Central Texas

Wonders & Worries maintains four locations in the Central Texas area. If you do not live near one of these locations, we offer a wide variety of free resources as well as support options outside of our office coverage area. If you would like to directly support our Central Texas location, we always have specific programmatic material needs which you can find on our Amazon Wish List.

Main Office

By Appointment Only

9101 Burnet Road, Suite 205
Austin, TX 78758 View Map

Tel: 512-329-5757 | Fax: 512-298-3607

Additional Central Texas Locations

Austin – Westlake Office

By Appointment Only

923 Westbank Drive, Suite C
Austin, TX 78746 View Map

Tel: 512-329-5757

Austin – East Office

By Appointment Only

In the Southcliff Building in the YWCA
2015 South I.H. 35, Suite 110
Austin, TX 78741 View Map

Tel: 512-329-5757

Georgetown – Williamson County Office

By Appointment Only

2425 Williams Drive, Suite 105
Georgetown, TX 78628 View Map

Tel: 512-329-5757

Main Office

9101 Burnet Road Suite 205
Austin, TX 78758

Austin – Westlake Office

923 Westbank Drive, Suite C
Austin, TX 78746

Austin – East Office

In the Southcliff Building in the YWCA
South I.H. 35, Suite 110 • Austin, TX 78741

Georgetown – Williamson County Office

2425 Williams Drive, Suite 105
Georgetown, TX 78628

Central Texas Team

  • CCLS

    Central Texas

    Bilingual Certified Child Life Specialist, Practicum Student Supervisor

    Email Adrianna

    Adrianna Ortega

    CCLS
    • Central Texas

    Bilingual Certified Child Life Specialist, Practicum Student Supervisor

    Adrianna is primarily responsible for providing direct clinical services through psychosocial support to children, adolescents and teens in bilingual or Spanish-speaking families who have a seriously ill parent.

    Adrianna holds Bachelor’s degrees in Religious Studies and Human Development, and Family Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood Development from The University of Texas at Austin. She is a certified child life specialist (CCLS) and has more than 16 years of experience supporting children affected by serious illness or injury. Adrianna is also an artist who loves yoga and camping with her husband and two children.

  • MBA

    Central Texas

    Executive Director

    Email Alex

    Alex Gabbi

    MBA
    • Central Texas

    Executive Director

    Alex Gabbi is a devoted father to his three wonderful kids, Nico, Maya and Luca. After his wife died of cancer, he gave up a successful career in business to focus on making a difference for others in the community in as many ways as possible. This included teaching at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin and supporting Wonders & Worries. His career encompasses more than 25 years of experience in senior leadership positions with small and Fortune 500 companies in the high-tech, consulting, international business and software arenas. Alex is an avid traveler and enjoys games of strategy. He intends for his children to visit 40 countries and 40 states before they graduate high school. Read more about his story.

  • Central Texas

    Event Manager - Central Texas

    Email Allison

    Allison Zelinski

    • Central Texas

    Event Manager - Central Texas

    Allison is thrilled to join the team at Wonders & Worries. She has a passion for those in need and is dedicated to growing organizations involving positive impact on children and their ability to thrive under unforeseen circumstances. She was first introduced to Wonders and Worries when invited to Heather Gabbi’s Celebration of Life Toga Party. She followed Heather’s journey through a close friend and connected with the heart of the mission.

    Allison played softball at the University of Arkansas and attributes her experiences as a foundation of teamwork and dedication to what guides her today. She moved to Austin in 2001, pursuing a career in education. She received an amazing opportunity to work for Dell Family Interest. With an active passion for children and education, this was a wonderful opportunity. She gained valuable experience traveling the world, being a school liaison, coordinating events, and doing philanthropy work.

    Allison and her husband have three children: one in college, one in high school, and one in middle school. She enjoys watching the many sports and activities their children play and spending as much family time as possible in the mountains.

  • M.S., CCLS

    Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist

    Email Ashley

    Ashley Byrnes

    M.S., CCLS
    • Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist

    Ashley joined the Wonders & Worries Austin team with over five years of experience as a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). Ashley received her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from The University of Texas at San Antonio and her Masters of Science with a major in Family and Child Studies from Texas State University. She has previously worked at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio in the Emergency Department.

    Ashley is married to her high school sweetheart and has a four year old son. In her off time she enjoys traveling with her husband and son, especially when it involves going to Disney World. She also enjoys cooking, trying new restaurants around Austin and taking her son and dog to the park.

  • Central Texas

    CFO, COO

    Email Beth

    Beth Unite

    • Central Texas

    CFO, COO

    After graduating with a BA in accounting, Beth worked in accounting for a number of years. When she became a full-time mom, she continued doing bookkeeping for her husband’s business. During the 12 years of raising two daughters, Beth had the opportunity to volunteer for many different organizations and became passionate about nonprofit work. For her second career, Beth managed the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation, gaining experience in fundraising and donor relationship management while overseeing the foundation’s four charitable programs. She continues serving on the Board of Directors of Art From the Streets. Beth’s hidden talent is that she knows how to milk a cow.

  • MEd, CCLS

    Central Texas

    Bilingual Certified Child Life Specialist, RWWP Consultant

    Email Cindy

    Cindy Fitchpatrick

    MEd, CCLS
    • Central Texas

    Bilingual Certified Child Life Specialist, RWWP Consultant

    Cindy joins Wonders & Worries with more than 28 years of experience, having served in numerous hospitals supporting the psychosocial needs of pediatric patients and their families. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and a passionate champion for Spanish-speaking communities. Cindy has her bachelor of science in Early Childhood and Family Relationships, and a Master of education in Special Education, both from the University of Texas. She is a certified child life specialist (CCLS) and recently started teaching an Introduction to Child Life course at UT.

    Cindy volunteers with Operation Smile on international medical missions and serves on the Standish Foundation advisory board. Cindy has been married 25 years and enjoys spending time on the lake and running.

  • CCLS

    Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist

    Email Elyse

    Elyse Cann

    CCLS
    • Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist

    Elyse is a native Austinite joining Wonders & Worries with 25 years of experience in the field. She graduated with honors from Mary Baldwin University with a degree in child psychology and a certification in elementary education. She started her career in Austin as a kindergarten teacher at Bryker Woods Elementary. Since 2007 Elyse has been working in hospitals as a CCLS and is returning home after 15 years in the Bay Area. While working for Stanford Children’s Hospital and USCF Benioff Children’s Hospital she worked in oncology, inpatient pediatrics, emergency department, NICU, surgery and supporting children in the adult ICU. She also organized hematology/oncology camp at St. Dorothy’s Rest for six summers in Camp Meeker, CA. Most recently, she managed pediatric events in the hospital including Prom for over 250 bay area teens that had missed their own prom due to illness or injury.

    Elyse is on the board of Mural Wish and Storytime Friends and is passionate about sharing her child life expertise to advise organizations that support hospitalized children and families cope with illness and loss.

    Elyse is excited to be back in Austin raising her two children, ages 5 and 8. She loves antiquing and travel. She especially tries to spend time in Santa Fe, New Mexico any opportunity she gets.

  • Central Texas

    Director of Marketing

    Email Heike

    Heike Murphy

    • Central Texas

    Director of Marketing

    Heike joined Wonders & Worries with more than a decade of marketing experience in the retail technology industry. A German native, she received her degree in Business and Marketing in Berlin, Germany. She has had the unique opportunity to work in diverse markets such as Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, collaborating with global teams to devise and implement effective marketing strategies.

    Heike is also a passionate entrepreneur who has successfully run a photography business in recent years. She has found great joy and purpose in volunteering at her kids’ school and through various local service organizations. This passion for helping and making a difference in people’s lives has ignited her desire to join Wonders & Worries to help grow their mission and extend their services into a larger territory.

    Heike has called Austin home for the past 25 years but considers herself a global citizen. When she’s not busy with her family or behind the camera, you will probably find her somewhere outdoors; gardening, exercising, running at one of the many local parks, or playing with her two rescue pups. She loves traveling and always has a growing list of destinations on her bucket list.

  • CCLS

    Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist

    Email Julie

    Julie May

    CCLS
    • Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist

    Julie joined the Wonders & Worries team with more than 15 years of clinical experience supporting children and their families as they navigate the medical journey. She treasures her many years as a child life specialist at Baylor’s Our Children’s House in Dallas, Texas, serving families in need of medicine and rehabilitation services. For the past seven years, Julie served in a senior leadership role on the child life team at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. She holds a bachelor of science in Human Development and Family Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin.

    Julie is also known as “Mom!” to four crazy kiddos of her own. She and her husband enjoy camping and exploring the awesome hill country with their children and silly golden retriever. Julie has a knack for repurposing old furniture, which led to the creation of her own furniture design company, Firefly Skies. Climber of trees and often covered in paint, Julie is always up for an adventure.

  • MS, MEd, CCLS

    Central Texas

    Program Director

    Email Kim

    Kim Fryar

    MS, MEd, CCLS
    • Central Texas

    Program Director

    Kim has been a child life specialist for more than 30 years. She started her career at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and worked with seriously ill children and their families for nine years. Kim moved to Austin and joined the Wonders & Worries team in 2003. Kim now serves as national program director, a role that provides her the privilege of overseeing our national Helpline 844-WE-WONDER, supporting our growing network of Registered Wonders & Worries Providers (RWWP’s), facilitating WonderChats for Parents, and promoting Wonders & Worries many resources. Kim holds a bachelor’s degree in Family Relations and Child Development and masters’ degrees in both Human Development and Family Studies and Counseling with a play therapy emphasis. 

    Kim is married to her high school sweetheart, who proposed underwater while they were scuba diving. They have a young adult daughter, young adult son, and an Australian Shepherd. Kim is adventurous and loves the outdoors. She is a certified scuba diver, avid hiker, snow skier, water skier, and has jumped out of a plane. She also enjoys watching college football and relaxing with a good book. 

  • Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist

    Email Kira

    Kira March

    • Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist

    Kira March has been a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) since 2014.  She started her career as a CCLS supporting patients and families at Texas Children’s Hospital on an inpatient general pediatrics unit after completing an internship at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She joyously joined the Wonders & Worries team in 2022 where she is able to purse her passion for play and empowering children.  Kira graduated from The University of Texas with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Sciences, focusing on child development. Kira is an avid reader, always outside, and never turns down a good meal.  When not at work, she can be found barefoot in the sunshine with her two children and husband.

  • Central Texas

    Event Manager

    Email Leslie

    Leslie Schulze

    • Central Texas

    Event Manager

    Leslie comes to us from Houston where she managed special events for the American Red Cross. She is married to her college sweetheart and has two adult children. Leslie graduated from the University of Houston and is very active in the Cougar Austin Alumni Group.  Leslie enjoys traveling and spending time with family. If you can’t find her doing any of those things, she will probably be by the pool reading a book or visiting her favorite winery in Fredericksburg.

    During her children’s school years, she was very active in the PTA as well as the classroom, and volunteered with multiple organizations. That time spent helping others solidified her love of philanthropies and desire to work for a non-profit.

  • Central Texas

    Bilingual Child Life Assistant / Resource Navigator

    Email Maria

    Maria Patiño

    • Central Texas

    Bilingual Child Life Assistant / Resource Navigator

    Maria Patiño graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2013 with a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences. She completed her child life practicum with Wonders & Worries, and is applying for her child life internship, the next step to becoming a certified child life specialist (CCLS). Maria volunteers with Dell Children’s Medical Center, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas and El Buen Samaritano. Maria is fluent in English and Spanish, and her superpower is creating delicious vegan baked goods.

  • MS, CCLS, LCMHC, RPT-S

    Central Texas

    Co-Founder, Director of Education, Training & Program Initiatives

    Email Melissa

    Melissa Hicks

    MS, CCLS, LCMHC, RPT-S
    • Central Texas

    Co-Founder, Director of Education, Training & Program Initiatives

    Melissa has been a child life specialist for over 30 years with her primary area of clinical expertise in the oncology arena. Prior to co-founding Wonders & Worries, she worked at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, Maryland and the AFLAC Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In addition to hospital-based practice, Melissa has also worked in private practice/consulting as well as being a psychosocial program director for Camp Sunshine in Atlanta, GA and a school counselor.  Melissa has also served on several non-profit Board of Directors. In addition to chairing many committees and a task force, Melissa has been the President of the Association for Child Life Professionals (ACLP), a Director on the ACLP Board, and the Child Life Certification Chairperson.   She was honored to receive the Child Life Council Distinguished Service Award in 2010.

    Melissa earned a BS in Individual and Family Studies from the University of Delaware and a MS in Counseling from Georgia State University. She was awarded the Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement (2001) and the Outstanding Alumni Award for the College of Human Services, Education and Public Policy (2002) at the University of Delaware.

    She has published in journals and textbooks on the topics of children impacted by cancer, coping with chronic illness in children and child life practice in alternate settings. Melissa has presented on these topics at the university level, professional conferences, to medical staff and to parents.

    Melissa is a certified child life specialist, a licensed clinical mental health counselor and a registered play therapist & supervisor. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and in her free time enjoys spending time with family and friends on Cape Cod.

  • MA, CCLS, LPC

    Central Texas

    Co-Founder

    Email Meredith

    Meredith Cooper

    MA, CCLS, LPC
    • Central Texas

    Co-Founder

    Former Executive Director and Co-Founder Meredith Cooper envisioned, launched, and grew Wonders & Worries from its beginnings in 2001. Following 15 years of success, Meredith stepped into a founder role in 2017, where she continues providing strategic direction for national growth. Meredith has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Child Development. She is a certified Child Life Specialist and a Licensed Professional Counselor who has been involved with children’s healthcare in the Austin community for more than 30 years, including being the first pediatric oncology child life specialist for Austin.

  • MS, CCLS

    Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist, RWWP Consultant, Practicum Student Supervisor

    Email Michele

    Michele Martin

    MS, CCLS
    • Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist, RWWP Consultant, Practicum Student Supervisor

    Michele Martin has over 20 years of experience providing emotional and developmental support for children and families in health care environments. Michele has worked as a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) for the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas; as a mental health consultant for Head Start; and as a middle-school science teacher at Bishop Garriga Middle Preparatory School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Texas. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Abilene Christian University. She also has her teacher’s certification for the 4th – 8th grades. Her husband, four children, and grandson are her pride and joy!

  • MA

    Central Texas

    Senior Director - Development & Outreach

    Email Nicole

    Nicole Halder

    MA
    • Central Texas

    Senior Director - Development & Outreach

    Nicole Halder is passionate about helping organizations create outstanding services for children in challenging environments. Nicole’s focus is developing partnerships to help Wonders & Worries expand. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Finance and International Operations from Georgetown University, she earned her Master’s in Elementary Education from Columbia University.

    Nicole currently serves on the Steering Committee for Leadership Westlake. She previously served as President of the Board of Directors of Wonders & Worries and is a former board member of the Lake Travis Education Foundation. She enjoys cooking, “playing” in her garden, traveling, and raising her three children with her husband Rob in Austin, Texas.

  • Central Texas

    Donor Relations Manager, Teen Council Program Lead

    Email Suzi

    Suzi Simmons

    • Central Texas

    Donor Relations Manager, Teen Council Program Lead

    As a former client of Wonders & Worries, Suzi is passionate about its mission. Having battled breast cancer in 2014, Suzi found that her daughters’ experiences attending Wonders & Worries group sessions were a silver lining in the cancer battle. She is excited to serve Wonders & Worries as the Donor Relations Manager and help further its mission of making sure no family struggles alone with parental illness.

    Suzi and her college sweetheart Brian have two beautiful daughters, one in high school and one in college. Suzi enjoys traveling with her family, snowshoeing in the mountains of Colorado, exercising, volunteering, playing with her two adorable dogs, and getting creative in her craft room.

  • Central Texas

    Outreach Coordinator - Central Texas

    Email Tatiana

    Tatiana Sokolik

    • Central Texas

    Outreach Coordinator - Central Texas

    Tatiana Sokolik is honored to be a part of the Wonders & Worries team, where her passion and dedication to supporting those in need and fostering meaningful connections can be utilized to make a wide-reaching, positive impact.

    Tatiana holds a Master’s of Educational Leadership and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree, with her dissertation focused on adolescent mental health.

    In addition to her work at Wonders & Worries, Tatiana serves on the board of directors and fundraising committee for Divine Canines, an organization that provides free therapy dog services to those in need in Central Texas. Tatiana and her teenager, Sloan, love to volunteer their time with their two therapy dogs, Venkman and Spengler.

  • MS, CCLS, QMHP-CS

    Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist

    Email Taylor

    Taylor Juarez

    MS, CCLS, QMHP-CS
    • Central Texas

    Certified Child Life Specialist

    Taylor joins Wonders & Worries with a diverse background providing psychosocial support within our community since 2016 as a Certified Child Life Specialist. Taylor started her child life career at Dell Children’s Medical Center in the pediatric oncology clinic before working for several years in the pediatric emergency department. Taylor recently provided psychosocial support to children at Bluebonnet Trails Community Services in the Youth Therapeutic Respite Program. Taylor obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a child life concentration from The University of Alabama and her Master of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Texas State University.

    In her spare time, Taylor enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter and two dogs. Taylor and her family enjoy traveling, watching sporting events and spending time outdoors such as skiing and hiking.

Upcoming Central Texas Events

  • Central Texas

    No Worries Classic Sporting Clay Shoot

    October 11, 2024

    Teams of shooters compete to hit sporting clays and win…

    See More Info
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