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Amanda develops strategy, leads the lending/investment process for real estate projects in the aforementioned GO Neighborhoods and educates elected officials and other decision-makers about the community-led approach to neighborhood improvement. As Executive Director, Amanda manages the office’s $3.9 million budget and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the office’s fund development, programmatic, and policy work. A significant portion of her work focuses on strategy, planning and partnership development. In addition, she manages a network of relationships that spans neighborhood civic organizations and funders to business leaders and City Hall policymakers.
After taking the leadership role at Houston LISC in 2007, Amanda orchestrated the program’s strategic shift to a comprehensive approach for community development. The implementation of this strategy has included the launch of the Great Opportunities (GO) Neighborhoods Program, Houston LISC’s targeted neighborhood approach to comprehensive community development, and the Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) program, an evidence based model to help families reach financial stability
Prior to her work with LISC, Amanda served the City of Houston as a Senior Planner with the Planning and Development Department. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southwestern University and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Email Amanda.
VanNhi oversees LISC’s Houston network of Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs). She has extensive experience in community development at both the local and national level. Previously she worked out of Oakland, CA, as the Senior Program Coordinator at the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD), a national HUD intermediary dedicated to serving the needs of Asian Pacific Islanders. In this role, VanNhi provided technical assistance to 20 local organizations located across the U.S. through onsite assessments and trainings. She also worked with community-based organizations to identify local needs and led efforts to drive policy change.
In addition, VanNhi has supported financial empowerment for low-income families through her participation as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) provider and site coordinator with the Family Financial Literacy Coalition. VanNhi holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Email VanNhi.
Clare supports Houston LISC's communications, fund development and policy efforts. Previous to joining LISC, she spent six years in Washington, DC, focusing on affordable housing and community development issues. Most recently, she worked as a Policy & Program Manager at Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF), a network of high-capacity non-profit developers. At SAHF, she managed their Outcomes Initiative, an effort to improve and expand resident services through an outcomes-driven approach. Clare also supported SAHF’s policy initiatives and managed many of the peer networks for SAHF's eleven members. Before joining SAHF, Clare was a Policy Associate at the National Housing Conference, where she convened NHC members on a broad range of affordable housing issues including foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization, energy efficiency and the intersection of housing and transportation policy. During graduate school, she assisted Texas State Senator Judith Zaffirini on her Health and Human Services legislation during the 2009 Texas session and worked for the Texas Association of Community Development Corporations on their policy and research efforts.
Clare received her Master in Public Affairs degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame. Email Clare.
Iris oversees LISC’s Houston GO Neighborhoods work. She has experience in community development, environmental and public health initiatives, community engagement and financial literacy work. Previously, she worked for the Department of Environmental Health at a community health center in Milwaukee, WI. There she led community engagement efforts to support environmentally-oriented revitalization projects with the goal of improving health outcomes and quality of life. Iris has experience in asset-based community development strategies, specifically the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative model. She also served as Program Manager at a NeighborWorks America non-profit housing counseling agency, working to provide counseling and education to families facing foreclosure.
Iris holds a Bachelor of Arts from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI and completed the Latino Non-Profit Leadership Program with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Roberto Hernandez Center. Email Iris.
Senchel supports Houston LISC’s data management and evaluation systems and Go Neighborhoods work. She has experience in regional planning, social enterprise development, mental health services, and community engagement. Previously, she worked with the Achievement School District in Memphis, TN by creating a program that connected families with community resources and holistic support to help their students achieve academic success. She also worked at Heifer International with the Seeds of Change program that equipped producers & entrepreneurs with tools to grow and source sustainable crops, develop viable value chains, and increase profits in the AR-MS-TN Delta. Over the years, she has worked on numerous planning projects that had a strong focus on collective impact, community development, and wrap-around services for families.
Senchel holds a Bachelors of Arts in History/Geography from Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN and a Master’s degree in City & Regional Planning from the University of Memphis. In her free time she enjoys traveling, cooking, hosting book clubs & social chats, archery, camping, and volunteering at the local crisis hotline center. Email Senchel.
Dana, supports Houston LISC’s strategy for comprehensive community development, including the increased needs and new opportunities created by the Hurricane Harvey recovery process. She has over 15 years of experience in community engagement, partnership building and fund development. Before joining LISC, she served as a consultant with small to medium size nonprofit organization, focusing on fund development, training and technical assistance. Prior to serving as a consultant, Dana was a Grants & Contracts Manager with Families First, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia where she managed corporate, private foundations and government grants and contracts. During her tenure, she secured over $2 million in grant awards and contracts. Additionally, Dana served a Community Engagement Manager with the United Way of Greater Atlanta where she managed all aspects of the grantmaking process for a $2.6 million grant portfolio. She also developed a partnership with Spelman College, resulting in the creation of the first Student United Way in the Southeast.
Dana received a Master of Public Administration degree from Clark Atlanta University. She also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Florida A&M University, where she was a Ronald E. Mc Nair Scholar. Email Dana.
Gina De Leon serves as the Disaster Recovery Manager for LISC Houston. Her background is in architecture, urban design, and community development. Prior to joining LISC, Gina worked in the private sector at EYP, an architecture and engineering company. She also previously served as a LISC AmeriCorps as part of the GO Neighborhoods program. Her graduate thesis, “Institutional Design and Post-Disaster Construction: Towards a Self-Generative Society” won third place in the Graduate School Research Exhibition for the Office of Graduate Educational Equity Programs. She holds undergraduate degrees from the University of Houston and a graduate from Penn State University. Gina is a native Houstonian and grew up in the historic East End. Email Gina.
Magdalena Gros is an Assistant Program Officer who supports Houston’s network of Financial Opportunity Centers (FOC). She works with grant administration and compliance, and provides technical assistance and support to FOCs.
She joins LISC after having worked with Rice University’s Center for Civic Leadership as an undergraduate fellowships coordinator, and has experience in civic engagement and university-community partnerships.
Magdalena holds a BA in History from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR; and is a future alumnus of the University of Houston, where she will soon graduate with a Master’s in Public Policy. Email Magdalena.
Patti’s primary role is to support the GO Neighborhoods work. She has a background in visual art, education, and business, with a wide variety of skills and experiences. She has taught art in urban schools, worked as a graphic artist and manager at a pharmaceutical company, worked in administrative capacities in non-profit and for-profit offices, and has experience dealing directly with the public in retail and restaurants. She has also volunteered for numerous projects/organizations that involve home repair, working with children, and coordinating efforts to provide support or supplies for people in need. She holds a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Neumann University, a post-Baccalaureate certification in education from Rosemont College, and a Bachelor of Art from Temple University. Email Patti.
Melissa supports overall operations as well as support to the Executive Director. Prior to her time at LISC she completed an internship with Petite Law. She also worked in the finance field for over four years. Her background includes finance, legal, business, quality control, compliance, credit and executive administration, along with array of other expertise. Melissa volunteers with many different organizations including The Mission Continues. Melissa has a Bachelors in Political Science with an Associates in Business Administration. Email Melissa.