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Board of Directors

Help light our future today.

Succesful Leaders from all Walks of Life

AVANCE-Austin's Board of Directors blends a diverse group of distinguished leaders. The Board oversees the organization's business strategy, ensures accountability, enhances its public reputation, and serves as a thought partner to the leadership team.

Lisa Tomaka

Board Chair

Lisa Tomaka is a Senior Consultant at Triwest Group, who focuses on Mental Health Consulting. She was trained in health and mental health leadership to include strategic planning, implementation theory, systems change, program development, and board development. She has extensive grant writing, program development, and implementation experience. Previously, Lisa served as a Board Member to NAMI Texas as well as Committee Member and Chair to United Way. She established a Board of Directors to include writing the bylaws for a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration cooperative agreement and has worked as part of a collaborative and collective impact effort. She has also worked with AVANCE-El Paso and believes in the organization's mission and vision.

Phillip Martin

Vice Chair

Phillip Martin is currently the Executive Director of the Texas House Democratic Caucus. He has extensive experience in outreach, advocacy, communications, social media, and grant writing. Working with AVANCE-Austin connects him with his family’s roots of education and service in the Latino community. Phillip holds a Master of Arts Degree in Public Policy, Communications, and the Press from Harvard University Kennedy School of Government and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin.

Cristina Cornejo


Cristina Cornejo is the Program Officer at Rebuild Texas Fund for the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. Cristina has an extensive background in Texas Legislature and Communications. Her range of skills includes fundraising, public relations, special projects, strategic planning, and program development. She received a Master of Business Administration in Global Entrepreneurship from St. Edward’s University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University.

Maria Cantú Hexsel


Maria serves as Judge Elect for the 53rd District Court. She serves as a Committee Member for the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin. She has extensive experience in outreach, advocacy, community service, and strategic planning. AVANCE-Austin captivated her to be directly involved in providing services to the Hispanic community. Previously, she served as a Board Member for the American Lung Association. She also served as a Parliamentarian and President of Becker Elementary Parent-Teachers Association.

Julio de la Llata

Julio de la Llata is an Associate Court Judge for Travis Country 1306. He is a new Board Member for AVANCE-Austin, bringing extensive experience in Texas Legislature and analytical solutions. As a parent, Julio knows that parenting is difficult even in the best of circumstances. Through AVANCE-Austin, he aims to provide community members and children long-lasting skills and opportunities. He graduated with a double major in Anthropology and Political Science from Southwest Texas State University and earned a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from University of Texas School of Law. Julio is a Life Fellow, a prestigious honor for of the Texas Bar Foundation.

Melissa Caro Preston

Melissa Caro Preston is an Attorney-at-Law who worked in the legislative, criminal and administrative law fields before ultimately moving into a career in high tech. Her breadth of experience includes new business development, global partner management, contractual negotiations and strategic planning. The AVANCE mission is very close to Melissa’s heart as she was the first person in her family to attend college thanks to supportive parents and personal champions in her life who stressed the importance and power of education and self-sufficiency. As such, Melissa strives to build awareness and support for AVANCE-Austin and is passionate about being an effective advocate to better the lives of children, women and families in the local community. Previously, Melissa also served as a Board Member for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. 

Yvonne Jauregui

Yvonne Jauregui works as Claims Concierge at Hippo Insurance. Yvonne brings skills in budgeting, fundraising, networking, and social media planning. Yvonne is committed to AVANCE-Austin because she understands the struggles at-risk women face. She currently volunteers for Meals on Wheels, Keep Austin Beautiful, and Ballet Austin. She has previously served on the Luncheon Committee for AVANCE-Austin and the Diversity Committee for Wells Fargo Bank.

Zenaida "Sandy" Martinez Nava

Sandy Nava works as Community Outreach Specialist at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas and serves as a Board Member for Any Baby Can. Sandy holds Chairs for the Bastrop and Caldwell County Interagencies. She brings skills in fundraising, outreach, special events, community service, and program evaluation. Previously, she was a Committee Member for the March of Dimes and a member of the Health Equity Task Force for the American Heart Association.

Kyler Ramsey

Kyler Ramsey is the Associate Vice President, Government Relations / Assistant Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives at Texas A&M Health Science Center. As a new Board Member to AVANCE-Austin, she brings extensive knowledge and experience in budgets, advocacy, nonprofit work, grant writing, policy-making, and Spanish speaking skills. Kyler works directly with the Department of Family and Protective Services and understands that parent-child relationships influence the wellbeing of each child, family, and community. She aims to help families feel welcomed and connected to Austin through AVANCE.

Amber Walker

Amber Walker is a proud 2nd term member of the AVANCE-Austin Board of Directors, serving since 2014. She was born and raised in South Austin and received a fantastic public school education in South/Southeast Austin at Palm Elementary, Mendez Middle, and the Liberal Arts Academy (which later became LASA) at [formerly] Johnston High School. Amber has held a 14 year career at Wells Fargo Bank, working her way up from Teller to Premier Banker helping consumer and small business clients. Amber is passionate about AVANCE's mission and work to empower low-income Latino families. Amber is an active volunteer with CARY, AIDS Services of Austin, Austin Habitat for Humanity, and Girl Scouts but AVANCE is always first in her heart. Amber graduated from Texas State University in 2006, has been married to her husband Jared since 2015 and welcomed their first baby girl in 2018.