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

Program Officers

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.

Bao-Long Chu
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Long oversees the grants strategy to support and grow Houston’s arts, culture, and parks ecosystem. He collaborates with artists and community leaders toward a shared vision of a vibrant city with abundant opportunities to create and connect. The power of art to share and connect human stories inspires his work.

He is a storyteller. Originally from Vietnam, his passion for writing led him to the MFA creative-writing program at University of Houston. He has written and presented extensively on writing pedagogy, the connection between art and the refugee experience, and non-profit programming. During his role as the associate director of the literary-education nonprofit Writers in the Schools, he developed his extensive background in literacy, arts, and community engagement.

Long’s 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.

Long holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and psychology from Houston Baptist University and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.

Tonyel (Simon) Edwards
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Tonyel leads the grants strategy to mobilize promising solutions for our region’s most critical issues. By listening to residents, leaders, and non-profit partners, she identifies innovations with community-wide impact. She also convenes stakeholders and shares knowledge to support the work of partner organizations. A sixth generation Houstonian, Tonyel is deeply connected to this city and approaches her work with humility and an open mind.

Her path to community investment represents a full circle from her start in investment banking as an analyst in global markets with Merrill Lynch. Along the way, Tonyel’s service motivation led her to education, where she served as an educator in Houston’s Third Ward through Teach for America. She also led the expansion of out-of-school time programming for Houston’s high school students as the executive director of DiscoverU.

Tonyel is an active member of the Junior League of Houston and is a senior fellow in the American Leadership Forum Class XLIII. She currently serves as an appointed member of the Texas Expanded Learning Opportunities Council. When she is not working, Tonyel enjoys spending quality time with her son, Mansa, and traveling with her husband to any location with a beautiful beach.

Tonyel holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in finance from Howard University. She also holds a Master of Education and Doctor of Education from the University of Houston’s College of Education.

Meghna Goswami
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Meghna leads the grants strategy to strengthen residents’ access to civic and electoral processes. She collaborates with leaders from nonprofits, public entities, and philanthropy to increase voter participation and immigrant civic integration. Bringing the region’s best minds together to solve complex problems is among the most rewarding aspects of Meghna’s work.

Collaborating across sectors to tackle tough issues is her lifelong pursuit. She has worked in community development, gender equity, immigrant rights, and affordable housing. Prior to joining Houston Endowment in 2010, Meghna led counseling and client services for Daya, an organization working with South Asian survivors of domestic violence in Houston.

Originally from India, Meghna has called Houston her home since 2003. In her spare time, she loves exploring Houston, traveling off the beaten path to non-touristy destinations, and spending time with her husband and two sons.

Meghna holds 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.

Lisa Hall
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As vice president of program strategy, 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.

Kelly Opot

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Kelly oversees grant strategies that further Houston Endowment’s commitment to civic engagement.

Much of Kelly’s career has been focused on innovation and transformation to improve public systems. She previously served as the Executive Director for Collective Action for Youth (formerly Harris County Youth Collective), an organization focused on centering lived expertise to transform the way that youth serving systems support children and families. In addition, her strategic leadership in prior roles helped to inform policy and practice around supportive housing to vulnerable populations in Texas.

Kelly is currently a Board member of the National Human Services Data Consortium and active in Art of Hosting communities. She has also served on the Texas Statewide Dual Status Youth Task Force and Equity in the Center National Advisory Committee.

Kelly is a seventh generation Texan who has lived many other places and enjoys visiting the friends and family scattered across Texas, the U.S. and the globe when she can. She loves cooking for anyone that likes to eat, especially her husband and two children. She balances that with her love of fitness and exercise, and is currently focused on just how heavy she can max in powerlifting. Most Saturdays in the fall she is cheering on the Longhorns.

Kelly holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s of Public Policy (MPP) in Social Policy from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Alexandra Chung Rouse

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Alex leads the education grants strategy to improve Houston’s public education system. In this role she collaborates with non-profits, school systems, and communities to identify and support a shared vision in which every child can attend a great school that prepares them for postsecondary opportunities. Teaming with dedicated and passionate community partners is a highlight of her work.

Alex has pursued improved school systems for over a decade. Prior to Houston Endowment, she served as chief of staff for New Schools for Baton Rouge. She also held positions with Teach for America South Louisiana, where she worked to help students recover from disruptions caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Her excellence in teaching earned her recognition as a finalist for Teach for America’s Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Award. Among her biggest sources of pride are the teachers she has coached who have become leaders in improving education.

A Louisiana transplant, Alex can be found cheering for the LSU Tigers in the Fall and eating lots of crawfish in the Spring.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Ogden Honors College at Louisiana State University and a postgraduate diploma from Queens University Belfast in Northern Ireland as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.

Jeremy Tatum

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Jeremy oversees grant strategies that support the foundation’s work in education.

He brings more than a decade’s worth of counseling, leadership and consulting expertise to his role. Prior to joining Houston Endowment, Jeremy served as a University Strategic Consultant at Watermark, an education technology firm, where his thoughtful collaboration with educational leaders enabled them to harness valuable data and drive student improvement. He is also adept at seeking solutions that will equip students for post-secondary success having worked in various roles at Contigo Ed, Houston Independent School District and YES Prep.

Jeremy loves making memories and spending quality time with friends and family. Whether it is planning a trip to explore a new place, cooking a meal for a house full of friends, or solving the world’s most complex problems over a glass of wine on the back porch, he always finds a way to create memories and meaningful connections with others (or his two long-haired Dachshunds). Jeremy also enjoys learning about the history of American cities, urban planning, and Houston’s freeway design.

Jeremy holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Abilene Christian University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Houston.

Carlos Villagrana

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Carlos oversees grant strategies to support developing great teachers and leaders for all of Houston’s students. He also identifies opportunities to enhance student outcomes through teacher recruitment and development. Collaboration and convening diverse perspectives are central to his work.

His career reflects a lifelong dedication to improving education in underserved communities. As the Managing Director for Teaching Excellence, he supported the development and certification of teachers across seven Houston school systems. He was also an educator and instructional leader in Independent School Districts and Charter School sectors. He is most proud of the accomplishments of his former students and colleagues and their contributions to improving the lives of others.

Carlos is active in the American Leadership Forum Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter and regularly volunteers in his neighborhood church. When away from work, Carlos enjoys investing time with his wife and their three children, the Texaricans. He can also be found riding bikes or discovering hidden gems across Houston. He has never met a stranger and finds joy in discovering shared interests.

Carlos holds a Master of Education in curriculum and development from Houston Baptist University and a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Oklahoma State University. He also holds a Texas Principal Certificate and a Texas Bilingual Teacher Certificate. He served in the State Board for Educator Certification for several years before joining the Houston Endowment.