Contact Us

Contact Us

Hours:
Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Email us:

General Inquiries: info@viahope.org

Compliments and Complaints: feedback@viahope.org

Mailing Address:
Via Hope
4604 South Lamar Blvd., Unit E-102
Austin, Texas 78745

Toll-Free Number: (844) 300-2196

Fax Number: (512) 953-8199

Staff List

Dennis Bach, M.P.A., Via Hope Executive DirectorDennis 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!


Alejandra Adán - Spanish Translation Project Coordinator Alejandra Adán
Spanish Translation Project Coordinator

Originally from Puerto Rico, Alejandra’s career as a biliterate project/program coordinator has taken shape via a deep interest in education, communications, and program management and has unfolded across a variety of cities (New York, Boston, Austin, and Miami). She has worked at nonprofits, start-ups, educational organizations, and schools, and is driven by her commitment to contribute to organizations that help change the world and expand resources for all. In her role at Via Hope, Alejandra manages the Spanish translation of the Mental Health Peer Specialist (MHPS) training, the Certified Family Partner (CFP) training, and the Via Hope website. She also coordinates Spanish-language beta trainings and outreach to Latino communities in Texas to them know about peer and family partner training opportunities in Spanish. Alejandra is a MHPS and holds an M.S. Ed from Bank Street College of Education. She is passionate about language, culture, and social justice. When not volunteering as an ESL tutor for the immigrant community, Alejandra loves to visit parks with her husband and two sons, eat out with friends and family, and get her groove on at a Zumba class.


Maisha Barrett - Training CoordinatorMaisha Barrett
Training Coordinator

Maisha Barrett spent most of her life in the New Orleans area. She began her college degree at Loyola New Orleans and finished at St. Edward’s University in Austin. She has spent ten years in the nonprofit sector in fields that address trauma. These include mental health, domestic violence, and sexual violence. She is passionate about education and considers herself a lifelong learner. Her educational background includes music therapy, psychology, women’s studies, and art. She is passionate about social justice, healing, and making the world a better place through all forms of art and expression. She enjoys a good story, keeping her hands busy with art, and long conversations on her porch. She is currently the Training Coordinator at Via Hope.


Amanda Bowman, LCSW, Recovery Institute ManagerAmanda Bowman
LCSW, Recovery Institute Manager

Amanda is a social worker using her clinical experience and her lived experience with mental health challenges to promote person-centered practices in mental health care. Coming from direct social work practice and administrative leadership within the public MH system, she joined Via Hope in 2014, where she now serves as Recovery Institute Manager. In this role, she oversees the development and delivery of organizational change programs, which include statewide initiatives to support the implementation of person-centered planning, peer support services, and trauma-responsive work environments. With a passion for participatory learning methods, Amanda routinely facilitates collaborative learning events both within and outside of Via Hope programs. She has called Austin home since 2000 when she moved from Louisiana to obtain a Master’s degree at UT. Outside of work, you may find Amanda with her family hiking the Barton Creek Greenbelt or enjoying live music.


Betsy Bunt, Person Centered Recovery Planning Program CoordinatorBetsy Bunt
LMSW,  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 CoordinatorChristina Carney
CPS, MA, Peer 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 CoordinatorLiz 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!


Jessi Davis, Transitional Age Youth CoordinatorJessi Davis
Transitional Age Youth Coordinator

Jessi Davis is a MHPS, RSPS, and PRS-TAY. She joined Via Hope as the Transitional Age Youth Coordinator in December, 2018. Jessi’s peer support experience is in a variety of settings, including private inpatient facilities, outpatient primary care, APG (alternative peer groups), and on the board of a non-profit group. Some of the direct peer support she has provided has been with those in the foster care system, youth with substance use and mental health challenges, and those just beginning their pathway to wellness. In her role at Via Hope, Jessi works to implement peer support in high schools; create networking opportunities, develop and present continuing education trainings for Transition Age Youth peer specialists; participate in the Statewide community working on TAY issues; and assist the community in facilitating the creation of a formalized Youth Peer Support training curriculum. Outside of work Jessi enjoys reading, game nights, and spending time with her friends and family.


Bobbi Duncan-Ishcomer
Program Specialist 

Bobbi Duncan-Ishcomer is a MHPS and has been with Via Hope since 2016. Prior to her time at Via Hope, she served as the Vice President of OCD Texas and still enjoys occasionally facilitating Austin’s local OCD support group. Bobbi has a degree in Linguistics from The University of Texas at Austin and is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Disability Studies from CUNY, where she is conducting research on Autistic Identity and Visibility.

Candyce Eskew, Administrative AssistantCandyce Eskew
Senior Administrative Assistant 

Candyce is a native Austinite and received her BBA in Business Management from the University of Texas in 2004. Her adventures in the mental health field began as an admin at the Austin State Hospital, and she has extensive experience with small businesses and non-profits. Candyce and her husband (also a native Austinite) own a local electrical contracting business and have two young children. She volunteers extensively (some might say excessively) for local Pagan community organizations, and enjoys live music, dancing, karaoke, and games of all kinds.


Christie Gonzales, Business/Finance ManagerChristie Gonzales
Business / Finance Manager

Christie has more than 25 years of experience working in the non-profit sector and in the accounting field. After her hard work and dedication, she earned her Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) from the University of Phoenix. She became a part of Via Hope in June of 2015. She is the proud mother of a son and daughter, stepmother to two fabulous boys and a wife. Loves to be outdoors, enjoys working out, and loves to cook.


Nidia Heston
Certified Family Partner Coordinator

Nidia Heston is working on a Masters Social Work degree and holds a Family Partner Certification through Via Hope. Professionally, Nidia has worked directly with families for over twenty years navigating systems of early education, mental health, intellectual disability, and medical community. Her passion is helping families understand the impacts of trauma as well as building resiliency resulting in stronger family systems. She also volunteers with several local non-profit agencies that promote family wellness through education, support, and activities. Personally, she and her husband are raising a son who lives with co-occurring developmental and mental health challenges. As a native Austinite, part of her self care is exploring Austin and surrounding areas and enjoys “Tia Time” with her young nieces and nephews.


Peggy Holub, Accounting SpecialistPeggy Holub

Accounting Specialist Peggy brings to Via Hope over 20 years’ experience providing accounting support for organizations serving people living with mental health challenges, aging issues and developmental disabilities. She holds a BBA from the University of Houston. In her spare time, she enjoys visiting family and spending time outdoors.


Kamala Joy, Family and Youth Programs ManagerKamala Joy
Family and Youth Programs Manager

Kamala is the Manager of Family, Transition Age Youth, and Bilingual programs, and a member of the management team.  The Family program is a statewide workforce training and certification program that also provides continuing education and technical support.  Transition Age Youth programs include conducting statewide training and networking events for young peer specialists, development of courses to support their training needs, and work with provider agencies and advocacy organizations to assist them in better supporting the youth they serve.  Kamala also has a passion for school-based services, and successfully sought grant funding for a pilot program to place peers in high schools, which is an ongoing project.  She is also the Project Director for another grant she obtained, to translate and present Via Hope’s trainings leading to certification in to Spanish.  Before joining Via Hope, she spent 21 years as the president of a successful consulting firm dedicated to policy, multi-agency coordination, and planning on behalf of government agencies around the United States. Her career started after earning a B.S. in environmental economics, summa cum laude, from the University of California at Berkeley.  She also spent ten years conducting personal development workshops.   Outside of work, Kamala loves meditation, song writing, Chi Gung, Ted Talks, great books, her friends, and to be outside hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, or staring into space.


John King, CPS – Peer Support Integration CoordinatorJohn King
Certified Peer Specialist Trainer

John comes to Via Hope from Beaumont, TX, where he was President of the Board of Directors for a Consumer Operated Service Provider. While in Beaumont, he also instituted a peer support program with the Jefferson County Drug Intervention Court and Probation Office. John’s journey of recovery began in early 2013, and he became a Certified Peer Specialist in January 2014. Finding his niche, John became more and more involved with Via Hope as a workgroup member, contract trainer, and, eventually, Chairman of the Certified Peer Specialist Planning and Advisory Council. John has served on several statewide councils, and is currently a member of the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) council for Disability Rights Texas. John is also a WRAP facilitator, WHAM facilitator and eCPR trainer. When not advocating for others, John enjoys working on his own self care through reading, cooking and visiting historical sites.


Marybeth McAndrews, Senior Workforce Administrative AssistantMarybeth McAndrews
Senior Workforce Administrative Assistant

Marybeth is proud to consider herself an “old timer” at Via Hope, having been with the organization when it was still a program. She has several years of experience in administration and also has a huge personal interest in mental health. When she is not typing away in the Via Hope office, she is either outside with her camera or inside with her cats.


Amy Pierce, CPS-Peer Specialist Integration Field LiaisonAmy Pierce
CPS-Peer Specialist Integration Field Liaison

Amy has been working in the Peer Movement in the State of Texas for almost two decades. She most recently was the C.E.O of Resiliency Unleashed an international training and consulting company focusing on the development and implementation of peer services. She has extensive experience in the peer support sector. She previously started the first peer support program in the state hospitals in Texas, was a peer support worker in a community mental health agency and was also the Program Coordinator for a transitional peer residential housing project funded through the 1115 waiver program. Amy is a peer, and family member, with both mental health and addictions experience. She is a certified peer specialist facilitator, Advanced Level Wrap facilitator, ASIST trainer, WHAM facilitator. Amy was previously Chair of the PAIMI Council in Texas and on the US National Disability Rights Board. Amy is a lover of life and all that is possible for human beings.


Sandra D. Smith, Ph.D.
Peer Leadership Manager

Dr. Smith 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  a licensed chemical dependency counselor intern and a certified peer recovery support specialist. She holds a Master of Science 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. She is a Reentry Advocate based on her own lived experience.