DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
BUSINESS AND MENTOR RECRUITER
Dan became Seedling’s Executive Director in August 2017 with 21 years of nonprofit management experience. Dan has helped the Board of Directors to develop a strategic plan that will increase the number of children served and to increase the depth of services and resources for children of incarcerated parents.
Dan served as the Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center in Denton County for 15 years. Dan led an organization of 29 staff members and 37 partner agencies to provide justice, safety, and healing for abused children. During Dan’s tenure, the Children’s Advocacy Center was selected as the Inaugural Nonprofit of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in Southern Denton County. Dan also collaborated with Jenna Quinn and State Representative Tan Parker on the passing of Jenna’s Law, which served as the catalyst for Children’s Advocacy Centers in Texas to add education to their service delivery.
Prior to joining the Advocacy Center, Dan served as the Human Services Coordinator for the City of Denton and was named Public Health Advocate of the Year by the Denton County Health Department. He has also been honored by the Denton County Alliance for the mentally ill and been a recipient of the David Fitch Humanitarian Award from the University of North Texas.
Dan and his wife Kirstin have two adult sons. Dan’s youngest son serves in the United States Air Force. Dan enjoys sports and broadcasted high school sports on the radio for 20 years. Dan and his wife Kirstin are both proud to serve as Seedling mentors.
DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS
Connie joined Seedling with over 20 years of experience working with children and families in the non-profit sector. In five years working in the Caribbean and Central America, Connie’s areas of impact included spearheading a four-community-wide Latrine Building Project, collaborating with the local school to bring education programming for healthy choices and environmental awareness, training community health workers on fundraising and project development/management (all in the Dominican Republic with the U.S. Peace Corps), and serving as CFO and acting Country Director for Global Education Partnership in Guatemala, training youth in computer and job skills for the global marketplace.
In Austin, she began as a Health Educator with People’s Community Clinic, including work specifically with homeless youth. Prior to joining Seedling, Connie spent twelve years developing and honing her skills and expertise in the field of youth mentoring at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, working her way up from Match Support Specialist to Vice President of Programs. Connie has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University and is bilingual in English/Spanish.
At Seedling, Connie enjoys using her years of experience and expertise working with children and youth, and her passion for social justice to support agency growth and continued programmatic excellence. Connie lives in East Austin with her treasured dog, Harlow.
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
Julie Barschow joined Seedling as the Director of Development with 20 years of nonprofit management, development and marketing experience. Spending the first six years of her career with the YMCA of Austin, she helped retain and grow membership at the Y’s flagship branch in downtown Austin, while also helping grow the Partner of Youth campaign to help bring the Y’s services to all, despite their financial circumstances. Julie then transitioned to Boys & Girls Clubs of Austin, where she spent the next decade in development and marketing, helping raise more than $1mm per year through a variety of initiatives and events. During her tenure, the Boys & Girls Clubs grew from serving less than 1,000 kids to more than 10,000, and from annual revenue of less than $800K to $7mm. Julie assisted the organization through its largest growth period, helping build and improve systems, resulting in more contributions and community awareness across all resource development avenues. She has also run her own business, offering development and marketing consulting and services for nonprofits and small businesses.
Julie holds a B.S. in Communications Studies from The University of Texas at Austin, and has completed advanced leadership training under The Professional Association of Boys & Girls Clubs’ award-winning leadership program. Julie is a member of and has previously served on the board for Women Communicators of Austin, and has served as both President and VP of Fundraising for the Parent Teacher Associations at her childrens’ schools in AISD and HCISD.
Julie is a native of Austin and Kyle/Buda, and is at least a 4th generation native Texan. Her husband Joe is an Austin firefighter and they have great adventures with their son and daughter. In her spare time, Julie loves singing and writing songs, “RV-ing” and exploring the outdoors with her family, and blogging about her backyard garden experiments and recipes in Buda. She also enjoys volunteering in and around her community and with her church.
Erin joined the Seedling team as a Mentor Director in November 2021 after 20 years as a school social worker. Erin received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Illinois State University and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After graduation, she spent 11 years working as an Elementary School Social worker about an hour outside of Chicago. While Erin enjoyed that position, she was eager for warmer weather so she moved to Texas in 2013. At this time, Erin became employed at Pflugerville ISD as a District Social Worker and Wraparound Coordinator, serving youth with significant mental health needs. This position gave her the opportunity to work with schools, youth, families, as well as mentors and therapists through a collaborative team and Strength’s based approach. This position showed her how powerful mentor relationships can be, so she is looking forward to continuing this work with Seedling.
While not at work, Erin enjoys traveling, visiting with family and friends, anything water related, reality and True Crime shows, and spending time with her sassy cat.
Ana joined the Seedling team in 2022 as a Mentor Director, following 18 years working as a school social worker. Ana has over 26 years of Social Worker experience and has been employed in a variety of social service settings, including Texas child welfare systems, hospitals, home health agencies, community courts and secondary schools. Ana has a wide range of clinical skills and attended the Texas Christian University Karyn Purvis Institute to become a TBRI practitioner (Trust Based Relational Intervention). TBRI is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. Ana is able to disarm the fear-based behaviors in children and is able to conciliate the child.
Over the last 15 years, Ana was employed with the Pflugerville ISD, in Pflugerville, TX. As a school social worker, Ana clinically supported challenging students’ issues, such as, mental health conditions, homelessness, early pregnancy, substance abuse, childhood traumas. She assisted families to navigate through the educational system and access educational supports such as Section 504 and other federal programs for disabled students. Ana has developed programs and resources designed to train educational staff on the integration of LGBTQ initiatives in secondary schools.
Ana is native of the Rio Grande Valley with strong bonds to her Mexican family heritage. She attended Texas State University as a track and field athlete. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Texas State University and her Master’s Degree in Social Work with a focus on Administration and Supervision. Ana met her husband in San Marcos and together raised three children in Pflugerville, TX. Ana enjoys spending time with her family traveling to the beach and camping. She also enjoys watching movies and continues to engage in sports.
Ana looks forward to making a difference each year, with the youth and adult mentors in the Seedling Mentoring program, offering her expertise around building connections and empowering students.
Karina Pérez Cantú
Karinna joined Seedling in 2022 after working with Central Texas schools and nonprofits for the past 18 years. As a school social worker, Karinna worked with students and families in crisis and helped advocate for their needs within the school system. Karinna provided short term therapy and group therapy for middle and high school students. In particular, Karinna led a group for middle school students who have an incarcerated parent and grew to understand some of the unique challenges these students face.
She has worked with CASA of Travis County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas and facilitated a middle school mentoring program while she was a school social worker. She has seen, first hand, how a mentor can impact a student and is incredibly grateful to work with mentors and mentees across Central Texas as a Mentor Director with Seedling.
Karinna earned a BS in Communication Studies, MS in Social Work and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Texas at Austin. She enjoys watching Austin FC, seeing live theater, hiking (when it’s not too hot or too cold), and spending time with her family. You may see her on stage or in a local commercial, as she has not given up on her dream of being a movie star.
Lynn joined Seedling with 28 years experience as a Special Education teacher in our area public school districts. Lynn has served in teacher leadership roles where she supervised and assisted teachers in order to coordinate services and develop individual program plans for students with special needs. While Lynn’s area of teaching expertise is in teaching reading and writing to middle school students with learning disabilities, she has mentored numerous students and beginning teachers. Outside the world of work, Lynn has been a volunteer with the Sunshine Kids Foundation where she has assisted in planning and coordinating positive life experiences for young cancer patients.
Through her teaching experiences, Lynn recognizes the importance for children of incarcerated parents to develop meaningful relationships with compassionate, positive role models. At Seedling, Lynn is pleased to share her knowledge of child development and the positive spirit of mentorship with members of our community. Lynn has a Bachelor of Science in Habilitation of the Deaf from Texas Christian University and a Master’s in Educational Administration from Texas State University.
Erica Flores enthusiastically joined the distinguished Seedling team in the fall of 2018. She has over a decade of nonprofit management experience and has been working in youth education since she taught preschool while attaining her BS from the University of Texas. Following graduation, Erica moved to Los Angeles where she earned her MA in Communications Managment from the University of Southern California. It was during this time that she began to focus her efforts on social justice and community work.
Erica spent the better part of the next decade working in the Girls Rock Camp movement, eventually making her way back to her hometown of Austin to serve as Executive Director of Girls Rock Austin. She served three terms on the board of the international Girls Rock Camp Alliance, helping guide the movement double its reach to over 100 chapters worldwide. Other local organizations she’s worked with include 826LA, Austin Public Library, Science in a Suitcase, Latinitas, and RAICES.
When not working or volunteering around town, Erica enjoys road trips, bad movies, playing music, and trying to get attention from her neurotic dog. She can usually be found hanging out with family and friends in East Austin or at a bookstore wishing for infinite time to read everything.
Sabra joined the Seedling family in 2012 as Trainer and Mentor Director. Her previous work includes over 20 years of experience in Austin non-profits, providing case management and social services to students and their families at all school levels in Austin ISD and Del Valle ISD. She has had the privilege of assisting youth in developing their leadership skills through combatting racism, enhancing empathy, and using their voice for change. Sabra also planned dropout prevention strategies for students, recruited, trained, and supported mentors; and developed her reputation as a skilled trainer for staff and volunteers alike.
Sabra earned a Bachelor’s in Social Work at Texas Tech University and her Master’s in Social Work at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. Sabra’s passion has always been working with young people and helping them find their unique way in the world.
Benito “Ben” Ornelas
BUSINESS AND MENTOR RECRUITER
Ben is no stranger to Seedling. He served on their board of directors and volunteered as a Seedling mentor and has continued to support agency for many years. As a proud and passionate mentor, he knows that a caring adult can change the trajectory of a young person’s life which plays a major part of Seedling’s values. He is grateful to have served with amazing colleagues on the boards of Austin Partners in Education, ACE, A Community for Education and Operation Blue Santa, where he also mentored and tutored for many years.
He and his wife Maria have two grown children who now live in Waco and North Carolina. His interests include refinishing furniture, watercolor painting, gardening, traveling and he enjoys all sports, especially soccer.
Amelia joins Seedling with more than twenty-one years of experience as a school social worker, including 10 years with the Austin Independent School District, 2 years with Del Valle ISD and 1 year with both Round Rock ISD and Pflugerville ISD.
She brings to Seedling vast and varied experiences including a deep knowledge base in Positive Behavior Supports (PBS). While in AISD she was a team member and leader for the very successful and effective district-level PBS initiative which helped in creating positive campus climates, reducing disciplinary infractions and improving student academic achievement. As a Safe and Drug-Free Schools Middle School Program Coordinator, she was responsible for coordinating community-based programs aimed at preventing and reducing the use of drugs and alcohol by middle school students.
In her capacity as Community Liaison in Del Valle ISD Amelia served students and families eligible for the Federal Migrant Program as a case manager supporting students and their families as well as teachers and administrators at Hornsby-Dunlap in varied capacities including coordinating programs aimed at improving student academic achievement. Amelia brings additional knowledge and experiences from her dedicated work as a Parent Educator at The SAFE Alliance and as an Advocate Supervisor in support of adult volunteers at C.A.S.A. of Williamson County.
Coming to Seedling has brought her full circle; back to work in support of students. For this opportunity, Amelia is very grateful and hopeful that she can once again make a positive difference in the lives of ‘at-risk’ students!
Amelia earned both her Bachelor of Social Work and her Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin.
Amelia is a proud native Texan! She and her two teenage sons live in Round Rock. Together they enjoy traveling, the beach and Marvel movies.
CUSTOMER RELATIONS SPECIALIST
Alison joined the Seedling team in April 2017. She has a BS in Natural Resource Economics from the University of Arizona. Alison has spent the bulk of her career in business and brings with her 10 years’ experience in executive office support with an emphasis on client relations.
Upon her children settling into school, Alison had the opportunity to carve a new path and follow her passion. Her compassionate nature, dedication to children, and professional office background provided her with the perfect combination of experience and motivation for the Customer Relations Specialist position at Seedling.
Alison has been fortunate to lead an adventurous life traveling to a wide variety of places and cultures. Having had these experiences, she enjoys working with people from all backgrounds and strives to provide excellent service to all.
Alison is proud to be 6th generation Texan! In fact, Andrews County earned its name from an ancestor of hers who was the first to sacrifice his life in the Texas Revolution.
Outside of work, Alison is raising her 3 moppets; a Labrador named Micah and very active twins, Zach, and Savannah. She spends most of her time trying to round them up and hopes to one day be successful.
New to Seedling in Fall 2018, but a native of Austin, Kendra has a genuine fondness for her city and the unique array of people who call it home. Kendra graduated from Texas Lutheran University with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Geography. While earning her MLA with a concentration in Social Justice at St. Edward’s University, she served as an after school art instructor with AISD through the ACE Afterschool program. Kendra then decided that she wanted to make a greater impact in children’s lives and became a conservatorship worker for CPS. While working with CPS, she primarily helped young adults transition into successful adulthood. Having witnessed how critical and how necessary supportive and positive adults are in children’s lives, Kendra sought out Seedling as an opportunity to help adults become those necessary role models and mentors that children facing familial challenges can depend on.
During her free time, Kendra enjoys anything art related, attending music concerts and festivals. When at home, she cares to unwind with her spunky dog, Xoey.
After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2021 with a Bachelor’s degree in English, Emily joined the Seedling team as Development Associate. During her time at UT, Emily took a course on philanthropy where she and her classmates spent an entire semester researching and communicating with nonprofits to ultimately decide which ones would receive a donation sponsored by the Philanthropy Lab. In her senior year at UT, Emily also completed an internship at the Christi Center as the Development Intern and served as the Fundraising Chair at Texas Real, a student-run nonprofit at UT. These experiences along with years of volunteering with local charities led her to want a career in the nonprofit world.
Emily also has years of childcare experience that she is excited to draw upon as a mentor. She is passionate about working with children and is looking forward to helping Seedling mentees grow and learn.
When not working, Emily can be found kayaking on the Colorado, swimming at Barton Creek, enjoying Austin’s music scene, or checking out new restaurants.
Gina eagerly joined Seedling in 2018 to continue serving others in the community and through her love of education. She spent 22 years in the education field, starting immediately upon graduation with a Science Education degree from Missouri State University. Gina taught Junior High and High School science in Missouri and Texas, then transitioned to coordinator roles in Texas as a Middle Years Programme Coordinator for the International Baccalaureate Programme and an Instructional Coordinator for a traditional high school and an alternative high school. She then became a home loan originator prior to joining Seedling.
Those who know Gina well, know that she adores her two boys, and enjoys spending time exploring parks, hiking, touring museums, attending festivals, going to car and air shows, visiting historic sites, and is an avid movie-goer.
Gina enjoys volunteering and supporting Military Veterans as the daughter of a 30 year Veteran, and she also supports Dog Rescue organizations.
Gina is proud to be a part of Seedling.