Dallas Public Voices – 2021 COHORT
|Meggie Abendschein||Founder, Moxie Mouth|
|Elysse Alvarado||Program Manager, The Trust for Public Land – Dallas|
|Amanda Arizola||Vice President of Finance and Operations, Philanthropy Southwest|
|Denise Benavides||Founder & Executive Director, La Monarca Foundation|
|Jarie Bradley||Founder and CEO, Sound&Sable|
|Kristina Dove||Independent Consultant, Community Power Consulting|
|Stephanie Drenka||Communications Director, Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation|
|Prisma Garcia||Director of Capacity Building, SVP Dallas|
|Mona Kafeel||Executive Director, Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation|
|Halima Leak Francis||Public Administration Program Director & Professor of Practice, Tulane University|
|Karla Loya-Stack||Non-Profit Professional|
|Bemnet Meshesha||Senior Director, Girl Scouts of North East Texas|
|Nissy New||Vice President of Operations, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance|
|Kimberly O’Neil||CEO, Giving Blueprint|
|Lisa Padilla||Founder/CEO, Melba House Blessing Box|
|Maggie Parker||Managing Partner & Founder, Innovan Neighborhoods|
|Jayashree Prasad-Sinha||Climate Reality Leader, The Climate Reality Project|
|Satoria Ray||Educator/Organizer, Dallas Independent School District|
|Cecilia Silva||Texas Program Manager, ReflectUS|
|Lorena Tule-Romain||Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer, ImmSchools|
Dallas Public Voices Fellows – 2021
Meggie Abendschein is the CEO and founder of Moxie Mouth, a marketing consulting business dedicated to shifting narratives and driving social justice. She is a longtime marketing and public relations professional with over a decade of experience in the nonprofit and social impact arena, most recently serving as the chief marketing officer for Momentous Institute and the AT&T Byron Nelson. She holds an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin and an undergraduate degree in Journalism – Public Relations from Baylor University. She lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and three children who are her eternal source of exhaustion, joy and inspiration every day.
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Elysse Alvarado is a Program Manager at the Trust for Public Land working with communities to help design and create equitable green spaces throughout the Dallas region. She discovered her interest in community development and environmental justice through her work at KaBOOM!, a non-profit dedicated to bringing active play to all kids, no matter what zip code they live in. Born and raised in Dallas, TX, Elysse is driven to make her hometown a healthier, more sustainable place to live. She holds a BA in International Relations and Global Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.
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Amanda Arizola, MBA MHSM joined Philanthropy Southwest in December 2019 as vice president of finance & operations. Amanda also serves as the co-founder and chief analyst for Urban Theory, LLC, which focuses on human centered design to promote innovation within nonprofit organizations and business entities. Previously, she served as the assistant director for the Dallas Community Tax Centers (DCTC), a program of Foundation Communities, where she managed 10 tax centers and oversaw the completion of 79,000+ tax returns of more than $124 million dollars to Dallas residents. Amanda has also held positions as the program manager for financial stability at Catholic Charities of Fort Worth and was the state program director for the CHIMES (Consumer Health Insurance Marketplace and Enrollment Services) Consortium at United Way of Tarrant County. Amanda graduated from UT Austin with a double B.A. in Government and Mexican American Studies, and earned a double Master in Business Administration and Master in Health Systems Management from Texas Woman’s University. Amanda is an alumnus of Leadership Women – Texas and The Op-Ed Project. She is the first Latina appointed to the Tarrant County Hospital District Board of Managers by Commissioner Devan Allen. She currently serves as vice chair of the Community Advisory Board for KERA/KXT, development chair for the Mayor’s Star Council, program lead for ReflectUS, a national collaborative organization of the leading women’s civic engagement training programs, and is a Dallas Advisory Board member for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.
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Denise Benavides is Executive Director and Founder of La Monarca Foundation. An organization that helps undocumented communities transition into life in the US after being released from detention. centers. I am an immigrant activist and I have organized various direct actions and in 2019 I ran for City Council in Dallas in District 3.
Jarie Bradley is a proud, born and raised Dallasite. A servant-leader, Jarie has a passion for helping people lead with head and heart to create and sustain equitable organizations. Jarie has channeled her passion for people into her 20-year career in human resources and workforce development. She’s worked in the corporate, public, and nonprofit sectors for organizations including Target Corporation, Methodist Health System, Washington Mutual, and JP Morgan Chase. For over a decade, Jarie led Human Resources serving as the Chief People Officer at CitySquare, a nonprofit in Dallas that fights poverty. She created and led a robust Human Resources strategy with a particular focus on culture cultivation, racial equity, organizational growth and change, talent acquisition, and employee relations while serving as an adviser to both the President and the CEO. She also led their Community Workforce Development programs where she partnered with companies like The Omni Hotel, The Joule Hotel, and Hilti to build training, recruitment, and retention programs to address talent shortages while building community partnerships. In 2020, Jarie left her executive role to pursue her HR consulting passion as an entrepreneur full-time. Jarie is the Founder and CEO of Sound & Sable, a Human Resources Consultancy. She partners with C-Level Executives and Heads of Human Resources to build people-centric, equitable Human Resources Strategies that create transformative, sustainable organizations. Sound&Sable has a particular focus on black women in leadership. Jarie also serves as an adjunct professor at Dallas College, El Centro Campus (downtown campus of the Dallas Community College District) in the Conflict Management Department, where she teaches in a Mediation Certificate program for those seeking to become mediators in Texas. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs from Southern Methodist University and her master’s degree in Business Administration from Texas Christian University. She is a certified Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) and a Society of Human Resources Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). Jarie is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and serves as the Governance Chair for The Mayor’s Star Council. Jarie was recognized as an Exxon Mobil Community Champion for her service to the community and the nonprofit sector. She is a member of Concord Church in Dallas. During her self-care time, she enjoys lavender lattes, soul music, connecting with family and friends, traveling, wine, and chocolate.
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Kristina Dove was born in Dallas, Texas and has resided in the Duncanville area since she was a child. She graduated from Duncanville High School then went on the complete her Bachelors of Science in Health with an emphasis in Community Health at the University of Houston-Main Campus in 2005. Houston was the birthplace of Kristina’s passion for working with youth with her first internship at Planned Parenthood as a Community Outreach Specialist. She has now been active in the non-profit world in this capacity for 13+ years. Kristina brings a strong drive for the community and serious organizational skills that will make her a great asset to the Dallas community. Kristina has served in a variety of nonprofit management roles throughout her career, with most recent success as Director of Learning Systems for Big Thought where she developed and led a nationally recognized citywide ecosystem of service and learning. Through the Dallas City of Learning initiative, more than 96,000 students were served with collaborations taking place for more than 700 community, higher education, civic and corporate stakeholders. In March of 2020, Kristina set out on her entrepreneurial journey to provide independent business consulting services to nonprofit and educational organizations across the Texas region. Community Power Consulting is a form of consultation that not only builds capacity, brings structure and helps to manage specific projects but it opens up a door to bring a level of power and uplift to each community, neighborhood, organization and family served.
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Stephanie Drenka is the Communications Director for Dallas, Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from DePaul University, with minors in Asian American Studies and Women’s Studies. Stephanie’s photography and writing have been featured in Washington Post, Huffington Post, USA Today, and ABC News. She was previously the Senior Communications Manager at Big Thought and serves on the boards of Union and OutLoud. Drawing from her experience as a Dallas Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project, she launched VISIBLE Magazine, an online publication amplifying stories from underrepresented communities.
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Prisma Garcia joined SVP Dallas as Director of Capacity Building in July 2017. In this capacity, Prisma coordinates with SVP Dallas Lead Partners and Advisees/Investees – social impact organizations in the SVP Dallas Portfolio – to ensure that projects and funding are successful. Prior to joining SVP’s staff, Prisma worked at The Concilio, a Dallas nonprofit, as a Program Director. She also previously worked as a Fundraising Consultant with Changing Our World, Inc. based in New York, NY. She received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Science-Business with a minor in Latino Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Prisma has completed a Certificate in Nonprofit Management through CNM Connect and a Certificate of Nonprofit Leadership from Southern Methodist University. Most recently, she completed a Certificate in Social Impact Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Leadership ISD 2019 Civil Voices Fellow. Prisma is the Scholarship Coordinator for the ND Alumni Club of Dallas and serves as the Vice-Chair for the Hispanic Alumni of ND Board. She loves traveling and spending time outdoors with her dogs. She resides in Pleasant Grove (Dallas, TX), where she was born and raised.
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Mona Kafeel has dedicated her life and career to being a change maker. She currently serves as Executive Director at Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation Inc. (TMWF), a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women and their families through multifaceted programs. She is instrumental in creating domestic violence shelters that are trauma-informed and culturally specific. Her extensive work with the grass root community has led her to serve on multiple advisory boards, including Asian Advisory Committee to the Congresswomen Eddie Bernice Johnson. Public Policy Commission of Texas Council on Family Council. The policy team researches, works and eventually crafts the legislative agenda pertaining to intimate partner violence to ensure that survivor voices are included. Mona also serves on the Senior Advisory Board for senior citizens to the Mayor of City of Plano. In this capacity she advises the city council on the issues that are important to seniors living in Plano. She led a youth led initiative in High schools across Dallas to educate/prevent teen violence. Mona created the Environmental Education Program for children in Plano ISD schools. At Texas Interfaith she led development of community programs serving at-risk children, seniors and unemployed adults. A frequent presenter on diversity, inclusion, intersection of faith and family violence. She was awarded “Education Mentor” by the City of Plano for her work. Alumni of America Muslim Civic Leadership Institute at USC. Alumni Leadership Plano.
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Dr. Halima Leak Francis holds more than 20 years of practice experience including work in the non-profit sector, higher education, and philanthropy. As the inaugural Program Director and faculty member of the Public Administration program at Tulane University’s School of Professional Advancement, she led the development and launch of the University’s first Master of Public Administration degree. In addition, she manages graduate academic programs in fields such as Nonprofit and Philanthropy Management, Economic Development, Environmental Management, and Education Leadership. A nationally accomplished educator, practitioner, and scholar, much of her career has focused on and promoting equity, diversity and inclusion within nonprofits, philanthropy and civic sector leadership. Dr. Leak Francis joined Tulane from Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, an ethnically and culturally diverse civic organization that provides culturally specialized social services, educational, and youth leadership development programming. She is a founding co-chair of the HERitage Giving Fund, an African American giving circle committed to engaging Black women of varying economic backgrounds and investing in Black women-led organizations. She also is a member of Philanthropy Southwest’s first-ever Academic and Research Cohort where she works with industry experts and scholars to develop research that advances philanthropic practices. Additionally, Dr. Leak Francis is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and volunteers for a host of causes throughout the Greater New Orleans area and North Texas. She holds a B.A. in English from Hampton University, as well as an M.A in Sociology of Education and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from New York University.
Karla Loya-Stack is a nonprofit professional with a background in education and program development. Karla has served as Executive Director at Catch Up & Read, Executive Director of the YWPN Institute and Chief Program Officer at Young Women’s Preparatory Network. Previously, she served as Chief Program Officer at Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas where she oversaw the program delivery for more than 1,000 girls at four Girls Inc. centers and other locations. She helped increase the number of girls served by more than 40% with innovative outreach and program delivery methods. Karla taught in The Public Schools of Brookline, Massachusetts, as an elementary world language teacher, where she supported the development of curriculum and cultural resources, mentored new teachers and served as a lead teacher. She served as a member of the National Girls Inc. Latina Initiative Pilot and Eureka! Summit Planning Committee to ensure Latinas were exposed to STEM careers. Karla serves on several nonprofit boards, including Children at Risk, Friends of Solar Prep and CCC Leadership board. Karla is passionate about serving women and children, underserved communities and advocating for underrepresented groups. Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, she has lived in Chihuahua, Mexico, Dallas, Texas, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Boston, Massachusetts. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College. Karla is married to Michael and is a mother to two boys, Matthew (4) and Andrew (2). She enjoys spending time with her family traveling.
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Bemnet Meshesha is passionate about justice and equity for Black people. A nonprofit professional, she is experienced in creating impactful programs, managing philanthropic dollars and creating sustainable communities. Bemnet has extensive experience building the capacity for community-based organizations through trainings and large-scale projects to produce transformational change. She is the former Community Affairs Director for the largest Fair in the country and now serves as the Senior Director of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity for Girl Scouts North East Texas. She loves traveling, working with young people and being a policy junkie. Bemnet is a respected speaker and researcher on Black experiences and her work can be found in national publications and the British Journal of Social Work. Bemnet is proud of her community involvement, most notably her role as the first Black Immigrant President/Emeritus of the Dallas Fort-Worth Urban League Young Professionals and as a founding member of Heritage Giving Circle. Bemnet currently serves on the Board of Directors at Social Venture Partners, on the advisory board for UT Austin, Dallas Engagement Center. She’s also the co-founder of Habeshas Vote, an organization dedicated to electoral/election organizing work of Black Immigrants. Bemnet studied at Dallas Baptist University and the University of Texas at Arlington, joining the family of social workers and community practitioners. Although born in Ethiopia, Bemnet lives in Dallas, Texas with her loving parents and two brothers close by.
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Nissy New has made ending poverty her mission in life. She is currently the Vice President of Operations at Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, where she stewards the overall organizational strategy for racial equity, finance, accounting, talent development, board governance, and fundraising and communications. Nissy’s experience working within the nonprofit field in Dallas began at The Bridge, Dallas’ largest homeless shelter. Nissy then served as an associate with Clarkson Davis, a renowned consulting firm in the non-profit space, before moving to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (UWMD). At UWMD, Nissy implemented projects that increased the effectiveness of leaders, organizations, and networks, enhancing their capacity to achieve their mission. Previously she was the Director, Income Impact where she led the Community Impact Grants funding process for workforce development, financial capability, and basic needs. Towards the end of her tenure there she began chairing Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance’s Racial Equity Task Force. Then Nissy transitioned to of Dallas’ newest and most innovative non-profits, the Child Poverty Action Lab, and played an integral role in launching Trust Her, a contraceptive access initiative focused on ensuring all women have access to all contraceptives at all times in Dallas County. Nissy is a graduate of the Political Science department at the University of Texas at Dallas and holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. She resides in Rowlett with her husband and two rowdy babies.
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Kimberly O’Neil is an award winning professor, executive leader, and social good expert. She was the youngest serving African American woman City Manager in the United States. As a veteran senior government and nonprofit executive, Kimberly has used her voice to impact policy decisions while lobbying in New York City and on Capitol Hill. She now works within the social sector and leads Giving Blueprint, a consulting company with a mission to impact social change through the development of strategic partnerships and growth plans within the social sector. As a social entrepreneur, Kimberly recognizes the value that nonprofit startup organizations provide to communities, especially in under resourced communities. In January 2015, she launched Cause Studio, an incubator and training initiative that is designed to reduce the number of failing nonprofit organizations in North Texas. Kimberly has been recognized as a 2017 Minority Business Leader Awards honoree by the Dallas Business Journal, a 2019 Humanitarian Visionary Award Honorable Mention by Juanita J Craft Civil Rights House and Museum, and 2020 Social Innovation Award honoree by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. She previously served as Chair for the City of Plano Community Relations Commission. In addition to being a sought after thought leader, strategist and speaker, Kimberly is a published author and professor who was honored as the 2017 Outstanding Associate Faculty of the Year for Collin College. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, and a founding member of HERitage Giving Fund, the first Black giving circle in Texas, and serves as Board Chair-Elect for Social Venture Partners Dallas.
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Lisa Padilla a driven servant leader who is an subject matter expert in public and community health, community health workers, outreach and health equity. For the last 20 years I have worked as a change agent at the community level while leveraging partnerships, assessing community needs and building equitable programs around those needs. I am a consultant for non-profits and aid in evaluation, development. community assessments program build and grant review. I am part of the Adjunct faculty at Dallas College and can instruct through Community Health Worker training sites throughout Texas. In 2020 I started my own non-profit Melba House Community Services of which I am Founder and CEO. The nonprofit is known as Melba House Blessing Box (MHBB) which and it is a food pantry that operates under the moto “take what you need, leave what you can”. I started MHBB to address the long lines at food banks that are a result of the newly unemployed due to Covid 19. MHBB has had a successful year and since April we have helped distributed food to over 800 people. This has been done from the front of my home and through partnerships with other organizations.
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Maggie Parker is a community-oriented real estate developer serving the DFW metroplex. Maggie is the Managing Partner and Founder of Innovan Neighborhoods, LLC, a community-oriented development and consulting firm. Through her partnership with Matthews Southwest, the team leverages their 30-year track record as an international, full-service private real estate company alongside community development strategies to build and strengthen neighborhoods in concert with community stakeholders. Innovan Neighborhoods partners with non-profits, faith-based organizations, and neighborhood associations to implement their vision. From joint ventures for affordable single-family homes to leading phased, master-planning development strategies in transitioning neighborhoods, Innovan Neighborhoods supports catalyst projects in the DFW metroplex. Prior to forming Innovan Neighborhoods, Maggie was the Director for The Real Estate Council Community Fund, a CDFI providing access to capital and technical assistance for real estate projects serving low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. During her four years in this role, Maggie closed 13 loans totaling $3.1MM serving low-to-moderate income communities, including financing Recipe Oak Cliff, an-award-winning healthy food option, as well as providing affordable rental and homeownership options with several non-profit developers. Additionally, Maggie serves on several local, regional, and state-wide boards and committees that focus on housing affordability, economic development in Black communities, and equitable development. Her personal interests include exploring Dallas, enjoying ethnic food restaurants, and attending live performing arts events.
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Jayashree Prasad-Sinha is a climate change activist with The Climate Reality Project and serve on the Executive Committee of the organization’s DFW organization. I am a geneticist, researcher and educator by profession. I earned my Ph.D. at the University Calcutta, India and spent the majority of my career as a research scientist understanding mechanisms of gene regulation. When I retired from academia, I decided to work with the youth of our country to build their scientific temper by joining Teach For America as a corps member. I taught science to middle school and high school students at both public and charter schools for several years in Dallas, TX. As I learned more about the climate crisis, I decided to devote all my time to educating others on this imminent and existential threat. I train and equip our community to better understand that impact of climate change and take action to improve our community. I also advocate policy-makers and elected officials to pass green and sustainable legislation.
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Satoria Ray is an educator and organizer in Dallas, TX. Originally from North Carolina, Satoria moved to Dallas to teach 8th grade social studies at a middle school in Pleasant Grove, a community in Southeast Dallas. When she isn’t teaching, she is organizing for educational equity with Dallas CORE.
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Cecilia Silva, as the first member of her family to graduate high school and attend college, Cecilia is passionate about providing resources to help students succeed. In 2018, Cecilia became the first Latina to serve as Speaker of The Senate at The University of Texas at Arlington where she oversaw the Legislative Branch and primary policy makers on campus. During her term she was most instrumental to the passing of a bill that provided feminine hygiene products at no cost to students. Cecilia loves serving her community and was the first student advisor to serve on the President’s Hispanic Advisory Council. In her role, she worked with leaders in DFW to advocate for Latinx and Hispanx students to succeed at UTA. She also served as a Trabajadora Fellow with the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and advocated for Equal Pay for Latinas. Cecilia has worked extensively with IGNITE National since 2016 to build the next generation of political leaders and cultivate leadership skills amongst high school and college students. She previously served as the Program and Communications Coordinator with the League of Women Voters of Dallas to educate, engage, and advocate for voters throughout Dallas County. Cecilia currently serves as the Texas Program Manager for ReflectUS, a nonpartisan coalition working to provide resources, tools, and opportunities for individuals seeking careers in politics and government. Cecilia is a passionate advocate for equal representation in politics and is always looking for ways to encourage civic engagement amongst her peers.
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Lorena Tule-Romain was born in Michoacán, Mexico and immigrated with her family to the United States when she was 9 years old. Prior to joining ImmSchools, Lorena was the Managing Director of DACA Corps Member Support at Teach for America where she maintained a diverse range of functions supporting over 250 teachers across the country. Lorena was also teacher assistant in Bogota, Colombia and has been an activist for young undocumented students for over 10 years. Lorena’s passion for education equity comes from personal experience growing up as an undocumented student living in a low-income community in Texas.