Staff and Leadership | Playworks

Playworks for every kid

Staff and Leadership

Sheroo Mukhtiar
Executive Director

Sheroo Mukhtiar comes to Playworks Houston with more than 20 years of non-profit management experience. Sheroo holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, specializing in children- and women-oriented services and a Master’s degree in Social Work, majoring in Children and Youth Programs with a minor in Non-profit Management.

Sheroo began her professional career with Boys Town, a national organization working with severely abused and neglected children across the United States. After nine years of serving as Program Director for Boys Town in Nebraska, California and Florida, Sheroo was offered the position of Executive Director at Almost Home, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri. Under Sheroo’s leadership, Almost Home grew from a housing facility for teen mothers to a long-term transitional housing program that empowered young women to achieve their fullest potential while creating a safe and positive environment for their young children. During this time the organization expanded its program to include a continuum of care with a 12-unit independent living facility; the organization became the first state-licensed program for teen mothers under the age of 16 and a member of the United Way.

After eight-plus years at Almost Home, Sheroo was recruited to be the Executive Director of Springboard, an affiliate of Young Audiences, a non-profit organization providing arts-in-education programs to low-income schools. For the three years that Sheroo was with Springboard, the organization focused on strengthening and streamlining its operations with a clear and structured strategic vision that included diversification of funding sources, creating new programs aligned with the needs of low-income schools and increasing partnerships with other community organizations.

Over the past year, after re-locating to Houston, Sheroo was the Executive Director for HITS Theatre, a performing arts education program for children. 

During her professional career, Sheroo has acquired extensive training and experience in all aspects of fund-raising and development, communications, board governance and development, program development and strategic planning and implementation. Sheroo has also completed the Community Arts Training program through the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission, graduated from the Women’s Leadership Institute through the St. Louis Non Profit Alliance, and was a member of the Executive Directors Roundtable for the Arts and Education Council of St. Louis.  Sheroo has served on the advisory board for Gateway Homeless Shelter and as a board member at Room At The Inn.

As Sheroo and her family continue to explore Houston and make it their ‘permanent’ home, they enjoy travelling, spending quality time together and making new memories with friends and family.  

Lawrence English
Program Director

Lawrence started his official journey working with kids when he was a mere 18 years old as a summer camp counselor. Lawrence received his degree at the University of Houston with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and has brought that professionalism mixed in with a bundle of playfulness as a program coordinator for the past two years at Stepping Stones School. He served both as AmeriCorps and Staff positions and shares the belief that the power of play can make a positive impact on a student, family, school, community and one's self. Lawrence is excited to bring his skills to the coaches in Houston and provide a Playworks Culture in the Bayou City. In his spare time, Lawrence enjoys spending time with his family and being physically active in any capacity.

Grace Ifeanyichukwu
Program Associate

Grace Ifeanyichukwu is the program associate for Playworks Texas. A Dallas, Texas native, she attended the University of Houston in Houston, Texas and obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Public Relations. Grace is passionate about social justice issues, specifically the current state of education in America, and has dedicated her life to helping shape a better learning experience for America’s youth. Prior to her role as program associate, she served as an office assistant for the University of Houston Religion Center; a summer-time instructor for the Boys and Girls Club of America; and an AmeriCorps member for City Year Dallas, working as a middle school teaching assistant, mentor, and tutor. Her experience as an AmeriCorps member in particular helped give her an inside look at the state of education and provided the foundation of idealism she needed to pursue her hopes of making a difference.

When she isn’t thinking about the complexity of the world and its future, Grace likes to participate in and appreciate things that she believes make life great. She delights in getting to know new people in depth, discovering different types of music, and dancing until she simply cannot. Grace strongly believes that maintaining an active mind and body not only helps showcase our souls but empowers us to be the change we want to see in the world.

Mary Harmon
Development Manager

Mary was born and raised in Houston, where she has lived for most her life. She attended the University of Colorado and studied political science and history. She began her career working on political campaigns and spent time working for the government. Most recently, she was the director of operations and programming at the West Houston Association, a political nonprofit. Mary has an extensive background in both the political and nonprofit fields, where she has developed a strong passion for building better communities. Her years of experience in donor cultivation, corporate partnerships, and event planning will definitely help Playworks Texas grow and strengthen our efforts. Additionally, Mary's personal commitment to her family's foundation, which has helped many young students pursue their dreams, is inspiring. Mary loves the outdoors. Her favorite recess games were jailbreak and dodgeball.

Nia Abdallah
Program Manager

Nia Abdallah is a program manager for Playworks Texas. Born and raised in Houston Texas, Nia competed in the sport of Taekwondo most of her life and won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. After this achievement, Nia vowed to take what she learned on her journey to the Olympics, and help others that have come after her. Throughout the years, Nia has given her time to create and facilitate the concepts of sport as a part of an healthy full life. Nia retired in 2012 with the goal of helping youth and beyond. Nia has worked with children ages 3 and older, has created a taekwondo youth program, taught skills in the classroom, and ran after school programing. Through her association with the Houston Olympians, Nia was exposed to Playworks and the Playworks model. Nia served as an AmeriCorps Playworks Program Coordinator for a year at a school with over 1,100 students in attendance. After learning the skills needed to create a positive culture in a community, her experiences have prepared her to assist coaches to reach their own personal bests.

Currently enrolled in the College of Biblical Studies, Nia is pursuing a degree in Women’s Ministry. Nia loves food, music, and movies. You will find her quoting a movie or TV show on the fly and red velvet is the way to her heart. If you see her, make sure you ask for a snack. She always has one. With a smile on her face, you will always find that Nia is down for having a good time. She believes that her energy is contagious and consequently believes that it is important that she gives off the most positive energy whenever possible.

Courtney Hill
Program Manager
Courtney aka "Coach Court" began her service with Playworks Southern California as an AmeriCorps program coordinator at Aspire Firestone Academy. Born and raised in San Jose, California, Coach Court has always had a passion for serving young people in her community. Courtney has worked as a preschool teacher, elementary physical education coordinator, and youth case manager. Through these positions she has gained invaluable experience forming solid partnerships with schools, parents, and students to prepare them for success. She is excited to be in the program manager role and inspire others in Houston through the power of play! In her spare time, Courtney can be found spending time with her daughter, listening to music, and dancing.