Education Team

 

 

Brandi Reed

Director of Education and Prevention

 

Brandi currently oversees the programs, projects and services within the Education Division at Family Support Services. Brandi has extensive experience in community engagement, grants oversight, social justice initiatives, policy advocacy, coalition building, and cross sectorial collaboration.  She has been at the center of numerous innovations in the field of prevention including: co-founding the STOP Film Fest-an initiative producing the first ever peer led film festival in the nation; designing an innovative sexual assault primary prevention program for at risk youth focusing on teen dating violence, bullying and bystander intervention; expanding the GOT CONSENT Campaign into an effort to address sexual consent on college campuses across Texas; and helping to build the infrastructure of local prevention efforts on area middle and high school campuses. Brandi is committed to a cascading style of leadership that promotes youth activists as change agents and leaders in the field.

 

Brandi gets a kick out of being “quirky” and believes that everyone deserves a sense of connection, belonging, and an opportunity to be loved. Brandi is passionate about being a voice for the voiceless and has been working in social justice movement for over a decade - with both grassroots and grasstops stakeholders - primarily around issues that affect women and she isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon.

 

 

Halei Story

Assistant Director of Education and Prevention

 

Halei Story was born and raised in the Panhandle and after graduating from Pampa High School she went on to study Broadcasting and Print Journalism at West Texas A&M University. During her senior year at WT she was tasked with the job of being one of the MC's for the first ever STOP (Students Taking on Prevention) Film Festival. This is where she would meet her future boss, Brandi Reed, and lead her to becoming the Assistant director of Education at Family Support Services.

 

In her free time she enjoys being at home with her husband and 4 pets while watching TV, movies or playing video games. She is a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady and has a passion in activism for women and animal rights.

 

 

Autumn Barraza

Project HOPES Coordinator

Life is like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re gonna get. Forest Gump said it best.

 

Autumn understands that there are so many surprises within our everyday life, and it isn’t uncommon for our lives to get turned upside down because of unpredicted occurrences. The most important thing to remember is that it may not always be enjoyable, but there is always a new lesson to learn that gives us an opportunity for growth. The power of growth is in how we incorporate that new lesson in our life. We are all human, and it is never intended for us to live a perfect life.

 

Autumn’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Texas Tech University. Autumn has worked for FSS a total of 13 years. During her time with us, she has been honored to work with a unique population of teenagers transitioning into independent living. She was privileged to walk alongside them on their courageous journey to create stability, while they also learned how to fit into our world. Now Autumn is the HOPES Coordinator guiding a team of parent educators that encourage and empower every day families that are faced with intense stressors. Getting to serve the family as a whole is extremely critical in building a rock solid foundation that strengthens the unity of the family. Helping families restore hope, joy, and love in the safe surroundings of their home is crucial in the work HOPES does. Autumn is passionate about her beautiful family, her two loving dogs, and CHOCOLATE.

 

 

 

 

Alicia Carrillo

HOPES Parent Educator/Data Entry Manager

Beginning in 2006, Alicia Carrillo launched her career in social services at Family Support Services.  Not only did Alicia launch her career at Family Support Services but that is where she met her now husband, Andres.  Alicia has been blessed to have a step daughter and if that wasn’t enough her family has expanded with three energetic boys to add to the mix.  In the fall you will most likely find the Carrillo’s at a football game rooting on her hometown Canadian Wildcats or other area team, as long as there is football being played she’s delighted to be watching.

Family and meeting people are things that Alicia loves to do as well as being neat and organized.  That perfect combination has manifested itself in working in the education department, whether its completing paperwork, preparing for a visit or event, bouncing ideas with a co-worker to come up with a solution to help them succeed in their endeavors, the education department has given Alicia all of those opportunities and then some.

Project HOPES is such a mesh of Alicia’s strengths in getting to keep paperwork in order as well as meet new families and getting to work with them one on one in their home.   Good thing Alicia loves pens and has a collection because she gets to find the perfect pen and use fun colors to help her stay organized.  Impacting lives and leaving an impression are things that Alicia hopes to give to all she comes in contact with at work, church, with family and friends or just around the office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monica Balderas

Prevention Coordinator

 

Raised in Dimmitt, Monica knows the importance of community involvement and serving others. She studied mass communications at West Texas A&M. Prior to entering the nonprofit community she worked in accounting at The American Quarter Horse Association. Her desire to serve others and passion for justice is the foundation for her work at Family Support Services.

 

She has been married for 8 years and has two beautiful boys who further influence her work. They love going on family vacations and getting hooked on Netflix series together! In her spare time, Monica is an active member of her church, Amarillo for Christ. She leads worship alongside her husband during the Sunday services and leads worship for the prison ministry as well. She desires to show the love of God through acceptance, encouragement and helping other find hope.  (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

 

Monica loves her family, her work, music, Mexican food, beaches, her mini-van and appreciates a good red lipstick. Ultimately, Monica desires to be fruitful and productive for the benefit of her family, coworkers, clients and community. Her goal is to bring out the best in anyone she meets…even if it’s just a simple smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ashley Jourdan

806 ACTS Outreach & Prevention Specialist

Ashley made Amarillo her home in 2015 and joined the FSS team in 2016. She currently serves as the Youth Advisory Committee Coordinator and 806 Outreach Specialist which provides human trafficking education to 10 counties in the Texas Panhandle. She has always been an activist against sexual assault but first became an advocate in the fight against human trafficking in the spring of 2015 when she was introduced to an organization based in Thailand that combats adult and minor sexual exploitation. Along with her job facilitating public education, coalition building, and victim advocacy, she also works with youth from at-risk areas as they advise Family Support Services on the issues that affect them most and offer input on how our agency can best serve them. Ashley also oversees a program called GIRLS that aims to end girl on girl bullying by means of empowerment, discussions on comparison and beauty standards, and activities that show we are more alike than different.

 

Ashley loves to write about most social matters but especially on topics like trafficking, sexual assault, and feminism. She enjoys live music, poetry, and traveling. In her spare time, you can usually find her snuggled on the couch with her two dogs binge watching The Office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Le

Prevention Specialist

A motivational speaker since 2009, Matt Le joined the FSS team because of his passion for a message of self-awareness and empowerment. He tries to encourage others to think beyond the here and now andcreate the futurethey see in their dreams. Matt is an Amarillo native but avid traveler and thrives on helping others expand in their own creative space.

 

Matt oversees our agency’s creative writing and art therapy groups for some of CISD and AISD’s most at-risk students. He also developed the MASQ (Movement Against Status Quo) student group which focuses on life skills, personal development, and helping students  realize they have a role in making a change in society.

 

 

 

 

 

Monica Mendoza

Prevention Specialist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brea Berry

H.O.P.E.S parent Educator

Brea graduated from West Texas A&M University in the Spring of 2013 after completing an internship with the investigations unit of Child Protective Services. Brea worked as a Child Forensic Interviewer for 5 years interviewing victims of child sexual and physical abuse, as well as providing training in child abuse prevention to child care providers, medical professionals and law enforcement. Brea was also tasked with running social media campaigns on multiple social media platforms in hopes of furthering community awareness in the fight against child abuse.

Brea joined Family Support Services and the H.O.P.E.S team in June of 2017. In her free time Brea enjoys spending time with her husband of 10 years Greg Berry and their 3 children Jack, Max and Paige.

 

 

 

 

 

Linley Laster

Mentoring Project Coordinator

Linley Laster was born and raised in Amarillo Texas.  After graduating from Amarillo High School, Linley decided to pursue her passion for helping others and turn it into a career. She attended Amarillo College where she later got her Associates Degree in Social Work. Following Amarillo College, she decided to continue her education and attended West Texas A&M University. In December 2017, Linley graduated with honors and received a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work. During her time at WT, Linley was a participating member of the Social Work Club. As a senior, she interned at Canyon ISD. This is where she found her passion to work with at-risk youth. Shortly after graduating, Linley decided to seek employment that would help her fulfill her passion of working with at-risk youth.  She learned of a position at Family Support Services that would do just that.

 

At Family Support Services Linley is the Mentor Project Coordinator. Linley uses her position to help at-risk youth by matching them with mentors that are also inspired to help our youth. Linley believes that you are only as strong as the soldiers that you have behind you. Linley views her Mentors as her soldiers that are going to go change the world one mentee at a time!

 

In her free time, Linley likes to travel and spend time with family and friends. One of Linley’s favorite places to travel is Colorado. She enjoys going to Colorado with her family on their yearly family vacations.  Linley has traveled internationally to The Cayman Islands and hopes to one day travel the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josh Bonnett

Prevention Specialist

 

 

Joshua Bonnett is originally from Phoenix, AZ and has lived in Amarillo since 2017. He is married with a lovely 2 year old daughter, and values his family very much. Joshua has been working with youth and social services for over 5 years. He has worked with inner city youth who are underprivileged, as well as with youth who come from wealthy families. Joshua is passionate about working with people in general, but especially youth, because he has a unique way of identifying with them and being able to relate to them and meet them where they are. Joshua also has passion for music, and loves to incorporate his

musical talents into his work. He strives to create music that makes an impact on everyone who listens, and to inspire young people to use their gifts to help bring change to their communities, and to the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jana Ward

Parent Educator

Jana is a single mother to a 5 year old little boy that has become her world. She also takes care of her Mother who has one leg amputated along with half of a foot amputated. Jana has two rescue dogs that are her other babies. She originally went to WTAMU for business, but when she started working with children, and their parents she quickly realized that her true passion: to help mothers, and fathers with their children. Her son is so proud of his mom! He brags about her at school, and he tells everyone that his Mommy is trying to help the world. She wants to make a difference in Amarillo, and through her excellent cheerleading skills, that is exactly what she’s doing. Jana says that; “I want to help get them back into school, become better parents, and achieve whatever dreams they may have. We all have made mistakes, and I am tired of everyone judging people for their mistakes, and it is time that we stand together to support each other for all the good and the bad that we have done. I know that I will make a difference in this community because the love that I have for people, and I also know that God put me here for a reason.” Jana is full of excited to see what the next few years bring while she is working at Family Support Services.

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Halei Story was born and raised in the Panhandle and after graduating from Pampa High School she went on to study Broadcasting and Print Journalism at West Texas A&M University. During her senior year at WT she was tasked with the job of being one of the MC's for the first ever STOP (Students Taking on Prevention) Film Festival. This is where she would meet her future boss, Brandi Reed, and lead her to become the Assistant Director of Education at Family Support Services.

 

She is currently pursuing her Masters in Communication and just recently became a mom to a beautiful baby boy. She loves being at home with her husband, baby, and four pets while relaxing and watching some TV or movies. She is a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady and has a passion for activism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Silva Ortega

Parent SFP Educator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Germaine Padilla

Bilingual Parent Educator

Germaine has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from WTAMU and a passion to work with

families and children. She started at Family Support Services November 2017 as the Bilingual Parent Educator where she worked only with Spanish speaking families and loved every minute of her experience. Germaine is now the HOPES Case Manager and is looking forward to working with all the HOPES families and Parent Educators to connect families to resources that will benefit them towards their success in life and she hopes to learn and gain even more experience through her new position.

 

Germaine has three grown children, 12 grandchildren and is patiently awaiting the birth of her first great granddaughter Emaryee in January. She enjoys spending time with her fur baby Rocky and of course with her grandchildren.

 

"In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart."

Anne Frank

 

 

 

 

Alexandra Perez

Parent Educator

Alexandra Perez graduated from West Texas A&M University with her Bachelors in Social Work in the Spring of 2014. Alexandra has a passion for helping others find their true potential within themselves. Alexandra loves challenges and sees them as opportunity for growth within herself and also within others.

 

Alexandra joined Family Support Services H.O.P.E.S team in November of 2016. In her free time Alexandra enjoys finding cheap fun things to do with her family and embracing every moment she gets with them and those around her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stina Hunt

Prevention Specialist

Stina graduated from WTAMU in 2017 after beginning college in 1981.  She married her wonderful husband, Todd,

her last year of college.  But, put college a side to raise their two beautiful children.  After supporting our

children through college, her family encouraged her to finish.

 

Because she has a heart for young people, she taught in the school system for seventeen years motivating

 and challenging students to do their best, set goals for themselves and to be the best example for their peers.

 

She, then, came aboard he Family Support Services' Education team as a Prevention Specialist.  She says this decreases limitations

from being in one classroom all day to allowing her to reach many more young people from a different perspective.

 

"A Child Reached is a Future Changed"

 

 

 

 

Cyntia Ramirez

Parent Educator

I feel passionate about child development; this is why I found interest in the position of

Parent Educator. I have always enjoyed working with children; my experience begin

volunteering in high school, leading to finding a job with AmeriCorps in the school

district, following experience in early childhood development through childcare settings.

My passion for education and child development guided to obtain a Bachelor's in

Education, graduating in December 2016. Working as a Parent Education provides me

with the opportunity to partner with the Hispanic community and promote child

development awareness and family well-being.

 

On my free time I enjoy spending time with my son, my soulmate, and my family. My

self-care is making crafts and making meaningful personalized crafts for my friends and

their loved ones.

 

 

 

 

 

Courtney Spencer

Prevention Specialist

Courtney Spencer grew up in Arizona and moved to the Amarillo area when she was a young teen. She is married and has two children, ages 3 and 1. She enjoys cooking, crafting, traveling, and spending time with her family. Courtney has gone on many mission trips to Belize where she worked side by side with at-risk youth, building churches and homes for communities and families in need.

Courtney worked as a direct care staff with at-risk youth in our community for 4 years, but has nearly 10 years’ experience in this area. Courtney was a stay-at-home mother for 3 years before joining Family Support Services. Working in prevention and education has always been a passion of hers. She truly loves walking along side others to help them learn more productive ways to work as a family unit, and educating young teens in basic life skills.