The Playworks Texas 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.
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.
Board Vice President
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.
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.
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.\
Total E&P Americas LLC.
Jennifer Ayers is the New Venture Projects Manager for Total E&P Americas LLC. She has 20 years of experience in the oil and gas industry having lived and worked in many locations in the U.S. and around the world. She lived for 5 years in Lagos, Nigeria before repatriating to Houston for the 2nd time. She double majored in Anthropology and Geology at James Madison University, received her Master of Science in Geological Sciences from Indiana University and an MBA from Regis University. She added Leadership and Career Coaching to her areas of expertise though a program at the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. In 2015, she was recognized by James Madison University’s Geology Department as a Distinguished Alumni.
Jennifer believes strongly in providing children opportunities to be physically active and avenues to develop a healthy self-esteem. In addition to being an ardent supporter of Playworks and serving on the Playworks Board, she is a member of the Houston Geological Society, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and the International Coach Federation. She lives in the Montrose area of Houston with her family.
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.
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.
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.