Erika Nowlin, Executive Director
Erika is a native Austinite and former teacher. 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 (including her own) by creating events and activities with local organizations who needed support. Erika lives in Southwest Austin with her husband, their two daughters, and too many pets.
Favorite Pizza: The Cadillac at Via 313
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 is the mother to 11-year-old twin boys and lives with her family in southwest Austin.
Favorite Bar-B-Que: Brisket at la Barbeque
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!
Favorite Breakfast Taco: Veracruz All-Natural Migas on Flour
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 and our community.
Favorite Queso: Kerbey Lane Queso
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.
Favorite Tex-Mex: Güero’s
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.
Favorite Cupcake: Red Velvet from Hey Cupcake