Ana Mac Naught leads the coordination between Houston in Action partners, the City of Houston, Harris County, and other stakeholders. She transitioned from her role as Assistant Director of Community Development for BakerRipley. Ana has extensive experience working with Houston in Action partners, local government partners and coordinated coalition work in South America, Asia, Africa and Europe. In her multiple roles with BakerRipley, Ana grew from Immigration Services Specialist to Assistant Director of Community Development. Ana oversaw the Immigration Program of the agency, which coordinated the local response to DACA efforts in 2012 and led to a regional wide strategy to utilize forums for application support. In her role as Community Developer for the flagship community center in Gulfton, Ana was able to create trusted relationships with refugee serving organizations and began programs that spoke to the diverse community living in Southwest Houston. In her role as Assistant Director of Community Development, Ana supervised BakerRipley’s six community centers spreading across the greater Houston area, including the creation of programs, supervision of 38 team members and relationships for the different campuses.
Chris Valdez brings more than 15 years of experience in the private sector as well as the non-profit sector supporting organizations to build communications plans, brand strategies, campaigns, media relationships and story training for people and organizations. His experience includes the development of training and capacity-building programs for individual member development and organizations in correspondence with community-centered communications goals and plans.
Frances Valdez (she/her) is the Executive Director of Houston in Action, a collective impact initiative that believes that by working together to reduce systemic barriers we can increase civic participation in the greater Houston region. Valdez’s understanding of the nuances in Harris County’s diversity and her history of organizing positioned her well to launch and develop the foundation for the organization in 2018. Over the past three years, under her leadership, the organization has grown significantly to include over 100 members, partners, and affiliated stakeholders that make up the Houston in Action network. Their collective work is moved by the shared ethos that, regardless of social identity, people should have equal opportunities to participate in, and have a meaningful impact, on civic life.
In 2020, Valdez engaged Houston in Action to be a central leader in Census 2020 efforts and 2020 election coordination in Harris County. Instead of focusing solely on numbers and votes, Houston in Action’s Census work focused on holistic care, recognizing that communities most at risk for an undercount were also suffering from Covid-19. Leaning into the collective impact model, Houston in Action worked with and directed funding to organizations already embedded in communities, encouraging the growth of community bonds. In 2021, that work continued post-Census to include coordinating efforts for equitable vaccine implementation in Harris County, the creation of Unity Maps with member organizations to affect redistricting lines, and the implementation and funding of Black, Latinx and AAPI Grassroots Organizing Cohorts in Houston.
Prior to starting Houston in Action, Valdez had a 13-year career as an immigration attorney, advocacy and policy advisor, director, and civic engagement coordinator within the immigrant rights movement. Valdez received her Bachelor of Liberal Arts Degree in Latin American Studies and Mexican American Studies. She received her Law Degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 2005. She currently lives in Northside Houston with her wife Nelly, her son Frankie and her dogs Remi and Roo.
Josh Levin (he/they) joined us in January as the Director of Civic Data. Josh will be leading efforts to not only help make data more inclusive and accessible, but work with member organizations to utilize technology and data in order to build capacity and make more strategic moves. Josh has been working with nonprofits since he was 14 years old, and has been doing this movement work for the last 6 years. In his spare time, Josh likes to go on road trips, collect stray cats, and make people laugh. Reach out to Josh at email@example.com.
Juan Cardoza-Oquendo (he/him/el) joined Houston in Action last month as the new Director of Public Policy. He most recently worked as a policy and community engagement coordinator with Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. Before that, he worked to earn his Master of Public Affairs at the LBJ School at UT Austin. Juan also helped found the Dallas office of Workers Defense and Faith in Texas, an organization that organizes faith communities in North Texas. You can reach Juan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In July, Ally Smither (she/her) took on the role of Member Communications Coordinator. She supports members through communications capacity-building and relationship building while strengthening our campaigns through earned and owned media. She brings her experience as a grassroots communications organizer as well as her creativity and rigor as a performance artist to the work of Houston in Action, our members, partners, and broader network. Organizing outside of Houston in Action, Ally is the socials coordinator for Stop TxDOT I-45 and a volunteer with West Street Recovery. She is also a professionally trained opera singer represented by Stratagem Artists and a Young Artist with DaCamera of Houston. You can reach her email@example.com.
Oscar Hernandez is an undocumented immigrant from Puebla Mexico, an entrepreneur, and DACA recipient with over 10 years of community organizing experience. At 19 he started a small landscaping business though it was a successful business, he felt he wasn’t serving his community and started volunteering across Houston at every immigrant rights organization that would host him. In 2013 was hired as the Lead Field Organizer for United We Dream Houston with the purpose to empower undocumented immigrants by using free legal services for DACA as a catapult for leadership development to become civically engaged. Currently, he is the Community Organizer for Houston in Action, an initiative made up of people and organizations who have come together to advance our community and build a stronger Houston through a culture of civic engagement. His goal is to build new organizers in Houston through the Community in Action Academy, regular training on, Census, Organizing, Outreach, Messaging, and Leadership Development. Oscar cares deeply about his community and family, he believes that through community action we can build a better quality of life for everyone.