ProUnitas' mission is to empower schools with the technology and training to ensure that every child has access to the right resources at the right time to reach their fullest human potential.
We have an obligation to dissent
We can only understand the parts when we view them in relation to the whole
Always taking initiative to learn and expand one's mind knowing that we will never "arrive".
Growth is infinite.
Delegate and elevate.
Status does not count.
We are comfortable with the unknown.
It’s not always about what is next.
ADEEB BARQAWI - President & CEO
The work of ProUnitas began when Adeeb Barqawi, a 2012 Teach for America Corps Member, became a physics teacher at Kashmere High School in Northeast Houston. During his time in the classroom, Adeeb was a recipient of numerous awards including the Kinder Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award as well as the State of Texas ACP Beginner Teacher of the Year Award.
Prior to Teach for America, Adeeb worked for the pharmaceutical industry. Adeeb holds a master’s degree in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University as well as a master’s degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University. Adeeb is an alumnus of the Center for Houston’s Future Fall 2015 Business/Civic Executive Leadership Forum, and a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum Class XXXVII. Adeeb was recognized as one of five people who are most likely to shape Houston’s future by the Houston Chronicle.
In 2017 Adeeb was appointed by the Texas State Board of Education to serve on the new Texas Long Range Plan for Public Education steering committee where he worked alongside exceptional leaders to set a new vision for public education for the State of Texas. Adeeb is currently a board member of Good Reason Houston and Healthy Living Matters.
ALBERT WEI - Chief Innovation Officer
Albert started his work in education as an undergraduate student at Rice University, and has taught in some of Houston’s most disadvantaged schools. Albert is a recipient of the Salman Khan Commencement Award for Educational Entrepreneurship at Rice University for his work in education domestically and abroad.
After receiving a B.A. in Political Science, he continued teaching through Teach for America as a 2012 Corps Member. Albert earned the Beginning Teacher of the Year distinction for the Houston Independent School District, became social studies department chair, and served as the Director of the College and Career Center at Sharpstown High School.
Albert spent a year in Asia on a Fulbright Fellowship to work with local teachers to deliver robust English curricula and study the ways the East incorporates social-emotional learning in school culture and instruction.
EDITH RAHIMIAN - Chief Program Officer
Edith has served in the field of education for more than thirteen years and has always believed in the power and the impact of partnerships. Prior to her current role, she was the Director for the Center for Parenting and Family Well-Being at Children at Risk. Previously, she served as a Dean of Instruction, Director of Parent and Student Initiatives, a Grade Level Chair and teacher at YES Prep Public Schools. As a classroom teacher, Edith was honored with the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award. Before joining YES Prep, she was a teacher in HISD in a high-needs community as a Teach For America Corps Member. Edith’s drive for ensuring educational equity for all students, despite family background and zip code, stems from her own personal journey. She is the daughter of Iranian immigrants and the first one in her family to graduate from college.
Edith holds a B.S. in Business Administration, a B.A in Political Science from the University of Arizona and a Masters in Non-Profit Administration from the University of Houston-Downtown. Edith’s dedication goes beyond her current role as she is involved in her community as a member of the HISD Resource Allocation Advisory Committee, a member of the Tenant’s Rights Advisory Board and a founding board member of Bloom Academy. She is committed to ensuring that all students from all communities across Texas have access to great schools and educational programs.
BRANDON BOURQUE - Director of Advancement
Brandon began his career as an event coordinator for the Mayor's Office of Special Events with the City of Houston. Planning civic events for Mayor Annise Parker and other elected officials proved to be an exciting and challenging job. Many civic events required significant fundraising, and Brandon often found himself engaging with the sponsorship team to learn what it took to produce these events. This curiosity eventually led him to become the Manager of Special Events for the Menil Collection, where he spent six years planning and fundraising for an extensive events schedule.
Brandon grew up in south Louisiana and studied Psychology and Political Science at Nicholls State University. He has a passion for the work and mission of non-profits and connecting them to the philanthropic community in Houston.
STEVE MICHAELSON - Urgensee - VP, Product
Steve brings over forty years of operational and executive experience building and leading software product development and strategy. Most recently Steve served at Quest Software as the R&D executive responsible for software release management of storage management and data protection technologies supporting over 30,000 users. Steve was named to the CIO Magazine CIO 100 for his work as an early adopter of the original Capability Maturity Model for software development. Steve has led SEI/CMMI certified development centers in the USA, Barbados, India, Belarus and Russia supporting some of the largest global financial institutions in the world.
Steve served on the board of the nation-wide non-profit Cleaning for a Reason and supports non-profits in Education Advocacy and Healthcare.
KIRSTIN WILLIAMS - Urgensee - Product Admin
Kirstin has over 17 years of experience designing, building and supporting applications and end-users. Kirstin, a Certified Salesforce.com Administrator, has significant experience managing large volumes of data and assisting end-users in creating information from their data. Kirstin is an avid photographer and enjoys giving back to her community by donating photo sessions to those in need.
DONUA MCDANIEL - Senior Manager - District Success
Donua McDaniel has been with ProUnitas since its inception. Prior to her current role, she served as a Wraparound Resource Specialist at Kashmere High School and Key Middle School. She took on roles of leadership through mentoring other Specialists and leading district-wide trainings. Her passion for systemic change for communities of color began with her exposure to grassroots capacity building as a two term AmeriCorps member, serving at HCDE Case for Kids and LISC Houston in civic engagement. She also served on the Houston Area Action Team in the Kashmere/Trinity Gardens community for the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and continues to support communities of color through volunteering.
Her drive and focus derive from her 4-year service in the United States Army. She is a Houston native and brings high levels of energy, humility, and passion to the work of serving kids.
CELINA DIAZ - Senior Manager - District Success
Celina is a ten-year veteran elementary teacher who began teaching in Fort Bend ISD. She went on to teach in some of Dickinson ISD’s most disadvantaged schools where she was named “Teacher of the Year” at Hughes Road Elementary for the 2011-2012 scholastic year. Celina also served as Academic Director at Mission Squash where she pursued her passion of wanting to close the opportunity gap for all students. She then took her leadership back into the classroom to continue inspiring young minds at Houston ISD and served a two-year term as grade level chair at Briargrove Elementary. Celina remains dedicated to putting an end to educational inequity and believes all students should have the opportunity to thrive in the classroom and beyond.
Celina graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Early Childhood Education, at Texas A&M University and holds a Master of Arts in Sociology and Education with Education Policy Concentration from Teachers College at Columbia University.
JAIME HERRERO - Senior Manager - District Success
Soon after graduating from law school, Jaime started his career as an attorney at the Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit legal office in the Bronx transforming how low-income people in the Bronx are represented in the justice system. Jaime then founded Xmental, a community-based arts organization in Brooklyn, NY. He served as the Director of NeON Arts, a city-wide, community-based grant making program designed to provide young New Yorkers with access to high-quality arts programming and worked as the Chief of Staff at Phipps Neighborhoods, a Bronx-based social service organization and the largest provider of low-income housing in New York City.
He served on the board of Critical Practices, 21st Projects, and currently serves on the board of Latino Texas PAC.
Jaime has a BA from Case Western University in Ohio and has a JD from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law School.
Currently, Jaime is working on a book chronicling the role of philanthropy in the growth of the city of Houston from the Hogg Family to J.J.Watt.
LESBIA ESPINAL - Data Support Specialist
Lesbia Espinal recently graduated from Brandeis University, where she received a double majored in Computer Science and Health: Science, Society, and Policy (HSSP) with a minor in Business. She attended Madison High school, where she was part of the EMERGE program all through high school.
Lesbia comes from a low-income family and understands the importance of access to resources and how it can change a student’s life as she experienced it as a low-income student. Lesbia interned with ProUnitas during the summer of 2019. Lesbia believes that technology plays a significant role in education and everyday life to connect with needed resources and to be more efficient.
During her free time, Lesbia enjoys reading, weightlifting, learning new coding languages, listening to podcasts such as The Dave Ramsey show, Pick the Brain, Developer Tea, and Everything is Alive. Her deadlift PR is 185 lbs.
JOHN B. REYNA - General Counsel
John is ProUnitas’ legal counsel.
John graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a focus in Comparative Cultural Studies at The Ohio State University. He received his Juris Doctorate from Texas Tech University School of Law and his Masters of Laws in Taxation from SMU’s Dedman School of Law.
ROBIN POWELL, CPA- Accountant
Robin Powell earned her undergraduate and master’s degree from the University of Houston where she met her husband of 33 years and where two of her children have also graduated.
Robin has had a nonprofit accounting practice since 1997 and works with many nonprofit organizations in the Houston area along with volunteer work in her community and at her church. After 20 years in corporate and tax accounting, Robin felt that working with nonprofits was the best way to use her skills to give back to the community which has been her home for over 40 years.