Eva Bernal
Administrative Assistant

Eva M. Bernal is the Administrative Assistant for The Budd Center. She is responsible for providing administrative, operational and event support for the team. Eva has more than 5 years of experience in various industries. Her newfound passion for Higher Education motivated her to join The Budd Center. She obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from UT Dallas and is currently working toward her MBA in Accounting from TWU.

Erin O. Crosby
Director of Operations & Communications

As the Director of Operations and Communications, Erin oversees strategic communications as well as organizational management, University and community partnerships, grant reporting and staff development.

Erin began her career as a youth program coordinator for the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, developing and facilitating life skills programs for teen parents and at-risk youth. She went on to become the programming and communications director for Leadership Women, designing learning opportunities for emerging and established leaders to advance their leadership strengths and to expand their understanding of the diverse dynamics, issues and opportunities shaping Texas. Prior to coming to SMU, she served as the communications and operations director for Thrive Women's Clinic, managing three centers in Dallas.

Erin holds a master's degree in print journalism from Boston University and a bachelor's degree in English from SMU. She is also a certified Change Cycle ™ facilitator, trainer and coach.

Dana Stoltz Gray, Ph.D.
Director of Collective Impact & Evaluation

Dana Stoltz Gray is the Project Director for The School Zone. She is responsible for increasing the capacity of TSZ nonprofit partners to deploy effective interventions to high-needs students by providing individual coaching, support and technical assistance. Dana will accomplish this by working with TSZ's Professional Learning Communities to collaboratively develop targeted responses to student needs. She will provide PLCs with student data, trend analyses and coaching as well as facilitate resource management with TSZ partnering schools. She serves as the interventionist for the Academic Support PLC as well as the Social and Emotional Health PLC.

Dana has more than 25 years of experience in developing and implementing research-based educational initiatives at the local, regional and state levels. She is an experienced trainer, consultant and coach in the areas of leadership, educational reform, PLCs, positive behavioral supports, responses to intervention, special education programming/compliance, and college and career readiness. Dana is passionate about implementing systems and interventions to change outcomes for at-risk youth. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Idaho State University and a doctorate in school psychology from the University of Oregon.

Elisabeth McHugh
Director of Early Childhood Engagement

Elisabeth McHugh is the Director of Early Childhood Engagement. In her role, she supports the Early Childhood PLC and serves as the Center's liaison to the early childhood community throughout Dallas.

Elisabeth was born and raised in Henderson, Texas, where she learned firsthand the essential role of community in developing youth. She attended SMU as a Hunt Leadership Scholar and was an M Award recipient her senior year. After graduating with a B.A. in history, she served as a Teach For America corps member in Houston, Texas, where she taught first grade and kindergarten. Elisabeth continued teaching beyond her two-year commitment and also earned an M.Ed. from University of St. Thomas. She is an active community volunteer and was recently selected to serve on the 2017-18 Junior League of Dallas board as the Vice President of Membership.

Regina Nippert
Executive Director

Regina Nippert is the founding Executive Director of The Budd Center, where she directs and coordinates its flagship project, The School Zone - West Dallas, a collective impact partnership designed to ensure that West Dallas children have the educational tools they need to exit poverty as adults.

She has more than 25 years of experience in a variety of community development settings, including affordable home building, community and economic development, micro-lending and K-12 education. Regina is an experienced trainer for strategic and business planning, board development, fundraising, project design, community-based development and collective impact strategies. She is co-founder of The PLAN Fund. She served as co-coordinator for the Mayor’s Southern Dallas Task Force – West Dallas, a founding board member of Habitat Texas, a longtime board member at Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity and Fort Worth Area Habitat for Humanity, board president at Unity Church of Dallas and vice president for the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce.

Regina obtained her B-Architecture from Texas Tech University and practiced architecture with several firms, including Edward Larrabee Barnes, for the first 10 years of her career.

Esmeralda Ortiz
Director of Human Development

As Director of Human Development, Esmeralda designs, plans and facilitates an annual series of professional development sessions for TSZ nonprofits, executives and middle managers as well as PK-12 school leaders. The professional development series comprises four sessions per year and is designed to increase TSZ partners' organizational readiness in implementing academic, social and emotional interventions to high-needs students and their families. Esmeralda also coordinates needs-specific trainings with content experts such as Simmons School faculty, change management consultants and others to support individual organizations in The School Zone or the entire collaborative. Esmeralda also oversees and leads new partner orientation for TSZ twice a year.

In 2016, Esmeralda became a consultant to Project Connect, a professional development initiative led by the Simmons School with funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Language Acquisition. Project Connect equips educators to meet the needs of English Language Learners through teaching and learning in nonprofit afterschool settings. Esmeralda provides strategies and best practices for working with the West Dallas community and TSZ partners. She also assists in the development of training modules to facilitate engagement with community organizations and parents.

Esmeralda has more than 15 years of experience in customer service, community coalition building and project management. She is also a certified Change Cycle ™ facilitator, trainer and coach.