Meet Our Team!

Vanessa and I are thrilled today to announce the formation of our new Board of Directors! This group of leaders will join us in guiding the Austin Allies organization as we continue to grow and foster volunteer opportunities throughout our community! Daniel, Margaret, Monica, and Emily each bring unique experiences and expertise to our group, and with their aid and guidance, the Allies will be able to increase our outreach; offer more programming, activities, and drives; strengthen our connections to the diverse population of Austin; and most importantly improve our abilities to better serve those who need our support. 

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Erika Nowlin, Executive Director

Erika is a native Austinite and former preschool and elementary school teacher. She earned a BA in Psychology from UT Austin and received her teaching certification through Region XIII. Austin Allies is her brainchild - born from a need to counteract the increasing negativity she was seeing in the world, and to teach her kids empathy, understanding, and compassion for everyone in their community. She wanted to find a way to make volunteering easier for families by creating events and activities with local organizations who needed support. Erika lives in Southwest Austin with her husband and their two daughters.

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Vanessa Lowe, Associate Director

Vanessa Lowe has worked in urban education and literacy for almost 20 years. She started her career in education at the Department of Education in Washington, DC before moving into the classroom. She has taught high school English language arts in Austin and Houston, Texas and Brooklyn, New York. She currently works as a curriculum designer and teacher of teachers working specifically with educators who work in underserved communities. She has trained and taught teachers in New York City, New Orleans, and San Antonio. She is the mother to 11-year-old twin boys and lives with her family in southwest Austin.

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Daniel Diffen, VP of Communications

Daniel, another native Austinite, is a writer and stay-at-home father of two. A retired high school Spanish teacher with a BA from The University of Texas and an MA from Texas State, Daniel enjoys getting to work with his own kids and children of all ages and educating them on the value of giving back to our community. He especially loves cooking at the Ronald McDonald House and connecting new families to the opportunities that the Austin Allies can provide!

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Margaret Kercher, Board Member

Margaret is a criminal defense attorney who mainly works in Travis County and a mom of three active kids. As members of Austin Allies, she and her family had the opportunity to help others as a family.  Instead of just telling children what our values are, Austin Allies allows parents to "walk the walk" and bring their children along on the journey to help our neighbors .

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Monica de Leon, Board Member

Monica de Leon is a Senior Manager in of the office of Strategy and Operations for Cisco’s United States Public Sector business. In her role, Monica provides program management leadership, focusing on State Government, Local Government, and Education, as well as its US Federal business. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she has been a Seedling Mentor since 2016 and is a Girl Scout Troop leader for her two young daughters’ troops.

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Emily Evans, Board Member

Emily is a Special Education Teaching Assistant at Kiker Elementary in Southwest Austin. A lifelong Texan, she earned her BA and MBA from Texas A&M. Emily moved to Austin in 1999, where she lives with her husband and 3 daughters.

Keep an eye on Facebook and watch for our e-mail calendars for even more chances to give back, and please tell your friends and neighbors about the Allies! As Valentine's Day draws near, we hope that you will join us as we continue to Act, Learn, Lead, Inspire, Educate, and Serve in our fair city.