Our Leadership

Imagine a world without violence

Maisha Colter, Chief Executive Officer

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With more than 14 years of service to AVDA, Maisha Colter became AVDA’s Chief Executive Officer on August 1, 2019. She has dedicated her professional life to advocating for the needs of children and families in crisis.

After attaining a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Public Policy as well as a Masters in Social Work from New York University, Colter became a licensed social worker in Brooklyn, NY, where she tirelessly worked with children and families involved with the Child Protective Services.

After a few years, she pursued her law degree from Rutgers University and graduated in 2001. In 2003, she moved to Texas, learned about AVDA, and reached out to the Executive Director to volunteer and was instead hired as the agency’s only staff attorney in 2004. She remained with the agency for almost four years and returned in 2012 as Director of Litigation to lead a staff of attorneys and paralegals who fight on behalf of victims of abuse, later becoming Director of Legal Advocacy Program.

Milisa Alexis-Flores, Managing Attorney for Harris County Office

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Milisa A. Alexis-Flores, J.D. joined AVDA in December of 2012 as its dedicated Protective Order attorney. In 2014, she began a dual role of handling both Protective Order cases as well as family law cases. In fall of 2019, Milisa became the Managing Attorney in the Houston office. In February 2020, Milisa and her paralegal became the designated legal team for AVDA’s Working Poor program, serving clients who cannot afford protracted litigation. She graduated from Boston College and received her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. Her experience includes working in Shanghai, China at a law firm handling cross-border transactions and STEPS to End Family Violence in New York handling Orders of Protection cases as well as divorce, custody, and immigration cases (T-Visas, U-visas and VAWA visas) for survivors of domestic violence.

Kusum Warsi, Managing Attorney for Fort Bend County Office

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Kusum J. Warsi joined AVDA in November 2017 as its managing attorney in the newly created Fort Bend County office. Prior to AVDA, Kusum had been a licensed attorney in the private sector primarily practicing family law in Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BS in Human Development and Family Sciences with a concentration of Families and Society and received her law degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. While in law school, she interned with the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office and the Harris County Public Defender’s Office. During her last year as a law student, she was a student lawyer with the school’s legal clinic where she represented indigent clients in the area of criminal and juvenile law.

Peter Walbridge Jr., Managing Attorney for Austin, Grimes, Waller and Washington Counties Office

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Peter Walbridge, Jr., has served as managing attorney of AVDA’s Austin, Grimes, Waller, and Washington counties’ office since its inauguration in late 2019 and as a staff attorney in AVDA’s Legal Advocacy Program for six years prior to that. Peter attended Southwestern University and received his JD from Tulane University. Before working at AVDA, he interned at the Family Criminal Law Division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Allison Guerra, Interim Director of Battering Intervention and Prevention

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Through her passion for social change, Allison has risen through the ranks of AVDA’s Battering Intervention and Prevention Program. She began work at AVDA in 2016 as the part-time BIPP Program Assistant. She immediately expressed interest in group facilitation and began to assist in the Spanish BIPP groups. Eventually she became full-time staff, and while working, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology and masters of education in counseling and development.  Currently, she is studying to become a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate.

Brenda Estrada, Director of Advocacy Services

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Brenda Estrada joined AVDA in June of 2014 after having served her community as a social worker for about six years. She began assisting victims directly as a Bilingual Client Advocate. She continued to serve AVDA’s mission as an advocate until she became the Director of Advocacy Services in March of 2020. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Houston-Downtown. While an undergrad, she interned at the Office of the Mayor in Houston, Texas, where she assisted with proclamations of notable organizations and individuals in the community. Prior to AVDA, Brenda provided case management for various populations ranging from those who suffered from mental illness to those living with HIV.

Lauren Summerville, Chief Marketing and Development Officer

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Lauren Summerville joined AVDA in 2018 as the Director of Development. She brings over 15 years of marketing and development experience with seven years spent in non-profit, specifically higher education. Summerville received her Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English Literature from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, VA. She is committed to raising awareness about domestic violence in the greater Houston community and is dedicated to AVDA’s mission to end abuse.

Marie Jacinto, Director of Community Awareness and Prevention

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Marie has served in leadership positions within the nonprofit sector for more than two decades, primarily in helping grow audiences and awareness. She has directed citywide events and campaigns and worked with media ranging from “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” to all of Houston’s broadcast media. As the director of AVDA’s Community Awareness and Prevention Program, Marie has focused on reaching victims of domestic violence through trainings for first responders and victim intake while helping expand the agency’s prevention work in schools. While director of public relations for Spoleto Festival USA, Marie was recognized as a professional leader by Charleston Regional Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” and was an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston. A native Houstonian, Marie received her B.A. in English and Managerial Studies from Rice University where she also earned a certificate in nonprofit leadership.

Nicole Franklin-Jones, Director of Outreach

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Nicole Franklin-Jones has been with AVDA since 2014. A native Houstonian, Nicole holds degrees in Child Psychology (BA) from Texas Southern University and in Art and Organizational Management (MA) from the University of Phoenix and is a Youth & Family Certified Life Coach. She has 30+ years of experience working and founding community efforts to broaden opportunities for today’s at-risk youth. As AVDA’s Outreach Director, she is dedicated to educating the community on the effects of domestic violence in an effort to end intimate partner abuse for adults and youth.