The collaborative work of the Prosper Waco initiative would not be possible without partners aligning their contributions to the community’s goals, Leadership Council members supporting the efforts of the initiative and guiding the backbone staff, the Board of Directors for providing governance and vision for the Prosper Waco initiative, and the backbone staff convening and facilitating the cross-sector groups. Use the menu below to learn more about who is involved in the initiative.
Board of Directors
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Jackson Griggs, MD
Board Chair Jackson Griggs is the Chief Executive Officer of Heart of Texas Community Health Center, a fifteen-site federally-qualified health center serving 60,000 patients in Central Texas. Dr. Griggs is a family physician who has practiced medicine for fifteen years, focusing on families living in poverty. Before executive leadership, he trained over 150 resident physicians while on faculty of the Waco Family Medicine Residency Program.
Alfred Solano was raised in Waco and is a graduate of Texas State Technical College. He is a Vice President with Waco Family Medicine. Prior to joining the WFM Foundation, Solano spent more than 35 years in business and then became President and CEO of Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Waco. Serving on the CTHCC board for many years presented numerous opportunities, and that experience shaped his passion for engaging businesses with the non-profit sector.
Andrea Jackson Barefield was elected to the Waco City Council to represent District I on May 5, 2018 and sworn in on May 15, 2018. Andrea is the Executive Director of the Texas Brazos Trail Region – part of the Texas Heritage Trails Program. Before joining the Texas Brazos Trail Region, Andrea was the Main Street Manager for City Center Waco.
Charles Williams joined Baylor Scott & White in January 2021 as President of BSW – Hillcrest in Waco. Prior to that, he served as President and CEO of Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg & Calhoun Counties in Orangeburg, S.C. Charles is no stranger to Texas, having spent most of his life in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
Mayor Dillon Meek
Dillon Meek was elected mayor of Waco in November 2020. He served on the Waco City Council 2015-2020, representing district 4. While on council, he learned the importance of listening, fostering collaboration, and building consensus. He has served on the boards of the following organizations: Downtown Waco Farmers Market, Unbound Waco, Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization, City Center Waco, Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, Greater Waco Sports Commission, and Inspiracion.
Doug McNamee serves as the president of Magnolia, a media, hospitality, and lifestyle company founded by Chip and Joanna Gaines. In his role, he oversees the content, licensing, e-comm, experiential, realty, and long-term strategy in and outside of Waco. Prior to Magnolia, Doug led the Bear Foundation and was senior associate athletic director for external affairs at Baylor University. As a long-time Wacoan, Doug is heavily involved in the community and currently serves on the Kyle Lake Foundation Board of Directors, the Baylor Club Board of Governors, the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce Board, the Baylor “B” Association (letter-winners) Board, and the Waco Business League Board of Directors.
Felicia Chase Goodman
Felicia Chase Goodman has served as the executive director of Cooper Foundation in Waco since 2012. A native Wacoan who graduated from Waco High School, Felicia has spent her career in various roles in the non-profit sector in Austin, New York, and Waco. She began her career as a summer intern at the Points of Light Foundation in Washington, D.C., where she developed a passion for expanding the capacity of organizations to do more good in the world.
Hon. Fernando Villarreal
Fernando Villarreal is justice of the peace for precinct 5 in McLennan County. Justice Villarreal is an attorney and a graduate of University of Houston Law Center in 1983.
Fred Hills, PhD
Fred Hills is vice president of instruction at McLennan Community College. He is a tenured faculty member and served as dean of Arts, Sciences and Business, QEP director, and program director for Computer Information Systems at MCC prior to his appointment as vice president. Dr. Hills retired from the U.S. Air Force, where he served as an information systems and telecommunications officer. He has a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of North Texas in Denton.
George Kazanas, EdD
George Kazanas is Midway ISD’s eighth superintendent. He became superintendent of
Midway June 1, 2012, after serving for three years as superintendent of Wichita Falls
ISD and a decade at China Spring ISD. Dr. Kazanas is a graduate of West High School and began his career teaching business-education courses in West ISD. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Baylor University and a Doctor of Education degree from Tarleton State University.
Hazel Rowe, EdD
Hazel Rowe has served in education for more than five decades, including two periods of service as interim superintendent of Waco ISD during the 2000-2001 school year and again in 2019. Dr. Rowe's first teaching assignment was as a reading instructor for at-risk high school students and adults in Clearfield, UT. She then taught fourth-grade students at McGuire Air Force Base and North Waco Elementary.
Jeremy Vickers, PhD
Jeremy Vickers joined Baylor University as the Associate Vice President of External Affairs in June of 2018 where he leads institutional events, community relations, and external affairs. Jeremy previously served Dallas Baptist University as Dean of the College of Professional Studies where he led efforts to expand and grow the mission of DBU by serving adults and working professionals across North Texas through innovative online, hybrid, and in person degrees and programs.
Jerry Maze, EdD
Jerry Maze is executive director for Education Service Center Region 12 in Waco, which provides cost-saving services, professional development and support to 76 school districts and 10 charter schools in 12 Central Texas counties. Dr. Maze has served in education for 30 years in various districts and capacities, including teacher, director, consultant, principal, and superintendent. Prior to joining ESC Region 12 he served as superintendent in Hillsboro and Hubbard ISDs.
Rev. Jimmy Hunter, DMin
Jimmy Hunter, D.Min., is pastor of Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Waco. He served as Waco Faith-Based Committee chair for the U.S. Census, as well as five years on the Waco Regional Airport Advisory Board and three years on the Board of Advocates for the Baylor University’s Garland School of Social Work. Rev. Hunter is a current member of the Board of Trustees for Hardin Simmons-University, Abilene.
John Bible is a Waco native who graduated from University High School in 1995. He began his college career at McLennan Community College and, after two years, transferred to Baylor University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in finance in 1999. For more than 15 years, Mr. Bible worked in the financial industry as an investment advisor. In November 2018, Mr. Bible decided to start his own investment agency and created Bible & Sovereign Partners Financial Services, of which he is CEO.
Philip Patterson joined Providence Healthcare Network as President in February 2018. Philip has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Sarah is an entrepreneur with a passion for developments and their ability to transform businesses and communities. Sarah is a partner in real estate development and business ventures locally and nationally. Sarah is also founding principal of KSR, working with innovative clients to deliver development projects. Previously, Sarah spent over a decade leading regional economic development at the Greater Waco Chamber. Roberts is an active member of the Waco business community, serving on multiple civic and business boards, currently including Alliance Bank of Central Texas, Waco Business League (past president), and StartUp Waco. Sarah’s work has garnered national and statewide awards, including being recognized by New York-based Development Counselors International as the inaugural class of 40 under 40 Rising Stars Economic Development. Roberts holds a BBA from Baylor University’s Entrepreneurship program.
Sharon Shields, PhD
Sharon Shields is superintendent of La Vega Independent School District. Dr. Shields received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in curriculum & instruction from Texas A&M University in 1993; her Masters of Education degree, Mid-Management Certification, and Counseling Certification from Baylor University in 1983; and she earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Baylor in 1980. She is a former La Vega ISD educator and counselor.
Stephanie Korteweg represents District 2 on the Waco ISD Board of Trustees. She also works as the director of the STARS Mentoring Project at Antioch Community Church. For 11 years, Stephanie was an elementary school teacher for Waco ISD and won the district's Outstanding Teacher acknowledgement for the 2007-2008 school year.
Susan Kincannon, EdD
Susan Kincannon joined Waco Independent School District as its superintendent in September 2019. Dr. Kincannon has served in public education for 30 years as a teacher, principal, assistant/deputy superintendent, and superintendent. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, a master’s degree in educational administration from Tarleton State University, and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Baylor University.
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Suzii Paynter March
Chief Executive Officer
Suzii Paynter March is a graduate of Baylor University, with a lifetime of experience in organizational leadership and public advocacy. In September 2019, she became executive director of Prosper Waco. Suzii has held advocacy and leadership roles with the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, the Christian Life Commission, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and Pastors for Texas Children.
Adolescent Health Initiatives
Beth Olson joined Prosper Waco in March 2021 as director of adolescent health programs. In recent years she has focused on parenting her two children and not working outside of the home. Previously Beth worked with the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the Texas Hunger Initiative, State Rep. Mark Strama, and the Christian Life Commission. She has been a member of the Junior League of Waco since 2014 and previously served on the board of directors of Texas Lyceum. Beth also has been diaconate chair for First Presbyterian Church of Waco. She holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin.
Carlos has been a Wacoan for most of his time since moving to Texas from Denver about nine years ago. He is currently pursuing a bachelor's in accounting at Tarleton State University-Waco. Carlos is project coordinator for Prosper Waco and is inspired to take part in Prosper's goals. In addition, he is an avid traveler, reader, mountain biker, and vehemently enjoys creating moments with the community and his family.
Adolescent Health Communications
Clara is the adolescent health communications coordinator at Prosper Waco. She grew up in Waco after moving from Germany. She graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in public health. She is passionate about helping others achieve their healthiest selves, so they can live their lives to the fullest. She is excited to help serve the Waco community. In her free time she likes to workout; play tennis; and spend time with family, friends, and her dog.
DeAngela Bynum, LMSW
Social Resources-Law Enforcement
DeAngela works directly with the Waco Police Department to help connect people encountered by police to access needed behavioral health resources. She holds master's and bachelor's degrees in social work from Tarleton State University in Waco. Before joining Prosper Waco's staff, DeAngela worked with Heart of Texas Region MHMR's Reintegration Program.
Deneece Ferrales, PhD
Deneece Ferrales moved to Waco nine years ago and has adopted Waco as her home. Ferrales received her Ph.D. in social work from the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a master's degree in social work and a bachelor's in psychology. Dr. Ferrales has worked in leadership, program development, advocacy, and clinical roles in the areas of HIV/AIDS, intellectual and developmental disabilities, child custody disputes, and child welfare. Deneece has also has worked more than 15 years teach social work and leadership roles at Our Lady of the Lake University and Tarleton State University-Waco.
Chief of Staff & Financial Security
Hall is a native of East Waco and was raised in Oakland, Calif. He is owner of Noir Kith Consultants, which provides business and consumer financial management consulting. Hall retired in 2019 after 28 years with Wells Fargo. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration / public administration from California State University in Hayward.
Before joining Prosper Waco, Diane was a virtual executive assistant at ACE Virtual Assistants and assisted several executives from different companies in day-to-day tasks. She also has 10 years of customer service experience, including time as a wedding cake decorator, video game store manager, and grocery store stocker. Diane grew up in Mart and graduated with honors from Texas State Technical College with an associate's in web design and development specializing in design. In her spare time, she enjoys crafting, painting, playing video games, and watching Marvel movies with her husband and cat, Aki.
Chief Program Officer
Hermann Pereira has spent the past 14 years in education in a variety of roles such as teacher, coach, director, assistant principal, and principal. In his most recent role, Hermann was the principal of Connally Career Tech Pathways in Technology Early College High School as well as the career and technology education director at Connally ISD. His leadership earned his campus and district a number of grants and recognition from the Texas Education Agency, University of Texas STEM Center, Educate
Ferrell Foster, DMin
Care & Communication
Ferrell Foster is a graduate of East Texas State University in Commerce, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and Logsdon Seminary in Abilene, where he earned his doctorate focusing on African American perspectives on justice. A native of Dallas, Dr. Foster has spent most of his professional life as an ethics and justice advocate and communications leader, including time as editor of three publications.
Workforce Initiatives w/ CTAACC
Heaven Lee is Workforce Initiatives Coordinator, which is a partnership position of Prosper Waco and Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce. With CTAAC, Lee works with the Esther’s Closet program, which is a workforce development and self-sufficiency program to assist unemployed persons. It provides professional training and workwear for participants at no cost. With Prosper Waco, Lee is part of the UpSkill Waco initiative led to build the capacity of workforce development programming in high-demand career pathways by aligning local workforce systems. A native of Waco, Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches and an associate’s degree from McLennan Community College in Waco.
Jeremy Rhodes, PhD
Research & Community Impact
Jeremy Rhodes is director of research and community impact for Prosper Waco. He holds doctorate (2011) and master’s (2008) degrees in sociology from Baylor University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and speech communication from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2001. Dr. Rhodes has taught sociology at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene since 2011.
Natalie Szot, LMSW
Natalie Szot is social resource coordinator for Waco Connect, a pilot program addressing social determinants of health. She is a licensed master of social work. Natalie holds a master's degree in clinical social work from Baylor University and bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign.
Data & Homeless Information
Sammy is a native of Waco, Texas and served as Prosper Waco’s Data Analyst Intern for almost two years before transitioning into his new role as Data Coordinator. He recently graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA from Baylor University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He is excited to continue working with Prosper Waco and using his love of data to help strengthen the community of Waco.
Telawna Kirbie, LCSW-S
Behavioral Health Initiatives
Telawna Kirbie is director of behavioral health initiatives with Prosper Waco. Her role represents a partnership between Prosper Waco and Heart of Texas Region MHMR Center. Kirbie is a licensed clinical social worker. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Midwestern State University and Baylor University, respectively, with the latter involving studies at Baylor’s Truett Seminary. In recent years she has served in various community and state efforts.
Tiffany Gallegos Whitley, MSW
Tiffany Gallegos Whitley is Director of Workforce Initiatives. She has called Waco home for the past 12 years. She is a two-time Baylor University graduate, receiving a bachelor's degree in international studies and a Master of Social Work degree. In her role as Director of Workforce Initiatives, Tiffany will oversee workforce projects that bring together key stakeholders to collaborate and continue building equitable training and career pathways for all McLennan County residents.