Applications for Harvard Leadership Program now open ×
Skip to main content

Our Team

Al Perez, as a member of the FairWinds team, serves as the Senior Accountant for the Charles Butt Foundation while also supporting Raise Your Hand Texas and the CAST Network.

Before joining the FairWinds in 2020, Al held positions in both payroll and insurance tax divisions in addition to serving for six years in the United States Air Force. He graduated from Texas A&M – Corpus Christi with a degree in Finance before beginning his professional and Air Force careers.

Amanda Sierra serves as the Controller of the Charles Butt Foundation, where she is responsible for all accounting-related activities. She also serves as the Controller for Raise Your Hand Texas and the CAST Network.

In 2018, Amanda joined Fair Winds Management as the primary accountant for philanthropic activities. Originally from New Mexico, where she earned her BA in Accounting, Amanda has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit and corporate accounting.

Kendra Montejos Edwards joined the Charles Butt Foundation in January 2023 as the Senior Research Associate. Previously, Kendra worked as the Assistant Director of Admission and Multicultural Recruitment at Centre College. She led initiatives on recruiting and supporting Latinx, immigrant, and DACAmented students by creating programming and improving institutional policies. Prior to her Assistant Director role at Centre, Kendra co-founded an afterschool program for k-12 students in Danville, Kentucky, that focused on meeting students’ educational and social-emotional learning needs. During her time with the After-School Program, they received several local and national grants. Kendra entered the public education system in the U.S. as an immigrant student and English language learner. Kendra believes public schools thrive when we address student and family needs.

Kendra is completing her Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Planning at the University of Texas at Austin. She earned a Master of Science in Educational Policies and Evaluations Studies at the University of Kentucky and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology at Centre College. She specializes in research looking at the intersection of immigration and educational policy by centering student stories of resistance. Kendra believes students, families, and teachers should inform education policy. She has also worked on research projects focused on STEM education, computer science teacher certification, and racialized learning environments.

Outside of work, Kendra enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters. You can catch her sipping coffee at a local coffee shop or swimming in a pool with her family.

Melissa Garza joined the Charles Butt Foundation in September 2023 as the Senior Research Associate. Previously, Melissa served in roles related to research, teaching, grant writing, college advising, and college admissions. Her work spans the K-12 system and post-secondary settings, both public and private, at the community college, university, and graduate levels. Melissa strives to innovate academic spaces while providing sustainable and equitable resources for underserved students. She loves engaging with the community, lifting students’ voices, and learning alongside them.

Melissa is on track to earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Education with a focus on Literacy at Texas State University. She holds a Master of Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University, as well as both a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Her research interests include academic access and success for culturally and linguistically diverse students, developmental literacy, and equity in research methodology.

 

Dr. Audrey Boklage joined the Charles Butt Foundation in September 2022 as the vice president of learning and impact. In this role, she guides and supports the Foundation’s research initiatives, including the Texas Education Poll, the Texas Teacher Poll, and other important social research topics. She is a nationally recognized principal investigator and qualitative researcher and uses this expertise to center the voices and narratives of students, teachers, and communities in her work.

Dr. Boklage is a native Texan and the daughter of a Texas public school educator. She is proud to use her strengths in research and leadership to support the mission of the Charles Butt Foundation.

Audrey earned her Bachelor of Science in biology at The University of Texas at Austin and graduated from the UTeach program. After graduation, she taught high school science in Texas and during this time earned a Master of Science Education from UT Austin. Upon earning her master’s degree, she decided to pursue education research and earned a Doctor of Philosophy in curriculum and instruction from UT Austin. Dr. Boklage continued her education with a postdoctoral fellowship in engineering education at Arizona State University.

Dr. Boklage has extensive experience in education research, consulting, and policy. Outside of work, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family in the hills and valleys of the Texas Hill Country, preferably near a cool body of water.

Brion brings over twenty years of experience advancing racial equity at the executive level for both the nonprofit and public sector. Brion was the inaugural Chief Equity Officer for the City of Austin and served as the Vice President of Health Equity for the American Heart Association.

He specializes in working with organizational leadership and local communities to create equity frameworks and facilitate dialogue and organizational practices that support the development and adoption of equity as a shared value. He serves as a technical expert in addressing equity as it is applied to policies, programs, practices, and budget decisions with an overall vision to advance racial equity.

Brion approaches his work with a lens and a belief that the people most impacted by an issue are the ones to provide the best solutions to solving them. During his leadership as the chair of the Austin Homelessness Leadership Council, he advocated and adopted a policy to compensate community members with lived experience and those advocating on behalf of vulnerable populations for their service on the Council and its sanctioned committees.

During his career Brion has not been one to shy away from the difficult conversations and challenges that stand in the way of advancing equity in our community. After the murder of George Floyd, he served as co-chair for Austin’s Reimagining Public Safety Initiative in which he worked with community leaders to shine light on racial disparities in policing and most importantly put forth recommendations to respond to safety in communities with alternatives other than policing.

While much hard work and change is needed to make our community equitable, Brion has had the pleasure and honor to work alongside community members and co-workers to co-create transformational change in many spaces. One of his proudest professional accomplishments is leading Austin’s Equity Office in partnership with community leaders to successfully advocate for the City of Austin to become the first municipality in the state of Texas to publicly fund a guaranteed income program designed to springboard low-income families out of poverty.

Brion earned his Bachelor of Science in Political Science from University of Houston and Master of Public Administration from Texas State University. Prior to his work at the City of Austin and American Heart Association, Brion worked as a legislative assistant for State Representative. Dora Olivo, D-Rosenberg, and as a project coordinator for the Texas Healthy Kids Corporation and the Texas Medical Foundation.Throughout his career, he has focused on improving outcomes for communities of color and addressing disparities in vulnerable populations. He dreams of a community where everyone can achieve their full potential regardless of social identify, ability, and/or life circumstances.

 

Dr. Jessica C. Enyioha joined the Charles Butt Foundation as the Director of Research in June 2022. Previously, Enyioha served as the Program Administrator for the Travis County Work-Based Learning/Summer Youth Employment Program. She led the program in partnering with school districts, local employers, and City and County agencies to empower students with career awareness, readiness, and access thus providing 750 internships each summer. Prior to Enyioha’s leadership role with Travis County she served as a College and Career Counselor for over 10 years in multiple Texas public high schools: early college; magnet; ranging from 400 students to 2,800 students; single-gender; Title I. Enyioha believes in the power of education, has a strong passion for the accessibility of college for ALL students, and is dedicated to being a life-long learner and educator.

Enyioha earned a Doctor of Philosophy in School Improvement at Texas State University, a Master of Education in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Texas State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies at Southwestern University. She specializes in research on college access, community development, education policy, school improvement, that brings voice to underserved communities, and sheds light on unexplored areas in education. Enyioha has published four peer-reviewed journal articles including the most recent in Urban Education. She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at Austin Community College.

Robin Baird joined the Charles Butt Foundation in January of 2022 to help our leadership better fulfill our mission of working towards a better future for all Texans. As someone who attended a wide variety of public and private schools, Robin has seen firsthand how much the quality of education varied and leaped at the opportunity to do her part to help.

Before joining us, Robin was the Executive Assistant to the CEO of Austin Emergency Center for three years. During her time there, she helped open three new locations and weathered everything that came with the pandemic. Before that, she worked for KeyBanc Capital Markets in Boston for eight years.

In her free time, Robin enjoys hiking, reading, writing, and video games.

Dr. Amber Lynn Diaz became the Director of Emerging Partners Support for the Charles Butt Foundation in January 2022 after serving as the Department Head of Curriculum and Instruction at Tarleton State University. In her role, Amber Lynn provides leadership and support in the transformation of high-quality teacher preparation programs throughout the state of Texas. This work is part of the Raising Texas Teachers initiative, one of the Charles Butt Foundation statewide programs.

Amber Lynn has held positions that support teacher preparation transformation serving as a Curriculum Coach for US PREP and a Continuous Improvement Coach for Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity. It was in her tenure track position with Texas A&M University-Central Texas where her purpose, passion, and pursuit of transforming teacher preparation was affirmed. She served as the Director of Educator Preparation Services and Certification Officer, while teaching courses in the teacher preparation program at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. This role provided many opportunities to learn and experience the ecosystem of Texas education, which ignited a desire to be an agent of change. She believes that every student, especially students from traditionally marginalized backgrounds, can be systemically educated through high-quality teachers skilled in empowering student agency, while igniting a fervent desire and love for learning.

Prior to her various roles in higher education, Amber Lynn developed her educational facility with over 15 years of experience in public education. She was an elementary classroom teacher, an English-Language Learners teacher, a Response to Intervention Supervisor, and an Elementary Administrator in Killeen ISD. She also served in Copperas Cove ISD as the Director of Intervention & At-Risk, serving a high population of at-risk youth. In this position, Amber Lynn was responsible for leading district programs for 504, Dyslexia, At-Risk, Bilingual & ESL, Response to Intervention, and Guidance Counseling. Throughout her entire professional career, Amber Lynn pursued opportunities to positively affect education by writing grants to fund innovative educational ideas. She also shared her knowledge and expertise by providing professional development across the state of Texas.

She received her Doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and a Master of Education degree in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University-Central Texas. However, her professional career really began from earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wyoming with a minor in Multicultural Education.

John Jacob (Jay to friends, family, and colleagues) brings over 10 years of experience supporting the visual communications needs of non-profit organizations. Prior to joining the Charles Butt Foundation Jay dedicated seven years at Texans Care for Children, defining the organization’s brand and promoting children’s advocacy efforts in Texas.

Jay believes in creating lasting social change through systemic policy change; clear, beautiful, emotionally-impactful work; and the power of ‘yes, and…’.

Jay is a proud husband and dad, so-so drummer, vintage toy collector, San Antonio Spurs fan, and a cat lover. Jay received his B.F.A. in Transmedia from the University of Texas at Austin.