Be a champion of a family’s future
Succesful Leaders from all Walks of Life
AVANCE Inc.’s Board of Directors is comprised of successful leaders from various walks of life. The Board serves to direct AVANCE's strategy, ensure effective leadership and succession planning and act as a thought partner to the leadership team.
As Managing Director, Portfolio Strategy & Management for Blue Meridian, Lissette provides strategic and executional leadership on critical business priorities and leads innovation efforts to expand Blue Meridian’s work. She explores new philanthropic investment opportunities, leads due diligence on potential Blue Meridian investees and manages relationships with current investees.
Prior to joining Blue Meridian, Lissette served as Vice President and Chief Program Officer of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and as Managing Director of PropelNext, EMCF’s initiative to sharpen the skills and advance the effectiveness of promising youth-serving nonprofits.
Before joining the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation in 2010, she spent 12 years, the last six as Senior Vice President for Field Development, at YouthBuild USA. Her previous experience also includes roles as a senior program officer and director of the Fund for the Homeless at the Boston Foundation; as the founding executive director of Casa Nueva Vida, a shelter for homeless Latina women and their children; and as a contributing editor of Nonprofit Quarterly.
Lissette holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University and a master’s in organizational development from Fielding Graduate University.
Robert H. McCallister has a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Brown University and was a Post Doctorate fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. He was a Professor of Mineralogy at Purdue University until 1981 at which time he joined ExxonMobil. Since retiring from an executive position in 2003, he has been a passionate volunteer focused on family issues in various leadership roles with the United Way of Greater Houston, Children’s Museum of Houston, and AVANCE/Houston.
Ron is a litigation attorney and Partner with Foley Gardere in Houston, Texas. His experience is in commercial litigation particularly as it relates to disputes involving the purchase, sale and operation of energy companies and assets. Ron is the current Chairman of the board of the AVANCE Houston Chapter and has long been a thought partner of the National Board. Ron is also a member of the Greater Houston Partnership, a co-chair of the Young Leaders Council for the United Way of Greater Houston and serves on the Board of Directors of the Children’s museum of Houston. Ron holds a BA degree from Northwestern State University, and a master’s degree in philosophy and a Law degree from Tulane University.
Manuel is a Partner with the law firm of Vinson and Elkins in Dallas. He is a trial and regulatory enforcement lawyer whose practice focuses on fraud and fiduciary duty claims, contract disputes, trade secret claims, and other commercial litigation disputes. Manuel was named a “Top Latino Lawyer of 2018” by Latino Leaders Magazine, and he has also been named one of 20 "Extraordinary Minority Lawyers in Texas" by Texas Lawyers Magazine. While at Vinson and Elkins, he has been involved with numerous educated-related activities including Educate Dallas and the Dallas Hispanic Law Foundation. Manuel grew up in Pearsall, Texas where he attended Head Start as a young child and quarterbacked his high school football team. He holds a B.A from Yale College and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
Joanna is the Chairwoman of the AVANCE Inc. Policy Council, which guides and oversees operation of the organization's Early Head Start (EHS) programs in Hidalgo County. A working mother whose two children are enrolled in AVANCE’s EHS Child Care Partnership, Joanna serves as the National Board's representative for the children and families served by AVANCE's EHS programs in the Rio Grande Valley.
Hilda is an attorney and the Partner-in-Charge of the Dallas practice of Jones, Day. Hilda is a nationally recognized trial lawyer who focuses on complex intellectual property litigation. Hilda also places a high priority on community service. She is chair of the board of the Dallas Regional Chamber, serves on the board of trustees of the University of Texas School of Law, and on the boards of Parkland Hospital Foundation, Dallas Women's Foundation, and the Dallas Hispanic Law Foundation. Hilda was named one of "The Most Powerful Business Leaders" in Dallas-Fort Worth" by D CEO. Hilda holds a BSEE in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at El Paso and a J.D. degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
Marlo is an Audit Partner with KPMG in Dallas, Texas. She began her career with KPMG, and after brief stints at Fidelity National and Arum Technologies, she returned to KPMG as one of the leaders in the audit practice. She was an active member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, Women in Business and serves on the Board of Levine Academy. Marlo’s family was one of the original settlers in New Mexico, and her mother is of both Mexican and Native American heritage. Marlo received her BBA in Accounting from the Red McCombs School of Business and the University of Texas, Austin.
Dr. Claudia Kramer Santamaria
Dr. Kramer Santamaria is the Director of the Anita Uphaus Early Childhood Center, an early childhood dual language school for pre-k and Kindergarten students in Austin, Texas. Dr. Kramer Santamaria has over 20 years of experience in education ranging from being an elementary school Principal, to overseeing teacher training and education, to being the Director of Parent Programs. She is bilingual, and earned her Doctorate Degree in Education from Texas State University, a Master’s Degree in Administration from Tarleton State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Bilingual Education from St. Edward’s University.
Sofia Ramón is a Founding Member and Co-Manager for Ramon Worthington, PLLC, a majority women and minority owned (NAMWOLF) law firm devoted to civil litigation, including complex commercial litigation. She has been practicing law for over 28 years and proudly serves on the State Bar of Texas Litigation Council. She was inducted into the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and serves as the current Texas Association of Defense Counsel (TADC) Vice President of Membership. Sofia currently serves as a Director for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA of Hidalgo), and was previously involved in South Texas College’s Puente Mentor Program, designed to encourage the continued education and leadership development of academically underserved students.
Dr. Luzelma Canales
Dr. Luzelma Canales is the Associate Vice President of Leadership Learning and Activation at the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED). Previously, she served as the Senior Associate Vice President for Student Success for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and the founding executive director for RGV FOCUS. She also provided leadership for a large-scale collective impact initiative to transform college readiness, access, and success in the Rio Grande Valley. She served as an administrator for over 25 years, leading numerous initiatives including Achieving the Dream, Breaking Through, and several with Excelencia in Education. Dr. Canales earned a bachelor’s in accounting from Pan American University, MBA from the University of Texas – Pan American, and PhD in human resource development from Texas A&M University.
Dr. Melanie Johnson
Dr. Melanie Johnson is the President and CEO of Collaborative for Children. Prior to this role, she served as the president and CEO of the John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science (The Health Museum) in Houston. Dr. Johnson also previously served as the director of the education department at NASA’s Space Center Houston, head of the department for development education at Galveston College, and director of faculty development for The Art Institute of Houston. Dr. Johnson earned a BA in International Business/French from Auburn University, a Master of Hospitality Management from the University of Houston, and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas Southern University. She has received numerous awards for educational and professional excellence, and was named one of the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce Thought Leaders.