circle

Our Board

Anna Eastman is a committed leader in the Greater Houston community and a twenty-year resident of the Heights. She has served as Texas State Representative for District 148 and two four-year terms as District I Trustee on the Houston Independent School District Board of Trustees. During her time on the board Anna served in multiple leadership capacities most notably, Board President and Chair of the Audit Committee. She currently serves on Holocaust Museum Houston’s Board of Advisors, Teach for America’s Houston Region Board, Breakthrough Houston Advisory Board and Houston Grand Opera’s education and community outreach committee, HGOco. In 2002, Anna co-founded the 11 ½ Street Foundation which recognized outstanding veteran teachers and awards college scholarships to at risk children who have graduated from Heights and Northside High Schools. She received the 2012 GLBT Caucus Eleanor Tinsley Distinguished Community Ally Award, was the 2015 Ally Grand Marshall for Houston Pride, and the National Association for Social Workers 2016 State Elected Official of the Year. Anna is deeply committed to ensuring every child has access to opportunities so that they may live rich and deeply fulfilling lives. Anna and her husband Brad have three children. All of the Eastmans have a deep love of the outdoors and the arts.
Courtney Hoyt is the Manager of Volunteer Services at Ben Taub Hospital, part of Harris Health System, and serves on The Woods Project Board as an ex-officio member through The Junior League of Houston’s Outside Board Representative Program. A lifelong Houstonian, Courtney has served in leadership roles and as a volunteer in many non-profit organizations, including Community Vice President for The Junior League of Houston, Communication Chair and incoming Board President for Houston Association of Volunteer Administrators, and as Co-Chair for the Texas Medical Center’s Volunteer Services Committee. Courtney also enjoys volunteering as a docent with the Holocaust Museum Houston and at her son’s school. Courtney received a B.A. in English and a minor in History from The University of Texas at Austin. She deeply believes in the power of mentorship. She met her husband through summer camp connections, and understands how time spent in nature, challenging yourself, and developing deep relationships can create a life-changing and character-strengthening experience.
Kathleen-Milazzo-Board-PicKathleen Milazzo Johnson is an Executive Director at JP Morgan Securities LLC, where she is a member of the firm’s leveraged finance team. She is a graduate of Rice University. Kathleen and her husband Travis live in Houston and have two children.
Julie Vitek is Vice President of Communications for ENGIE North America. In this role, she is responsible for leading external and internal communications activities to promote all of the key activities of ENGIE’s energy and services businesses in North America to audiences including the media, customers, industry officials, financial analysts, community officials, and employees. Julie joined ENGIE North America in 1999 to work for the company’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) business as its chief spokesperson, state and local government affairs liaison, and community outreach director. Prior to joining ENGIE, Julie held a variety of communications positions in the high-technology, transportation, finance, and water industries, as a press spokesperson, financial and technical writer, and meeting and publicity event planner. Julie earned her Bachelor of Science degree (High Honors) in Mass Communications and Public Relations from Boston University. She is a member of the Forbes Communications Council, Global Forum, and Houston Public Media Affinity Council.
Jacqueline Alvarenga Gerber is a Partner at Mayer LLP where she practices as a civil litigation defense attorney. She serves on The Woods Project Board as an ex-officio member through the Junior League of Houston’s Outside Board Representative Program. Jackie is passionate about education and mentorship. As a first generation American, Jackie understands how hard it is to navigate the education system. She was very fortunate to have teachers and mentors (who are still apart of her life today) that helped encourage her and guide her. While at The Woods Project, Jackie hopes that she can uplift others as a mentor so they can reach their fullest potential. She hopes that her experiences, both personal in her professional capacity will make a positive impact at The Woods Project. Jackie received her B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration from Baylor University and her J.D. from South Texas College of Law Houston. She is very active in the Junior League of Houston and Hispanic Bar Association.
Jared Caplan has over two decades of multi-faceted experience in the construction, oilfield, and financial services industries. He has represented clients in litigation and transactions throughout the U.S. Jared’s wide-ranging practice includes serving as a trusted advisor on business operations, regulatory compliance, and lending practices. He also has led successful defense efforts in multimillion-dollar litigation matters. His work includes advising clients on the acquisition and development of real estate and multifamily units, compliance with proper lending practices and foreclosure disputes, advising in the preparation of master service agreements, and litigating commercial contract disputes, insurance coverage matters, personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, construction delay claims, and premises liability. He also has extensive experience in representing and advising clients on OSHA-related matters, including consulting with clients on their rights and duties in the event of an OSHA investigation; responding to OSHA requests for information and documents; and representing employers in post-incident OSHA investigations, OSHA interviews of management employees, informal settlement conferences, and formal contest hearings before administrative law judges. Jared serves as a mediator and holds a certificate in Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures from the A.A. White Dispute Resolution Center at the University of Houston Law Center. Jared is regularly appointed by the district court judges of Harris County to serve as a guardian ad litem and attorney ad litem.

Lorena Chavez has been in banking for over 20 years. Since July of 2018, she has worked as a Commercial Client Specialist for Woodforest National Bank, focusing on commercial clients in the Houston and Dallas markets. Prior to Woodforest, she worked for IBERIABANK for 9 years as a Commercial Relationship Support Manager and was also part of the Conversion/Acquisition’s team. She has experience in Treasury Management from Whitney National Bank where she worked as a Treasury Management Associate. Lorena attended the University of Houston and Houston Community College.

Phil Cool is a Vice President at Macquarie Group, an Australian Investment bank. Prior to joining Macquarie, Phil accumulated over a decade of experience working in industry, consulting, and banking for the energy industry. Phil earned a degree in Economics and Business Management from Ripon College, where he was a collegiate athlete on Ripon’s soccer team. After college, Phil received his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Houston. As a young adult, Phil also earned the rank of Eagle Scout, which sparked his interest in giving back to the community.
Rody Grant has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and Talent Acquisition and currently serves as a Senior Account Executive for Akedis, L.L.C., a boutique firm offering permanent and contingent staffing for a diverse and growing client base. Not only is he dedicated to finding the “right fit” for his clients’ hiring needs he is also passionate about mentoring and supporting Houston youth. Rody has been a “Big” with Big Brother Big Sisters of America for over 20 years and has served on the Board of Directors for The Woods Project (TWP) for three plus years. He continues to mentor Houston youth at The Woods Project by leading group discussions on how best to prepare for success in school and beyond. He received his B.A. Economics and Business Management from Virginia Military Institute.
Jessica Gregg is a Community Volunteer and mother of two daughters. As a member of the Post Oak Chapter of National Charity League, Jessica has volunteered throughout Houston and served in various leadership roles, including Chapter President, Vice-President of Philanthropy and Parliamentarian. She was an active volunteer at her children’s school, The Post Oak School, chairing the Parent’s Association, Biennial Gala and Book Fair. Previously, Jessica worked for ExxonMobil as a financial analyst and auditor in the Controller’s Department. She received her B.S in Business Administration from Evangel University and Masters in International Relations from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. An avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast, Jessica just completed her sixth summer as a volunteer leader with The Woods Project. She believes strongly in the power of nature to enhance and transform lives.
Michael Marsh is an Insurance Agent at Momentum Insurance. He was previously employed by ENGIE Gas North America, a Paris-based energy firm, in shipping logistics within the LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) division. Mike worked in the natural gas industry from 2002 to 2019. Mike graduated from UCLA with a degree in History and a specialization in Business. He also has a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Houston and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Duke University. Previously, Mike spent several years as a world class sprinter and won two Olympic gold and one silver medal. He has qualified for seven U.S. Olympic and World Championship teams starting with the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Mike was ranked in the top ten in the U.S. at 100 meters eleven years in a row from 1987 through 1997 and also six times in a row in the 200 meters from 1991 through 1996. Mike is married to Marna Marsh and has three sons, Wren, Asa and Maverick.
Mark Mey is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Transocean Ltd, which he joined as CFO in May 2015. He previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Atwood Oceanics. Including his almost five years at Atwood, he has over 28 years of experience in the energy and financial services industries in both the United States and South Africa.  Prior to Atwood, Mark was Senior Vice President and CFO and a Director of Scorpion Offshore Ltd.  He also held positions of increasing responsibility during his 12 years with offshore driller Noble Corporation, including Vice President and Treasurer. Mark earned an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  He is a Chartered Accountant and attended the Harvard Business School Executive Advanced Management Program.

Mary is a Community Volunteer and has served in various volunteer roles throughout the Houston community. She is currently the President of the Civic Association in her neighborhood. She is also the President of one of the Brazoria County Municipal Utility District boards. For the past 11 years, she has been an active volunteer in her son’s school, serving as PSO President, Gala co-chair and on the Capital Campaign committee. She currently chairs two PSO committees. Mary is Director of Operations of Pacific Solar Management. She is responsible for the monitoring and operational wellbeing of over 100 solar installations in Hawaii, as well as managing customer relations. Her previous work history was with Simmons and Company International, and Tudor Pickering Holt Energy, where she served in the Marketing and Sales Department coordinating events such as the annual conference for the company, and customer relations. Mary and her family enjoy summers in Breckenridge, Colorado where they enjoy cool weather, hiking and being in nature.

Jeremy Samuels is a Community Volunteer. Jeremy is a director of his family’s charitable foundation and is very active in the community. Jeremy is the Board Chairman of The Woods Project. Jeremy has worked in numerous roles at the Evelyn Rubinstein Jewish Community Center and currently serves as its President. In addition to these chairmanship roles, Jeremy serves on the boards of Houston A+, The Leeland Kibbutz program, the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America, and Houston Achievement Place. An avid outdoorsman, Jeremy is an eagle scout and was a cub scout leader for several years. Before focusing on foundation and community work, Jeremy was Vice President of Operations for Victory Packaging, one of the largest distributors of packaging supplies in North America, where he worked in a variety of management roles for 15 years. Jeremy currently serves on the Board of Elemental Recycling. Samuels lives in Bellaire with his wife Suzan and their two children, Nathaniel and Gabby.
Heidi Schwarzwald currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer for Aetna Better Health of Texas and Regional Chief Medical Officer for the Western Region of Aetna Better Health. Aetna Better Health of Texas is a state-wide Medicaid Managed Care Organization and part of CVS Health. Dr. Schwarzwald’ s career has focused on designing and implementing innovative care models for children and families in resource limited areas. Dr. Schwarzwald completed her undergraduate degree in Government at Harvard University. She received her Medical Doctorate from University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and completed her residency in pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. Further, Dr. Schwarzwald earned her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Texas School of Public Health. She is married, with two children Dori (16) and Daniel (15).
Tara Teeter is a Division Director in the Legal Group of the Commodities and Global Markets—Energy Markets Division of Macquarie Group. Tara’s practice focuses on energy commodities trading and lending and project development activities related to the Energy Transition. With over 16 years of experience, Tara began her career in the Houston office of King & Spalding LLP. A native Texan, Tara grew up on the beaches in Corpus Christi, Texas, graduating from Texas A&M University—College Station with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in History. Tara studied a masters in medieval history from the University of Houston and graduated with her juris doctorate from University of Houston Law Center in 2006. Tara firmly believes in the power of nature to effect positive change in people’s lives. Tara lives in Houston with her husband Mike, dogs and cat. Tara and Mike have four grown children.
Cindy Tessler serves as the Vice President of Programs and Operations at Avenue, a nonprofit real estate developer engaged in comprehensive community development. Her work includes leadership and oversight of all client facing programs as well as organizational strategic planning and direction. Cindy is Colombian by birth but a lifelong Texan, graduating with a B.A. in Sociology from Texas A&M University and currently working towards a Master’s degree from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. Cindy’s focus has always been on advocating for marginalized and underserved community members by implementing programs and services that lead to greater economic independence and overall well-being.