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Advisory Board Members


Sylvia Acosta, Ph.D.

Sylvia AcostaSenior Vice President, National Minority Supplier Development Council.

Sylvia Y. Acosta, Ph.D. has over 25 years of management experience in non-profit organizations. Prior to her position at YWCA El Paso del Norte Region, Acosta served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Constituent Development and as the Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor of Health Advancement for the University of California, Irvine (UCI) for over three years.  She also served as Associate Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Texas at El Paso, as the Assistant Dean for Development and Public Relations for New Mexico State University, and as the National Vice President of External Relations and Chief Operating Office of AVANCE, Inc. a national early childhood education program based in San Antonio, Texas.


Donald Bowers ll

Donald BowersVice President Federal Reserve Bank of Houston-Dallas

Donald Bowers is vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ Houston Branch with executive responsibilities for the Public Affairs, Law Enforcement and Human Resources departments.

Since starting his career at the Dallas Fed as a student intern in the Research group in 1990, Bowers has worked in a number of positions. As a management intern, he completed a series of assignments supporting the Facilities and Accounting functions and was promoted to manager of the Human Resources Department in 1996. Bowers was promoted to operations officer in 2001 and assistant vice president in 2004.

He is currently president of the Association of Rice University Alumni board of directors, a board member of Children at Risk and the American Leadership Forum, a member of the World Affairs Council and advisory board member with Discovery Youth Foundation. Bowers is also a graduate of United Way's Blueprint Leadership Development Program. Bowers earned a bachelor's degree in managerial studies from Rice University and an MBA with a concentration in banking and finance from Sam Houston State University.


David Branham, Ph.D.
David BranhamProfessor of Political Science
Dr. Branham received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Houston in 2000. Thereafter, he worked as a research associate at the University of Houston Center for Public Policy. Dr Branham joined the faculty at the University of Houston-Downtown in the Fall of 2005. His teaching experience includes classes in American government, public administration, public policy, research methods, public opinion, education policy and the presidency.


Andy Canales
Andy Canales

Executive Director, Latinos for Education

Andy Canales is the Texas Executive Director at Latinos for Education, an education non-profit organization focused on increasing Latino talent in the education sector and elevating the Latino voice in the education sector. In this role Andy leads and manages all aspects of the organization locally including fundraising, programming, strategic planning, external relations, and advocacy. Previously, Andy worked in education as a corporate philanthropy manager, nonprofit director, and teacher. He serves on the Board of Directors of several organizations making a difference in the community including TEACH and the Latino Texas PAC, which he chairs. He’s a Harris County Leadership ISD Fellow, a Senior American Leadership Forum Fellow (Class XLVII), and a Houston Business Journal 40 under 40 honoree. Andy holds a dual B.A. in Political Science and Religion from Pepperdine University and a Master's of Science in Education from Hunter College. As the son of Salvadoran immigrants and the first one in his family to graduate from college, Andy is passionate about expanding educational equity.


Cynthia Nunes Colbert

Cynthia Nunes ColbertPresident and CEO, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Cynthia Nunes Colbert teaches courses for UHD’s Master of Nonprofit Management program. She is the Executive Director of Catholic charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and former Chair of the Community Council of the Community Action Network. She has been honored as one of Houston’s Most Admired CEOs by the Houston Business Journal and one of in 2018 was selected as one of “Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women” by Houston Woman Magazine. In 2016 she was named Hispanic Female Executive of the Year by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She has her Master’s of Social Work in Planning and Administration from the University of California, Berkeley and her B.A. in Social Work from California State University, Sacramento. She earned her Associate’s degree in Social Science from Gavilan Community College.


Heather Constantine
Photograph of Heather Constantine

Leadership and Performance Coach, Communities in the Schools
Office: 713-526-1515, Ext. 159
Direct: 713-628-5251

Heather Constantine is a licensed master social worker with independent practice recognition and an approved supervisor by the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners. She has over twenty years of experience working on behalf of children and families with the integrated student supports program Communities In Schools of Houston. Heather served on the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work Alumni Board. In addition, she acted as Board Liaison to the NASW Houston Branch Steering Committee. Heather has also served on Harris County Public Health Environmental Services Ethics Advisory Committee, University of Houston-Downtown Non-Profit Advisory Committee, Power Tools For Nonprofit Advisory Committee, and National College Access Network Advisory Task Force.


Sonia Corrales
Sonia Corrales

Chief Program Officer, Houston Area Women's Center

Sonia Corrales is the Chief Program Officer for the Houston Area Women’s Center. With over 25 years in the field she is recognized as a leader in sexual assault and domestic violence. In 2018 she was selected by the Houston Business Journal as a recipient of the Women Who Mean Business Award. She has served on many boards and commissions, including the Mayor's Commission Against Gun Violence (2018); former Chair, Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (2003-2018); Sexual Assault Kit Task Force Action Research Project (2011-2016); Member, Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act Working Group: National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach (2016); Health and Human Services Commission-Task Force to Address the Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect (2014); Hispanic Women in Leadership (2007-present); Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso.


Thao Costis
Thao Costis

Executive Director, Harris County Community Services Department.

Thao Costis is the Excutive Director of SEARCH Homeless Services, a leading Houston agency helping people move from the streets, into jobs, and safe, stable housing.  During her 25-year tenure, she's focused on how SEARCH can best help people who are homeless transform their lives, improve their health, and change how the community addresses this problem.  Prior to SEARCH, she worked at the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County where she brought together 150 not-for-profit agencies to coordinate their efforts.  Thao has a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Texas and an MBA from University of Houston.  SEARCH is a not-for-profit agency that pursues a mission of providing hope, creating opportunity, and transforming lives.  SEARCH services engage, house, educate, and increase income of individuals and families who are homeless.  For more information, visit SEARCH.


William Flores, Ph.D.

William FloresProfessor of Political Science

Dr. Bill Flores current serves as Professor of Political Science and Social Sciences at the University of Houston-Downtown where he currently teaches. Dr. Flores current serves as Director of the UHD Graduate Program in Nonprofit Management. He served as Provost/CEO and Associate Vice Chancellor at Antioch University in Santa Barbara where he added new degrees and concentrations, signed articulation and transfer agreements with community colleges, and expanded pathways for working adults. He served as President of the University of Houston-Downtown from 2009-2016. At UHD, Dr. Flores grew the institution's student enrollment by nearly 3,000 students (to 14,500 students) over 70% of which are Latino and African American. He established a second campus in Northern Houston with over 2,000 students, added master's degrees, and won national recognition for the university. Under Flores' leadership UHD established an AACSB-accredited MBA which grew to be the largest in the region with more than 1100 students.


Brian Greene
Photograph of Brian Greene

President and CEO, Houston Food Bank
Office: 713-547-8062
Main: 281-924-9332

Brian Greene is President and CEO of the Houston Food Bank, the largest Feeding America food bank in the nation and 2015 Food Bank of the Year. In fiscal year 2020 the Food Bank provided access to 159 million nutritious meals through its network of 1,500 community partners, including food pantries, soup kitchens, social service providers, and schools in southeast Texas. In addition to a successful and respected career at three food banks, Greene has served on numerous Feeding America Network committees, the National Council and on Feeding America’s Board. Outside of his food bank role, he has been active in the Global Food Bank Network and is an adjunct professor and serves as an Advisory Board Member for University of Houston-Downtown’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.


Ronnie Hagerty
Ronnie Hagerty

AVP of  Community Relations, United Way of Greater Houston


Lisa Iparrea

Lida IparreaChief Program Officer, West Houston Assistance Ministries

Elisabet has a wealth of experience and dedication to WHAM, previously serving on the board as a director in 2016 and as Vice President in 2017.  Elisabet holds a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Nonprofit Management from the University of Houston-Downtown.


Melanie Johnson
Dr. Melanie Johnson

President and CEO, Collaborative for Children
Direct: 713-600-1187
Main: 713-600-1100

Dr. Johnson has a B.A. in International Business and 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 held the position of directory of faculty development at The Art Institute of Houston where she improved student enrollment and facilitated training seminars and workshops around quality improvement.  Dr. Johnson served as the director of the education department as NASA's Space Center Houston for six years, during which she created award-winning education programs, developed STEM programs that promoted equity in education and careers, and aligned the agency's curricular content with state, national and international standards.  In 2015, Dr. Johnson was named president and CEO of the John P. McGovern Museum of Health Medical Science. There, her successful leadership in expanding revenue, attendance and awareness led to the museum's designation as the first Smithsonian Affiliate Institution in Houston's Museum District.  She was named one of the "Top 30 Most Influential Women in Houston" in 2015 and a "Woman on the Move" by the Texas Executive Women's organization in 2018. 


Steve Lufburrow
Steve Lufburrow

President and CEO, Goodwill Industries of Houston

Steve Lufburrow is President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Houston and the Executive Director of the Goodwill Industries of Houston Foundation. Founded in 1945, Goodwill Houston has continued to grow to meet the ever-changing needs of the community.  Steve has passionately led the organization’s unprecedented growth since 1986 and credits its success to the tremendous support from donors and shoppers, as well as a superior management team and board of directors. Steve is committed to the execution of new and innovated ideas.

His passion for non-profit leadership extends beyond his decades of service to Goodwill. He has served as a board member of the Galleria Chamber of Commerce; vice president of the Houston Club Board of Directors; president of the Rotary Club of Houston; president of the Texas Association of Goodwill; a member of the St. Luke’s UMC Foundation Board; the Houston Club Board of Governors and the Rotary Club of Houston Foundation. Steve currently serves as the President of the Whitehall Club, and is a member of the University of Houston’s Organizational Leadership & Supervision Advisory Board, the Better Business Bureau’s Executive Committee of the Board of Directors and the Goodwill Industries International Board of Directors. Steve and his wife Joan are past co-presidents of the Houston Alumni Association for Southwestern University.


Joel Levine
Joel Levine Executive Director, Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults

Mr. Levine has a long history as a Child Welfare Professional. Mr. Levine is the Executive Director for Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults (HCPS).   He has been with HCPS for 22 years. HCPS provides services and supports for the children and families involved with the state child welfare program in Harris County, school and community based services for child abuse and juvenile justice prevention and early intervention and the public guardianship program for incapacitated wards of the county probate courts. Prior to his current position, Mr. Levine served as Children Services Division Administrator. Previously he was the Director of Administration and Director of the TRIAD Program for County Juvenile Prevention and Early Intervention Services. Prior to HCPS, Mr. Levine worked for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services where he worked as a Caseworker, Foster Home Development Trainer and Supervisor and Program Director for Family Preservation.

Mr. Levine is a Senior Fellow in the American Leadership Forum Houston Chapter (Criminal Justice Class IV), Board President for the Texas Network of Youth Services, Member of the Houston Galveston-Area Council Criminal Justice Advisory Council, and on the Advisory Board for Springfield College School of Professional and Continuing Studies-Houston Campus.


Leah King
Leah King

President and CEO at United Way of Tarrant County
Direct: 817-258-8044
Office: 817-258-8000

Leah is now the president and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County – a nonprofit leader that brings together individuals, groups, donors and service providers to help solve some of the toughest social issues affecting Tarrant County. Each year United Way helps more than 300,000 people through its resources. As president and CEO, Leah provides leadership, sets strategic direction and ensures operational excellence, in accordance with the values and mission of United Way of Tarrant County. She is responsible for all aspects of the organization including fiscal oversight, growing financial support, streamlining processes and policies, facilitating cross-departmental collaboration and promoting a positive, professional environment.


Heather Shirk Patrick
Heather Patrick CEO of Prevent Blindness Texas

CEO Prevent Blindness Texas
Direct: 713-204-7218
Office: 713-526-2559 ext. 107

Ms. Patrick has spent more than fifteen years in the non-profit community serving at the local, regional and national levels of healthcare not for profits. A versatile and strategic leader, she has a keen ability to leverage insights and analysis to build mission programs with maximum impact performing at high levels of effectiveness and efficiency. These skills have played out over time in a career focused on systems and operations development; training and leadership development for nonprofit executives; strategic grant making; fundraising and campaign management.

Heather is currently the President and CEO of Prevent Blindness Texas tasked with overhauling entire the brand and operations of a statewide nonprofit. She is focused on leading a team across Texas to elevate vision care, improve overall health, deliver preventative screenings, navigate clients to resources, educate individuals about risk and advocate for improved access to care for clients.


Robert Sanborn, Ph.D.
Photograph of Robert Sandborn

President and CEO of Children at Risk
Office: 713-869-7740
Direct: 832-928-9440

Dr. Sanborn is a noted leader, advocate, and activist for education and children and the President and CEO of CHILDREN AT RISK. He earned his undergraduate degree at Florida State University and his doctorate at Columbia University in New York City. Before entering the non-profit sector, he had a distinguished career in higher education at institutions such as Rice University and Hampshire College.


Adolfo Santos, Ph.D.
MA NPM logo

Representing Rio Grande Valley, Assistant Provost of Texas Higher Education Center in McAllen, TX
Office: 936-258-0400


Paula Torres

Paula TorresPaula Torres currently holds the esteemed position of Executive Director at Bridgehaven Children’s Advocacy Center, where she has dedicated an impressive 19 years of her professional journey. Her tenure at the center has been marked by a steadfast commitment to its mission, serving child abuse victims in Liberty and Chambers Counties. Beginning her tenure as the Forensic Interviewer and subsequently serving as the Program Director for five years, she ascended to the role of Executive Director in 2009, leading with unwavering dedication.


Diana Zarzuelo
Diana ZarzueloSenior Director of Philanthropy, Greater Houston Community Foundation