Board of Directors



Seedling Board President Deborah TreecePresident: Deborah Treece 

Deb Treece is proud to call herself a thirty-five year Austin resident. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, also a native Austinite, since 1991. Together they parent three incredible teenagers; one daughter and two sons. Her hobbies include CrossFit, yoga, reading and all things “Aloha.”  Deb is a graduate of Texas A&M University, where she studied Sociology and Psychology with a specialization in Social Work.  

As a former Child Protective Services caseworker, Deb has a passion for issues that involve children and families. For the past twelve years, she has been an active volunteer at the Austin Waldorf School, serving the school in a number of capacities including President of the Parent Society, class representative, class delegate, and Finance Committee member, as well as a member of the Strategic Planning Committee for the school. 

As a feminist, Deb is also involved in a variety of women's issues and feels a strong conviction about social justice. She is delighted to work with an organization as important as Seedling and looks forward to making meaningful contributions.


Leroy NellisLeroy Nellis: President-Elect

After receiving his BBA from the University of Texas, Leroy practiced public accounting with Peat, Marwick & Mitchell, CPA's in Houston, Texas.  He returned to The University of Texas for graduate studies earning an MPA while teaching undergraduate accounting courses.  He was the Assistant Director of Administrative Services for The University of Texas General Libraries for 14 years.  He has also held several Chief Financial Officer positions in Austin. He retired after 19 years from his position as Travis County Budget Director but has recently rejoined Travis County as the County Executive for Planning and Budget.

Leroy has mentored for the past 12 years with several mentoring organizations including Seedling. Leroy was recognized as the AISD "Mentor of the Year" in 2003. He serves on several Campus Advisory Committees for AISD elementary schools and is an active recruiter of mentors for many schools. Additional community service has included serving on the Central Texas Chapter of the American Red Cross and on the Advisory Board of Healthy Families.  Leroy is passionate about helping high-risk students reach their educational goals.


Rolando FernandezTreasurer: Rolando Fernandez

Mr. Fernandez is currently the Assistant Director of the Contract and Land Management Department for the City of Austin, with proven leadership skills, experience building and executing budgets, working in high-pressure environments and collaborating effectively with a mix of executives, staff, and members of the City Council. 

Formerly an Aerospace Physiologist with the United States Air Force, Rolando, and his family moved to the Austin area from California, and he has been involved with its growth ever since. 

Rolando is a current Mentor with the Seedling Mentor program and a member of the International City/County Management Association and the International Hispanic Network. He is an active member of several committees on the Seedling Board.  


Secretary: Patricia Whiteside 

Patricia Whiteside has been a Certified Public Accountant since November 1982 and is currently the president of the Austin firm, Whiteside & Huver CPA, PC which was incorporated in 2000. Prior to 2000, Pat was a sole proprietor for 18 years and also served for three years in the Texas State Auditors Office and nine years with the Internal Revenue Service. 

Pat received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting in August 1980 and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in December 1972. She is licensed by the Texas State Board of Accountancy and is a member of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants and its local Austin Chapter. Pat is a member of the Oak Hill Business and Professional Association. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of both the South Austin Civic Club and the Lake Travis Lodges Marina Association.

She is a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Austin Independent School District. Pat has been married to W. Robin Whiteside since February 14, 1976, and they have two adult children, William R. Whiteside, Jr. and Brandy E.Whiteside.


Dan WarthImmediate Past President: Dan Warth

A registered Texas Professional Engineer and a graduate of Texas Tech University, having recently been inducted into the Texas Tech Civil and Environmental Engineering Academy.  Dan is presently the Regional Manager at Cobb, Fendley & Associates, Inc.

Previously, Dan was a Vice President and Department Manager at URS Corporation, Austin, Texas, leading a staff of 65 employees on various infrastructure projects.  He has longstanding relationships with clients like the City of Austin that illustrate his genuine concern for putting the needs of the client first.  This consideration for his clients spills over into the community where he is an Executive Board Member of the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce.  

He is past Chair of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce City of Austin Liaison Committee and served on the Central Texas Chapter of the Texas Council of Engineering Companies Local Issues Committee. 

Dan’s community involvement has allowed him to excel at managing public relations on large projects.  He understands there are several stakeholders with vested interests on any given project.  Dan provides a bridge between municipalities, developers, and the community building strong working relationships and facilitating positive communication, supporting the objectives of everyone to successful project completion.




eynacanaleszarateEyna Canales-Zarate

Eyna received a BBA from St. Edward's University in Management and Marketing with a minor in Spanish. She worked in private industry in the financial services industry and education government contracting before joining the City of Austin. She worked in a variety of management and executive positions in the City of Austin, including economic development, internal auditing, transportation, public works, fleet services, city manager's office and the library.

Eyna retired from the City of Austin after thirty years, to lead the Texas Association of Public Retirement Systems where she was elected as President of the Board. She also serves as a member of the Travis County Appraisal Review Board and works with a local immigration attorney on the Dreamer's Act.

She served as co-chair of the Hispanic Issues in Education Committee, mentored second graders as part of the AISD Companeros en Lectura, and was appointed by Travis County to the Child Protective Services Board, where she served for two years. Eyna has served and currently serves on a number of boards for organizations that included public pensions, health, and education. She is also currently a Seedling Mentor.


Merrill Davis Seedling Board MemberMerrill Davis

Merrill Davis began her career at the Austin-based public affairs firm, Public Strategies, in 1993. After more than 24 years, she has experienced the growth of the firm into the global communications company it is today. In 2016, she returned back to Austin to lead Hill+Knowlton’s Austin office, after working for almost a decade in Houston and Dallas.


Passionate about working with clients to solve communications challenges and build successful corporate reputation and public affairs campaigns, she has developed a proven track record in providing senior counsel, strategic advice, and management of accounts, teams, resources and budgets.

For the past five years, she has actively participated in the Texas Lyceum, serving on the Executive Committee in various roles and co-chairing successful conferences in the Valley and Austin. She also serves on the Austin Film Society Board and is a member of the Texas Association of Business, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Rice University Alumni and the World Affairs Council.


She is a graduate of Rice University and attended the LBJ School of Public Affairs.


Merrill is married to Nils Andresen. Her interests include travel, politics, gardening, sharing stories, entertaining, reading, exploring and learning.


Jackson Giles Jackson Giles 

Jackson Giles is an advocate for supporting disadvantaged children. He began his career with the nonprofit Teach For America, for which he raised millions of dollars to help increase student opportunities in low-income communities.

Jackson later attended an innovative entrepreneurship MBA program based on experiential learning at the Acton School of Business, where he received the 2014 Acton Scholar Award and the Future Texas Business Legend scholar award by the Texas Business Hall of Fame.

Today, Jackson is the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of SoftMatch, which connects companies with the global startup ecosystem for acquisition, investment and partnership purposes, and he continues to serve disadvantaged children as a board member for Seedling.


Seedling Board Member Jared GreathouseJared Greathouse 

Jared serves as General Counsel for A Charitable Life Holdings and the A Charitable Life Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to assisting those struggling through organ failure.  He received his Bachelors Degree in Economics from the University of Texas before receiving his Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law.

Prior to his role as General Counsel, he served as a tax consultant where he helped companies identify and quantify tax credits for their research and development efforts.  During this time, he helped save companies millions of dollars in taxes that were ultimately used to stimulate growth and hire new talent.

Jared is the proud father of a one-year-old, Derek, and enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife, Erica, either at the ranch with her horses or out on his motorcycle.


David HalpernDavid Grant Halpern 

Assistant General Counsel, The Texas A&M University System

David Halpern joined the Seedling Mentor Program and has been a mentor since 2006. At Texas A&M, he practices in the areas of Student Affairs and Litigation and, in collaboration with the Texas Supreme Court's Children's Commission, is actively growing the System's programs and support for at-risk youth, including those in the State's foster and adoptive care system.

Prior to joining the Office of General Counsel, David served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas for twenty years with a focus on personal injury and employment law. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law.   

David is on the extended faculty at the University of Texas School of Law, the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, and he has served as teaching faculty for the National Association of Attorneys General and the State Bar of Texas.  His writings have been published in the Texas Bar Journal, Voir Dire quarterly, the Juror Connection, and he is a contributing author to the book, Practicing Medicine in the 21st Century. 

David's commitment to youth is also directed at civic engagement. He is the founder of a national legal education program, the Teachers Law School, in association with the American Board of Trial Advocates on whose board he serves. He is also on the board of the SIMS Foundation, dedicated to providing mental health and addiction recovery services to Austin music professionals and their families.

  • J.D., University of Texas School of Law, 1994
  • Bachelor of Journalism, the University of Texas at Austin, 1984

Seedling Board Member Brian Maguire

Brian Maguire

Brian is a Senior Vice President and Regional Portfolio Manager for Frost Bank, where he leads a team of professionals managing investment portfolios for high net worth individuals and corporations. Brian joined Frost in 2004. Prior to joining Frost, he worked in consulting and various finance-related assignments with two Fortune 500 companies and a global accounting and business firm.

Brian received his bachelor of arts in economics from Rice University and his master of business administration with a concentration in finance from the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. Brian is a holder of the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) designation and is also a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. He is a member of the CFA Society of Austin.

Brian enjoys camping, golfing and cheering for the Owls and Longhorns. He and his wife, Judy, are the proud parents of two boys, Joey and Owen. 


Diana MaldonadoDiana Maldonado 

Texas State Representative (Fmr) 

Representative Maldonado served in the 81st legislature and authored & co-authored over 80 bills, secured almost $17 million for higher education, a $10 million road project through her appointment on Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and was appointed by the Speaker to the Committee on Defense and Veterans Affairs and the coveted State Affairs. 

Diana Maldonado is former President of the Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees and guided one of the fastest growing and highest rated school districts in Texas during her term in 2006, spent over 20 years at the Texas Comptroller’s Office as an efficiency expert and recently completed work in a director role at Texas Health Institute. Her advocacy work made concrete advances in education, transportation and economic development in Central Texas. 

Ms. Maldonado received a BBA in Business Management from St. Edward's University, Magna Cum Laude. 

Diana is a health enthusiast and brings awareness by staying active with running, fitness training and yoga and incorporates this discipline into her daily regimen.  She completed her first full marathon in November 2011 in addition to several half marathon races and continues to do races and other sports events.  In addition, Diana is a senior advisor to a public affairs group and serves as a speaker and on non-profit boards as part of her public service.  Her two adult children live in Austin and Hiroshima Japan.


Jessie Metcalf Jessie Metcalf

Jessie has been an advocate of compassion in her 25+ years in Austin.  She started her career in the public sector helping local disadvantaged businesses build strategies for growth.

She then joined Cisco to build sales and technical enablement programs and currently leads M&A strategies that integrate and activate the amazing people and culture of the companies they acquire.  

Her passion for Seedling reaches beyond Board service. She has been a Seedling mentor since 2014 and has supported the Seedling College Scholarship program.

Jessie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin and hopes to see her mentee graduate as a Longhorn in the class of 2026.


mikemetschan-2012webMike Metschan

After receiving his BBA from The University of Texas, Mike Metschan joined the sales division of IBM. For more than twenty years, he enjoyed a successful career in sales and marketing management. In 1991 Mike started his insurance agency. Since that time, he has built one of the finest agencies in Central Texas with an enviable reputation. 

Mike's commitment to community service includes being a former President of the Austin Aqua Festival, North Austin Rotary Club, and helping to establish Leadership Austin. He has served as a Vice President of the Capitol Area Boy Scouts of America and recently received Scouting's highest adult award, the Silver Beaver. 

Mike is passionate about the value of school mentoring and has been a mentor to an economically disadvantaged child for over twelve years. He has authored two books, "Understanding Youth League Soccer" and "Achieving Your Potential." Mike is currently a Mentor and leads a Boy Scout Troop in East Austin.


Seedling Board Member Beverly Vandegrift

Beverly Vandegrift

Bev Vandegrift is dedicated to making a positive difference in the community through her work as an entrepreneur and business owner, founding member of non-profit organizations, hands-on volunteer, and mother of three daughters.

Bev established her executive search and technology recruiting firm Grindstone Group in 1993 and has helped shape Austin's technology landscape. Bev's professional contributions illuminated the need to engage women in the technology field, which led her to help launch Austin Women in Technology while partnering with Carol Thompson, an Austin networking icon, and Alexa Lange (Wesner), currently the United States Ambassador to Austria.

She became a volunteer for Seedling, an organization that provides research-driven, school-based mentoring to children with incarcerated parents and for over 20 years was also an active member of school boards and parent-teacher-student associations.  Making a positive impact on the lives of all children has long been a commitment of hers.

Bev has served as a Seedling Mentor since 2009 and has also supported the Seedling College Scholarships. 

A proud graduate of the University of Michigan, Bev is an ardent fan of Wolverine sports and still an active alumna in University athletic, academic and community support programs.


Becky Wood

Becky Wood

Becky received her degree in business from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. She joined MCI Telecommunications (now Verizon Wireless) and managed an engineering and project management team in Dallas, Texas for over 10 years. 

In 2003, Becky moved to Austin with her husband, James Wood, to open Sterling Acura of Austin, one of Acura’s Precision Team Dealer’s of Distinction.  Becky loves people and hosts a junior high youth group guiding them to be self-confident and purposeful during the challenging middle school years. She is an active PTA member at Gorzycki Middle School.  Becky is actively involved at Shoreline Church in Austin and has served as coordinator for the Women’s ministry team and is presently lead facilitator for small groups.
Becky and James have a beautiful and talented daughter, Rebekah, and are proud to be Texas Longhorn fans.  



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