The Playworks Wisconsin Advisory Board is a group of change-makers who believe in the power of play and are active ambassadors for Playworks. These playful professionals contribute their personal time to share the mission of Playworks: to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play.
Jackson Sandeen is a Senior Research Analyst for Wood Mackenzie, a global research and consulting firm in the energy market. He became a CFA charterholder in 2016. Before Wood Mackenzie, he studied Economics and Broadcast Journalism at Boston University where he was a brother in the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He is a native Houstonian and Lamar Redskin. Jackson enjoys volunteering as a big brother for Big Brothers Big Sisters and playing golf on the weekends.
Board Vice President
Justin Vickrey is Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer for Allegiance Bank, where he takes great pleasure in forging relationships with business owners and learning about their companies. A 12 year banking veteran, Justin graduated cum laude with a BBA from Belhaven University. He is a native Houstonian and grew up in Katy, where he and his wife, Krislyn, currently reside.
Justin strongly believes in the importance of giving back and being actively involved in the community. In addition to being a passionate supporter of Playworks, he is a member of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Quality of Place Advisory Committee, GHP’s Economic Development Council, GHP’s Houston Economy Council, the Independent Bankers Association of Texas, and The Houston Economics Club.
Justin has previously served as an executive board member of the Rotary Lombardi Award, in conjunction with the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. He has also been a past member of the leadership team for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo’s Speakers Committee and was a two-term chairman of the T.W. Davis YMCA’s Board of Directors. Additionally, Justin has served as chairman of the Greater Southwest Houston YMCA Leadership Council, founding chairman of the Central Fort Bend Chamber’s Young Professional Division Council, a director on the Central Fort Bend Chamber Board of Directors, and as a cook for the Lamar Educational Awards Foundation’s annual Men Who Cook event. Furthermore, he is a graduate of Leadership Fort Bend and Leadership Excellence for Non-Profits.
The Fort Bend/Katy Business Journal named Justin as one of “Fort Bend’s Rising Stars” in 2012 and one of the “Top 40 Entrepreneurs and Executives Under 40” in 2010. He was honored to be the recipient of the “Volunteer of the Year” award by the YMCA in 2011 and “Ambassador of the Year” award by the Central Fort Bend Chamber in 2007.
Stela is an Account Manager at Airgas, one of the leading suppliers of industrial, medical, and specialty gases in the United States. Mrs. McCleskey has experience in digital marketing and business development. A few years ago, she founded a student organization promoting stem research and community outreach.
Prior to joining Airgas, Stela studied marketing at University of Houston. Mrs. McCleskey received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Outside of the office, Stela is an active member of the Houston Young Professionals network. She is passionate about children’s education and animal rescues.
When she is not out volunteering, Stela finds time to participate in church activities, entertain and travel. Stela and her husband Kendrick currently reside in Houston with their 3-year-old boxer Indy.
Jeff Stewart works in the corporate partnership department for the Houston Astros. In his current role, he is responsible for marketing high-value, mutually beneficial partnerships to key corporations to secure annual new business growth.
Jeff began his tenure with the Astros in 2013 and has quickly become a key contributor to the organization, achieving accolades as the highest producer of new business for 2014, and securing the naming rights partner for the Club Level in Minute Maid Park. Prior to his time with the Astros, Jeff spent five years as the Director of Corporate Alliances for Six Flags Fiesta Texas, as well as seven years in various capacities in Minor League Baseball.
Jeff graduated from California State University at Chico with his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. He has been an active member of the Playworks Texas Board since 2014.
Claudia V. Gonzales
Claudia V. Gonzales is currently the Director of Programs and Operations for Leadership Houston. Prior to that, Claudia served as a high school science teacher, district curriculum specialist and school administrator in both, Pearland Independent School District and Houston Independent School District. Claudia’s sixteen years of experience in education and her passion for impacting young learners has led her to pursue school leadership courses at Rice University and Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Claudia grew up in South Texas, and has lived in the Houston area for 25 years. She is a graduate of The University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction in Science Education. Claudia is a music enthusiast and enjoys music of all genres. Claudia, her husband, Stephen, and children, Andrea and Ayden, currently reside in Pearland, Texas with their rambunctious terrier, George.
Dean & Draper Insurance Agency
Michael is a producer at Dean & Draper Insurance Agency in Houston, TX working in commercial lines. He is a native Houstonian and a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a degree in Hospitality Management. He went on to pursue his love of cooking at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. After putting his culinary skills to work in New Orleans, he decided to move back to Houston, where he joined Martha Turner Properties as a sales associate. He is currently a member of YoungTexans against Cancer and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Parade Committee. In his spare time, Michael enjoys golfing, bird hunting, the outdoors, and good food. He currently resides in the Rice University area with his wife, Amy, their son and their dog, Kaiser.
Newman Law Firm
Deborah has more than 30 years of courtroom and trial experience and is the Managing Partner of Newman Law Firm. She ranks in the top 5% of women attorneys as rated by Martindale-Hubbell based on peer reviews. Deborah has successfully argued before the Texas Supreme Court and has been lead counsel in many counties throughout Texas. She has also been featured in Forbes Magazine.
Sports Broadcaster/Public Speaker
James Starks was a sports anchor/reporter for KPRC 2.
Before getting involved in television, James was a two-time All-American at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He was the Ohio Athletic Conference’s defensive back of the year in 2007. In the spring of 2008, he signed a free-agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. After an unfortunate injury, James left Cincinnati and moved to Italy to play with the Ancona Dolphins.
James is now an avid crossfitter. He originally hails from Toledo, Ohio.\
Principal of Horn Elementary
A native Texan, Mary came to education very naturally since both of her parents were educators. Her father was a coach and science teacher at several schools in Texas and her mother was a theater teacher. Mary has 21 years of experience in education. She is currently Principal of Horn Elementary.
Mary holds a B.A. from Emory and Henry College in Virginia and a Master of Science in Educational Management from University of Houston – Clear Lake. Additionally, Mary recently completed the Rice University Education Entrepreneurship Program (REEP), the nation’s foremost leadership development program for highly motivated educators.
Mary loves to travel with her family, read, and learn new things.
Jennifer is currently the New Ventures Team Lead for Chevron International. Her team is responsible for West Africa and northern South America. She has received BS degrees in geology and anthropology, an MSc in geology and an MBA. Jennifer recently moved to Houston after a 5-year international assignment in Nigeria and is enjoying experiencing all that Houston has to offer. She enjoys running and cross-fit and lives in the Montrose area with her fiancé, son and animal menagerie.
Andrea is the Founder and Owner of Andrus Communications, a full-service branding and marketing communications agency. The agency works with a diverse portfolio of clients including restaurants and retail, to help clients discover their true voice and purpose to attract their ideal customers.
A native Floridian, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Interpersonal Communications from the University of Central Florida and Master’s Degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida.
In addition to her board responsibilities with Playworks Texas, Andrea also serves on the social media committee for the Miniature Schnauzer Rescue of Houston.
Andrea has called Houston home since 2012 and has grown to love the big city life. In her free time she enjoys dining at all the fabulous restaurants in town and living a healthy and active lifestyle with her two dogs, Salts and Peppers.
A Houston native, Bryan Walwyn is an Account Executive for Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oil field services companies. In his current role, he is responsible for developing long-term and trusted client relationships, while delivering the key results that matter to clients and their respective businesses.
Starting his tenure with Halliburton in 2013, he became one of the youngest Account Executives in the company. Within just two years in this role, Bryan was inducted into the Winner’s Circle for Top Sales performers of 2015. Prior to Halliburton, Bryan spent 5 years with Northwestern Mutual as a Financial Advisor.
Earning a full scholarship to play football, Bryan graduated from The College of the Holy Cross with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. It was during his collegiate years that Bryan discovered his love for meaningful volunteering, signing up to as a mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Worcester, MA. He then went on to mentor with the U.S. Dream Academy here in Houston.
Irina is currently a Staff Petrophysicist with ConocoPhilips, working in appraisal and development of unconventional oil and gas fields. She is actively involved in a COP internal Professional and Development Network. Prior to joining COP, Irina held several domestic and international positions with Schlumberger, working in Research, Consulting and Operations.
Irina has been elected for a number of board positions in professional societies over the past years. She served as a President of the New York and New England Petroleum SPE Section, Director of International Relationships in SPE Brazil Section, Membership Chair, Secretary and Editor in SPWLA Brazil and Houston Chapters. She is currently the Treasurer for the SPWLA Houston Chapter.
Irina holds her Ph.D. degree in Applied Math and Physics from Moscow, Russia. She has traveled the world both for work and pleasure. She lived and worked in Berlin, Germany; Boston, MA; Ridgefield, CT and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Irina is now happy to be living in Houston with her husband and a newborn daughter.
Irina enjoyed volunteering with Big Sisters of Greater Boston. She’s a keen golfer and skier, and is also a certified IYT Bareboat Skipper (sail).
Cari Martin has an extensive background in promoting the lives of women and children. She graduated from Agnes Scott College with a B.A. in Women’s Studies, and went on to pursue work in the education system where she taught elementary and middle school students in public and private environments. While teaching, Cari served as the Girls Basketball Head Coach and lead several camps/workshops focused on boosting self-esteem for girls ages 7-16.
Outside of the classroom, Cari works to inspire groups of women through different platforms, with a passion to encourage women to believe in the power of positive change.
In 2015 Cari moved to Houston, TX with her husband of nine years Mike Martin and their two children Maddon (6), Malone (4). She currently represents restaurants where she specializes in catering consulting and advises clients of potential opportunities and helps to broker deals in the Sports Industry.
Rudolfo “Rudy” Guerra
Rudolfo “Rudy” Guerra is a results-driven Executive Director with extensive experience driving market strategies and execution for Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial companies including own public relations firm. Rudy has 15 years of experience in program development, project management with a sophisticated understanding of marketing strategy and operational efficiency that enables successful strategy development with a focus on growth, brand positioning, retention and profitability within the desired customer base. Rudy is eager to contribute his knowledge and skill set to the Playworks family.
Island Hospitality Management
Rebecca Hundersmarck is currently a National Director of Sales for Island Hospitality a hotel management groups over 160 hotels across the United States. Rebecca was born in Houston, Texas and lived there for 13 years before moving to Ft Lauderdale, Florida where she spent the next 16 years. In 2013 she relocated back to Houston for a role as Area Director of Sales for newly acquired Houston hotels. Her first year as an Area Director of Sales her hotel the Courtyard Houston Medical Center was one of the top grossing hotels in the entire Island Hospitality portfolio where she was awarded a trip to Aruba. In the past Rebecca worked with the coalition for homeless people at her church in Ft Lauderdale, and is looking to become more involved in the community. Rebecca currently lives near downtown Houston with her American Bulldog, Texas.
Toyota Center/Houston Rockets
Hunter Segesta is a dynamic marketing and media professional possessing a solid track record of performance within the Sports & Entertainment marketplace. Hunter is looking forward to leveraging his professional skill set to advance the Playworks mission, and currently serves as an event marketing coordinator working with the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center here in Houston.
Brian Gendron is a business technology enthusiast who has over ten years in the information technology industry. In 2008, he had the opportunity to move to Houston, TX to begin a career with Exebridge, Inc where he began as an inside account manager and quickly moved up the ranks to an outside account manager in 2010, Director of Sales & Marketing in 2014, and most recently General Manager of the Managed Services Division in 2016. In August of 2016, Brian decided to begin working on building his own IT support services company. After months of hard work, he is proudly open the doors of the company Nocserv in Greenway Plaza in January 2017. Nocserv will focus on providing managed IT support services and cyber security services to small businesses. Brian is very active in the Houston business networking community including membership in the Houston Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Houston City Club ONE membership. He actively participates in approximately 10 business networking events per week including events through his memberships but also with the Houston Business Journal, Houston Young Professionals, National Business Development Association, and other business organizations. Brian married his longtime college sweetheart Alayna in April of 2013 and together they have a son born in April of 2015 named Thomas Donald.
Daja N. Jackson
Daja Jackson is currently a Senior Manager in the Assurance practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) and has 13+ years of experience in public accounting. During her 12+ years at PwC, she has served a number of clients primarily in the Energy industry with a focus on large, publicly-traded midstream companies. In addition to her client work, Daja is actively involved in “extra-curricular” activities at PwC including serving in various leadership roles in PwC Houston’s Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, on-campus recruiting and community service activities such as Junior Achievement, the United Way Giving Campaign, Young Women’s Leadership Conference, Dress for Success, amongst others.
Prior to joining PwC, Daja was a staff auditor at Bruno & Tervalon LLP, CPA’s (B&T) located in New Orleans, LA. While at B&T, she performed audits for various non-profit and governmental organizations as well as various colleges & universities. Upon becoming a licensed CPA in the state of LA, Daja moved to Houston, TX to further her career in public accounting and also became a licensed CPA in the state of Texas.
Daja is a member of various professional and community organizations including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is an alumna of Louisiana State University where she graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and Decisions Sciences. She is also an avid college and professional sports fan and a fitness/health enthusiast.
Shaped by his upbringing, Paul Tran, founder of Greenlogic Lighting & Electric LLC, considers himself a coach. “It is all about people. Encouraging people and educating people,” Tran says. The product of a single mom of nine children, Paul is a family man and deeply believes in the power of encouragement. “I founded my company, Greenlogic, based on the principles I’ve hold most valuable. We believe in treating people like people, not numbers. We’re in the energy efficiency business. We attempt to help people and businesses save money and the planet by doing their part in reducing their dependence on non-renewable energy sources. When you educate people and encourage them, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish,” says Tran. Paul has long been an entrepreneur, and over the years, he’s been the managing partner of many successful business entities, such as Aeternus, an expansive Houston-based nightlife management firm, and Brisa Cash, a start-up ATM company. He is widely regarded for his strategic execution, particularly as it relates to new business development, expansion, and alternative marketing, and he has a zeal for operational excellence and streamlined, efficient, value chains.
Sarah has over a decade of domestic and international experience evaluating education and youth development programs. Her current professional focus is on developing and implementing training for change leaders, nonprofit practitioners, teachers, and school administrators in evaluation practices and building an evaluative work culture. Highly experienced in developing and managing innovative approaches to strengthening evaluative thinking and leveraging leadership skills, Sarah’s trainings emphasize integrating evaluation into the project cycle, effectively using data to improve outcomes, and leveraging successes through story telling. Her unique approach to evaluation capacity-building draws upon her academic background in Anthropology, Education, Public Policy, and International Development. Sarah has worked with partners in formal and informal education, but her heart is in early childhood education. A mom of three young children, Sarah champions efforts to immerse children in play, exploration, and discovery, where social emotional learning is central and every child is celebrated for his/her strengths.
James Madison High School, HISD
Maxwell Akuamoah-Boateng, also known as Mr. A received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hamilton College, a teaching certificate from the Houston ISD – ACP program (currently known as Effective Teacher Fellowship-ACP), and a Masters in Business Administration Education from the University of St. Thomas.
A two sport student-athlete at Hamilton College, Max earned several honors on and off the field. It is through his experience as a student-athlete that he developed his understanding and belief in the importance of having a positive mindset and character traits. Inspired to influence communities, Max joined Teach For America in 2009 and moved to Houston to work developing young minds and instilling them with positive learning experiences in preparation for their future.
An aspiring global leader, Max is interested in community, culture, and character development in the process of raising future leaders and citizens. Having worked in various capacities teaching and establishing systems to change and support specific behaviors, Max is interested in learning more about how to develop programs to support and create safe and healthy working communities. He hopes to utilize his skills and knowledge acquired through his athletic and educational experiences to inspire and equip children with the tenacity and grit to chase their dreams, while developing and honing in habits to maintain healthy lifestyles.
Honorary Board Member
Chris Bell Law
“School is about more than just schoolwork. A lot of life’s lessons are learned on the playground. Playworks helps make sure they’re good lessons.”
Born in Abilene and raised in Dallas, Chris Bell attended public schools before enrolling at the University of Texas at Austin where he earned a degree in journalism. He began his broadcasting career in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and then moved to Amarillo where he was a television reporter and anchor in the Texas Panhandle for almost six years. Chris moved to Houston to begin his legal studies at South Texas College of Law and was named AP’s best radio reporter in Texas while working for KTRH News Radio, covering the courthouse beat. After receiving his law degree in 1992, he began what would become a successful litigation practice.
Bell’s public service career began in 1997, after being elected to the Houston City Council where he served 5 years. He was then elected to the United States House of Representatives and served from 2003 to 2005 before being redistricted. He was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Texas in 2006. Bell supports increased spending for the Texas public education system. He believes in acquiring and retaining quality teachers and taking the focus away from standardized testing.
He lives in Houston with his wife, Alison Ayres Bell, and they have two sons, Atlee and Connally.