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Dan Leal Seedling Executive DirectorDan Leal, Executive Director
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(B.A.; University of North Texas)
 

Dan joins Seedling as the Executive Director with 21 years of nonprofit management experience. Dan has served as the Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center in Denton County for the last 15 years. Dan led an organization of 29 staff members and 37 partner agencies to provide justice, safety, and healing for abused children. During Dan’s tenure, the Children’s Advocacy Center was selected as the inaugural nonprofit of the year by the Chamber of Commerce in Southern Denton County. Dan also collaborated with Jenna Quinn and State Representative Tan Parker on the passing of Jenna’s Law, which served as the catalyst for Children’s Advocacy Centers in Texas to add education to their service delivery.

Prior to joining the Advocacy Center, Dan served as the Human Services Coordinator for the City of Denton and was named Public Health Advocate of the Year by the Denton County Health Department. He has also been honored by the Denton County Alliance for the mentally ill and been a recipient of the David Fitch Humanitarian Award from the University of North Texas.

Dan and his wife Kirstin have two sons, ages 18 and 20.  Dan’s oldest son recently began service with the United States Air Force. Dan enjoys sports and broadcasted high school sports on the radio for 20 years.


 

Seedling Director of Mentor Programs Connie HoweConnie Howe, Director of Mentor Programs 
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(Indiana University
 

Connie brings over 20 years of experience working with children and families in the non-profit sector.  In five years working in the Caribbean and Central America, Connie’s areas of impact included spearheading a four-community-wide Latrine Building Project, collaborating with the local school to bring education programming for healthy choices and environmental awareness, training community health workers on fundraising and project development/management (all in the Dominican Republic with the U.S. Peace Corps), and serving as CFO and acting Country Director for Global Education Partnership in Guatemala, training youth in computer and job skills for the global marketplace.

In Austin, she began as a Health Educator with People’s Community Clinic, including work specifically with homeless youth. Prior to joining Seedling, Connie spent twelve years developing and honing her skills and expertise in the field of youth mentoring at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, working her way up from Match Support Specialist to Vice President of Programs.  Connie has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University and is bilingual in English/Spanish.

At Seedling, Connie enjoys using her years of experience and expertise working with children and youth, and her passion for social justice to support agency growth and continued programmatic excellence. Connie lives in East Austin with her treasured dog, Harlow. 


 

Linda Thompson -  Director of Development
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Linda joins Seedling as the Director of Development with 17 years of nonprofit management experience. After a successful career in corporate sales as an account executive for AT&T and experience as a Board Member of LifeNet Community Behavioral Healthcare in Dallas, Linda was convinced to pursue her passion in a full-time non-profit career. Most recently, Linda managed the YMBL Sunshine Camps development where she worked alongside 250 Young Men’s Business League members to raise money for low-income children to go to week-long summer camp. During Linda’s tenure, the camps grew from serving 800 kids to 1100. Prior to Linda’s tenure with the YMBL, Linda served as the Vice President of Development for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area, leading the organization to the top of the leaderboard during Amplify Austin and laid the groundwork for a development team that grew from two to five as the organization expanded services for more kids and more clubs in the Austin Area.

Linda and her husband, Dick have a blended family of three boys, two girls, and three grandchildren. Dick is a middle school math teacher at Webb Middle School and they enjoy Austin’s music scene on the weekends. Linda’s 15 minutes of fame came when she was a young girl at Central Michigan University studying music and theater and worked alongside Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber, Terms of Endearment, Arachnophobia) in Catcher in the Rye. You might catch Linda singing at the long Center with Chorus Austin and the Austin Symphony Orchestra……. Or with some friends through Girl Guitar Austin at Antones.

 


Bea Benson
 
Bea Benson, Mentor Director
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(Master’s Degree from Cardinal Stritch College)
 

Bea joined the Seedling Foundation after 30 successful years in public and private school education. Formerly she was employed by the Austin Independent School District as a Curriculum Specialist for the district’s middle and high school language arts programs. Her professional roles have included an adjunct teacher at community/junior colleges, state assessment writer, and consultant for school districts and education agencies. Currently, she is the education consultant for Edge of Your Seat Consulting. Bea was recognized by the Texas Legislature and the State Board of Education for writing outstanding lesson plans that would serve as templates for state adopted textbooks. Bea was one of the 120 outstanding women selected from across the state to participate in the 2011 Leadership Texas Class.

Bea received her Bachelor of Arts in Education from Tennessee State University and her Master’s Degree in Secondary Reading Instruction from Cardinal Stritch College in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, as well as additional graduate work in Leadership and Educational Administration at Mount Mary’s College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

As a Mentor Director for the Seedling Foundation, Bea is grateful for the opportunity to nurture the men and women (mentors) who bring compassion and hope into the lives of children of prisoners. Bea is happily married to Taft Benson and is the proud mother of Maurice and Pam. She has two grandchildren, Allyson and Preston.


 

Lynn Cozart, Mentor Director
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(Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Texas State University)
 

Lynn joined the Seedling Foundation with 28 years experience as a Special Education teacher in our area public school districts. Lynn has served in teacher leadership roles where she supervised and assisted teachers in order to coordinate services and develop individual program plans for students with special needs. Most recently she served as Special Education Department Chair at Burnet Middle School in AISD. While Lynn’s area of teaching expertise is in teaching reading and writing to middle school students with learning disabilities, she has mentored numerous students and beginning teachers. Outside the world of work, Lynn has been a volunteer with the Sunshine Kids Foundation where she has assisted in planning and coordinating positive life experiences for young cancer patients.

Through her teaching experiences, Lynn recognizes the importance for children of incarcerated parents to develop meaningful relationships with compassionate positive role models. At Seedling, Lynn is pleased to share her knowledge of child development and the positive spirit of mentorship with members of our community. Lynn has a Bachelor of Science in Habilitation of the Deaf from Texas Christian University and a Master’s in Educational Administration from Texas State University.

She lives with her husband Gary in Northwest Austin.


 

Sabra Fugate, Mentor Director/Trainer
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(Master’s Degree in Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University)
 
Sabra joined the Seedling family with over 20 years experience in social work, including 15 years with Communities In Schools (CIS), providing and leading case management and social services to students and their families at all school levels in Austin ISD and Del Valle ISD. In this work, she had the privilege of working with youth in helping develop their leadership skills through understanding racism, enhancing empathy, and using their voice for change. Sabra also planned dropout prevention strategies; recruited, trained, and supported mentors; and developed her reputation as a skilled trainer for staff and volunteers alike. 

In 2009, Sabra became the Program Coordinator for CIS at the state level, housed at Texas Education Agency. While at TEA, Sabra achieved CIS Master Trainer Certification and planned and managed the yearly statewide summer training for others holding the credential. Sabra earned a Bachelor’s in Social Work at Texas Tech University and her Master’s in Social Work at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. Sabra’s passion has always been working with young people and helping them find their unique way in the world.

She loves living in Austin and spending time outdoors with her husband John, who is also a mental health professional, and their 12-year-old son.

 

 

Molly McIntosh, Mentor Director/Recruiter
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(Texas A&M University
 

Molly is joining the Seedling Foundation having spent her entire professional career working with underserved youth. Molly graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Africana Studies and Racial and Ethnic Studies.

Following her first job as an Investigator with Child Protective Services, Molly served as a volunteer supervisor with CASA of Travis County, supporting and guiding her volunteers as they navigated the complex child welfare field. In her most recent role with CASA, she worked with the Volunteer Recruitment and Retention team to develop and execute recruitment and retention strategies in an effort of creating a more diverse volunteer base.

Molly is passionate about serving the Austin community. She sits as a Council Member on the CAN Community Council and is involved with local outreach and volunteer groups including North Austin Influencers, CASA of Travis County, Treefolks, Con Mi Madre, and Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas in Austin.

When not at work, Molly enjoys hiking, crafting, and spending time with her adorable, yet mischievous, rescue Sheltie, Charlie.


Sarah LittlerSarah Littler, Development Associate
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(Texas StateUniversity

Born and raised in Texas, Sarah has been a resident of Austin for 22 years. Since graduating from Texas State University, Sarah has focused her career on serving the non-profit community, most recently in executive support and event planning roles at American Red Cross of Central Texas and LIVESTRONG. Sarah is passionate about social justice issues and is committed to serving vulnerable populations in the Austin community. Sarah joined the Seedling family in April of 2017 after spending the last several years as a full-time mom to her two sons. After being incredibly inspired by Seedling’s mission and remarkably positive outcomes of the Mentor Program, Sarah is proud to be a part of the team that helps make that mission possible.

Sarah enjoys traveling, baking, practicing yoga, volunteering at her son’s school, and listens to way too many podcasts.

Sarah and her husband Ben live in East Austin with their two rambunctious boys Callum and Liam, and an elderly Shar-pei/Labrador mix named Stella.


 

Amelia HSAmelia Paramo, Mentor Director

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(Masters Degree in Social Work from University of Texas, Austin)

 

Amelia joins the Seedling Foundation with more than fourteen years of experience as a school social worker, including 10 years with the Austin Independent School District, 2 years with Del Valle ISD and 1 year with both Round Rock ISD and Pflugerville ISD. 

 

She brings to Seedling vast and varied experiences including a deep knowledge base in Positive Behaviour Supports (PBS).  While in AISD she was a team member and leader for the very successful and effective district-level PBS initiative which helped in creating positive campus climates, reducing disciplinary infractions and improving student academic achievement.  As a Safe and Drug-Free Schools Middle School Program Coordinator, she was responsible for coordinating community-based programs aimed at preventing and reducing the use of drugs and alcohol by middle school students.  

 

In her capacity as Community Liaison in Del Valle ISD Amelia served students and families eligible for the Federal Migrant Program as a case manager supporting students and their families as well as teachers and administrators at Hornsby-Dunlap in varied capacities including coordinating programs aimed at improving student academic achievement.   

 

Coming to Seedling has brought her full circle; back to work in support of students. For this opportunity, Amelia is very grateful and hopeful that she can once again make a positive difference in the lives of ‘at-risk’ students!

 

Amelia earned both her Bachelor of Social Work and her Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Amelia is a proud native Texan! She and her two young sons, Diego age 13 and Xavier age 10, live in Round Rock. Together they enjoy traveling, the beach and Marvel movies.

 


Alison Preslar-Seedling Customer Relations Specialist

 

Alison Preslar, Customer Relations Specialist

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Alison joined the Seedling team in April 2017.  She has spent the bulk of her career in business and brings with her 10 years’ experience in executive office support with an emphasis on client relations.

 

Upon her children settling into school, Alison had the opportunity to carve a new path and follow her passion.  Her compassionate nature, dedication to children, and professional office background provided her with the perfect combination of experience and motivation for the Customer Relations Specialist position at Seedling.

 

Alison has been fortunate to lead an adventurous life traveling to a wide variety of places and cultures. Having had these experiences, she enjoys working with people from all backgrounds and strives to provide excellent service to all.

 

Alison is proud to be 6th generation Texan! In fact, Andrews County earned its name from an ancestor of hers who was the first to sacrifice his life in the Texas Revolution.

 

Outside of work, Alison is raising her 3 girls; a Labrador named Micah and very active 7-year-old twins, Summer, and Savannah. She spends most of her time trying to round them up and hopes to one day be successful.

 


 

Juli HSJuli Wiegman, Mentor Director

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(Master's Degree in Counseling from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO)

 
Juli joins the Seedling Foundation with eight years of experience in education. She earned her bachelor's degree in bilingual education at Houston  Baptist University, but with a desire to participate in healing and restorative relationships, she also earned a master's degree in counseling.

While teaching Spanish in St. Louis, Juli was trained and became involved in racial reconciliation and diversity. With a passion for justice and equity and a heart of compassion for the oppressed, she led diversity committees and facilitated a staff seminar for SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity).

Juli also volunteered with Mission St. Louis and helped start a tutoring program and an after-school program for two elementary schools in the St. Louis Public School District.

With her experience in education, counseling training, and passion for diversity and equity, Juli hopes to support Seedling mentors to form positive relationships with children in the Central Texas schools.
 
Juli lives with her husband, Isaac, and three children in San Marcos, where she enjoys hikes and floating down the river.

 

 

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