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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.

Dana Booker, Ph.D.

Director of Research

Dana Booker holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Human Development and Family Science from the University of North Texas. Specifically, Dana has focused on child advocacy practices, prevention, parent-centered education and military family research. Dana has received evaluation training from the American Evaluation Association and also worked as the program evaluator for the Texas chapter of the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY). It was this opportunity that increased her passion for prevention and intervention work. Originally from Albuquerque, Dana received her B.A. in Psychology and M.S. in Educational Psychology from the University of New Mexico. Dana is married to her best friend and is a proud mom of three amazing boys.

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
Southern Methodist University - Bachelor of Science Political Science/Ibero American Studies
Certified Texas Mediator
CEO of REELbigideas•The REELPeople Company, LLC. - 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.

Pamela McPeters

Vice President of Public Affairs
512-913-4408 (Cell)

Pamela serves as the Vice President of Public Affairs at TexProtects. In her role, Pamela leads government relations, public policy solutions, media communications, related issue management, and strategic communications. Additionally, she serves on the Steering Committee of the Child Protection Roundtable, a statewide collaborative of child welfare policy experts, researchers, providers, and other stakeholders to leverage data, resources and coordination making a positive impact in the areas of child abuse prevention and early intervention, child protective services improvements, and preparation for adulthood for foster children. Pamela has 20 years of legislative and public policy experience. She has served as Chief of Staff and Legislative Policy Analyst for both Texas House and Senate members. She has also worked for the House Committees on Child Protection and Public Education. She earned her B.S. in Applied Learning and Development from The University of Texas at Austin.

Lee Nichols

Director of Communications
512-796-9877 (Cell)

Lee is the Communications Director at TexProtects. Lee previously held the same position for state Senator Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, working in her Capitol office 2011-15. Prior to that, he spent 15 years as a reporter and editor for The Austin Chronicle. Lee received a B.A. in History from The University of Texas at Austin, where he worked for the acclaimed student newspaper, The Daily Texan. Lee lives in Austin with his wife and two wonderful daughters.

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.

Reighley Baugh


Reighley is an intern in our Dallas office. She is a senior at Texas Woman’s University studying Social Work. She aspires to be a legislative advocate and has a passion for research and children’s rights and welfare.

Nicole Cavazos


Nicole is an intern at our Dallas office. She is a senior at the University of Texas at Dallas studying Psychology and is in a fast-track program to her MS in Social Data Analytics and Research. Working under Dr. Booker, she is a research assistant. Last summer, Nicole interned with CASA of Cameron and Willacy counties and thus began her interest in the Texas child welfare system.

Sophia Salinas


Sophia is an intern at our Austin office. She is a senior at St. Edward’s University studying Psychology and Spanish. She has a passion for working with children and is interested in behavioral and developmental healthcare. She hopes to pursue a career in pediatric mental healthcare and become an advocate for children and other special populations.

Our Mission

Our mission is to reduce and prevent child abuse and neglect through research, advocacy and education. We effect change by organizing and educating our members to advocate for increased investments in evidence-based child abuse prevention programs, CPS reforms, and treatment programs to heal abuse victims. Learn more about the work we do. You can help protect Texas children from abuse & neglect. Find out how you can help.

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