Carmen Llanes Pulido

Executive Director

Carmen is a native of Austin, TX, and has been organizing in Austin’s Eastern Crescent and fostering inter-agency collaborations since 2005. After receiving an interdisciplinary B.A. at the University of Chicago in Environmental Studies she returned to Austin as a staff organizer and research analyst for People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources (PODER). She later ran a program at Marathon Kids called the Wellness Team Initiative, engaging parents and teachers at 18 elementary schools in Austin’s Eastern Crescent to increase fitness and nutrition opportunities in their communities; this program eventually created the framework for GAVA’s School Sector in its early inception and implementation. Carmen cares deeply about community relationships and intergenerational organizing, and participates in public health and anti-racist networks in Central Texas and across the country. She currently serves as Vice Chair on the City of Austin’s Hispanic/Latino Quality of Life Commission, is an inaugural member of Austin’s first Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, and is serving on the inaugural Community Strategy Team at the Department of Population Health at the University of Texas - Dell Medical School.


Andrea Casares, MSC

Development Director

Andrea was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. She is passionate about immigration and birth work for women of color. Prior to joining GAVA, Andrea served as development director for Austin Region Justice for our Neighbors, a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services to immigrant families in Central Texas. Andrea earned Master’s degrees in Public Policy and Human Development with a focus in Social Protection Financing and Design from the United Nations University - Merit. During the completion of her BA in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Nebraska Omaha, she carried out her AmeriCorps serving as legal outreach coordinator for Justice for our Neighbors in Omaha, Nebraska.


Estrella de Leon

Community Safety Sector Manager

Estrella was born and raised in East Austin, and is now a resident and organizer in the 78744 community.  She received her BA in Mexican American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Her background includes 9.5 years of experience working with grassroots communities around youth arts and food access in Seattle. Estrella builds and manages geographically based resident-led teams in 78744 to work on cross-sector issues.


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Elliott Smith, MpH

Born and raised in Dallas, Elliott left Texas after high school to study Linguistics at Boston University before completing an MPH in community-oriented public health practice from the University of Washington. He's worked in and around food systems for the past decade on issues like food waste, food access, and most recently building a more equitable food economy with Travis County's Economic Development office. He thinks food is the most powerful tool for building community, and he's excited to join GAVA's efforts in supporting connected, empowered, nourished communities in Austin's Eastern Crescent.


Sarah Jovinelly, MSSW

Finance & Operations Manager

A transplant from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Sarah has happily spent her 20s in sunny Austin, TX. She received a Masters in Community and Administrative Leadership Social Work from the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas, and a BA in Anthropology and Gender Studies from Rice University. Sarah loves to bring order, efficiency, and spreadsheets into the workplace. In her spare time, Sarah is a passionate member of the gender equality and reproductive health movements. She currently serves as the Board Secretary for the Austin Grant Professionals Association and served as the Community Outreach Board Member of The Bridge Collective. Sarah currently manages GAVA's finances and grant discovery, application, and reporting processes. 


Frances Acuna

78744 Community Organizer

Frances has lived in Dove Springs (78744) for almost 20 years and has been involved in community work for more than seven. She is a Texas State Certified Community Health Worker and has worked for the Latino Healthcare Forum and Lone Star Circle of Care in Austin. She is passionate about helping residents of 78745 advocate for health equity by providing leadership development and resources to address community issues to improve safety, physical activity, and health.

Cynthia Vasquez

School Sector Organizer

Cynthia is born and raised in East Austin, TX and recently left her position in Austin ISD after 16 years to join forces with GAVA. As a Parent Support Specialist in Austin ISD she garnered a passion for organizing parents to impact positive changes at their campus. She is inspired to make community members part of the decision making processes by listening to their stories. Cynthia currently works as the School Sector Organizer for GAVA to support Coordinated School Health at nine Austin ISD schools in 78744 and 78745.


Monica GuzmáN, MA

Rundberg Manager

Monica, a native Austinite, is a community leader who focuses on community organizing, research and evaluation on public policy issues, consulting with project coordinators/managers in locating community members key to project goals, providing outreach to persons not on digital systems, and organizing meetings to pull community together for goal realization. Her passions include public education, housing affordability, Latino community health, social service systems, and domestic violence.  She earned an MA in Human Sciences (Sociology & Education) from Our Lady of the Lake University, and a BA from St Edward’s University in Political Science.


Coalition Partners

GAVA also works with organizers housed at our coalition partner agencies, working to unify the content expertise and resources of existing Austin nonprofits to achieve our common goal of equitable access to health for all.


Cynthia Rodriguez

Physical Activity Sector Community Organizer -  Austin Parks Foundation

Cynthia has been organizing physical activity sector teams with Austin Parks Foundation and GAVA since 2015, helping them bring improvements to local parks and greenspaces. Before joining GAVA, Cynthia spent 3 years working with at-risk youth in Austin. She also spent 2 years in the border city of Tijuana, documenting human rights violations along the US/MX border and researching the effects of deportation on families. Cynthia holds an MA in Latin American Studies from San Diego State University. She received a BA in Journalism and a BS in Communication Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.