The Caring Place Staff
Ginna F. O’Connor, Executive Director – For over 25 years, Ginna has worked to address health and human service issues, and improve the quality of life of those she serves. Starting with her experience in the Peace Corps in 1988 to her current role as Executive Director of The Caring Place, helping to improve the lives of others has been her personal and professional mission.
Ginna joined The Caring Place as Executive Director in 2013 where she oversees operations and development. As a strong advocate of community-based solutions to local problems, Ginna feels blessed to serve at The Caring Place, a 31-year old organization that began as a local, neighborhood organization with a $17 budget. Today, Ginna leads The Caring Place as it assists over 5,000 people each year by providing basic human services. She is the first to recognize the value of our supportive and generous community, and dedicated volunteers and staff who are committed to helping our neighbors in crisis.
Prior to joining The Caring Place, Ginna worked as Vice President of Programs for the Senior Resource Association in Indian River County, Florida, where she directed the organization’s programs designed to help older adults age in place. She also prepared and led the quality assurance process for grants and contracts, and served in leadership positions on the Boards of the Florida Association of Aging Services Providers and the Florida Adult Day Services Association. Ginna has also led programs and initiatives at organizations such as the Nashville Coalition for the Homeless, United Way of Jackson County and the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries.
Ginna grew up in Nashville, TN, is a graduate of Hiram College and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Cleveland State University. Ginna and her husband, Brian, have two children, Josh and Katie who are much adored and growing up way too fast.
Rita Turner, Community Engagement Manager – Prior to coming to The Caring Place she spent 10 years at the Round Rock Police Department as Coordinator of their Victim Services Unit. She has been with The Caring Place since 2008. She graduated from Mary Hardin Baylor and has called Georgetown home since 1972.
Mark Turner, Information Management Director- Mark, an Austin native, has been working in technology for over twenty years. He has extensive experience in LAN/WAN topologies, network administration, E-Mail, Internet systems, Windows and UNIX environments. He holds certifications as: CCNA, CCNP, MCP, MCSE 2008, MCTS, and MCITP: Enterprise Administrator. Mark has been at The Caring Place for 2 years.
Lorna Symank, Office Manager, is a Central Texas native. She and her husband have lived in Georgetown since 2006. Lorna retired from the Texas Workforce Commission with more than 34 years of service, which included over 18 years of supervisory and management experience. She was a Client Services volunteer, here at The Caring Place, for 3 ½ years.
Kelly Downing, Human Resources Manager – Kelly is new to The Caring Place and to the Austin area as well. She was raised military and has lived most of her life in Houston. She comes to us with 15 years of experience in Human Resources, a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston, and a Master’s degree from Texas A&M University. Kelly has 2 sons, one in the Navy and one in college.
Alicea Jones, Communications Manager – has lived with her family in Central Texas for the past ten years. Prior to joining The Caring Place, she was Editor-in-Chief for a community magazine and an award-winning freelance writer whose work appeared in various local and national publications. She has fifteen years’ marketing and public relations experience in both the profit and nonprofit sectors. Alicea Jones earned a Masters of Business Administration degree from Pepperdine University, Malibu, California.
Erin Becnel, Client Services Director – Erin is a native Louisianan, growing up along the Mississippi River surrounded by sugar cane fields. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology/Sociology and Masters Degree in Social Work from Louisiana State University. She is currently a Licensed Master Social Worker in the State of Texas. For over fifteen years, Erin has worked with marginalized populations, with a focus on HIV health and treatment adherence. Prior to joining The Caring Place, she served as a program director where she oversaw medical and non-medical case management programs, as well as health insurance and financial assistance programs.
Barbara Bell, Client Services Crisis Manager – Barbara’s career has been in Human Resources and Office Administration. She comes to us from the telecommunications and high tech industries where she gained her 20+ years of experience. She attended college at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas.
Kerstin Cochran, Client Services Resource Coordinator- After graduating from U.T. Arlington, Kerstin and her husband moved to Georgetown in 1990. Kerstin spent fifteen years working in the pharmaceutical industry and served on the Board of Directors for Austin State Hospital Volunteer Services Council for six years and was involved with many other non-profits. Kerstin was a Client Advocate Volunteer at The Caring Place for two years prior to joining the staff.
Rebecca Orozco, Case Manager – Rebecca grew up in Balmorhea, Texas. She is a graduate of The University of Texas and holds a BA in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Prior to joining The Caring Place, she worked for The State of Texas Health and Human Services Department, Workforce Solutions, and the City of Austin. As Case Manager for The Caring Place, she hopes to provide encouragement and support to our clients. Rebecca has 2 children and is a happy resident of Georgetown.
Sheryl Rich, Client Services Triage Coordinator – Sheryl describes herself as a successful self-starter, having had a varied professional life in both the medical field and as a business owner. Sheryl began volunteering at The Caring Place 4 years ago. She has worked in the Donations and Client Services departments and has served as a Success through Opportunities And Resources (SOAR) Mentor, Client Advocate and Fresh Food for Families volunteer. Sheryl was hired on staff in June, 2015 as Support Services Coordinator for The Caring Place. Sheryl has been very active with Eagle Scouts and the school district as a volunteer. Sheryl has 2 grown sons and 2 grandchildren, 1 and 2 years old.
The Shops at The Caring Place
Ann Lind, Retail Operations Director – Ann, a Georgetown native, has been the Store Director at The Caring Place since March, 2007. After graduation from The University of Texas at Austin, Ann spent 30 years in retail and wholesale businesses.
Andrea Smith, Assistant Store Director – Andrea was a volunteer prior to joining The Caring Place staff in January 2013. As a Central New York native, she attended Mohawk Valley Community College and worked as a Private Duty Nurse (LPN). Other work experiences include Gaziano Furniture, Curves, and Ashley Furniture. Andrea has been married 34 years and has one son.
Joan Quigg – Retail Sales Associate – joined The Caring Place staff in August, 2013. Prior to coming to The Caring Place join spent 25 years as an Administrative Assistant with a major construction company in Illinois. Joan grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Illinois in 1986. She recently moved to Georgetown with her son Tom.
Al Beaver, Retail Associate – Al was born in Buffalo NY. He has lived in the Austin area since 1984. Al has had a varied career, wearing lots of hats, culminating in his own business, and he is now retired. Al has volunteered for The Caring Place since 2011 and is very happy to join the staff. Al has 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren.
Dena Ashby, Retail Associate—Dena was born and raised in the Georgetown area and she raised her two sons, who are now grown, in Georgetown as well. She has a daughter-in-law and as she puts it, “the most awesome two grandchildren on Earth!” Dena comes to The Caring Place with over 27 years in the electronic industry and off and on in retail.
John Burton, Donations Area Coordinator – Before coming to The Caring Place, John retired from the Round Rock Fire Department as a Battalion Chief after 28 years. He has a 15 year old son that is a sophomore at Eastview High School. He has lived in Georgetown for 16 years.
Justin Ryan Arzola, Assistant Donations Manager – Justin comes to The Caring Place with 11 years’ experience in construction and 3 1/2 years in warehouse operations. Justin has lived in Georgetown for the past 4 years with his wife, Erica, and his daughter, Juliana. He is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. “I love my current job and look forward to many years here.”
Tracy Wilder, Donations Assistant – Originally from San Jose, California, Tracy has lived in Georgetown for 7 years. He has 10 years’ experience in Industrial Food Service and started at The Caring Place as a volunteer in the Donations department.
Ray Valadez – Donations Assistant
Ray Valadez is our newest Donations Assistant. Ray is a native Texan, spending most of his life in Austin. He is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. Ray has a son named Patrick and they go fishing together. He has a cool dog named Pelon and they spend a lot of time together. Ray really enjoys working here and is enjoying getting to know his co-workers.
Dennis Hilgeman – Donations Assistant