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 looks forward to working with nonprofit literacy organizations across Texas to help those in need.
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 13 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 currently serves as President and CEO of the Adult Education Center in Pearland, TX.
The American Leadership Class XL Senior Fellow and ARTreach of Katy Board President holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in business and is excited to join the Literacy Texas Board of Directors.
Board Vice President
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. At a young age her mother always said – Education, Knowledge and Learning is one thing 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!! She 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.
B.B. King once said that ‘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.
Board Past President
Teri Walker originally worked in technology management, and left the field to work in nonprofit. After serving for 6 years as the Executive Director of Aberg Center for Literacy, she now owns her own company, CommonTeri Services, which provides technology management services to nonprofits. Teri believes that Literacy Texas can offer a unified voice for advancing adult education in our state. In her spare time, Teri plays banjo, hosts dinner parties, reads nonfiction, and travels – not necessarily in that order.
Reading has been Kathy Schatz’s passion as far back as she can remember. In her work as a lawyer, the written word is an essential tool of the trade; in her free time, it is an ever-changing window into the wider world. Kathy is deeply committed to Literacy Texas’ mission to promote literacy among all adults and enthusiastic about the path it opens for helping others to acquire this most basic foundation for success. Kathy works as an employment attorney at Jackson Lewis P.C. and is a member of Rotary International. When she is not reading, Kathy loves to travel, explore other cultures, hike and enjoy nature.
Dr. Ida Acuna-Garza
Ida Acuna Garza has been working in Adult Education her whole life. She has developed a bilingual curriculum to reach parents of high school students with information on helping their children graduate from high school and enroll in post-secondary education, and currently serves as the Executive Director of the South Texas Literacy Coalition. Ida has written two children’s books about a cat named Callie, a rescued Calico kitten, who helped her children and Ida herself learn about family, love, and friendship.
Melanie Fisk currently leads a stellar Adult Education team as the Senior Director of Adult Education at BakerRipley. Prior to her current tenure, Melanie served as the CEO of Literacy Advance of Houston and as the Vice President of Client Services at SEARCH Homeless Services. Melanie is an American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow and is a proud member of the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work Dean’s Advisory Council. Anyone who knows Melanie, knows that she is a builder. A builder of people, teams, organizations, and communities. Melanie passionately believes that education is the foundation to a more equitable society and she does everything possible to integrate this into her daily work.
Jamie G. Williams is Director of Human Resources and Regional Grants, North Texas, for the Moody Foundation. She holds a BFA in Art and Art Education, an MEd in Education and MAs in Experimental Psychology and Cultural Anthropology from Southern Methodist University. Prior to her work in philanthropy, she was a classroom teacher, dyslexia specialist, educational consultant, founding coordinator of the SMU Learning Therapy Program and founding president of the Academic Language Therapy Association. She currently serves on the Presidential Boards of SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development and the Meadows School of Arts.
Wayne T. Franke
Wayne T. Franke is the owner of MJWT Consulting, a political and business development consulting company located in Austin. He is a founding partner in Business Partners, Ltd, a political and business development consulting firm located in Austin. He previously led GTE’s Government Affairs team in Austin, Texas. Wayne is very civic minded as demonstrated by completing terms on the Boards of the Angelo State University Alumni Association, Angelo State University Foundation (Vice Chairman and Chairman), West Texas Boys Ranch Foundation (Vice Chairman and Chairman), Hays Independent School District Education Foundation. Wayne served on the Board of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Foundation and remains active in various other civic and charitable activities. He currently is a part of ASU’s President’s Circle. Wayne appreciates the challenges Texas faces in addressing adult literacy education and is excited to be part of an organization dedicated to this cause. Wayne is married to Regina Gale Franke. Gina and Wayne have three children and five grandchildren.
Carlos Carpizo is a member of the Private Directors Association with 10 years of experience in for profit and non-profit boards. He’s a Mexican American former executive turned entrepreneur and is passionate about social innovation. Carlos is the founder of Kosmos, a social venture at the intersection of art, technology and opportunity through which he’s carrying out his mission to increase economic growth and social inclusion for disadvantaged young adults on both sides of the border. Carlos sees literacy as a foundation for both social inclusion and economic growth. He’s a graduate of the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico (ExATec) and Southern Methodist University (SMU).
Jonathon Vasquez is the Associate Director at the South Texas Literacy Coalition. He possesses a Bachelors degree in Recreation and Sports Management from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and is currently working on his Masters in Public Affairs. For over half a decade, Jonathon worked with high school and college students, helping them transition into higher education. Jonathon oversees the STLC book distribution initiative and Higher Education Transition program, along with programming in Family Literacy, Financial Literacy, and Health Literacy.