Michael Griffith has 20 years of experience as an educator and nonprofit leader. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas and a Master of Education degree from Texas State University, Michael started his career as a classroom teacher, honing his skills in teaching, learning, curriculum development, and student assessment. He earned distinctions for his teaching and took on leadership roles as a mentor teacher and team leader. He supported students in and out of the classroom to fulfill their potential.
Michael joined Breakthrough as the Director of Programs in 2008. During his six-year tenure as Director of Programs, Michael managed a three-fold increase in students served, the organization’s expansions in Manor ISD and Austin ISD, the buildout of its college completion programs, and the creation of a customized Salesforce database to monitor the progress of students on their path to college graduation. In 2011, Michael was honored by Bank of America with the distinction of Emerging Leader.
In 2014, Michael took on the role of Executive Director at Breakthrough. Since that time, he has supported Breakthrough as it has expanded extensively to serve more students in multiple school districts in Central Texas and at colleges and universities across the country. Michael has expertise in educational best practices, partnership development, research and reporting, project planning, strategy formation, organizational leadership, and nonprofit governance. Michael is a founding member of the Austin College Access Network and is widely respected in the Central Texas nonprofit community.
As Chief Development Officer, Grace leads a team of talented and caring professionals and volunteers to secure the rapidly increasing support needed to fund Breakthrough’s expansion efforts across Central Texas. Since joining Breakthrough in 2014, annual revenue has doubled from $2million to $4million. Grace is driven by her belief in the power of education to break the cycle of generational poverty and by the transformational impact a single individual can have on another’s life through philanthropy.
Over the course of her career, Grace has led efforts to secure millions of dollars in philanthropic giving that has translated into protection for hundreds of abused and neglected children and provided thousands of low-income families access to quality childcare, college educations, and compassionate, end-of-life care. Before coming to Breakthrough, Grace most recently served as Director of Development at Hospice Austin, doubling the organization’s annual philanthropic revenue during her tenure. It was during this time that she also served on the founding committee of I Live Here, I Give Here and subsequently led Hospice Austin to city-wide recognition for most dollars raised via the launch of Amplify Austin’s Day of Giving. Grace served on the Trinity Child Development Center Board of Directors, securing funds for their first development director; helped plant the first racially-diverse congregation of the Presbyterian Church USA, and was honored as CASA Angel of the Year.
Grace is a proud alumna of The University of Texas in Austin, Leadership Austin Emerge (2006) and Essential (2017) and the 2016 AISD UpClose Leadership Class. She currently serves as a member of the greater Austin chapter’s Association of Fundraising Professionals Board of Directors.
Grace is the proud and harried mother of twin six-year olds who bring joy, humor and humility to her daily life.
Development & Operations
Del Valle Program
Will earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy from Boston University and a M. Ed. in Education Policy and Planning from the University of Texas at Austin, where he is currently pursuing a PhD in the same department. Following four years teaching English as a foreign language in Europe and South America, he spent five years working as a bilingual elementary classroom teacher and three more as a campus literacy specialist in Central Texas public schools. His personal and professional experiences from more than a decade as an educator in Texas and abroad inform a commitment to culturally responsive pedagogy and curriculum; asset-based, additive, agentic approaches to teaching and learning; and strengthening access to high-quality educational opportunities for all students. In his free time, Will loves to spend time outdoors hiking, biking, camping, or playing sports.
Karen is a proud first-generation college graduate born and raised in Austin, Texas. She graduated from Texas State University – San Marcos, with a Bachelor in Mass Communications and a minor in Social Work. She is a Breakthrough Central Texas Alumna and is so glad to have the opportunity to give back to her community.
In 2017, Alejandra graduated from Texas A&M University, and soon after became an AmeriCorps member for AdviseTX in Houston, TX. She quickly realized her passion for working with youth and decided to continue to explore the nonprofit education sector. Alejandra is currently serving her second term as a full-time AmeriCorps Member at Breakthrough, where she is continuing her work with youth in under resourced /communities. Prior to joining Breakthrough, Alejandra worked for the City of Austin in the Parks & Recreations department as a staff leader for the Summer Playgrounds Program. Alejandra has a passion for program planning and creating a community to provide resources for youth and their families. Alejandra loves plants, animals and colorful food!
Emma holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from St. Edward’s University. Emma is currently serving her second year as an AmeriCorps member after working at Breakthrough as a Summer Teaching Fellow and as a High School Application Coach. Emma currently works with middle school students in Northeast Austin and has a passion for developing those relationships and supporting them on their path to college.
Kathryn graduated from Knox College where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a minor in Social Service. Prior to joining Breakthrough, Kathryn worked to write curriculum and develop programing for children with special needs. An avid traveler, Kathryn used teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) as a way to see the world. She taught in Barcelona, Spain and Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has over five years of experience teaching ESL and continues to do so in her spare time. She is honored by the opportunity to continue making a difference in the lives of students and families of marginalized communities.
Javier has been working in different areas of higher education for the past 10 years. While working at Texas State University he was a part of the Undergraduate Admissions Recruitment Team where he recruited students from Austin area high schools. He also has worked in transition programing at Texas State as both the Coordinator and Director of Orientation. Most recently, Javier worked at Rice University in Houston Texas as an Assistant Director of Alumni Relations where he worked on alumni engagement centered around career development and mentorship. Javierholds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and Psychology from Texas State University and a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Sam Houston State University. Javier is excited to be a part of the Breakthrough family.
Areli received her degree in Kinesiology at Stephen F. Austin State University. She’s a proud first-generation college graduate, Austinite, and daughter of immigrants. Prior to joining Breakthrough as an AmeriCorps Leader, Areli was a Breakthrough Teaching Fellow for three consecutive summers beginning in 2015. She has a passion for both fitness and helping her community by supporting youth to help create first-generation college graduates.
In 2018, David was awarded the OneStar Foundation’s 2018 National Service “Make-A-Difference” Award at the 35th Annual Governor’s Volunteer Awards. Outside of his work at Breakthrough, David is an assistant football, basketball, and track & field coach to 5th-8th grade students at St. Francis School in north Austin since the fall of 2014.
While in Boston, she started a blog that gained a cult following which led her to publish a book about her city adventures. She currently serves as Breakthrough’s Program Coordinator on the College Completion Team, and takes great pride in getting to know her students personally and stopping at nothing to help them reach their full potential in college. In her spare time, Constance is a fitness instructor and writes short stories.