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Meet our Board of Directors

Craig Snook, Board Chair, JBL Strategies Consultant
Craig Snook has a passion for helping leaders grow and develop through proven techniques to strategically lead their organizations. A dynamic speaker, trainer and presenter, Craig employs clarity, innovation and humor to deliver workshops to diverse audiences at all organizational levels. With over three decades of experience in global leadership and strategy development in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, he is skilled in leadership coaching and remote team management with proven success. His involvement in leadership development has ranged from individuals to senior management teams at the Dow Chemical Company. As a consultant with Executive Service Corps of Houston, an organization designed to promote best management practices in nonprofits, he delivered strategic planning and organizational assessment skills in the community. Craig is Board Chair for EcoRise Youth Innovations and past Board Member of the Caporal Assistance Network.

Leslie Wiley, Board Treasurer, ERCOT Treasurer
Leslie Wiley is a Certified Treasury Professional and the Treasurer for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to 24 million Texas customers. She has been in this role since 2014 and was the Treasury Manager at ERCOT for 4 years prior. She received her degree from the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. Leslie was a Director of Treasury Operations for a healthcare consulting firm in Wisconsin when she relocated to Austin and now calls Austin home. Leslie’s parents were educators in special needs classrooms and growing up in that environment always resonated with her. She is excited to help grow VELA’s mission.

Jacqueline Frausto, Board Secretary, Medical Social Worker Dell Children’s Medical Center
Jacqueline Frausto is a Licensed Masters Social Worker. Jacqueline obtained her Master’s degree in social work from The University of Texas at Austin. She works at the Craniofacial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Center on an interdisciplinary team where she provides guidance and counseling to children and families dealing with the social and emotional aspects of a craniofacial abnormality, identifies helpful community resources, and makes referrals to appropriate agencies and organizations. Before joining this team, Jacqueline worked for four years at the Specialty Care Center of the Dell Children's Medical Center providing assistance to children with chronic illness and their families. Jacqueline has extensive experience working with and advocating for children. Before starting a career in medical social work, Jacqueline helped protect children from abuse as a caseworker at Child Protective Services, and worked at a private adoption agency specializing in providing adoption and foster care services for older and special needs children. Jacqueline was also a regional coordinator for the State Office of Border Affairs, where she publicized and coordinated state assistance programs for families living along the border with Mexico, and advocated for immigrant rights. As the mother of two young children, Jacqueline understands that a child's safety, comfort, and happiness are of the utmost importance.

Raul Garza, Board Member, Creative Director TKO Advertising
Raul Garza serves as co-founder and creative director of TKO Advertising, a local Austin firm. He has been recognized for creative excellence by industry publications including Advertising Age, and by the American Associations of Advertising Agencies. Raul received his degree in Advertising from The University of Texas at Austin, and his Masters in Liberal Arts at St. Edwards University. Raul is an adjunct professor of Communications at St. Edward’s University, teaching integrated campaigns courses. He received the 2007 National Latino Playwriting Award and is a playwright for Austin’s Latino Comedy Project and Teatro Vivo. Raul has been volunteering for VELA’s programs since its inception and is deeply committed to supporting the growth and development of this organization.

Renee Hanson Malone, Board Member, Director of Development Austin Child Guidance Center
Renée Hanson has been the Director of Development at Austin Child Guidance Center since January of 2011. Prior to her employment at ACGC, she was the Grants Development Specialist at Easter Seals Central Texas, and served as Education Program Director and Grant Writer for Manos de Cristo. Renée received her M.A. in Latin American Studies and was employed as a Lecturer by the Latin American Studies and Spanish Departments at the University of Kansas. She has a rich understanding of Latino culture and much of her work in Austin has been dedicated to expanding resources for the Hispanic community. She is passionate about improving outcomes for underserved populations and has expertise in raising funds for: mental health, disability services, education, health, the environment and the arts.

Veronica Martinez, Board Member, Founder Better Beehive Project
Veronica Martinez’s passion and life’s work is advocating for inclusion of individuals with special needs and their families in our society. Veronica is a mom to two beautiful and unique children, one of whom has been diagnosed with autism. Being a mother that went through VELA’s amazing programming, she brings a unique perspective to the board and is dedicated to continuing VELA’s influence. Veronica is the founder of Better Beehive Project, LLC., a revolutionary review web application dedicated to bringing the voice of the special needs community to the forefront of local businesses and institutions making accessibility, empowerment and inclusion for all abilities a reality in our society. Veronica is a Certified Family Partner with experience as a Parent Liaison for Travis County’s, The Children’s Partnership, serving our counties children with mental health needs and their families. Veronica also serves her community as board member to The Children’s Partnership, Texas Family Voice Network, Austin Hispanic Hackers, and is on state advisory committee for Project LAUNCH, all projects continue her work of promoting diversity and a stronger community where individuals of all abilities can feel welcomed and included. As a mother, advocate and community member Veronica sees VELA’s mission as the light to creating a diverse, rich and resilient community and is honored to serve on the board and help spread VELA’s influence.

Caroline Heyl, Board Member, Leander ISD Educator
Caroline Heyl is a Secondary Special Education Teacher and Vocational Adjustment Coordinator for Leander Independent School District. She is passionate about transition for children with special needs and believes that starting early is key. She is currently working on her masters from the University of Kansas in Special Education Transition, and received her bachelor’s degree from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. As an Austin native and Spanish speaker, Caroline has been a supporter of VELA for many years and is excited to join the board and give back to her community through VELA’s mission.

Dr. Katie Tackett,  Board Member Clinical Assistant Professor for UT's Department of Special Education,
Dr. Katie Tackett oversees undergraduate special education teacher preparation program for the Department of Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin. She earned both her master’s and PhD in Special Education at UT. In 2016, she was named to the Texas Ten, a teaching award given by the Texas Exes to ten faculty a year across the University. In 2017, Dr. Tackett received the Elizabeth Shatto Massey Award for Excellence in Teacher Education. She is a foster and biological parent to a group of amazing kids. As a former general education and special education teacher and as a parent of a child with a disability, she believes deeply in VELA’s ability to change lives.

Monica Saavedra, Board Member, Director of Marketing and Community Relations for CommUnityCare
Prior to joining CommUnityCare, Monica worked in Public Health for over 13 years for both nonprofit and for profit organizations such as Susan G Komen and the National Center for Farmworker Health focusing on program development, behavioral health research, conference planning, health provider training and most recently marketing. She received her Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Texas School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science from the University of Texas at El Paso. She is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist and has been certified since 1997. Monica is a bilingual, Mexican-American woman raised in Texas by Mexican-born parents and is passionate about improving health care access to the underserved Latino community.

Susanna Olivarez, MBA, Senior Operations Manager, Seton Foundations (Ascension)
Susanna Olivarez earned her MBA from the McCombs School of Business, and her BA in History and Government from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently a Senior Operations Manager at the Seton Foundation at the Seton Healthcare of Families and has over 20 years-experience in operations, finance, marketing, accounting, and strategy. She joined the Seton Foundation in 2015 and worked for Dell for 11 years and for the University of Texas for 10 years. She is also an adjunct marketing professor and has taught undergraduate and graduate marketing courses at St. Edwards University. Her current role at the foundation focuses on the grant funding process, endowments, and ensuring all operational processes meet non-profit audit standards. She has also enjoyed leading the operations of the Seton League House, a non-profit hospitality hotel, as their director. She is currently a board member of the Pflugerville Education Foundation and has two sons and a dog.

Phil Ellett, Board Member, Executive Advisor Multiple Companies
With more than 40 years of experience in high-tech businesses. Phil has held positions in sales, marketing and executive management based in both North America and Europe. His experience as a CEO , Chairman and board member of both private and public companies provides him with the insight to help companies maximize shareholder value.