The mission of TVSA is support, education, and recognition for victim service providers.

Texas Victim Services Association

Fall 2022


In This Issue

Message from the Executive Director

President's Column

Membership Matters 

We're Hiring!

Professional Training and Development

TVFI Program Updates

TVSA Launches TAAVA Alumni Web Page

Board of Directors

Welcome New Members

Board Spotlight: Bernice Garza

Intern Notice

Job Board

Amazon Smile

Save the Dates

Board of Directors

Rose Luna, MSLC

Jessica Serrano, MPA

Suzanne Bradford, BBA, CPA

Region A Coordinator

Region B Coordinator
Julie Jesperson, BA

Region C Coordinator
Jennifer Sterling, LCSW

Region D Coordinator

Region E Coordinator
John Dominguez, BA
El Paso

Region F Coordinator
Bernice Garza, BA
Rio Grande City

At-large Member
Mary Breaux, PhD

At-large Member
Lacy Hensley, LMSW, MA
Fort Worth

At-large Member
Jim McKee, BA

Ex Officio
Executive Director
atacha Peláez-Wagner, M.Ed.

We welcome the following new member who has joined TVSA in the last quarter:

Cassandra Gonzalez, Huntsville

Board Spotlight: Bernice Garza

Bernice Garza joined the TVSA board of directors this year. She serves as Region F Coordinator, representing our members from the Rio Grande Valley, Coastal Bend, and South Texas counties.

Bernice began working with victims of crime by volunteering with organizations in her local area from 2012-2014. Bernice helped create the Crime Victims Unit of the 229th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for Starr, Jim Hogg and Duval counties, where she currently serves as the Crime Victims Coordinator for the 229th Crime Victims Center and Unit.  

"Since joining TVSA several years ago, the organization has provided valuable tools and resources for our entire staff and partners. Every training opportunity, academy, and/or presentation has deepened our understanding of our role and how to improve the delivery of services to victims. TVSA is so valuable to the 229th Crime Victims Center that we have adopted and use TVSA's Code of Ethics in our everyday operations."

"It is an enormous privilege to serve on the TVSA Board, mostly especially to represent my area as Region F Coordinator. I value and respect the mission and code of ethics by which TVSA functions and I am looking forward to contributing my grain of sand to this amazing organization."

TVSA seeks an intern for the Spring 2023 semester. The intern will assist the TVSA staff with communications and planning of our trainings, including the Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance in leadership and management and our biennial training conference. For more information, visit:

Did You Know?

TVSA has a new and improved job board on our website! We have retooled the job board to make it easier for employers to submit job postings. Employers wishing to post a victim services position opening can fill out a form online to submit their posting to TVSA. Please send us your available job listings!

Victim services professionals engaged in job searches can view postings as well, with links to the human resources departments of pertinent agencies and/or applications directly for the listed positions. The job board is available at this link:

Supporting TVSA Through AmazonSmile

Now when you shop on Amazon, your purchases will support TVSA! Through AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of every eligible purchase to TVSA. 

How to shop and spread the word:

1. Visit Amazon through TVSA's unique link:

2. Share TVSA's unique link on social media.

Shoppers that use the generic link are asked to select one of over a million organizations to support. Be sure to use and share our unique link, so shoppers can skip the selection process and give to TVSA!

2023 Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance (TAAVA)

January 25-27, 2023

Deputy A.W. Grimes Law Enforcement Training Center/ Hutto, Tx

Information and Application

TAAVA Alumni Network Quarterly Meeting (Virtual)

 February 1, 2023

12:00-1:30 pm central

TVSA 2023 Biennial Training Conference

May 9-12, 2023

Hilton Garden Inn, South Padre Island



Message from the Executive Director

By Natacha Peláez-Wagner, M.Ed.

We are now well into the fall, when we enter into “the season," which began earlier with Diwali, and moved on into Thanksgiving and now proceeds through Advent/Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa and other manners in which we celebrate in our diverse society. When one looks more closely at each holiday, they have a common foundation: a spirit of light and happiness, peace, doing good unto others and preparation for better days ahead. It is a time of reflection and of gratitude for the abundance and gifts we have in our personal and professional lives.

When I reflect on my upcoming eighth year anniversary at TVSA this month, I feel I have much for which I can express gratitude:

for committed board members, who give of their time and talent to further our mission to support, educate and recognize our state’s victim service professionals, their very own colleagues;

for equally dedicated staff, who work in an organization that is big on heart and commitment, but small in resources and where personal sacrifices are made daily in providing quality programs and services for our professionals;

for our members, who participate in our trainings and other events, supporting one another through networking and sharing of resources;

for our many professionals, state and national, who volunteer to serve as trainers and instructors in our educational offerings, bringing high standards of excellence to TVSA;

for all those who contribute to TVSA monetarily or in-kind, enabling us to further expand and continue our programs and services;

Thank you to all of you, who make TVSA the most positive and collegial place to come to work to each and every day! You form a part of an organization that uplifts our profession, which in turn ensures sustained and improved services to crime victims in our Texas community, not just during this season, but all throughout the year.

President's Column

By Rose Luna, MSLC

As fall season is in full swing, food, family, gatherings, and connection are in the air. This season reminds us of being thankful and for being kind to others. My hope is that you all navigate this season to find peace and connection with loved ones and fur babies. Our work does not take holiday breaks as crimes unfortunately occur year round. You are vessels of hope to the community and our great state of Texas. We are thankful for all you do and hope to assist in your professional journey in victim services.  

TVSA is committed to partnering with you all to ensure our work makes your life just a bit easier. Our team is working on professional development opportunities to begin in January with our Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance (TAAVA), as well as sustaining connection with professionals graduated from the academy through our new alumni network. We have also begun preparations for our first in-person conference since the pandemic to be held at the beautiful South Padre Island, TX.  We will keep you apprised of the progress.

We wish you all a cheerful holiday season and look forward to an industrious new year! As always, I’m open to conversations, ideas, and feedback on how TVSA can better serve your needs.

Happy Holidays and take care!


By Brooke King, M.A., Membership Committee Chair

On behalf of the Regional Coordinators (Julie Jesperson - Region B; Jennifer Sterling – Region C, John Dominguez - Region E, and Bernice Garza - Region F) and myself we hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and got to enjoy time with loved ones.

We have open Regional Coordinator positions in Regions A (panhandle) and D (southeast); so if you are interested in joining our team and working with us to support TVSA please reach out to myself and Natacha! As a regional coordinator you get to help support exciting projects such as the systems-based victim services series we just wrapped up and planning for our 2023 biennial training conference in South Padre Island! We had our first planning session last month and are so excited about what's to come! The biennial conference is a huge project for the membership committee and we work alongside the training committee and board to support this opportunity for our membership. I hope you will consider joining us!

We look forward to supporting your membership needs throughout the upcoming year. You can reach us at any time at

Job Notice

TVSA is hiring! The Education and Engagement Coordinator will be responsible for coordination and facilitation of the Texas Victim Friendly Initiative (TVFI) program; coordination and facilitation of the advanced academy alumni network; and providing staff support to the membership committee. 

For more information, the full position may be viewed here. Please share this posting with your professional networks. To apply, please send your resume and cover letter to:

Professional Development and Training 

By Mary Breaux, PhD, and Lacy Hensley, LMSW, MA
TVSA Board Members

The TVSA Biennial Victimology Research Symposium was held in October 27-28 at the Hilton Conference Center and Hotel in College Station. The symposium was a success as the participants enjoyed the plenary sessions, workshops, and networking with fellow professionals. The poster session was amazing, highlighting the latest victimization research presented by Sam Houston State University graduate students and alumni. The event offered the latest in research and promising practice trends in victim services delivery that focused on victimization, justice, and healing. Our presenters represented a half dozen state and national universities and four advocacy organizations. We look forward to another exciting research symposium in 2024!

Plans are well underway now for our seventh annual Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance (TAAVA) in management and leadership, to be held January 25-27 in Hutto. Our curriculum is based on the Office for Victims of Crime model program standards for leading and managing in a trauma-based profession. The academy is unequaled in Texas for training professionals who lead victim services programs or aspire to do so in their career paths. The academy application and additional information is available at

We are also pleased to announce that our biennial training conference will be back at its home in South Padre Island on May 9-12, 2023, after our intervening pandemic year virtual conference in 2021. Our call for proposals will be going out this month, and early registration will open on February 7th. More conference announcements will be headed your way soon!

TVFI Program Updates

By Larryisa Thomas, MA, Texas Victim Friendly Initiative Coordinator

TVSA is currently holding its first quarterly progress status meetings with each of our nine Texas Victim Friendly Initiative (TVFI) program sites: Mission Police Department, Pasadena Police Department, Roanoke Police Department, Travis County District Attorney’s Office, Williamson County Attorney’s Office, 229th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Harmony Home Children’s Advocacy Center, Hidden Gem Family Center, and the Rio Grande Valley Empowerment Zone. This is the time for each site’s project team lead to review their progress on their team's action plans, receiving technical support from TVSA and reviewing adjustments they may wish to make in their work toward becoming more victim friendly service organizations.

An additional tool being provided to the sites this year is a victim survey that can be used by the agencies. It is being made available to the project sites in English and Spanish. In the next quarter we will be meeting collectively with the sites for a mid-year meeting, that will allow each site to present a few highlights and challenges in their respective action plans' progress and to share ideas and solutions with one another. As the 12-month TVFI project is ongoing, the agencies will continue to establish victim friendly policies and practices that will better improve their agencies' trauma-informed approaches in their service to crime victims.

TVSA Launches TAAVA Alumni Web Page

By Joseph Garza, BA, Education and Engagement Coordinator 

This season has been an exciting one for the TAAVA alumni. As your Education and Engagement Coordinator I am proud to say that in addition to hosting our second quarterly meeting in November we also launched our TAAVA Alumni exclusive web page.

The page is the product of a lot of time, effort, and energy from our staff. Our goal was to produce an engaging tool for all of our advanced academy alumni to access. The alumni page features a wealth of information including announcements for our upcoming meetings; archived meeting links, where presented information can be revisited, referenced, or printed; an alumni directory, where members can find contact information for their peers and reach out to them as desired; an alumni “lost and found” where members can see who we have lost touch with and assist TVSA in reengagement for support and fellowship. However, our proudest feature of the page is the discussion board. The board enables alumni to share learning experiences, gather insight from peers, and prompts pre- and post- meeting learning engagement with interactive activities. This month’s featured discussion topic was on cultural identity. The topic aligns with Mr. Jose Juan Lara Jr.’s, alumni meeting presentation, “Inclusion Begins with Us.” If you are an alumni, check out the discussion board and share your cultural learning experience with us. When you visit the discussion board you can read about my personal cultural experience journey and I encourage you to share a little bit about your own journey as well.

When I arrived at TVSA in July our goal was to provide year ‘round access for victim-service specific training, resource awareness, professional growth, and most importantly camaraderie with your statewide academy alumni peers. I hope you feel that we are moving in the right direction and on our way to meeting these goals and objectives. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments, or concerns. I can be reached at 979-248-0680 or Do not forget to mark your calendar and plan to attend our next Alumni Network meeting on February 1, 2023 12-1:30p central. Thank you for your continued support and I hope to see everyone’s smiling face on February 1st. Until then, I am wishing all a joyous holiday season, a fruitful new year, and may God Bless all.


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