Meet The Team

Meet the THN Team

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Eric Samuels, President and CEO

Eric has over seventeen years of experience working with local, state and national organizations on the development of services and housing for persons experiencing homelessness. After college, he moved from Arkansas to Austin to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for two years, his second as VISTA Leader at THN in 1998. After working for four years at the Enterprise Foundation, primarily on advocacy efforts for people with disabilities, Eric served as the AmeriCorps Coordinator for the program that became Keep Austin Housed at the then newly opened Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH).

In 2004, Eric moved back to his home state to be near family and took a job as Executive Director for Seven Hills Homeless Center in Fayetteville, AR. Before his departure back to Austin in 2006, the agency was near completion on constructing a new PSH and TH program, and Eric had provided the framework for moving the day center to its current location. From 2006 to 2015, Eric guided the development of the TX Balance of State CoC. In August 2015, Mr. Samuels was named President/CEO of Texas Homeless Network. Mr. Samuels holds a Master of Arts in Sociology from Texas State University and received his Bachelors from the University of Arkansas. Eric and his wife Leslie have two young children Maren and Asa.

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Lisa Albracht
VISTA Project Assistant

As the AmeriCorps VISTA Project Assistant, Lisa helps manage the statewide team of AmeriCorps VISTA members, meets with site supervisors and recruits for open positions.

Lisa is originally from Edmond, Oklahoma and holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Biology from University of Colorado, Boulder. She has several years of experience in nonprofit settings creating and implementing programs benefitting others. She is excited to draw on her experiences in project management, communications and event planning and work with AmeriCorps VISTA members to end homelessness in Texas.

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Jen Beardsley
Local Homeless Coalition Coordinator

Jen Beardsley is the Local Homeless Coalition (LHC) Specialist at Texas Homeless Network where she works to support and help build collaborative groups working to address homelessness in their communities across the state. She has a background in commercial real estate appraisal, marketing, and cooperative housing advocacy work. Jen is passionate about advancing equality, building more just systems through partnerships, and spending long lazy days at the beach.

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Kraig Blaize-Fiero
CoC Programs Coordinator

Kraig started his career with THN as a volunteer before being placed at THN as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in 2012. During his VISTA service, which ran from 2012-2014, he worked with various homeless coalitions around the Central Texas area helping to raise awareness within the communities and coordinate annual Point In Time surveys. Today he is the CoC programs assistant and helps coordinate daily activities for the TX BoS CoC. Kraig is a Texas native and graduated high school in Johnson City, TX and is currently working on attaining his associate degree in Social Work from Austin Community College.

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Paula Dewey
Database Coordinator

Paula Dewey is the ESG Data Specialist at Texas Homeless Network. She has a background in the media industry where she focused on systems, reporting, and process improvement. She grew up in Virginia but has lived in Texas for most of her life. After working in the corporate world for many years, she realized that she wanted to focus her efforts on work that was more meaningful. She is passionate about working to help bring an end to homelessness and in helping to create a better, more equal society for everyone.
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Cosme Dominguez
HMIS Data Analyst

Cosme’s role as the HMIS Data Analyst at THN includes providing support on the Coordinated Entry training process, providing technical assistance to HMIS end-users, and developing data visualizations and reports. He has a background in education and media policy. Cosme is originally from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and holds a B.S. in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin.

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Allie Edmondson
EHV Manager

Allison Is the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) Manager that is part of the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care (TX BoS CoC) Planning Team. Allison is charged with executing and maintaining a referral path for Emergency Housing Vouchers for the network of Coordinated Entry participating Agencies across the balance of state. Allison is passionate about affordable housing and everyone’s right to have housing. She is excited to be in this role working to end homelessness across the balance of state. Allison holds a Bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in Child and Family Development, and has been working within the non-profit sector for the past seven years.

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Krystall Escobedo-Paz
Systems Change Specialist

Krystall is the Systems Change Specialist for the Texas Balance of State Coc. In her role, she onboards new communities to Coordinated Entry, assists with troubleshooting CE issues and evaluates CE materials and processes for improvements.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Ithaca College. Her previous experience ranged from directly assisting systems-impacted individuals to working with community organizations and spearheading internal policy assessments. She is passionate about working to uplift marginalized communities in all aspects of her life. At THN, it’s by creating systems that support and equitably expand service. Outside of work, it’s by relishing in the joy & creation that emerges from intersectional communities.

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Samantha Foss
Director of Development and Communications

Samantha is the Director of Development & Communications. Along with working on grant proposals, campaigns, and communications, they plan THN’s annual statewide conference. With nearly a decade of social work experience and a Master of Social Work degree from Texas State, Samantha has served through direct service work, statewide policy, and programmatic technical assistance. Their passion lies in lgbtqia+ rights, homelessness advocacy, reproductive justice, immigration reform, prison reform, and youth development. They enjoy spending time with their dog, family, friends, and nature. You will see them thriving the most in life through volunteering and hiking, sometimes simultaneously.

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Gabrielle Garcia
Training Coordinator

Gabrielle is the Training Coordinator at THN. She is responsible for training HMIS users and providing technical support. She is passionate about creating equitable systems in Texas and establishing a community that allows for all to thrive. Gabrielle is originally from San Antonio, Texas and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Texas at Austin. Her previous experience includes teaching elementary school, coordinating an emergency domestic violence shelter, and organizing a youth program in Chicago.

Helen Garcia

Helen Garcia
EHV Referral Coordinator

Helen’s role as the Emergency Housing Voucher Referral Coordinator includes providing coordination for the voucher referral process and conducting outreach to develop program awareness. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Baylor University, and her previous experience includes working with survivors of abuse, individuals in the criminal justice system, and youth in underserved communities. She is passionate about equitable housing for all and building resilient communities. 

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Brian Goodner
Chief Financial Officer

Brian is THN’s Chief Financial Officer and has been at THN since 2011. Prior to working at THN, Brian worked as Controller for multiple companies and has diverse experience in accounting, auditing, financial reporting and budgeting. During this time, Brian has worked with these companies establishing proper internal controls surrounding accounting and finance activities while working with management to improve any areas of deficiency. This has included doing field audits of service locations to ensure that company processes and procedures were being followed. Brian also worked with management on budgeting, forecasting, preparing financial statements and reviewing monthly and quarterly financial results. Brian has a BS in Accounting from The University of Arizona.

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Kyra Henderson
Director of Systems Change

Kyra Henderson is the Director of Systems Change for the Texas Balance of State CoC. They lead the Systems Change team in the implementation of Coordinated Entry, the Point-in-Time and Housing Inventory Counts, and large scale systems change work on behalf of the entire CoC.

Kyra is driven by a passion for lgbtqia+ rights, homelessness advocacy, reproductive justice, and child welfare reform. She strives to approach her work with an intersectionality lens. They is originally from Littleton, Colorado and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Colorado State University. 
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Margaret Hill
Governance Coordinator

Margaret is the CoC Governance Coordinator. Her role is to improve engagement between THN as the lead agency of the TX BoS CoC, and homeless service providers within the CoC, through development of the CoC’s governance structure and processes. She began at THN as an Americorp VISTA, and is excited to continue the work she began during her VISTA year. She received a BFA in Design Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She has lived in Austin for 17 years, and is active in local housing and homelessness advocacy.

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Jordan Hulin
Systems Change Coordinator

Jordan Hulin is the Systems Change Coordinator at THN. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma (BOOMER!) and has a background in non-profit work. From 2017 to 2021 she worked directly with individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in the Austin area and this role inspired her passion to end homelessness in Texas. She is thrilled to continue this work through a macro-social work lens. Jordan is also very devoted to remaining an ally and advocate for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities.
Jordan is originally from Central Texas, enjoys hosting barbecue’s and get-togethers with friends, and her personal schedule is completely ruled by her children’s hobbies!
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Lindsay LaGrange
Director of Data

Lindsay is the Director of Data at Texas Homeless Network. She is charged with maintaining the integrity of our Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) database for the Texas Balance of State CoC. She is passionate about serving the marginalized people in her community and grateful for her role in working to end homelessness. Lindsay is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from University of South Alabama.

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Deanne Lock
Accounting and HR Coordinator

Deanne is the Accounting and Human Resources Generalist and assists the President/CEO and the Director of Finance and HR with administrative, human resources, and financial operations. Deanne started as a volunteer with THN in 2012 before being hired as the Office Manager in 2013. Deanne holds an MS in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine which explains her calming effect on the office atmosphere. She was born in Corpus Christi, and spent 20 years of her life in the Middle East.

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Katie Martinez
Systems Change Manager

As the Systems Change Manager, Katie supports systems change efforts at THN by partnering with communities within the TX Balance of State CoC on their Coordinated Entry (CE) process efforts. Her main focuses are CE assessor training and CE implementation in new regions. Katie is originally from the Houston, TX area and received her bachelor’s degree in Community Health from Baylor University.  Her passion lies in food access and nutrition, women’s health, and fair housing.

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Jalisa McDuffey
EHV Coordinator

Jalisa McDuffey is the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) Coordinator at Texas Homeless Network. Jalisa is originally from Thibodaux, Louisiana and holds a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management. She has nearly eight years of experience working in both the nonprofit and government sector. Jalisa’s previous experience includes community outreach, case management, housing navigation, and grant compliance for federally funded programs. She is passionate about housing stability and is excited to further the mission of making homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring.

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Axton Nichols
Emergency Solutions Coordinator

Axton is the Emergency Solutions Coordinator, working to provide technical assistance, education, and training around the Emergency Solutions Grant.

He grew up in Oklahoma and attended the University of Oklahoma where he received a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Axton has experience with many different roles within homeless response systems including program intakes, case management, and technical support. He is deeply committed to the goal of eradicating homelessness and advancing equity in all areas of life.

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Marissa Ortega
Data and Policy Analyst

Marissa joined Texas Homeless Network as the Data VISTA in 2018. Throughout her year of service at THN as a VISTA, she worked closely with the Data Coordinator, whom she helped plan and coordinate the 2019 Point-in-Time Count (PIT) as well as the 2019 Housing Inventory Count (HIC). Now as the Coordinated Entry Data Specialist, Marissa works closely with the Systems Change Team to provide seamless support, guidance, and training on data directly to Coordinated Entry Planning Entities to support data-based decision making in public policies. Marissa is originally from San Antonio, Texas and received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Texas A&M University.

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Alex Paredes
Data Coordinator

Alex is the Data Coordinator for the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care. She is in charge of the design, implementation, coordination and analysis of the annual Point in Time (PIT) count and Housing Inventory Count (HIC). 

Alex is from Austin Texas and has lived in the area for her entire life. She graduated from UT Austin with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and psychology. She previously worked in the clinical field before shifting her focus to helping people on a larger scale at the Texas Homeless Network. She is passionate about trans liberation, voting rights, and economic justice. Alex believes that housing is a human right and is dedicated to using her knowledge to bring an end to homelessness in the state of Texas.

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Mari Reyes
Policy and VISTA Manager

Mari is originally from Muskegon, Michigan and started her career by serving two years with AmeriCorps in San Antonio, Texas. She has previously worked in the homeless service sector and her experience includes volunteer management, event management, and donor engagement. She believes housing is a human right and is committed to the fight towards ending homelessness in Texas. In her free time, Mari likes to read and spend time with her friends and family.  

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Hope Rodgers, LMSW
CoC Performance Coordinator

As CoC Performance Coordinator, Hope supports CoC Projects throughout the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care through monitoring and technical assistance. Hope seeks to create meaningful relationships with grantees to enhance service delivery and foster the goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring.  

 A North Texas native, Hope has nearly five years of experience in the nonprofit sector with over three years of experience working in CoC Projects. She has served through direct practice, facilitating Collective Impact initiatives, and local, state and federal grant management. She earned a Bachelor of Social Work from Texas Woman’s University and a Master of Social Work jointly awarded by Texas Woman’s University and The University of North Texas. Hope’s passion is in homelessness solutions and advancing the helping profession. 

 

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Billy Streu
EHV Service Coordinator

Billy is the Emergency Housing Voucher Service Coordinator at THN. His role is to work with THN’s partners and individuals to ensure that EHV recipients can secure housing quickly and find services that promote their stability.

Billy was born and raised in Lubbock, TX. Prior to THN, he has worked in non-profit and faith-based organizations, as well as financial services in sales and service roles. Billy graduated from Texas Tech and is currently working on his Master of Social Work degree at Texas State. Billy is passionate about economic and housing justice, financial social work, and advocacy. In his free time, you can find him running, playing piano or guitar, or hanging out with the Streu-dles (his three wild and wonderful children).

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Mary Rychlik Stahlke, LMSW
Director of Engagement

Mary serves as the Director of Engagement for the Texas Balance of State CoC. She facilitates the involvement of CoC members, including CoC Board members, local homeless coalitions (LHCs), and mainstream partners, in CoC planning and operations. She also coordinates CoC efforts with other programs, funding streams, and community planning activities.

Mary has expertise in HUD’s CoC Program, Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program, and Consolidated Planning and in the education of homeless children and youth. She has facilitated processes on a CoC level and with LHCs and ESG recipients. Mary has 23 years of experience in homeless services, including direct practice, program administration, and performance evaluation in a school district, city and state governments, and faith-based and statewide non-profit organizations.

Mary is a Licensed Master Social Worker who earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work from The University of Texas at Austin. Her passion is working to end homelessness because every person deserves an affordable place to live, feel safe, and thrive.

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Anja Taylor
Barriers Fund Coordinator

Anja serves as the Barriers Fund Coordinator at THN. In this role, she is responsible for establishing and managing the Barriers Fund across the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care. The Barriers Fund helps ensure Texas residents have a safe and stable place to call home.  

Anja is a passionate change-maker with expertise in grants management, technical communication, restorative justice, and conflict resolution. She holds a Bachelor of General Studies degree from Texas Tech University, and a Master’s degree in Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management from Southern Methodist University. 

Anja has a deep desire to help others and utilizes her skills to support nonprofits that serve to elevate the human experience.

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Jim Ward
Director of Planning

As the Director of Planning, Jim works closely with the Corporation for Supportive Housing, CoC Leads around the State, Balance of State Stakeholders, Continuum of Care -funded Projects, ESG Recipients, SSVF Grantees and HUD Field Offices to further the CoC’s strategic vision of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring in the Balance of State.

Coming from a decade long career in direct service, Jim understands the pressures on the ground when working to end homelessness.   Please consider him your ally in the fight to end homelessness.

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Shamika Williams
EHV Coordinator

Shamika Williams is the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) Coordinator at Texas Homeless Network. Originally from Northeast Texas, I have served in the United States Navy for 8 years. Eventually, I started working for the state within the social services sector with nursing home Medicaid, which helped with my growth in understanding local and federal laws for individuals with disabilities. Over the past 5 years, I have excelled within non-profit organizations as a peer support specialist, case manager, SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach Access and Recovery) specialist, and program manager for the homeless population in Austin, TX. I am driven to continue assisting veterans, individuals, and families of all dynamics in achieving housing stability. I have earned my Master of Education in Mental Health Counseling and mentor on the weekend’s youth within my community. I strive to assist others with becoming their greatest version of themselves and look forward to providing guidance with acquiring resources needed for stable housing.

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Kristin Zakoor
Chief Operating Officer

Kristin is the Chief Operations Officer at THN. She oversees the day-to-day administrative functions of THN to ensure the company has effective operational and programmatic procedures in place. Kristin has worked for several years in the homeless service sector and is very passionate about data, racial equity, homelessness advocacy, and public health rights. She utilizes her background in data to help analyze and strategize process improvements that will have a positive impact on THN, service providers, and unhoused neighbors. In her spare time, Kristin loves cooking, doing yoga, and going on walks with her furry friend.

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Mary Rychlik Stahlke, LMSW
Director of Engagement

Mary serves as the Director of Engagement for the Texas Balance of State CoC. She facilitates the involvement of CoC members, including CoC Board members, local homeless coalitions (LHCs), and mainstream partners, in CoC planning and operations. She also coordinates CoC efforts with other programs, funding streams, and community planning activities.

Mary has expertise in HUD’s CoC Program, Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program, and Consolidated Planning and in the education of homeless children and youth. She has facilitated processes on a CoC level and with LHCs and ESG recipients. Mary has 23 years of experience in homeless services, including direct practice, program administration, and performance evaluation in a school district, city and state governments, and faith-based and statewide non-profit organizations.

Mary is a Licensed Master Social Worker who earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work from The University of Texas at Austin. Her passion is working to end homelessness because every person deserves an affordable place to live, feel safe, and thrive.

Anja is standing outside of the Chemistry building at Texas Tech University. She is wearing a white flowy dress with purple and green floral details. Her smile clearly shows how happy she is on her graduation day

Anja Taylor
Barriers Fund Coordinator

Anja serves as the Barriers Fund Coordinator at THN. In this role, she is responsible for establishing and managing the Barriers Fund across the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care. The Barriers Fund helps ensure Texas residents have a safe and stable place to call home.  

Anja is a passionate change-maker with expertise in grants management, technical communication, restorative justice, and conflict resolution. She holds a Bachelor of General Studies degree from Texas Tech University, and a Master’s degree in Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management from Southern Methodist University. 

Anja has a deep desire to help others and utilizes her skills to support nonprofits that serve to elevate the human experience.

Jim is a white man with short hair and a grey shirt. Smiling, he stands in front of a small pond

Jim Ward
Director of Planning

As the Director of Planning, Jim works closely with the Corporation for Supportive Housing, CoC Leads around the State, Balance of State Stakeholders, Continuum of Care -funded Projects, ESG Recipients, SSVF Grantees and HUD Field Offices to further the CoC’s strategic vision of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring in the Balance of State.

Coming from a decade long career in direct service, Jim understands the pressures on the ground when working to end homelessness.   Please consider him your ally in the fight to end homelessness.

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Jacq Taylor
AmeriCorps VISTA Project Assistant 

Jacq is the AmeriCorps VISTA Project Associate. Previous to getting hired on with THN, they served two terms of national service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, first with an education nonprofit in Houston, then as a Leader with Feeding Texas, a statewide nonprofit addressing food insecurity. They are excited to continue working alongside VISTA members to build systems and local coalitions to end homelessness. Jacq is a Texas native from the Lubbock area, currently living in Austin. They are passionate about building frameworks to advance racial equity, LGBTQ+ rights, community coalitions, reading, and taking long walks with their dog, Summer.

A bearded white man with chestnut colored trimmed hair and beard stands outside in a navy, light-blue, and white plaid button down shirt with only the top button remaining undone. Some teeth come through the beard to form a smile in front of a background of greenery. His right and left ears are slightly sunburned from the Texas summer. There is a ripe pomegranate growing from one of the trees in the background. The photo has been slightly altered to smooth out ridges on Nick's forehead and adjust the level of lighting.

Nick Thompson
Statewide Initiatives Manager

As the Statewide Initiatives Manager, Nick supports communities through THN’s Statewide Initiatives and Texas Balance of State’s (TX BoS CoC) programs. His primary function in this role is to administer an AmeriCorps VISTA intermediary program across the state, support advocacy efforts, and help with fund development.

Nick is originally from Dallas, Texas and holds a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies from St. Edward’s University. He is working on completing his Master of Public Administration from Texas State University. Nick has completed two AmeriCorps terms of service himself, one here in Austin and the other in St. Louis. His passion lies in voting rights, educational equity, housing reform, and public transportation.

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Jim Ward
Assistant Director of Planning

As the Assistant Director of Planning, Jim works closely with the Corporation for Supportive Housing, CoC Leads around the State, Balance of State Stakeholders, Continuum of Care -funded Projects, ESG Recipients, SSVF Grantees and HUD Field Offices to further the CoC’s strategic vision of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring in the Balance of State.

Coming from a decade long career in direct service, Jim understands the pressures on the ground when working to end homelessness.   Please consider him your ally in the fight to end homelessness.

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