Hours: Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
4604 South Lamar Blvd., Unit E-102
Austin, Texas 78745
Toll-Free Number: (844) 300-2196
Fax Number: (512) 953-8199
Staff List (in alphabetical order):
Dennis Bach, M.P.A., Via Hope Executive Director
Dennis has four decades of health and human services management experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. He has worked in areas ranging from child nutrition to the elderly to behavioral health. He holds a Master Degree in Public Administration from Drake University. Dennis started with Via Hope in March 2009 as the program’s first director. He is the father of four grown sons and has six grandchildren. He has earned his gray hair!
Amanda Bowman, LCSW, Recovery Institute Manager
Betsy Bunt, Person Centered Recovery Planning Program Coordinator
Betsy received her MSW from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010. Her social work experience prior to Via Hope has included inpatient mental health, hospital social work, community mental health, outpatient counseling, and eating disorder specific therapy. In April of 2014, Betsy moved from Pennsylvania to Austin and has been enjoying the warmer and sunnier weather since then. She joined the Via Hope team in June of 2016. Outside of work, Betsy is also a 200 hour Certified Yoga Instructor and enjoys running, hiking, and spending time with her cat.
Christina Carney, CPS, MA, PIR Voice Coordinator
Christina Carney is a creative warrior with a passion for social justice and healing. She spent several years working in Syracuse, NY as an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence before moving to Austin, TX in 2012. Christina became a Peer Support Specialist in 2014, working at Austin State Hospital for three years. As a peer support specialist, she brought several art events to the hospital, offering a space for persons served to share their talent, creativity, and voice. Christina’s primary focus is trauma; she began a women’s survivors support group at Austin State Hospital and coordinated activities for Trauma Awareness Month (May). She is also involved in the community as a performance artist, activist, and organizer. Christina is excited to now be the PIR Voice Coordinator at Via Hope, where she supports leadership and creativity for people in recovery.
Liz Castaneda, CPS, LMSW Peer Projects Coordinator
Liz’s programmatic work at Via Hope focuses on peer-run behavioral health organizations and leadership development for individuals in recovery from mental health challenges. Prior to her work at Via Hope, Liz was a social worker with Seton Family of Hospitals and worked at The University of Texas at Austin in their human resources and resource development departments. She is a graduate of the Leadership Austin Emerge Program and serves on the Texas Health and Human Services Commission Behavioral Health Advisory Committee as an adult consumer representative. Liz is a native of Washington, DC, but got to Texas as soon as she could. She is a proud mama, wife, Longhorn and recovery champion!
Bobbi Duncan-Ishcomer, Workforce Administrative Assistant
Michelle Emery, Leadership Academy (RILA) Coordinator
Michelle joined Via Hope in 2014 as the Program Specialist for peer specialist certification and endorsement trainings. She now serves as the Program Coordinator for the Recovery Institute Leadership Academy. Michelle brings experience in youth leadership development, social justice education, crisis intervention and advocacy for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. She received her MA in Women and Gender Studies with a focus on community-based anti-violence efforts and restorative justice practices. Originally from Colorado, Michelle has lived in Southern California, the Midwest and now calls Central Texas her home.
Donna Fagan, Family Coordinator
Donna Fagan joined the Via Hope staff as our new Certified Family Partner Coordinator, effective June 5th, 2017. Donna is responsible for overseeing (and helping with) all of the trainings and the certification process for family partners, providing technical assistance on request, and will be our liaison with the CFP Advisory Council. She will also be co-hosting the monthly call with the CFP representative in the Children’s Mental Health Unit at HHSC, taking over from Barbara Granger.
Donna brings a wealth of experience to this position. Like all family partners, she got her start through her own child who “gave her the gift of her work”. She is currently adopting two grandchildren with mental health conditions. Donna has previously worked with a mental health nonprofit organization and a faith based mental health nonprofit; started a mental health ministry within a church along with her husband; and worked as a Certified Family Partner since 2014. Most recently she worked for Bluebonnet Trails Community Centers.
According to Donna, “I have a passion for advocacy and the work of CFP's. I look forward to working with everyone at Via Hope and everyone in the CFP community.” We are looking forward to that as well.
Christie Gonzales, Business/Finance Manager
Barbara Granger, Family Leadership Coordinator
Barbara brings her passion to ensure family voice is heard throughout the state of Texas. She serves with and on behalf of families who face similar challenges as herself, parenting a child with serious emotional and behavioral mental health challenges. Barbara has served as the Family Coordinator with Via Hope since 2013, facilitating best practices for family leadership development across the state. She has overseen the certification process and workforce development trainings for Family Partners and is a liaison between Certified Family Partners and the various child-serving systems, assisting with developing and expanding family peer support. For over 12 years, Barbara has had the privilege of working with multiple states in their efforts to transform Children’s Mental Health to be more family driven and youth guided. Along with her responsibilities at Via Hope, Barbara also serves as the Family Involvement Specialist on the Texas System of Care Initiative, assisting communities in identifying and cultivating strong partnerships between families and systems.
Kamala Joy, Family and Youth Programs Manager
A significant part of Via Hope’s mission is to amplify the voice of families and youth in the Texas mental health system. To further this goal, we have recently created the Family and Youth Leadership unit. In addition to family and youth voice activities, this unit will be responsible for the continued development of the Certified Family Partner training and certification program.
Kamala has spent almost seventeen years as the president of a successful consulting firm dedicated to policy, organizational, and procedural change within government agencies around the United States, often coordinating change across multiple agencies and States. She also spent seven of those years conducting personal growth workshops and trainings and counseling people using a special form of hypnotherapy that combined mindfulness with more traditional hypnotherapy. She has lived experience in mental health recovery and is on fire to work with Via Hope in a capacity that utilizes her whole self - everything she has ever been involved with personally and professionally. Outside of work, Kamala loves meditation, Chi Gung, Ted Talks, great books, her friends, and to be outside hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, or staring into space.
Darcy Kues, J.D., Peer and Family Training Coordinator
Darcy received her J.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle; during law school, she focused on various social justice issues, including LGBTQ youth, poverty, and criminalization. But her Texas roots called her home and she has been happy to be back in the warm rays of Texas, where she has worked in areas including civil rights, domestic violence services, and mental health advocacy. Darcy was excited to join the team at Via Hope in April 2016. Outside of work, Darcy loves aerial arts, hanging out at the beach, and going on long walks with her dog.
Marybeth McAndrews, Senior Workforce Administrative Assistant
Jennifer Quraishi, Contracts and Accounts Payable Associate
Jennifer started with Via Hope in March 2014. Via Hope is her first foray into the non-profit sector. In addition to her volunteer work for environmental and educational causes, she has worked in the university setting for over a decade prior to joining Via Hope. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Arizona State University and has plans to pursue a MSW for the purposes of becoming a counselor. In her spare time, you can find her out in the garden, hiking, listening to an eclectic mix of music and exploring new and exciting gluten-free cuisine. She lives in Austin with her husband and two children.
Sandra Smith, Ph.D., Peer Support Unit Manager, People in Recovery Leadership Manager
Sandra comes to Via Hope from a Recovery Community Center in Dallas Texas where she served as the Associate Director. She has vast experience in higher education administration and secondary education with an unwavering commitment to the highest educational standards in order to support and encourage today’s youth and adults. She is a certified community health worker/instructor, a licensed chemical dependency counselor intern and a certified peer recovery support specialist. Sandra also holds a master degree in administration from Central Michigan University and a Ph.D. in Human Services from Capella University. She is a published author of a book on her true life story and her dissertation on support services was chosen for republication by Scholars Press (international dissertation clearing house), in 2014, due to its relevance in societal need for support services.