Meet the Team

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Gil Gaona

Administrative Assistant
Email: ggaona@hcde-texas.org

Gil Gaona is the administrative assistant to Dr. Julia Y. Andrews, the director of the Center for Safe and Secure Schools. He has worked with HCDE for the past two years as an administrative assistant, first with the Teaching and Learning Center and now with the CSSS. After 20 years of teaching Spanish and 18 years as a student council adviser, he moved home to take care of his mother. After twelve years of caregiving and accounting work with a transportation company, he returned to Houston.

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Jeremy Foster

Officer of School Safety and Security
Email: Jeremy.Foster@hcde-texas.org 

Jeremy Foster has over 30 years of safety and security experience. Jeremy has a bachelor's degree in administration of justice from the University of Missouri. He has instructed police organizations, major corporations, CEOs, hospitals, and educational organizations in violence prevention, personal safety, and self-defense. His previous experience includes operating as the chief instructor for a nationally renowned violence prevention and personal safety program called Counter Attactics. He was also the safety and security emergency manager and active shooter response trainer for Alief ISD since 2013. Jeremy has over 20 years of varied educational experience, including working in special education with emotionally disturbed children. Jeremy truly believes in education and wants to do his part to make schools safe and secure for our students.

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Janice Owolabi

School Safety and Security Specialist
Email: jowolabi@hcde-texas.org

Janice Owolabi is a passionate educator who believes strong school culture, high academic expectations and a safe secure environment are the most important ingredients in providing children with a successful education. She currently serves as the School Safety and Security Specialist, providing an educator’s lens when dealing with emergency operations needs at the district and school level. She is a certified trainer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Incident Command System (ICS) and National Incident Management System (NIMS). She provides training in Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) Development, Standard Response Protocol (SRP), and Standard Reunification Method (SRM).   She is the lead school safety auditor and provides safety and security audit service solutions for several districts in the area.  With over 15 years of experience in the education arena, Janice has served in many positions, from classroom teacher to school administration leadership team. Janice graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and is currently a member of the Red Cross Disaster Assistance Team for Harris County.

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Sergio Lopez

School Safety and Security Specialist
Email: Sergio.Lopez@hcde-texas.org

Sergio Lopez has over 15 years of experience working as an athletic coach, teacher, and school administrator with public school districts in Harris County. Most recently, he was the campus administrator responsible for safety, security, and daily campus operations. Sergio received his bachelor's degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas-Pan American. After several years, he decided to advance his career by pursuing a master's degree in educational administration from Lamar University. As a safety and security specialist, Sergio is ready to help and share his knowledge to assist campuses around Harris County.

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Dr. Sasha Blake

School Climate and Culture Specialist
Email: Sasha.Blake@hcde-texas.org

Dr. Sasha Blake is an educational leader with almost 20 years of experience. As a successful educator, she has worked as a director of student-athlete development (University of Houston), director of athletics (KIPP Texas), dean of students (YES Prep), and her most recent position as assistant principal (Willowridge High School). She has presented across many platforms on diverse topics, including emotional backpack, dynamic mindfulness, leading with SEL in mind, and trauma-informed practices. Sasha received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Fairfield University, her Master of Arts in Applied Development of Educational Psychology from Boston College, and her Doctorate of Education from Northeastern University. She is passionate about working with all educators and providing professional development in teacher efficacy, trauma-informed practices, and mindfulness.

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Alysia Chatman

Climate and Culture Specialist
Email: Alysia.Chatman@hcde-texas.org

Alysia Chatman has 15 years of educational experience in various school settings. She has worked as an elementary assistant principal, campus instructional coach, special education teacher, and general education teacher. Alysia received her Bachelor of Arts in Education from Huston-Tillotson University and her Master of Arts in Special Education from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, she is pursuing her Doctoral Degree in Organizational Leadership, focusing on Response to Intervention from Abilene Christian University. In her spare time, Alysia serves as a program director for a Girl Scout camp. She enjoys all things camping, crafting, and building relationships with girls that foster a sense of belonging, skill-building, and leadership. As a School Climate and Culture Specialist, Alysia is eager to share her passion for shifting mindsets about student behavior and how educators support students with exceptional needs. Alysia's goal is to support educators in creating academically engaging learning experiences through an environment that fosters creativity, curiosity, and kindness. 

Contact Us

  • Center for Safe and Secure Schools
    A Division of Harris County Department of Education
    6005 Westview
    Houston, TX 77055

    Phone: 713-696-0771


    Staff Directory