We’re changing the world
(and having a lot of fun doing it).

We’re a team of go-getters and dreamers who hustle to create big, audacious change in our community and the world. Below you’ll find some of the smiling faces behind Allies.

John Nehme, MPolEc

President & CEO

After leading Allies Against Slavery as a volunteer for two years, John managed the organization’s transition from a grassroots movement to a nonprofit in 2014. As President & CEO, he guides the overall strategy and serves the team as they pursue their mission to build slave-free cities. Under John’s leadership, Allies has supported hundreds of survivors of trafficking, successfully petitioned the Austin City Council and Mayor to unanimously pass a resolution to become a slave-free city, and tripled the number of organizations actively participating in the Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking. John also forged a research partnership between Allies and the University of Texas, funded by the Texas Governor’s Office, and co-authored the groundbreaking study “Human Trafficking by the Numbers: The Initial Benchmark of Prevalence and Economic Impact for Texas”. John has a degree in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University where he studied as an Ingram Scholar, and he earned a Master of Political Economy from the University of Sydney in Australia as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. His cross-sector experience serving marginalized communities has deeply shaped his belief that sustainable impact is created by meeting individual needs while simultaneously addressing root-cause, systemic challenges that perpetuate vulnerability. Outside of work, John and his wife Rachel enjoy hiking with their three children and are active in Austin’s faith community.

Torey Tipton, MPA

Managing Director

Torey is deeply passionate about seeking justice for all people, and leverages her experience as a professional in the social sector in pursuit of that goal. She joined the Allies Against Slavery team after learning about the immense problem human trafficking presents to society. Torey believes in the power of collaboration to influence change, the importance of innovation, and loves working on the Allies team in pursuit of the Slave-Free City vision. She brings both a breadth and depth of social sector experience and training including grant writing, board development, fundraising, policy research, policy development, public finance, and economics. Torey has a Master’s in Public Service and Administration from the Bush School of Government and Public Service and Bachelor’s in Political Science from Texas A&M University. She lives in Austin with her husband, Craig, and their dog Rory. 

Becky Austen

Lighthouse Director

Becky Austen is passionate about blending her business and technology expertise with nonprofit and civic engagement to drive community impact and systems change. As Lighthouse Director, Becky leads strategy, development and deployment of the Lighthouse portfolio with our technology and field partners. Becky came to Allies through the Leadership Austin Fellows program in 2019, where she was also a Social Venture Partner Fellow at Mission Capital. Becky previously worked at IBM, where she held a broad range of executive and leadership positions in sales education, marketing, strategy, business development, offering management and software development. Becky has served in leadership roles with numerous boards and committees, including the City of Austin Commission for Women, Impact Austin, Girlstart, Texas Advocacy Project, Austin Women in Technology, Girls Rock Austin and Austin Gifted. Becky is a graduate of Leadership Austin, Leadership Texas, and the UT McCombs School of Business Institute for Managerial Leadership, and has a BA in mathematics from Vassar College. Becky plays upright and electric bass in local bands, and enjoys traveling and hanging out with her husband Stacy and two daughters.

Grace Dai

Technical Manager

Grace joined the team to help manage the development of the Lighthouse platform after serving on the Allies’ Board of Directors since 2014. Grace has a strong technical background, graduating with a B.E. in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech. However, a desire to round out her technical side took her to Columbia University, where she received her M.B.A. Her studies have led her abroad to France, where she began her career in telecommunications at Orange/France Telecom, working with teams in Europe, Africa and North America. Upon returning to the U.S., Grace moved on from telecommunications to software and internet applications, working for companies such as Amplify (a subsidiary of News Corporation, formerly Wireless Generation), The XO Group (formerly The Knot), and most recently, Thomson Reuters.  She has a heart for survivors of trafficking and served on the board of Restore NYC from 2010 to 2013.


Kyle McDaniel, CPA | Chair

Kyle is the Chief Investment Officer at Corrigo, an innovative investment management firm. Kyle brings over 25 years of executive experience leading diverse teams, managing complex global investments and executing on strategy and risk assessments in the public, private and social sectors. He is motivated to protect the dignity and inherent value of every person, and he is passionate about serving alongside our team here at Allies.

Houston Slatton | Treasurer

Houston is a Director at BluWave, a network and data business focused on serving the Private Equity industry. Prior to BluWave, he was a management and strategy consultant at Bush Consulting Group, North Highland, and IBM, serving clients in the Financial Services and Media industries. Houston holds an M.B.A from Columbia Business School and a BS from Vanderbilt University. He looks forward to helping the Allies Against Slavery team further its mission of building slave-free cities.

Krista Endsley | Member

As President, Krista Endsley will oversee building Cantata Health’s operational foundation and future growth. She has more than 20 years of software experience and has led divisions of multi-national corporations and served as CEO at private equity portfolio companies. She is highly experienced in carve outs, acquisitions, divestitures and organic growth. Prior to joining Cantata Health, she was CEO of Abila. She also spent several years at Sage Software (formerly Best Software).

Bristal Tidd-Speciale | Member

Bristal Speciale is the COO and Licensed In-House Real Estate Agent at Sett Studio. She brings 24 years of strategic HR and business partner experience. Bristal has successful leadership experience as a change agent and process champion in employee relations, driving success in culture and people, staffing strategies, organizational development, strategic planning, performance management, benefit administration, workforce planning, training and development, regulatory compliance, policy and process improvements, budget planning and HRIS operations for a diverse workforce in diverse corporate settings.

Tim O’Hara | Member

Tim is a Senior Vice President with Optum, where he is responsible for business operations and customer success for a 200-person software division that serves over 1,000 hospital and health systems throughout the United States. Tim has 22 years of experience working with health care providers in a variety of roles and he volunteers extensively with nonprofits in the health and human sector, serving on boards and providing pro bono consulting.

Jon Olstein | Member

Jon Olstein is a Managing Director of Marketing and Investor Relations at Monroe Capital.  Mr. Olstein has over 25 years of experience in trading and marketing. Prior to Monroe, Mr. Olstein held marketing positions at Investcorp, Whitebox Advisors and Waterstone Capital.  Mr. Olstein obtained his trading and sales experience at Deutsche Bank and PaineWebber.  Mr. Olstein earned his M.B.A. in Finance from Seton Hall University and his B.A. in Psychology from Denison University.

John Nehme | President

Strategic Advisors

Ashley Thompson

Ashley Thompson is the managing director for the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact where she is responsible for driving Blackbaud’s extensive research, thought leadership, and best practice content. Ashley is active in the Austin community and participates in numerous groups, including as a board member at AFP Austin and Mission Capital.

Sarah Finley

Sarah Finley has 20+ years of experience in marketing and professional services, and is currently serving as founder of Social Arts & Science Institute (SASI), a consulting business focused on digital marketing training.  She is a Social Venture Partner with Mission Capital, where she works with some of Austin’s most innovative nonprofits, including Allies Against Slavery, to scale their organizations and solve our community’s biggest problems.

Cindy Work Abell

Cindy advises and supports nonprofits to help them grow their impact through innovative programs and revenue streams. Combining her passion for nonprofit excellence, legal background (University of Texas) and social entrepreneurship training (U Penn Center for Social Impact Strategy), she helps identify and build targeted solutions to meet social needs in her roles as advisor, strategic planner, board member and advocate. She has worked with a number of diverse area nonprofits over the past fifteen years, including I Live Here I Give Here, helping to build the Amplify Austin giving platform. Prior to her time in Austin, she worked as an attorney in DC with the EPA and the FCC. She currently serves in a variety of capacities, including Chair of I Live Here I Give Here’s Community Advisory Council, Mission Capital’s Social Venture Partner team, Allies Against Slavery SVP team, board member of a DC area foundation and private client consulting.

Rebecca Powers

Rebecca Powers is well known in the Austin community for her philanthropic passion and empowering people to help others.  In 2003, Powers founded Impact Austin, a collective giving organization whose concept was simple and inspirational – bringing women and their financial resources together to make a profound impact in Central Texas. To date, Impact Austin has raised over $5 million on behalf of those in need in Central Texas. Powers speaks nationally inspiring women to connect their capacity to give with their confidence to do it well. She also serves on the National Board of the Jeremiah Program – helping young moms and their kids move from poverty to prosperity. Powers graduated from the University of Richmond in Virginia with a B.S. in Business Administration in 1976 and worked as a sales rep with IBM until 1990 when she retired to focus on her family. She and Phil have two grown children, Brad and Claire. In her spare time, Rebecca cheers wildly for her World Champion Chicago Cubs and the Green Bay Packers.

Dr. Laurie Cook Heffron, PhD, LMSW

Laurie is one of the founding members of Allies Against Slavery and she has served on the Allies Advisory Council since 2010. Laurie is an Assistant Professor St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and she has interest and expertise in the areas of forced migration, domestic and sexual violence, and human trafficking, and her research explores the experiences of, and relationships between, violence against women and migration.  As former Associate Director for Research at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (IDVSA), she has contributed to multiple research projects since 2001, including a program evaluation for services to victims of human trafficking, a statewide domestic violence prevalence study, program evaluation of Texas’ Non-Report Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program, and a national pilot program to develop professional and organizational resiliency among child welfare workers. Laurie has both direct social work practice and research experience with a variety of immigrant communities, including refugees, survivors of human trafficking, and asylees. Currently, she provides assessments and serves as an expert witness in immigration cases of women and children seeking T visas, U visas, and asylum based on domestic violence. Laurie earned a master’s and a doctoral degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin and an undergraduate degree in Linguistics from Georgetown University. She has studied in Santiago, Chile, and in Quito, Ecuador, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger, West Africa. above all a mother of two energetic and creative children.

Sarah Harris

Sarah helps brands tell powerful stories connecting brand purpose with consumer values – earning ROI while delivering social impact. Sarah brings 15+ years of experience creating entertainment-driven cause and social impact marketing campaigns.

Sarah is currently the Vice President, Social Impact for Entercom one of the nation’s leading media and entertainment companies. Previously, Sarah created and led Incite, a cause and social marketing division within Emmis Communications dedicated to entertainment-driven advertising campaigns that inspire positive action. In all things, Sarah’s work reflects her commitment to working across sectors and organizations to harness the strengths of each to mobilize people for good.

Sarah holds a MA in Philanthropic Studies and MPA in Nonprofit Management from Indiana University and recently completed University of Pennsylvania’s Executive Education in Social Impact Strategy. 

Her volunteer efforts are dedicated to inviting and equipping women to achieve their full philanthropic potential with Impact Austin and accelerating social impact as a Social Venture Partner with Mission Capital. Sarah currently serves on the ALLIES team helping scale a technology solution to identifying victims of trafficking.