The mission of TVSA is support, education, and recognition for victim service providers.

Texas Victim Services Association

Spring 2023


In This Issue

Message from the Executive Director

President's Column

Membership Matters 

Board Election Results

Professional Development and Training

TVFI Mid-Year Progress

TAAVA Alumni Network Updates

Board of Directors

Welcome New Members

Job Board

Save the Dates

Board of Directors

Rose Luna, MSLC

Jessica Serrano, MPA

Suzanne Bradford, BBA, CPA

Region A Coordinator

Region B Coordinator
Julie Jesperson, BA

Region C Coordinator
Jennifer Sterling, LCSW

Region D Coordinator

Region E Coordinator
John Dominguez, BA
El Paso

Region F Coordinator
Brenda Fuentes

At-large Member
Mary Breaux, PhD

At-large Member
Lacy Hensley, LMSW, MA
Fort Worth

At-large Member
Jim McKee, BA

Ex Officio
Executive Director
atacha Peláez-Wagner, M.Ed.

We welcome the following new members who have joined TVSA in the last quarter:

Chrisine Haywood, Fort Sam Houston

Patricia Lerma, Edinburg

Ilda Rupert, Conroe

Roman Sanchez, Edinburg

Selina Sandoval, Edinburg

Detren Scales, Live Oak

Sgt. Robert Tijerina, Cedar Park

New Agency Members:

Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office, Edinburg

Nicole Azuara

Monica Guarjardo

Norberto Leal

Veronica Neira

Crime Stoppers of Houston

Kaitlynn Frey

Andy Kahan

Sydney Zuiker

Did You Know?

TVSA has a job board on our website! We have retooled the job board to make it easier for employers to submit job postings. Employers wishing to post a victim services position opening can fill out a form online to submit their posting to TVSA. Please send us your available job listings!

Victim services professionals engaged in job searches can view postings as well, with links to the human resources departments of pertinent agencies and/or applications directly for the listed positions. The job board is available at this link:

TVSA 2023 Biennial Training Conference

May 9-12, 2023

Hilton Garden Inn, South Padre Island

 TVSA 2023 Biennial Training Conference- Info and Registration

Registration open through May 1st!

TVSA Annual Meeting

May 11, 2023

Hilton Garden Inn, South Padre Island

TAAVA Alumni Network Invitational Session

May 11, 2023

Hilton Garden Inn, South Padre Island

TAAVA Alumni Network Quarterly Meeting

September 20, 2023



Message from the Executive Director

By Natacha Peláez-Wagner, M.Ed.

This newsletter is arriving in your mailboxes at the start of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. When I was thinking about writing this column for our newsletter I thought about writing it in celebration of Crime Victims’ Rights Week; then I wondered if celebrating a week dedicated to a population who have suffered greatly at the hands of others through no fault of their own was really the right word to use. Upon reflection, I decided it was so.

Why? I began to look back at my start of working in crime victim services, back in the mid-1980s. What a far way we have come since then! From a nascent movement, we have grown to an established field of work within the criminal justice system and a professional career path for those who wish to dedicate their work to making lives better for people adversely impacted by violent crime. All states, the District of Columbia, and most U.S. territories have statutory or constitutional provisions that enumerate rights and protections for victims of crime. Two key federal laws also address victims’ rights. Every state in our country, and the District of Columbia, US Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico now have crime victim compensation programs.

The theme of this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Weeks also rings of optimism and positivity: Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change. This year's theme calls upon communities to amplify the voices of survivors and create environments where survivors have the confidence that they will be heard, believed, and supported.

Here at TVSA, we took the theme of this week literally, and dedicated one of the four tracks of our upcoming Biennial Training Conference this May to Empowerment: from Victim to Survivor. How can we all, as victim advocates, either directly or indirectly, help to make this paradigm shift from victim to survivor a reality for many? Our conference call for proposals received many new and innovative ideas to this end. While it was difficult for our conference workshops review team to make their selections we are pleased to present a strong program of training workshops that lend a voice to this theme including: Long-Term Domestic Violence Support Model: Increasing Safety and Fostering Survivorship; Victim Offender Mediation Dialogue for Victims of Sexual Abuse and Family Violence; Crime Victims and Naturalization: Beyond the Oath; Empowering Victims through Post-Conviction Advocacy in Parole Hearings; Bridges to Hope for Victims Experiencing Homelessness, and many more.

The work all of you do day in and day out has a tremendous impact on so many people, and together we can continue to create and sustain environments where crime victims can be supported, heard, believed and empowered to become survivors.

President's Column

By Rose Luna, MSLC

It’s springtime! Spring ushers in new opportunities to purge and start anew. It is also a season that acknowledges the awareness of both child abuse and sexual assault. It is a busy time for us both professionally and personally. Proms and end of school year ceremonies are in the air as well as training and collaborative opportunities within local communities. TVSA is gearing up for its biennial conference in South Padre Island and crime victims' rights week. As we continue our busy lives responding to the demands and challenges of the moment, let’s please stop to remember the upcoming one-year anniversary of the 21 innocent lives stolen in Uvalde, TX. 

Our work with crime victims is difficult all across the board; we empathize and work to support all victims of crime throughout their journey. As I recently visited Uvalde and saw the cute little faces of the children who were gunned down, the shining and smiley faces of the two teachers who heroically acted to protect them, I immediately thought of the system-based advocates and their role in the surviving families’ lives. My heart broke for the surviving children who experienced that massacre and for the parents and families of those who perished. The unimaginable pain of losing a loved one in that manner, the unthinkable suffering the parents and family of the children who perished almost one year ago will resurface with the anniversary and all the media attention that is sure to surround that unthinkable day. 

Our work as both community and system-based advocates is paramount in times like these. We must also take care of ourselves to continue this work of support to those who suffer unimaginable violent deaths. We hope to see you all in South Padre Island as we work to create a space of support and learning as well as opportunities for wellness while at the beach.

Take care of yourselves and each other and as always, thank you for your service. 


By Brooke King, M.A., Membership Committee Chair

First and foremost I want to share a heartfelt thank you to Julie Jesperson (Region B Coordinator) and John Dominguez (Region E Coordinator) for serving two terms on the board and helping to support the members in their regions with trainings, information, and support. I am so proud of what we have accomplished together. Next, I am excited to publicly welcome Brenda Fuentes as the newly appointed Region F coordinator! Brenda is filling a mid-term vacancy and we are so excited to have her!! Brenda comes to us from the Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s Office. She is a long time member of TVSA and a graduate of our advanced academy for victim assistance in management and leadership. Brenda has 17 years of experience working with felony, misdemeanor and civil cases. She currently supervises seven court advocates assigned to felony district courts. We are excited to have Brenda serving on the board as coordinator for the Rio Grande Valley, Coastal Bend and South Texas membership region.

With these transitions, that means we have open positions and need your help!! Our regional coordinators are so important to the mission of TVSA and such valuable members of the board. Are you interested in supporting victim service providers with learning, sharing, and networking opportunities within your region? Look no further! We have just the spot for you! We currently have a standing vacancy in Region A (Panhandle-Amarillo/Lubbock/Wichita Falls) and could really use your support!! This position has been vacant for a year and we would really love to have someone from Region A to help support our members there. Regions B ( Central/Austin/Waco/San Antonio), D (Southeast/Beaumont/Houston/College Station), and E (West/El Paso/Midland/San Angelo) also can be filled by appointment for two-year terms beginning in May. Please let myself or Natacha know if you are interested in working with us to support victim service providers in Texas! You may contact us at

Board Election Results

We are pleased to announce that Rose Luna and Dr. Mary Breaux have been re-elected to two-year terms on our Board of Directors.

Rose Luna, CEO of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, will serve her second term as President of the TVSA board beginning on May 11th, when we install newly elected board members at our annual meeting.

Dr. Mary Breaux, Associate Professor in the Department of Victim Studies and Director of the Crime Victims' Institute at Sam Houston State University, will serve her next term on the board as well, in an at-large position and as a member of the board's executive committee.

We are also pleased to announce the appointment of Brenda Fuentes, Victim Assistance Coordinator of the Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney's Office, as Region F Coordinator for South Texas, the Rio Grande Valley and the Coastal Bend, filling a mid-term vacancy in this position.

Congratulations go out to all three, and we thank them for their interest in serving the Texas Victim Services Association in meeting its mission of support, education and recognition for victim services providers in Texas!

Professional Development and Training

Registration Still Open for Biennial Training Conference, May 9-12

We are thrilled to be returning our biennial training conference to a live format this year! After a pandemic-era virtual conference in 2021, we will be back at our conference home on South Padre Island in just a couple of weeks, May 9-12!

Being back in person will be a return to the interpersonal networking and training valued by our members and other professional colleagues. The events will begin with our preconference ethics session the afternoon of May 9th. The following morning we will officially open the conference. Our featured plenary speaker, Jennifer Storm, will present Posttraumatic Growth in Victim Services, an overview of how individual and organizational growth is possible following a global pandemic, an increase in community violence, and personal loss and grief.  

Following the opening plenary we will have two days of concurrent workshops in four tracks: Empowerment: from Victim to Survivor; Working with Marginalized Populations; Research and Promising Practices; and Leadership and Management in Victim Services.

Our networking reception on May 10th will enable conference attendees to engage with one another in a relaxed setting beachside, to renew past relationships and forge new ones.

Our exhibitors will be available for visits throughout the conference, to share regional and statewide resources for referrals, partnerships and tools to assist in service delivery.

TVSA will host two luncheons: the first, our 25th anniversary celebration, in recognition of this milestone of our organization’s history; the second, our annual meeting, where we look back on our last year’s activities and accomplishments and chart our course for the upcoming year, along with installing new board members elected and appointed this spring and saying farewell to those completing their terms of service on the board. We have seating by geographic regions at this luncheon, to provide another opportunity for our professionals to meet and network with peers in close proximity to their own service areas.

We always try to close the conference on a high note, and this year, due to popular request, we are reprising our legislative panel from the last conference, who will provide updates on bills making their way through the legislature and what their passage will mean for the survivors, advocacy and victim service community in Texas.    

Registration for the conference is still open through May 1st. More information and registration is available at:  TVSA 2023 Biennial Training Conference- Info and Registration.

TVFI Mid-Year Progress

By Shelly Muncy, AA, Education and Engagement Coordinator

We are just a little more than halfway through our 2023 year, working with our seven Texas Victim Friendly Initiative (TVFI) sites. The teams, representing three police departments, two prosecutors’ offices and two non-profit organizations, are working diligently for their agencies to become more trauma-informed/victim-friendly. The sites have completed their second quarterly progress status meetings where the team leaders reported on their progress towards the completion of their action plans. TVSA has provided the project sites with a calendar that shows the upcoming tasks and timelines remaining in the project year so that each program is aware and can adjust as needed. 

We recently held a virtual “all sites” mid-year meeting, inviting all project site team leaders and members to share their successes to date in their goals of becoming more trauma-informed, and any other ideas they thought could be of value to the other teams.  TVSA staff summarized the high-level takeaways from the information shared with each of the sites. These included ideas, resources and participant contact information for the sites to be able to communicate with one another should they so choose. All the teams are making good progress and TVSA will continue to check in with the sites and provide technical support and assistance as needed. 

TAAVA Alumni Network Updates

The alumni network of our Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance (TAAVA ANW) held its quarterly virtual meeting in March. Our guest trainer, Jeremie Miller, Executive Director of RAFT – Resilience for Advocates through Foundational Training, presented “Strengths as a Personal and Team Leadership Tool”. Participants learned how to identify their own inner strengths and how to apply those strengths in victim service leadership roles.This interactive training gave participants tools that can be used to focus on interpersonal strengths and identifying the strengths in team members, ultimately allowing for more supportive leadership. Following the training, our Featured Alumnus/a segment speaker, Amanda Elkanick Oder, presented information about the services of the Texas Advocacy Project, a statewide resource for free legal services and access to the justice system, for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. 

We invite all TAAVA alumni who will be attending our biennial training conference in South Padre Island to an invitational workshop for TAAVA alumni, to be held on May 11thCheck your conference program schedule upon arrival at the conference for more information on the session.

Mark your calendars now!  Plans are underway for our next virtual meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, September 20th, 2023. We have received your input on the topics you would like to have presented and will be using your feedback to provide training you believe will be beneficial to you. Check our website regularly for updates! 

Don’t forget that we have the exclusive TAAVA alumni discussion web page up and running. This virtual tool allows you to participate in discussions and has information related to meetings, past meeting summaries, and the alumni directory. A new addition: you can view class photos from each academy and download yours if you wish. We encourage you to take advantage of this resource, offered to you as alumni of our advanced academy! 


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