Board, Staff & Employment Opportunities

//Board, Staff & Employment Opportunities

Avenue CDC is governed by a diverse Board of Trustees representative of the Washington Avenue and Near Northside communities. 6 of the 12 Board members live or work in the target area.

Board members include Avenue CDC homebuyers, neighborhood residents, accountants, architects, attorneys, developers, and small business owners.

The Board meets monthly and annually adopts a strategic plan. Board members serve on these committees: Building, Community Outreach, Finance, Marketing, and Fundraising.


Cassandra Silvernail, President

Mrs. Silvernail joined the board in May 2010. She is Senior Vice President, Community Development Lending at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. A life-long Houston-area resident, she has been involved with affordable housing financing since 2002.

Mark Parthie, Vice President

Mr. Parthie joined the Avenue CDC Board in 1992 and has been a resident of the target area since 1987. He has restored 11 historic housing units in the area. Professionally he is a small business consultant. Mr. Parthie also serves on the City of Houston Building and Standards Commission.

Marie Arcos, Treasurer

Ms. Arcos is a native Houstonian who grew up and works in the Near Northisde area.  She is the Executive Director for the M. D. Anderson Family YMCA.  She received her Masters degree in Social Work and her undergraduate degree in Human Development from the University of Houston.  She is an advocate for children and quality education.  She serves on several community and city commissioned boards.  She joined the board in 2009.

Donna Espadas, Secretary

Ms. Espadas joined the board in 2015. She serves as the Sr. Project Manager at Houston’s VA Patient Safety Center and has over fifteen published articles in her field. A long time Northline resident, Donna servers as President of her local civic club and is a Committee Member of GO Neighborhood’s Steering Committee.  She obtained a BS in Computer Science from Jacksonville State University.


Stephen J. “Jamie” Bryant

Jamie Bryant serves as Executive Vice President of Midway. As one of the members of Midway’s Leadership Team and Investment Committee, he assists in guiding the company’s overall investment strategy and operations. Jamie oversees Midway’s Investment & Capital Markets team, which serves to create & implement capital (debt/equity) strategies and raises for all of Midway’s investments, provides long term investment management for the portfolio, and oversees investor/lender relations related to Midway’s investment portfolio.

Jamie joined Midway in 2002, and has since helped implement Midway’s goals of expanding commercial investment activities into multiple new segments, including hospitality, mixed-use, affordable housing, and numerous public/private partnerships.

Jamie graduated with honors from Tulane University, A.B. Freeman School of Business, with a Bachelor of Science in Management/Finance. He then graduated at the top of his class at Texas A&M University, Mays School of Business, earning a Master of Land Economics and Real Estate.  Jamie also serves as an Adjunct Professor, in the MBA/Real Estate Program, at the University of Houston, Bauer College of Business and is an active member of his church and numerous local charitable organizations.”

Jesus DeAnda

Jesus Andres DeAnda joined the Board in 2017 and is a life-long resident of Houston’s Northside. He has always been passionate about serving and improving his community. As an active member in the Northline Leadership Committee, he hopes to improve the quality of life for residents. He serves as a revenue accountant at Mosbacher Energy company. A founding member of the University of Houston-Downtown chapter of Omega Delta Phi Fraternity Inc., a community service based organization, he volunteers with various organizations in the Greater Northside. Jesus holds a BBA in Accounting from the University of Houston- Downtown and is working towards obtaining his CPA license.

Susan Holcomb

A 36 Year Banking Veteran based in Houston, Texas, with the last 23 years spent with Wells Fargo.  Susan is a Sr. Business Relationship Manager with the Government/Non Profit Specialty Banking Team.During her banking career at Wells Fargo, Susan has served as a Business Associate, Business Relationship Manager, Sr. Business Relationship Manager and is currently a Sr. Business Relationship Manager for Non Profit Banking. She began her tenure in 1992 with Prime Bank, which was later acquired by Wells Fargo. Before joining Wells Fargo, Susan was an Executive Secretary to the President of First City Bank Northeast (now JP Morgan Chase). Susan held various roles within the organization, including: Lending Secretary, Loan Administrator, Commercial Note Teller, Insurance Clerk, Proof Operator and Bookkeeper from 1979 – 1992. Susan served on the Kingwood YMCA Board from 2011-2015. She is an active volunteer for numerous non profit organizations in the Greater Houston Area. Susan lives in Crosby, Texas with her husband Randy.

David Jones

Mr. Jones has been active in the Houston multi-family industry for 30 years.  He is the President of Southampton Management, a local apartment management company for Sueba USA (a Houston based developer of Class A multi-family developments in the Houston area).  He is currently serving as the Immediate Past President of the Houston Apartment Association, which was recognized as Houston’s 2010 Largest Trade-Professional Organization, and also serves on the Better Government Fund Steering Committee, Education Advisory Committee and the Legislative Committee.  Mr. Jones is also on the Board of Directors for the Texas Apartment Association serving on their Legislative Committee and Technology Committee.

Tami Merrick

Ms. Merrick joined the board in 2011 and is an eleven year resident, artist, and architect in the First Ward.  She has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from University of Nebraska and a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Houston and is a registered architect in the state of Texas.  She has practiced architecture for 25 years and participated in several award winning projects at the firm Page Southerland Page, LLP.  She also studied art at the Art League of Houston and the Glassell School of Art.  She is a member of the American Institute of Architects and Texas Society of Architects Houston Chapter.  She leads an artist critique group called Art Chatter.  She is an active member of the SN22 Transportation committee, the Avenue CDC Art of the Avenue fundraiser, and the Inner Art Corridor open studio tour.

Nicola Parente

Italian American artist Nicola Parente joined the board in 2015. Over the last decade Parente has been actively involved with community outreach including involvement with Greater Northside Management District, the Greater Northside Chamber of Commerce, Avenue CDC, Go Neighborhoods, Writers in the Schools and the Art Colony Association. He has been on the planning committee for the Tour de Northside, and was active in helping his neighbourhood pass minimum lot size protection. In 2014 the Northside Chamber + Management District presented Nicola  with the “Community Engagement Award”.  Most recently he is dedicated to bringing more art into Houston neighborhoods. Parente’s works can be seen in public and private collections in the United States, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Ethiopia.  He obtained a BS from King’s College (PA) and a Masters degree from the University of St. Thomas (TX).

Viola Solomon

Ms. Solomon is the Assistant Vice President, Regional Diverse Segments Manager with Wells Fargo’s Home Mortgage Group.  She is active with several community organizations and her church.  Ms. Solomon is affiliated with the Houston Association of Realtors an African American Real Estate organization; the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and the Asian American Real Estate Association. She was named, “Mortgage Professional of the Year”, by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers in 2011. Ms. Solomon joined  the Avenue CDC Board of Directors in 2012.

Deborah Tesar

Ms. Tesar is a Registered Nurse and joined the board in 2002.  She lives in the target area, and is active with GO Neighborhoods and B.O.N.D. civic club.  She is the Community Outreach Committee Chair.


Mary Lawler

Mary Lawler has served as Executive Director of Avenue CDC since 1996. She has a Master’s from Harvard University’s Kennedy School and a B.A. from Duke University. She currently serves on the Executive Advisory Board for Bauer College of Business Real Estate Program at University of Houston, the Advisory Council for Nonprofit Management Program at University of Houston Downtown, the Board of the Greater Northside Management District,  the BBVA Companss Community Advisory Boards, and the Real Estate Advisory Committee for NeighborWorks America.  She is a delegate to SuperNeighborhood Council 15, and is a member of the International Women’s Forum.


Maria Aguirre-Borrero

Maria joined Avenue CDC in October of 2015 as the Community Coordinator for the Northline area. She previously worked in the Oil & Gas industry for three years as Marketing, Communications and Social Responsibility coordinator. She was born in Mexico City, and was raised in Colombia, Argentina, and Texas. She has a BA in International Relations with a focus on Humanitarian Organizations from Baylor University. She graduated second in her major with Cum Laude honors.

Nicholas Armstrong

As Multi-Family Development Assistant, Mr. Armstrong is responsible for assisting the Director of Rental Housing and Economic Development with the acquisition and development of Avenue CDC’s multi-family and commercial properties. Nicholas has several years of experience in community outreach, legal office administration, and non-profit development. Prior to joining Avenue CDC in 2015, Nicholas worked at the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic & Center for Social Justice in New Orleans, Louisiana. Nicholas earned a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, in Political Science from Loyola University New Orleans.

Darla Berry

Darla joined Avenue CDC as Fund Development Officer and Grant Writer. She has worked in non-profit fundraising and communications for over twenty years, serving with several other Houston gems–the Houston Symphony, Houston Methodist, the Menil Collection and The Menninger Clinic. Throughout her career, she has actively volunteered with animal rescue organizations. Darla holds a B.A. in Art History and German from the University of Mississippi and Master’s work in sculpture from the University of Minnesota.

Anton Edwards

Anton Edwards joined the Avenue CDC staff as the Property Acquisition Specialist in 2015.  His role is to acquire and develop single family, multifamily, and construction  projects in the Northside, Northline, and Near Northside Communities.  Anton joined Avenue CDC after 15 years in the REO marketplace where his clients included Chase, Wells Fargo, Fannie Mae, and HUD.  Anton attended high school in Houston at Eisenhower High School, and graduated from Carthage College with a B.A. in Political Science.

Monika Galikova

Ms. Galikova is a homebuyer counselor and financial coach since 2010 and a former  AmeriCorps member.  Monika is originally from Slovakia, where she graduated from the Business Academy “Obchodna Akademia Levice” specializing in accounting & marketing.  She speaks 3 languages.

Angela Guerrero

Angela joined Avenue CDC in 2016 as the Program Assistant for Avenue’s Community Building and Engagement Program. She is responsible for assisting Community Coordinators in the Northline/Northside areas. She has several years of experience working in the health and non-profit sector. Angela holds a B.S. in Social Sciences and holds minors in Public Policy & Administration, Sociology, and Urban Studies from the University of Houston – Downtown.

Jason Holoubek

As the Director of Rental Housing and Economic Development, Jason Holoubek manages the acquisition and development of Avenue CDC’s multi-family and commercial properties. He has a varied background in urban planning and analysis. Prior to joining the staff of Avenue CDC, Jason was a Senior Planner at the City of Houston.  Jason also has experience as a Research Analyst for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Jason earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas and a Master of Applied Geography degree from Texas State University.

Diane Jasso

Diane Jasso is a native Houstonian and fourth generation Texan. She attended and received degrees from Houston Community College and University of Houston-Downtown. In 2007, she served a one year term with Americorp as a Housing Counselor and received certifications from the national organization Neighborworks America in Homeownership Education and Foreclosure Prevention. In October of 2008, at the beginning of the economic collapse, Diane began working with Avenue CDC as Foreclosure Prevention Counselor and has worked directly with homeowners to save their homes from foreclosure.

Xochitl Jimenez

Xochitl Jimenez joined the Avenue CDC team in 2014. As the Resident Services Coordinator, she manages programs at 5 multi-family developments located in the Northside community. Xochitl provides supportive services to residents by assisting them with educational, financial, and vocational skills they need to be successful and encourages them to take steps to achieve personal and professional goals.  She also coordinates year-round after-school programming, which provides home-cooked meals, snacks, tutoring, homework help, and other educational classes available to all the children on site. Prior to joining Avenue CDC, she was an elementary teacher in the Houston Independent School District. Xochitl earned a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Concentration in EC-6 from Prairie View A&M University.

Courtney Johnson

Courtney Johnson joined the team in 2016 as an Administrative Assistant. Courtney is an active volunteer in her community. She holds a B.A. in English Literature and a Spanish minor from the University of Houston.

Laila Khalili

Laila joined Avenue in January 2017 as the Special Projects and Program Coordinator, bringing with her a passion for public service and community engagement. She received a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Houston, and was an active community organizer while in college. Prior to joining the staff at Avenue, Laila worked at the Black Sheep Agency and served as Director of Constituent Services for Houston City Council Member Karla Cisneros. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Lilith Fund.

Fred Lazare

Finance Director Fred Lazare is responsible for the organization’s accounting, manages Avenue’s banking, insurance and technology and oversees its rental programs. Fred joined the organization in October 2002 after working at First United Methodist Church of Houston for four years. Prior to that, Fred worked for over eight years as an auditor with the CPA firm of Melton & Melton, LLP in Houston. Fred is a Certified Public Accountant and has a Bachelor’s degree from New York University and a Master of Accounting degree from Rice University. Fred serves as Board Secretary of Neighborhood Risk Management Corporation which provides insurance and risk management to its members.

Adichtain Lira

Adichtain Lira joined Avenue CDC in the December of 2016 as a Program Coordinator. Her responsibilities include the coordination of the education programs that are part of Avenue’s Homeownership Center. She has previously worked as a Director of Development, Senior Management Specialist, and Grassroots Coordinator for various organizations in her home state of California. Adichtain received her Bachelor of Science with a focus on Family and Consumer Science and a Master’s in Public Administration from California State University, Northridge. Her hobbies include volunteering, crafting, swimming, and learning as much as she can about community empowerment.

Melinna Lopez

Ms. Lopez serves as the Development and Administrative Coordinator and is responsible for providing administrative support to our Director of Fund Development and Communications and manages our donor database. She has 5 years of experience working in non- profit operations. Melinna holds a B.B.A in Management and Human Resource minor from the University of Houston- Downtown.

Jennifer Martinazzi

Ms. Martinazzi is the Accounting Assistant responsible for assisting the Finance Director in accounting and cash management tasks. Jennifer joined the organization in February 2009 after working for AIG in their Re-insurance Accounting department. She has her Associate of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Washington.

Kara Niles

As Director of Fund Development and Communication, Kara Niles focuses on outreach to our clients, funders, and the general public to raise awareness about Avenue CDC’s mission and the services we provide to the community. She also seeks partners to share in the work that we do by providing financial support and by joining us in creating community in the neighborhoods we serve. Kara has over 15 years experience in community outreach, development, and communication in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including work in Japan, Honduras, Scotland, and Switzerland. Kara has a B.S. from Cornell University in Industrial and Labor Relations and an M.B.A. from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

David Rosales

Mr. Rosales serves many roles at Avenue CDC as our Lending Manager, Homebuyer Counselor, and Spanish Homebuyer Education Instructor. He has over 30 years of experience in the fields of community development, lending, and real estate. He holds a master’s degree in Education and Community Development from the University of Michigan.

Megan Smith

Megan Smith joined Avenue CDC in April of 2017 as the Development Communications Officer. As a native Houstonian, she is committed to fostering the diversity that thrives within the city. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Mass Communication Studies at the University of Houston. Prior to joining the Avenue team, Megan served as the Assistant Editor and Web Editor of OutSmart magazine.

Cindy Tessler

Cindy Tessler joined Avenue CDC in 2017 as Counseling Program Manager for the HomeOwnership Center. Her work includes oversight and leadership of the in-house counseling program for first time home buyers as well as program compliance reporting and management. Cindy is Colombian by birth but a lifelong Texan, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Texas A&M University. Her focus has been in nonprofit organizations working with vulnerable populations in the mental health and education sectors, having most recently transitioned from an Administrative role in the Head Start program. She brings 8 years of professional experience on how best to connect members of the community with necessary tools and resources for greater economic independence and overall well-being.

Jenifer Wagley

Deputy Director Jenifer Wagley joined Avenue in 2009. She has 14 years of community organizing and program management experience. Jenifer earned two Master’s degrees from Baylor University, including a Master of Divinity in Theology and a Master’s of Educational Psychology. She received her B.A. in Sociology from Louisiana College. As Deputy Director at Avenue, Jenifer works in tandem with the Executive Director to support the sustainability and growth of the organization. Jenifer oversees Avenue’s robust Community Building and Engagement Department, which includes the highly successful GO Neighborhoods program in the Near Northside and Avenue’s place-based initiative expansion into Northline. Under Jenifer’s leadership, Avenue’s comprehensive placed based initiatives have leveraged over $70 million in additional resources for the Northside community including: attracting a successful YES Prep charter school; multiple public park improvements; and the launch of Rebuilding Northside Together, a home repair program that has stabilized the homes of 36 low-income, disabled or veteran home owners in the community in three years of operation.

Berenice Yu

Berenice Yu joined Avenue CDC in 2015 as Director of Asset Building Programs. Her work includes oversight of the HomeOwnership Center, which delivers education and counseling for first time homebuyers,  as well as developing partnerships and lines of business that will facilitate asset building for low-income Houstonians.  She has a Master’s from The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work and a B.A. from Southwestern University. Berenice brings to Avenue CDC a wealth of experience including private philanthropy, community development, project management, and business development. The focus of her work in the past 15 years has been improving the financial stability of families through education and coaching.

Melissa Zavala

As Director of Single Family Housing, Ms. Zavala oversees all phases of single-family home development, including initiating new projects, conducting pre-development activities, and monitoring construction.  She is currently working on a 95 single family home development with 10 floor plans in Contemporary and Traditional styles. Melissa was an immigration paralegal from 2008- 2013 and has worked with other non-profit agencies such as United Way of Greater Houston and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Melissa holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Houston and has received an AutoCAD Draftsman certification from Lone Star College. She is working on completing her M.F.A. in Interior Architecture and Design.


Avenue is hiring a Bilingual Homebuyer Counselor.

To apply:

Submit the following via email

  1. Cover letter explaining:
    1. how your skills and experience are relevant to advancing the tasks outlined for this position and
    2. include your salary requirements.
  2. Resume
  3. Three professional references

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