Board Of Directors
Dr. Lisa Graham-Garza is a graduate of Texas A&M University and the UT-Dental Branch and is married to Dr. Rick Garza who is also a dentist and is a specialist in Endodontics and owner of Katy Endodontic Associates.
Lisa received her Doctor of Dental surgery degree in 1998 and enjoyed being part of a group practice until 2010.
At that time it became necessary for her to take time off from dentistry to be able to meet the needs of her two sons, both with special needs. Her younger and more severe son was diagnosed with autism in 2004 at the age of 20 months. Her older son had delays as well and was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia and ADD and currently attends the Briarwood school.
For the last decade, Lisa has volunteered to assist other autism families with the knowledge she has learned navigating the school system, therapies and other medical resources available for those on the autism spectrum.
What became apparent to her very quickly was the enormous financial burden a diagnosis of autism brings on a family. Her dream to be able to provide a source of financial assistance to help these autism families was realized with the creation of Autism Rescue Angels.
“Together, we can greatly improve the lives of autism families and help prepare those with autism to be contributing members of our local community.”
Penelope Khuri is a graduate of Wright State University in Ohio, with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance, and received her Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies from the University of Saint Thomas in Houston, Texas. She worked for many years in banking and as a controller for small businesses during her husband’s military career.
After becoming mother to twins, she has dedicated her time to her family. Her son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder at the age of three, and with speech, occupational and social skills therapy, is considered high-functioning. Penny is dedicated to helping not only Gregory, but all children with disabilities and their families get the information and support they need for their children to lead happy, productive lives.
Penny is currently serving on the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Disabilities Steering Committee. She has served on the Autism Task Force of the National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities, and has presented at conferences to help change the way children and families with autism are viewed and included in faith communities. Penny helped create the first Sunday school class for autism at her church. She continues to teach the class each Sunday, and coordinates the volunteering for the class. She has chaired many fundraising events at her son’s schools, and served in leadership positions in church, school, and community. Her family supports many causes, such as St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Catholic Charities, San Jose Clinic, and Special People in Catholic Education (SPICE) at St. Laurence School.
Elaine and Jim Turner are the co-founders of the fashion, luxury lifestyle brand Elaine Turner®. Prior to starting the company, the two met in New York where he was working in the private equity industry and she in fashion design. Jim is a graduate of Amherst College where he received a BA in Economics and English in 1991 and Elaine of the University of Texas at Austin in Advertising in 1992.
When Elaine and Jim launched the brand in Houston in April 2000, the goal was simple – to use the language of design to create elegant, yet affordable, accessories that make women feel beautiful inside and out. Grounded in meaningful purpose, the spirit of giving is at the very core of the Elaine Turner belief system. Elaine avidly supports Breast Cancer Awareness, donating time and funds to various cancer related non-profits and actively seeks opportunities to connect with local and national charity organizations. In addition, all of the ten Elaine Turner retail stores across the US, host special events every month for causes associated with women, children and cancer. In 2014, the company held 318 events and raised over $100,000 dollars for charity.
Having learned firsthand through their experiences with their precious daughter Marlie, Elaine and Jim are honored to dedicate their passion and expertise of successful charity fundraising to bring awareness to families struggling with children who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Although Marlie has not officially been diagnosed with autism, she has struggled with special needs from an early age. She suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, seizures and learning differences.
“We need to address the harsh financial reality of raising a special needs child. Our dream is to step in and provide assistance and relief for these families who need it most, ” says Elaine.
Dedicated to leaving a legacy of giving, Elaine and Jim are proud to take an active, focused approach to autism and other causes related to women, children and cancer. They have been recognized for their philanthropic efforts by Heroes for Children, The Stehlin Foundation, The Women’s Home, Kids Meals, Dress For Success, TJ Martell and The Boys and Girls Club. The two hope that Autism Rescue Angels will help fill the void in organizations dedicated to raising money for families struggling to handle the immense financial burden of raising a child with differences and will make huge strides in the community.
Jennifer Jumonville Thompson is a graduate of University of Oklahoma. She received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She taught 3rd grade for eight years before moving into the Development Department for four years at St. Francis Episcopal Day School. Jenny went on to be the Development Director for The Westview School, which serves children on the autism spectrum.
She has a heart for the community and volunteering. Jenny also serves on the Camp Janus (Camp For All) board for children who suffer from burns on their body. Other community involvement includes Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) Member, Grace Bible Church, Junior League of Houston, Pi Beta Phi Alumni Association of Houston, South Africa, Mexico & Guatemala mission trip, University of Oklahoma Alumni Association of Houston.
Jenny has volunteered her time to many worthy causes including Memorial Herman Hospital – Kids Floors 7, 8, 9 & 10, Aids Foundation Houston – Saturday Stone Soup, Camp John Marc – Children’s Heart Camp & Upper Limb Differences Counselor, Camp for All – Children’s Burn Camp Counselor – Camp Janus, Children’s Museum Family Night, Texas Children’s Hospital, YMCA Camp Rainbow – Diabetes Day Camp Counselor.
Autism Rescue Angels is so fortunate to have Jenny provide her extensive knowledge and expertise on fundraising and non-profits and although she is not a special needs parent herself has devoted her time and talents to those who will benefit most.
“I am honored to serve and be a part of this board. Autism Rescue Angels is special to me because these women/friends showed me how to be people for others, overcome struggle, hardship and to live life faithfully and honestly no matter what your circumstances may be.”
Leslie Mogil is the mother of three children one of whom is 12 and has autism. Since her oldest son’s diagnosis with autism at the age of two, she and her husband Todd have been non-stop crusaders and volunteers in autism causes.
Leslie received her BA from the University of Texas at Austin and M.Ed. in early childhood education from the University of Houston. She currently is the president of the parent group at the Westview school.
Leslie had taught both kindergarten and pre-k, taught undergraduate classes in assessment in the education department at the University of Houston, and is working on her doctorate in education.
As a parent who has experienced the overwhelming emotions and expense an autism diagnosis brings on a family, she is passionate about being part of Autism Rescue Angels and helping other families who are struggling.
Martha Rivera holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Texas A&M University, a Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instruction-Reading Studies from the University of Houston – Victoria, and a Masters in Communication Disorder from Texas Woman’s University.
She has been a bilingual classroom teacher in grades PK, K, 1, 2, and a Reading Recovery Teacher in several school districts within the Houston area.
As a teacher she has seen the differences of each child. “As educators it is our job to take the strengths of each child and use their strengths to maximize their learning capacity.”
As a speech pathologist, Martha has the training and knowledge to identify and work with the individual’s strengths and weaknesses to function in the world around them.
Her personal and professional experiences have become the driving force in her belief that education, diagnosis and support of the families are the keys to helping children with communication disorders and their families experience a happy and joyful life.
Autism Rescue Angels is honored to have a professional such as Martha serve on our board.