Alexandra Avila

Alexandra Avila is the Human Trafficking Liaison for the Pharr Police Department. She is a graduate of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley with her bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology.  She found her passion in helping others and pursued a master’s degree in social work also from UTRGV.  She has served as a Case Manager for a Runaway and Home program, a Recruitment Specialist with Girl Scouts, and as a Program Coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club of Edinburg. 


Amy Baker, M.Ed.

Amy received a Bachelor’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas A&M, a Master’s degree from UT-San Antonio in Educational Leadership, and hold a superintendent certification. I have nineteen years of experience in Frisco ISD and Alamo Heights ISD as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, and campus administrator.


Donna Black, LSSP

Donna Black received her M.A. degree from the University of Houston Clear Lake. She is President of SEL4TX and is a faculty member of the Academy for Social Emotional Learning in Schools. Donna provides consultation and professional development on SEL and has been recognized as a national expert on SEL.


Sharon Bradley

Sharon Bradley currently serves as Director of Family and Social Services/SEL Department for the Plano ISD where she has helped shape the District’s approach to social and emotional development for all students. She has been in education for 19 years.  In her current role, she designs and facilitates adult SEL professional learning experiences to build capacity and advocates for SEL for ALL students across the state of Texas. 


Maria Cansino

Maria Cansino graduate from the Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, with a degree in Psychology. She earned her master’s degree in Special Education by UTRGV. Maria is a Community Advocate with BCFS Common Thread and previously worked as a teacher and psychologist in Mexico, she is passionate about making a difference in the community and advocating for youth and families


Angela Downes, JD

Professor Downes is a law professor and Assistant Director of Experiential Education at UNT Dallas College of Law.  She is a frequent trainer on cultural competency, implicit bias and diversity issues to attorneys, judges, and school districts. Professor Downes is an Associate Municipal Judge for the City of Glenn Heights, Texas.


Rachelle Finck, MA

Rachelle Finck currently serves as Coordinator for SEL for Round Rock ISD.  She has a BA in secondary education and mathematics from Manchester University and a MA in professional counseling from Texas State University. In her work, she has worked to develop a framework to better guide SEL systems.   


Anne Lehew, M.Ed.

Anne Lehew is the Prevention and Intervention Services Coordinator for Lewisville ISD. She works with the district Student Assistance Counselors, Social Workers, and Campus Counselors. Anne believes in the power of Social Emotional Learning and knows the impact it can have on student's lives. Anne received her B.S. in Home Economics Education from Texas Tech University and her M.Ed. in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University. Anne has been a PSC for over 25 years.


Isamar Ochoa

Isamar Ochoa, is the Crime Victim Liaison with the Edinburg Police Department. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Addiction Studies. Isamar’s duties consist of providing services to victims of crime and working with outside agencies to ensure victims’ needs are being met.


Sister Norma Pimentel

Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight to the different ministries and programs. Sr Norma received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Pan American University, a Master’s Degree in Theology from St. Mary’s University, a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University, and an Honorary PhD in Humane Letters from Holy Family University.


Laura Richard, MA, LSSP

Undergraduate and graduate degrees from UH-Clear Lake. Trained in School Neuropsychology.  Currently attending Academy for Social Emotional Learning in Schools, College of St. Elizabeth and Rutgers University. I am currently a SEL Coordinator and LSSP for Beaumont ISD. SEL author with SELTrove. Member of TASP, NASP, SEL4TX, SEL4US.


Josette Saxton, MSSW

Josette Saxton is the Director of Mental Health Policy at Texans Care for Children, a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan, multi-issue children's policy organization. Josette has a B.A. in Psychology from West Chester University and a Master's in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin.


G. Thomas Schanding, Jr., PhD, NCSP

Dr. Thomas Schanding is an Associate Professor of School Psychology. He is a Licensed Psychologist in the State of Texas, a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology, and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. His research examines universal screening, assessment, and intervention of social-emotional learning and behavioral health of students.


Darrel D. Spinks, J.D.

Darrel D. Spinks is the Executive Director of the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council and Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.  Prior to working for the state, Mr. Spinks practiced law for over nine years. Mr. Spinks holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a juris doctor degree.