Leadership Team

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Joyce Akins

Director of the Center for Grants Development
Email: jakins@hcde-texas.org

Joyce Akins is the director of the Center for Grants Development. Her academic and employment backgrounds include education, research and evaluation, international relations, and nonprofits. Prior to joining HCDE, Joyce was an evaluator with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, where she researched and analyzed a variety of federally funded programs ranging from children’s preventive health care to international trade and development. She also worked with a nonprofit refugee assistance organization, participating in grant writing, volunteer management, and community development.

While at HCDE, she has helped mobilize over $60 million to enhance HCDE programs, including afterschool services, Head Start, adult education, therapy services, professional development for teachers in STEM and special education, and other activities to garner support for HCDE programs.

Joyce is an active member of the Southeast Texas Chapter of the Grants Professional association. She received her master’s in public affairs and bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Texas at Austin. She also has a master’s degree in international relations from Syracuse University.

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Lisa Caruthers, Ph.D.

Senior Director of Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment (CASE) for Kids
Email: lcaruthers@hcde-texas.org

Lisa Caruthers is the senior director of CASE for Kids at HCDE. She holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a master's degree in social work from Washington University, and a doctorate from the University of Houston's Graduate School of Social Work. Before joining HCDE in 2001, she worked as an organization development coordinator at the Houston Arts Alliance. Her professional affiliations include the American Leadership Forum and the Texas Partnership for Out-of-School Time.

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Joe Carreon

Director of Construction
Email: jcarreon@hcde-texas.org

Joe Carreon is the director of Construction at HCDE. Carreon holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a minor in political science and a Bachelor of Science in Engineer Technology–Structural Analysis & Design. Before joining HCDE in 2018, Carreon worked with the Houston Housing Authority, where he managed the following projects: an $800,000 Community Park in Houston's Fifth Ward, an $8M Rehabilitation of the HHA Office Building, and a $23M Affordable Housing–Multifamily. He has more than 10 years of construction management experience, including his own small construction business. His professional affiliations include US Army Veteran and Houston Livestock & Rodeo Western Arts Committee Member.

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Carie Crabb

Senior Director of School-Based Therapy Services
Email: ccrabb@hcde-texas.org

Carie is a physical therapist with 35 years of experience in school-based practice and early intervention. She currently holds the position of Senior Director of School-Based Therapy Services at Harris County Department of Education. Prior to serving as the division's director, she served as a School-Based Therapy Services manager for 12 years, managing occupational therapists, physical therapists and music therapists in suburban and rural school districts and an early childhood intervention program. Carie's current responsibilities involve administration of the School-Based Therapy Services division, including contract management, division budget management, personnel management, and practice management. Carie currently serves on the Texas Occupational Therapy Association School Focus Advisory Board and the Texas Education Agency Texas Continuing Improvement Steering Committee.

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Curtis Davis

Director of Records Management
Email: cdavis@hcde-texas.org

Curtis W. Davis is the director of Records Management Services at HCDE. Davis holds an associate degree in accounting from Massey Business College. Before joining HCDE in 2002, he worked as an accounts manager at Iron Mountain Records & Information Management. His achievements include employee of the year at Iron Mountain in 1991. He is a member of the Association of Records Managers and is certified through the Health Insurance and Portability Act. 

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Stephanie De Los Santos

Director of Marketing and Client Engagement
Email: sdelossantos@hcde-texas.org

Stephanie De Los Santos is the director of Marketing and Client Engagement. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media and Spanish and a Master of Education from Houston Baptist University. Before joining HCDE in 2017, she was director of communication at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. Before her years of service in CFISD, she taught in Aldine ISD for nine years. De Los Santos’ professional affiliations include the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA), the Houston Area School Public Relations Association (HASPRA), the Go Public, Leadership North Houston Alumni Board and Community Leadership Committee for CFISD.

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Jeff Drury

Director of Choice Partners Cooperative
Email: jdrury@hcde-texas.org

Jeffrey Drury is the director of Choice Partners cooperative at HCDE. Drury holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial distribution from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas. Before joining HCDE in 2015, Drury had 20-plus years of sales, marketing and management experience in facility-related areas. His achievements and accomplishments include serving as supervising senior auditor for a corporate internal audit team of a Fortune 50 company. His professional affiliations include the National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions.

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Leslie Etheridge

Director of Center for Safe and Secure Schools
Email: leetheridge@hcde-texas.org

Leslie Etheridge, a seasoned law enforcement veteran with 28 years of experience, leads HCDE’s Center for Safe and Secure Schools (CSSS). With a strong background in school safety and a genuine passion for children, she aims to lead CSSS towards growth and effective service delivery. Etheridge emphasizes the need for tailored solutions in school safety and aims to adapt programs and training to fit each unique school environment.

As director, Etheridge oversees various initiatives and programs focused on school safety and culture. Her extensive experience includes roles within the New York Police Department and Texas Southern University, where she conducted emergency training courses, created safety plans for large events, and worked on school safety programs.

Etheridge holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from John Jay College. She is an active community member and has organized afterschool programs, mentored girls, coordinated D.A.R.E programs, and facilitated a summer Youth Police Academy.  

She is also a member of various organizations, including the National Organization of Black Law-Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (FBI-LEEDA), Historically Black Colleges & Universities, Law-Enforcement Executives & Administrators (HBCU LEEA), Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT), and the Star of Hope Grand Chapter-Order of The Eastern Star.

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Travita Godfrey

Principal of Fortis Academy
Email: travita.godfrey@hcde-texas.org

Travita Godfrey serves as principal of Fortis Academy, HCDE’s recovery high school. Godfrey’s 22 years of experience as an educator, prevention specialist, and counselor equip her to lead the school for teens recovering from addiction. The certified principal holds a Master of Counseling and numerous therapy certifications. With a philosophy focused on community service, she says she is dedicated to building trust within her school community and leading with empathy. She sees Fortis as a safe haven for students’ academic and personal growth. The former coordinator of secondary counseling in Humble ISD and husband are parents to five children and two miniature schnauzers.

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Chris Hoesel

Director of Information Technology
Email: chris.hoesel@hcde-texas.org

Chris Hoesel is the director of Information Technology Services for Harris County Department of Education.

Hoesel, who joined HCDE in 2017 as an infrastructure analyst, most recently served as IT operations services manager leading a team of systems analysts and network engineers in the conceptualization, implementation, and sustainment of the Department’s IT infrastructure.

With more than 18 years of technology experience, Hoesel leads the IT Division, which is comprised of a Service Desk, Applications Support Team (AST), Operations Support Team (OST), Process Improvement, and IT Training. He serves HCDE and stakeholders by providing innovative tools and technologies to support educational programs and staff.

Before joining HCDE, Hoesel worked in IT for international operations companies abroad and companies such as KBR, Halliburton, and Saudi Aramco.

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Eduardo Honold, Ph.D.

Senior Director of Adult Education
Email: Eduardo.Honold@hcde-texas.org

Eduardo Honold, Ph.D., is the senior director of HCDE’s Adult Education division, a position he previously held from 2009 to 2018.

Honold, an award-winning adult education advocate and teacher, most recently served as a grant compliance specialist for community education at the Socorro Independent School District in El Paso, Texas.

In Harris County, he is best known for his level-headed temperament and for spearheading vocational training first offered by Adult Education in 2014.

Honold holds a doctoral degree and a master’s degree in political science from Northwestern University. He obtained his bachelor’s degree, also in political science, from Denison University.

 

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Jatata Hutton

Principal of Academic and Behavior School West
Email: Jatata.Hutton@hcde-texas.org

Jatata Hutton is the principal of Academic and Behavior School West.

Hutton is a veteran educator with more than 20 years of experience. He earned a master’s degree in educational management from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and correctional services from Jackson State University.

Before joining HCDE, he was the principal of the Cambridge School in the Humble Independent School District, which serves special needs students in grades K-12.

Hutton began his career as a corrections officer with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, working with adjudicated youth. He also worked as a substitute teacher.

In addition to his most recent role, the Mississippi native has worked as a teacher, basketball coach, and assistant principal in the Houston and Pasadena independent school districts.

 

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Edna Johnson, Ed.D.

Director of Procurement Services
Email: edna.johnson@hcde-texas.org

HCDE Director of Procurement Services Edna Johnson, Ed.D., oversees the continuous commitment to customer service while transparently acquiring goods and services to support the needs of the Department’s internal divisions.  

Dr. Johnson joined HCDE in July 2021 as assistant director of procurement services and is credited with implementing the Department’s first Internal Procurement Annual Supplier Showcase (iPASS) and creating a vendor outreach program. She recently began developing the protocols for HCDE’s small business initiative. Through this program, Procurement Services will establish professional relationships with public organizations committed to ensuring that historically underutilized, women-owned, and small businesses are afforded opportunities to compete for publicly procured contracts.  

Her contributions to HCDE's purchasing operations have been recognized with numerous awards, including the TASBO Award of Merit for Purchasing Operations and the Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award from the National Procurement Institute.

Before joining HCDE, Dr. Johnson served as the procurement manager and special revenue accountant for the Spring Branch Independent School District for nearly 14 years and as an audit manager for Marriott International.  

Dr. Johnson is a Certified Texas Contract Manager (CTCM) and Registered Texas School Business Administrator (RTSBA). She is a member of the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO), the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP), and the Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO). As a member of these professional organizations, she has been a national conference presenter, served on numerous committees, and is a purchasing mentor.  

She holds a doctoral degree in education from the University of New England, a Master of Public Administration from Villanova University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Texas Southern University.  

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Marcia Leiva

Chief Accounting Officer
Email: mleiva@hcde-texas.org

Marcia Leiva is the Chief Accounting Officer for HCDE. She has held the role since November of 2021. Leiva joined HCDE in June of 2018 as the Head Start Accountant. Prior to coming to HCDE, she spent 6 years as a Senior Financial Auditor in private and public companies as well as the oil and gas industry, working in Portugal and Angola. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Financial Auditing from Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa and master’s degree in Financial Auditing from ISCAC Coimbra Business School, both in Portugal. She has taken her CPA courses at Lone Start College in Houston. 

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Mercedes Love

Principal of Academic and Behavior School East
Email: mlove@hcde-texas.org

Veteran educator Mercedes Love is the principal of Academic and Behavior School (ABS) East. She previously served as an assistant principal at HCDE’s Highpoint School, where she helped students with special needs succeed. She is passionate about working with disabled students and their families and aims to build trust and relationships with them and the school’s client districts.

Love started her career in her hometown of New Orleans and later worked as a special education instructional specialist in Sheldon and Humble independent school districts. She joined HCDE in January 2015 and has been a leader in the Special Schools Division.

Love holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and teaching from Southern University at New Orleans and a Master of Education in educational administration from Prairie View A&M University.

She is a member of the Houston Area Alliance of Black School Educators (HAABSE) and the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP).  

She is married and has four sons and 11 grandchildren.

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Charles Ned, Ed.D.

Senior Director of Schools
Email: cned@hcde-texas.org

Dr. Charles Ned has been dedicated to creating and supporting innovative programs and schools to serve administrator, teacher, and student learning needs for the past 23 years. Most of Dr. Ned’s professional career was at Humble ISD, where he served as a director, principal, associate principal, assistant principal, and teacher. Dr. Ned is a proud alumnus of Southern University – Baton Rouge, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. His education path continued at the University of Houston where he earned his doctorate in professional leadership in 2012. Dr. Ned’s leadership focuses on a clear vision, ubiquitous communication systems, and using the collective power of the team to carry out the mission of educating every child so they are prepared to be a contributing member of the community. In December 2020, Dr. Ned joined the Harris County Department of Education as the senior director of schools, where he oversees the daily operations of four specialty schools serving students from over 40 ISDs.

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Venetia L. Peacock

Senior Director of Head Start
Email: vpeacock@hcde-texas.org

Venetia L. Peacock is the senior director of Head Start at HCDE. Venetia holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Houston and a master's degree in business from LeTourneau University. Before joining HCDE in 2000, she worked as Early Childhood Quality Initiative Coordinator at Initiative for Children, Inc. Peacock's achievements include a UCLA Head Start Management Fellowship. Her professional affiliations include the Texas Head Start Association Board and the University of Houston Athletic Alliance Board.

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John Prestigiacomo

Director of Maintenance 
Email: jpresetigiacomo@hcde-texas.org

John Prestigiacomo is the director of maintenance and operations for HCDE. Prestigiacomo graduated from University of Texas in Austin with a communications degree in radio, television and film, and began his career working for a startup television network for two years. In 2003, Prestigiacomo joined the HCDE maintenance department as a maintenance worker for several years before being promoted to director of maintenance in 2017. Prestigiacomo’s professional affiliations include the Texas Association of School Business Officials and the Texas Energy Managers Association.

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Yolanda Pyrtle

Director of Research and Evaluation Institute
Email: ypyrtle@hcde-texas.org

Yolanda Pyrtle is the director of the Research and Evaluation Institute (REI). Pyrtle first joined HCDE in 2019 as a research coordinator before being promoted to research manager, overseeing select divisions’ data and survey needs.

In her role, Pyrtle’s focus is on increasing the visibility of REI to highlight its value for other divisions and stakeholders.

Pyrtle’s background is in education, prevention, research, program design, program evaluation, and community outreach, and she has worked for organizations such as MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Health. Pyrtle holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Tougaloo College and a Master of Science in public health education and promotion from Mississippi State University and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

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Lindsey Sanders

Director of Communications
Email: lindsey.sanders@hcde-texas.org

Lindsey Sanders is the director of Communications for Harris County Department of Education. The role marks Sanders’ return to the Department, having served as a communications coordinator from 2016 to 2018.

Sanders most recently served as the communications director at the Katy Independent School District, where she began her career in 2012. Before that, she was the community relations director for the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District for nearly four years.

The Texas native holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Baylor University and is an active member of the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA) and National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). Sanders is also a Class of 2020 graduate of the Central Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Fort Bend program, which cultivates future leaders who wish to take an active role in their communities.

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Andrea Segraves

Senior Director of Center for Educator Success
Email: asegraves@hcde-texas.org

Andrea Segraves is an educator with nearly 20 years of experience and serves as senior director for the Center for Educator Success (CES).

While director of special projects, she organized two of the Department’s most prominent projects, the annual R.T. Garcia Early Childhood Winter Conference and the prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for the Greater Houston region. Segraves has also overseen a national leadership speaker series and provided coaching and professional learning for school leaders across Harris County.

Before coming to HCDE, Segraves was a principal at Clear Creek ISD and an instructional leader for four years.

Segraves holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and teaching from the University of Oklahoma and a master’s in educational leadership and administration from the University of Houston—Clear Lake.

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Courtney Waters

Principal of Highpoint School East
Email: cwaters@hcde-texas.org

Courtney Waters is the principal of Highpoint School East at HCDE. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction from Prairie View A&M University. Courtney has over 25 years of experience in education. Prior to joining HCDE, she worked for multiple district administrations, including Galena Park ISD, San Diego City Schools, Spring ISD, and Cypress Fairbanks ISD in roles ranging from Coordinator of Student Support Services to Assistant Principal. She joined HCDE in 2018 as an Assistant Principal. Waters's professional affiliations include the Texas Association of School Principals (TASSP) and the Texas Association for Alternative Education (TAAE). 

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