Co-President and Education Chair
Jeanette Holahan is a Strategist for Commercial Digital Marketing at Dell Inc. She is the mother of three children; two boys Zachary and Anthony and daughter Sydney who was born with Down syndrome. She has been on the board since 2008 when she became the New Parent program Coordinator. Along with continuing the New Parent program, Jeanette has stepped into the Education chair in 2014 where she will continue and grow DSACT’s strong education program for our members. She is passionate about providing parents and educators with known information, tools and resources to provide individuals with Down syndrome the best inclusive education possible.
Co-President and Healthcare Chair
Suzanne Shepherd is the mother of three boys – Connor, 27, Kevin, 22, and Jack, 15 who has Down syndrome. She is married to Carl Shepherd, co-founder of Homeaway. Suzanne is also the former Director of Legal Services for the Seton Family of Hospitals. Suzanne has been Co-Chair of the DSACT Healthcare Committee since 2008. She coordinates presentations to healthcare providers to improve the way the diagnosis of Down syndrome is presented to new parents. As part of this initiative, Suzanne scripted “Down Syndrome in the 21st Century” http://youtu.be/I13KxRYqoo0. Suzanne also coordinates the DSACT Teen Group and leads the DSACT Development Board. She was born in New Jersey and is actually proud of that. Having married a native Texan, however, she’s lived in Austin since 1983 and calls Austin home.
Vice-President and Comite Latino Chair
Guillermo Carrillo has a wonderful wife and 3 children. The Carrillo’s have been involved with DSACT since 2007. Guillermo is self employed and his family loves the community here in Austin. Guillermo enjoys trail running and competing in endurance runs. The Carrillo’s stay busy around their home but make the time to help DSACT as much as possible. “I consider helping others a responsibility and privilege.”
Cathy Thomas-Costilla has been on the DSACT board since 2011, serving as Treasurer. Her family has been active with DSACT since 2009. Professionally, Cathy is a state certified general real estate appraiser and is an MAI designated member of the Appraisal Institute. She lives in Georgetown with her husband, Michael, and children, Thad and Shelby, who has Down syndrome. The entire Costilla family are Black Belts and members of the American Taekwondo Association, attending classes in Round Rock.
Allie McCann is formerly a cardiac nurse at Breckinridge Hospital and Austin Heart, who also spent time as a legal nurse consultant for Clark, Thomas and Winters (CTW). She is now a full-time mother of three, and an avid athlete competing in numerous running and cycling events across Central Texas. She is a member of Dell Children’s Medical Trust and has published a children’s book, Stella and the Little Tree, to fund Down syndrome medical research.
Regan Noveskey grew up in Austin and has officially made it home with her husband, Matt and their two children; daughter Avery who is 6 and son Liam who is 2. Regan joined the DSACT Board in 2013, a year after Liam was born. Regan is passionate and committed to raising awareness about Down syndrome. She loves horse back riding, traveling, reading and running and hopes to run her first half marathon early 2015!
Public Relations Chair
Liz Jones-Dilworth is the VP of Operations at Jones-Dilworth Inc., a marketing and public relations firm that focuses on early-stage technologies. JDI also works with the nonprofit Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas. Previously, she taught communications at the University of Texas. She loves to explore the restaurants, parks, and swimming holes around Austin.
Social Committee & Calendar Co-Chair
Christy McDonald lives in Austin and has been on the DSACT Board since 2012. She is married to Danny McDonald, a corporate in-house attorney, and together they have three children: son Taylor, 6, and daughters Abby, 3, and Bailey, 2. Both Abby and Bailey have Down syndrome and Christy enjoys giving back to DSACT by volunteering her time as Co-Chair of the Social Committee and Calendar Gala.
Social Committee & Calendar Gala Co-Chair
Tracey Cantu lives in Austin and has been on the DSACT Board since 2013. Tracey works full time as an Event Logistics Manager with George P. Johnson Experience Marketing on the IBM, North America account. Tracy is married to Felipe Cantu and together have a son Benjamin, born with Down syndrome in April 2011. Tracey is currently volunteering her time as Co-Chair of the Social Committee and Calendar Gala.
New Orleans native Kellie O’Neal joined the Board of Directors as Co-Chair Outreach in January 2014. A beloved employee relations specialist at Austin advertising agency T3, Kellie graduated from Louisiana State University with a BS in Family, Child and Consumer Sciences. She moved to Austin in 2006 and quickly made her outsized personality known in charitable circles by volunteering with Special Olympics Texas and the Child Life Department at Dell Children’s Hospital before finding her way to DSACT in 2013. When Kellie’s not spreading cheer, she’s cheering on the New Orleans Saints and her pride and joy, the LSU football and baseball teams.
Christi Marrufo served on the DSACT board in 2004-2006 and rejoined as Outreach Co-Chair in 2013. Professionally, Christi serves as an IT Executive at Applied Materials, Inc. Christi lives in Northwest Austin with her husband Daniel, who is a stay-at-home Dad and daughter Maddison, age 11 who has Down syndrome and Alissa 7. Christi and Daniel also have grown children, Leticia and Ramiro Urieta who live in Pflugerville and Daniel Marrufo, Jr. who lives in Southern California. The Marrufo family enjoys travelling, camping, swimming and boating.
Dr. Carol Mckenzie is a retired educator who served as a high school and middle school principal in Richardson, Austin and Eanes ISD, and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction in Lake Travis ISD. She lives in Lakeway and participates in many volunteer opportunities and is active as a Stephen Minister at her church. Carol was raised a "military brat" by her Air Force pilot father with her sister, Linda who had Down syndrome. She is looking forward to helping with the education activities at DSACT.
Programs Chair and Government Affairs Chair
Gerard Jimenez has been a realtor for over 20 years. His daughter Sofia is his inspiration for all the advocacy work he has done over the years. He has been an advocate for people with disabilities and a community organizer for over 15 years, advocating in school districts, city, state, and federal government. Gerard was a leader in the effort to get a Respectful Language Bill passed into law in Texas and has worked on many other legislative issues of concern to people with disabilities. He is a graduate of the internationally recognized advocacy training program Partners in Policymaking and has served on the Board of Directors of DSACT for about 13 years in many capacities currently serving as the Programs and Government Affairs Chair.
Gerard serves as a liaison to Texas congressional delegations for the National Down Syndrome Society and was instrumental in the creation of the Texas Down syndrome Advocacy Coalition, a statewide government affairs committee comprised of representatives from Down syndrome associations across Texas. Gerard serves as Government Affairs Director for the Texas Consortium for Post Secondary Opportunities for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities as well as Co-Chair for the Austin Independent School District’s Special Education Advisory Committee. He is a Community Partner with the Austin Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, a member of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities and the Intellectual and Developmental Disability Alliance of Central Texas. Gerard is Vice-President of the South Austin Optimist Club and also founded a sports league for children with disabilities, The Austin All Star League. Gerard also serves on the Special Olympics State Outreach Committee, the Disability Policy Consortium, the Citizens Advisory Council of the Texas Center for Disability Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, the Austin Interfaith Inclusion Network, and the Texas Advocates Self-Advocates Voices Engaged Project Advisory Committee.