United Future Leaders
Meet the Team
We commit ourselves to be there with passion, positivity and patience; developing relationships that inspire, empower and challenge youth by promoting a sense of direction and purpose.
Sara Dodd, Ph.D.
Director and Associate Professor, CAR
Dr. Sara Dodd became the Director of the Center for Adolescent Resiliency as of July 1, 2011. She is an assistant professor in the College of Human Sciences and is jointly appointed to Texas AgriLife Extension of the Texas A&M University as a state specialist in 4-H and Youth Development. Prior to her faculty appointment, she worked at Texas Tech as a research associate and project director for an NIH grant studying the effects of frequent work travel upon families (Dr. Anisa Zvonkovic, principal investigator). Prior to graduate studies, Dr. Dodd worked as an analyst in the IT industry and as a legislative staff member for a Texas state senator. She earned her bachelor's degree (government) from Abilene Christian University and her MBA (management) and PhD (family/consumer sciences) from Texas Tech. Dr. Dodd's research interests include leadership theory and development, adolescent health and wellness, and consumer/behavioral economics.
Gloria Gonzales, M.ED.
Gloria Gonzales is the Director of the United Future Leaders (UFL) program at the Center for Adolescent Resiliency. Since 1990, she has worked with children and adolescents as a teacher, counselor and administrator. While serving as a school counselor in Lubbock ISD, she developed an elementary to middle school transition program which was adopted district-wide. In addition to overseeing the continued growth and development of UFL, Gloria serves as a presenter and speaker for staff development, conferences and professional organizations and writes curriculum in the areas of leadership and wellness. In 2006, Gloria received the Texas Tech University's Excellence in the Field of Education Tribute to Teachers Award; in 2010 and 2012 the UFL program was recognized by the National Middle School Association as a Team That Makes a Difference and in 2011, the program was honored as the recipient of the Lubbock Volunteer Center's Get Involved Award. Gloria earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Lubbock Christian University, her Master of Education in Counseling from Sul Ross State University and Mid-Management Certification in Administration from Lubbock Christian University.
Kayla Sherman, M.S.
Assistant Director, UFL
Kayla Sherman became a staff member with the Center for Adolescent Resiliency in February 2012 and has served as the Assistant Director of the United Future Leaders program since 2013. Her fascination with the multiple facets of media and communication studies, as well as a passion for working with youth greatly influenced her education and career goals. Kayla graduated from Texas Tech University in 2011 with a dual degree Bachelors of Arts in Communication Studies and Public Relations. She is also a certified educator for secondary speech education. Kayla completed her Master's in Family and Consumer Sciences Education in August 2016 at Texas Tech, which has greatly contributed to her roles within the UFL program, including curriculum development and implementation, staff training, research and program evaluation. Kayla strives to ignite a passion for learning and leadership among all she comes in contact with and is fortunate to work for a program that affords many opportunities to accomplish this daily goal.
Unit Coordinator, UFL
CiCi Nunez became a staff member with the Center for Adolescent Resiliency in July 2016 and serves as the Unit Coordinator for the United Future Leaders program. Her passion for youth, leadership, and service make her fit with UFL a dream job. CiCi graduated from Texas Tech University in 2009 with a degree in Psychology. In 2017, she anticipates beginning graduate studies to further grow individually and impact the program. Before joining the UFL team, CiCi spent her time in the nonprofit space, gaining experience in youth development, after-school program delivery, building community relationships, volunteer trainings, and so much more. It's her personal mission to help youth and individuals find their purpose, reach their full potential, and develop their skills to become engaged citizens within their community.
Graduate Assistant, UFL
Cindy Iwuagwu became a graduate assistant for the United Future Leaders program in September 2016. She is currently a graduate student, working on her masters in Healthcare Administration. After completing her MHA Cindy will continue her education by pursuing a Doctorate in Medicine. Cindy is very excited for this journey, and is foreseeing that UFL will impact her journey in an incredible way. She is excited to share in physical, mental, and emotional growth with the children through UFL. Cindy considers herself honored to be a part of "training up the children in the way that they should go, so that when they are old they will not depart from it."
Graduate Assistant, UFL
Kiarra Watts has been a graduate assistant for the United Future Leaders program since September 2016. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Texas Tech University. In the future, Kiarra hopes to become a licensed marriage and family therapist, and specialize in children and adolescent therapy. In her time with UFL, Kiarra has been blown away by the motivation of the UFL youth participants to become exceptional leaders in their schools and communities. She says the kids' desire to learn has inspired her to reflect on her own growth as a leader. Kiarra is excited to see how the UFL students take the tools learned in UFL share them with the world!
Student Assistant, UFL
Emily Espinoza has served as a student assistant for the United Future Leaders program since fall 2015. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Human Sciences, and hopes to begin graduate school in fall of 2017. Being a part of the UFL staff has awakened Emily's passion for leadership and youth development. As a Lubbock native, Emily has had the privilege of serving and mentoring youth in the same environments she experienced throughout her adolescence. Although her identity has changed from an LISD student to a UFL mentor and facilitator, she often experiences the young leaders influencing and teaching her about leadership on a daily basis. Emily is hoping to continue her involvement with the UFL staff in the future as she pursues her graduate studies.
Student Assistant, UFL
Jesse Rincones is a junior finance major at the TTU Rawls College of Business. Jess joined the UFL team as a student assistant in September 2016 after serving as a volunteer during the spring 2016 semester. Being a Lubbock native who went through the Roscoe Wilson, Hutch, Lubbock High School track, Jesse has had the opportunity to give back to his alma maters in a way that's been so fulfilling. As a volunteer Jesse wanted to pour into students and reaffirm values that were instilled in him as a child walking the same halls. Knowing that not only were the UFL students applying what they were being taught, but they knew the reason why they were applying it has been gratifying for Jesse. As a Student Assistant Jesse is looking forward to speaking positively into the lives of students, training UFL Volunteers on how to do the same, and learning new ways to create a strong foundation within our United Future Leaders.