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Awards Gala October - Union Station - October 3, 2019
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Our Staff

Sophie Phillips, LMSW

Chief Executive Officer

Sophie is the Chief Executive Officer for TexProtects, effective Oct 1, 2018, being named the successor to founder Madeline McClure. Prior to becoming CEO, Sophie served as Chief Operating Officer 2015-2018 where she managed the daily operations of the organization, and she has been with TexProtects since 2012. As a social worker, her passion and interest is in addressing the root causes of child abuse and neglect and creating partnerships to advance state policies and practices. She led the statewide Texas Home Visiting Consortium for many years, a collaborative of home visiting providers, funders, researchers and state agency resources to raise awareness and coordinate legislative efforts around the expansion of home visiting in Texas. She received her B.A. in Social Work from the University of Iowa and a Master’s in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis.

Kristi Comuzzi

Director of Strategic Development & Branding

Kristi has over 20 years of executive level experience working on Madison Avenue for Young & Rubicam and as CEO of REELbigideas•The REELPeople Company, LLC creating, developing and implementing global brand development/strategy/marketing communications for a wide range of Fortune 500 clients from Dove to Disney, AT&T, IBM, Time Inc, Verizon, OWN, J&J, Unilever, PBS, and more. She is a prolific brand development ideator and storyteller. She brings strategic direction to TexProtects' strategic development and creating branding/marketing communications. She is currently generating several new and unique marketing/revenue platforms to increase funding and awareness of TexProtects and its mission. In her role, she will continue to cultivate partnerships/sponsorships with corporations, foundations and individual donors. The University of Texas at Austin - Master of Arts in Communications/Marketing and Southern Methodist University - Bachelor of Science Political Science/Ibero American Studies. Kristi is a Certified Texas Mediator, CEO of REELbigideas•The REELPeople Company, LLC. and consultant to TexProtects.

Beth Cortez-Neavel, M.A.

Administrative Assistant + Editor

Beth is the Austin-based editor and administrative assistant for TexProtects. She has an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and is working on a second Masters in Professional Counseling at Texas State University. She has reported on the foster care system for eight years and is excited to assist in advocating for foster youth, trauma-informed care, and the prevention of child abuse and neglect in Texas. Beth also volunteers as a sexual assault advocate with the SAFE Alliance, a domestic violence, sexual assault, and child welfare help center.

Elayne Esterline

Contract Grant Writer

Elayne has more than 12 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector. A native Texan, Elayne graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and completed a joint masters degree in Public Affairs and Journalism at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Elayne has worked as a research assistant for companies such as GSD&M and Higher Ed Holdings, as well as a reporter for The Texas Observer and Texas Nonprofits Magazine. She has served as Senior Public Affairs Officer at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and as Director of Development for TexProtects.

Brandy Lindsey

Operations Manager

Brandy is the Operations Manager at TexProtects. Brandy most recently worked in the private business sector and prior to that she was a police officer for five years. A native of Dallas, she attended the University of North Texas (Go Mean Green) and earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice in December 2004.

Jennifer Lucy

Director of Public Policy
512-971-9347 (Cell)

Jennifer is the Director of Public Policy at TexProtects. She develops and implements the legislative priorities of the organization, works closely with legislators and legislative staff, and presents to various organizations and groups across the state. Additionally, she manages the Home Visiting Consortium, a state-wide collaborative of evidence-based and promising home visiting programs, funders, and stakeholders whose mission is to increase availability and effectiveness of programs and coordinate legislative efforts. Prior to her role at TexProtects, Jennifer managed quality assurance and advocacy for over 40 home visiting programs across the state. With over 10 years' experience as an educator in public schools, Jennifer understands the ways in which adverse childhood experiences impact educational and health outcomes over the course of a child's life and why prevention, family support programs, and trauma-informed care are critical. Jennifer earned her Master of Public Affairs degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree from Texas A&M University at College Station. She is a native Texan and lives in Austin with her husband and two children.

Andrea Payne

Prenatal to Five Advocacy Manager

Andrea is the Prenatal to Five Advocacy Manager for TexProtects. Prior to TexProtects, Andrea was a Senior Research Associate at the Child and Family Research Partnership at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, where she led the organization’s fatherhood work. Andrea previously worked in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors in Bogota, Colombia, and in refugee resettlement services at the International Rescue Committee in Dallas. Her work helping refugee women start home child care businesses sparked her passion for supporting caregivers, children, and families. Andrea received her M.P.A. from the Woodrow School at Princeton University and her B.S. from Georgetown University.

Kristine Schwope, CTA

Contract Annual Event Planner

Kristine received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She has over two decades of experience in event management, specializing in the nonprofit sector. She worked as a Director of Marketing and Events for International Business Development for the Dallas Regional Chamber and in national hospitality sales prior to serving as the contract event planner for TexProtects.

Michelle Wittenburg

External Lobbyist

Michelle Wittenburg serves as TexProtects' lobbyist. She has over 20 years of broad based experience in all three branches of state government, having worked in the Texas Senate, as the Executive Assistant to the Comptroller, and most recently as the General Counsel to the former Speaker of the House. She earned her law degree cum laude from South Texas College of Law, was an editor of Law Review and an award-winning national Moot Court participant, worked for the national law firm of Holland & Knight, and later became a partner at Hance Scarborough Wright. Michelle now operates her own firm, Wittenburg & Associates.