Board of Directors

The Kids-U Board is a diverse group of individuals elected to represent the best interest of our stakeholders including our children and families. The Kids-U board elects officers annually and our board terms are for three years. The board is a working board with working and effective committees. If you are interested in becoming a board member please email [email protected].

Tom Dwyer

Chair of the Board

Mr. Dwyer recently retired the founding partner and Managing Director of Silverstone Healthcare Company, LLC (SHC) and its affiliate, Silverstone Senior Living, LLC (Silverstone) in Texas and Florida. Over his career, Mr. Dwyer served as Lead Principal for BOKA Powell’s Healthcare Services Group, Partner in JBA, LLC an international healthcare architecture company, Principal and Partner in Medical Cities Inc and Crow-Wright healthcare developers.

Mr. Dwyer has published, presented and appeared on panels for both Hospital and Senior Housing organizations including, Centering Institute for Healthcare, ULI,ACI Upscale Hospital Conference, NACHRI, ASHE, American Institute of Architects, Senior 100 and the American Hospital Association.

Elleni Bekele

Vice Chair/Secretary

Ms. Bekele is a consulting professional at Sendero Management Consulting Firm. She holds an MPM (Master of Project Management) and an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. Ms. Bekele is passionate about education and excited to be a part of a non-profit organization dedicated to helping kids with limited opportunities to learning. 

Paula DeGroat

Cofounder, Chairman Emeritus & Director

Ms. DeGroat is an ordained minister and has spent her adult life dedicated to the education of children. She is the co-founder of Dallas Community Lighthouse (now Kids-U) and currently is Executive Director for Lifeline Charter Schools in California. Paula is a mother of three and has three grandchildren. Paula was the first president of the board for Kids-U, serving in that capacity for 6 years.

Carla Dodds


Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Carla Giovannetti Dodds was raised in San Antonio, TX. She holds a B.A. in International Relations from Texas State University and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University. Her multi-industry business background includes working with organizations such as TXU Energy, First Choice Power, Liberty Mutual, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Texas Pacific Group (TPG) and Meridian Global Solutions.

Ms. Dodds is global chief marketing officer for Omnilife Group and responsible for all marketing strategies and teams across Omnilife Nutrition, Seytu Cosmetics, Chivas Soccer Team, and Educare (non-profit organization focused on children education and well-being). Prior as chief marketing officer of U.S. retailer Curacao, she was responsible for leading all efforts for Curacao’s Children’s Foundation, which supports higher education for Latino students through scholarships and provides direct assistance to families in need.

Prior to her leadership role at Curacao, Ms. Dodds was Latin American and Caribbean Regional Vice President for MasterCard’s Retail Vertical responsible for business development and leading retail business for the region. Before MasterCard, Ms. Dodds lead marketing strategy for Walmart Brasil in Sao Paulo. She spearheaded both marketing strategies and management transformations that led to a consumer-centric marketing organization. She was recognized internally for fostering collaboration and establishing cross-company partnerships with Walmart Corporate Affairs, Office of Diversity and the Government Affairs to ensure alignment across the organizations. Ms. Dodds was an active member of Walmart’s Hispanic Associate Resource Group, ANA Brand Committee, ANA Multicultural Committee, and served on Walmart’s leadership team for LatinaStyle.

Miguel Ortiz 



Brandon Baker 



Travis Leissner


As an Associate Principal and architect at Hoefer Welker, Travis takes on many roles including strategic development and project delivery. Founded in 1996, Hoefer Welker is a multi-disciplinary architecture, interiors, planning, engineering, medical equipment, and clinical technology consulting firm. With 160+ professionals from offices in Dallas, Jacksonville, and Kansas City, their work includes healthcare, education, commercial, civic, and government projects across the U.S.

Travis is currently a member of the American Institute of Architects, he co-chairs the Urban Land Institute’s Council for Health, Education and Life Sciences in its DFW chapter, he is on the Board of the Fetal Health Foundation and a founding member of its think tank organization, he is on the interior design advisory board at Dallas College El Center School of the Creative Arts, and member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Association of Medical Facility Professionals.

Laura Redmon 


Laura Redmon is a Marketing director (semi-retired) who has worked for more than 30 years for Trinity Consultants, an international EHS, engineering & science consulting firm based in Dallas. She has Marketing and MBA degrees from Texas A&M University and the University of North Texas, respectively. She has been a volunteer and supporter of Kids-U for many years and is actively involved in children’s ministry at her church. Laura is passionate about investing in children early to equip them for lon-term success. She is a proud mom of three frown daughters and four grandchildren.

Betsy Berg 


Before retiring, Betsy Berg spent 40 years working in the healthcare industry. As a certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist whit a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism / Public Relations and a Master’s degree in Health Administration, she lead the strategic and facility planning services for international healthcare architecture firms. Betsy’s experience as an instigator, facilitator, strategist, problem framer, solution-focused thinker, and innovator was instrumental in working whit hospital executives, physicians, community leaders and industry authorities. Betsy also volunteers with Young Life’s YoungLives program.

Jordan Linden 



Diana Baker 

CEO/ Co-founder/ Director 


Miller Johnson

Former Chairman

Apostle Miller E. Johnson is the Senior Pastor and founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Mesquite. With a degree in education, children have always been a passion for Miller. Miller retired from the Dallas Fire Department after 15 years to serve as a full-time pastor. Miller is married and has 5 children and has served on the board of directors for Kids-U for over 6 years, and as president for 3 years.

Julianna Bond

Former Chairman

Ms. Bond works as an analyst for Slalom and has most recently worked with Sendero as an analyst consultant serving banking and other business clients. Her work experiences motivated her to return to school for a master’s in Business Analytics, which she is pursuing at Southern Methodist University. Along the way to earning her BBA from SMU, Ms. Bond attended Xiamen University through the U.S. State Department’s “Critical Languages” program, where she studied Chinese. Her other charitable roles have been as a Hunt Institute Associate Fellow, working on alleviation of poverty, and as an adoption assistant at Dallas Animal Services.

Jon Killen

Former Chairman

Jon-Bertrell Killen is a Business Intelligence consultant, dedicated to helping others make better decisions through the use of data.  He volunteers with several other  community and civic organizations, including: Board Chair for Kids-U, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Mayor’s Star Council, Latino Center for Leadership Development, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University where he received both a B.A in Business Management and M.B.A in Strategic Leadership. Jon is a devoted husband and father; he lives in Oak Cliff with his wife Nikki and two children.

Chair Emiratis 

Ruth Brewer

Advisory Committee

Ruth Brewer is the founding member and Managing Partner of Brewer & Lormand, PLLC, a law firm that is certified as a woman-owned business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and Women-Owned Small Business. She has extensive experience representing corporate clients both as general counsel and in all phases of civil disputes before state and federal courts across the country. She concentrates her practice on matters relating to immigration, insurance claims, employment disputes, products liability, class action suits and maritime law. She assists clients through domestic and international trade and commerce issues. She also facilitates business transactions for individual clients, established corporate leads and growing businesses. She is admitted to the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maryland and Texas State Bar.

In addition to her law practice, Ms. Brewer is passionate about reaching out to and serving our community. As a mother of three, she is often found advocating on behalf of our youth, including with many nonprofits that provide children a fun and safe place to learn. She is also an advocate for children suffering from epilepsy and is the founder and president of the West Syndrome Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a cure for this form of pediatric epilepsy.

Murray Morgan

Advisory Committee

Murray Morgan lives in Lake Highlands and has his hands in just about everything that deals with LH. Most of in the community have heard his name and after two years of coaxing, at last we have him on our board! He is President/CEO for Kingsley Metal Works USA out of Ontario CA. Mr. Morgan is current chair for Lake Highlands Area Improvement Association (LHAIA); Chairman for MLC Corp., and Chairman for Jackson MFG Co, Inc. He serves as a liaison for the Dallas Police Department. He is a strong leader in the Lake Highlands community and loves the Kids-U concept

Barrett Podpechan

Advisory Committee

Mr. Podpechan is an experienced accounting professional who has spent time in both public and corporate accounting during his career. A native of East Texas, he moved to Dallas after graduating college in 2010, and is currently part of the operational accounting group in a large healthcare company. He has experience with nonprofit and commercial entities alike, as well as focusing on financial and operational matters. During his spare time, he enjoys pursuing other business ventures and enjoying restaurants with his wife and child.