Board of Directors
The Board of Directors for the HeadFirst Mental Health Initiative is a team of dedicated professionals, passionate about decreasing the burden of the mental health crisis for children and families in the Dallas area. Board Members serve the Board in a volunteer capacity for either one-year or two-year terms with the possibility of re-election.
Goals for the Board of Directors includes expansion of services, fundraising, increasing awareness of the Initiative's purpose and mission, and enabling the Initiative to reach families within our target demographic.
Meet The Team
Founder & Board President
Laura began her counseling career in non-profit agencies working with children and adult survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse (heavy stuff!). After getting her feet wet for a couple of years, Laura founded HeadFirst Counseling to provide an approach to counseling in which clients are given the freedom to explore all aspects of themselves and while being fully supported and accepted. Laura utilizes evidenced-based play therapy and activity techniques and incorporates recent developments in neuropsychology to utilize brain-based approaches for cognitive processing and emotional regulation in children and adolescents. Laura blends child-centered play therapy with other modalities of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), reciprocal social skills training, executive functioning skill development, expressive arts therapies, and attachment-based techniques in session depending on each client's specialized needs. Laura believes that no two situations are exactly the same, and an openness to learning about the individual client and his or her specific needs is necessary in order for therapy to be beneficial. In the therapy sessions, Laura focuses on helping her clients feel heard, understood, and accepted. Once the client is able to feel accepted for who they are at this moment, they begin to become more of their authentic self. As the client begins to heal, the need for unhelpful or destructive coping skills diminishes and the client is able to move towards more positive, helpful, forward moving, and authentic ways of being. Laura specializes in working with children displaying social or emotional difficulties, behavioral concerns, sensory sensitivities, attachment concerns, rigidity and high functioning autism spectrum disorders. Laura is equipped to work with clients that have experienced any type of physical, psychological, or emotional trauma, including but not limited to: neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse, adoption, medical conditions, and family violence. Laura also specializes in work with parents and offers consultations and support for parents that are struggling with the parent-child relationship. Laura helps parents identify their child's needs, and works with parents to brainstorm ways to help meet the needs of both the child and parent in order to bring back peace at home. Laura provides encouragement for biological and adoptive parents at HeadFirst Counseling and helps them find healthy ways of establishing trust, safety, and attunement within the child-parent relationship. Around the Dallas Community: Laura obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master's degree in clinical counseling from the University of North Texas. As a young adult, Laura spent a brief stint living in New York City working at the prestigious Child Mind Institute and studying psychopharmacology under Dr. Roy Boorady before returning to Dallas. Growing up as a competitive soccer player and gymnast for 15 years, Laura now gets her exercise by chasing her 3 year old toddler around the house and doing family outings at the Dallas Arboretum. Laura works with Community Partners of Dallas (http://www.cpdtx.org) as part of their HEART program to provide group therapy services to child victims of sexual abuse in Dallas County. Laura currently serves on the board of the North Texas Chapter of the Texas Association for Play Therapy (www.txapt.org) as the Member-At-Large, connecting play therapists in the Dallas area with resources to expand the knowledge and impact of play therapy in the community. Laura is also an advocate with Dallas CASA (dallascasa.org), advocating for child victims of abuse and neglect so they can grow up in safe and nurturing homes where they can reach their full potential.
Alex Holmes has spent the majority of his career in the commercial banking space serving businesses in the DFW area as well as the Metro Detroit region. Throughout his career, he has worked with organizations in diverse industries, and is looking forward to applying those skills in his role as Treasurer with the Headfirst Mental Health Initiative. Having utilized mental health care throughout his life, and as a child himself, Mr. Holmes has a strong passion for reducing the stigma around mental health and its care. He is looking forward to contributing to more people having access to its benefits, especially children. Mr. Holmes attended Michigan State University and graduated with a degree in finance in 2009. He and his Husband live in Allen and are expecting their first child in December 2022.
Chelsea Chismark joined the Board of Directors at the launch of the nonprofit, serving in the role of Secretary. Prior to being a stay-at-home mom, Chelsea had a successful career in the commercial real estate industry for eight years. During her career, she worked on Crescent’s iconic McKinney & Olive development in Uptown, Dallas in a leadership role for the property management team. This project went on to win the prestigious “Outstanding Building of the Year” award by the Building Owners and Managers Association. She also excelled as a prominent commercial sales representative for Cambria, a leading quartz surfaces producer in North America. While there, she won the award for Volunteer of the Year for the International Interior Design Association. Chelsea is perhaps best known for being a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and reality TV personality, Chelsea Elizabeth, on the hit TV series “Making the Team” which ran for 16 seasons on CMT. In addition to her work with the HMHI, Chelsea is also active in philanthropic work with the Dallas branch of Make A Wish Foundation.
Kristin Bemis is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Approved Supervisor & Registered Play Therapist who specializes in providing play therapy for children and pre-teens with emotional and behavioral difficulties. She received her Master's Degree in Counseling from the University of North Texas, and previously, her Bachelor's in Psychology from Texas A&M University. Kristin provides parent consultation in her work with families and believes strongly in empowering the parents & caregivers in a child’s system. Having previously provided therapeutic services at Children's Medical Center Dallas for over 10 years, Kristin has extensive experience treating children and adolescents with medical needs. Additionally, she served on the Texas Association for Play Therapy executive board of directors and is active in presenting at the local, state, national, and international levels. Kristin has published several scholarly works on related fields as well. Kristin is the owner of East Dallas Counseling group where she leads a team of therapists who provide services for children, adolescents, and adults.
Julie believes that providing an unforgettable experience is the best gift you can give a person…and she gets to do that with a passion! She is motivated by the stories that move us, the emotions that connect us and the feeling we have when it all comes together and changes us for the better. Julie thrives in the intersection of wholistic strategy and logistics management. Focused on the details, managing the flow and creating a planning process where people are still smiling at the end are just a few ways she leads her events. With over 15 years experience, Julie started in entertainment and events in Kansas City, Las Vegas and Orlando. Her experience has led her to producing conferences, concerts, and video shoots as well as speaking on stage, script writing, creative digital productions and much more. When she moved to Dallas, she produced EarthX for 135,000 attendees with a fully immersive experience at Fair Park. The true joy in Julie’s life is her family. Her husband, Duston, her daughter, Olivia and her two pups, Boots and Peppers, make her smile, laugh and begin each day with gratitude.
Ali Daubert is a Partner in Business Advisory Services at Baker Tilly US. Ali's primary discipline is transaction services with a focus on buy, sell-side and carve-out engagements. Her background also includes founding and building-out Baker Tilly's fund administration platform (private equity and real estate), working on strategy and management consulting engagements, and developing key accounts throughout the US. Ali also focuses on identifying and serving private equity firms and their portfolio companies. She approaches each new business challenge with a flair for innovation and creativity. Excels at building and leading best in class teams and organizations. Ali also leads Baker Tilly's GROW (growth and retention of women) chapter for North Texas and is passionate about creating an environment for women to grow, develop and ultimately, thrive. Outside the office, Ali's motto is "just face forward" and always focuses her time and attention on leaving the world a better place than she found it.
Currently a Managing Partner at Aspen Oak Capital Partners, a real estate private equity firm based in Dallas, Clark McLaughlin has had a successful real estate career with over 15 years of property and asset management experience. Prior to joining Aspen Oak in 2020, Clark worked for Alliance Residential Company as the Vice President of Real Estate. Throughout his 7 years with Alliance, Clark led the acquisition advisory efforts for the firm, supporting the growth of more than 100,000 units with 150+ private and institutional partners. Preceding his role at Alliance, Clark was the Executive Director of Asset Management for Summit Equities, a private equity firm based in NYC, where he oversaw all asset management responsibilities for the firm's multifamily and retail portfolio across New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Clark graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, earned his MBA from Texas A&M – Commerce, and holds both the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and Certified Property Manager (CPM) designations.
Tazim has been working in the therapeutic and treatment field for over 10 years. She started her career at a state hospital, doing a lot of work with high acuity cases and researching for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. From there, she gained experience with business development, strategy development, design and operations at the corporate level with the foremost adolescent treatment provider in the US. Using her new corporate experience, Tazim transitioned to smaller company as a C-Level Executive, helping with acquisitions and mergers for residential programming, creating strategy for business development and marketing, and working directly with other C-Suite Executives and private equity firms. In this position, she led the charge in figuring out the scope of residential programming and discovering what programs were needed in order to ensure they could continue to serve adolescents that needed treatment in an effective manner. After that, she worked with a nonprofit organization as a C-Level Executive, helping them understand how to work with insurance providers, create programming, fundraise, and get contracts. Before starting 360 to 180, she ended up at a trauma and addiction center for adults, helping them start up their first outpatient center in Dallas. Here she was able to work with and learn from some of the founders of psychology, giving her an opportunity to step back and assess how best to help families on the ground level. Tazim also currently serves on the board for both the Therapeutic Consulting Association (TCA) and HMHI. Tazim has been working in the therapeutic and treatment field for over 10 years. She started her career at a state hospital, doing a lot of work with high acuity cases and researching for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. From there, she gained experience with business development, strategy development, design and operations at the corporate level with the foremost adolescent treatment provider in the US. Using her new corporate experience, Tazim transitioned to smaller company as a C-Level Executive, helping with acquisitions and mergers for residential programming, creating strategy for business development and marketing, and working directly with other C-Suite Executives and private equity firms. In this position, she led the charge in figuring out the scope of residential programming and discovering what programs were needed in order to ensure they could continue to serve adolescents that needed treatment in an effective manner. After that, she worked with a nonprofit organization as a C-Level Executive, helping them understand how to work with insurance providers, create programming, fundraise, and get contracts. Before starting 360 to 180, she ended up at a trauma and addiction center for adults, helping them start up their first outpatient center in Dallas. Here she was able to work with and learn from some of the founders of psychology, giving her an opportunity to step back and assess how best to help families on the ground level. Tazim also currently serves on the board for both the Therapeutic Consulting Association (TCA) and HMHI. Mission With her extensive background in the treatment space, Tazim understands the intricacies and operations of programs, allowing her to differentiate clinical treatment and understand that one size does not fit all. In her current role, she is determined to help and support families through tough times. Hobbies & Personal Life Tazim was born to two immigrant parents, who came to the US from Pakistan. She and her husband reside in the Dallas/Fort Worth area along with their two children, one boy and one girl, and their dog. When she is not working with clients, she enjoys spending time reading, checking out new restaurants around town, and surrounding herself with people of all backgrounds as a way to learn from those who are different from her and teach herself to be patient and tolerant.
Rob is a partner in the commercial real estate section of Wick Phillips. His practice focuses on the representation of developers, lenders, property owners, landlords and tenants in leasing, acquisition and sales, finance, land-use planning and development transactions. Rob is an active member of the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas Letterman's Club and Alumni Association. In addition, Rob participates in the Salesmanship Club of Dallas Reading Buddy Program at the Momentous Institute where he meets weekly with a student and helps encourage and assist with teaching students to read. As an undergraduate at Yale University, Rob was a running back and wide receiver on the football team where he was a varsity letterman.