Session 1

Marie Arcos
Chief Government Relations Officer
YMCA of Greater Houston


Marie Arcos is a native Houstonian and third-generation Texan. She has worked with the YMCA of Greater Houston for over 20 years and currently serves as the Chief Government Relations Officer. She has been with the YMCA of Greater Houston since 2001, and currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Government and Community Relations. In this role, Marie builds and strengthens partnerships with private and public organizations with the community and promotes our YMCA National and State Legislative agendas.

She began her career with the YMCA in 1996 as a volunteer board member then became the Executive Director for one of 36 YMCA’s in Houston. The first Latina in that role and the only Hispanic Executive Director in the organization at that time in 2001. She managed a budget of $ 1.3M, developed and maintained an active board of volunteers, was responsible for financial development to support the programming and initiatives, worked with her team and association in program development, and provided professional development and supervision of 8 full time staff and up to 40 part time staff. She served as an Executive Director for 16 years before moving into the corporate division of the organization as Executive Director of Community Development, a position created for her expertise to be carried out throughout the Greater Houston Area, then 3 years later promoted to Vice President. She is the first Latina to hold this position in Houston for this global organization.

Marie received her Master of Social Work from the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work in 1997 specializing in political and community organizing. She is committed to ensuring equity in education and health for Houston children and families. Growing up in a large family did not afford her the opportunities that she believes all youth should have. For these reasons, she strives to help build connections, resources, and support for families to reach their full potential – particularly in the neighborhoods of high Hispanic populations. In fact, she considers herself to have limited early career advancements to staying in one neighborhood too long. But if she had to do it all over again, she would. During the time she served as Executive Director at the MD Anderson Family YMCA, she helped generate over $3M in investments to the programs and families in this overlooked community. Her acceptance to move to a different position and expand her career opportunities was prompted by the rapid revitalization of the nearby Northside neighborhood and promising opportunities for a new YMCA to replace the aged building from the 1950’s.

Marie is deeply engaged in activities that continue her family’s legacy of making significant volunteer contributions to our community. Marie attributes her passion for the non-profit sector to her grandparents and parents. She is one of seven children and grew up very modestly and unknowingly at that time, poor. The triad of faith, family, and friends are at the heart of community building. It is her belief that without strong families and vibrant communities, we cannot have a strong economy to compete with global competition. While growing up, she remembers her grandparents being active in the church, parks, political campaigns and positions demonstrating the power of and educated voice in our society. These organizing skills have made her a strong servant leader to Houston for over three decades and sparked her desire to become a trailblazer by seeking out and following through with every opportunity that allowed her to positively influence change.

Marie currently serves on the local boards of Harris County Public Health Department’s Healthy Living Matters Executive Committee, Avenue CDC and The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. She has also served on special committees that advance the quality of life for Houston, including Harvey Relief collaborations, Go Neighborhoods Northside/LISC, NCAA Final Four Houston Local Organizing Committee, and Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Transition Team. She is also a volunteer with Spindletop Charities, Inc. and is a senior fellow with American Leadership Forum, Class XLVII (47).

Marie loves everything Houston, supports her Hispanic heritage through the arts and education, and can often be found at community events and exploring the hidden gems around town. Mr. Reddington is Marie’s running buddy and can be found with her at home, on social media, in the community, and special Y events.


David Lofye, JD,
Founder and Principal
David Lofye Consulting, LLC

David is a strategic public affairs consultant based in Austin who helps organizations maximize their impact through policy change. Prior to launching David Lofye Consulting, David spent twelve years at the Livestrong Foundation where he most recently served as Vice President of Mission Strategy and Advocacy and was responsible for the advancement of the Foundation's legislative and policy priorities that benefit people living with cancer. Earlier in his career, David was the deputy chief of staff and legislative director for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. He also served as a professional staff member on the House Science Committee and as a law clerk on the Senate Judiciary Committee. During his time on Capitol Hill, David helped successfully advance a number of legislative priorities in the areas of transportation and infrastructure, water resources and the environment, aviation, space and agricultural trade. David earned a BA in Political Science from Indiana University and a JD from The University of Texas School of Law. He is a member of the District of Columbia and Supreme Court Bar Associations. David lives in Austin with his wife and daughter.

Session 2

Sarah Richards
Director of Community Affairs
OneStar Foundation


Sarah provides leadership of programs at OneStar that strengthen Texas communities by building the capacity of the Texas nonprofit sector. This includes the Built for Texas Initiative—a collaboration aiming to educate policy makers about the value of our nonprofit sector. Additionally, Sarah leads OneStar’s advocacy for federal and state policies and procedures that promote national service, volunteerism, and disaster resilience. She previously worked as Executive Director of Colorado River Alliance and Program Director for Keep Texas Beautiful. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Education from Texas State University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.


Molly Weiner
Director of Nonprofit Engagement
United Ways of Texas 

At United Ways of Texas, Molly engages with nonprofits to build their collective voice and advocate for the sector. She previously worked as Director of Policy & Advocacy for Texas Aspires, promoting cross-sector partnerships to improve education opportunities for Texas children. She serves on the board of directors of the Urban Leaders Fellowship Program. Molly holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from Vanderbilt University and a bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.

Session 3

Jennifer Esterline
Vice President of Education Policy and Regional Development 
Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute

Jen is The Meadows Institute’s Vice President of Education Policy and Regional Development and is based in Austin. In this new role, Jen will support developing and implementing a statewide strategy for student mental health policy across the education continuum. She will also work with members of the development team and be responsible for supporting the Institute’s fundraising efforts, particularly in the Central Texas region.

Jen has spent the last twenty years working in nonprofit and education policy, first as a program and development director for nonprofit and higher education institutions. She later served as program officer and then executive director of the KDK-Harman Foundation, a family foundation based in Austin.

In 2011 while at the KDK-Harman Foundation, Jen founded the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium (TEGAC), a grantmaker collaborative that has grown to over 50 private family, corporate and community foundations across the state working to promote, protect and improve Texas public and higher education through advocacy and public policy. In this role, Jen worked closely with Texas philanthropists, education advocates, and policymakers to identify and develop policy solutions for the state’s most critical education challenges. Most recently, TEGAC (which was renamed Philanthropy Advocates this year) merged with Educate Texas at the Communities Foundation of Texas, where Jen became the director of policy at Educate Texas in 2019.

Jen also served as founder and principal of Esterline Consulting from 2013-2018, where she consulted with a number of philanthropic and nonprofit clients from across the state and nationally on issues of high-impact philanthropy, resource development, board development and management, strategic planning, coalition building, and effective advocacy and public policy strategies.

Jen grew up in Dallas and is the proud mom of three boys. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin.

Natalie Ossenfort 
Director of the Texas Office of Alliance for Justice

Natalie Ossenfort serves as the Director of Alliance for Justice's Texas office, where she works with local nonprofit organizations to boost their advocacy capacity and understanding of state and federal nonprofit advocacy rules. Prior to her work with the organization, she helped to create and run the Innocence Project of Texas, a nonprofit dedicated to freeing those wrongfully convicted of crimes in the state. At IPTX, Natalie held both Executive Director and Chief Staff Attorney positions, and she specialized in the litigation of cases involving the use of DNA evidence. She also worked with the organization to successfully advocate on behalf of reforms designed to reduce the number of wrongful convictions and assist those reentering society after lengthy terms of unjust confinement.

Natalie obtained her law degree from the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth and earned her undergraduate B.A. from Trinity University in San Antonio. Natalie is a member of the State Bar of Texas and currently resides in Dallas.

Session 4

Colette Vallot
Founder & Managing Partner 
Entré Strategic Partners

Colette Vallot is the founder and managing partner of Entré Strategic Partners, specializing in leveraging relationships to deliver favorable outcomes for clients. She is an attorney with over 20 years of experience working in a broad array of industries, Fortune 500 companies, municipalities  and non-profit organizations. Entré Strategic Partners is HUB and M/W/DBE certified.

She consults with local government entities, corporations, and associations drafting legislation, analyzing public policy, and advocating for clients. Her practice areas include energy, economic development, housing, procurement, disaster recovery, technology and business related policy.   Through her trusted relationships with key decision makers, local and state elected officials and business leaders across the state, Vallot knows how to achieve desired results.

Ms. Vallot spent nine years at Energy Future Holdings (EFH), a leading energy company with a portfolio of competitive and regulated businesses, including TXU Energy and Luminant, the largest power generator in Texas. In her role in external affairs, she directed advocacy strategies in support of policy positions, while strengthening the company’s reputation and influence with local, regional and state elected officials.  Colette successfully opened doors and built relationships with key community and business leaders, cities, chambers of commerce, and third-party associations in support of the company’s environmental, community relations and corporate social responsibility initiatives.

While covering the Houston market, Colette served as chair of the Energy Council at the Greater Houston Partnership and was a member of the Government Relations and Environmental Advisory Committees. She also served on government affairs and legislative committees of numerous local chambers of commerce throughout Texas, helping to shape legislation and its impact.

Before joining EFH, Colette was director of operations and licensing compliance in the consumer products division at Viacom and Nickelodeon Networks in New York.

Colette received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her bachelor’s degree in public communications from American University in Washington, DC. She is licensed to practice law and is a registered lobbyist in Texas.

Entré Strategic Partners has offices in Dallas, Houston and Austin and a network of trusted affiliations and partnerships across Texas.

United Ways of Texas 
(Bio forthcoming)


Session 5 

Adrienne Longenecker, CFRE
Executive Director
Colorado River Alliance
AFP Global Board Member and U.S. Government Relations Committee Chair


Serving as the Executive Director at Colorado River Alliance, Adrienne drives the organization’s strategic growth, partnership development, and oversees the talented and dedicated staff team. Prior to her current role at Colorado River Alliance, Adrienne worked as a Chief Operating Officer with Hill Country Conservancy, where she was responsible for strategic direction for all operational areas including finance and budgeting, HR, educational programs, volunteerism, communications, marketing, and resource development and helped lead the design the first strategic plan for the organization.

A passionate community servant well-known for vision, creativity, and consensus building, Adrienne volunteers as Vice Chair of External Relations for the Board of Directors of the Global Association of Fundraising Professionals and as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for Austin Outside, a group that champions outdoor places for all throughout Greater Austin.

Adrienne attended the University of Texas at Austin and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Adrienne enjoys yoga and taking long walk with her son and two dogs.


Michael Nilsen
Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Public Policy 
AFP Global
(bio forthcoming)