas Trees Foundation
Janet Morrison-Lane Director, Vickery Meadow Youth Development
Natalie Ossenfort Director, Alliance for Justice
Martha Rodriguez Program Manager, Bachman Lake Together
Rachel Tekola Chief of Staff, The Family Place
Candace Thompson Director of Community Outreach, Jubilee Park & Communication Cen
Teresa Wash Executive Artistic Director, Bishop Arts Theatre
Laura Wright Senior Vice President, Wealth Management, UBS Financial Services

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Rebecca Acuña is the Executive Director of the Latino Center for Leadership Development where she oversees the implementation of the organization’s programs. Rebecca’s professional experience includes work in state and federal government, communications, and political campaigns. Rebecca previously served as Chief of Staff for State Representative Cesar Blanco, where she managed the Representative’s legislative agenda, communications plan, and outreach efforts. Rebecca has also held positions as Press Secretary for the Wendy Davis Campaign and Communications Director for Congressman Pete Gallego. While working in Congress, she developed a communications plan and strategy for a first time member and managed a half a million dollar budget. Rebecca became the first Latina to serve as Communications Director for the Texas Democratic Party in 2011, where she also held the role of Deputy Political Director for Base Outreach. In these roles, Rebecca created and implemented press strategies, served as on-the-record source for media outlets both in English and Spanish, and worked to increase Latino outreach efforts. Prior to working at the TDP, Rebecca worked as Communications Director and Policy Analyst for State Representative Garnet Coleman. Rebecca lives in Dallas and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.  Texas would be one of the biggest financial beneficiaries of DAPA

Bianca Mercedes Anderson is a passionate middle school educator with expertise in communication, curriculum development, social justice, and relationship building. Ms. Anderson utilizes her unique skill set and innovative teaching techniques to create a classroom environment that motivates and challenges her students, while fostering trust and building relationships. Her friendly and energetic teaching style makes learning fun for all of her students. Ms. Anderson strives to not only effectively educate all students, but to be a great role model of social and character training as well. As a classroom teacher for over seven years, Ms. Anderson is well versed in collaborating with fellow educators, parents, and members of the community to ensure that her students receive a transformational educational experience. Ms. Anderson has an extensive knowledge of the education system in Dallas, Texas and is a firm believer in equitable education for all children. As the middle school Equity and Inclusion Coordinator for Greenhill School, Ms. Anderson continually advocates for students, and advises her colleagues regarding strategies that they can implement to effectively meet the needs of a diverse community of learners. She is an exceptional communicator with advanced problem-solving skills. She also specializes in creating curriculum to meet the specific needs of her students. Most importantly, Ms. Anderson loves children and enjoys creating environments in which every child feels safe, smart, and significant.  The Secret Life of Black Girls   Lesson Plan: Neutrality on racism has no place in the classroom    Educators Inspired by #BlackLivesMatters to Address Racial Disparities in School Suspension Rates

Angela Ards is an Associate Professor of English at SMU, where she teaches African American literature and culture, specializing in life writing and creative nonfiction. Before receiving her PhD from Princeton in 2007, Ards worked as a journalist for 15 years. Her reportage, essays, and cultural criticism have appeared in publications such as The Village Voice, The Nation, Essence, Ms., and The Los Angeles Times Book Review, and in anthologies such as That’s the Joint: The Hip Hop Studies Reader (Routledge, 2004) and Still Lifting, Still Climbing: Contemporary African American Women’s Activism (New York UP, 1999). Ards has held residencies at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Hutchins Center at Harvard, the Charles H. Revson Foundation at Columbia, and the Nation Institute. She is also author of Words of Witness: Black Women’s Autobiography in the Post-Brown Era (U of Wisconsin P, 2015), which examines how writers craft life stories vis-à-vis the traditional civil rights movement narrative to create new ways of speaking and thinking about identity and politics. Her current book project uses oral histories to chronicle the lives of Black southerners who bypassed the Great Migration to remain and build communities in the South.  What the ‘First Black Women’ Librarian of Congress Means

Patricia Arvanitis is the Executive Director of Leadership ISD, guiding the organization’s development, growth, and impact. As one of the founders of the organization, Patricia has been instrumental in creating both the vision and the programming. Under her guidance Leadership ISD has grown into a highly regarded leadership development and advocacy program preparing over 220 community leaders to influence educational equity and excellence. Patricia recently served as part of the Strive National Equity in Education Fellowship where she worked as part of a four person Dallas Team with several other city teams to develop a plan to address educational equity in each community. In addition to this Fellowship, Patricia also serves on the following boards and committees in support of education; Booker T. Washington Arts Advisory Board, Woodrow Wilson High School Community Foundation, Conrad High School Academies Advisory Committee, Commit! Leadership Council, and the DISD Public School Choice Advisory Committee. Patricia completed her undergraduate work in Communications at the University of Texas, Dallas and her graduate work in Conflict Management at Southern Methodist University. Her daughter, Dillon, graduated from Dallas ISD and attended Carnegie Mellon University. Patricia and her husband, Tony Bell, reside in northwest Dallas.  Fostering civil discourse after Dallas attack

Priscilla Collins-Parhms began her career in education as an intern in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Through her trial and error in the classroom, she quickly gained a tremendous respect for the incredible amount of preparation and work that teachers do every day. She is a firm believer that a strong school leader is essential for every school. She uses her knowledge around school turn-around, leadership transformation, organizational culture, and systems around instruction, assessment and curriculum to support and train school leaders. Priscilla is currently the Director for Uplift Williams Primary School and a Managing Director for Uplift Education Public Charter Schools in Dallas-Fort Worth. She has been in education for over twenty-five years where she has served as a teacher, staff developer, and in many administrative roles. Priscilla holds a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from California State University – San Bernardino and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Radio and Television Management from the University of Louisiana-Monroe. She currently serves on the advisory board for the Middle School Matters Institute, which is an initiative of the George W. Bush Institute in partnership with The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at The University of Texas at Austin.    One weird trick to retain school principals     Educators Inspired by #BlackLivesMatters to Address Racial Disparities in School Suspension Rates

Erin Crosby, the Director of Operations and Communications for The Budd Center, is responsible for executing strategic and tactical plans for university and community partnerships, organizational development, messaging, operating systems and staff development. Erin began her career as a program coordinator for WiNGS (formerly the YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas), developing and facilitating life skills programs for teen parents. In 2005, she became programming and communications director for Leadership Women, designing learning opportunities for emerging and established leaders to advance their leadership strengths and to expand their understanding of the issues and opportunities shaping Texas. Prior to joining The Budd Center, Erin served as communications and operations director for Thrive Women’s Clinic, managing three facilities in Dallas. Erin also serves as an advocate for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, often working with women and men abused as adults. She previously volunteered as a facilitator and an educator with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priest (SNAP). In addition, Erin is co-founder of table | space, a Dallas-based communal experience designed to engage curious and thoughtful people in conversations about religion and spirituality. Erin holds a Master’s degree in print journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor’s degree in English from SMU.  Adult Clergy Abuse Is Overlooked and Misunderstood: Here’s Why  The Role of Collective Memory in Collective Action

Stephanie Farquhar is an accomplished community health practitioner and researcher who has worked extensively at the intersection of public health, social justice, health care and community outreach. Combining qualitative and quantitative data analysis and subject matter expertise, she identifies hidden trends and generates solutions to the complex needs of populations. Her training as an ethnographer enables her to connect these trends with people’s lived experience to produce deeply informed stories that move policy. Dr. Farquhar was most recently the Director of Research Services for Population Health at Children’s Health System of Texas. She serves on the board of the Oak Hill Academy and is part of the inaugural cohort of trainers for the Border Crossers racial justice educational advocacy program. She earned her Ph.D. in Health, Behavior and Society as an Eddie and Sylvia Brown Community Health Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Instead of soft-pedaling public option for Medicare buy-in, Clinton should step on gas The Role of Collective Memory in Collective Action   Whites remain silent in police reform fight in communities of color

Halima Leak Francis, an advocate for philanthropy, believes deeply in the power of giving as a catalyst for positive social change. Dedicated to the advancement of social justice through charitable giving and volunteerism, she has spent over 15 years involved in the non-profit sector as a fundraising professional, volunteer, educator and scholar. Committed to engaging others, Halima expresses the benefits of giving and volunteerism through her Write to Bear Alms initiative, which includes her segment on “The Eddie Francis Podcast Show”. Halima is a founding partner of Francis Communication and Development Partners, a consulting firm specializing in providing communication and fundraising support and strategic counsel. She has a proven track record in the development of sustainable fundraising programs focused on donor-centered relationships. Her work has resulted in the cultivation of relationships leading to leadership gifts for organizations such as the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation and institutions including New York University and Barnard College of Columbia University. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in English from Hampton University, Halima earned her master’s degree in Sociology of Education from New York University. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the NYU Steinhardt School of Education where her research focuses on organizational capacity building.  More than a moral imperative: Giving to get power and influence a righteous act of self-help

Michelle Kinder is the Executive Director of Momentous Institute in Dallas, TX. She has worked in the field of children’s mental health for 20 years. She graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts and the University of Texas with a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. Momentous Institute, owned and operated by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, is a large Dallas nonprofit with a 96 year history of building and repairing social emotional health with children and their families so they can achieve their full potential. Michelle is a nationally recognized speaker on topics such as: the importance of social emotional health, what children need to succeed, toxic stress, mindful parenting, effective parent engagement, connecting with teens, the effect of trauma and violence on children, and the intersection of mental health and education. She was just named the 2015 Non‐Profit CEO of the Year by CNM Connect. Michelle grew up in Guatemala and is fluent in Spanish. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, Patrick, and their two daughters, Maya and Sophia.  3 discipline approaches DISD should use instead of suspension  How to Talk to your kids about the Dallas Shooting 3 Terrible Things the Election is Teaching Your Child

Lizzie MacWillie is a Senior Design Manager at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. Lizzie heads up People Organizing Place (POP), the participatory city shaping initiative of [bc] that positions local stakeholders as experts to proactively shape their neighborhood’s future, and is the Project Manager for the People’s Design Library and [bc]’s Project Guides. Lizzie brings to the team critical design experience managing [bc]’s multi-year creative placemaking initiative, Activating Vacancy, an initiative focused on bringing people together to share food, stories, art, experience, and histories as well as enabling neighbors to talk, to learn, and to organize. This activation leads to cultural, physical, and political changes that can revitalize neighborhoods, improve infrastructure and bring economic benefits to residents. Prior to joining [bc] in her current role, Lizzie was a part of OMA/AMO in Rotterdam, NL, as an editor of “Elements of Architecture” by Rem Koolhaas, a collection of books about 15 basic units of architecture. She received a Master of Architecture in Urban Design and a Master of Design Studies in Art, Design and the Public Domain from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University.  In Your Neighborhood, Who Draws the Map? Dallas – Where’s the neighborhood pride?

Victoria (Tori) Thomas Mannes is CEO/President of ChildCareGroup, a 115- year old Dallas based nonprofit that provides comprehensive early childhood programs for children, parents and early childhood professionals. In her role she oversees a staff of 260 professionals who serve over 40,000 children, parents and teachers annually. ChildCareGroup frames its work around the Two Generation Approach, to help educate young children and connect parents with support services designed to lift two generations of a family out of poverty. Tori brings over thirty years’ professional experience in nonprofit leadership, fund development, strategic planning, marketing/communications, and community relations. Prior to joining ChildCareGroup, she served as President/Executive Director of The Wilson Foundation, VP/State Manager of Corporate Philanthropy for JPMorganChase – Texas, and Marketing Director for Thompson & Knight. She served as a member of ChildCareGroup’s Board of Trustees from 1996-2001 and served as Board Chair in 2000. She was voted an Honorary Life Trustee in 2002. A Dallas native, she earned her Bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University. A longtime civic and community leader, Tori is active in Dallas Assembly, Charter 100, The Dallas Summit, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation Alumnae Steering Committee, and she is a past board member of several nonprofit organizations. Tori is passionate about nurturing the education and development of young children by supporting their families and strengthening the communities in which they live.  TV Interview: Tori Mannes, Impact of new overtime ruling on nonprofits and childcare   Texas needs a new approach to poverty Why Texas must improve minimum standards for child care or risk another crisis

Janette K. Monear is President/CEO of the private non-profit Texas Trees Foundation in Dallas, Texas which is dedicated to “Greening Texas.” With the national agenda for environmental action catalyzing around global climate change, air and water quality, and energy conservation, Monear has created model programs to address the environmental challenges through the use of technology, research, trees and green infrastructure. The emphasis for urban forestry through community development provides a platform for Ms. Monear to create partnerships that support programs that improves the quality of life in communities. Her leadership is driven by creating innovative solutions to social problems linked to the environment and jobs training. Monear began her career in advertising for a large bank and she quickly transferred her skills to promote and advance urban forestry for the University of Minnesota which led her to the nonprofit sector. Monear is the author of several publications, a Community Tree Planting Manual, Environmental Service Learning Manual, Open Spaces-Clean Water guidebook and City Trees Sustainability Guidelines and Best Practices which position trees as a capital asset and part of a community’s infrastructure. Ms. Monear co-produced and wrote the narration for the Telly award winning Public Television documentary, Spirit of the Trees.  Dallas Lacks Enough Trees to Battle Urban Heat Island Effect

Janet Morrison-Lane works for Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation as the Director of the EAGLE Scholars college readiness program, a program that works with over 120 7th through 12th grade students who come from over 15 different countries and speak over 20 languages. Her passion for education began not long after she graduated from college when she watched a fifth grader struggle to read three-letter words. She decided her Bachelor of Social Work wasn’t enough. She returned to school at Texas A & M – Commerce, where she earned a Master of Science in Reading and an Ed. D. in Supervision, Curriculum, and Instruction while working for CitySquare as the Director of Education. During her tenure at CitySquare, she also worked in various capacities with the food pantry, permanent supportive housing, and public policy. Janet works closely with the schools in DISD and is a board member and committee chair of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library.  How to navigate the DISD magnet application maze (it works best if you are middle class)   Working-Class College Students Need Exposure To Ins And Outs Of Networking For Results

Natalie Ossenfort serves as the Director of Alliance for Justice’s Texas office, where she works with nonprofit organizations to maximize their ability to actively engage in the democratic process and lobby for meaningful policy reform. She previously helped to create and run the Innocence Project of Texas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to freeing those wrongfully convicted of crimes in the state. At IPTX, Natalie held both Executive Director and Chief Staff Attorney positions, and she specialized in the litigation of cases involving the use of DNA evidence. She also worked with the organization to successfully advocate on behalf of reforms designed to reduce the number of wrongful convictions and assist those reentering society after lengthy terms of unjust confinement. Natalie obtained her law degree from the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth. She earned her undergraduate B.A. from Trinity University in San Antonio, where she majored in Political Science and graduated cum laude.

Martha Rodriguez is currently the Program Manager of Bachman Lake Together and the Bachman Lake Together Family Center, an initiative powered by the Zero to Five Funders Collaborative. Previously, she was the Community Engagement Manager at The Concilio, a Dallas nonprofit dedicated to helping families overcome obstacles that interfere with their education and health. Martha is a Leadership ISD alumni where she was empowered with the skills necessary to support educational excellence and equity for students in Dallas. She attended the University of Texas at Arlington where she obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration with a Finance Concentration and previously worked in the private sector as a Corporate Credit Analyst. Martha left the corporate sector to pursue her passion of working with the community. She was born in Laredo, Texas and raised in Dallas.  States’ argument to deport the undocumented is a lesson in manipulating language for political gain


Rahel Tekola graduated Magna Cum Lade from Texas Tech University in May 2013 where she received her Bachelors in Political Science. Rahel was an Honors College student and an undergraduate researcher. She lead a two year research project and a published thesis on ‘The Effects of HIV/AIDS on The Aging Generation of Botswana and South Africa”. During her time in college she was the founder of a chapter of the national organization, Women for Women International. During her studies Rahel also held consecutive internships on Capitol Hill and the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington D.C. In her last year of college, Rahel was selected to work in the White House, Office of the Vice President, Office of Violence Against Women. Rahel worked on the Vice President’s gun removal policy, the reauthorization of VAWA and human trafficking initiative. Today, Rahel works fulltime time with The Family Place a Domestic Violence Agency in Dallas, Texas. As Chief of Staff to the CEO and advocate for women and children who have been victims of violence, she works to ensure families receive full services and education to a stable life free of violence. Outside of work Rahel is a member of the United Nations Association Chapter of Dallas, the Mayor’s Star Council, City of Dallas Domestic Violence Task Force and a former senior fellow on a gubernatorial campaign.  We Know What Works To Save Juvenile Offenders Of Color, So Why Don’t We Do More Of It?   6 Affirmations for Black Women in Leadership in the workplace     Educators Inspired by #BlackLivesMatters to Address Racial Disparities in School Suspension Rates

Candace Thompson, a native Texan, is the Director of Community Outreach at Jubilee Park & Community Center: a private Dallas nonprofit dedicated to working with community members to bring about revitalization and enrichment in Southeast Dallas through a comprehensive approach focusing on education, housing, economic development, public safety and public health. She serves as a catalyst promoting transformational community change by building and nurturing community leaders through the practice of generous listening, walking in solidarity, and advocating for needed changes identified by the community. Some recent highlights include, Tedx Talk September 2015 at Southwestern Adventist University, coordinating KERA’s One Crisis Away in a Neighborhood featuring Jubilee Park and establishing a successful Lunch & Learn Initiative for senior citizen engagement. She has over 10 years’ experience serving in the nonprofit sector. Candace earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas, and while working full-time achieved a dual Masters in Public Administration and Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is deeply passionate about her family (of choice and by blood), seniors, and youth as she fully understands our past informs us about our future.  It’s hard to hear, but the families of shooters grieve too    Oprah’s “Greenleaf”  Realistically Depicts How Difficult Being Black and Gay in Church Can Be

Teresa Wash is the Executive Artistic Director and Founder of TeCo Theatrical Productions, Inc, an award-winning multicultural theatre that produces a full season of theater performances, jazz concerts, lecture series and arts education programs at the Bishop Arts Theatre Center in Dallas, TX. She is an MA candidate studying Arts Administration at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. Wash is the recent recipient of the Dallas Observer’s 2016 MasterMind Award. In September 2013 she was profiled in the Legendary Locals of Oak Cliff, and she received the 2011 Trailblazer Award from the National Association for the Study and Performance of African-American Music. She is a former board member for Texans For The Arts and the current Dallas/Ft. Worth regional representative for The Dramatists Guild of America.  It’s Time to Give More Women and Playwrights of Color the Spotlight

Laura B. Wright has over 17 years of experience in the financial services industry delivering premium service to ultra-high-net-worth individuals and private foundations. She is currently a Senior Vice President at UBS Financial Services Inc. Private Wealth Management. Prior to joining UBS, Laura was in the private wealth management groups of Goldman Sachs & Co. and Morgan Stanley. She currently serves on the Grace After Fire board of directors. Grace After Fire is in service of women veterans. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management from The University of Texas at Austin. She obtained an Authentic Leadership Development certificate from Harvard Business School, a graduate of Leadership Texas 2015 and a member of Toastmasters International since 2014. She’s traveled within the U.S. and abroad; journeyed solo through Peru & Switzerland. She currently lives in Dallas, TX with her husband.  A Prescription Drug Bottleneck Put My Husband’s Life in Danger