GinaTillisGina Tillis, MA is a PhD Candidate at the University of Texas School of Education.  She teaches classes at University of Texas and at Huston-Tillotson University.  Former First Year Experience Coordinator at Huston-Tillotson University, Gina has a passionate calling for teaching Sociology, Anthropology and Ethnic Studies and developing and directing educational empowerment programs. She received her M.A. from Grambling State University wherein she studied Sociology of Education and continued her graduate studies in critical pedagogy at California State University, San Marcos. She champions the idea that education is ultimately the practice of freedom and that all students deserve an engaging, enlightening, and empowering pedagogy that helps them envision the relationship between knowledge facilitated in the classroom, who they are, and who they ultimately aspire to become.

Soil Testing with Huston-Tillotson's Dirt Y Profesor

Amanda Masino, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Huston-Tillotson University, a historically black institution located in east Austin. Dr. Masino has a research background in genetics and developmental biology and teaches courses that range across biology, including Environmental Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Molecular Immunology. She has successfully developed inquiry-based and service learning projects that emphasize undergraduate research and community engagement with local and national partners, including the University of Texas and the Environmental Protection Agency. She advises or co-advises several student organizations, including the Minority Association of Premedical Students and the sustainability organization Green is the New Black.  Contact Amanda: ammasino@htu.edu

Oscar Garza headshot at Town LakeOscar Garza has worked with the East Austin community for over 24 years to address a number of environmental issues including the cleanup of waste dump sites found in their neighborhoods. Two recent examples are the Red Bluff/La Loma site which is now being transformed into a nature preserve and a multi-year, major clean up and mitigation of an incinerator-waste dump found in a now transformed east Austin neighborhood, Homewood Heights. He has worked on a publication that highlights east Austin communities and environmental issues. Garza teaches occupational certification classes in asbestos abatement safety for the Spanish-speaking community. In Spring of 2018, Garza received the Texas Sierra Club‘s Environmental Justice Award for outstanding service to the East Austin community.


Nell PetersonNell Peterson is Programs Coordinator for Blackshear Bridge.  Ms. Peterson is a Registered Nurse specializing in work with people with developmental disabilities.  She has lived in the Blackshear-Prospect Hill Neighborhood since 1956. She attended Blackshear Elementary School, the original L. C. Anderson High School, Huston-Tillotson University. She received her Bachelors Degree of Science and Nursing from University of Texas at Austin and a Masters Degree in Health Professions Administration from Texas State University.  Ms. Peterson served two years in the United States Air Force. She is a member of the Original L.C. Anderson High School Alumnae Association and Wesley United Methodist Church. She served for over twenty years as Vice President of the Blackshear-Prospect Hill Neighborhood, was formerly Director of OCEAN, the Organization of Central East Austin Neighborhoods, and  volunteers for numerous organizations in central east Austin. Ms. Nell has a daughter Tara Peterson and son-in-law Chuck McGarity both of whom she loves and is very proud.

Micaela MurphyMicaela Murphy is Friendly Garden Sustainability Educator (Bio. coming soon!)




Donna Hoffman, Sustainability Coordinator/Director for Blackshear Bridge has been consistently dedicated throughout her career to social justice and the environment. She is currently most interested in exploring the expanded definition of sustainability as requiring human diversity.  Donna earned a Bachelor of Science in Communications from the University of Texas at Austin in 1984 and has provided advocacy communications, program management, and curriculum development in the nonprofit sector. A former high school, English language arts teacher at Del Valle and LBJ High Schools, Hoffman served from 2004-2011 as Communications Coordinator for the statewide Lone Star Chapter of Sierra Club. In 2011, she began developing and delivering outdoors sustainability education at Blackshear Elementary School and co-founded Blackshear Bridge in 2013 with school administrators and faculty at Blackshear Elementary School and Huston-Tillotson University.  Since then, she’s been thrilled to have worked with community to plant 23 trees, built two rain gardens, and coordinated a lot of fun, adventure and learning in Blackshear Elementary School’s Friendly R. Rice Garden. Contact Donna:  donnaleehoffman@gmail.com


Tam Watkins, Director, Greater Black Chamber of Commerce

Bo McCarver, President, Blacklands Community Development Corporation

Amy Temperley, Head Honcho and Aging Optimist, Aging is Cool





One response to “Leadership

  1. Pingback: Shiny Love Mother’s Day | blackshear bridge·

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