Our Board and Team | About Us | Families Empowered

MEET THE TEAM

Lexi Ashbury

Development Coordinator

Lexi Ashbury

Development Coordinator

Email: aashbury@familiesempowered.org

Lexi comes to the Families Empowered team with a unique background of public relations, social media and digital marketing experience. Lexi is a Woodlands local and received her Public Relations degree from Texas State University in 2020.

When she’s not busy working with our Development Team to help fundraise and connect with important donors and funders, she’s enjoying concerts, spending time with friends, and mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Houston.

Lexi aims to use her strong communications background to communicate why our work and services impact and empower the lives of Texas families as they navigate their school choice journeys.

Holly Beretto

Marketing & Communications Director

Holly Beretto

Marketing & Communications Director

Email: hberetto@familiesempowered.org

Holly comes to the Families Empowered team with an extensive background in non-profit marketing and communication. She will use her unique understanding of the importance of school choice to communicate Families Empowered’s mission and goals to Texas families.

From the beginning of her education journey at The Henry Barnard School (proud member Class of ’84), Holly has continued to hone and refine her passion for creative writing, storytelling, marketing, journalism, and communications while working across television news, public relations, education, and nonprofit spaces in a career than spans 30 years, four states and six cities.

When Holly isn’t busy at the helm of the Families Empowered Marketing and Communications department, she’s traveling with her husband, enjoying local theatre, and helping keep Houston’s independent bookstores in business.

Dr. Tihalia Brown

Chief Program Officer

Dr. Tihalia Brown

Chief Program Officer

Email: tbrown@familiesempowered.org

Dr. Brown joins the Families Empowered team with a unique understanding of how impactful education in the non-profit space can be for Texas families.

Dr. Brown aims to use her extensive background in Early Childhood Education, non-profit program development, and operational management to enhance our team and continue serving and empowering families across state lines.

When Dr. Brown isn’t helping families find the best educational space for them, she’s spending time with her loved ones exploring tropical vacations, and enjoying social outings.

Ray Cacheiro

Customer Service Representative

Ray Cacheiro

Customer Service Representative

Email: rcacheiro@familiesempowered.org

Ray comes to the Families Empowered team with a strong customer service background and a passion for supporting families and making a difference in his community. Ray is originally from Cuba and completed his Bachelor’s of Science at The Havana’s University with a specialty in Food Science.

When Ray isn’t busy helping families navigate the school choice process and understanding their school options, he enjoys singing, theatre, and being a social media food blogger. Ray understands how confusing and overwhelming the school choice process can be and is excited and eager to use his skills as a customer service professional to be the helping hand Texas families need while they find the right schools for their children.

Theresa Callaway

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Theresa Callaway

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Email: Email: tcallaway@familiesempowered.org

Theresa Callaway is a passionate communications professional with a strong administrative background that specializes in content strategy, social media management and content creation. She comes to Families Empowered with a background in Journalism, Media Design and an ever-growing passion for learning new things and exploring new opportunities. She is passionate about using her skills to continue helping others, giving back to her community and using her background to tell engaging stories in new and creative ways. Theresa aims to continue using her skills to give back and make a difference in the communities she serves. 

Theresa lives in Georgetown with her two cats, Gemini and Gizmo.

Patricia Castillo

Operations Manager

Patricia Castillo

Operations Manager

Email: pcastillo@familiesempowered.org

Prior to working at Families Empowered, Patricia was the Office Manager at USA Car Sales from October 2011 to February 2019. In March 2003, she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and opened a popsicle factory to help her two younger sisters go to college. In addition to being the founder of that business, she managed finance, administration, and production. The work that Families Empowered does every day is something Patricia holds close to her heart, and she considers it an honor for her to be able to work alongside a team that is making such an impact and difference in the lives of others.

Colleen Dippel

Founder & CEO

Colleen Dippel

Founder & CEO

Email: cdippel@familiesempowered.org
Phone: (713) 589-8767

Colleen Dippel began her career as a public school teacher. She left teaching to help launch a private-sector education technology start-up. She’s served as the Director of the KIPP School Leadership Program, the Director of Alumni Support for Teach For America- Houston, and as the Director of Education Initiatives at Aquinas Co. At Aquinas, she launched Families Empowered, which she leads today.

Colleen is the proud mother of two active children.

Julia Dvorak

School Services Manger

Julia Dvorak

School Services Manger

Adriana Ellis

Programs Manager

Adriana Ellis

Programs Manager

Email: aellis@familiesempowered.org

Adriana comes to the Families Empowered team with a strong background in customer service and a unique understanding of the school choice space. Prior to joining the Programs team, Adriana worked hand-in-hand with Texas families, ensuring they had the resources they needed to succeed and thrive.

 

When Adriana isn’t busy managing the Call Center team at Families Empowered, she’s spending time with her friends and family, playing with her dog Bailey, and watching horror movies!

Marissa Romero

Receptionist

Marissa Romero

Receptionist

Email: mromero@familiesempowered.org

Marissa comes to the Families Empowered team with a wealth of customer service and administrative experience and dedication to helping families find the right school options for their kids. As a parent, Marissa has a special understanding of how challenging it is to navigate all of her school options and find the right school for her children. 

When Marissa isn’t busy providing administrative support to the Families Empowered team, she’s also supporting Texas families in navigating their school choice options alongside the Customer Service Representative team. 

In her free time, Marissa enjoys spending time with her son, watching movies, and shopping.

Deanna Sheaffer

Director of Business Development

Deanna Sheaffer

Director of Business Development

Email: dsheaffer@familiesempowered.org
Phone: 713-589-8767

Deanna Sheaffer has more than 25 years of non-profit advancement/development experience, primarily in education.  Deanna has worked with the Advancement Team at KIPP Houston and was the Director of Alumni Support for Teach For America’s Houston office. She received her MBA from the Jones Business School at Rice University and in 1999, Deanna joined Rice University as the Director of Alumni Engagement and Finance. She originally moved to Houston as a 1991 Teach For America corps member.

She is married to a native Houstonian and is the mother of four sons.

Allison Squier

Senior Customer Service Representative

Allison Squier

Senior Customer Service Representative

Email: asquier@familiesempowered.org

Allison Squier joined the Families Empowered team to support parents searching for schools as a Senior Customer Service Representative.

In her previous career as a business development executive, she played a critical role in helping businesses expand into Latin American countries. In her role as a Financial Client Service Representative at Bank of America, she regularly attended to the needs and finances of international clients.

In her free time, Allison loves to paint, travel with her family, and above all, enjoy good food and wine with friends.

Lexi Ashbury

Development Coordinator

Bio

Email: aashbury@familiesempowered.org

Lexi comes to the Families Empowered team with a unique background of public relations, social media and digital marketing experience. Lexi is a Woodlands local and received her Public Relations degree from Texas State University in 2020.

When she’s not busy working with our Development Team to help fundraise and connect with important donors and funders, she’s enjoying concerts, spending time with friends, and mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Houston.

Lexi aims to use her strong communications background to communicate why our work and services impact and empower the lives of Texas families as they navigate their school choice journeys.

Holly Beretto

Marketing & Communications Director

Bio

Email: hberetto@familiesempowered.org

Holly comes to the Families Empowered team with an extensive background in non-profit marketing and communication. She will use her unique understanding of the importance of school choice to communicate Families Empowered’s mission and goals to Texas families.

From the beginning of her education journey at The Henry Barnard School (proud member Class of ’84), Holly has continued to hone and refine her passion for creative writing, storytelling, marketing, journalism, and communications while working across television news, public relations, education, and nonprofit spaces in a career than spans 30 years, four states and six cities.

When Holly isn’t busy at the helm of the Families Empowered Marketing and Communications department, she’s traveling with her husband, enjoying local theatre, and helping keep Houston’s independent bookstores in business.

Dr. Tihalia Brown

Chief Program Officer

Bio

Email: tbrown@familiesempowered.org

Dr. Brown joins the Families Empowered team with a unique understanding of how impactful education in the non-profit space can be for Texas families.

Dr. Brown aims to use her extensive background in Early Childhood Education, non-profit program development, and operational management to enhance our team and continue serving and empowering families across state lines.

When Dr. Brown isn’t helping families find the best educational space for them, she’s spending time with her loved ones exploring tropical vacations, and enjoying social outings.

Ray Cacheiro

Customer Service Representative

Bio

Email: rcacheiro@familiesempowered.org

Ray comes to the Families Empowered team with a strong customer service background and a passion for supporting families and making a difference in his community. Ray is originally from Cuba and completed his Bachelor’s of Science at The Havana’s University with a specialty in Food Science.

When Ray isn’t busy helping families navigate the school choice process and understanding their school options, he enjoys singing, theatre, and being a social media food blogger. Ray understands how confusing and overwhelming the school choice process can be and is excited and eager to use his skills as a customer service professional to be the helping hand Texas families need while they find the right schools for their children.

Theresa Callaway

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Bio

Email: Email: tcallaway@familiesempowered.org

Theresa Callaway is a passionate communications professional with a strong administrative background that specializes in content strategy, social media management and content creation. She comes to Families Empowered with a background in Journalism, Media Design and an ever-growing passion for learning new things and exploring new opportunities. She is passionate about using her skills to continue helping others, giving back to her community and using her background to tell engaging stories in new and creative ways. Theresa aims to continue using her skills to give back and make a difference in the communities she serves. 

Theresa lives in Georgetown with her two cats, Gemini and Gizmo.

Patricia Castillo

Operations Manager

Bio

Email: pcastillo@familiesempowered.org

Prior to working at Families Empowered, Patricia was the Office Manager at USA Car Sales from October 2011 to February 2019. In March 2003, she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and opened a popsicle factory to help her two younger sisters go to college. In addition to being the founder of that business, she managed finance, administration, and production. The work that Families Empowered does every day is something Patricia holds close to her heart, and she considers it an honor for her to be able to work alongside a team that is making such an impact and difference in the lives of others.

Colleen Dippel

Founder & CEO

Bio

Email: cdippel@familiesempowered.org
Phone: (713) 589-8767

Colleen Dippel began her career as a public school teacher. She left teaching to help launch a private-sector education technology start-up. She’s served as the Director of the KIPP School Leadership Program, the Director of Alumni Support for Teach For America- Houston, and as the Director of Education Initiatives at Aquinas Co. At Aquinas, she launched Families Empowered, which she leads today.

Colleen is the proud mother of two active children.

Julia Dvorak

School Services Manger

Bio

Adriana Ellis

Programs Manager

Bio

Email: aellis@familiesempowered.org

Adriana comes to the Families Empowered team with a strong background in customer service and a unique understanding of the school choice space. Prior to joining the Programs team, Adriana worked hand-in-hand with Texas families, ensuring they had the resources they needed to succeed and thrive.

 

When Adriana isn’t busy managing the Call Center team at Families Empowered, she’s spending time with her friends and family, playing with her dog Bailey, and watching horror movies!

Marissa Romero

Receptionist

Bio

Email: mromero@familiesempowered.org

Marissa comes to the Families Empowered team with a wealth of customer service and administrative experience and dedication to helping families find the right school options for their kids. As a parent, Marissa has a special understanding of how challenging it is to navigate all of her school options and find the right school for her children. 

When Marissa isn’t busy providing administrative support to the Families Empowered team, she’s also supporting Texas families in navigating their school choice options alongside the Customer Service Representative team. 

In her free time, Marissa enjoys spending time with her son, watching movies, and shopping.

Deanna Sheaffer

Director of Business Development

Bio

Email: dsheaffer@familiesempowered.org
Phone: 713-589-8767

Deanna Sheaffer has more than 25 years of non-profit advancement/development experience, primarily in education.  Deanna has worked with the Advancement Team at KIPP Houston and was the Director of Alumni Support for Teach For America’s Houston office. She received her MBA from the Jones Business School at Rice University and in 1999, Deanna joined Rice University as the Director of Alumni Engagement and Finance. She originally moved to Houston as a 1991 Teach For America corps member.

She is married to a native Houstonian and is the mother of four sons.

Allison Squier

Senior Customer Service Representative

Bio

Email: asquier@familiesempowered.org

Allison Squier joined the Families Empowered team to support parents searching for schools as a Senior Customer Service Representative.

In her previous career as a business development executive, she played a critical role in helping businesses expand into Latin American countries. In her role as a Financial Client Service Representative at Bank of America, she regularly attended to the needs and finances of international clients.

In her free time, Allison loves to paint, travel with her family, and above all, enjoy good food and wine with friends.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Leo Linbeck III, Chair

President and CEO, Aquinas Companies, LLC

Leo Linbeck III, Chair

President and CEO, Aquinas Companies, LLC

Jason Bernal

Superintendent - Premier High Schools

Jason Bernal

Superintendent - Premier High Schools

Alexandria Hodge

Development Director, Agape Development (OBR, Junior League of Houston)

Alexandria Hodge

Development Director, Agape Development (OBR, Junior League of Houston)

Debbie Hurwitz

Community Leader, Parent and Coach

Debbie Hurwitz

Community Leader, Parent and Coach

Lalla V. Morris

Legal Counsel & Manager, Data Privacy & Records Management, CenterPoint Energy

Lalla V. Morris

Legal Counsel & Manager, Data Privacy & Records Management, CenterPoint Energy

Alison Porter

Owner, Apex Leadership Company

Alison Porter

Owner, Apex Leadership Company

Annette Van Brunt

President, Van Brunt & Associates, Inc.

Annette Van Brunt

President, Van Brunt & Associates, Inc.

Leo Linbeck III, Chair

President and CEO, Aquinas Companies, LLC

Bio

Jason Bernal

Superintendent - Premier High Schools

Bio

Alexandria Hodge

Development Director, Agape Development (OBR, Junior League of Houston)

Bio

Debbie Hurwitz

Community Leader, Parent and Coach

Bio

Lalla V. Morris

Legal Counsel & Manager, Data Privacy & Records Management, CenterPoint Energy

Bio

Alison Porter

Owner, Apex Leadership Company

Bio

Annette Van Brunt

President, Van Brunt & Associates, Inc.

Bio