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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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.
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.
Sharon Shields, PhD, Secretary
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.
Jackson Griggs, MD
Former Board Chair
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.
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.
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.
Andrea Kosar is the President and CEO of the Centex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. An entrepreneur herself, she serves as co-owner of Twisted Nail LLC., alongside her husband, Hunter Kosar. They are also investors in Artesano, a Paraguayan restaurant located in Paraguay. Before joining the family business, Kosar gained experience in marketing and public relations as she worked in local media. During her tenure at 25 News KXXV, she created and launched a new weekly segment, Positively Central Texas, where she developed a storytelling platform for Waco’s organizations and businesses doing good in the community. Kosar also graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Journalism, Public Relations, and Education.
When Andrea isn’t networking and telling stories of her beloved Waco, she and her husband are sure to be found trying new local restaurants, volunteering, visiting with family, or spending time with their two rescues, Hazelnut and Huckleberry.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Isabel (Bell) Weeden is the Chief Operating Officer for Research Tax Consultants, an oil and gas tax consulting firm. Bell has 24 years of experience in finance, data management, and accounting. She is passionate about the use of data to solve problems and identify opportunities across a variety of platforms. Her areas of expertise include severance tax, database management and reporting tools, budget management, FPA, legislative finance, public accounting, and investment management.
Bell serves/has served on the following boards in Waco: Communities in Schools, Meals on Wheels Waco, World Hunger Relief Farm, and Business Resource Center.
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Chief Executive Officer
Jessica Attas became Interim CEO of Prosper Waco in November 2022. She is the principal and managing member of Attas Strategic Consulting, a firm she started earlier in 2022. Previously, she served as senior vice president of the Texas Association of Business, the Austin-based state chamber of commerce, and president of the TAB Foundation, leading that association through an organizational restructure.
She is known to many locally from past volunteer and community leadership roles, especially her time with the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, where she spent six years working with key stakeholders and public and private leaders as vice-president of public policy, building the chamber’s comprehensive public policy and advocacy initiative.
Additionally, Attas served three years as executive director of AVANCE Waco, now Inspiracion, where her strategic leadership helped raise community awareness of and support for that work.
John Allen, EdD
John Allen earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2002 and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in 2006. John earned his Doctor of Education degree from Northwestern State University (NSU) in 2022 and his dissertation research focused on ethical leadership. He developed his passion for public service during his eight years as a senior budget analyst for the U.S. General Services Administration, Public Buildings Service. John served as the Director of Administration and Chief of Staff at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts for ten years.During his tenure at LSMSA, he led efforts to increase access and support for disadvantaged students; helped secure funding for a new $24 million residential facility; obtained federal funding for post-pandemic academic, information technology, and facility improvements; contributed to the development of a multiple-million-dollar capital campaign; and led efforts to increase diversity in the school’s administration. John is an adjunct instructor of college-level courses in American Government and in Public Administration at LSMSA.
Director of Workforce and Education Initiatives
With over a decade of experience in the education sector, Mrs. Beacom's mission aligns seamlessly with Prosper Waco’s goal: to uplift Waco's communities in the areas of education, health, and financial security.
LaTishia's career in education has been a calling, guiding her through diverse roles where she has had the privilege of supporting both secondary and post-secondary students. Equipped with a Master of Education in Student Development and Leadership in Higher Education, her mission has centered on reducing disparities in college enrollment and employment opportunities among underserved students.
At the heart of Mrs. Beacom's work is a deep-rooted belief in the power of education to transform lives.
Laurel recently relocated with her family to Waco, from the Seattle area where she worked as a case manager with disabled individuals who were experiencing homelessness and worked towards permanent stable housing and engaged with services for 6 years. After that she worked for the Tacoma Housing Authority as a Community Services and Empowerment Advocate. Laurel is our HMIS Lead who works with all the partnering organizations that are part of the Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition. In her spare time, she enjoys getting to know her new home state, has a passion for working within the community teaching about suicide prevention and awareness and spending time with her family.
Director of Marketing and Communications
After earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in journalism from Baylor University, Charis Dietz spent ten years in the nonprofit sector, using her pen to advocate on behalf of organizations serving vulnerable children and families across the country. In the years since, a love of soulful storytelling has drawn Dietz across industry lines and back again, first as senior editor for lifestyle magazine Magnolia Journal and then in the book world, collaborating on manuscripts with “Big 5” publishers including HarperCollins and Hachette Book Group. She is currently an adjunct professor in journalism at Baylor University. And, as a part of Prosper Waco, Dietz is thrilled to once again be able to apply her passion for creating well-told stories that have the power to move us and make us better within the nonprofit sector and on behalf of our community.
Finance & Operations Coordinator
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 finance and operations 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.
Zeke Morgan, MBA, LMSW
Director of Health Initiatives
Zeke has a B.A. in Psychology from Abilene Christian University, as well as an MSW and MBA from Baylor University, and has spent the last several years in Waco working on the interconnected challenges around homelessness and healthcare. Before joining Prosper Waco, Zeke was serving as Population Health Director at Waco Family Medicine (WFM) where he was tasked with building care management programs for those with chronic illness as well as shaping the infrastructure for value-based care there. He also took part in the value-based care transformation and explored the many ways to integrate the community health functions of WFM with its clinical functions. Zeke enjoys spending his time away from work with his wife, Morgan, his dogs, Shujaa and Gil, and daughter, Llewellen.
Diane grew up in Mart, TX, and has been a Wacoan for the past 15 years. Diane is currently the Executive Assistant at Prosper Waco. Before joining Prosper, she was a Virtual Executive Assistant at ACE Virtual Assistants. 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 graduated with honors from Texas State Technical College with an Associate in Web Design and Development specializing in Design. She is also in the process of getting her Bachelor's degree in Marketing. In her spare time, Diane enjoys crafting, painting, playing video games, and watching Marvel movies with her husband and cat, Aki.
Jeremy R. Rhodes, PhD
Senior Director of Data & Research
Jeremy Rhodes is senior director of data and research 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 taught sociology at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene from 2011-2021.