• Students don’t fit us – we build a pathway that fits them.
    -John F. Rhodes

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About Restore Education

Restore Education is a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of individuals, their families, and our community through education. We believe that education should be free, flexible, and available to all who are willing to work hard to achieve their dreams. We offer a continuum of services from basic literacy and high school equivalency, to workforce training and college support, all to restore the potential of at-risk students and put them on a pathway to life-sustaining careers. In all we do, we strive to provide the most effective pathway for each student to achieve their goals and realize their full potential.


Our mission is to restore individuals’ potential for success on their path to college and career through the transformative power of education.


We will lead by designing innovative education solutions to create a stronger community, so that all students will be empowered to achieve the future they deserve.


Postsecondary success is for everyone – Flexible pathways lead to success for each student – Personal transformation is the key to college persistence.

Why shouldn’t a student go forward to college and position their family to benefit from the opportunities that are afforded anyone who is willing to work as hard as they are? Restore Education exists to give students the very best chance on that pathway to achieve their dream.  We believe they deserve partners in the community to open these doors, walk them through, and make sure they don’t walk out until they are in a cap and gown.

-John F. Rhodes, Founder of Restore Education

Our History

In 1997, the founding staff of Restore Education began working with inner-city high school students to create unique pathways to college. Restore Education officially began in 2008 as the educational outreach branch of a local church. Since 2008, we have helped over 9,000 students take steps forward in their education and prepare for college or the workforce.



A seed was planted

In 1997, the founding staff began working with inner-city high school students to create unique pathways to college.


Official Formation

Restore Education opened its doors as a dropout recovery program, next to San Antonio College, through a grant with the Texas Education Agency, to serve youth ages 16-25.


Educational Excellence

Restore Education was ranked in the top 6 performing dropout recovery programs funded by the Texas Education Agency.


Official Nonprofit Status

Restore Education received its 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS


Expansion to Serve Adults of All Ages

In 2014, Restore Education joined the Alamo Consortium for Adult Education and Literacy, led by Education Service Center-Region 20, to serve youth and adults of all ages.


Career Pathways

In 2016, Restore Education expanded its offerings by adding new workforce training programs through the support of the Texas Workforce Commission.


Partnering for Change

Restore Education partners with school districts, colleges, non-profits, businesses, and other agencies to create a network of support to foster student success. Through mutual referrals, on-site instruction, or customized services, we have a wide-network of partners to ensure that at-risk individuals can reach their full potential.

Meet Our Leadership

Our leadership is passionate about empowering students to change their lives through education.

Board of Directors

Ric Jimenez, Board Chair
Ric is a seasoned, results-driven professional with experience as an Operational Excellence Leader & Global Program Manager driving cross-functional change through Lean Six Sigma programs of significant size, scope & complexity. Currently he works with Bitdefender as the Director of Operational Excellence and prior to this, he led business and operations management and operational excellence for Rackspace for over 10 years. He proudly serves on the board of First Tee and Restore Education, for which he is leading the strategic planning process.

Dawn Green, PE, Board Vice Chair
Dawn Green is currently the Vice President of Business Development for Civil Engineering Consultants, Inc. (CEC).  In this role, she helps leverage the opportunities and growth for CEC in the San Antonio and throughout Texas.  She is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering.  Ms. Green’s 30 years of experience includes project management and design of a wide variety of engineering assignments, primarily focusing on large municipal projects involving paving, drainage, water and wastewater pipeline design.  Ms. Green also serves on the Board of Directors for CEC.  Ms. Green is active in the following professional organizations: American Council of Engineering Companies – San Antonio (ACEC-SA), American Public Works Association (APWA), Greater San Antonio Chamber Transportation Committee, and Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE).  Ms. Green is a graduate of Leadership San Antonio Class 35, serves on the Board of Directors for Restore Education as the Vice President, and is active in several community efforts.

Dawn Patrice Benitez, Ph.D., Secretary
Dr. Patti Benitez has a background in leadership. She retired from the utility industry with over 30 years of leadership in finance, human resources, and information technology. She has a Ph.D. in leadership studies and is an adjunct professor for the University of Incarnate Word. Dr. Benitez is passionate about helping others achieve life and career goals and serves as the Secretary on the Board of Restore Education. Restore Education provides a caring service to achieve this, especially to underserved populations.

Mahlon Long, CPA, Treasurer
Mahlon Long is a Certified Public Accountant with over 12 years of accounting experience. He started his career working in Fixed Assets for Clear Channel Outdoor before joining iHeartMedia in their Broadcast Accounting group. In 2013, Mahlon joined Valero Energy Corporation where he worked in Capital Assets for several years before moving to his current position in Financial Planning & Analysis. Mahlon Long holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Trinity University and M.S. in Accountancy from UTSA. He is a lover of travel and has spent time hiking the Himalayas of Nepal, trekking along the banks of Lake Baikal in Russia, and spending Thanksgivings in Big Bend, Texas. A longtime San Antonio native, Mahlon continuously looks for ways to give back to the city and community he loves.

Hannah Santiago, AICP
Hannah Santiago is a strategic and analytical transit planner with experience with multi-million dollar long-range, corridor, land-use and capital planning projects in both public and private sector environments, managing internal staff as well as private contractors and subcontractors. Joining Cambridge Systematics, Inc, in March of 2018, she focuses on strategic transportation planning for public sector clients facilitating multi-million dollar long-range, short-term, and strategic planning projects. She attended Trinity University where she received her undergraduate degree in Urban Studies. Hannah is an American Institute of Certified Planner (AICP) and trained in project management. Hannah is currently serving as the immediate past president for WTS-San Antonio Region and recently completed the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Emerging Leaders Program.

Lydia Castruita
Lydia has 10 years of experience in the banking industry. She earned her Associates degree from San Antonio College and her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Texas A&M University San Antonio. She is currently working towards completing her master’s degree in Accounting. Lydia is a graduate of Restore Education’s college prep program and proudly serves on the board.

Tiffany Cox Hernandez, PhD, JD
Tiffany Cox Hernandez currently serves as the Dean for Student Success at San Antonio College, overseeing recruiting and enrollment, advising, and veterans services.  She started her service at San Antonio College in 2009 as a member of the Criminal Justice faculty and has held several faculty leadership positions at the college, including Department Chairperson of the Public Policy and Service academic department and Faculty Senate President.  Prior to working at San Antonio College, Dr. Cox Hernandez served as a prosecuting attorney in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, Arizona.  She is also a proud veteran, having served on active duty and as a reservist in the United States Air Force.  Dr. Cox Hernandez holds Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Texas State University, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah College of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in Russian Language from the University of Arizona.  She and her husband have four children and one grandchild.

Sylvia Nellis
Sylvia P. Martinez is a Product Scheduler for Valero Energy Corporation, where she has been employed for 14 years.  Currently as product scheduler, she schedules via different modes of transportation ethanol and biodiesel to various regions in the United States. Her role is challenging every day as no two days look alike in product schedule.  She builds relationship inside and outside of Valero to make sure products flow smoothly into the market place. Formerly a member of United States Air Force Reserves (Retired-20 years) – Master Sergeant – Law Office Superintendent Paralegal in charge of managing legal office for the 433D Airlift Wing, Joint Base Lackland.  Managed various aspects of on-going prosecutions, provided legal support to over 5,000 plus members of the Wing.  Deployed to multiple locations in support of various Operations and Contingencies. Currently a student at the University of Texas San Antonio – Executive Master in Business Administration (May 2020) – Developing leadership skills and business acumen to fulfill executive role in the future.

Previously earned – Bachelor of Art – Political Science (1997) from University of Texas at San Antonio and her Associate in Applied Science – in Legal Assisting from San Antonio College (1993)

Her hobbies include hiking, running, traveling and anything that keeps her moving and active. She loves volunteering for causes that make people’s lives better by empowering them with life skills, knowledge and education awareness. She has a beautiful daughter and granddaughter.

Chris Nwabueze, J.D.
Chris is an attorney with Chasnoff Mungia Valkenaar Pepping & Stribling, LLP (Chasnoff|Stribling), a commercial litigation boutique law firm in San Antonio, Texas. His practice focuses on insurance coverage litigation and advice. Chris advises and represents domestic and foreign insurers in complex coverage matters arising out of investment advisor and fund management liability, directors and officers liability, management liability, professional liability, cyber liability, commercial general liability, and excess insurance policies. Chris was selected by the Professional Liability Underwriting Society for its 2020 Cohort of the Diversity Leadership & Mentoring Program (“LAMP”). While in law school, Chris was named the Harold Sullivan Scholar by the Illinois Judges Association for academic achievement. He was an Editor on the Loyola University Chicago Consumer Law Journal and was a contributing author of Commercial and Professional Liability Insurance (Illinois) 2012 edition. Chris graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in economics.

Darcie Schipull
Darcie Schipull grew up in Austin, Texas.  Graduated from Crockett High School in 1988; and then graduated from Southwest Texas State University with her undergraduate degree in Political Science in 1992, and completed her Masters in Applied Geography while she was working for the Texas Department of Transportation.  She has been with TxDOT for 28+ years.   She married Randy Stokes in 2005 and was an instant bonus Mom to Randi Eileen who is now at Southwestern University study early childhood development.  Since moving to San Antonio in 2009, she has been involved with the San Antonio Chapter of  WTS ( Women’s Transportation Seminar), Concordia Lutheran Church, and a neighborhood Bunco group.  In 2011, Darcie and  Randy Stokes bought the Barn Door Restaurant and Meat Market, which has been serving steaks in San Antonio since 1953.  This venture is very much Randy’s baby but she enjoys the opportunities that “owning a restaurant” has given them to meet more people and expand their ability to help others.  She is currently contemplating retirement and new opportunities.  She is looking forward to working with Restore Education as a board member to assist others in achieving their dreams through educational opportunities.

Chris Smiley, J.D.
Chris is an Account Executive with Converge Technology Solutions Corporation.

Alexandra Wood, MBA
Alex is a Vice President and Commercial Lender with Broadway Bank.

Key Staff

Kelli Rhodes, MBA, Co-Founder, Executive Director since 2012 (Program Director ‘08-’12). Kelli brings more than 15 years of experience in education and is responsible for the overall program, financial management and partner relations. In 2020, she was awarded Administrator of the Year from the Texas Association for Literacy and Adult Education. Kelli was recently  nominated as a Board member for Workforce Solutions Alamo.

Kerri Rhodes, MA, Co-Founder, Director of Student Success since 2018 (C&I Manager 2012-18 & Lead Instructor 2008-12), has 20 years of experience in education. She is responsible for all academic instruction and supplemental services programming.

Jim Barshop, Chief Development Officer, was hired in January of 2020. Jim’s professional background for 35 years was real estate brokerage and development. In 2018, he began a new career in development as Capital Campaign Officer with Lifetime Recovery and raised $2.4 million in 13 months. He holds a Bachelor of Communications degree, Suma Cum Laude, from UTSA.

Sharon Klinker, MBA, Controller, was hired in September 2020.  Sharon has 28 years of State service with Blinn College in Brenham, and Texas A&M University/Texas A&M Forest Service in College Station.  Her professional background is budgets, grants, and accounting functions.

Aaron Reyna, MA, Postsecondary Pathways Manager since May (Instructor 2015-17, Coordinator, 2017-20), oversees the dual enrollment, college preparation, and college support programs.

Anne Englert, M. Ed., CFRE, CTA, hired in 2020, is our Postsecondary Pathways Associate Manager. Ann has more than 20 years’ experience in higher education. She oversees workforce training, certifications, and career services.

Gabriela Tobias, our Instruction Manager since July 2020 (Lead instructor 2018-20) has 10 years’ experience in adult education. She oversees all instructional staff and develops innovative curriculum to meet student needs.

Rosa Tapia, EL Civics Program Coordinator, since 2017 (Instructor 2016-17), has 6 years’ experience working with international and ESL students.

Sergio Rodriguez Vazquez, Intake & Data Coordinator since 2017, has 12 years’ office administration and customer relations experience.

Janet Ketcham, Outcomes Manager, since July 2020, has over 20 years of nonprofit experience. She was a former Grants & Data Manager and Executive Director with Child Advocates San Antonio., and a former teacher. Janet has served as a volunteer on multiple boards, including Voices For Children, and Texas CASA.


Help At-Risk Students
Reach Their Potential

Generous volunteers and donors are at the heart of all we do. Your gift of time, financial support, or both, puts at-risk students on a pathway to a life-sustaining career. Please consider partnering with us to ensure that at-risk students who turn to Restore Education will have access to the education they need to reach their full potential. Together, we can create brighter futures for our students, their families, and our community.