Board of Trustees
Esteban is an accomplished professional and an alumnus of the Breakthrough program. He is currently a Project Designer at Dick Clark + Associates, a prominent architecture and interior design firm. He provides design services on a team that completes projects around Greater Austin, both residential and commercial. Esteban is a graduate of Texas A&M University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Design and Architecture in August of 2019. He was active in multiple student organizations including the College of Architecture’s Office of Students Services, as a technician in the College’s Woodshop, the Corps of Cadets, and in the American Institute of Architecture Students. In service of the American Institute of Architecture Students, he was part of a five-person committee to help plan and execute the Annual Forum for the national chapter in 2017 and served in multiple leadership positions in the local chapter including Marketing Director in 2016. He also led the local chapter’s efforts to provide free architectural services to local residents to solve design and construction challenges for those with limited or constrained mobility.
Esteban’s experience with Breakthrough extends back to 2008 when he first joined the program as a middle-school student in Austin ISD. He has been an active participant throughout the program and is a loyal Austin High School graduate from the Class of 2014. Esteban’s parents, Rosario and Esteban, are also actively involved in the program, as are his younger siblings, Xitlali and Hector. Esteban also served as a Summer Teaching Fellow in the summer of 2016 while in college to give back to the organization and support younger students to follow in his footsteps as a first generation college student.
Auerbach lives with her husband, Ernest, in downtown Austin where they are active volunteers in arts and culture organizations.
Cyndi Bock, Development Chair
In 2007, Cyndi and her husband, Bill, were honored with the Outstanding Fundraiser of the Year Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Austin Chapter.
Breakthrough Challenge Co-Chair
Christie Bybee is a community volunteer passionate about education and public schools. Christie started her career as a fundraiser, first at the University of Chicago and then at United Way of Central New Mexico. She then pivoted to being a parent full time to her two children when moving to Austin and dedicating her time to volunteering for schools and community organizations.
Her list of involvement is widespread and extensive. She served on the PTO of her children’s schools in Eanes ISD, on the District Leadership Team, as a board member on the Education Foundation, and in other district leadership roles. She also became directly involved in multiple nonprofit organizations including Mobile Loaves & Fishes, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church. In 2017, she was honored for her significant leadership and fundraising efforts with the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Austin Chapter.
In 2019, she quickly became an involved and enthusiastic supporter of Breakthrough. She agreed to serve as co- chair for the Breakthrough Challenge Campaign. In April, she and her husband Clint hosted the Campaign Reveal Party. Her passion, energy, and skill as a fundraiser for Breakthrough have been valued by her team of fellow volunteers and staff.
Marc Chavez was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas. After graduating from Lubbock Christian University, he attended law school and graduate school at Texas Tech University where he got a joint degree in Law and Business, JD/MBA. He started his career in San Antonio as a defense attorney and had the opportunity to serve as personal assistant to then State Senator Frank Madla. He later went on to be the Assistance District Attorney in Lubbock and then in Travis County. After much preparation, he started his own law firm, Marc Chavez Law Firm, in January 2018, covering a wide range of issues including but not limited to criminal, family, personal injury and real estate law. He’s married to his loving wife, Allison and in January of 2018 they welcomed their first child Mia on the same day that he opened his law firm.
Marc’s passion for supporting first-generation college students is a product of his whole family and what they believe in. From an early age he was lucky enough to have a family who pushed education. Having a mother who has been in education for nearly 50 years and a father’s whose message to leave the next generation better off is what drives his passion to invest in first-generation students who seek college. He believes if we can have more students who can graduate and challenge the norm and impact the community, state, and nation, then the better off we can leave this world.
Christina is a director of global hardware solutions at NXP Semiconductors. She is a first-generation college graduate holding a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from St. Edward’s University and MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. Christina is a multi-generational Austinite and the Breakthrough mission is very personal to her.
Christina became involved with Breakthrough in 2014 and currently serves on Honor Roll steering committee. She has been a steadfast donor and most recently participated in the Celebrate-A-Senior gift drive. Christina recently rolled off the Hospice Austin board after 9 years of service. Her committee work included Finance and Performance Improvement. Other nonprofit involvement includes Texas Exes and Hispanic Impact Fund.
Julie Fisher is the Senior Community Affairs and Public Relations Specialist at Samsung Austin Semiconductor. She manages Samsung Austin’s nonprofit relationships and employee engagement initiatives. Through her leadership at Samsung, they have become an outstanding corporate leader of philanthropy in the Central Texas community. As an Austin native, she is passionate about giving back to the community that raised her by championing causes including civic engagement, environmental initiatives, and education. Julie is proud to serve on the board of Keep Austin Beautiful and Leadership Austin.
Julie is a respected leader in the corporate giving and volunteer community. She is also a Breakthrough fanatic, frequently attending fundraising events and program events. Julie has built strong relationships with our school district partners in Manor ISD and with Breakthrough students, most notably college graduate, Gloria Perez, who interned as part of the Future Focus program at Samsung. Outside of her role at Samsung, she enjoys trail running on the greenbelt, taking too many pictures and embarking on new and exciting adventures.
Dr. Eva Garza-Nyer, Chair
Eva has a true passion for helping teenagers plan for their future. She has helped to increase the number of students who apply, enroll, and complete their college education. She currently serves on the Board for Breakthrough and Con Mi Madre (board secretary) and was an advisory board member with Hispanic Scholarship Consortium. Additionally, she works closely in assisting Austin Sunshine Camps, College MAP and College Forward, all non-profit organizations that help low-income, first generation college bound students apply to college.
Eva is a member of the Rotary Club and has participated in Leadership Austin, Hispanic Austin Leadership, and the Texas Public Policy and Candidate Training Program through Las Comrades. She has been a finalist for Austin Under 40, she was Austin Partners in Education- Staff of the Year and was selected as the YWCA Woman of the Year- Leader of Promise.
Ricky D. Green is a Texas native who grew up in Fort Worth, and attended St. Stephen’s School in Austin, Texas for his last three years of high school. After graduating from St. Stephen’s, Ricky went to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he received his Bachelor of Arts with a major in American History. Ricky then attended SMU law school where he graduated in 1993. He began his legal career in workers’ compensation in Dallas, Texas, and then joined Harris and Harris law firm in March 1996. He worked at this workers’ compensation defense law firm for nine years and became a profit partner his last three years of service. On February 16, 2005, Ricky opened the Law Office of Ricky D. Green, and continues to dedicate his practice to representing insurance carriers, self-insureds and third party administrators in workers’ compensation cases in Texas and Oklahoma.
Ricky has specialized in Texas workers’ compensation insurance defense for more than 20 years and travels to every field office in the State of Texas. He is a member of the workers’ compensation section of the Texas State Bar, has regularly spoken at the Texas State Bar Advanced Workers’ Compensation seminar, and is authorized by the Texas Department of Insurance to present certified continuing education courses. Ricky is a member of the Texas Chapter of the Public Risk Management Association, the Austin Black Lawyers’ Association, the Travis County Bar Association, the North and South Central Texas Regional Minority Certification agencies and is also licensed to practice law in Oklahoma. In addition to his legal service, Ricky serves on the Board of Trustees at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, volunteers with Breakthrough Austin, and is involved with other volunteer opportunities. In his spare time, Ricky enjoys traveling, running, theater, arts and is an avid sports’ enthusiast.
Revlynn is a partner in the Governmental Affairs division at Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with bachelor degrees in Psychology and Sociology a Master of Social Work. She then received her Juris Doctor from Washington University Law School in St. Louis, Missouri.
Revlynn was introduced to Breakthrough by Maya Smart. They both are active members of the Town Lake (TX) chapter of The Links, Incorporated – a service organization for African-American women. For the past six years, Revlynn chaired the scholarship committee. Additionally, Revlynn has served as the Vice-President of the Board for Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas and
served on the Austin City Music Commission Board. She is also an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Beta Psi Omega Chapter.
Revlynn graduated high school from Reagan High School (now known as Northeast High School) here in Austin, but prior to that grew up in Houston. She is passionate about children’s welfare, education and youth opportunity.
Mysha is a litigation senior associate at Baker Botts. She is a first-generation college graduate and attended The University of Texas at Austin earning a bachelor’s degree in French and Accounting, a Master’s of Accounting from the McCombs School of Business and a Juris Doctorate from UT School of Law.
She is dedicated to serving the local community through organizations focused on empowering those seeking social mobility. She is also dedicated to providing pro bono legal services to survivors of domestic violence and the organizations that support them.
Mysha has served in leadership positions in the Young Women’s Alliance, co- chaired Austin’s 40 under 40 event, and served as Board Treasurer for The Dream Come True Foundation. She has been a steadfast donor to Breakthrough since 2014 and since then has served on Breakthrough’s Young Professional Outreach Committee, has volunteered as a college application coach and spoken at numerous career days.
Dr. Charles Martinez, Jr.
Dr. Charles R. Martinez, Jr. is the 12th dean of the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Martinez began his tenure as dean on January 1, 2019. Martinez’s scholarly work focuses on identifying factors that hinder or promote the success of children and families who are from vulnerable and underserved populations. He is particularly interested in how immigrant Latino families adjust to life in the U.S. and how to better harness culturally specific protective factors to ensure their success in navigating the many challenges associated with immigration. Martinez has led numerous national and international research projects designed to examine risk and protective factors involved in linking social and cultural factors to education and behavioral health disparities for Latino children and families, and to develop and test culturally specific interventions for at- risk families in the U.S. and in Latin America. Prior to joining Texas, Martinez was the Philip H. Knight Professor in the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership at the University of Oregon, where he also served as founding director of the Center for Equity Promotion. He is a nationally recognized scholar on organizational equity, cross-cultural research, and community engagement.
A first-generation college graduate, Martinez received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pitzer College, and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. Martinez holds the Lee Hage Jamail Regents Chair in Education and the Sid W. Richardson Regents Chair. He is a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology.
Jeffrey McDowell, Honor Roll Chair
Jeff McDowell is passionate about educational equity and became involved with Breakthrough in 2019. He currently serves as a high school application coach and tutor and co-chairs the Breakthrough Honor Roll. In his role as co- chair he has raised more than $80,000 mostly from new-to- Breakthrough donors.
Jeff has three daughters who attend St. Stephen’s, St. Andrew’s and Trinity Episcopal Schools, where he served on the board as well as finance and investment committee for many years. He has a bachelor’s from Vanderbilt University and Masters in Accounting from St. Edward’s. He is a trustee of McDowell Family Foundation. His eldest daughter Daisy was also an SSES Saturday mentor.
Karey and her husband Chris Oddo have been Breakthrough supporters since 2015. Karey served on the Champions committee that year, invited by event chair Laurel Simmons. Karey joined the Development Council in 2016 and has been a significant contributor to our fundraising efforts. She and her husband Chris chaired the 2018 Champions Celebration and did an excellent job engaging their network. Karey is a 6th generation Austinite from the Nalle family, an Austin family dating back to the mid 1800’s.
Karey spent years as a commercial litigator with both Clark, Thomas & Winters and with Winstead. Currently, she is general counsel for a real estate company that owns and manages commercial properties in Austin and San Antonio. Karey won the 2014 Preservation Austin Merit Award for Restoration of a National Landmark property in downtown Austin. Karey has volunteered for numerous local charities and has passionately served on the Board of Directors of several non-profits such as: Helping Hand Home, The Junior League of Austin, Women’s Symphony League, Elizabeth Ann Seton Board, Preservation Austin, Inherit Austin, and Pioneer Farms. She is a past Coats for Kids Chair, which provided over thirty thousand coats to needy Central-Texas children, and she is also a graduate of Leadership Austin. Karey is proud mom to two precious pre-teens and two dogs – a Labrador and a Puggle. In her free time, she loves to travel with her family, entertain friends, keep current with political news, and read a good mystery.
Breakthrough Challenge Co-Chair
In 2005 Walt Penn established Wealth Advisory Services of Raymond James, along with his partner Jenny Miller. From 1995 until 2005, Walt founded and served as President and CEO of The Penn Investment Group, Inc., an independent broker/dealer and registered investment advisor specializing in wealth management and alternative investments in the private and public equity arena, including the biotech, real estate and financial services areas. From 1987 to 1995, he served as an investment advisor with Rauscher Pierce Refsnes, now RBC Wealth Management. Walt holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from the University of Texas at Austin
Walt Penn is a former Breakthrough Central Texas Trustee, serving from 2013-2018. He also chaired the 2016- 2018 Growth Campaign, successfully raising $2.3M for the organization. Undeterred, he spearheaded the next campaign, the current $10M Breakthrough Challenge. Walt is a fierce advocate for Breakthrough students and its mission in Central Texas.
He has a long history of involvement with many other local organizations, including The Paramount Theater board, PeopleFund advisory board, The Seton Fund board, The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce board, SafePlace Foundation board, Brackenridge Children’s Hospital council, Caritas of Austin advisory board and the Texas Capital Bank advisory board. In 2016, Walt was recognized as the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser of the year by the Associate of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Austin Chapter.
Sergio Rodriguez, Vice Chair
From 1995 to 2014, Sergio worked at American Management Systems and CGI Technologies and Solutions as a technology account executive for public and private sector clients in Denver, London, Washington, DC and Austin.
In 2015, Sergio took over the management of a South Texas family ranching business based out of Alice, Texas. Sergio is passionate about education for disadvantaged youth and currently sits on the board of Con Mi Madre. He has taken that passion as a call to action to learn as much as he can about the reasons educational inequity exists for students in our community, having met with thought leaders across the state of Texas about solutions that work.
Taylor Sisson, Finance Chair
In addition to serving clients, Taylor also is the leader for the Central Texas EY Entrepreneur of the Year program, which annually recognizes high-impact entrepreneurs whose successes help make Austin the best city in the world!
Jessica founded Breakthrough Central Texas in 2001 and was the executive director until 2007. Since then, she has served as executive director and now executive leadership officer for the Webber Family Foundation.
Jessica has stayed involved with Breakthrough and most recently served as a co-chair for the Breakthrough Challenge Campaign. Additionally, she has served on the boards of KIPP Texas, MindPop and St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. Jessica has three children who attend public and private schools throughout Austin.
Jessica graduated with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Wesleyan University and a master’s in education from the University of Texas at Austin.
Javier Valdez, Governance Chair
As Chief Operating Officer of Karisha Community Center for Wellness, Javier Valdez is a leader with a commitment to driving positive change and inclusivity in the fields of entrepreneurship, economic development, education, and healthcare. Through nearly 24 years of corporate & non-profit leadership roles at multiple Austin organizations supporting learning, inclusivity, and diversity, Javier brings to Karisha a talent for building strong relationships and communications between stakeholders; managing organizational operations with a focus on increasing efficiencies; reducing costs; and fostering talent in a collaborative team-centered culture
Javier has 19+ years’ experience in non-profit board strategic leadership at several local and national non-profits including Con Mi Madre, Breakthrough Austin, Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI), and the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
His 24+ years’ experience as a technology and sales executive in diverse industries will also ensure sound business management as Karisha embarks on its mission to forge a new health care model in Austin. His professional resume includes leadership responsibilities at Oracle, Electronic Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT), Cisco Systems, Inc., Renew Data Corporation, Toppan Photomasks, Inc., and Motorola.
Jasmin Vara, Secretary
Jasmin is an accomplished professional and an alumna of the Breakthrough program. She is currently a Counselor at Lower School. In addition, she is pursuing her Masters of Arts in counseling at St. Edward’s university. Jasmin’s expertise in Breakthrough goes back many years prior. She joined as a sixth grader as part of Breakthrough’s second class of students in 2003. After graduating high school, she was one of Breakthrough’s first students to travel out of state to college. In 2013, she became the first in her family to earn a college degree with her bachelor’s in psychology from Middlebury College. While in college, she also served as a Summer Teaching Fellow and Assistant Summer Director at the UT site. Her younger brother, Jose Vara, is a Breakthrough graduate, having just completed his degree at Southwestern University. Jasmin’s parents, Maria and Jose, are also very active participants in the program and have helped lead many conversations with families about the path to college graduation for first-generation students.
Tito Vidaurri, Treasurer
Tito’s work experience has included senior roles in government, investment banking, private equity and real estate development. He is the current Principal at Castle Road Capital.
His current professional focus is on energy and infrastructure investments in Mexico and affordable housing for working families in Central Texas. From 2014 to 2019, Tito worked for EIG Global Energy Partners where he led the firm’s investment efforts in Mexico. Prior to joining EIG, Tito accumulated 23 years of experience in banking, holding senior leadership positions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. At Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Tito was Mexico Country Executive as well as Chairman and CEO of Bank of America Mexico, S.A. and was responsible for senior relationships in both the public and private sectors as well as for overseeing the entirety of the bank’s business activities in Mexico including corporate and investment banking, capital markets and sales and trading. Previous to his banking career, he worked five years for the Mexican Federal Government in several areas including the Ministry of Finance
Tito is a first-generation college graduate, who received a B.A. in Economics from Universidad de las Americas in Puebla, Mexico, a M.A. in Economics from the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico City as well as a M.A. in Economics and a Master’s in Public and Private Management from Yale University. He is currently a member of the Board of Advisors of the Yale School of Management.
Chair of Breakthrough Collaborative
Neil Webber is Chair of the Webber Family Foundation, which was formed in 1999 and has distributed over $11 million in grants to organizations targeting the educational needs of low-income youth. Neil holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from MIT and has worked at a number of technology startup companies throughout his career, culminating with Vignette Corporation, where he was the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer. Neil lives in Austin, Texas.
Past Board Trustees
Mayor Steve Adler
Jeri Moe Faykus
Dr. Denise Villa
Dr. Gregory Vincent