Note: Biographies were compiled in June 2022. Listings are in alphabetical order.

ANGELICA BARAJAS

Biography:

Angelica earned a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in early childhood development from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She began her career in education and transitioned to family services early on. Angelica has worked with youth and their families for over fifteen years through family engagement, prevention education, and parent empowerment. Coaching parents, community partners, and school staff to collaborate and build healthy support networks is amongst Angelica’s most valued achievements.

In her spare time, Angelica enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new hobbies. She often has several DIY projects in the works and plans to make more time for traveling.

Goals:

“I hope to gain knowledge to enhance work environments for employees, particularly in the non-profit sector of family services. I am working towards making positive change at an organizational level and believe the HDO program will support those efforts. I plan to use this experience to better understand small, under-resourced organizations to maximize their efforts without overextending their employees.”

 

MARCUS BARNES

Biography:

Marcus Barnes began his career in human resources while on active duty in the Marine Corps. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Services and an MBA, both from the University of Phoenix in San Diego. His post-military career includes The University of California San Diego, Wounded Warrior Project, and CPS Energy.  He is currently a Senior Recruiter within Korn Ferry’s RPO service offerings.

During his free time, he enjoys independent film, eclectic food, and indoor and outdoor fitness.  He is writing his memoir in hopes of inspiring individuals to be their authentic selves in every space they inhabit.

 Goals:

“I hope to improve companies’ emotional intelligence by developing employee-centric ways of working. Learning the historical and anthropological background of organizations through HDO, will help me normalize inclusive organizational cultures. My research will focus on employee retention, recruitment, and succession planning while sharpening an organization’s competitive advantage.”

 

PAURAVI CHHAYA:

Biography:

Pauravi Chhaya earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and women’s and gender studies from Clark University. She has more than six years of professional experience in the Human Resources field working for organizations ranging from startups to Fortune 500 corporations. Pauravi is passionate about working with leaders at all levels to make data-driven decisions that enhance the employee experience and deliver business results.

Outside of work, Pauravi enjoys being an active member of the Austin Young Women’s Alliance (YWA) organization and spending time with her dog, Macie.

Goals:

“I believe that HDO will help me better identify leadership disciplines and be more surgical about how to influence people managers. I am excited about joining the program as it will provide the foundational knowledge and tools I need in pursuit of my career goal to become a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO).”

 

CHARLES FONTENOT, JR.

Biography:
A proud Dallas, TX native, Charles “CJ” Fontenot, Jr. brings a wealth of talent gained from two decades of professional experience in both military and civilian sectors. CJ currently serves on active duty as the Deputy Chief of Training, Readiness and Mobilizations for the 7th Mission Support Command in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Previously, he was the Sports & Endurance market manager in the Professional Services department at Active Network, a Software As A Service company in Downtown Dallas. CJ is an Advanced Open Water SCUBA diver who has dived throughout the Caribbean, Horn of Africa, and one challenging dive in Lake Travis.

Goals:

“I find the HDO program’s focus on the holistic study of what makes organizations successful and what makes them fail, and examining the question through the lens of a multi-disciplinary solution to be fascinating and will add another dimension to where I can be of increased benefit to whatever organization I am in.”

 

SEAN FORKNER

Biography:

After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, Sean Forkner began a four-year apprenticeship with the Carpenters Union. He rose through the ranks from apprentice to journeyman to business manager and union organizer. He hopes to use this experience and the knowledge he gains from HDO to take his skills to new adventures.

In his free time, Sean enjoys fly fishing, woodcarving, camping, and exploring Texas country roads and history with his wife and daughter.

Goals:

“I spent the last five years as a Union organizer and business agent. Working for the Carpenters Union and coordinating with contractors, government entities, and political allies allowed me a lot of insight into the inner working of large companies and organizations. I saw room for improvement and opportunity for better communication and collaboration. I hope to take what I learn through HDO back into these arenas to improve Labor-Management relations and build better opportunities for working families.”

 

KENDRA GERMENIS

Biography:

Kendra Germenis is a born-and-raised Texan and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s advertising program. She has spent more than a decade in the public accounting industry blending the worlds of marketing, Human Resources, culture, and operations. She focuses on special projects and employee experience work, designing programs and tools to help employees succeed. Kendra leads through strengths, never-ending learning, entrepreneurship, creativity, and a belief that the little things really do matter.

Kendra is also an artist, lover of travel and the great outdoors, bookworm, and avid adventurer with her husband and two young sons.

Goals:

“A passion for organizational psychology and employee experience led me to HDO, and I’m excited for the opportunity to further study the human side of work. I believe the most effective workplaces support and fuel the lives of those that keep their business alive, and my goal through HDO is to apply a broader lens to building people-first cultures.”

  

ELIZABETH MAY

Biography:

Elizabeth May has 15 years of experience designing disruptive solutions as a Product and Customer Success leader. She specializes in Human Resources technology consulting and has implemented complex solutions for some of the largest employers in the United States. A strong believer in the power of trust and curiosity, Elizabeth develops high-performing teams driven to create transformative change.

Elizabeth resides in Houston with her family where they love watching the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park, volunteering for various organizations, and swimming.

Goals:

“I admire HDO’s commitment to the great mystery that is people. Through the program, I hope to inspire shifts from a fear-based to a trust-based culture within organizations. HDO can fuel that journey by providing a framework for comprehending people, assessing ingrained cultures, and better influencing others.”

  

CARRIE MCDONALD

Biography:

Carrie McDonald has worked at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in various capacities. In her current role on the management team, she oversees the 800-person volunteer program. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Rice University, followed by graduate work at Stanford University. Carrie has served as national co-chair (2012) and chair (2013–2015) of the American Public Gardens Association’s Volunteer Engagement section and has been published in the association’s Public Gardens magazine.

Goals:

“I want to develop new strengths and strategies to bring about change.”

 

HEATHER MOREAU

Biography:

Heather Moreau is self-employed as a People Strategy Consultant. She works closely with PeopleSense Consulting, working with businesses to strengthen organizational culture, build high-performing teams, and unlock the potential of managers. She has over eight years of strategic HR management experience and previously worked directly with employees as a trainer, developing better work methods and increasing employee effectiveness with technology. Prior to joining the world of HR, Heather was committed to finding and positioning facts to help people resolve disputes in her legal roles. Her time was divided between understanding business perspectives as a defense paralegal and advocating for individuals as a plaintiff paralegal.

Outside of work you will likely find Heather going for a long run. It’s when she does her best personal strategic planning and when she is most likely to come up with creative ideas for her next travel adventure.

Goals:
“My goal is to help businesses thrive by helping people thrive. I’m empowered to combine my education, lived experiences, and natural talents to help others find their sense of purpose and create wellness within a business.”

 

THRESA NASI

Biography:

Thresa Nasi earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She provides environmental engineering consulting services to a variety of industries and worked at Motorola as an environmental engineer. She has also been a member of numerous, non-profit leadership teams.

During her free time, Thresa enjoys connecting with others over books, food, and physical activity. She finds meaning in the engagement of acts of service for her family and community.

Goals:

“I am excited for the opportunity to integrate my education and experience with the innovative curriculum of UT’s HDO program. I want to contribute to improved meaning, understanding, and leadership in the workplace as it continues to evolve in significant ways.”

 

KATHERINE PAGANO

Biography:

Katherine Pagano has over 10 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector, primarily in fundraising and development roles. Currently, she applies her experiences in the sector as a consultant for Elevate, a fundraising and grant consulting firm, where she leads client teams that offer grant writing services and fundraising strategies to nonprofit organizations across the country. Prior to this, she worked in development roles in higher education and direct service organizations in Washington, DC and Philadelphia. Katherine holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Drexel University as well as a certificate in social responsibility in business.

In her free time, Katherine enjoys teaching and practicing yoga, paddle boarding, reading, and will look for any excuse to be at the beach.

Goals:

“Through the HDO program, I hope to hone the communication and strategic thinking skills necessary to help build sustainable organizations that are capable of navigating complex organizational challenges in a way that achieves the objectives of the organization while still prioritizing the wellbeing of employees.” 

 

HEATHER SERRA

Biography:

Heather Serra served nine years on active duty in the US Air Force working as a medic. In her last four years she has instructed basic and intermediate nursing for new Air Force medics and Navy Corpsmen.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of the Incarnate Word she entered the civilian workforce as a director in healthcare staffing. In her current role, Heather designs content and delivers training ranging from new hire onboarding to developing leadership & management skills.

Heather is passionate about fitness and living an active lifestyle. She enjoys spending time outdoors in Austin, TX, the city she calls home. She and her significant other, Zach, enjoy traveling with their 2-year-old daughter and newborn son.

Goals:

“I look forward to enhancing my leadership skills and gaining knowledge on human behavior in organizations. Employee dynamics are ever changing, and I hope to learn more about successfully navigating the waters. As technology becomes a greater part of companies, I think the HDO program will help increase my knowledge about how this affects businesses and their workers.”

 

ERIKA SERVIN

Biography:

Erika Servin’s professional experience is in business strategic planning. She has held several different positions in strategic planning, mainly facilitating top management teams in the process of defining their strategy and strategic priorities. She has worked in OXXO, the largest convenience store chain in Latin America, and in Grupo Proeza, a holding company that participates in the automotive and agribusiness industries. Erika holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Tecnológico de Monterrey and a master’s degree in Business Administration from IPADE Business School.

In her free time, Erika enjoys going out into nature, reading, cooking, and spending time with her husband Albano and her two dogs Pol and Lia.

Goals:

“My hopes and goals for the HDO program are to gain expertise on human behavior to better understand problems within organizations and be able to provide holistic solutions.”

  

WILLIAM STEWART

Biography:

William Stewart is a 15-year professional in the pharmacy benefit management healthcare industry. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern Kentucky University in Organizational Leadership. His hobbies and interests outside of work include scuba diving, following space and rocketry, and DIY projects.

Goals:

“My goal is to get a deeper understanding of the human perspective of an organization. I hope to share my own experiences and understand, from different perspectives, how to improve my skills as a leader.”

 

GABRIELLA TORRES

Biography:
Gabriella Torres is a native Austinite who has eight years of human resources and talent acquisition experience ranging in various industries. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of North Texas where she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Integrative Studies and a minor in management. Her most recent endeavors have brought her into the startup space which has deepened her passion for people and recruiting operations. In her free time, she loves to cook, be out on the lake, hang out with friends, or be out at the farmers market buying a new house plant.

Goals:

“Through the HDO program, I hope to be able to not only learn how to be an effective and strong leader but also be able to apply this knowledge to building out robust teams. Startups are constantly changing as they grow, and I believe HDO helps me better understand how to find my voice and make influential change within the organization as it evolves.”

 

VINCENT TROVATO

Biography:

Vincent Trovato has spent his professional career working on issues around the world combining geopolitics with international business. He works primarily as a consultant on issues regarding international energy transactions and financing energy projects in emerging markets and has re-entered the private sector following four years spent as a Senior Advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy and the White House in Washington, DC.

Goals:

“I am excited to commence my time at The University of Texas for a variety of reasons but primarily look at this as an incredible opportunity for both personal and professional growth. At this juncture in my career I am ready, willing, and eager to embrace new challenges and all of the benefits that come with being a part of the larger Longhorn community.”

 

MEG VANBUSKIRK

Biography:

Meg VanBuskirk is the owner of Paper City Coffee and co-founder of The Paper City Mentoring Project in Chillicothe, Ohio. Meg graduated with a BA in English Education and taught high school Language Arts for six years before quitting to start a mentoring program for teenagers. She opened a social good coffee shop that supports and houses the nonprofit. Meg is passionate about creating inspiring and inclusive spaces, learning from the people on her team, and working to make small business ownership more sustainable.

Meg spends her days enjoying the coffee shop life, dabbling in interior design, hanging at a local brewery, or reading on the patio. You’ll often catch her traveling or hiking with her two pups, Penny and Boomer.

Goals:

“I am most looking forward to learning from a cohort and faculty with diverse perspectives and experiences. My hope is that we find practical solutions through curiosity and connection to complex issues in our organizations and ultimately make a positive impact on the people we serve. I want to learn how to show up better as a leader on my team and in my community, and HDO has the human-centered curriculum to support that growth.”

 

CAROLINE WILKINSON

Biography:

Over her 11 years in the oil and gas industry, Caroline Wilkinson has held technical roles as a geophysicist, project leader, and technical salesperson. Since 2019, her roles have primarily focused on strategy, sales process and operations, and business development. Caroline graduated from Boston College with a B.S. in Geophysics.

As a new Austin resident, Caroline likes to spend her weekends enjoying the outdoors, searching for new vintage treasures, and finding the hottest new places to eat.

Goals:

“After 11 years in the oil and gas industry, I have experienced many industry downturns and corporate reorganizations and their impact on employee morale. I look forward to learning more about how change affects company culture and employee engagement.”

 

ANNE WOLFE-ANDERSEN

Biography:

Anne Wolfe-Andersen is Founder, Chief Guide, and CEO of Wolfe and Wool LLC- a transformational coaching and consulting firm serving purpose-driven individuals and organizations by helping them clarify, communicate, and actualize their vision in service of building, maintaining, and influencing passionate communities working toward a shared cause.

Rich in variety of life and professional experience, Anne believes vulnerability and diversity are two key ingredients for building strong organizations and communities. She is inspired daily by those brave enough to take on transformation, risk entrepreneurship, and celebrate any mistakes made along the way.

Anne is the proud mother of her hilarious and kind son, Zacharaiah who is currently serving as a Nuclear Engineer in the US Navy. She resides in San Antonio, TX with her two rescue dogs, “Topo Chico” and “Outlet”.

Goals:

“My hope is to further my skills in research and leadership as well as broaden my understanding of how organizations function and how best to serve the humans within them as they all work toward common goals. Ultimately, my goal is to contribute to a dramatic shift in the paradigm of the purpose of business to one which emphasizes the holistic health of the communities they serve as a key metric in gauging success.”