Board of Directors

Every Texan's important work is made possible by the leadership of our board of directors, who volunteer their time to to make Texas the best state to live in, where Texans of all backgrounds have a fair opportunity to thrive.

2021 Board of Directors

James Aldrete, Chair

James Aldrete is the owner of Message Audience Presentation, Inc., a political communication company in Austin. MAP’s creative and strategic work has been recognized in Campaigns & Elections Magazine, as well as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Slate Magazine, among other media outlets. MAP served as part of the Obama Media Team in 2008 and 2012 and has consulted for organizations including Planned Parenthood, Service Employees International Union and the Texas State Teachers Association.

Ken Janda, Chair-Elect & Governance Chair

Ken Janda is principal of Wild Blue Health Solutions, a consultancy bringing people and collaborative solutions to the audacious challenges in our health care landscape. Previously, he served for 11 years as President and CEO of Community Health Choice, Inc., a Houston-based managed care organization that focuses on low-income families. Ken has over 35 years of experience in the managed care industry including serving as Houston Market President for Humana and holding leadership positions with Aetna and Prudential Healthcare. A proud native of Bellville, Texas, Ken graduated from Rice University with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, economics, and managerial studies. He holds a law degree from the University of Houston Law Center. Ken is an adjunct professor in health care at the Jones Business School at Rice University, and a member of several Boards of Directors including Christ Clinic, Katy, and San Jose Clinic, Houston. He also serves on the Texas Medical Center’s Health Policy Institute’s Executive Committee.

John-Michael Vincent Cortez, Treasurer & Finance Chair

John-Michael Cortez serves as Special Assistant to the Mayor of Austin, Texas — the nation’s fastest growing large metro area and Live Music Capital of the World. He advises Mayor Adler on Austin’s most challenging issues, including regional and urban planning, transportation, workforce development, affordable housing, and where to find the city’s best breakfast tacos and BBQ. He is passionate about equitable policy-making and planning, as well as building and sustaining the political will to see those policies and plans come to fruition.John-Michael facilitated the development of Austin’s largest ever multi-modal transportation bond program, which voters overwhelmingly approved and is now transforming how Austinites move around the city. He advised the Mayor on the development of the city’s first ever strategic housing plan and workforce master plan, which will make Austin more equitable and affordable for thousands of households. His current focus is the re-write of Austin’s 35-year old land development code and preparing the Austin community to invest in a much-needed regional high-capacity transit system.

Anette Carlisle, Secretary

Anette Carlisle is an independent consultant in Amarillo and a passionate advocate for public education and building stronger communities. She has a long history of involvement in education, leadership, and governance. As founder and director of Panhandle Twenty/20, her emphasis has been on education and poverty. A former Amarillo ISD Trustee for 19 years, Anette currently serves on the Amarillo College Board of Regents and on the board of Leadership Women. Anette is an evolutionary biologist with degrees in molecular genetics and zoology from Texas Tech University.

Flora Brewer, Audit Chair

Flora Alexandra Brewer is a business owner and community activist who develops property in depressed and gentrifying areas of Fort Worth. In 2000, she created Paulos Properties to develop commercial property in the East Lancaster corridor alongside the city’s largest homeless shelters, bringing in new businesses, including market rate housing. She founded the Near East Side Neighborhood Association to bring together property owners and shelter directors to improve quality of life in the area. In 2015, she formed PF Residential LLC, to develop permanent supported housing for people emerging from chronic homelessness in the gentrifying Six Points Urban Village. She served as a sub-committee chair developing the City of Fort Worth 10-year plan to end homelessness. She is currently pursuing a PhD in urban planning and public policy and was a researcher with the North Texas Regional Housing Assessment.

Karen Farabee, Development Chair

Karen Farabee retired from a 30-year career as a Human Resources and Corporate Communications executive at a variety of Austin companies, including her own HR consulting firm. In an earlier life, she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Communication, receiving her undergraduate and masters degrees in Organizational Communication and then continuing as an adjunct instructor in the College following graduation. Born in Big Spring, Karen has lived in Austin for more than 40 years. Karen has served as a volunteer and in leadership positions with a variety of local charitable organizations including the Austin Children’s Shelter, Austin Theatre for Youth, Foundation for the Homeless, EMPACT Africa, UT College of Communication Advisory Council, Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church, UT Alpha Phi House Board Corporation and The Cipher Project. She is also a graduate of the Leadership Texas Program.

C. LeRoy Cavazos-Reyna

C. LeRoy Cavazos-Reyna is a native of Mission, Texas. He is strongly committed to service, community development, diplomacy, and political activism. He serves as Vice President for Government and International Relations for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In his previous role as Senior Manager of Public Affairs and Communications for Coca Cola Southwest Beverages, he oversaw public engagement and community relationships across Texas and Northern Mexico. He was formerly the Vice President of Government Affairs for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, America’s first Hispanic business organization. There he developed public policy and reviewed legislation that would enhance the evolution of Hispanic business in San Antonio and abroad. A graduate of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, he holds a Masters in Public Administration, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations as well as a degree in Spanish with an emphasis in literature and the history of Spain.

Tobi Jackson

Tobi Jackson is Board President of the Fort Worth Independent School District. A parent, educator, and administrator, she is a lifelong resident of Fort Worth. She has been an administrator and faculty member in public, private, and corporate settings. She has been a community leader for over three decades in Tarrant County, focusing on sustainable, outcomes driven efforts on behalf of Fort Worth youth. Tobi is particularly interested in the social and emotional growth of students and in equity for all students. Tobi earned a B.A. from The University of Texas at Arlington and an M.S. from the University of North Texas. This year, Tobi received a number of awards, including the Amiga Award from The Tarrant County United Hispanic Council, the “Healthcare Hero” Award from the Tarrant County Business Press, and the “Good Samaritan” Award from Southside Youth Association. She was named one of Fort Worth’s Most Influential People by FW INC. Magazine.

Jim Keffer
Jim Keffer had a distinguished tenure as Texas State Representative from Eastland. Keffer is a conservative family man, small business owner and lifelong Texas Republican Party leader. As president of EBAA Iron Sales, Inc., Jim has been one of the largest employers in his community. Keffer has served as Chairman of the Texas House Committee on Natural Resources and has served on the Energy Resources Committee, Redistricting Committee and Texas House Republican Caucus. Keffer was previously chairman of House Ways and Means and Economic Development committees. He has been named one of the best members of the legislature by Texas Monthly, Capitol Inside, and Gallery Watch. Jim has served as Deacon and Sunday School Teacher in the first Baptist Church of Eastland, Past President of the Eastland Little League and is active with his local Chamber of Commerce. He graduated from Texas Tech University.
Sima Ladjevardian
Sima Ladjevardian is an attorney and mediator with over 25 years of experience in Business Law, Family Law, and Consulting. For the past ten years, Sima has been very active in fostering intercultural relations among various people in the political and nonprofits arenas. In conjunction with this work, Sima has developed extensive experience in fundraising for causes that she believes in. She is Co-Founder of Big Hearted Texas; Co-Founder of the Texas Executive Progressive Council; Co-Founder and Board Member of the Society of Iranian American Women for Education; Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Arts of the Islamic World Initiative at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston; Trustee of MFAH and Advisory Committee Member of the Asia Society Muslims of America. Sima is fluent in English, Farsi, French, and Spanish.
Ronald C. Lewis

Ronald C. Lewis is City Attorney for Houston. He has extensive experience handling cases for businesses and individuals in the energy, real estate, construction, financial and manufacturing industries. Ron handles complex commercial cases involving contract, fraud, personal injury, environmental and other claims. A native of Texas, Ron graduated from Princeton University, where he majored in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Upon graduating from Harvard Law School with honors in 1983, he joined Baker Botts L.L.P., where he became a partner in 1991. He co-founded Marshall & Lewis LLP in 2006 and has been involved with numerous civic and professional organizations.

Veletta Forsythe Lill

Veletta Forsythe Lill has been an agent for change in Dallas over the past three decades. The former member of the Dallas City Council (1997-2005) and long-time community advocate has played a role in the development of the physical city and the policy that guides it. She holds a Master’s Degree in Community Health Education from the University of Illinois and prior to being elected to public office, she served three terms on the city’s Human Services Commission. She has also served on numerous private nonprofit boards in Dallas, including Parkland Foundation, The Family Place, and Crossroads Community Services.

Regina Montoya

Regina Montoya is a nationally recognized, Harvard-trained attorney living in Dallas. A leader in the nonprofit community, Regina is currently the chairwoman of the Dallas Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty and a member of the Board of the DFW International Airport. She served in the White House as an Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs under President Clinton. In 1998, she was nominated by the President to serve as a U.S. Representative to the 53rd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Most recently, Regina served for five years as the Senior Vice President, External Relations and General Counsel at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.

Angela Ross

Angela Ross is Vice President of External Affairs for AT&T Texas, where she is responsible for government, community and stakeholder affairs in the greater Dallas area including being the lead for City Hall in Dallas, AT&T’s global corporate headquarters. Angela is an alumna of Leadership Dallas, Leadership North Texas and Leadership San Antonio, a member of The Links, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Women of Tocqueville Society. She serves on the boards of the Irving Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas Summit. An Arkansas native, Angela earned a Master of Liberal Studies degree in Humanities from Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Business from Hendrix College.

Sarah Saldaña

Sarah Saldaña is the former director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the Obama Administration. Previously Sarah was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, making her the first Latina chief prosecutor in the state. She is a former Deputy Criminal Chief for the Fraud and Public Corruption section of the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. She has worked for federal agencies including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2012 she was named one of the most influential Hispanics in the nation by Poder Hispanic Magazine. Sarah received a B.S. from Texas A&I University and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University.

Atul Varadhachary, M.D., Ph.D.

Atul Varadhachary, M.D., Ph.D. is Managing Partner at Fannin Innovation Studio in Houston. There, Varadhachary works with scientists to set commercial milestones alongside the research milestones. Atul has served as an adjunct professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, the Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University, and at the University of Texas School of Public Health. He holds a Ph.D. in Physiology and a postdoctoral fellowship in Biological Chemistry, both from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.