We are particularly interested in opportunities that:
- Have great potential to sustain or increase the vibrancy of greater Houston
- Address the most critical issues for our region
- Recognize the interconnectedness of issues
- Drive our stated priorities
- Have the potential to benefit large numbers of residents
- Are “ripe” for investment, that is, where circumstances are favorable for positive impact
Houston Endowment program officers share a passion for our mission and a commitment to excellence. They are available to discuss whether potential proposals drive our priorities. Multiple program officers work within each focus area and priority.
Long oversees grantmaking for the foundation’s arts and culture portfolio. Prior to joining Houston Endowment in 2015, Long was associate director of the literary-education nonprofit Writers in the Schools (WITS) where he developed his extensive background in literacy, arts, and community engagement and worked in collaboration with a wide variety of Houston-area institutions and organizations, including Art League Houston, Houston Grand Opera, Texas Children’s Hospital and University of Houston Moores School of Music. Long has also written and presented extensively on writing pedagogy, the connection between art and the refugee experience, and non-profit programming. Originally from Vietnam, Long earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and psychology from Houston Baptist University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. His poems and essays have been published in several anthologies, including The New Anthology of American Poetry: Postmodernisms 1950-Present and From Both Sides Now: The Poetry of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath. His libretto for the opera Bound, composed by Huang Ruo, premiered in Houston in 2014 and in New York in 2019.
Tonyel oversees grantmaking that supports systemic approaches to ensuring children and youth have a strong social safety net and live in communities that support all families to thrive. Prior to joining Houston Endowment in 2015, Tonyel was the Executive Director of DiscoverU, where she led the expansion of out-of-school time programming for high school students across the greater Houston area. As a sixth generation Houstonian, Tonyel has worked as an educator in Houston’s Third Ward through Teach For America and began her career as an analyst in global markets and investment banking in the Houston office of Merrill Lynch. Tonyel earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance from Howard University. She also holds both a master’s and doctorate degree in education from the University of Houston’s College of Education. She is an active member of the Junior League of Houston and is a senior fellow in the American Leadership Forum Class XLIII. Tonyel currently serves as an appointed member of the Texas Expanded Learning Opportunities Council. When she is not working, Tonyel enjoys home-cooked meals with her parents, traveling with her husband to any location with a beautiful beach and spending time with her nieces and nephews.
Meghna oversees the foundation’s efforts to develop and strengthen systems of support for under-resourced communities; her work includes civic engagement, immigration, domestic violence and hate incidents/crimes among other emerging issues. She has extensive experience addressing complex social justice issues through broad cross-sectoral collaboratives. Prior to joining Houston Endowment in 2010, Meghna provided operational and clinical leadership at Daya, an organization working with South Asian survivors of domestic violence in Houston. Her previous experience includes work across a range of issues in the field of international development, including gender equality, immigrant rights and affordable housing. Meghna has an undergraduate degree in economics from Delhi University, India and a graduate degree in social work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India; she is a licensed social worker in the state of Texas. Originally from India, Meghna has called Houston her home since 2003. In her spare time, she loves exploring Houston, traveling to less-touristy places and spending time with her husband and two sons.
As vice president for programs, Lisa leads the foundation’s grant activities and serves on the executive team. Prior to joining Houston Endowment in 2013, Lisa was general counsel and vice president for talent support at YES Prep Public Schools, where she served on the management team of the charter management organization. Prior to joining YES Prep, Lisa provided consulting services on a variety of education related projects, including development of the Rice University Children’s Campus and assessment and planning for Rice’s K-12 initiatives. She has also been a visiting professor at Texas Southern University Law School. Earlier in her career, Lisa served as director of professional development for the Texas offices of McKinsey & Company and practiced labor and employment law as a partner at Bracewell in Houston. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. A native Texan, Lisa enjoys spending time with her family, including several rescue dogs currently living in their home.
Alex brings a deep understanding of the intentional coordination and cultivation of partners required to achieve strategic impact in education. Most recently having served as the chief of staff for New Schools for Baton Rouge (NSBR), Alex worked to improve the quality of the K-12 public school system in which she herself was educated. Previously, Alex worked for Teach for America South Louisiana, advancing from program director to director of community partnership and alumni affairs to managing director of teacher and alumni leadership. In the latter role, she managed a large team to reach goals in student achievement, corps member retention, talent recruitment and alumni engagement and launched regional diversity programming for staff and corps members focused on race, class and community. Alex began her work in education as a second-grade teacher in Baton Rouge, LA. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Louisiana State University and a postgraduate diploma from Queens University Belfast in Belfast, Northern Ireland as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. Alex is focused on promoting school systems that effectively educate all students, increasing the number of highly effective teachers and school leaders, and strengthening the systems that increase college completion.
Carlos Villagrana is one of two Program Officers focused on fulfilling the deep commitment of empowering our community with the capacity to execute a long-term vision for equitable educational opportunities that enable all individuals to achieve post-secondary success. Before joining the Houston Endowment, Carlos was the Managing Director for Teaching Excellence, an alternative certification program serving seven school systems in Houston. Carlos has worked as an educator and instructional leader across both Independent School Districts and Charter School sectors. He is passionate about decoding how aspects of recruitment, selection, onboarding, and training contribute to educational outcomes for students. Carlos is also interested in analyzing how training and development of Instructional Leaders and Teacher Educators contribute to the acceleration and retention of effective educators. He has dedicated his career to working in underserved communities and firmly believes that the future of our country is dependent on our ability to serve and partner with marginalized communities to improve their educational choices and opportunities. Carlos has previously served on the State Board for Educator Certification for the state of Texas and participated in Teacher Prep Program Inspections throughout the United States as part of the TPI-US team. He is active in the American Leadership Forum Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter and regularly volunteers in his neighborhood church. Away from work, Carlos enjoys spending quality time with his wife and his three children. He enjoys riding his bike and discovering hidden gems across Houston.