Scott Adams, BA
Prior to founding the ADVANCE Houston, Scott was the principal of the Gateway Academy for 12 years. While at Gateway he instituted programs for student physical fitness and senior transition curriculum. He is a certified presenter in Brain Based Education has an avid interest in all things related to social differences in young adults.
Scott graduated from Baylor University with degrees in English Literature and Communication Studies as well as a teaching certificate. He worked in the financial services and banking industry for fifteen years before coming home to his first love, education, In the journey to his current position, Scott has come to appreciate the innate intelligence and desire to be independent the resides in individuals with learning and social differences.
Akili Atkinson, MBA, CAS
Director of Training
Akili holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Administrative Leadership from the University of Oklahoma. She received her Master of Business Administration from Southern Nazarene University. Akili has served the needs of adults with various disabilities for over 20 years with an emphasis on employability and self-sufficiency. Currently she is the Director of Training at Advance Houston, a comprehensive training organization focused on training and supporting young adults with social and learning differences. Previously Akili worked for the oldest and largest Training Center in Oklahoma as an Employment Training Supervisor. During her tenure, focus remained on gainful employment. She worked in partnership with several programs including Project Search to reach employment goals. Akili also uses her time in Toastmasters International to strengthen both her leadership and speaking skills. A top competitive speaker she has traveled throughout the south helping businesses train their employees about working with individuals with disabilities. What started as advocacy for her now adult son turned into a passion for the many she would come to serve. Akili believes when you find what you love, it’s no longer work.
Akili is co-parenting two wonderful adult children, who continue to provide a constant source of inspiration.
Renee Attaway Storer, MS, CCC-SLP
Reneé Attaway Storer is a speech-language pathologist with twenty years of experience. After receiving a Bachelor of Sciences from Oklahoma State and a Master of Science from Baylor in Communication Sciences & Disorders, Reneé began her career teaching preschool children with language and learning differences. She discovered Social Thinking® in 2004 and began implementing the methodology in her classroom and in social groups. She then founded Social Learning at Parish and served as the Social Learning Director, to integrate the Social Thinking methodology across the curriculum and to provide social cognitive therapy to the wider Houston area. Reneé enjoys program development and has founded several communication groups throughout Houston. In addition, she has worked as a consult and therapist for a gifted and talented school. Reneé speaks throughout North America for Social Thinking® as a member of the Social Thinking® Training and Speaker’s Collaborative and runs a private practice, Social Concepts.
After watching so many of her clients grow up and face adulthood without enough services to support them in this transition Reneé began searching for ways to help. She joined ADVANCE to serve students who are capable of independence but need immersive, concrete teaching to achieve it.
Reneé lives in Houston in a blended family with her husband and their children. She enjoys traveling, her dogs, reading, painting, yoga, and running (occasionally).
Paxton Leibold, MA
Family & Student Support Specialist
Prior to starting at ADVANCE, Paxton worked in the mental health field in many different facets. She received her Masters in International Disaster Psychology at the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at the University of Houston. During her Masters, she worked as a crisis counselor at a non-profit in Denver, completing case management with clients. She then lived in Belgrade, Serbia, and worked for a non-profit, implementing mental health workshops in refugee camps. Once returning back to Denver, Paxton became a clinical intern at the Denver County Jail and worked with clients’ on empowerment and life skills, as well as individual counseling with a full caseload. More recently, Paxton worked in a school setting with children who were diagnosed with neurological disorders and intellectual disabilities on academic and behavioral lessons. She currently is the Family & Student Support Specialist at ADVANCE and provides young adults tools for mental health wellness and coordinates with their outside mental health providers.
In her free time, Paxton spends her time with her family, friends and fur children. Additionally, she is currently working on her doctorate at Texas Southern University for Counselor Education. Any other free time, she enjoys watching sports (especially the Astros) or playing sports with her husband.
Justin Adams, BS
Skills Coordinator & Trainer
Justin has been an educator and administrator at several other private special schools in the greater Houston area. Over this period of time, he has worked with many students with all types of different diagnosis. His years of teaching experience gave him lots of insight on many of the executive functioning skills many young adults are lacking. While at Crossroads he was promoted to principal, and taught his students how to prioritize and organize, and used scaffolding techniques to teach them how to achieve success on projects.
Justin graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Psychology and a minor in English. He is a certified special education teacher and has dedicated the majority of his life to helping students become prepared for adulthood. He gets filled with inspiration when he reconnects with students he taught years ago and learns that they have become productive members of society.
Raquel Pereira, MA
Raquel is the Resident Advisor for ADVANCE Houston. She serves as a source of support to the young adults in the program as they learn from themselves, their experiences, and the challenges they face during their transition into independent adulthood. Raquel earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Houston and a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. She previously served as a Clinical Counseling Intern for ADVANCE Houston, where she worked closely with the students to process and adjust to adult life challenges. Raquel is passionate about empowering individuals to explore their strengths and potential for growth. She takes pride in walking alongside young adults with social and learning differences as a source of compassionate accountability as they journey towards independence.
We are committed to empowering young adults to self-advocate and live independently as contributing members of the community. The purpose of our program is to build transferable skills in the areas of independent living, healthy relationships, and gainful employment – skills that will allow our young adults to not only grow within our program, but move into other neighborhoods or cities and duplicate their success with minimal support.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Reverend Arthur Murphy – Chair
St. James Lutheran Church – Lead Pastor
Tedd Winter – Vice Chair & Treasurer
Shell Oil – Trading & Supply (Retired)
Walker Peacock – Secretary
Tamow Center – Psychologist
Hilcorp – IT Business Relationship Manager
eCORP International, LLC – General Counsel & Executive Vice President
Potentia – Founder & CEO
Gateway Alum Parent
Genny Winter – Founding Member & Chair
Shell Oil – IT Manager Trading & Supply (Retired)
Bike to the Beach
William Stamps Farish Fund
Texas Methodist Foundation