VELA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
JBL Strategies Consultant
Craig Snook has a passion for helping leaders grow and develop to strategically lead their organizations to greater impact. With experience in global leadership and strategy development in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, he is experienced in leadership coaching and remote team management. Craig is a consultant and advisor of JBL Strategies focused on the intersection of leadership, strategy, and communications. Craig is inspired by and enjoys learning from the amazing nonprofit leaders in the Central Texas area. "The parents we encounter are ROCK STARS! They drive and inspire me to walk side by side with them to make a difference in their lives and the community."
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, LCSW
Medical Social Worker Dell Children’s Medical Center
Jacqueline Frausto is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She obtained her Masters degree in social work from The University of Texas at Austin. Jacqueline has twelve years of experience working within the Seton Healthcare Family Network with a focus on pediatric medical care. For the past two years, she has been at Dell Children’s Medical Group (DCMG) working with a variety of specialty clinics and their teams to provide guidance to children and families dealing with chronic conditions. She offers her experience and skills navigating a complex health system so that medical treatment can be successfully secured. As the mother of two young children, Jacqueline understands that a child's safety, comfort, and happiness are of the highest importance and she does her utmost to ensure families have a voice. Jacqueline loves that VELA begins working with parents at the very beginning of their journey towards understanding their child’s uniqueness and focuses on listening to the parent and offering genuine care, dignity, and respect. Jacqueline loves that VELA provides to parents relevant tools and support to empower them, to build their confidence and knowledge, and to allow them to work together with educators and medical providers to enrich their child's life. Most importantly, Jacqueline LOVES what VELA’s name stands for---creating a community of Vibrant, Empowered, Limitless, and Able familias.
Creative Director TKO Advertising
Raul is a veteran of the communications industry, and an accomplished brand creator and curator. He is co-founder of TKO Advertising, an Austin- and Albuquerque-based full service brand agency. Raul's passion is Story - he is an award-winning playwright and fiction writer. When not working, Raul obsesses about pop-culture, kundalini yoga, and foodie-ism. "VELA shines with the best of all of us. It is our shared story waiting to be told."
Renee Hanson Malone
Chief Development Office for Boys and Girls Clubs of Austin
Renée Hanson Malone is the Chief Development Officer for Boys and Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. Prior to that, she was the Director of Development at Austin Child Guidance Center for six years. Before this position, she served as the Grants Development Specialist at Easter Seals Central Texas from 2008-2011, and she was the Education Program Director and Grant Writer for Manos de Cristo from 2006-2008. 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 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.
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 the founder of Better Beehive 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 also currently works at Texas Health and Human Services Commission as the Associate Program Director for the Santa Fe Coordinated Response, a grant dedicated to providing technical assistance and training to Victim's of Crime Act grant recipients in response to the school shooting in Santa Fe, TX. Veronica also serves the Austin community on the Texas Family Voice Network and 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. 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. As a mother 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, M.A.
Leander ISD Educator
Caroline is an Austin native and Spanish speaker, who currently works for Leander ISD’s 18+ Transition Program. She has worked in the field of special education for six years and just recently completed her Masters in Secondary Special Education & Transition from the University of Kansas. Caroline is passionate about VELA’s mission because she truly believes in empowering parents to be the best advocates for their children. She believes VELA allows families, school personnel and medical providers to work together and not against one another for the best outcome of the child.
Katie Tackett, Ph.D
Clinical Assistant Professor for UT's Department of Special Education
Katie is an Assistant Professor of Practice at The University of Texas at Austin. She oversees the undergraduate special education teacher preparation program. Katie is a former general and special education teacher. She is a parent through biology and the foster care system. Katie loves VELA because she knows how confusing and intimidating the special education process can be for families. Children do better when their parents are involved and empowered.
Monica Saavedra, MPH, MCHES
Director of Marketing and Community Relations for CommUnityCare
Monica Saavedra has over 22 years experience in the health care non profit world. She has worked with many diverse populations from migrant farmworkers, to low income Travis county residents. Monica's passion lies with helping the underserved gain access to healthcare, particularly the Latino community. Monica started her work by developing and implementing public health program, and has now transitioned to health care marketing and communications. Monica is an undergraduate from UT El Paso with a BS in Health Science and has a Master's in Public Health from UT. "VELA is easy to love! It gives me the opportunity to give back to an organization that empowers both parents and children to become the best version of themselves! I'm proud to contribute in a small way to making Austin a better community through VELA."
Susanna Olivarez, MBA
Senior Operations Manager, Seton Foundations (Ascension)
Susanna works for the Seton Family of Hospitals as a Senior Operations Manager with the Seton Foundations. Her background is finance, marketing, operations and strategy. She has worked at Dell and The University of Texas, and taught at St. Edwards University. She earned her MBA and BA at the University of Texas at Austin and is well versed in philanthropy, technology, higher education and emergency management. " VELA is an organization with its heart in the right place. The work they do with families and children could be the factor that helps catapult them to that next level of educational, economic or social well being."
Carol Portillo, Ph.D
Marketing Director at Dell EMC
Carol is the Director of Marketing for Dell Technologies Americas Channel division and just embarked on her 21st year with Dell. Carol recently earned her Ph.D. in Business Technology Management from Northcentral University and has over 15 years of university-level teaching experience. Most recently, Carol had her dissertation accepted for publication in “An Examination of Online Repurchasing Behavior in an IoT Environment”. Carol is currently an adjunct faculty at St. Edward’s University, in Austin, Texas and has been on the teaching faculty at St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas and Concordia University in Austin. Carol has two children and has served on the Pflugerville Education Foundation as a board member. She loves spending time with her family and is the lead singer for The undiskovered Band.