The Foundation provides financial support to Fort Worth ISD’s only single-gender school for girls, which focuses on STEM and visual arts and empowers young women typically from low socioeconomic households to excel in traditionally male-dominated fields.
Fort Worth, Texas (September 5, 2023) — The Foundation for the Young Women’s Leadership Academy of Fort Worth (YWLA) welcomes five new members to its board of directors and announces its executive slate for the 2023 fiscal year. The board consists of 26 members, 21 from the community and 4 representing the Foundation’s partners: Fort Worth ISD and Young Women’s Preparatory Network (YWPN).

“We have a dynamic board of local business and community leaders,” said Lynn Hammer, Executive Director of the Foundation. “I am excited for what the future holds as we continue to cultivate relationships with individuals and businesses in the local community and spread our mission of empowering our future female leaders through academic and leadership excellence.”

New Foundation board members in their first year of service include:

Dr. Christopher Barksdale serves as Executive Director of Secondary Leadership in Fort Worth ISD. Prior to joining the Fort Worth ISD Team, Dr. Barksdale served as the Founding Principal of Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III Global Preparatory Academy at Paul Quinn College and as Principal of Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Fred F. Florence Middle School in Dallas ISD. His teaching career began in 2007 as a math teacher and coach in Clear Creek ISD.

Rosa Maria Berdeja founded The Law Office of Rosa Maria Berdeja in 2010. Her practice is primarily dedicated to the area of immigration law. She is a 2009 graduate of the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. Prior to attending law school, she obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas. Rosa currently serves as an executive board member for the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, she serves on the board of Recovery Resource Council, she serves on the Executive Board of Tough Stars Give Back, and she also serves on the events committee of Downtown Fort Worth, Inc.

Jennifer Bodden is a senior manager with FORVIS’ Accounting & Financial Reporting service line of the CFO & Business Advisory practice. She works with clients on many matters on the CFO/CAO agenda providing advisory services that include complex technical accounting and reporting matters, particularly related to the implementation of new accounting standards, business combinations, variable interest entities, consolidations, and other capital market transactions. Jennifer has more than 15 years of public accounting experience including being FORVIS’ subject matter expert on significant business combinations and authored knowledge share content, including both technical accounting topics and the firm’s comment letter responses to certain regulatory proposals.

Charlie Garcia is an Associate Superintendent at Fort Worth ISD and supports and supervises thirty-one K-12 schools and seven departments in Service Network 2 in the Learning and Leading Department. Before coming to Fort Worth in February, Mr. Garcia was an associate superintendent for Midland ISD, where he supported and supervised sixteen K-12 schools, which encompassed close to 27,000 students and over 800 teachers. Prior to his tenure in MISD, Mr. Garcia served as principal at Bel Air High School in the Ysleta Independent School District where the school received one of the highest TEA Academic Ratings in the city and he was recognized as the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals TASSP Region 19 Principal of the Year. He has served on the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) Legislative Committee and has been awarded the prestigious Nolen Estes Ascension Award from The University of Texas at Austin.

Michael Parris is the Chief Data and Analytic Officer at Texas Health Resources. He has over 15 years of experience as an improvement and analytic leader, with a strong focus on vision, planning and execution. He is a hands-on leader that develops his people to work across the organization and aligns everyone’s efforts to the same vision. He has an exceptional ability to understand and communicate complex problems and solutions to the “C” suite in health care organizations. He fosters business understanding of the value that analytic information in achieving superior customer satisfaction, driving bottom line efficiencies, and enhancing the operations of health care organizations.

“I am particularly happy to announce the Foundation’s new board officers and executive leadership,” said Hammer. “This exceptional group of leaders bring such diverse perspectives, expertise, backgrounds, and passions to the table, which will only serve to enrich our board and mission.”

Board officers and executive leadership:

− Danika Franks, M.D., Board Chair; physician and founder/CEO of Community Flourish LLC.
− Lauren Cockerell, Immediate Past Chair; President and Founder of Kwedar & Co.
− Jeanelle Davis, Vice Chair; Executive Director, Public Affairs at BNSF Railway
− Caroline Cranz, Governance Chair, SVP, Chief Compliance Officer at Colonial Savings
− Brittyn Brender, Finance Chair; Director, Client Advisory Team at Tolleson Wealth Management
− Carolyn Phillips, Development Chair; Operations for HF Custom Solutions
− Tricia Elliott, M.D., Programs & Services Chair; Sr. Vice President, Medical, Academic, and Research Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, Designated Institutional Official at JPS Health Network
− Emily Hollenbeck, Secretary; Partner at Litchfield Cavo LLP

Returning board members:

− Rachael Capua, Ed.D., Director of College & Career Success for Tarrant To & Through (T3)
− Jannibah Coleman, Director of Corporate Relations, Charles Schwab
− Berta Fogerson, Chief Academic & Accountability Officer for Young Women’s Preparatory Network
− Deborah Ferguson, News Anchor for NBC5-KXAS
− Sandra Garcia, State Chair of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas
− Stephanie Ledgerwood, Vice President of Human Resources, Ben E. Keith Company
− Erma Lee, Director of Compliance at Cook Children’s Health Care System
− Jennifer Long, Director of Outreach and Engagement, Young Women’s Preparatory Network
− Matt McCracken, Owner, CMIT Solutions Fort Worth
− Meloni Raney, President/CEO at TEXO
− Leila Santillan, Vice President of Operations at Fort Worth Education Partnership
− Regina Skidmore, Director, TPG Global
− Shoshana Thoma-Isgur, Chief Compliance Officer at TMX Finance Family of Companies

About Foundation for the Young Women’s Leadership Academy of Fort Worth
The Foundation supports the Young Women’s Leadership Academy of Fort Worth, the first and only single-gender school for girls in Fort Worth ISD. The school was founded in 2010 and made possible through a public-private partnership between FWISD and Young Women’s Preparatory Network. YWLA’s core curriculum focuses on STEM and visual arts and empowers young women typically from low socioeconomic households to excel in traditionally male-dominated fields.

In 2014, the Foundation for the Young Women’s Leadership Academy of Fort Worth was formed as a 501(c)3 to financially support and secure resources for YWLA and its students and teachers. The nonprofit provides funding for programs that enhance academic achievement and offers leadership opportunities that promote the success of every student in college, career and life. To learn more, visit our website or Facebook page.

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