Board of Directors and Staff

Professionals Dedicated to Making a Difference

The Step Onward Foundation is blessed with a governing body that consists of professional, dedicated, and active supporters of the Foundation’s mission.

Co-Founders and Staff

Patrice Pike

Director of Development, Culture & Client/Public Relations, Step Onward Foundation

Patrice Pike is an acclaimed professional musician and singer/songwriter from Austin, TX. As co-founder and director of Step Onward, she has collaborated in raising over $1M to support the organization’s mission.

Todd Young


Todd L. Young is Step Onward Foundaton’s Co-Founder and former Chairman. He is more recently Co-Founder and the current Chairman of Riptide Society ( and he is the Founder and CEO of Ballogy, Inc. ( As an entrepreneur with over 20 years of leadership experience, Todd has a strong track record of founding and building successful organizations that add measurable value to people’s lives.

Kris Weixel

Director of Operations

Kris has a B.S. in Business Administration from Minnesota State University and is a former software engineer with IBM and finance and technology director at Spirit Reins.  She is in charge of Step Onward’s operations including finance, technology, and budgeting.

Kris is passionate about Step Onward’s mission and has had the privilege of hearing first-hand from Step Onward recipients about the enormous difference our support has made in their lives.

Board of Directors

Laura McFarland


Laura McFarland is an educator and researcher with a passion for mental health. Laura serves as COO of the Natural Lifemanship Institute, a leader in the field of trauma-informed mental health and wellness services incorporating horses. She has a doctorate in Special Education with an emphasis on preparing educators to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse youth with disabilities and other learning or behavioral challenges. As an applied researcher, she has designed and conducted numerous program evaluations for not-for-profits in the education and mental health sectors. Laura is deeply inspired by Step Onward’s mission and the positive impact that our support has had on those we serve.

Rick Fine

Vice President
Chair, Governance Committee

Rick Fine has been active in public affairs for more than 40 years at the local, state and federal levels. He has been a licensed attorney since 1979, working in both the public and private sectors. Rick’s practice has focused primarily on property tax valuations, business incentives, economic growth, public school finance, and state and local tax policy issues.

Rick serves on the Texas Advisory Board of the Environmental Defense Fund and chairs that board’s Governance Committee, as well. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, the state’s most influential research and advocacy group on tax, fiscal, and education policy.

Rick is a longtime supporter of Austin’s live music community. He has been practicing and teaching martial arts since 1976 and is currently an eighth degree black belt.

Sam West


Samuel G. West has 19 years’ experience in recruitment, program development, event coordination, community outreach, and academic advising. He obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Stephen F. Austin State University, and completed a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration at Texas Tech University in 2017. He researched interagency support for homeless community college students in a dissertation titled A Phenomenological Study Exploring the Perceptions and Experiences of College Students Who Have Experienced Homelessness and Student Support Services.

Dr. West has worked as the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) District Director for Southwest Schools, where also he also served as the College Specialist. In this role, he developed a network of professional colleagues from numerous colleges and universities and assisted students with applying to college. This experience also allowed him to establish a widespread network of colleagues from various non-profit organizations serving the greater Houston area. In 2018 he began serving as a Board Member for the Step Onward Foundation.

Dr. West began working with Houston Community College as an adjunct dual credit instructor teaching in the Student Success department. In 2008, he began working full time for Houston Community College Southwest as a student recruiter and P-16 liaison. In 2014, he transitioned into a position as an Academic Advisor for Houston Community College Online. In August of 2015 he has served as the College P16 Director for Houston Community College Northeast. Dr. West has served on the HCC Northeast Executive Team Committee and the Houston Community College P-16 Advisory Committee where he served as a subcommittee chair member working with district administrators from all public school districts in the greater Houston area. In October of 2017 he was promoted to the Houston Community College District P-16 Director and provided leadership for all K-12 program in the 6 public school districts throughout the greater Houston area. He also oversaw programing with Charter, Private, and Homeschool communities. In July of 2022 he accepted the role of College Career and Military Readiness Director for Southwest School in Houston Texas. Dr. West is committed to success and dedicated to serving as a leader committed to building community partnerships to support students success.

Annette LoVoi


Ms. LoVoi has worked on behalf of consumers, particularly low-income and immigrant consumers, throughout her career. She was appointed by Governor Ann Richards of Texas as the State’s first Ombudsman to execute projects leading to policy and management change in government practice.

Ms. LoVoi has been elected twice as a public official, serving as an at-large trustee for the 85,000 student Austin Independent School District. Following her work for elected officials in Texas state and federal government.  She was selected in 1997 as the first Executive Director of Texas Appleseed. Under her leadership, Texas Appleseed spearheaded the passage of indigent defense reform, hailed as the most important reform of its kind in 25 years, as well as the design of the immigrant access to financial institutions project that has evolved into one of National Appleseed’s signature projects. This Texas state law served as a catalyst for more far-reaching federal legislation in the Dodd-Frank Act. Ms. LoVoi holds a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin.

Volney Campbell


Volney Campbell is a real estate executive with Colliers, a songwriter, part of two Austin bands, Driver ATX and The Late Arrivals, and a weapon of mass compassion.

Susan Hillman


Susan has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She has over ten years of comprehensive experience in health and human services.   She also has an extensive volunteer background with direct services and advocacy organizations including Planned Parenthood, AIDS Services of Austin, The SAFE Alliance, and Equality Texas. She is the proud mother of two, Gabe and Sam. She loves hiking and camping with her husband Ramon.