Rosa Rocha, President
Ms. Rocha has extensive experience working with individuals with Down syndrome and their families as she served on the Board of the Down Syndrome Association of Houston for 24 years. There, she was instrumental in opening the Down Syndrome Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital. She also started the Down Syndrome Resource Center, growing the annual budget from $8,000 in 1989 to $500,000 in 2013. In 2010, Ms. Rocha started the Education for Life (E4L) program with a grant from the Baxter Foundation. She grew the program from 12 students, one day a week to 36 students, three days a week. At the time that she left the E4L program, there was a waiting list of more than 85 clients that were interested in attending the program. Additionally, Ms. Rocha has 30 years experience in retail operations management. She was a Store Manager, District Human Resource Manager and Regional Merchandise Manager for Montgomery Wards in the Texas and Louisiana territories. Her last assignment before retiring, was as a Store Manager for Target where she managed a team of 15 executives, 250 employees, and was responsible for annual sales over 30,000,000 million.
John Finlay, Board Member
Mr. Finlay is the Director of Marketing and New Business Development for White Rhino Financial, a financial planning firm where he manages a team of over a dozen people. Mr. Finlay has volunteered for three decades working with nonprofit organizations, including founding his own nonprofit called Help Houston Recover. The organization raised and distributed tens of thousands of dollars to assist people after Hurricane Ike destroyed so many homes and businesses in the area.Mr. Finlay is a native Houstonian, and is also a successful radio show personality, hosting The Small Business Hour on 92.1 FM radio. Mr. Finlay worked closely assisting the growth of Xavier Academy, a school for emotionally challenged kids and kids with ADD or ADHD who were not being served by the regular public school system. He brings his fundraising expertise and management experience to Friends of Down Syndrome as the organization establishes its school and fulfills its mission of lifetime education and learning for adults with Down syndrome.
Gina Mendez, Board Member
Ms. Mendez is the New Business Coordinator for White Rhino Financial, a financial planning firm here in Houston. She has worked in many different industries including housing, marketing and advertising, as well as in radio as a co-host for The Small Business Hour on News92FM. Gina also has a wide ranged skill set from web development, print design, to social media and developing marketing strategies. She is affectionately referred to as “Gina the Genius” because of her problem-solving abilities.
Jennifer Finlay, Board Member
Ms. Finlay is the Public Relations and Human Resources Director for ADP. She is one of five health care representatives for ADP in the Greater Houston area, and is an expert on the Affordable Care Act, human resources, payroll, and employee benefits. She also brings a wealth of social media knowledge to Friends of Down Syndrome.
Robert Allen, Board Member
Mr. Allen works at The ALLEN CPA FIRM. He most recently worked at Halliburton and PricewaterhouseCoopers in Philadelphia as an auditor, and has experience with nonprofit organizations. Mr. Allen is a Texas licensed Certified Public Accountant and graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Florida with a B.B.A in Accounting and Transportation & Logistics. He also completed the University of North Florida’s Undergraduate Honors Program. Additionally, he participated in study abroad programs in China, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, India, and Ghana. After college, Robert attended Mississippi State University where he earned his MBA with emphasis in Finance and Master of Information Systems. At MSU, he served as President of the MSU MBA Association and participated in the Global Leadership Program in Seoul, South Korea at Kyungpook National University.When courting Mr. Allen for the Board, we asked him to share his motivation for being involved: I believe I was put on this earth to utilize my skills and talents to make a difference in the community. From a very young age my parents and community mentors taught me the importance of paying it forward and giving back to the community. Throughout my life I have always been involved in community service whether through mentoring at-risk young in Jacksonville, Florida or renovating a children’s orphanage in Ghana. All my volunteer experiences have always confirmed my passion to give back.
Melissa Marteeny, Board Member
Ms. Marteeny works as an associate attorney for the Law Offices of Kathryn Marteeny, where she practices family law, probate, and estate planning. Melissa is a habitual volunteer and supporter of nonprofit organizations. In between high school and college, she volunteered with Brenham State school (now Brenham State Supported Living Center). There, she worked with a resident on learning to use a communication device and also aided another resident in painting crafts for sale. During law school, she clerked for Disability Rights Texas, where she worked on issues of Medicaid appeals and Fair Housing Act violations for clients with special needs. She also received an internship for seven weeks with Aditus Foundation, a European non-governmental organization in Malta that aides clients in obtaining asylum. She recently volunteered with the Special Olympics in addition to several other organizations. Ms. Marteeny received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Writing from Texas State University, and later earned her Juris Doctorate from South Texas College of Law.