Our Board of Directors
Rosa Rocha, President and Director
Rosa has extensive experience working with individuals with Down syndrome and their families as she has served on the Board of the Down Syndrome Association of Houston for twenty-four years. There, she was very instrumental in:
- opening the Down Syndrome Clinic at Texas Children’s hospital
- opening the Down Syndrome Resource Center
- growing the annual budget from $8,000 in 1989 to $500,000 in 2013.
Three years ago, Rosa started the Education for Life (E4L) program with a grant from the Baxter Foundation. The program went from having twelve students one day a week to thirty-six 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.
Rosa has thirty years experience in retail operations. She was a store manager, District Human Resource Manager and Regional Merchandise Manager for Montgomery Ward’s Texas and Louisiana territories. Her last assignment before retiring, was as a store manager for Target where she managed a team of fifteen executives, two hundred and fifty employees and had annual sales over thirty million dollars.
John Finlay, Vice-President
John is the Director of Marketing & 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, Secretary
Gina 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, Member at Large
Jennifer is the Public Relations & 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 Lee Allen, Treasurer
Robert Lee Allen has joined our Friends of Down Syndrome Board as the Treasurer. Robert Allen works at The Allen CPA FIRM, PLLC. He most recently worked at Halliburton and PricewaterhouseCoopers in Philadelphia as an auditor, and has experience with nonprofit organizations. Robert is a Texas licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Robert Allen 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 Undergraduate, Robert attended Mississippi State University where he earned his MBA with emphasis in Finance and Master of Information Systems. At Mississippi State University, Robert served as President of the MSU MBA Association and participated in the Global Leadership Program in Seoul, South Korea at Kyungpook National University.
Robert was recognized as a AICPA Stuart Kessler Scholar, David A. Stein Scholar, the University Scholar Honor Society Man of the Year, a KPMG scholar, Florida Institute of CPA’s Academic Achievement Scholar, UNF Student Government Leaving a Legacy Award, and African American Student Union Above and Beyond Award.
As part of the Board Candidate Package, Robert was asked to share his motivation for being involved in Friends of Down Syndrome, and we were impressed by his response:
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.Robert Lee Allen
Melissa Marteeny, Legal
Melissa Marteeny works as an associate attorney for the Law Offices of Kathryn Marteeny, where she practices in family law, probate, and estate planning. Melissa is a habitual volunteer and supporter of non-profit 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 Foundatuion, 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.
Melissa 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. Melissa has recently joined our board and brings her legal expertise.