BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Senior Associate, Austin Ventures/Co-Founder, Hand to Hold
Dave Alter is the father of three girls, including Jada and Reese, both born preterm at 23 weeks gestation. Reese passed away shortly after birth, while Jada spent 4.5 months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and today is a healthy and happy two-year old. Dave welcomed his third daughter, Addison Kate, into the world in 2011. Dave and his wife, Allie, co-founded Hand to Hold in honor of Reese’s life and as a testament to Jada’s incredible fighting spirit.
A venture capitalist by trade, Dave currently works for Austin Ventures (“AV”), a growth equity and venture capital firm that manages nearly $4 billion of capital to finance the expansion, recapitalization or acquisition of growth companies in a wide range of sectors. As a Senior Associate in AV’s growth equity practice, Dave focuses primarily on growth investments in information services and business services sectors and buyouts of Texas middle market companies. Notable portfolio companies include: Asset International, New Hope Bariatrics, CreditCards.com and QuickArrow.
Prior to joining Austin Ventures, Dave was an investment banker at Greenhill & Co. where he was a founding member the firm’s Dallas office and advised a number of Fortune 500 energy and power companies on M&A transactions and other strategic advisory assignments. Previously, Dave was an analyst in the Global Mergers & Acquisitions Group at UBS Investment Bank. Dave holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a BBA with high honors from the Business Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin. An active participant in the community, Dave is also the Founder and of the Texas Lacrosse Alumni Association, a 300-member organization that raises money on behalf of the University of Texas Men’s Lacrosse team.
Financial Advisor, Wells Fargo Advisors Private Client Group
Jeff and his wife Katy are the proud parents of two preterm children. Alice was born in 2007 at 32 weeks and Hollis was born in 2010 at 35 weeks after Katy spent a month on hospital bed rest.
Jeff is a Financial Advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors Private Client Group in Austin. In 2011 and 2012 Jeff was named to the Premier Advisor Group within Wells Fargo Advisors. The Premier Advisor designation is held by a select group of Financial Advisors within Wells Fargo Advisors and reflects a high level of professional achievement based on many factors including production. As a Financial Advisor Jeff focuses primarily on the investment planning needs of his clients. Jeff is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.
Jeff is involved with Suzy’s Soldiers, a grass roots non-profit dedicated to raising money to support breast cancer patients and their families. In his free time Jeff enjoys playing golf and spending time at his family’s ranch in Henly, Texas.
Director of Agency Culture, Proof Advertising
After experiencing pre-term birth with the arrival of her daughter, Lauren Kepler Knight, in 2010, Kristin Knight experienced the benefit of Hand to Hold firsthand. Lauren’s unexpected arrival eight weeks early resulted in a one month NICU stay. Lauren is now a healthy and happy toddler. After Lauren’s birth Kristin has been committed to making sure that parents have the resources needed to navigate such a difficult and challenging experience. Lauren’s older brother, Harrison, was three at the time of her birth. Kristin quickly recognized the need for sibling support, as well as the wealth of information Hand to Hold provides to families.
Kristin graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1997 and began her career with Ernst & Young. After moving to Austin in 1998, Kristin joined Kolar Advertising and Marketing. During her eight years with Kolar, she was promoted to Account Director covering a range of industries, including technology, consumer packaged goods, higher education, retail and local non-profits.
In 2007, Kristin began working with her husband, Marc Knight, at his company, Knight Commercial Construction, Inc. as Operations Director overseeing marketing, HR and finances. After four years with Knight Construction, Kristin began working as Director of Agency Culture for Proof Advertising overseeing internal communications, HR, employee relations, organizational planning and the overall culture for the agency.
Active in the Austin community, Kristin is a supporter of the Austin Children’s Museum, Caritas of Austin and the Bo Busby Foundation for ALS. She has served as the financial and housing advisor for the University of Texas chapter of Pi Beta Phi, and is President-elect for the Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club. Kristin treasures every minute with her two children, Lauren and Harrison, her husband, Marc, and her two dogs, Annie and Gus.
Owner, Growing Places Therapy Services, PLLC
Doug Levine and his wife Stephanie are the parents of three children and the owners of Growing Places Therapy Services, PLLC. Doug graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with a minor in music in 1994. As the student body president, Doug went on to earn his Master of Science in Physical Therapy from Texas Woman’s University in 1997. He has been a practicing physical therapist for the past 16 years, and has specialized in pediatrics since beginning his career at the CP Rehabilitation Center in
Doug was recruited by the late Paul Molanphy to work as a physical therapist in Austin at Dell Children’s Medical Center in 2003. While there, he provided PT to children of all ages, from NICU to outpatient. He was part of the multidisciplinary team for spasticity, orthopedic, wheelchair, and neurological specialty clinics on a monthly basis. Doug has continued to provide his services at a monthly muscular dystrophy clinic where his skills and experience have assisted neurologists, patients, and their families for over 6 years.
Doug’s desire to help children improve their functional skills where they live and play led him and Stephanie to form Growing Places Therapy Services, PLLC. Since 2006, Growing Places has served over 400 children and their families, providing pediatric physical, occupational, and speech therapies in the home, school, and daycare settings. Doug particularly enjoys working closely with the families of the children he serves, helping them to educate themselves, facilitate communication between medical disciplines, and providing support and resources to families in need of guidance.
Although running the business takes a good deal of time, Doug’s passion for working directly with the children and families drives him to continue make that his top priority. Some of Doug’s interests include backpacking, camping, hiking, and cycling. He volunteers every summer at the MDA Summer Camp as a therapist, allowing children with muscular dystrophy to experience sleep-away camp in a safe, fun environment. A chance meeting at a Party City between Kelli Kelley and Doug’s wife, Stephanie, led to Doug’s impassioned involvement with Hand to Hold as a Founder’s Circle Member since its inception. Doug is honored, and thrilled to begin serving on the board of such a worthwhile and needed organization. He hopes to continue to help families navigate the waters of raising a baby with prematurity from his perspective as a pediatric physical therapist, and looks forward to offering support to these families in ways he has not been able to before.
Architect/PSW Real Estate
Kristen is the mother of identical twin daughters, Grace and Eva, born at 30 weeks, who spent four and five weeks in the NICU. She had spent a month on bedrest while fighting off preterm labor, culminating in Pre-Eclampsia which forced her early delivery.
For the first year home from the NICU, Kristen and her husband had very little support on how to raise preemies. During that first year, her daughters contracted RSV twice, which quickly opened their eyes to how different their parenting journey was from the other families around them. In an attempt to connect to other preemie families, Kristen began to lead the Family Advisory Committee at the NICU where her girls had been born, outside of Chicago, IL. Her accomplishments with this group included creating a newsletter for entering NICU families, hosting a NICU reunion picnic and fundraiser, and most importantly, beginning a support group for families in the NICU.
Kristen and her husband, Michael, met while getting their Masters of Architecture degrees at Harvard University. After graduation, the couple moved to Chicago where Kristen worked for several design firms, focusing on single-family and multi-family high rise residential design, as well as interiors. After practicing in Chicago for nearly a decade, they were asked by Michael’s life-long friends to move to Austin to join their homebuilding business as the in-house design team. They packed up their three year old twins and headed to Texas. Currently, Kristen heads up the design of PSW communities, including single-family and multi-family home designs. She is a licensed architect in the state of Illinois and Texas.
Moving to Texas has created new opportunities for growth both as a family, professionally, and in volunteering. Kristen participated in a national media tour for RSV awareness. Kristen also volunteers on the advisory board for Camp Kesem, a camp for children whose lives have been affected by a parent with cancer. Prematurity awareness and advocacy will always be a passion for Kristen, in order to help preemie parents understand the resources available to them and most importantly, to give them the tools to advocate for their children.
Of Counsel/Cook Brooks Johnson PLLC
Tara Potts is a mother of boy/girl twins who were born at 34 weeks gestation and spent three weeks in the NICU at North Austin Medical Center. Tara is an attorney and CPA who concentrates her practice in the areas of federal and state tax law, as well as corporate, non-profit and partnership law. She assists clients with the formation of business entities, structuring of joint ventures, buying and selling businesses and business interests, succession planning and the admission and redemption of business stakeholders. Tara also represents clients in controversies with the Internal Revenue Service and the Texas Comptroller.
Tara graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a B.S. in Accountancy, Washington University School of Law and New York University School of Law with a LL.M. in Taxation. Before attending law school, Tara practiced accounting with Arthur Andersen in Chicago.
Scott Whitaker, Board President
Director of Stewardship and Development, Catholic Diocese of Austin
Scott Whitaker is the father of Luke Timothy, a 36-weeker, who contracted a severe case of surgical NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis) and spent 44 days in the NICU at both Seton Medical Center and Dell Children’s Medical Center. After discharge, Luke endured two more months of hospitalizations for other surgeries and infections and continues his treatment with nine specialists and bi-weekly therapy.
He serves as the Director of Stewardship and Development for the Catholic Diocese of Austin. In his position, he oversees the annual $4.2-million campaign, cultivates major gifts, strengthens individual parish stewardship education and assists fund raising efforts for all 125 parishes in the diocese. Scott began his career as an intern with the Texas A&M and Iowa State University Foundations. His university experience exposed him to various facets of fund raising which he honed after being hired as a Regional Director for the National FFA Organization.
After a life-changing pilgrimage to Italy, Scott began his faith-based fund raising career with the Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis as the Director of Parish Services. In 2003, he began work with the Diocese of Austin and recently completed an $84-million capital campaign (nearly 200% of the original goal). Presently, he serves on the International Catholic Stewardship Council Board of Directors and is the Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation – Diocese of Austin.
After he and his wife, Kathryn, experienced the birth of Luke and the consequent stays in the NICU and PICU, he has a passion for pairing seasoned NICU parents with those just beginning their journey. Luke’s introduction to the world has permanently altered his perspective, his faith and his passion for helping others.
Scott received his B.S. degree from Texas A&M University and his M.S. degree from Iowa State University. He and his wife, Kathryn, reside in Austin with their five children: Will, John Paul, Anna-Laura, Clare and Luke.
Founder/Executive Director (staff)
Kelli D. Kelley is the mother of two children born preterm – Jackson Thomas born at 24 weeks in 2000 and Lauren Elizabeth born at 34 weeks in 2003. She has invested her time and talents during the past 10 years to raise awareness of the growing problem of preterm birth and to support families who share her experience. She is often sought out to speak about preterm birth, the high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression among these parents, and the need for support and navigation resources for all families who have had these experiences.
In 2011, Kelli was selected as a parent liaison and spokesperson for the National Perinatal Association as they work to facilitate the development of Multidisciplinary Guidelines for the Care of Late-Preterm Infants. She was asked to participate in Pediatric Grand Rounds at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio in 2011. Kelli has provided keynote addresses for conferences, such as the Texas Premature Infant Health Summit, the Educational Summit on Prematurity at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio and the Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses Texas Section Conference.
Kelli was named a 2011 Local Hero through Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative® and a 2011 Health Care Hero through the Austin Business Journal. She is the 2010 recipient of the Austin Under 40 Award for Medical and Health Care, and an ENERGIZER Keep Going Hall of Fame Semifinalist. Kelli serves on the leadership team of the Preemie Parent Alliance. She is a past President of the Austin chapter of the Association for Women in Communications and a graduate of Leadership Austin.
In 2005, the Kelley family served as the Ambassador family for the Austin division of the March of Dimes. Kelli served on the Austin division Board of Directors of the March of Dimes for four years and was selected to serve on the National Mission Volunteer Advisory Council for two years.
Prior to the birth of her children, Kelli worked in public relations with the The Arc of the Capital Area as the Public Relations Coordinator and then as the Development Coordinator for the Mental Health Association in Texas. She went on to work for Cunningham Communication, a national high-tech public relations agency, as a Public Relations Manager and Marketing Coordinator where she received numerous promotions and awards for her leadership and accomplishments.
Kelli received a bachelor of journalism degree from The University of Texas at Austin. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband, children and friends, reading, cooking, exercising and participating in Bible study.
Amy T. Carr
Public Awareness Director (staff)
Amy is a parent of a late-term preemie, Ella, born at 35 weeks. She has volunteered with Hand to Hold since its inception, and is currently serving in a consultant role for Hand to Hold’s marketing and outreach efforts. With more than 15 years of experience, Amy enjoys strategizing and executing marketing and public relations efforts to raise awareness, support and revenue to advance an organization’s mission, especially one so dear to her heart.
Amy formerly led the marketing communications, public relations and strategy efforts for the Center for Child Protection, a Children’s Advocacy Center. In 2008, she completed a community outreach campaign for the grand opening of its new $9.1 million facility and received two national Clarion Awards.
Always involved in helping children in some form or fashion, her prior positions included a marketing position for a K–12 instructional materials developer and government positions promoting child nutrition and substance abuse prevention.
Over the years, Amy has been very involved in the Association for Women in Communications where she has served as president of the local Austin chapter and on the national board. Amy holds a Master of Science in organizational leadership and ethics from St. Edward’s University and a bachelor of arts in international studies and German from Trinity University.
Family Support Navigator/Program Director (staff)
Erika and her husband, Robert, are the parents of three sons. Their first son, Carrick Michael, was born in 1990 at 27 weeks gestation and weighing 1 pound, 14 ounces. Carrick died soon after his birth due to complications of prematurity, including Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN). Erika went on to have two more high-risk pregnancies and two healthy sons. Her oldest son experienced developmental delays. He was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum and has special health and educational needs.
Erika is passionate about helping parents gather the skills they need to be both nurturing caregivers and powerful advocates for their children. For the last several years Erika has worked providing community-based services for families who have experienced a NICU stay or have children with special health care needs. She has worked under grants from the Maternal Child Health Bureau and Children with Special Health Care Needs programs. Erika has collaborated with other community groups, state agencies, and professional associations to improve outcomes for families of children with special health and education needs, including the National Perinatal Association , National Association of Neonatal Nurses, the National Association of Neonatal Therapists, the Texas Hearing Detection and Intervention program, the Deaf-Blind Multi-handicapped Association of Texas, Texas Education Agency, and Texans Care for Children ECI Advocacy Coalition. She is a parent instructor and program committee member for the St. David’s Heath Care Neonatal Bereavement Program.
Erika graduated from California State University San Bernardino with high honors with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology. (She is especially proud that she did this in less than four years while raising a small child!) As the parent of a child with a developmental disability Erika continued her education in interventions and strategies for supporting students with autism and other developmental delays.
Erika is grateful to be a part of this community! Her hope is that the support and services offered through Hand to Hold will be source of strength for families whose babies began life in the NICU and comfort to those families whose children never came home.
Family Support Navigator/Sibling Support Specialist (staff)
Laura Romero is Hand to Hold’s Family Support Navigator/Sibling Support Specialist. She is the mother of two children. Her daughter Brooklyn was born in 2006 at 33 weeks gestation and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy shortly thereafter. Her older son Cameron was born at term. Laura is passionate about education and about helping children and families understand and manage challenging life events and stressful situations. She says that the journey with her daughter has brought her to a place of greater recognition and understanding of human attachment, development and growth.
Laura is certified first generation Sibshop (support for siblings) Facilitator. She has a very special place in her heart for the unique needs of siblings in families facing challenging circumstances. The focus of her graduate studies was on learning how to understand, best meet the needs of and provide support to siblings, a passion that was a natural fit for leading Hand to Hold’s sibling support program.
Laura is very active in organizations which support children and families with special health care needs. She participates each year in TALAC (Texas Advanced Advocacy and Leadership Conference) and spends time at the capital meeting with Texas State Representatives to present important issues facing the Texas disabled population. She has volunteered her time to help families and babies in the NICU at Dell Children’s Medical Center as well as at the Center for Child Protection in Austin.
Laura is a trained educator, spending time in a public classroom setting as well as a private tutor. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Loyola University in Chicago. She earned her Master of Science Degree in Family and Child Studies from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.
In her free time, Laura enjoys spending time with her two children, her husband Richie and her two dogs, Roxy and Mac. Her favorite activities include cooking, yoga, blogging, organizing, traveling and exploring Austin and beyond.
Events Planner (staff)
Angela Wright has volunteered with Hand to Hold over the past year and is now serving in a staff role with the organization to support its event planning, operations and grants management efforts. As the mother of three active boys, she knows how to juggle competing activities and keep everyone organized and will leverage these skills as she supports the Hand to Hold’s growth initiatives.
Angela holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. She has worked in the marketing communications and public relations arena for more than 13 years, supporting high technology companies around the world. She will use her knowledge and experience to additionally assist with Hand to Hold’s program marketing and development.
Beyond her work with Hand to Hold, Angela is highly involved in her children’s schools, serving on the PTA and supporting her husband’s remodeling business. She enjoys reading, baking and hanging out with friends in her very limited spare time!
Family Support Navigator Intern
Jennifer lives in Round Rock with her husband of 11 years and their two active boys. With her first son Ty, she delivered at 36 weeks and experienced a brief overnight stay in the NICU for blood sugar issues. After fertility issues with her second pregnancy, Jennifer was devastated to have an emergency delivery at just 30 weeks due to severe pre-eclampsia. Though he only weighed 2 pounds 9 ounces at birth, Liam came home after 45 days in the NICU at just over 5 pounds and is a strong and healthy preschooler today. These experiences have given Jennifer a heart for working with families going through the tremendous emotional and physical struggles faced by NICU families.
Jennifer is currently completing her internship for the Master of Social Work degree at Texas State University in San Marcos. Before pursuing her Master’s degree, Jennifer worked as an adoption case manager with Marywood Children and Family Services. She previously worked in hospice and as a home health social worker in the Central Texas area.
Ambassador Program Coordinator
Tanya Clay is the mom of a son and daughter and the stepmom of two daughters. After meeting her husband at a training conference and marrying 18 months later, they began immediately working to grow their family. After only one cycle of IVF, they were blessed with the news of her pregnancy. Although she was a very proactive and well-educated mom, there was nothing that could have prepared her for the arrival of her precious bundle of joy at 24 weeks gestation weighing 1 lb. 7 oz. Their little miracle entered this world as a fighter and was the twinkle in their eye from the very beginning.
After an 11-year career at Microsoft and her son’s NICU stay, Tanya left her job and embarked on caring for her son as her new full-time career. In managing health care plans, specialist appointments, insurance benefits, both in home and onsite therapy sessions, along with household responsibilities, she learned quickly that NICU parent support resources in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area were extremely limited, and wanted to follow her calling to make a difference for fellow parents like herself after her son was older and more stable. After research and networking, she met fellow NICU mom Kelli Kelley, and they decided to team up to introduce Hand to Hold to the Dallas area and establish it as a local resource to those with NICU experiences.
A talented business woman, Tanya previously spent 11 years at Microsoft Corp. as a technical account manager. She is a graduate of Baylor University with a BA in health education and business.
Having been a youth leader with the YWCA for many years, Tanya knew the impact of giving back to help others. She has been involved with Habitat for Humanity, Urban League of Greater Dallas, Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, African American Museum of Dallas, Girls Inc., her daughter’s school PTF and church activities. She enjoys spending quality time with her family, traveling, cooking, volunteering, the arts and fine dining.
Keira Sorrells is the mother of triplets born at 25 weeks, 5 days gestation. The collective birth weight of the three girls was a mere 4lbs 4oz and one of them spent 291 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Together with her husband of 14 years, Richard Sorrells, Keira founded the Zoe Rose Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3), in memory of one of their triplets, Zoe, who died suddenly at the age of 14 months.
Advocacy and awareness have also become key components to Keira’s work. Her personal tragedies and triumphs have fostered a desire to educate the public at large, healthcare professionals, and parents about the very real and often traumatic effects of losing a baby or having a critically ill baby in the NICU. She has been invited to speak at local, regional, and national healthcare-related conferences including the National Premature Infant Health Coalition Summit, MedImmune Prematurity Summits, Mississippi Perinatal Association Conference, AWHONN Jackson Section, National Association of Neonatal Nurses, as well as educational sessions for Senior Nursing Students at the University of Mississippi School of Nursing. She will also begin working with the Mississippi State Health Department on various initiatives surrounding infant mortality and morbidity and participates on a parent review board for the National Association of Neonatal Nurses’ discharge planning module. Keira is also a regular contributor for Hand to Hold’s parent blog, Preemie Babies 101.
Keira is also the Co-founder and serves as the Director of Operations for the Preemie Parent Alliance (PPA), a national network of parent led support organizations with a focus on preterm infants and their families. She also serves as the parent representative on the Steering Committee of the National Premature Infant Health Coalition. She is also the parent representative on the Mississippi Perinatal Association’s Board of Directors.
At the heart of everything she does is a deep seeded desire to help other parents facing uncertain futures, find hope and healing no matter the outcome of their circumstances. She is honored to be a part of the Hand to Hold team and hopes to further enrich an already phenomenal organization.
NICU Outreach Coordinator
Contessa is a mother of two boys who were both born at 34 weeks. While their NICU stay was short, Contessa well remembers the sadness and anxiety of leaving the hospital without her baby.
Before deciding to stay at home with her children, Contessa worked for almost a decade in Long Term Care. As a Nursing Facility Administrator she managed a 120 bed Skilled Nursing Facility in Austin.
Contessa and her husband are graduates of Southwest Texas State University and have been happily married for 13 years. Contessa is the PTA President Elect for her children’s school and enjoys staying physically active with her elementary age boys. From hiking to zip lining she and her family never miss an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.
Lead PreemieBabies101 Blogger
Kathryn is the mother of five, two of which were preemies. Her youngest son was diagnosed with IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) and was born at 36 weeks weighing just 3lbs. 9oz. He developed a severe surgical case of necrotizing enterocolitis and has various needs as a direct, and indirect, result. She was one of the first families to receive support from a mentor through
Hand to Hold and the entire experience has been life-altering.
Prior to motherhood, Kathryn served as a communications and public relations consultant for a national non-profit. In 2001, after the birth of her first child, she became a freelance graphic designer. She specializes in streamlining current communications materials, brand identity and marketing and technical writing. Some of her clients include the Vatican Observatory Foundation, White Construction Company, Petrus Development and numerous collegiate Catholic campus ministry programs around the country. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Development with an emphasis in Marketing from Texas A&M University and a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Education with a minor in Communications from Iowa State University. Kathryn is an active volunteer in her parish and at her children’s school.
Since the birth of her youngest child, she has developed a passion for prematurity awareness and child advocacy. She is an avid user of all things social media (yes, you can find her tweeting, blogging, pinning and status updating), and it was a natural fit for her to lead the
Preemiebabies101 blog initiative with Hand to Hold.
She and her husband, Scott, reside in Austin.