Board of Directors
Carlton is honored to serve as the Board President for The Ladder Alliance. He was asked to join Ladder Alliance in 2017 and has since then served on "It's in the Bag", Finance and the Golf Tournament committees. Carlton is the Owner of Clearfork Retirement Group focusing on Medicare Plans, Life Insurance, Long Term Care and Annuity programs. Carlton enjoys spending time with his two daughters and wife Jennifer. He loves his home town Fort Worth and his new community in Aledo. Away from work he enjoys exercising, traveling, music, focusing on spiritual growth and giving back to the community. Carlton's effort is committed to the needs of the volunteers, board, staff and students of The Ladder Alliance.
Demetrice S. Thompson
Demetrice S. Thompson is an off-site coordinator/administrator with Tarrant County College. She holds a Master’s degree from Jackson State University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Tougaloo College. Demetrice has a strong background in workforce and economic development, grants compliance and higher education. Ms. Thompson joined The Ladder Alliance Board of Directors in 2016, and is currently serving her second term as Vice President.
Ivet Taneva is the incoming Treasurer for The Ladder Alliance, who brings an extensive experience in business development, finance, sustainability, and supply chain operations to the organization. Ivet has experience working for various Fortune 500 companies, as well as small business ventures right here in Fort Worth, TX. Ivet holds a B.A. in Economics and Executive MBA degrees from Texas Christian University and is involved in various charitable organizations in our community. In her spare time Ivet loves to travel around the world and enjoys a friendly game of sand volleyball with friends.
Stephanie Sheppard was introduced to The Ladder Alliance through placements with the Fort Worth Junior League, first in 2013 and again in 2017. After working with The Ladder Alliance, she was invited to join the Board of Directors in 2019, and currently serves as Secretary. Stephanie is an HR Manager for D.R. Horton in Arlington where she has worked since 2003. She currently manages the HRIS, Benefits and Compensation functions in the department. Stephanie is married and has a 5-year-old son.
Garrett graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor’s in Economics and started his career in the financial services industry with Edward Jones based out of St Louis. He sat on the client relations desk along with serving as the advisor to several branch offices based across the United States. Wanting to come back to Texas, Garrett took a position as the financial advisor in an office in Arlington, Texas. There he continued to work with both individuals and businesses on a more personal level to achieve their financial goals. Today he continues his work as a Registered Investment Advisor while serving in a fiduciary capacity for his clients. Garrett lives in Fort Worth, where he is not only active in the community but also active in furthering his education. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree from Texas A&M University School of Law.
Susan Bruster is a retired educator with 34 years of experience as an elementary and middle school teacher. She then became the Program Coordinator for the Robotics and Engineering Magnet Programs at Dunbar High School and then at William James Middle School. During her last six years in Fort Worth ISD, she was a Gifted and Talented Specialist for nineteen elementary and middle schools. Susan joined The Ladder Alliance Board of Directors in 2019, and also serves as a volunteer for the Women’s Center as a Victim Assault Advocate. Susan is married to Tim Bruster and they have three married daughters and five grandchildren. Tim is the senior minister at First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth. Susan sings in the Choral Union, and in the ensemble, Adoramus.
Emily has over 20 years experience in Integrated Marketing and Strategy, working both client side and agency side. She started working with The Ladder Alliance in 2016 as a Committee Member and joined the Board and Marketing Committee in 2019. "I was first drawn to TLA because we were utilizing education as a way to help people gain independent and successful lives. But it's so much more than that. The support and tools we are able to provide (like daycare and Success Clothing Store) make it possible for so many more people to take advantage of this program. There is power in this program. You can physically see the way it changes a person. It is an honor to serve on this board."
Lauren Brady is a resident of Mansfield, TX where she raises three children with her husband, Matt: Paige, 15; Levi, 14; Blake, 3. Lauren has worked in the retail industry her entire career holding leadership positions for Pier 1 Imports and Target Stores. She is currently pursuing her Executive Masters of Business Administration at Texas Christian University. Lauren is passionate about using her business leadership skills to enhance her community and believes strongly in the power of growing future female leaders for the city of Fort Worth. She views The Ladder Alliance’s work as being critical to ending the cycle of poverty and domestic violence in our community by empowering individuals to confidently lead self-sufficient lives.
Sharon’s career spanned many different educational endeavors. During her career she has taught in elementary and secondary schools, college, managed corporate training departments and owned her own training company teaching computer software to corporations such as Johnson & Johnson and Nabisco. However, she is most proud and passionate about founding The Ladder Alliance. Being able to develop an entity focused on using education as the tool to lift victims of domestic violence out of poverty was her greatest challenge, but also the most important work of her career.
Crystal Cardwell is the Director of Partnerships and Events at RIDE TV, a 24-hour, high-definition, American digital cable and satellite television network showcasing equestrian and horse lifestyle and culture. Previously, Crystal opened Topgolf Fort Worth as the Director of Sales. She is known for her love and dedication to the Fort Worth community. Crystal ran Texas Young Professionals Fort Worth Chapter for over four years, worked in the non-profit sector, and was a 40 under 40 recipient. Her favorite hobbies are playing pool and going on the water with her husband and children.
Donna James Harvey
Donna James Harvey
Donna grew up in New York City where she began her career as a Fashion Merchandiser. After serving in the fashion industry for several years, she went back to school and earned her Master's degree from Southern Methodist University, and transitioned to education. Donna taught ESL at community colleges, served as an Advisor for international students which eventually led to her position as Program Director for The Ladder Alliance where she oversaw the BCST, GED and started the Professional Office Skills Training program.
Most recently Donna was the Director of College & Career for Girls Inc. of Tarrant County, where she developed the program that served socio-economically and first generation college students. Donna’s passion for education has led her to serve in a number of capacities, including teaching, and volunteering. She currently serves on the Boards of The Ladder Alliance and Camp Fire First, and is a founding member of Texas Women’s Foundation Village Giving Circle. Donna currently lives in Southlake with her husband and two daughters.
Chad has been serving The Ladder Alliance since 2014. He is a past Chairman of the Board and currently serves on the finance, golf, and bag committees. Chad is a commercial banker, primarily taking care of middle market clients here in North Texas. He is an active volunteer, having served on numerous non-profit boards in Tarrant County and is currently Chairman of the Board for Near Southside, Inc. In his free time, Chad enjoys golf, the outdoors, and spending time with his wife and four children.
Misty Kimbrough is a native of Fort Worth, has worked in the insurance industry for over 13 years, and is passionate about serving the community through her work and philanthropy. Misty was asked to serve on the very first "It's in the Bag" luncheon committee 8 years ago, and from that day forward The Ladder Alliance continues to be her outlet for making a change in this world. Misty has served on the Board of Directors for four years where she continues her commitment to fundraising efforts such as "It's in the Bag" and the Annual Golf Tournament. Misty is a certified 200 RYT and trapeze yoga teacher, with a passion for adventure and traveling abroad!
Florastine Mack, MSHP, BSN, RN
Florastine Mack, currently serves as the Nursing Quality Assurance Coordinator for Tarrant County Public Health. Ms. Mack has over thirty years’ experience working in Public Health. The various roles she has served includes: Maternal-Child Health and Pediatric Nursing Coordinator with Austin- Travis County Health Department, State Adolescent Health Coordinator for the Texas Department of State Health Services, Clinic Coordinator for John Peter Smith Hospital District – Viola Pitts & Kathryn Wilemon Clinics and Public Health Region IV Infertility Chlamydia Prevention Project Coordinator.
Joni Moore graduated from The University of Texas Dental Branch at the Houston Health Science Center as a Registered Dental Hygienist. Shortly thereafter, she relocated to Fort Worth where, in conjunction with her husband, she opened a successful dental practice where she remained until his retirement in 2015. Joni is currently practicing 3 days a week in the Mid-cities area, and has served on The Ladder Alliance Board of Directors since 2018, and has volunteered for the Annual It’s in the Bag luncheon for 4 years, two of which she co-chaired the luncheon.
Jennifer Engstrand Reeder
Jennifer Engstrand Reeder
Jennifer is Director of Corporate Communications, Public Relations and Training at Pier 1, where she leads the team that is responsible for internal and external communication, associate engagement and corporate training across North America. A strategic marketing and communications professional with more than 20 years of experience, Jennifer is an expert in developing impactful communication strategies and has worked for corporate, nonprofit, agency and news organizations throughout her career. She began volunteering as a member of The Ladder Alliance’s Marketing Committee in 2014 and was invited to join the Board of Directors in 2016. Jennifer served as Secretary of the Board from 2018 to 2020. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas Christian University in Fort
Jennifer L. Willingham
Jennifer L. Willingham is senior counsel for BNSF Railway overseeing regional claims litigation since 2012. Jennifer began her career as a litigation attorney in Fort Worth in 2004, where she was introduced to the Ladder Alliance by a former board member. Since that time, she has had a passion for this organization because of its commitment of empowering women by building their self-esteem and giving them tangible tools to achieve their ambitions. Jennifer joined Ladder’s Board of Directors in 2014.
Samantha Wood (Smith)
Samantha received her BS Geology from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, and her MS Geology from Texas Christian University. Currently she is the GIS Manager at Double Eagle, with whom she’s been with for the past 9 years. Samantha joined The Ladder Alliance Board of Directors in 2019 where she plays an active role on the Finance Committee.
Annie relocated to Fort Worth with her husband over eight years ago, where they own and operate several successful Self Storage properties. Annie also works as a Caregiver for Outreach Home Health Care, where she provides living assistance and support for her disabled daughter. Annie has volunteered with The Ladder Alliance for 8 years, and is passionate about philanthropy and support of the Fort Worth community. Annie is a member of Fort Worth Republican Women, Arlington Republican Women, Daughters of the American Revolution and the Woman's Club of Fort Worth.