"Nothing is more powerful than a group of dedicated individuals focused on achieving the same goal."
— Jennifer Gilley, Executive Director
Board of Directors
David O’Brien, President
Dale Watson, Vice-President
Trey Penny, Treasurer
Lyn Willis, Secretary
Bobby Jones, Programs
Nancy Gordon, Community Relations
Mary Margaret Clay
Jennifer Gilley, BS M.Ed
Jennifer Gilley has been involved in prevention for over 20 years. She has extensive experience in mobilizing stakeholders to create broad based community collaborations to address public health issues. She has served on numerous planning groups charged with assessing community need and providing viable plans to achieve change. Jennifer has served on both state and local advisory boards charged with developing implementation strategies to address issues relating to substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment. Mrs. Gilley currently serves as the Executive Director of Tarrant County Challenge, a non-profit agency whose mission is to confront substance abuse by identifying needs, educating the community, mobilizing resources, promoting collaborations and advocating for sound public policy.
John Haenes, LMSW, ICPS
Chief Operating Officer
John Haenes is a Licensed Master’s level Social Worker and an International Certified Prevention Specialist with 22 years of experience with substance abuse issues, juvenile delinquency, and child welfare issues. Mr. Haenes is a recognized expert in addiction and adolescent brain development, and served as the Deputy Assistant Director for Specialized Programs at Tarrant County Juvenile Services. Mr. Haenes has been a trainer for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) the Texas Center for the Judiciary, the Texas Justice Court Training Center, the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, Department of Family and Protective Services, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Tarrant County, and numerous Local Independent School Districts and police departments. Mr. Haenes currently serves as the Chief Operations Officer of Tarrant County Challenge, a non-profit agency whose mission is to confront substance abuse by identifying needs, educating the community, mobilizing resources, promoting collaborations and advocating for sound public policy.
Cynthia Velazquez, BS
Program Director - Stay on Track
Cynthia Velazquez is the Director of Stay On Track, a community coalition campaign serving Northeast Tarrant County. She is a graduate of Texas Wesleyan University where she received a Bachelor of Science. Cynthia has 20 years’ experience in law enforcement and substance abuse related issues.
Her past positions include Program Manager for the Tarrant County DIRECT Drug Court Program, Supervision Officer with the Tarrant County Community Supervision and Correction Department, Detention Officer with Tarrant County Juvenile Services and Communication Officer for White Settlement Police Department. Her lifelong passion has been to promote education, awareness and prevention to the community in substance abuse related matters.
Claudia Perkins, BA
Program Director - SMART
Claudia Perkins, program director for UTA SMART, is an alumnus of UT Arlington with a degree in communications. While at UTA she was a member of Alpha Phi sorority and was Shorthorn editor. She currently serves on the Greek Alumni Advisory Council. She is also part of the Hazing Prevention Week and National Night Out committees along with Phi Delta Theta’s Soberfest and Student Activities Halloween Casino Night.
She is a member of the board of directors for Arlington 4th of July Parade Association, Arlington Historical Society and Sam Houston High School Alumni Association. Last year she received the “Long Tall Texan Award” from the school, which recognizes the outstanding SHHS alumni. She is also a trustee at New World United Methodist Church in Arlington. She is one of four founding members and on the board of Keep Bolivar Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep Texas Beautiful.
Tiara Nugent, MPA, CPS
Program Director - Power 2 Choose
Tiara directs Power 2 Choose, a community coalition and campaign unique to TCU that is made possible through a partnership between TCU Alcohol & Drug Education and Challenge of Tarrant County. Power 2 Choose works to reduce risky alcohol consumption by empowering students to make wise choices for life. Tiara also serves on the TCU Health & Wellness Committee and is a regular contributing writer for the TCU Parent & Family Magazine.
Tiara earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in Writing and a minor in Sociology from Texas Wesleyan University. She received her Master of Public Administration Management from the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to joining Challenge and TCU in 2013, Tiara worked for the City of Benbrook Planning and Zoning Department and The Fort Worth Business Press.
Carolyn Johnson Harris, BA
Director of Tobacco Prevention
Carolyn Johnson-Harris CDVS-1 is the program director for the Texas Youth Tobacco Awareness Program. Through a partnership with MHMR and CPRIT, Carolyn has worked with many school districts and the community partners to bring awareness to the rise of tobacco use.
Carolyn is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Psychology. Carolyn has worked in the community of helps for many years, first as an alternative teacher and also working as a Crisis Counselor for a Youth Shelter, and earning a certification in Domestic Violence while working for the Workforce Commission.
Abbie Byrd, MSW
Program Director - SMART Arlington
Abbie Byrd received a bachelor’s of social work degree and holds a master’s of social work degree, both from The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Ms. Byrd is a certified peer educator and was the social work undergraduate intern for the Relationship Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention (RVSP) program at UTA. While at RVSP, Ms. Byrd designed and implemented a program entitled, Take Back the Night, which is an emotionally charged, demonstrative march on campus that symbolizes the resiliency and strength that survivors of sexual and domestic violence possess by allowing them to unite with other survivors to publicly reclaim their power.
Ms. Byrd also was a social work graduate intern for the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Fort Worth Outpatient Clinic where she assessed Veterans’ overall health both mentally and physically and served as a case manager and link to resources either within the VA or through the surrounding community depending on the nature and severity of the Veteran’s presenting problem. During both practicums, Ms. Byrd was able to observe the direct impact and implications that drug and alcohol abuse and misuse have on both the individual who chooses to imbibe, as well as, the surrounding community and nation as a whole. Ms. Byrd is currently the new program director for the SMART Arlington, Drug-Free Coalition, which is a program of Challenge of Tarrant County.
Katherine Neale, BS
Program Director - Follow Our Lead
Katherine Neale is the Program Director for the Follow Our Lead drug and alcohol abuse prevention program at Weatherford College. Katherine has a nurturing spirit which fueled her studies toward her Associates Degree in early childhood and education, and her passion for caring for others drove her to complete her Bachelors of Science in Rehabilitation Studies with a minor in Substance Use and Addiction from the University of North Texas.
Katherine has excellent interpersonal skills which have helped her with her prior endeavors which include her Prevention Services internship with Challenge of Tarrant County working with Tarrant County Drug Courts and several substance abuse prevention community coalitions. In this role, she assisted with client drug screenings and judicial reviews, participated on several coalition advisory boards, and helped facilitate youth prevention activities, including events related to Great American Smoke-Out and Red Ribbon Week activities. Katherine also has experience in working in rehabilitation service through Garden Terrace of Fort Worth, a skilled nursing facility; she served as a volunteer and then administrative assistant before being promoted to an admission and management position. She also served as a patient advocate in making sure that residents were being treated properly. This role required that Katherine collaborate with patients, their families and facility staff to ensure optimal care was given and protocol was followed throughout the center.
Suzanne Lofton, LCDC, ADC, SAP
Family Drug Court Coordinator
Suzanne Lofton is Coordinator of the Family Drug Court, a collaborative program administered through Challenge of Tarrant County. Suzanne has been actively involved in the recovery community for over 26 years, and has worked the last 20 years in the field of addiction. As the Past President of the Fort Worth Chapter of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals and the President of the State Board of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals, Suzanne has extensive experience in all facets of addiction treatment and recovery support.
During her career Suzanne has supervised multiple treatment programs, including a 91-bed facility for men and women coming from Substance Abuse Felony Punishment prison and a women and children's treatment facility, as well as directing the Access to Recovery for Recovery Resource Council. Suzanne holds numerous credentials including Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC); Alcohol Drug Counselor (ADC); Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), Certified Recovery Coach (CRC) and a Certified Life Coach (CLC) as well as a being a “ train the trainer” for Recovery Coaches and Life Coaches.