Our Team is Committed to the Success of Every Participant

Meet Our Team

Capital IDEA Houston is staffed by BIPOC individuals and predominantly serves the BIPOC community in Houston. Because of our own backgrounds, we take a relational and experiential approach to understand each person’s personal circumstances, tailoring their program experience to meet their needs.
Michelle Paul
Executive Director
mpaul@capitalideahouston.org

Michelle Paul

Executive Director

Michelle holds a Master's degree in Non-Profit Management and has over 35 years of experience as an individual contributor and leader in Human Services. She is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum. Her work at Capital IDEA Houston aligns with her personal values of creating access for individuals and families who earn wages that limit their assets. She finds it deeply satisfying to be a part of a solution that can change the economic trajectory of people's lives. Michelle is passionate about the mission of Capital IDEA Houston and feels that it is not just a job, but a part of her lived experience. Seeing people graduate and connecting them with living wage employment brings her a sense of fulfillment and the feeling of doing "good work" and "justice work."


Annica Gorham
Director of Operations
agorham@capitalideahouston.org

Annica Gorham

Director of Operations

Annica is a University of Houston graduate with a Bachelors of Art degree. She has been with Capital IDEA Houston since 2010, first starting as a Career Navigator, she has had multiple opportunities for professional development and advancement during her tenure at Capital IDEA Houston and now serves as the Director of Operations. Prior to joining Capital IDEA Houston, Annica spent her career organizing for worker justice. She was the founding Director of Houston Interfaith Worker Justice as well as a union organizer with SEIU on Houston Justice for Janitors campaign. Annica also spent time organizing hotel workers at the Hilton Americas with UNITE-HERE and supported many campaigns throughout the country with both unions. Capital IDEA Houston's mission and work resonate with Annica, because it allows her to continue her lifelong passion for worker and economic justice in Houston.


Melissa Nunez Winfree
Director of Programs
mwinfree@capitalideahouston.org

Melissa Nunez Winfree

Director of Programs

Melissa brings 21 years of experience in the nonprofit industry. She understands the value of having a support system to achieve educational goals, having been in that position as a single mother. Working at Capital IDEA Houston has allowed Melissa to be part of a mission that resonates deeply with her personal experiences. She believes that every individual deserves an opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of their background, and that Capital IDEA Houston provides the necessary resources and support to make that a reality.


Lauren Smalley
Quality and Reporting Manager
lsmalley@capitlaideahouston.org

Lauren Smalley

Quality and Reporting Manager

Lauren holds a Masters in Social Work and has 4 years of direct case management experience as well as 3 years of quality improvement and design experience. Education has always been an important aspect of her life, as she strongly believes that knowledge is power. She is passionate about the Capital IDEA Houston mission because she understands the unfairness of how the neighborhood you grow up in can limit your future prospects. She appreciates that Capital IDEA Houston meets its participants where they are and provides them with opportunities to make a living without having to go into debt. She is dedicated to empowering others and helping them achieve their goals.


Claudia Magallan-Berroud
Program Manager
cmagallan-berroud@capitalideahouston.org

Claudia Magallan-Berroud

Program Manager

Claudia holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. With over a decade of experience in workforce development, she excels in building connections, forming partnerships, and delivering customized solutions to address regional workforce demands. Claudia is deeply aligned with Capital Idea Houston's mission, as her career has revolved around enabling adult learners to acquire skills for viable employment. She is passionate about breaking down financial barriers to education, making her a valuable contributor in the organization's pursuit of accessible education and sustainable job opportunities.


Jacqueline Franklin
Program Coordinator
jfranklin@capitalideahouston.org

Jacqueline Franklin

Program Coordinator

Jacqueline holds a Master's in Business and a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice with a minor in Mass Communication. With experience as a service coordinator for individuals with intellectual disabilities, a CPS investigator, and a housing retention specialist for the Houston Housing Authority, she brings a unique perspective to her work. Her personal connection to Capital IDEA Houston’s mission of providing education and training to individuals resonates deeply with her, having seen it transform the lives of loved ones and members of the community. She is passionate about helping others achieve their educational goals.


Lisa Carmichael-Joseph  
Program Specialist
ljoseph@capitalideahouston.org

Lisa Carmichael-Joseph  

Program Specialist

Mrs. Lisa Carmichael-Joseph is a management professional with over 25 years of operational and executive experience in business development, leadership, strategic planning, change management, government, and international relations. She has a long history of partnering with leading businesses and educators to connect them to paid, professional, workforce-ready individuals towards their promising futures. This is her commitment to her role at Capital Idea Houston. She has a Diploma in Management Information Systems, a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Anglia Ruskin University, London, and she is the holder of a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business of the University of the West Indies (UWI).


Alexis Gregory
Career Navigator
agregory@capitalideahouston.org

Alexis Gregory

Career Navigator

Alexis is a highly qualified professional with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Dallas Baptist University and a Master's degree in counseling from Capella University. She has extensive experience working in the nonprofit sector and has been involved in case management for over a decade. Alexis has also been working in the service industry since leaving college and enjoys motivating and guiding others towards success. Capital IDEA Houston's mission deeply resonates with her as it emphasizes the importance of helping individuals understand that they can be successful, obtain a career they enjoy, and not just a job. She is passionate about supporting others in their journey towards achieving their goals.


Mariah Maldonado 
Career Navigator
mmaldonado@capitalideahouston.org

Mariah Maldonado 

Career Navigator

Mariah holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and has five years of experience in the mental/behavioral health field, providing resources and wraparound services to individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities and their families. Mariah resonates with the mission of Capital IDEA Houston, believing that everyone deserves a chance to be great. Having experienced the difficulties of creating a successful pathway with limited resources, she is passionate about helping others navigate their pathway for success. Mariah finds fulfillment in assisting others in transforming their lives and achieving their dreams, and is committed to supporting Capital IDEA Houston's mission.


Latasha Bailey
Career Navigator
lbailey@capitalideahouston.org

Latasha Bailey

Career Navigator

Latasha has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and has gained five years of valuable experience in the non-profit and case management sectors. She has a strong connection with the CIH mission due to her passion for community service and her desire to help others on their individual journeys. She finds great joy in seeing the personal growth of the people she works with as they strive to become the best versions of themselves.


Katherine Anciso
Career Navigator
kanciso@capitalideahouston.org

Katherine Anciso

Career Navigator

Katherine is currently working toward a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Human Resources Management, having previously completed an Associate of Applied Science in Business Management with a focus on Human Resources. She gained administrative skills during her time as an Administrative Assistant for the Director of Advising at HCC District, where she worked well with advising managers. Motivated by her own experiences and a strong sense of empathy for students encountering difficulties, she is dedicated to providing dependable support for CIH participants.


Daryl Gallion
Industry Relations Specialist
dgallion@capitalideahouston.org

Daryl Gallion

Industry Relations Specialist

Daryl is a driven individual on a continuous journey of personal and professional development. He obtained an Associates degree from Lonestar in 2019 and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in business management with a Human Resources focus at Western Governors University. With an impressive 20-year career in the U.S. Navy, Daryl spent the last 5 years serving in Recruiting, where he developed exceptional communication and interpersonal skills. He firmly believes that regardless of one's background, self-improvement is achievable, and he actively supports Capital IDEA Houston in empowering adults to transform their lives.


Jorge Galvan
Outreach & Marketing Specialist
jgalvan@capitalideahouston.org

Jorge Galvan

Outreach & Marketing Specialist

Jorge holds a Master's degree in Supply Chain Management and possesses a diverse skill set that includes a passion for effective communication. With over six years of experience of working on digital marketing, campaigns and e-commerce, he is skilled in refining an organization's message and effectively reaching its audience. He strongly believes in Capital IDEA Houston's mission of breaking down barriers to education and promoting the value of vocational training as an alternative to traditional four-year college degrees. He is dedicated to helping individuals achieve their career goals and improve their economic standing through education and training.


Chris Green
Accountant
cgreen@capitalideahouston.org

Chris Green

Accountant

Chris holds a Bachelor of Accounting from University of Houston and has been with Capital IDEA Houston since August 2019. Inspired by the compassion and dedication of his coworkers, he finds great joy in collaborating with the Capital IDEA Houston team to enrich the lives of people in the community. Working at Capital IDEA Houston has been an incredible experience that has enriched his life and has fostered in him a passion for making a positive impact.


Join Our Team

Meet Our Board

Each member of our volunteer board comes with a variety of experiences and skill sets that allows us to further our mission. Their collective dedication and diverse perspectives contribute to the depth and impact of our work.
Sarah Cove
Board President
The Taligens Group, Managing Partner

Sarah Cove

Board President

Sarah Cove is a Partner and Owner at The Taligens Group, a Houston-based management consulting company helping clients imagine and build inspired futures through business transformation, strategy execution, and change management. With a passion for creating customer-centric, purpose-driven environments centered around trust, Sarah has led and implemented large-scale strategic transformation programs around the globe and across a variety of industries including energy, utilities, technology, logistics, agriculture, and manufacturing. Sarah joined the Capital IDEA Houston Board in September 2016. She was drawn to the organization by its tangible impact in the lives of its participants, and by the team’s unparalleled commitment to each individual to overcome hurdles on their learning journey and enter a living-wage career. Capital IDEA Houston continues to be a gem in Houston, fostering equity by connecting individuals to greater economic opportunity for themselves and their families.

Sarah is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum and also serves on the CleanTX board, a regional board of UNICEF USA, the Houston 2036 Equity Taskforce, and Houston’s Climate Action Plan’s Equity Working Group. Sarah holds an A.B. in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University and lives in Houston, TX.


Benjamin Munster
Board Treasurer
Ernst & Young, Finance Consultant

Benjamin Munster

Board Treasurer

Ben joined the Board of Capital IDEA Houston in June 2020 and serves as the Board Treasurer. Ben is a Texas licensed CPA with a Masters of Accountancy and a Bachelors of Business Administration from Texas Lutheran University. He is currently with Ernst & Young as a Finance Consultant and has worked in various roles in public and industry accounting and has expertise in financial analysis, budgeting and forecasting, internal controls, and variance analysis.

Ben is proud to serve Capital IDEA Houston, an organization which equips individuals with the skills and knowledge to enhance their economic situations through education and training, and in turn, strengthens our community.


Melinda Lightsey-Ford
Board Secretary
Licensed Social Worker & Community Volunteer

Melinda Lightsey-Ford

Board Secretary

Melinda is a native Houstonian who grew up on the east side of Houston where she is still involved in community issues.She joined the Capital IDEA Houston Board in the spring of 2015. She was aware of TMO’s impact in Houston and its residents through the work of her cousin who was a very active member of TMO. Ms. Lightsey-Ford attended a TMO fundraising event and became familiar with Capital IDEA Houston. She was so moved by the personal stories shared by the Capital IDEA Houston participants. She saw how Capital IDEA Houston not only positively changed the participants' lives but that the impact was generational by encouraging the children, other family members and friends to pursue further training and education as well. To hear how people who were previously working multiple jobs to support their family could graduate through Capital IDEA Houston training and obtain a living wage, with benefits and opportunity to advance in a stable, steady job with a proven track record, was impressive. The graduates are linked with reliable, ethical employers.

Ms. Lightsey-Ford is a Social Worker by degree and in her heart as well. The opportunity to help guide others to make positive, life impacting changes for themselves is such a positive outcome.

Melinda has a Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) from Texas Woman’s University and a Master’s of Social Work(MSW) from University of Houston,Central Campus.

Ms. Lightsey-Ford is excited to be involved with Capital IDEA Houston. She has witnessed the positive impact it has on the community, self worth of individuals and families and the financial stability of its graduates. This is generational change!


Ana G. Cummings
Board Member
Retired Accountant & Attorney

Ana G. Cummings

Board Member

Ana G. Cummings is from the Rio Grande Valley, graduating as valedictorian from Weslaco High School. She graduated with honors from the University of Texas in Austin with a BBA degree in accounting and membership in Beta Alpha PSI and graduated with honors from the University of Houston Law School. She is a retired Chief Administrative Law Judge for the Office of Hearings and Appeals and has experience as a trial attorney in tax controversies, as well as audits and settlements of income tax cases and pension issues. She was formerly engaged in the private practice of law. She has been associated as a leader from All Saints Church with TMO (The Metropolitan Organization), the founder of Capital IDEA Houston. She is presently the Chair of the Board of GCLC (Gulf Coast Leadership Council).

Mrs. Cummings has also served her parish in numerous positions, including two terms as a member of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council serving Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, as Chair of the Diocesan Board of Education, and as a member of the All Saints Pastoral Council, as well as in Hispanic ministry and other parish ministries.

As a leader with TMO, she became a leader early on in TMO’s formation of Capital IDEA Houston and in building support for the very important work of helping working adults to transform their lives and the lives of their families through education and employment in jobs that pay a living wage and opportunities for advancement.


Ayo Kuyinu
Board Member
Deloitte, Marketing Consultant

Ayo Kuyinu

Board Member

Ayo Kuyinu has been a Capital Idea Houston board member since 2020. He grew up in Belle Mead, NJ and moved to Houston in 2019. Ayo is a Branding & Marketing Executive with 15+ years of experience. He has held leadership marketing and consulting positions at several major retail brands and strategy consulting firms. Currently, he owns and operates AOK Brand Consulting here in Houston. Ayo is passionate about using marketing to positively impact people’s lives and raise awareness of the brands that are around them. He is excited to bring this experience to Capital IDEA Houston in order to help grow the Capital IDEA Houston brand and support marketing efforts that promote Capital IDEA Houston’s mission and purpose. Prior to joining the board, Ayo was a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Minneapolis, MN and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in Durham, NC and Cincinnati, OH. He received his BA in Psychology from Dartmouth College and MBA from Duke University, The Fuqua school of business.


Bob Fleming
Board Member
Retired Nonprofit Executive & Community Volunteer

Bob Fleming

Board Member

Bob Fleming, the founding director of Capital IDEA Houston, is a dedicated advocate for the program because he wholeheartedly believes in its life-transforming impact. He knows that participation in the programs propels individuals to establish lifelong careers and attain an economic self-sufficiency that enables them to secure a prosperous future for themselves and their children.

Bob Fleming's remarkable career spans over four decades, during which he held executive and programmatic positions in various non-profit organizations in Houston. Notably, he made significant contributions to the YMCA, United Way, and Catholic Charities. His expertise encompasses a diverse range of fields, including youth work, refugee resettlement, disaster recovery, workforce development, and community organizing.

In addition to his extensive nonprofit work, Mr. Fleming is a respected leader within The Metropolitan Organization (TMO), a coalition of churches focused on developing leaders and empowering families and communities to enact meaningful change. He also served as an adjunct professor of social work at the University of Houston, sharing his knowledge and inspiring future generations.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Bob Fleming's passions include being an avid amateur soccer player, where he learned valuable lessons in accountability, creativity, and collaboration on the field. He is an ardent reader and takes pride in his extensive personal library. Furthermore, he cherishes the lifelong friendships he developed during his childhood, considering them a source of great pride.

Bob Fleming deeply acknowledges the debt of gratitude he owes to the men who worked with and inspired him at his hometown YMCA in Richardson, Texas. Their influence has shaped his journey and remains close to his heart.

In his personal life, Bob finds immense joy and solace in the company of Terry, his wife of 47 years, as well as their two children and three grandchildren. He views his children and grandchildren as his trusted Ambassadors to the Future, representing the legacy he wishes to leave behind.


John Dampf
Board Member
PJT Partners, Associate

John Dampf

Board Member

John Dampf is originally from Springfield, Missouri, growing up mostly in north Texas as well as Chicago. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree he was commissioned as a Naval Officer. He was stationed on both the east and west coasts and deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. After approximately 7 years in the military, he transitioned to corporate consulting, providing strategic advisory services and post-merger integration solutions to clients within a diversified/agnostic vertical. He ultimately decided to pursue his MBA at Rice University where he is studying dual concentrations in Energy and Finance and will be pursuing investment banking upon graduation.

Capital IDEA Houston is unique for John in that he believes education can be the most efficient and sustainable path to a higher quality of life – both personally and professionally. Breaking down barriers to education while simultaneously assisting graduates in career mentorship, search, and placement is a recipe for success and is why he first became interested in the Capital IDEA Houston mission and the core values of the organization


Linda Hollins
Board Member
State of Texas, Social Service Practitioner

Linda Hollins

Board Member

Linda Hollins is a native Houstonian. She received a B.A. degree in Economics from Oberlin College and an MBA concentrating in healthcare management from Boston University.

As a retired HIV/STD program manager and consultant, she worked with at-risk and vulnerable communities in southeast Texas. She managed a team of 12 persons to promote HIV/STD prevention in a 12-county region. She gained experience in identifying and pursuing collaborations to reach target populations. As a leader from Trinity United Methodist Church with The Metropolitan Organization (TMO), she continues to learn the importance of building relational power and working with others around shared interests to improve our community. Other board memberships include Houston Ebony Music Society and the Dawn Project.

She is proud to support Capital IDEA Houston and spread the word about this organization! It is rewarding to see the lives of our participants transformed through education and training in high demand fields that pay living wages. The impact on their families is life changing.


Matthew Strom
Board Member
Bank Of America, Director of Global Investment Banking

Matthew Strom

Board Member

Matthew joined the Board of Capital IDEA Houston in 2016. Matthew is a Director, Co-Head Acquisitions and Divestitures at Bank of America with a focus on Upstream & Midstream coverage. Matthew has about 15 years of Oil & Gas industry and investment banking experience with a technical background and financial expertise in M&A and asset appraisal. He has over 6 years of investment banking experience at Bank of America with $20Bn+ in various transactions to date (M&A and A&D).

Matthew is a native Houstonian with wife Julie and their three children. Matthew holds a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M University and an M.B.A. from Rice University. 


Nate Weiss
Board Member
Power Plant Engineering Manager

Nate Weiss

Board Member

Nate Weiss graduated from Boston University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and is currently pursuing his MBA at Rice University. He has held various roles in supply chain and operations across different industries and has core experience around change-management, process improvement, and problem solving. He started his career in GE manufacturing where he was first exposed to a highly skilled manufacturing workforce. Since his time spent working on the shop floor, he’s transitioned to an energy startup that’s developing geothermal power in Texas. The Capital IDEA Houston mission resonates with him because he believes the right support and investment in early-career individuals can make a huge difference in their future success. He personally observed the positive change that up-skill training had on hourly GE employees, and is excited to be part of the Capital IDEA Houston team driving a similar mission.


Our mission is to invest in underemployed adults by funding educational pathways to attain thriving careers and financial self-sufficiency
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