Leadership and Staff
Dr. Mark Milliron serves as President and CEO of National University (NU), one of the largest private, nonprofit universities in the United States. NU is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) and has a 50-year history of innovating around the needs of military, working, and nontraditional students. Prior to his presidency at NU, Dr. Milliron served as Senior Vice President of Western Governors University (WGU) & Executive Dean of the Teachers College. Previous roles have included serving as the co-founder and chief learning officer of Civitas Learning; deputy director for Postsecondary Improvement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; founding chancellor of WGU Texas; endowed fellow and director of the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development at The University of Texas at Austin; vice president for education and medical practice with SAS; and president and CEO of the League for Innovation in the Community College. Dr. Milliron helps catalyze positive change in education through his service on the boards and advisory councils of leading-edge education organizations, including Bennett College; the Global Online Academy; Civitas Learning; the Mastery Transcript Consortium; and ISKME/Open Education Resource Commons. He also holds an appointment as a Professor of Practice in the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Milliron received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in organizational communication from Arizona State University and his doctorate in education administration from The University of Texas at Austin.
Ms. Verde also served as board chair for Trellis Company, Texas Public Radio and SAY Si. She currently serves as secretary of the ACE Academy Board and treasurer for WINGS. She is also chair of audit committee for the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame nonprofit organization. Ms. Verde holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Her professional organizations include membership in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Texas Society of CPAs, San Antonio Chapter of CPAs, and Institute of Internal Auditors.
Dr. Rhodes holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration in accounting and a Master of Arts degree in educational management and development from New Mexico State University. He earned his doctorate through the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin where he received the Distinguished Graduate Award. Dr. Rhodes is also a Certified Public Accountant in Texas and New Mexico.
Alma Garcia, with more than three decades experience in education from K-12 to higher education, brings a wealth of knowledge in learning, collective impact and nonprofit management to the Trellis Foundation Board of Directors.
Ms. Garcia started her career as a bilingual education teacher in the Brownsville Independent School District, where she went on to serve as an elementary and secondary school principal. She later joined the University of Texas at Brownsville, where, as an adjunct professor, she designed instructional methods courses for graduate and undergraduate students in secondary education programs, and later served as director of GEAR UP, a college awareness, readiness, enrollment and outreach program. She joined Educate Texas in 2004 and is among the foremost experts on dual enrollment, dual credit and early college high schools (ECHS) in the state. In 2015, she founded a consulting practice serving school districts, administrators, and nonprofits across the state. Ms. Garcia holds a bachelor’s degree in education from UT-Pan American and a master’s degree in educational administration from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Mr. Hunt graduated from The Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University with a bachelor’s degree in real estate/finance. He also earned an MS degree with honors in Real Estate and Construction Management from the Daniels School of Business at the University of Denver.
Ms. Walsh’s prior work includes service at two other prominent foundations: Lumina Foundation in Indianapolis, where she managed the Making Opportunity Affordable initiative, which was aimed at increasing college productivity by bringing about fundamental change in the way higher education does business; and, The Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh, where her diverse portfolio included community colleges, universities, workforce development, tech commercialization and transfer, city/county consolidation, immigration and regional economic development. Ms. Walsh got her start in community college work as the Coordinator of Special Projects at Cuyahoga Community College. She currently serves on a number of non-profit boards including Seattle CityClub, Carey Institute for Global Good, the Harwood Institute, Global Learning Council, and on the advisory board for Roadtrip Nation. She is also a proud judge for Dance Your Ph.D.
Suzanne has her juris doctorate and master’s in social work from Case Western Reserve University, a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, and an associate’s degree in applied science from Hudson Valley Community College.
In addition, he is also chair of the Board of the Alamo Trust, chair of the Board of Remember The Alamo Foundation, chair of the Board of the Southwest Houston Redevelopment Authority, and chair of Houston’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #20.
Ms. Boyer leads Trellis Foundation’s efforts to advance equitable postsecondary outcomes for low-income students and students of color across Texas. Prior to her appointment as executive director for the Trellis Foundation, she directed the philanthropic program and activities for Trellis Company. She currently serves as an Advisory Committee member for the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, as a co-chair for the Latino Student Success Funders Group, and as the Leadership Committee Chair for Philanthropy Advocates.
She holds bachelor of arts degrees in English and Spanish from Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, and a master of arts in communication from Wichita State University.
Ms. Achilles joined Trellis Foundation (then Trellis Company/ TG) in 2013 with nearly a decade of higher education service in various capacities, including student affairs and study abroad advising. Ms. Achilles serves on local and national committees, such as the Funders Collaborative for Higher Education in Prison & Reentry Support, Central Texas Education Funders Network steering committee, the Texas Rural Funders Membership & Dues Task Force, and the Grantmakers for Education Learning, Evaluation and Data Impact Group and Postsecondary Access & Attainment Impact Group. She previously served on the Membership Committee for the National Scholarship Providers Association from 2015-2017. She also leads the board of directors for a nonprofit dance and wellness studio in Austin.
She earned a bachelor’s of science in communication from Lamar University and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in journalism and public policy, with a focus on nonprofit studies.
Sara Reeves joined the Trellis Foundation in 2023 after managing United Way for Greater Austin’s grantmaking processes for six years. She also served as the grantwriter for incoming programmatic grant funding and oversaw grant administration. Before joining the United Way Team, Sara was a program manager in higher education, focusing on leadership development, international business, and entrepreneurship. Sara spent time in Western Samoa with the Peace Corps, where she served as a secondary school computer instructor. Before joining the Peace Corps, Sara worked as journalist at newspapers in Indiana and Florida.
Sara earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and women’s studies from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree from Indiana University in Public Affairs, focusing on nonprofit management.
Mia Ibarra joined the Trellis Foundation in 2023 with more than 14 years of experience in nonprofit, government, and philanthropic service. Before Trellis, she was an advocate and campaign manager at Every Texan (formerly the Center for Public Policy Priorities), a statewide public policy nonprofit. Mia’s previous higher education background includes the Udall Foundation, where she managed the competitive undergraduate Udall Scholarship program. Mia is passionate about the transformative power of higher education and lifelong learning.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in political economy from the Evergreen State College and a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin.
Alexa obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Tarleton State University and completed certification through the Library of Congress as a braille transcriber.
Shamecca is a fifth-year doctoral student in Educational Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin and is the newest Graduate Fellow at the Trellis Foundation. She is also a Graduate Research Assistant at the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk, where she manages follow-up testing for a word-problem math intervention in the Austin Independent School District.
As a first-generation college graduate, Shamecca is passionate about education accessibility and equity for low-income and BIPOC students. Before moving to Austin, TX, to pursue her Ph.D., she served as a college adviser in rural Virginia with the Virginia College Advising Corps. As an adviser, she assisted students through the journey to higher education.
Shamecca graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish. She also has an M.Ed. in Quantitative Methods from the University of Texas at Austin and is anticipating completing her dissertation and doctoral degree in May 2025.