Jacqueline Pontello, JD
Jackie Pontello joined One Voice as Executive Director in Fall 2015 after two decades of advocating on behalf of Houston families. She led both the Houston Food Bank and End Hunger Network as Executive Director before graduating from UH Law Center at age 40. Pontello then built a groundbreaking legal-aid program at Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) that included a first-in-the-nation programs to assist working –poor victims as well as children orphaned by domestic violence. Her commitment to innovation has earned Pontello accolades from such diverse groups as the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice, the Congressional Hunger Center, the National Council of Jewish Women and Doris Buffett’s Sunshine Lady Foundation. Most recently, Pontello served as Director of Public & Government Relations for Lone Star Legal Aid and, by appointment of the Supreme Court of Texas, on the Texas Access to Justice Commission.
DIRECTOR OF CHILD WELFARE POLICY
Katherine Barillas, Ph.D., MSW
Dr. Barillas has over 15 years in the field of child welfare with experience in direct service, policy analysis, advocacy and research. She has a Master in Social Work and graduated from the University of Houston with a doctorate in political science. Her dissertation examined the role of state capacity in the privatization of state child welfare systems. In her role as the Director of Child Welfare Policy at One Voice Texas, Barillas has worked with federal, state and local policy makers and been an integral part of the passage of several pieces of important legislation: changing changed visitation policy for parents/children in foster care; suspending (versus terminating) Medicaid/CHIP benefits for youth placed in juvenile facilities; and establishing a CPS Ombudsman. She has conducted analysis for state- and local-level research projects and has taught Advanced Social Policy Analysis at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work.
PUBLIC POLICY FELLOW
Michelle Hansford, CPS, CHW
Michelle Hansford is perfectly positioned to provide advocacy trainings and support to two groups—children and parents—that are marginalized in the policy discussions surrounding the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Before joining One Voice as Public Policy Fellow, Michelle was a Recovery Coach Certified Peer Specialist with Santa Maria Hostel and a Family Navigator with Harris County Child Protective Services. She volunteers as a parent liaison with the DFPS Statewide Parent Collaboration Group. Michelle is a birth parent who has successfully advocated for herself and her children as well as for parents in other cases where substance abuse, mental health, and trauma are involved.
Candace Spencer has been part of One Voice since its roots as Adoptation 2000, and she is a walking encyclopedia of the people, organizations, events and initiatives that make up this collaborative. A native of Louisiana, Spencer has an innate Southern hospitality that shines through in the meetings and conferences that she manages for One Voice. Before joining Adoptation, Spencer worked in the oil-and-gas industry before finding her true calling in the non-profit world with Crisis Intervention of Houston, the Greater Houston Community Foundation and now One Voice. Spencer strives continually to be an informational bridge between One Voice members, staff and the Houston community. She deeply appreciates the work Houston-area non-profits do to improve the quality of life for all.