Shana Fox

  • What does your organization do?

    (CARY), the Council on At-Risk Youth works to empower at-risk youth with the skills to avoid crime and violence. CARY works in schools, targeting students who are involved in the disciplinary system for aggressive acts, such as: gang involvement, bullying, fighting, and drugs or alcohol. One of the most powerful indicators of future involvement in juvenile and criminal justice is involvement in the school disciplinary system. CARY works to close the “school to prison pipeline” through group and individual counseling, as well as case management and service learning opportunities. Students who graduate from the one year CARY program demonstrate improvements in grades, attendance, and behavior, but most notably, they are avoiding the justice system.
  • How did you become interested in this work?

    In graduate school for Social Work, I visited a juvenile residential facility and it was the first time I had ever seen kids locked up. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I knew that there had to be a solution to this trend and better options for our youth. I began as a school based counselor with CARY and grew into this position over a few years. If you would have asked me when I started CARY, 9 years ago, if I would have been in this position, I would have laughed at you, but nothing makes me happier and more fulfilled than the mission of empowering our most vulnerable youth with the skills to change the course of their own lives, while improving community safety.
  • What drives your passion?

    Kids. I adore the resilience and adaptability that is unique to children. When I am having a hard day or having trouble focusing on grants, policy, budgets, I make a site visit to one of CARY’s 12 schools and I am quickly reminded of the powerful nature and gravity of this work.
  • Did you have a mentor or a role model?

    I had several mentors and role models along the way. Some fantastic teachers and friends, colleagues and community partners. The two who stand out the most are both Executive Directors, themselves. Ms. Mona Gonzalez of the River City Youth Foundation and Mr. Adrian Moore of CARY. The two of them are powerhouses of passion and hard work. Mona gave me a chance to discover the world of non-profit administration. I applied as a case worker for a summer camp and she hired me as the Program Director. She helped support me through several “growing moments” and was always available to help guide me when I felt lost. Her amazing passion for the community of Dove Springs, and Austin, in general, is something to be marveled. Adrian has been a mentor to me since I started at CARY in 2007, however, this last year, he and I have carved out an intentional mentoring track to help foster the transition from his leadership to mine. Adrian remains supportive, always advising me, and teaching me about perseverance.
  • What's the biggest challenge in your work?

    The biggest challenge in this work is that the need outweighs the resources. There is simply not enough funding allocated towards prevention.
  • What's the best advice that you have ever received?

    “Follow your heart, but take your brain with you”
  • What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?

    1. Stay focused on your organization’s mission.
    2. Don’t beat yourself up.
    3. Thank everyone; often. Board, staff, volunteers, stakeholders, and clients.