Meet Our Leadership

Our People

At United Way, we know that we do are best work when we take care of one another. We can only make progress in our fight against poverty when we give it our all, every day – and engage community leaders with a wide range of expertise and experience.

Staff Leadership

David Smith

Chief Executive Officer

David C. Smith, CEO of United Way for Greater Austin, has been in Executive Nonprofit Leadership for over 25 years in Austin, Texas, leading mission focused and results driven organizations to substantial growth. David’s philosophy to non-profit leadership is that while there are many factors that go into a successful organization, one common thread through all is reaching out to diverse parts of the community to collaboratively find solutions that create real impact.

Ray Blue

Chief Development Officer

Ray Blue, Chief Development Officer of United Way for Greater Austin, has over 20 years of experience managing top-tier corporate accounts and major donor relationships. He has built and led dynamic teams for various nonprofit organizations, integrating development systems that are rooted in a donor-centered approach.

Sue Carpenter

Chief Programs Officer

Sue Carpenter is the Chief Programs Officer for United Way for Greater Austin.  After receiving a MA in Human Development from the University of Kansas, Ms. Carpenter devoted over 30 years of her professional experience to non-profit work, with an emphasis in early childhood care and education programming and organizational leadership.

Evan Lambert

Chief Financial Officer

Evan comes to United Way with a diverse background and experience in nonprofit financial management, international development, microfinance, and public accounting. His previous experience includes working as the CFO of Pro Mujer International and as the Regional Director for the Whole Planet Foundation managing the Latin America and Caribbean Region. He is a proud dad of two beautiful children, is an avid cyclist and lover of live music.

Amit Motwani

Chief Information Officer

Amit brings us a unique blend of technical expertise and nonprofit social service management: he was a startup team member and Chief Technology Officer of Community TechKnowledge (CTK), and later worked in direct service delivery for over 15 years, most recently as Director of Education and Social Services at El Buen Samaritano. He’s committed to the application of analytics as an avenue to fight poverty and mitigate health disparities, and United Way’s collective impact platform is the ideal framework to build on that vision.

Alison Bentley

Director of Data & Evaluation

As the Director of Data and Evaluation, Alison oversees and manages the data implementation, collection, and analysis for UWATX’s Mission Advancement programs, Community Investment Grants, as well as community level data for the School Readiness Action Plan and the new 2-Gen Strategic Plan. Prior to joining United Way in October 2012, Alison conducted research at the University of Texas at Austin focusing on the impact of child care and income support policies on children’s development and worked directly with young children and their families in both child care and home settings. Alison holds a M.A. and Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin.

Laura Clarke

Director of Development Operations

As the Director of Development Operations, Laura works with the team at United Way to optimize and streamline fundraising activities. Laura holds a Masters in Public Health from the University of Texas, and has worked in nonprofit community development at organizations such as the YMCA and Marathon Kids.

Kay Garza

Director of Navigation Center

As the Business Director for the United Way 2-1-1 Navigation Center, Kay Garza supports operational strategies, budgeting, forecasting, recruitment & retention, outreach and disaster response. She holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin and has over 15 years’ experience leading Information & Referral and Navigation Services for United Way for Greater Austin as well as 8 years managing in for-profit Call Centers at Dell and Apple Computers.

Manessa Grady

Senior Director of Finance & Planning

Manessa leads the team and directs the financial operations of United Way for Greater Austin. She has an innate ability to identify opportunities for improvement, then strategically map and execute a resolution. Her deep-rooted connection to the Austin nonprofit community provide insights that not only support the organization’s administration but help drive our mission. She is passionate about people and seeing them break free from the chains of poverty and its mindset.

Amy Price

Senior Director of Navigation Center

Amy Price is the Senior Director of Navigation Services at United Way for Greater Austin where she oversees the 2-1-1 and health care navigation programs. Prior to joining United Way over twelve years ago, Amy worked as a social worker, librarian, and special education teacher. She has a Master’s degree in Information Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Social work from the University of Texas.

Sara Reeves

Director of Mission Advancement Operations

As the Director of Mission Advancement Operations, Sara supports the programmatic team in advancing United Way’s work fighting poverty in Austin/Travis County. She holds a Master’s in Public Affairs (Nonprofit Management) from Indiana University. In her past life she was a newspaper designer and worked in higher education overseeing entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship programs for international students and leadership development for MBA students.

Michele Scherz

Senior Director of Donor Relations

As Senior Director of Donor Relations, Michele partners with staff and volunteer leaders to connect individual donors to United Way’s mission. With more than 20 years of experience in resource development and management, Michele directs United Way’s giving societies including Women United and Tocqueville Society, ensuring that individual donors have meaningful, engaging and educational experiences and know the impact of their philanthropic investment.

Tom Whiteside

Director of Hands on Central Texas

As Director of Volunteer Engagement Tom helps connect volunteers to much-needed work in our nonprofit community. Before joining the team Tom had stops at the Movember Foundation and the Livestrong Foundation. He is a proud alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin.

Cathy McHorse

Vice President of Success By 6

As the Vice President of Success By 6, Cathy McHorse leads the UWATX team that convenes a broad community coalition focused on improving opportunities for low-income infants, toddlers, and young children to receive high-quality education before they enter kindergarten.  In addition, she coordinates Early Matters Greater Austin, a business alliance engaging the business sector to advance early learning as a priority in Greater Austin.  She has more than 20 years of experience in early childhood settings as an educator, director, and program manager.  She earned her BA in Developmental Psychology at Duke University and her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education from UT Austin.

Danielle Marrero

Director of Operations & Infrastructure

As the Director of Operations and Infrastructure, Danielle supports the organization’s work with a focus on technology, facilities, and systems management. Using her diverse professional and educational background, she ensures that staff members have everything they need to work at their best, while often looking for simple solutions to complex problems. A certified Project Management Professional, she also works with multiple departments to ensure that small and large projects are well-managed.

Shalyn Bravens

Director of Family Connects & MIECHV

As the Director of Family Connects and MIECHV, Shalyn Bravens brings together United Ways’s community partners to ensure families with young children in our community are supported through evidence-based home visiting models. She coordinates the Family Support Network, a collaboration of service providers, to amplify the impact and push forward the common agenda to create opportunities for families of young children. Shalyn is a Licensed Master Social Worker and has more than 8 years of experience supporting families through home visiting, parent education, and infant mental health resources. She earned her BBA in Marketing from Texas A&M University and her MS in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin. She loves living in Austin and spending time outdoors with her husband, two little boys and their dog, Lila.

Jessica Venson

Director Client Service & Navigation Center

Jessica serves as the Director of Client Services for the United Way Navigation Center where she works to streamline navigation specific operations, enhance technological capabilities and provide oversight of program contracts and staff management.

Vanessa Hartman

Director of Revenue Systems and Analysis

Bio coming soon.

Board Leadership