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Dr. Teresa Granillo Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Teresa Granillo is the Chief Executive Officer of AVANCE Inc. As CEO, she sets the vision and strategic plan for the organization and provides guidance and oversight to daily operations. She engages key stake holders and advocates and elevates the mission of AVANCE. Since joining AVANCE in 2019, Dr. Granillo and her team have set a strategic plan focused on growing the impact and reach of AVANCE’s core programs. Under her leadership, the National office revenue has increased by over 600%, which has allowed AVANCE to expand programming both in depth and reach. With this growth, the AVANCE National team has more than tripled, increasing from 49 employees in 2019 to 186 in 2021. Prior to AVANCE, Dr. Granillo served six years as Executive Director of Con Mi MADRE, another two-generation organization that supports young Latinas on the path to higher education. Before Con Mi MADRE, Dr. Granillo was a tenure-track professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Steve Hicks School of Social Work. As a Latina raised by a single mother, Dr. Granillo knows firsthand how education ends the cycle of poverty and has dedicated her career to ensuring that all individuals have access to high quality education. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona, and a Master’s in Social Work and a dual Ph.D. in Social Work and Psychology from the University of Michigan.
Elida GonzalesChief Financial Officer
Elida serves as Chief Financial Officer of AVANCE. Elida joined AVANCE in 1998 and has spent most of her career in leadership roles in accounting, finance and business development. She was born and raised in the community where AVANCE began and has seen first-hand how the Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) has impacted the lives of those in her community. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from St. Mary’s University and her Master of Science in Accounting from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Sonia Dominguez Chief Operating Officer
Sonia Dominguez is the Chief Operating Officer at AVANCE. She leads the implementation, strategy, and continuous improvement of AVANCE programs and services that create pathways to economic mobility for predominantly Latinx families. A Head Start graduate, Sonia draws upon her lived experience and passion to advance equitable outcomes for families through education. Sonia began her career as a middle school math teacher in El Paso, TX and went on to serve in various leadership roles in both urban and rural public school districts in Texas. Prior to AVANCE, Sonia served as Senior Director of Continuous Improvement at an Austin-based collective impact organization that leads systems-change efforts and seeks to improve student outcomes from cradle-to-career. Sonia earned bachelor and master’s degrees in math education from the University of Texas at El Paso.
Alex Chandler Chief Communications Officer
Alex is the Chief Communications Officer for AVANCE Inc. As a first-generation college student, Alex is passionate about the AVANCE mission and believes in the power of education as the great equalizer and wants to see the systemic inequities eliminated. Through his role as CCO, Alex is responsible for leading the organization’s communications, marketing, branding, and community engagement efforts. Alex has more than 15 years’ experience in communications and marketing for educational non-profits. Before joining AVANCE, Alex worked for WGTE PBS, Trellis (formerly Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation), Austin ISD, and E3 Alliance, leading various marketing and community initiatives while also doing graphic design and video and photography. Alex received his Bachelor of Visual Communication Technology from Bowling Green State in Bowling Green, Ohio, and studied art, photography, and graphic design at the Studio Arts Center International in Florence, Italy.
Melanie Brewster Senior Director of Head Start & Early Head Start Partnerships
In her role as the Senior Director of Head Start & Early Head Start Partnerships for AVANCE Inc., Melanie oversees the organization’s HS/EHS programs in the Rio Grande Valley in addition to working closely with the program team to integrate PCEP into HS/EHS operations. Before joining the AVANCE team, Melanie spent 10 years with Acelero Learning and Shine Early Learning in different roles that provided her a wealth of experience in the management of HS/EHS programs, including monitoring and compliance, family and community engagement, curriculum implementation, and training and professional development. Melanie holds a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Temple University and a Master of Arts in Urban Studies and Community Development from Eastern University.
Ana Lorena Carrasco AVANCE-North Texas Regional Director
Prior to her current role as the Regional Director, Ana Lorena Carrasco served as the Senior Director of Curriculum and Implementation for the AVANCE National Office, where she played a vital role in the development, review cycle, and quality improvement of AVANCE curricula, programs, and services. Before joining the AVANCE National office, Ana Lorena served the communities of North Texas for more than ten years through various roles at AVANCE-North Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Instituto Tecnologico de Saltillo in Saltillo Coahuila, Mexico, and a Master’s in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language from Universidad Internacional Iberoamericana in Puerto Rico.
Luz Flores AVANCE-Houston - Executive Director
As Executive Director for AVANCE-Houston, Luz Flores has nearly 30 years of leadership experience with national nonprofit organizations. Throughout her career, Luz has successfully steered organizations, such as the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto, the United Way of Greater Houston and SER Jobs for Progress, through periods of substantial growth and transition. Luz joined AVANCE-Houston in 2009, serving in several management positions, and assumed her current role in 2016. Originally from Puerto Rico, Luz holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Non-Profit Management from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio Texas, and a Human Resources Certificate from Rice University.
Susan Thompson AVANCE-San Antonio - Executive Director
Thompson brings 28 years of leadership experience in nonprofit business, social services, and healthcare sectors. She most recently served as the Vice President – Grants, Programs, and Services at the San Antonio Area Foundation. Susan is actively involved with a wide range of professional and nonprofit organizations, including the Masters Leadership Program, John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas. A native San Antonian, Thompson holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology/English from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Business Administration from Rice University.
Cristina Garza AVANCE-Austin - Executive Director
Prior to joining AVANCE-Austin as Executive Director, Cristina served as Director of Social Impact for the Mission Economic Development Corporation (EDC) where she curated and led all STEAM and entrepreneurship initiatives. She was named Code.Org's 2019 Champion of Computer Science. She is also a 2017 Next City Vanguard and named by CityLab Latino one of the Top 20 Young Civic Leaders of 2017. Before her career in economic development, Cristina worked in education at museums in New York City including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rubin of Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Historical Society, and the Brooklyn Museum. She holds a BA from New York University, and an MA from Syracuse University where she received the Florence Graduate Fellowship.
Vanessa Maldonado AVANCE-North Texas - Executive Director
Vanessa Maldonado is the Executive Director of AVANCE-North Texas. Maldonado joined AVANCE-North Texas with a degree in nonprofit management from St. Edward’s University and more than a decade of experience in nonprofit leadership and development. Most recently, she served as the Chief Engagement Officer for Easterseals, a nonprofit organization that promotes independence and creates opportunities for people with disabilities. In this previous role, Maldonado managed the organization’s fundraising activities, retail operations, communications, marketing, and advocacy in Central and North Texas.
Lissette Rodriguez Chairwoman
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.
Dr. Robert H. McCallister Secretary/Parliamentarian
Robert H. (Bob) McCallister graduated from Brown University in 1972 with a PhD in Geological Sciences. He was a fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and a professor of Geosciences at Purdue University until 1981, at which time he joined ExxonMobil’s Upstream Research Company. Until his retirement from an executive position with ExxonMobil in 2003, Bob held several jobs at ExxonMobil including Sr. Technology Advisor to the Executive Committees of the Exploration and Research Companies. Currently he serves on the United Way of Greater Houston’s Bright Beginnings Advisory Committee, is on the Board of Lone Star College Foundation and is a member of Executive Committee and Board of Children’s Museum of Houston. Before joining the National Board of AVANCE, Inc. in 2018, Bob served as an active member on the AVANCE-Houston Board of Directors.
Ron Oran Treasurer
Ron is a litigation attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP 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 a former 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 Board of Trustees 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.
Hilda C. Galvan
Hilda is the Partner-in-Charge of the Dallas office of Jones Day. Hilda is a nationally recognized trial lawyer who focuses on complex intellectual property litigation. She places a high priority on community service, serving as Chair Elect of Texas Women’s Foundation, and as Trustee of the University of Texas School of Law, SMU Lyle School of Engineering , and the Dallas Hispanic Law Foundation, among others. Hilda was named one of "The Most Powerful Business Leaders" in Dallas-Fort Worth by D CEO. Hilda holds a B.S. degree 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 former 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 Nicolas & Cantu, PLLC, a majority women and minority owned (NAMWOLF) law firm devoted to civil litigation, including complex commercial litigation. She has been practicing law for almost three decades 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.
As Vice President of IT Infrastructure and International for Lockheed Martin Corporation, Ryan Ramirez leads the corporation's information technology infrastructure team and portfolio and provides global IT oversight. His more than 25 years of IT experience ranges from managing and transforming infrastructure to leading application development for global and enterprise operations. Previously, Ryan served as VP of Infrastructure and Operations at Kimberly Clark and as Sr. Director of Global IT Infrastructure and Operations at Avery Dennison. He also served in a variety of global IT leadership roles for manufacturer and retailer, VF Corporation. Ryan earned his M.B.A., with a concentration in International Business, from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a Bachelor's degree in Electronic Systems Engineering from ITESM at Monterrey, N.L. Mexico.
Maria del Rosario Garza
Rosario is the Parent Policy Council Chair for the AVANCE Head Start (HS) and Early Head Start (EHS) programs in Starr and Zapata Counties. A Starr County native, Rosario is a stay-at-home mother of four, who loves the HS/EHS programs and what they do for children and the community. Her three eldest children are HS graduates, and her youngest is currently enrolled in EHS and will be transitioning to the HS program soon. She is also a participant in the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program and serves as the National Board’s representative for the children and families served by AVANCE HS/EHS programs in Starr and Zapata Counties.
Dr. Daniel King
Dr. Daniel P. King serves as an education and healthcare advisor to Education Results Partnership. A long-time public school Superintendent, Dr. King was named state Superintendent of the Year in 2006 by the Texas Association of School Boards. In 2019, Dr. King retired as Superintendent of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District (PSJA). Under his leadership, PSJA reduced the number of annual dropouts and increased the four-year graduation rate and overall high school completion rates to surpass state averages. Prior to PSJA, Dr. King led Hidalgo ISD for eight years. Dr. King earned his Ph.D. from The University of Texas. He completed his undergraduate and Master’s degree at The University of Texas-Pan American.
A highly engaged professional with leadership skills in nonprofit organizations and higher education, Lydia Aleman is the Director of Development Services for Driscoll Children’s Hospital in McAllen, Texas. Before Driscoll, she served as the CEO for Girl Scouts of Greater South Texas (GSGST). She joined GSGST after 26 years in higher education where she served as the Associate Vice President of Advancement Services. She has extensive experience in fundraising, management, accounting and development. Lydia earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting, and she holds two master’s degrees, an MBA and a MACC (master’s in accountancy).
Dr. Cathy Ayoub
Dr. Catherine Ayoub is a licensed psychologist and nurse practitioner whose work at the Brazelton Touchpoints Center includes program development, research, evaluation, consultation, and training. She is responsible for overseeing the evaluation efforts at the Center and is presently engaged in research around child, family, and system-level assessment with attention to evidence-based practice. Raised in Mexico, Dr. Ayoub comes from a multicultural background and has special expertise in clinical work, program development, and research with Latino families. She completed her undergraduate degree at Duke University and holds master’s degrees from Emory University and Harvard University, as well as a Ph.D. in Counseling and Consulting Psychology and an Ed.D from Harvard University.
Diana Cavazos serves on the AVANCE Board of Directors as parent representative. She is a native of Pharr, Texas and is currently the president of the Parent Policy Council for AVANCE Early Head Start programs in Hidalgo County. She is a working mother with three children enrolled in the EHS-Child Care Partnership (CCP) Program. Ms. Cavazos has had two of her children enrolled in the CCP since 2016. Her experience includes serving as City Secretary for the City of San Juan. Currently Ms. Cavazos is working on opening up a new business while also working alongside her father in the family business. Ms. Cavazos earned her Business Administration Associates Degree at South Texas College and her bachelor’s in Business Administration Management from UTRGV.
Kelly Cutler is a Partner on New Profit’s Social Entrepreneur Investing Team, a role that includes leading strategy, engaging donors, leading due diligence for deal selection, and providing deal support to organizations. Kelly has focused her career on work that has the potential to transform the lives of young people, families, and communities. She began her career with business operations and fundraising at entrepreneurial nonprofit Teen Voices. She then served on the Executive Team at Families First Parenting Programs. Prior to joining New Profit, Kelly worked as a Consultant at L.E.K. Consulting, a global management consulting firm. Kelly has a BA in English from Boston University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
Greg Flores is the founder and owner of Sculpted Leaders, LLC, an executive consulting firm. He also consults closely with Private Equity organizations as they assess purchases and sale of portfolio assets. He built his 35+ year career in Human Resources leadership positions with such companies as Pilot Flying J., Inc., The TJX Companies, Inc., HEB, Pepsico and Daymon Worldwide. He has served on boards for EnsembleIQ, National Domestic Violence Hotline, Our Lady of the Lake University, Conexion and AVANCE-San Antonio. Greg is also a scuba diver instructor, enjoys reading fiction/non-fiction, yoga and is into metal sculpting. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Statistics from The University of Texas at San Antonio, and studied industrial psychology at the University of North Texas.