Our Team

Cat Newlands

Interim Executive Director

Cat specializes in: non-profit operations, talent & management coaching, fiscal management, organizational & structural efficiency, program & curriculum development, and training. At Skillpoint Alliance, she is responsible for strategic and business planning, and the day-to-day operations of the organization, including staffing & programs. Prior to joining Skillpoint Alliance, Cat was the Program Manager for YMCA of Greater Seattle Foster Care and Crisis Program and the Program Director for the Skyway (Seattle, WA) Boys and Girls Club. Originally from Austin, Cat graduated from University of Washington with a BA in Sociology – Deviance & Delinquency.  Outside of work, Cat is the mother of two teenage sons and two elementary-aged girls who keep her busy running around Central Texas for music, sports, and fun.

    Amanda Longtain

    Program Director

    Amanda specializes in Project and Staff Management; STEM Education; and Grant Development. At Skillpoint Alliance, she is responsible for building program capacity, refining existing programs, securing new strategic partnerships throughout all of Skillpoint’s programs. Prior to joining Skillpoint Alliance, Amanda was the Project Specialist at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders and focused her efforts on maintaining and growing innovative real-word connections for the students, developing STEM curriculum, STEM summer programming, internship opportunities, and increasing overall awareness of the Ann Richards School mission and progressive education efforts. Originally from LaPorte, Texas, Amanda graduated from St. Edwards with a BA in Media Communications and a double minor in photo-communications and non-profit development.  Outside of work, she nurtures her family, homestead, and advocacy work.

      Renee Welsh

      Finance Director

      Renee is responsible for providing fiduciary oversight and financial guidance, which includes management of the team tasked with accounts receivable, data management, financial reporting, insurance procurement, and the annual audit. Prior to joining Skillpoint Alliance Renee various held finance positions including Senior Financial Consultant at Dell, Inc; Financial Analyst at Torch Energy; Joint Venture Auditor and Senior Accountant at ExxonMobil. Renee has also been a small business owner and volunteers regularly as Board Treasurer for TreeFolks, a central Texas non-profit. Originally from Louisiana, Renee earned a Masters in Business Administration from UT-Austin and a BS in Finance from Louisiana State University.

        Lindsay Bixby

        Communications Manager

        Lindsay specializes in project management, communications, and digital media. At Skillpoint Alliance, she oversees the organization’s communication strategy, manages the development of external and internal communications, and contributes to public relations efforts and social media presence. Prior to joining Skillpoint Alliance, Lindsay was a project manager at Arrow where she managed branding and creative projects for clients including Mission Capital, Hill Country Conservancy, H-E-B, and The Driskill Hotel. Originally from Houston, Lindsay graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking and swimming in the Greenbelt, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.

          Sean Chitty

          IT Manager

          Sean specializes in networking, IT Support, and technical research at Skillpoint Alliance. At Skillpoint Alliance, he is responsible for the day-to-day management of computers and servers used by Skillpoint Alliance’s employees and participants as well as assisting program directors with technical matters. Originally from Houston, TX, Sean is a graduate of Grinnell College where he received a Bachelor’s in Computer Science.  In his spare time, Sean can be found playing video games, painting miniatures, or wrestling his dogs.

            Ben Holquist

            Grant Compliance and Research Manager

            Ben is responsible for grant administration, grant tracking and compliance at Skillpoint. Prior to joining Skillpoint Alliance, Ben was Lead EMT for Supply at Children’s Hospital – Minneapolis and more recently as an Administrative Research Assistant at the University of Minnesota. Originally from St. Paul, Ben graduated from Grinnell College with a Bachelor’s degree in History.  Outside of work, he enjoys camping and board games.

              Nathaly Salas

              Workforce Acceleration Program Manager

              Nathaly Salas specializes in building workforce development partnerships and leading program coordination efforts. At Skillpoint Alliance, she is responsible for scheduling workforce development opportunities across Texas, ensuring successful program delivery to participants, and building workforce partnerships. Prior to joining Skillpoint Alliance, Nathaly worked with immigrant and refugee communities in adult literacy, facilitating community involvement and leadership engagement opportunities to build pathways to empowerment and self-efficiency. Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Nathaly immigrated to the DC metropolitan area during high school and graduated from Towson University with a degree in Business Administration. Outside of work, she enjoys film festivals, hosting travelers passing through Austin, and learning new intersections of culture and language.

                  Sara Silva

                  Velocity Program Lead

                  Sara specializes in sparking students’ interest in STEM-related fields by connecting them with industry and community via relevant, hands-on work experience through the Velocity program. At Skillpoint Alliance, Sara oversees the delivery of the Velocity program; connects with schools and industry partners; and trains and manages Velocity facilitators to ensure quality of the program. Prior to joining Skillpoint Alliance, Sara spent 20 years in industry as a network engineer at IBM Corporation in New York, and Lucent Technologies in New Jersey, and spent the last seven years in Ghana, West Africa as an IT manager and trainer for Blue Sea. Originally from Cape Verde Islands, Sara graduated from Syracuse University with a Masters in Computer Engineering. In her spare time she enjoys family outings, movies, reading and yoga.

                    Dulce Gruwell

                    Empower Program Lead

                    Dulce specializes in program planning and delivery . At Skillpoint, she is responsible for the organization and management of all the Empower Program training’s in Central Texas. Dulce joined Skillpoint in 2013 as an experienced professional with a diverse career background in management, employer relations, customer service, career counseling, and education. Born and raised in Austin, TX, Dulce graduated from Texas State University with a BS in Applied Sociology. Outside of work, Dulce enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

                      Sara Burnett

                      Employment Coordinator – Acceleration Programs

                      Sara specializes in professional development and post-program outreach communication for Skillpoint’s Acceleration programs. At Skillpoint Alliance, she is responsible for facilitating professional development skills training, fostering a connection between industry professionals and students, and maintaining alumni relations. Prior to joining Skillpoint Alliance, Sara was the Office Manager with the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, Colorado. Originally from Austin, Sara graduated from UT-Austin with a Bacherlor’s degree in Geography and a minor in Education. Outside of work, Sara aspires to adventure and explore new places in this dynamic, every-changing city and beyond.

                        Gabi Almanza

                        Recruitment Coordinator - Acceleration Programs

                        Gabi Almanza specializes in recruitment and outreach for Skillpoint Alliance’s Gateway and Velocity Programs. Before starting at Skillpoint Alliance, Gabi relocated to Austin, TX from her hometown where she worked as a job placement specialist for California Welfare to Work clients in order to take a position as an early literacy tutor with AmeriCorps. Originally from Lodi, CA, Gabi graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor’s in International Relations with a focus on Middle Eastern Peace and Security Studies, and a minor in Middle Eastern History. Outside of work, Gabi enjoys cooking, hiking, DIY projects, watching San Francisco Giants baseball, and spending time with her adorable dog, Bochy.

                          Steven Harris

                          Acceleration Program Coordinator

                          Steven specializes in coordinating and oversight the Gateway Rapid Training Workforce Program. At Skillpoint Alliance, he is responsible for the program recruitment, classroom management, and helping class participants find employment after completion of the program. Prior to joining Skillpoint Alliance, Steven was a Psychiatric Nurse Assistant III and he was responsible for assisting the Charge Nurse and also managed as well taking acute care of mentally-ill people admitted to Austin State Hospital. Originally from Austin, Steven Harris graduated from Prairie View A&M University with a Degree in Social Work. Outside of work, he enjoys traveling, attending sporting events, and cooking great food.

                            Esther Johnson

                            Summer Camps Program Lead

                            Esther is responsible for running Skillpoint’s STEM Summer Camp programs. Prior to joining Skillpoint, Esther was with the State of Florida as State Homeland Security Training Coordinator. She was responsible for overall coordinator and first contact point for event participants, first responders, local, state and federal agencies and media throughout her roles in emergency and event management. Originally from Tallahassee, Florida, Esther graduated from Austin Community College with a Certification in Meeting and Event Planning. Outside of work, she is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration at Texas State University. She also enjoys visiting Zilker Park on the weekends.

                              Lindsay Legate

                              Human Resources and Office Coordinator

                              Lindsay specializes in office management and Human Resources and at Skillpoint Alliance, she is responsible for coordinating the office and HR department. Prior to joining Skillpoint, Lindsay worked at JHL Company as an Account Manager specializing in non-profit and association fundraising events. Originally from Austin, TX, Lindsay is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Learning and Development with an emphasis in Youth and Community Studies. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and exploring new Austin restaurants throughout the city.

                                Ben Nelson

                                Empower Coordinator

                                Ben is responsible for coordinating the logistics of the Empower Computer Proficiency program. Prior to joining Skillpoint, Ben studied at the Guilford College, where he was part of the school newspaper’s web team, and before that, was a marketing intern for MintTwist LTE, a web design company located in London, England. Originally from Miami, FL, Ben lived in Charlotte, NC for a number of years before he recently relocated to Austin.  He received a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Guilford College, a small school located in Greensboro, NC.  Outside of work, he loves tennis, video games, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and hanging out with friends.

                                  Sarah Gebhardt

                                  Compliance and Reporting Coordinator

                                  Sarah is responsible for  database management and compliance reporting for all Skillpoint Alliance programs. Prior to joining Skillpoint Alliance, Sarah was an AmeriCorps member through 4-H Capital where she taught Engineering, Space and Animal Behavior. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Sarah is working to obtain a degree in History and Religious Studies. Outside of work, Sarah enjoys cooking, watching hockey and playing with her dog.

                                    Naymar Prikhodko

                                    Digital Inclusion Fellow

                                    Naymar specializes in expanding the economic growth and development of people in the community through the use of technology. She is a trilingual social worker and an analyst programmer with 12 years of experience in the field of social services working within the Austin Independent School District. At Skillpoint Alliance, she is responsible for increasing digital literacy, amplifying the impact of the Empower Computer Proficiency Program, and advocating for digital inclusion. Prior to joining Skillpoint Alliance, Naymar was a Spanish Facilitator working for both the International Montessori School and the Overton Group. As a Spanish Facilitator, she was responsible for teaching preschool children in a bilingual setting and developing a Spanish program for children that incorporates the Total Physical Response (TPR), the Natural Approach (NA) methodologies based on the English as a Second Language (ESL) techniques which incorporate movement to improve learning. Originally from Venezuela, Naymar graduated from the University of Austin at Texas with a B.A. in Social Work. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, listening to TED Talks, and dancing salsa and bachata.

                                      Kelly Fitzgerald

                                      Finance Assistant

                                      Kelly specializes in Accounting and Finance at Skillpoint Alliance.  Prior to joining Skillpoint, Kelly held various accounting positions specializing in construction in and around the Austin area. Originally from Houston, Kelly grew up in Vancouver Canada and moved back to Texas after she finished school.  Outside of work Kelly enjoys traveling, music and spending time with family and friends.