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

Texas Victim Services Association

Winter/Spring 2024

Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance Class of 2024
Photo montage courtesy of Mary Targonski


In This Issue

Message from the Executive Director

President's Column

Membership Matters

2024-2026 TVSA Board Election Results 

Professional Development and Training

TAAVA Alumni Network Update

Texas Victim Friendly Initiative

Welcome New Members

Thank You Donors

Board Spotlight: LeShae Haynes

Updating TVSA Profiles

Job Board

Save the Dates

Board of Directors

Rose Luna, MSLC

Jessica Serrano, MPA

Suzanne Bradford, BBA, CPA

Region A Coordinator
Kristi Thompson, BA

Region B Coordinator
Roya N. Williamson, MA, LCDC

Region C Coordinator
Jennifer Sterling, LCSW

Region D Coordinator
LeShae Haynes, BA

Region E Coordinator
Osvaldo "Ozzie" Carrasco Jr., BA
El Paso

Region F Coordinator
Brenda Fuentes

At-large Member
Mary Breaux, PhD

At-large Member
Ken Henry, BA

At-large Member
Jim McKee, BA

At-large Member
Christina L. Richardson, MS, LPC

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

We welcome the following new members who have joined TVSA in the last quarter:

Moriah Banda, Carrollton

Eileen Dixon, McKinney

Robert Ferow, The Woodlands

Charlotte Foster, Houston

Christina Garza, Galveston

LeaAnn Kidd, Lubbock

Amber Reyes, Conroe

Dulce Villalobos, Peñitas

New Lifetime Members:

Deena Bascus, Spring

Heidi Schmidt, Arlington

New Agency Member:

Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc.

Mary Ellen Fritz

Millie Jackson

Amanda McAdoo

Kimberly Oliveri

We thank the following donors:

AD Valor Technical Cleaning

Mary Breaux

Kathy Broussard

Krista Chandler

Ken Henry

Sara Lewis

Natacha Peláez-Wagner

Jeni Pirtle

Board Spotlight: LeShae Haynes

Welcome to our new Region D (Southeast- Beaumont/Houston/College Station) Coordinator, LeShae Haynes. LeShae has been in the victim services field for ten years and is a TAAVA alumna, attending our advanced academy in 2020 and again in 2024.

“I have always had a passion for working with survivors. I always knew I wanted to study criminal justice and my mind was set on going to Sam Houston State University. While learning about the criminal justice system I was drawn to the victim aspects of things and what that process looks like for survivors.” During her last semester of college, LeShae interned with the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s office and after obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in victim services she accepted a full-time position in the office. “I am extremely grateful to be able to serve and assist survivors in my hometown where I grew up. I was hired as the administrative assistant in the victim witness division where I was able to apply everything I learned at Sam Houston State University.” Three years later LeShae was promoted to Victim Assistance Coordinator and then to Director of Victims Services at the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s office. LeShae has been a member of the Fort Bend County Crime Victims Response Team since 2015.

Why is TVSA valuable to you and your staff?

“TVSA allows and creates a space for victim service providers in all different capacities to come together to foster growth through support and education in this field. The information and training TVSA provides is highly valuable and essential to the everyday work that we do so much so that I attended the Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance not once but twice because they have so much to offer. The first time was earlier in my victim services career and the second time was once I settled into my position as Director of Victim Services. The TAAVA academy provided a great foundation of knowledge on not only how to work effectively with crime victims but guidance with supporting and leading employees who are providing more direct victim services.”

What does it mean to you to serve on the TVSA board?

“I am delighted to serve on the board as Region D coordinator and being able to continue to spread the mission of TVSA. I also look forward to being able to continue to collaborate and network with all members of TVSA as well as in my region.”

Is your TVSA profile up to date?

Keeping your profile updated ensures you receive all TVSA communications, including training events and notices. Follow this link to view and edit your TVSA profile:

Did You Know?

TVSA has a 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:

TVSA Annual Membership Meeting

May 7, 2024


Registration: TVSA Annual Membership

TVSA 2025 Biennial Training Conference

May 6-9, 2025

South Padre Island


Message from the Executive Director

By Natacha Peláez-Wagner, M.Ed.

Here at TVSA, we produce our spring newsletter each year to acknowledge and highlight National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year’s theme, How Would You Help? Options, Services and Hope for Crime Victims is especially relevant to the vision and mission of TVSA.

Our vision: TVSA promotes the delivery of a full range of consistent, high-quality, professional services to crime victims, their families, and communities.

Our mission:  …support, education and recognition for victim service providers.

How would you help? As I reflected upon this year’s theme, I thought back to my first work in victims’ services in the mid- 1980s and up through today. The options of services for crime victims have grown exponentially. Systems-based services, both through state constitutional amendments and enabling legislation, now have mandates to provide services for crime victims and to ensure their fundamental rights in the justice system are afforded. Community-based services have also grown, from few to a myriad of service offerings, and are often able to provide assistance and supports beyond those of systems-based services. The advent of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the 80s and 90s led to funding streams becoming available which have created new and greater options of services for crime victims.

While political winds blow in different directions over the decades, with the benefit of almost 40 years of hindsight in this work, one thing never changes: the dedication and commitment of our professionals who work in victim services. TVSA grew out of the dedication and commitment of these very people, the professional crime victim services providers in Texas, who wanted to ensure they had an organization whose vision and mission would help support and grow options and services for crime victims in our state. Through support and education for our professionals, our sole purpose is to improve the quality of services provided, thus giving hope to crime survivors, that they are never alone in their path through the justice system and to healing.

President's Column

By Rose Luna, MSLC

The spring season brings with it a sense of renewal, growth, and opportunity. April, in particular, serves as a reminder of the importance of raising awareness about child abuse and sexual assault as it has been recognized by both President Biden and Governor Abbott as Child Abuse Awareness Month as well as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

As someone whose day job intersects with the Texas Victim Services Association (TVSA) in a significant way during this month, I am reminded that sexual assault is just one of the many crimes that victim services professionals address and that child abuse takes various forms and requires comprehensive attention.

Let us take a moment to reflect on the cases of sexual assault and child abuse that have crossed our desks. TVSA embodies collaboration and advocates for wrap-around services for all crime victims. As the Board President of TVSA, CEO of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, and a legislatively mandated steering committee member of the Sexual Assault Survivor Task Force at the Office of the Governor of Texas, I see the myriad intersections of our work and recognize the opportunity to renew partnerships and foster continued learning for all involved.

In commemoration of April, I encourage TVSA members to engage with local rape crisis centers and child advocacy centers to collaborate on addressing crimes against children, as well as cases involving both child and adult sexual assault. While partnerships should not be confined to a single month, this occasion prompts us to reflect on the importance of community collaborations in enhancing survivor experiences across our respective agencies.

Every month of the year highlights different issues or survivor groups. TVSA is committed to acknowledging and addressing the critical issues of child abuse and sexual assault while honoring all those who tirelessly work on behalf of all crime victims. We extend an invitation to TVSA members to forge partnerships with these agencies at the local level this month and every month throughout the year. 

Thank you.


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

On behalf of your Regional Coordinators (Kristi Thompson – Region A, Roya Williamson - Region B; Jennifer Sterling – Region C, LeShae Haynes – Region D, Ozzie Carrasco, Region E,and Brenda Fuentes - Region F) we hope you all got to experience the eclipse! In central Texas we were in the path of totality, and what a cool experience it was!

In the spirit of totality, I am excited to announce that we have filled our two previously vacant regional coordinator positions. In the past month our board president has appointed LeShae Haynes and Ozzie Carrasco to fill the midterm vacancies in Regions D (southeast Texas) and E (west Texas), respectively. Both LeShae and Ozzie are long-time members of TVSA and have participated in numerous of our programs and services. They are both very enthusiastic about working in their regions to support and grow professional membership in TVSA! We welcome them both to our membership team and wish them much success in their work with TVSA!

We hope you are enjoying the last months we have cooler weather! Thank you for everything you do to support victims in Texas.

2024-2026 TVSA Board Election Results

We are pleased to congratulate our newly elected and re-elected board members for the 2024-2026 board term!


Dr. Mary Breaux, PhD
Crime Victims' Institute/Sam Houston State University

Region A Coordinator

Kristi Thompson, BA
Texas Dispute Resolution System
Office of Dispute Resolution for Lubbock County

Region F Coordinator

Brenda Fuentes
Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney's Office

At-large Member

Patricia Lerma, MA
University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley School of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling

At-large Member

Roman Sanchez, MS
Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney's Office

The slate of new members will be installed at our annual membership meeting on May 7th. 

Professional Development and Training

Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance (TAAVA)

Earlier this year, in late January, TVSA held its eighth annual Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance (TAAVA) in management and leadership. Another class of victim services leaders and managers and emerging leaders graduated from the academy, continuing the growth in our profession. Our students received instruction in best practices for leading and supervising professionals in a trauma-based profession, with the aim of continuously improving services to crime victims at the local level.

We welcomed a new faculty member to TAAVA this year, Crystal Garcia of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, who taught module five of our academy, Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Management. Crystal joined our cadre of outstanding seasoned career professionals, who share their expertise in victim services through our trauma-informed advanced academy curriculum.

We are grateful to AD Valor Technical Cleaning for their sponsorship of this year’s academy. Through their generosity, along with that of members of our academy alumni network and TVSA staff and board members, our students were provided lunch and morning coffee during our days together, along with handouts for their interactive exercises in class.

We are further grateful to the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement Training Center personnel, who hosted us again for the third time this year, along with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Victim Services Division. TDCJ Victim Services has provided staff from their office every year of our academy, augmenting TVSA’s own small staff thus ensuring we can fully execute the logistics of successfully conducting our academy.

As always, our students’ evaluations say it best:

“The past three days will enhance my ability to serve well in our organization. I appreciated learning how to serve our team in trauma-informed leadership. I learned tools that will assist me to implement these through a trauma-informed lens. I look forward to accessing the resources through the academy’s alumni network and TVSA’s membership.”

“I valued the emotional intelligence, communication, and ethics presentations. They were all so relevant to me and completely applicable to my work.”

“The instructors are fully knowledgeable and skilled trainers. Their expertise was demonstrated, and they expertly answered questions.”

We look forward to our ninth academy in 2025!

TAAVA Alumni Network Update

Our Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance Alumni Network (TAAVA ANW) continues to grow, welcoming its eighth annual class of graduates into its network this past January. The network was created to provide continuing education opportunities for advanced victim services professionals completing our academy curriculum, and to offer networking time with fellow graduates for ongoing resource and referral information sharing.

A hallmark of the network is its quarterly virtual trainings. This past quarter we were honored and fortunate to have co-trainers from the national Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, Sarah Dusenbury and Emily Grant, who presented on program evaluation for victim services organizations. Ms. Dusenbury and Dr. Grant have extensive knowledge and expertise in program evaluation and specifically in justice and victim services agencies and organizations.

TVSA’s alumni network quarterly trainings are available at no cost to all TAAVA alumni. Information on our next training will be forthcoming very soon!

Texas Victim Friendly Initiative 

The fourth year of TVSA’s Texas Victim Friendly Initiative (TVFI) program is well underway, with three systems-based and four community-based sites participating this project year. After conducting their baseline organizational self-assessments and staff surveys of their level of “victim friendliness” (how trauma-informed their organizations and services are) they used their results from these tools to develop individual action plans aimed at raising their level of trauma-informed service delivery and organizational culture. All are actively working on their respective action plans at present in areas of physical site environments, and, in greatest part, revising operational policies and conducting trainings to this end. TVSA serves to provide guidance and oversight to their work, and to facilitate technical assistance as needed.

In May, TVSA will host a virtual “All Sites Meeting”, held in midyear during the project, where each site will share successes they are having in becoming more trauma-informed and sharing any areas where they still need to complete more work.

The crux of the TVFI program gives credence to the 2024 National Crime Victims Right Week Theme of “How would you help? Options, services, and hope for crime survivors.” By making the commitment and taking the time to work in a structured, deliberative program such as TVFI, our seven participant agencies are working toward new options for serving crime survivors in a more trauma-informed way, through institutionalizing new and improved practices for victim-friendly service delivery.

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