February 2017: The concept for WAY Alliance began to be developed. Founder Joy Miller spent the next year researching evidence-based program strategies that would best serve youth aging out of foster care in North Texas.
March 2018: WAY Alliance was officially established as a Texas nonprofit organization.
April 2018: The founding Board of Directors held their initial meeting.
May 2018: WAY Alliance received its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS.
April 2019: WAY Alliance trained their first cohort of mentors and began matching youth with mentors.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS & STAFF
Joy MillerFounder / Board Chair
In early 2017, Joy began researching the challenges that youth face when they age out of foster care. Determined to find a way to meet the needs of these under-served youth, she began volunteering as a CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate for foster children) and started to develop the vision for WAY Alliance. Joy officially founded WAY Alliance in March 2018 with the support of founding board members Jo Warren, Angela Cox, and DeeAnn Farmer.
Joy is a mother to six, and homeschooled for 17 years. In December 2018, she and her husband adopted their son Logen who had just aged out of foster care. Then in October 2019, they adopted their daughter Jaeyla who was (and still is) a WAY Alliance mentee. At the same time, they also welcomed into their family Jaeyla's biological sister, Kirstie, along with Kirstie's young daughter, Eleanor.
Joy has a Bachelor of General Studies degree with a concentration in Human Services and has completed a certificate program in nonprofit management through Collin College. She is currently enrolled in graduate studies for Marriage and Family Therapy.
Joy is a graphic designer, lifelong learner, obsessive planner, and book nerd.
Angela Cox, CPASecretary / Treasurer
Angela serves as the Board Secretary and also assists with finding resources for our youth. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Accounting from East Texas State University. Angela is a licensed CPA—and believe it or not, she actually likes doing income taxes!
Angela devoted years of her life to raising and homeschooling her daughter who is now an adult. She is very passionate about encouraging youth to make their own path and select the career that's right for them. Education is a big priority to Angela, and she wants to make sure our youth have every opportunity to find their purpose in life. In her free time Angela enjoys reading, genealogy, quilting, and learning new things—and she's currently learning to draw!
Irene AccomandoBoard Member
Irene is currently serving as the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Tarrant County College, Trinity River Campus. Irene has a BA in English from the University of Dallas and a MA in Communications/Public Relations from the University of Houston. In addition to her experience in administration, she has taught speech communication for 15+ years in the community college setting. During that time, she also served as a coach and assistant director of the speech and debate club in addition to serving her department as department chair. Irene has recently begun a journey to obtain her PhD in Higher Education from the University of North Texas.
Before Irene ventured into the world of higher education, she spent some time working in communication, development, and fundraising for several nonprofit agencies in the Dallas area.
Irene has two adopted sons, volunteered as a CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate for foster children) in Tarrant County, and served as a volunteer with ACH Children and Family Services. In her spare time she enjoys taking her youngest to soccer games and binge watching old sitcoms with her boys on Netflix.
James Hentz, LPCBoard Member
James is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works in the Intervention Department at Fort Worth Independent School District. James works directly with students that have been identified at being at risk of failure or expulsion due to behaviors in the classroom. James provides individual and group counseling to the students. James works with a collaborative support team to help address these issues so that the student can return to a healthy level of functioning in life and improve performance in the classroom.
James previously worked for Child Protective Services for more than 12 years. While there, he managed their Family Group Decision Making Program. James oversaw a team of Facilitators who worked with youth that would be aging out of foster care by providing a strategic plan of successful transition into adulthood. In addition, James oversaw Facilitators who mediated the potential removal of a child from their home by providing a platform for Families and Investigators to develop a Safety Plan to keep the child safe.
James has a passion for service and enjoys donating his time helping to empower others. During his leisure time, James enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. They have a thirst for travel, whether by car or plane, and often seek destinations that have some of the world's most beautiful beaches.
Izell BennettBoard Member
Izell has over 17 years of experience in social services, working with diverse populations including the homeless, foster care, juvenile corrections, education, and community sectors. He and his family relocated to North Texas in 2011 after managing Harper House, a transitional living program for Juvenile Offenders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Izell worked at Journey to Dream, a local non-profit, servicing homeless youth through their transitional programs and school groups. Then in 2017, he led the establishment of Kyle’s Place, Journey to Dream’s transitional housing for homeless teenagers. In 2020, Izell helped Ranch Hand Rescue, a local non-profit that is an animal sanctuary and counseling center, to establish Bob’s House of Hope, the first safe house for male sex trafficking victims in North Texas.
Izell has also served on multiple committees and task forces that address social issues, such as C7 Human Trafficking Coalition, Denton Homeless Coalition, and Denton’s Food Insecurity Committee. He currently serves on the Executive Board for Friends of Shiloh Gardens, which is a 14.5 acres community garden in Denton, TX that grows produce for local food pantries and charities. Izell is an ordained minister of the Gospel and currently works as the Vice President of Community Relations and Impact at First Refuge Ministries in Denton.
In his free time, Izell enjoys photography, music, and making up songs with his 13-year-old daughter. He also owns over 100 pairs of shoes.
Amy Watson, LPCClinical Director
Amy is a licensed professional counselor and has worked with children, adults, and families for 20 years with a focus on those in the foster care system. She has counseled survivors of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and has extensive experience working with children that have behavioral and emotional issues. Amy provides trauma-informed services for children and families with a collaborative, strengths-focused approach.
Amy has two sons, and she enjoys spending time with her family and working out. She is passionate about helping youth from foster care achieve their best future.
Jerah MillerMatch Coordinator
Jerah is a child development major who has a passion for working with youth who come from challenging backgrounds. She is the daughter of our founder, Joy Miller, so she has been working with WAY Alliance in various capacities since its inception, finally coming on staff in spring of 2023 as Match Coordinator.
In her free time, Jerah loves to write, play board games, and DM Dungeons & Dragons.