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

Texas Victim Services Association

Winter 2023

Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance Class of 2023
Photo montage courtesy of Mary Targonski


In This Issue

Message from the Executive Director

President's Column

Membership Matters 

Professional Development and Training

Biennial Training Conference Returns In-Person to South Padre Island

TAAVA Alumni Network Updates

Board of Directors

Welcome New Members

Employee Spotlight: Shelly Muncy

TVFI Program Update

Intern Notice

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

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:

Khila Coleman, Hutto

Laura Dominguez, San Antonio

Rachel Duer, Austin

Casey Hendrix, Plano

Teri Holtzclaw, San Marcos

Tamara Monroe, Plano

Lillie Nichols, Cedar Park

Julia Smith, Gatesville

Kathy Smith, Plano

Judy Velasquez, Georgetown

Emalie Wall, Garland

Employee Spotlight: Shelly Muncy

TVSA welcomes our new Education and Engagement Coordinator, Shelly Muncy. Shelly is a 2020 alumna of TAAVA, our advanced academy for victim services managers and leaders. Shelly’s passion for working in the field of advocacy for marginalized groups has spanned more than three decades.  Shelly’s years of experience come from both advocating for persons with disabilities and assisting victims in breaking the cycle of violence by offering shelter, safety planning and resources, including through her former role as Victim Services Director at Mission Granbury.  She has also provided presentations and training for staff and the community to bring awareness to the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. Her new position at TVSA includes coordinating our Texas Victim Friendly Initiative (TVFI) program, our academy (TAAVA) alumni network, and also providing some membership services support to our executive director and the membership committee.

“TVSA’s training and my employment background dovetail perfectly for this new position I am in. I am very excited to help the TVFI program participating sites to become more victim friendly, and to working with our academy alumni with continuing education and networking opportunities!  In this role, I hope to help make a positive and significant impact for both victims and providers when services are sought and delivered.”

TVFI Program Update

The Texas Victim Friendly Initiative project coordination has recently transitioned to our new Education and Engagement Coordinator, Shelly Muncy. We are excited to have Shelly contributing her three decades of experience in victim services program management as we provide technical assistance and support to this year’s nine project sites. Upcoming activities are the sites’ next quarterly check-ins, and our midyear session with all our sites together, where they can share their present successes and challenges in becoming more victim-friendly in their agency-wide service delivery.

TVSA seeks an intern for the Fall 2023 semester. The intern will assist the TVSA staff with communications and planning of our trainings, including the next Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance in leadership and management. For more information, visit:

Did You Know?

TVSA has 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:

TAAVA Alumni Network Quarterly Meeting (Virtual)

March 8, 2023

12:00-1:30 pm central

TVSA 2023 Biennial Training Conference

May 9-12, 2023

Hilton Garden Inn, South Padre Island

 TVSA 2023 Biennial Training Conference- Info and Registration


Message from the Executive Director

By Natacha Peláez-Wagner, M.Ed.

This winter has been a busy one at TVSA, notwithstanding the challenges created by the ice storm and its power and internet outages at our staff’s virtual offices. Once we were all fully restored, work deadlines resumed to be met at a fast make-up pace!

We were fortunate to have just wrapped up our seventh annual advanced academy for victim assistance leaders and managers in Hutto the week previous to the ice storm. Our newest class of 38 graduates returned to their agencies with new knowledge and skills to help them raise the quality and level of services to victims of crime, as well as increasing their personal professional growth.

Our evaluations of the academy this year were the best yet. One of our graduates also shares her firsthand academy experience in the professional development and training column of this newsletter issue.

One of the casualties of the ice storm was the cancellation of our quarterly academy alumni network virtual meeting and training that week, but it is back on the calendar for March 8th. We thank our agenda’s trainers, Jeremie Miller and Amanda Elkanick Oder for their flexibility in securing an alternate date for the meeting.

And of course our biennial training conference planning and preparations continue, as we approach our return to an in-person format on South Padre Island this May 9-12. Registration has just opened this week. For more information on the conference and to register please go to TVSA 2023 Biennial Training Conference- Info and Registration. We hope to see you there!

President's Column

By Rose Luna, MSLC

February reminds me of love and candy. I wonder why? Either way, love is in the air, if you love grant application deadlines or delayed reimbursements! But also love for the field of victim services and for each other as we continue this difficult work. 

TVSA loves to provide education and information specific to the job and to bring colleagues together to share and connect. The TVSA biennial conference is back and will do just that! We hope to see everyone at the beautiful South Padre Island in May. 

We also love to connect alumni of our advanced academy to continue the conversations and advance the field. Our alumni’s dedication to sharing their knowledge is evident in the webinars and discussions they have presented and will continue to for TVSA. 

TVSA also loves its members. We are continuously searching for ways to make your membership dollars stretch by providing you with resources and opportunities to continue to learn, share, and network.

Your work and dedication to crime victims is admirable. Your voice matters and we’d love to hear from you! Never hesitate to contact TVSA with your thoughts and ideas. 

Have a great spring upcoming and thank you for your service to the amazing communities of Texas.


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

Our committee members are presently focusing their energies on helping to make our 2023 Biennial Training Conference a success! We are working to reach out to members and colleagues-at-large in our respective regions for sponsorships and exhibitors for the conference! Information on sponsor and exhibitor opportunities is available at this link: TVSA 2023 Biennial Conference- Sponsor/Exhibitor 

We will resume our other outreach activities to our regional professionals after the conference this May!

Professional Development and Training

Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance (TAAVA)

By Jenny Featherston, TVSA Member, Executive Director of Hidden Gem Family Center 

My name is Jenny Featherston, and I am a Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Coryell County District Attorney’s Office.  I have been in this position for nine years and during my first year I noticed something that really bothered me.  We had very few victim services or programs in our county.   We were referring victims out of county for services. Since most of our victims do not have transportation, they were not getting the services they needed.  I had tried to find different ways to bring services into our county but was not getting the response I was hoping for.  I began developing a plan to offer the needed services through the DA’s office.  I soon realized this was not feasible due to the heavy caseload, which would not leave time for other services to be provided.

During this time, in 2018 I received an invitation to apply for TVSA’s Texas Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance.  I applied and was accepted into the academy and attended in 2019 with really no idea of what this training would be about.  This academy became the springboard for the development of the Hidden Gem Family Center in Gatesville, Texas. We provide service to victims and families in crisis.  I learned so much during the academy such as program development, Code of Ethics, financial planning and much more.  This helped to launch the opening of this center to provide services that were needed.

At the end of 2022 I was speaking with Natacha Peláez-Wagner of TVSA and she told me about the academy’s new, updated curriculum and its emphasis on management and leadership in a trauma-informed profession. I applied and was accepted into the academy once again. I attended the academy in January of 2023 and was blown away by the new curriculum. 

We are at a point in the Hidden Gem Family Center’s day to day operations where we need to put policies and procedures in place as well as a Code of Ethics that have an emphasis on trauma-informed care for victims/clients and employees.  I am grateful for the opportunity to attend this academy and for all the new information that I obtained,  such as Leadership, OVC Programs Standards, Funding for Victim Assistance, Ethics in Victim Services Management and Trauma-Informed Supervision to name a few that I can implement into our center.  I would like to thank the Texas Victim Services Association for inviting us to participate.  I am looking forward to the day I can transition over from the District Attorney’s office to the Hidden Gem full time.  This training has brought me one step closer to my goal.

Biennial Training Conference Returns In-Person to South Padre Island

We at TVSA are thrilled to be returning our conference to an in-person format back at our conference “home”, South Padre Island, this year!

The conference will take place on May 9-12 at the Hilton Garden Inn. Registration opened this week; we encourage you to take advantage of early registration rates for significant savings through March 31st. TVSA members receive a further discount on registration fees.

We have secured group hotel room rates at the prevailing government rate. We have also obtained discounted rates for airport transportation from the Harlingen airport to the island from two shuttle companies.

A cornerstone of our conference is our pre-conference ethics session, which will occur on the afternoon of May 9th. 

We are in the process of finalizing our training program of 28 workshops in the areas of Victim Empowerment, Working with Marginalized Populations, Research and Promising Practices and Leadership and Management in Victim Services. Our opening plenary session will feature a national presenter, and our closing plenary will bring us an update of the 88th legislative session.

Our exhibit hall will feature organizations providing referral resources and services for victims and service providers. TVSA will also host two luncheons, with opportunities for meeting professional colleagues from your geographic regions and hearing about TVSA’s current programs and services and plans for the future as we surpass our 25- year mark. Our evening reception will bring us together for some relaxed time, revisiting old friendships and forging new ones.

And, an event not to be overlooked, our early morning yoga session will bring some self-care in a beachfront setting for the most hearty of us!

For information and to register for the conference, please go to  TVSA 2023 Biennial Training Conference- Info and Registration.

We hope to see you on “the island” in May!

TAAVA Alumni Network Updates

By Joseph Garza, BA, Education and Engagement Coordinator 

As we wrap up the winter season and the ice starts to melt, spring brings about new growth and exciting ventures and the Academy Alumni Network has had a very exciting first year. In our established quarterly meetings, we have learned about Effective Praise and Active Constructive Responding and Cultural Humility and Inclusion. We also got to meet a few fellow alumni including Jim McKee of Crisis Response Ministry and Jose Juan Lara of Esperanza United to learn about their organization's referral resources in our state. Unfortunately, Mother Nature forced us to postpone our third meeting but rest assured it is happening. Be sure and join us for the meeting which has been rescheduled for March 8, 2023 from 12-130p CST where we will learn about Strengths as a Personal and Team Leadership Tool from Jeremie Miller of RAFT Cares and our featured alumna is Amanda Elkanick Oder of Texas Advocacy Project. You will not want to miss this training as we will be learning how to identify our own inner strengths and then how to apply those strengths in our role as victim services leaders. 

Speaking of new growth and ventures, this will also be my final meeting as your Education and Engagement Coordinator. In this issue TVSA is introducing Shelly Muncy, whose position as Education and Engagement Coordinator is assuming a dual role as the TVFI and TAAVA Alumni Network coordinator.  Also, do not forget to visit your TAAVA Alumni exclusive webpage where you will find our discussion board, meeting information, past meeting summaries, the alumni directory, and the alumni lost and found “search” list. It is a great resource available exclusively to TAAVA Alumni. While I am leaving the staff, I look forward to continuing to serve as an active member of TVSA, as I have been for many years.

One final note is the 2023 TVSA Biennial Training Conference coming up on May 9-12 at the Hilton Garden Inn in South Padre Island. We will be having a session for TAAVA alumni and I hope to see many of you there. Until then, have a fantastic month and may God Bless you all. 


THE TEXAS VICTIM SERVICES ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER IS PUBLISHED QUARTERLY. Please forward articles, announcements, shout outs, job openings, training information, reviews, information and other items of interest to Be sure and let us know if your email changes.

Texas Victim Services Association is very grateful for the support of its sponsors, members, friends and colleagues. TVSA does not specifically endorse or recommend any referral resources or vendors over others.

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