Leadership

Paulina Artieda (She/Her/Ella)

Executive Director

With over 15 years of experience in marketing, Paulina is a driven and self-directed Creative Thinker that has focused her career on delivering solutions for multicultural communities, as well as helping clients connect with audiences in relevant and meaningful ways.

She attended the University of Texas at Austin and has a Bachelor of Science in Advertising, with a concentration in the Creative Sequence and a minor in Business. Paulina's leadership skills have stemmed from various roles, including: Creative Director, Bilingual Marketing Consultant, Digital Strategist and Design Thinking Coach. As Executive Director for The New Philanthropists, she leads all efforts in making Austin nonprofit boards more diverse and inclusive. She is passionate about elevating the discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion among leadership circles and in helping add more seats at  tables where representation is crucial. Paulina is a Leadership Activist who also has served as a CASA of Travis County advocate for over three years, is a scholar at life and passionate about mentoring and philanthropy.

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Mando Rayo

Co-Founder & Managing Director

Mando is CEO and Engagement Strategist at Mando Rayo + Collective, a multicultural advertising agency based in Austin, Texas.

Mando’s work is deep rooted in multicultural experiences and works on campaigns with such brands as KLRU-TV, PBS Austin, Capital Area Food Bank, Blanton Museum of Art, Texas Beef Council, Austin Film Society, Whataburger, People en Español Magazine y más. Mando's work has been featured on Bon Appetite Magazine, The Food Network, NPR, The New York Times and SXSW!

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Board of Directors

Pamela Benson Owens

Board Chair

Pamela Benson Owens is the President and CEO of Edge of Your Seat Consulting, Inc and is currently serving as the CEO of Six Square. For 25+ years Pam has owned Edge of Your Seat Consulting, a unique consulting firm that is dedicated to assisting for-profit, nonprofit, and faith-based entities.

The major focus of Edge of Your Seat Consulting, Inc., is to provide methodologies that help manage perceptions and narratives about complex and challenging issues with courage and strategic passion. She serves on the faculty of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence at Austin Community College and enjoys helping fundraising professionals in understanding not only the fundamentals of fundraising but also donor motivations. Pam leverages humor and honest storytelling to create memorable and applicable strategies for sustainable and substantive change.

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Denise Hernandez

Board Treasurer

Denise D. Hernandez is a Lawyer and Social Entrepreneur in Austin, Texas. She is the Co-Founder of Hustle for the Cause, LLC., a social impact production company owned by LGBTQ women of color. Hernandez is also the founder of Chingona Fest Texas, an empowerment festival for the Latinx community.

Her humble beginnings fuels her passion for empowering and uplifting marginalized communities. Since launching Hustle for the Cause, Hernandez has been nationally recognized by PBS for her philanthropic contributions, and honored as an Anne McAfee Leader of Cultural Change in Central Texas. Her work consists of multicultural productions that celebrate diversity and inclusion for the Latinx community and the LGBTQ community. Her vision is to produce experiences and content that inspire young people of color to become ChangeMakers!

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Max Elliott

Board Secretary

Max Elliott, LMSW, provides therapy to teens and adults at Elliott Psychotherapy, PLLC, and also works as an Adjunct Professor at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin.

He holds Masters Degrees from the University of Essex, England, and from the Steve HicksSchool of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin.

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Kiyomi Beach

Board Member

Kiyomi works on strategies for growth and leads the Data Analytics team at Emancipet. Kiyomi spent 8 years supporting social sector growth through roles in impact investing, non-profit/social enterprise, and international development.

This was a pretty big change from where she began her career – in private sector finance. Kiyomi holds degrees from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and the University of Miami. She also serves on the Board of Capacity Catalyst. She loves spending time with her partner and 2 pups, Dax and Juniper, and is passionate about creating equity of opportunity for everyone with dignity.

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Ian Burk

Board Member

Ian Burk is EVP & GM, Customer Experience Management and Integration for Upland Software (Nasdaq: UPLD), a publicly traded acquisitive growth platform company specializing in subscription-based enterprise software.

Ian's focus for some time has been creating value through mergers and acquisitions and helping people and organizations manage through the transformation required. He has been personally and deeply involved in 35 acquisitions and several divestitures. Prior to Upland, Ian spent 20 years with Dell in a variety of roles including leadership posts in sales & marketing, strategy & corporate development, operations and M&A integration. Ian holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University, a BBA from St. Edward’s University and has pursued continuing professional education at Harvard University, London Business School and University of Texas at Austin.

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Laura Cortez, Ph.D. (She/Her)

Board Member

Laura is from the Rio Grande Valley and came to Austin in 1999 as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. She earned her B.S. in Environmental Science from Drake University, and later went on to earn her MBA from St. Edward’s University and PhD in Higher Education from the University of Texas at Austin.

In 2012, Laura served as a postdoctoral fellow at UT’s Community Engagement Center as the Director of Public Engagement. In this role, she led one of Austin’s most comprehensive public engagement projects known as the Colony Park Sustainable Community Initiative. Laura credits this experience with changing her professional trajectory and after completing the project she launched Cortez Consulting. Today, Laura is designing new ways to effectively engage the public, particularly those individuals who are traditionally left out of the conversation. Cortez Consulting is certified as a Women and Minority-Owned Business (MWBE) and Historically Underutilized Business (HUB). The organization is a member of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC) and involved with an array of projects across the City working to build positive relationships within the community. During her free time, Dr. Cortez stays active in the community. She is a recent graduate of Leadership Austin Essential Program and serves on the board of the Austin Parks Foundation and Leadership Austin.

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Cody Horton

Board Member

Cody Horton is the Founder and Managing Director for Diverse Recruiting Experts LLC. He serves his team, clients and candidates with diversity recruiting leadership expertise.

His personal mission and vision are: Vision: Empower People To Change Their Lives 
 Mission: Connect Great People With Great Companies Prior embarking on this entrepreneurial journey, Cody spent over 20 years in a variety of leadership roles in the US Navy and companies including Walmart, Microsoft, Dell, Deloitte, Rackspace, Thoughtworks and Sunpower. 
 He has held several roles as Head of Talent Acquisition and Diversity Recruiting where he was responsible for helping the business attract and hire great people to build a diverse and inclusive workforce. Cody has a diverse background and has led teams in IT, College Recruiting, Diversity recruiting and training. He started his career in the US Navy where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander and served in a variety of leadership, recruiting, and operational roles. He earned a Masters of Science in Management (Information Technology) from the Naval Postgraduate School, a Bachelor's degree from the University of New Mexico and maintains his SPHR certification. 
 Cody and his wife Dorothy live in Round Rock. They have two daughters who have graduated from college and are now empty nesters.

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Tanya Jogee

Board Member

Tanya Jogee is a communications professional with 25 years of experience in corporate communications, political campaign messaging, culture strategy, marketing, online writing, and journalism.

Tanya and her family moved from Chicago to Austin in 2015. Since then, she has become actively involved with social issues and local politics. She recently graduated from Leadership Austin’s Essential class; became a mentee in The New Philanthropists Board Mentors of Color Program; represented District 6 on the Commission for Women; served on Austin City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan’s political leadership team; and served on several committees for the Women Communicators of Austin. Tanya holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University in Chicago. Most recently, she has worked as a senior consultant on culture and communication initiatives for her client Accenture, a $44B professional services company with 500,000 employees around the world. Her work has helped transform the workplace culture into one where employees care for each other above all else, have a sense of belonging and closeness with their team, and feel secure enough to be entrepreneurial, innovative, and their truly human, authentic selves at work. Tanya is interested in using her experience and expertise to advance social reform in Austin, and to help organizations become more inclusive, diverse and equitable in their workplaces. In her spare time, she loves to read, travel, explore Austin with her husband and two kids, connect with the community, and experiment with cooking healthy (and ideally delicious!) meals.

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Janice Omadeke

Board Member

Janice Omadeke is the CEO and Founder of The Mentor Method, an enterprise platform helping companies keep and develop their diverse talent using the proven power of mentorship. Using a double-blind algorithm, The Mentor Method is closing the opportunity equity gap in the workplace.

Janice is a 2020 Austin Under 40 nominee and winner of DivInc’s Champion of Change Diversity Champion of the Year for the city of Austin. Venture-backed by funds including Backstage Capital and Capital Factory, Janice's company was a finalist at the Grace Hopper annual conference in 2018, is a MassChallenge Texas Gold winner, a 50 on Fire winner for both Austin and DC Inno, and a 2017 Startup Grind Global Exhibition selection. Black Enterprise recognizes Janice as one of DC’s top 5 black women in tech. She has also been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur magazine, and she was a subject matter expert at the 2016 White House Summit on Building the Tech Workforce of Tomorrow. Janice is certified in Entrepreneurship from MIT, and is PMP certified with over 10 years of corporate leadership experience for Fortune 500 companies.

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Damián Pantoja, MS

Board Member

Damian is a focused, determined, and dedicated practitioner with experience in strengthening relationships between partners and causes in order to meet common goals.

Born and raised in the Montopolis neighborhood, he is a proud Del Valle alumnus and native Austinite. Damian comes from an immigrant family and is grateful for his upbringing, which include all of the sacrifices his family endured so that he and his siblings had access to a good education. His family taught him early on the importance of community, and after college he was inspired to move back home and give back to the community that raised him. As a Trustee of the Del Valle ISD School Board, Damian has learned that it takes both professional expertise and lived experience to make good decisions for the district and community. As a leader in education, he strives for an inclusive instructional experience that bridges the gaps of a diverse student body. With a Master of Science in Communication, and a concentration in Leadership, Damian streamlines operations, addresses barriers to basic needs, and is working towards increasing the quality of education in his district. He is a skilled communicator, and his leadership focuses on cultivating results and building meaningful relationships. His personal goal is to help the most vulnerable communities reach their success.

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Fareen Ramji (She/Her)

Board Member

Fareen Ramji (she/her) is a resourceful and empathetic people manager skilled at leading and cultivating inclusive teams and developing operational strategies to increase organizational efficiency. She is currently a Lead in the Administrative Specialist Program at Meta.

She served as the first co-Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Champion for the company’s global admin community; in this role, she built and drove DEI strategy, communications and programming to support a culture of inclusion where admins and community leaders could challenge biases, foster belonging, and learn, grow, and thrive together. Fareen's professional background includes corporate and non-profit executive support, program management, and direct community services for mental health consumers and domestic violence survivors as a social worker. Her lived experience, educational training in social and community psychology, experience with person-centered community services grounded in self-determination, and engagement with LGBTQI and people of color-led social justice organizations have informed her approaches to individual, team, and organizational health and leadership. Fareen is a parent to two kids and a dog, and loves to read, journal, practice yoga, travel, and spend time exploring the outdoors in Central Texas.

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LaRessa Quintana

Board Member

LaRessa is a 5th generation Texan raised in Austin, Texas. In 2020 she served as campaign manager for now Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes for Austin's District 2 seat. In 2019 she worked in the office of state Rep. Mary Ann Perez (D-Houston) as a Mexican-American Legislative Caucus Fellow.

She is a past participant in the Blue Leadership Collaborative, a national program dedicated to training and building a pipeline of women of color campaign managers. LaRessa currently serves as Fundraising Chair for the Young Hispanic Professional Association of Austin, who also awarded her the Rising Star Award at their most recent gala celebration. LaRessa holds B.A.s in Latin American and Borders Studies and Feminist Studies from Southwestern University. She is a graduate of Austin's Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders.

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