We’re pleased to introduce the Fellows and facilitators of the 2023 Alamo Workforce Leadership Academy! The Academy — launched in partnership by Workforce Solutions Alamo and the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program — brings leaders from across the Alamo workforce ecosystem together for a year-long series of retreats, workshops, and action learning projects. The Academy provides a forum for local leaders to work collaboratively to identify local and regional systems-based challenges and create shared solutions for economic opportunity for all. Fellows work with leading practitioners throughout the country as they deepen networks; strengthen systems leadership skills; apply race, equity, and systems change frameworks to their work; and increase understanding of effective strategies and programs.
The Alamo Workforce Leadership Academy is one of eight local academies launched in 2023. Alumni of the Academy become part of the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunity Fellows Network, joining Fellows from fourteen previous Academies in eleven cities in the US and Canada.
Lori L. Hall
Program Officer, LISC – San Antonio
As Program Officer of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in San Antonio, she is responsible for collective impact activities, capacity building and technical assistance of more than 25 social and housing nonprofits. She is a local Reframing Aging trainer and has over 30years of experience in the field of community development and affordable housing.
Lori has developed single-family housing, managed real estate and homeownership programs, and implemented owner-occupied and rental rehabilitation programs. As president of L.L. Hall Consulting, she serves as a “Train the Trainer” for NeighborWorks America’s National Training Institutes and co-authored Keeping the American Dream, 3rd Edition.
Administrative Assistant, Workforce Solutions Alamo
Vanessa started working at a law firm at the age of 14 as a Filing Clerk after school and upon graduation she entered the finance sector as a banking associate. She then entered the ecosystem of workforce development with Serco of Texas.
She now serves in a critical role with the Workforce Solutions Alamo team supporting local initiatives and daily operations. She enjoys fulfilling work in helping others to make a difference. Her hobbies include crocheting and gardening.
Chief Operations Officer, Workforce Solutions Alamo
Katherine is Chief Operations Officer for Workforce Solutions Alamo, serving a 13-county area, 200,000 job seekers, and 12,000 children in early childhood education. Katherine was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitative Services and Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas RGV.
She has more than 12 years of experience building local partnerships, streamlining services, and identifying cross-cutting and sustainable approaches to addressing local community issues. In 2016, Katherine moved to San Antonio to join the local United Way as Vice President of Ready Children, overseeing UWSA’s early childhood investment. She serves on the National Academy of Medicine Health Equity and Inclusion incubator. She graduated from Leadership San Antonio, class 45.
Dual Generation Systems Director, United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County.
Lakeshia has over 14 years in nonprofit organizations and workforce development and now leads a multi-sector partnership into Phase II of the two-generational, family-centered approach geared towards strengthening low-to-moderate income families across San Antonio.
Previously, Lakeshia worked for Goodwill Industries from 2010-2020. During that time, she was the Program Manager and Lead Case Coach for the Initiative, managing the program that helped families navigate toward resiliency and economic stability. In another role as a Program Manager, Lakeshia served more than 1000 Eastside residents and guided more than 400 through career development and enriched the lives of families.
Lakeisha holds a degree in Business Administration.
Director, Bexar County Economic & Community Development, Bexar County – Economic & Community Development
Deborah was an essential team player with City of San Antonio and GreaterSATX to recruit Navistar’s newest manufacturing plant and Engineer/R&D department, which created 600+ high wage career opportunities.
In addition to company recruitment, Deborah supports the TX FAME Industry Board made up of 15 local manufacturers. The AMT and FAST programs are pathways for Bexar County residents to gain the skills necessary to start a career in Advanced Manufacturing. Deborah is passionate about creating economic mobility opportunities for her Bexar County neighbors.
Chief Operations Officer, YWCA SA
Angelica is a licensed clinical social worker with over 14 years’ experience working with various populations including pregnant and parenting teens in foster care, unaccompanied minors, young adults with disabilities, adoptive families, birth mothers, families with young children, and survivors of trafficking, sexual trauma, and domestic violence.
In her current role, she is responsible for all programmatic operations including the development of the new Women’s Live and Learn Center. In addition to daily practice she also serves as Adjunct Faculty for the Department of Social Work at UTSA. Angelica is a TBRI Practitioner, Bridges out of Poverty certified trainer, and a board approved clinical supervisor.
Director of Workforce and Industry Development, Greater New Braunfels Chamber and Economic Development Corporation
Mike has over 20 years of experience leading workforce, talent, and organizational development. Mike has gained his experience working in multiple industries such as chamber of commerce, trade associations, federal government, military, information technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and higher education. In addition to his role with the chamber, Mike serves on a state Education Standards Advisory Committee, School District Career Technical Education Advisory Committee, and has led multiple leadership development programs.
Mike has an MBA from The University of Incarnate Word and a bachelor’s in business from Wayland Baptist University. Mike comes from a military/service upbringing, as a third-generation veteran, raised by United States Air Force Veteran parents, both mother and father, and having served in the Air Force himself with duty assignments in Texas, Alaska, England, Korea, Kuwait, and Iraq.
Director, Income & Skills Development, Haven for Hope of Bexar County
Steve leads a team of professionals at Haven for Hope, a transformational homeless shelter in San Antonio, TX. He has expertise in workforce development, benefits counseling and training/education. His team uses trauma-informed principles to help clients experiencing homelessness develop their individual income plans to move toward stability and permanent housing.
Steve was born and raised in the New York City area and attended the University at Albany, where he obtained his BA in Psychology. Steve worked in business development and training roles in New York and San Antonio, before deciding to career transition his experience and education to a social services environment.
Steve also works toward advocating for urban green spaces through a butterfly and pollinator garden at his workplace on the West side of San Antonio.
COO, Family Service Association of San Antonio, Inc.
Richard Davidson is the Chief Operating Officer of Family Service Association of San Antonio, Inc. Richard has worked in the nonprofit industry in San Antonio for 29 years building collaborations.
Richard is originally an international business major and a bio-cultural anthropologist and spent his first 12 years working and living abroad throughout the world. His native American heritage (Choctaw) instilled in him a great passion for advocating for all oppressed and marginalized members of our society and a love for all of our fellow creatures in nature.
Adriana Garcia, Ph.D.
District 4 Councilwoman, San Antonio City Council
Adriana is a tenured Associate Professor of Marketing at Our Lady of the Lake University, in the School of Business and Leadership.
Adriana serves as Vice Chair of the Human Development Committee and the Women in Municipal Government for the National League of Cities. In 2020, she received the Women of Excellence Award from the National Foundation of Women Legislators. In 2022, she was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame. She is a Director of the Texas Lyceum. She is the President of the San Antonio Housing Trust (SAHT), SAHT Foundation, SAHT Public Facility Corporation, and the SAHT Finance Corporation. She is on the Bexar Appraisal District Board of Directors.
In 2018, she was named to the SA Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and is a graduate of Leadership San Antonio.
Director of Employee Engagement, Guido Companies
Ashley is the Director of Employee Engagement (HR) with Guido Companies. She was born and raised on the East Coast and relocated to Texas in 2011 with SeaWorld. In 2018, she joined Six Flags Fiesta Texas as their HR Manager and moved to their corporate office in 2020 overseeing the company’s Training and Development initiatives. Ashley made a career pivot into the construction industry in 2022
Ashley holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Virginia Wesleyan College and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from SNHU.
Strategic Community Partnership Manager/Equal Opportunity Officer, Workforce Solutions Alamo
Caroline serves as the Strategic Community Partnerships Manager with Workforce Solutions Alamo, focusing on developing partnerships to advance the agency’s goals in connecting talent pipelines to employers.
She also serves as the Equal Opportunity Officer and oversees WSA’s Workforce Academy Ambassador Program. She is a certified Results-Based Accountability Professional, and holds a MPA with a focus in Nonprofit Management from the UTSA. She completed two years of service in Americorps and has been working in the nonprofit sector since 2014.
In 2018 she was awarded the Community Initiatives Award and People’s Choice Award recognizing faith, leadership, community and diligence from Tha1 Media Hub. Currently Caroline serves as the President of the Rotary Club of San Antonio Mission Trail and is passionate about recruiting young diverse members and supporting marginalized communities.
CEO and Digital Engineer, Webhead
Janie Martinez Gonzalez is the President and CEO of Webhead, a company that pioneered and harnessed web-based technologies, digital communications, and products on the advent of the Internet in 1994. Webhead leads in the space of DevSecOps, Product Modernization, Cloud for critical mission support for notable clients: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Defense Health Agency, and Texas Workforce Solutions Organizations.
Janie has 30 years of tech experience and is a public servant and trustee for CPS Energy, representing fast-growing Southwest Quadrant 4 to support policies and investment in technologies that are revolutionizing the way the community generates, stores, and transmits power.
A public servant, she is a trustee for CPS Energy, and chair of the nation’s seventh largest city, San Antonio Texas. Represents Southwest Quadrant – 4, the fastest growing areas, focused is supporting policies and investment in technologies that are revolutionizing the way we generate, store, and transmit power to put more power into the hands of the community.
Special Education Director for Transition Services and Vocational Education, North East ISD
Lorena Gonzalez is currently a Special Education Director at North East ISD, and has been an educator for 14 years. She works with other educational departments and state and local organizations to strengthen and expand vocational pathways, specifically for individuals with complex needs
Lorena entered education after serving as a mental health specialist for five years with neurodivergent populations. Lorena serves on the Board of Directors for Luminary Ministries.
Chief of Staff, Easy Expunctions
Yousef Kassim is a licensed attorney and Co-founder/CEO of the justice technology company EasyExpunctions.com. Kassim is a Notley Fellow and serves as the chairman of the board of Crosspoint, Inc., a founding board member of the Justice Technology Association, and a board member of Workforce Solutions Alamo.
Kassim mentors startups in the criminal justice space for MIT Solve: Unbundling Policing Challenge and serves on the Advisory Board Member at the Fair Chance Institute.and Village Capital’s Innovations in Justice Tech program. Kassim is a graduate of Trinity University and St. Mary’s University School of Law where he was recently named one of the top ten graduates of the last decade.
Business Retention and Expansion Manager, Converse Economic Development Corporation
She is a dedicated economic development professional passionate about business expansion, job creation, and quality of life in Converse, Texas. In her role, she works with businesses to identify needs and connect them to local and state resources. Kat also assists businesses with workforce upscaling and development, facility growth and relocation, financing opportunities for new projects and investments, resolving regulatory issues that hamper growth, and technical support including marketing.
VP, Workforce Development, Greater SATX
As Vice President of Workforce Development for greater San Antonio, Christopher leads employer engagement to promote alignment across the region’s workforce development ecosystem. Christopher manages greater:SATX’s partnership for the City of San Antonio’s Ready to Work program, hidden workforce initiatives, K12 internship and job shadow programming, and the implementation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management process for five industries to develop short and long-term talent pipeline solutions. Through these efforts, Christopher also partners with regional workforce agencies and education providers to create best practices for workplace readiness and career awareness.
Christopher was selected as the 2023 San Antonio Business Journal’s 40 under 40 Man of the Year, serves as a TPM Mentor for national TPM Academy cohorts, and is an alumnus and steering committee member for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Alexander Briseño Leadership Development Program.
Director of Community Development and Housing, Bexar County – Community & Housing
Robert H. Reyna serves as Community Development Director for the Bexar County Economic and Community Development Department (ECD). In this capacity, he oversees a multi-million dollar grant portfolio comprised of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES), American Rescue Plan (ARP), and General Administration funds.
Mr. Reyna possesses broad technical expertise in the areas of economic and community development, regulatory compliance, and grant administration. His experience includes designing and implementing community development programs that provide decent housing, suitable living environments, and expanded economic opportunities for residents of Bexar County.
Mr. Reyna holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) and a Master of Administration (M.B.A.) degree. He is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree from the University of Southern California.
Kelli Rhodes, MBA
CEO, Restore Education
Kelli G. Rhodes, MBA, is the President & CEO of Restore Education (Executive Director ’12-’21 & Program Director ‘08-’12). An alumna of UTSA, she brings almost 20 years of experience in education, first as a middle and high school teacher. In 2008, Kelli partnered with the founding Executive Director to create Restore Education as an innovative and flexible program to help individuals earn their GED and successfully transition to postsecondary.
During her tenure, Restore Education has seen exponential growth and has become an established leader in local adult education and workforce development outcomes in South Texas. In 2020, Kelli was awarded Administrator of the Year from the Texas Association for Literacy and Adult Education. She is also a Board member for Workforce Solutions Alamo.
Community Specialist Manager, Communities In Schools
Natasha Richardson currently works for Communities in Schools assisting with community level design and implementation for the Future Ready Community Specialist program, focusing on cross-sector partnership with K-12 institutions and community partners.
She is a licensed professional counselor who has worked in a variety of settings with adolescents, women, and families both domestically and internationally. Natasha has a Master of Public Health, and a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Natasha has completed both a year of service with AmeriCorps City Year program and international service with Peace Corps in Peru. Her wide variety of experiences has offered her exposure to both prevention, intervention, and addressing health disparities. Natasha has a strong connection to cultural awareness, equity, engaging minorities in mental health, and elevating voices.
Sandra Richardson (Torres)
Business Strategists, Strategic Links
Sandra Richardson is Business Strategist with Strategic Links. In this role, she establishes partnerships in San Antonio that promote citizen diplomacy, globalization of shared business practices, and workforce initiatives that yield intentional employment. In July of 2022, two years of employer focused groups promoting youth apprenticeship yielded the approval of the first Youth Apprenticeship in Insurance approved by the United States Department of Labor.
Her initial inspiration to serve was in 1989, when she recognized that kindergarteners’ parents had limited English skills and she developed an ESL and GED program to meet those needs. 20 years later, she was able to promote education and training and nurture community development projects that enhance families in small communities with limited access to resources. Her bilateral experience with small communities provided potable water to small communities along the U.S. Mexico border via the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Program Analyst II, Bexar County Community Supervision & Corrections Dept.
Sonia Sandoval is the Program Analyst for Bexar County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. Sonia was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and attended the University of Texas at San Antonio and Our Lady of the Lake University.
Sonia’s goal is to become an Assistant Chief in the department and she enjoys seeking employment opportunities and resources for her staff and the justice involved population. Sonia has recently been appointed to the Texas Probation Association as a committee member and has also been tasked to assist in the annual job fair hosted for the justice involved population. Sonia has been a certified probation officer for 12 years.
Executive Director, Each One Teach One
Deborah Siller-Cruz, a native of San Antonio, received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of the Incarnate Word. After spending time in the retail industry, she received her teaching certification from the University of Texas in San Antonio in 1987 and a Masters of Education from Texas A&I Kingsville in 1993.
For 27 years, Mrs. Siller-Cruz served in various positions in San Antonio ISD, from classroom teacher to school principal. She has extensive experience in the development and evaluation of curriculum, the implementation of innovative instructional programing, and the establishment of positive relationships between and among all stakeholders in an organization.
Having seen the effects of a lack of literacy skills among parents of school-aged children, Deborah joined the team at Each One Teach One to advocate for adult literacy and further its mission.
Owner, Express Employment Professionals
Robert Spencer serves as the owner/franchisee for Express Employment Professionals’ Northwest San Antonio office. Express is a staffing company focused on helping as many people as possible find good jobs by helping as many clients as possible find good people.
Robert has spent many years focused on community impact, including workforce development. He served as Chairman of Houston’s Mayor’s Affirmative Action Advisory Commission and was appointed by the Mayor of New Orleans as Chair of the New Orleans Workforce Investment Board. He is also an ordained minister of the United Pentecostal Church International. Previously, Robert served in several diverse collaborative organizations focused on capacity building including the Center for Houston’s Future, the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute, and the Texas Lyceum.
Robert received his bachelors from the University of Houston-Downtown, masters from Texas A&M University, and law degree from South Texas College of Law.
Regional Director, SERCO of Texas, Inc.
Manuel Ugues is the Regional Director, SERCO of Texas, Inc., responsible for oversight and management of SERCO’s operational units in six regions in Texas: San Antonio, Laredo, Abilene, San Angelo, Bryan/College Station, and McKinney (Dallas).
Previously, Manuel has held direct service and leadership positions in a variety of business and economic development entities, including the Corpus Christi Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Coastal Bend Minority Business Council, and G&A Partners, among others.
Raised in South Texas and born in Kingsville, Texas, Manuel is the first member of his immediate family to attend higher education and worked as a mechanic’s helper to pay for college expenses. He graduated with a BBA from Texas A&I/Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Senior Management Analyst, City of San Antonio – Department of Human Services
Nina Villalta is Senior Management Analyst with the City of San Antonio. A San Antonio native, she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Organizational Development and Leadership from the University of the Incarnate Word.
Nina served over 9 years in healthcare and then began working in social services with the City of San Antonio (CoSA) in 2017. She started at Head Start, transitioned to NXT Level, and is now a Senior Management Analyst with CoSA’s Department of Human Services Director’s Office.
In the Director’s Office Nina directly supports the city’s Education Administrator in managing the Youth Success Division which includes the following city programs: NXT Level Youth Opportunity Center, Ambassador Summer Youth Program, Education Commissions, Early Head Start, and Head Start.