Prior to joining Literacy Texas, Steve Banta served as President of the Southwest Region for Verizon Communications. His was responsible for public policy, governmental, regulatory, and corporate philanthropy matters. Steve’s connection with literacy began when it was the number one giving priority for the Verizon Foundation. Understanding the overwhelming challenge, he became a passionate supporter of nonprofit initiatives and worked to raise awareness in the public policy arena.
Steve is honored to serve as the Executive Director of Literacy Texas and to work with nonprofit literacy organizations across Texas to help those in need.
Communications & Training Specialist
Kathryn Bauchelle has spent her whole working life connected to education and training. Beginning her career as an educator in languages and literacy in Sydney, Australia, she took her first non-profit job after moving to London, UK. Her work at the Jubilee Debt Campaign (now Debt Justice), an international social justice NGO, sparked her interest in non-profit work and first exposed her to the power of good story-telling and communications.
After moving to Houston, TX in 2008, Kathryn volunteered as an ESL tutor at Literacy Advance of Houston, then joined the staff, holding roles over the next decade in volunteer management, program direction, fund development, grant writing, program evaluation, communications, training, and marketing. She helped guide Literacy Advance toward a successful merger with Memorial Assistance Ministries in 2018, and since 2019 has worked as a consultant.
Kathryn is an independent consultant working with Literacy Texas on a part-time basis, focusing on the annual conference, regional symposia and other training events; CQI and data management; and strategic planning; along with newsletter, social media, website, and all things communications. In her other work, she focuses on training design and development, technical writing, plain language, and copy-editing (among other topics!).
Board of Directors
Ernest Lewis III
Nonprofit veteran Ernest Lewis III has a diverse background in the areas of management, fund development, media, literacy, arts administration, and community development. The New Orleans native has called Houston home for more than 15 years. Ernest has acquired varied experience in developing and shaping signature programming focusing on basic needs, disaster recovery, youth development, adult and family literacy, senior services, workforce development, art education, and homeless prevention.
During 20 years of service in the nonprofit arena, Ernest has cultivated, secured, and managed more than $20 million in private, federal, and public funds to advance the mission of many noteworthy nonprofits in New Orleans and Houston. Ernest served as President and CEO of the Adult Education Center in Pearland, TX until early 2022 and is currently Senior Director, Economic Initiatives at BakerRipley.
The American Leadership Class XL Senior Fellow and ARTreach of Katy Board President holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in business.
Alba Austin is the current Executive Director of the Permian Basin Adult Literacy Center and previously worked several positions at various non-profits throughout the years. When Alba was a child, her mother always said: “Education, Knowledge, and Learning are things no one can take away from you.” That really stuck with her and she has always been passionate about learning and continued education whatever form that takes – whether it’s learning a new skill, new language, new leadership or business skills. If you continue to learn you continue to grow. An educated community is an informed community!!
Alba is passionate about the work and the difference non-profit organizations like Literacy Texas make across the world. In her spare time she enjoys reading, antiquing, gardening, decorating, photography and travel.
Mike Meyers believes that education is the gateway to success and that helping adults achieve a high school degree leads to a better life. Mike, a CPA, served as CFO of Moni Smart Security which is one of the nation’s largest security alarm companies with over one million customers.
Mike has experience leading finance, accounting, HR, IT and operations functions. He currently serves on the Board of Eyewitness Surveillance and served as a Director and Treasurer of Arlington Arts League. Mike holds an MBA from UT Austin and teaches a graduate case study class at TCU.
Mike’s passion is all types of music from indie-rock to classical and loves attending concerts.
Gina Franke was born in Orange, Texas but spent most of her “raising years” in Lake Charles, LA. Her parents both had strong Texas roots and wanted to make sure that, while their work had taken them to Louisiana, that they were true to their deep Texas roots by making sure Gina and her sister were born Texans.
Gina attended McNeese State University in Lake Charles and got a degree, with honors, from Howard College in San Angelo, Texas. She has been blessed with a varied career which took her from working at the Texas Medical Assn to counseling at the Austin Drug and Alcohol Abuse Program in Austin as well as counseling inmates at the IPTC Prison in Kyle, Texas.
She loves being civically involved, as illustrated by her having served on the Johnson City, Texas Independent School Board as well as chairperson for the Hays CISD District Leadership Team in Buda, Texas.
Gina understands and has a passion for the importance of literacy through her experiences in educational involvement as well as the knowledge gained through her work in both counseling and the criminal justice system.
Magda Salazar is a product management, journalism and communications, and event management professional with career experiences working for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Israel Ministry of Tourism, NBA All-Star Jam Session, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Currently, she is serving as president of Hispanic Communicators DFW, a chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Magda’s passion for literacy efforts is a result of her own experience growing up along the Texas border in El Paso and access to programs that supported reading development. Magda is a product of the Head Start program, and in school, she competed in poetry, prose, and debate.
For Magda, collaborating on literacy efforts is fundamental to improving access and creating opportunities for communities of color and underrepresented communities.
Leticia Spillane is a tenured Associate Professor of Government at Laredo College, Board President to Literacy Volunteers of Laredo, and a dyslexia tutor. She comes to Literacy Texas with vast experience in Developmental Education in Reading and Writing, Assessment, and Curriculum Development. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas in Political Science and a Master’s of Science Degree in Special Education and Reading from Texas A&M International University.
She is passionate about helping members in her community reach their personal literacy goals and works tirelessly in creating and developing spaces where adult students can feel encouraged and inspired to learn.
Fran-Victoria Stephens is a former attorney and journalist who became the Founder and President of Story Square, Inc. – an evidence-based education social enterprise. After the pandemic, when she witnessed firsthand how parents faced the daunting task of serving as their children’s primary resource for education, she decided parents needed to experience the mission and spirit of Story Square on a larger stage. So, in 2022 she expanded the organization’s work and began Story Square’s Lit with Families Texas Family Literacy Festival, which takes place annually at downtown Houston’s Discovery Green.
Fran-Victoria is an impact addict and obsessed with the impact today’s small actions have on enduring change for our future. She is an avid researcher, writer, civil rights and education advocate, lecturer, and a self-proclaimed neoteric. She specializes in building new things. From idea generation, process design, implementation, and then evaluation, she has created lectures, programs, and Story Square with a focus on operationalizing her passion and education in civil rights law. These vehicles that carry out her passion serve her personal mission: to academically open minds and spiritually speak to hearts. Her hope is that her work widens our imaginative capacity to excavate new pathways for equity that lead to a collective, interdependent freedom. Story Square’s newest campaign, “Read’em to freedom,” once again highlights this mission!
Dr. Kevin Thompson
Dr. Kevin Thompson is a knowledge broker and staunch advocate for strategic social improvement who’s passionate about helping individuals and organizations (within the public and private sectors) find their true North. He has served as a cultural intermediary for communities and organizations (faith-based, non-profit, and for-profit) for over a decade.
His social education platform and patented Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (Incorporation) footprint can be found within school districts, church conferences, corporations, and non-profit organizations throughout the country.
In addition, he is an experienced curriculum developer who tailors and implements training/teaching curricula on specialized topics. He has appeared on several local and national media outlets as a guest commentator on matters of race, education, diversity & inclusion, African American Studies, and religion. He is currently the Program Manager and an Adjunct Professor for the University of Houston’s Department of African American Studies.
B.B. King once said, “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” A lifelong learner, Wes Young has made it his mission to help adults and families rise up through educational opportunities. He holds a Master’s Degree in Library Science and brought his experience working in public libraries to his current role as Executive Director of Tarrant Literacy Coalition in Fort Worth.
When not teaching classes or tutoring, he can be found perusing local vinyl record shops, fishing throughout his rural Wise County, or with his nose in a graphic novel or manga.