dieter cantu

Program Manager

Dieter Cantu is responsible for creating and sustaining the Youth Advisory Board and building the Education Work Group. He focuses on inclusion of community voice to ensure that dual status youth are included in the solutions to support successful transition into adulthood. Prior to HCYC, Dieter worked for Texas Organizing Project as Lead Criminal Justice Organizer, where he focused on policy reforms that decrease incarceration levels and reinforced the incentive for community action while growing political power necessary to win longer term, multi-county and statewide reform. Dieter has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Megan Elizabeth Davis

Program Manager

Megan Elizabeth Davis is responsible for overseeing implementation of Harris County’s Dual Status Youth Practice Model in close coordination with the Department of Family and Protective Services and Harris County Juvenile Probation. She is also the lead trainer on implementation of the Model and using a strengths-based framework for supporting dual status youth and families. Megan uses tools of graphic facilitation and visual data sharing to support understanding of our work. Prior to HCYC, Megan worked for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for 7 years in a variety of roles including Investigator, Child Fatality Worker, Supervisor, and Family Group Facilitator. Megan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University.


Kelly Sowards Opot

Executive Director

Kelly Sowards Opot guides the initiative’s strategy development and implementation of best practices to improve coordination among systems and overall outcomes for youth who have dual system involvement with juvenile justice and child welfare. Prior to HCYC, Kelly worked for Corporation for Supportive Housing as Associate Director for Texas, where she worked with communities across the State of Texas to improve system responses to vulnerable populations, using housing as a platform for health, stability and employment. Kelly has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.


Steering Committee

Bill Henderson
Children’s Assessment Center

Charles Rotramel
Houston revision

Judge Dena Fisher
315th Juvenile Court

Dustin Rynders
Disability Rights Texas

Diana Quintana
Harris County Juvenile Probation Department

Ginger Harper
Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults

Jay Jenkins
Texas Criminal Justice Coalition

Jennifer Clark
Texas Department of Family Protective Services

John Lee
Texas Department of Family Protective Services


Kelli King-Jackson
The Simmons Foundation

Kathy Nevarez
Child Advocates of Harris County

Judge Michelle Moore
314th Juvenile Court

Monalisa Jiles
The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD

Steve Halpert
Harris County Public Defender’s Office

Tara Griggs Garlinghouse
Foster Care Advocacy Center

Tiffany Reedy
Harris County Attorney’s Office

Tricia Mason
Harris County District Attorney’s Office

Tonyel Edwards
Houston Endowment


Other Stakeholder Organizations

Mental Health America of Greater Houston

Prairie View A&M University

Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission

Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD)  

Texas Network of Youth Services

Texas Organizing Project (TOP)

The Montrose Center

The Salvation Army Social - Young Adult Resource Center

The State Bar of Texas - Juvenile Law Section

The University of Houston Law Center

YES Prep Public Schools

UT Physicians

8 Million Stories

Coalition for the Homeless

Corporation for Supportive Housing

Council for State Governments Justice Center

Covenant House Texas

DePelchin Children’s Center

Earl Carl Institute for Legal and Public Policy

Family Court, Harris County District Courts

Georgetown Center for Juvenile Justice Reform

Haywood Burns Institute for Juvenile Justice

Fairness and Equity

Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC)

Houston Police Department