Hope Rising Staff
Founder, President, Executive Director
Sherri holds a BS Degree in Marketing Communications with over 12 years’ experience as owner and operator of Blue Planet Studio, a Marketing Communications Firm. She has over 20 years of experience in Marketing in the corporate world. She has spearheaded the development and refinement of the Hope Rising residential aftercare and equine therapy program over the last 7 years. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Social Work. Her accomplishments as a nonprofit Executive Director include the following:
- Founded Hope Rising and was active in prevention, awareness, outreach, and rescue of minor girls who had been sex trafficked.
- Certified Trainer for the internationally accepted Hands that Heal Certification Training designed to equip caregivers to work with human trafficking victims.
- Certified Victims Advocate
- Certified EAGALA and Natural Lifemanship – Equine Specialist
Director of Equine Program & Certified Equine Specialist
Gayle Brittain is a World Champion Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductee. She is a certified Equine Specialist (EAGALA model). She oversees all equine facilities and equine program therapy horses. She was drawn to Hope Rising because, she says, “Hope Rising is combining a safe, family oriented environment, along with Christian values, and an equine therapy model like no other is succeeding in rebuilding the young mind and spirit into a productive, and balanced member of society.” She knows horses and horse psychology and loves people, especially children. This makes for a strong equine therapy team member and an excellent person to mentor the children when their interest is to go beyond therapy and learn better horsemanship skills.
Renee Calder Encinias, BS, LCPAA
Renee has been working in the child welfare field since 1997. It was intended to be a stepping stone, but God quickly revealed that this was what she was meant to be doing. Over the years, she has worked with hundreds of children and families. She feels like God’s plan for her is to leave this world a better place than she found it. With that in mind, she tries to plant seeds with each child, and with each family that will help them in their journey. She is a certified Trust Based Relational Intervention practitioner and is responsible for training staff and foster parents in this ground-breaking technique for understanding and working with children coming to us from hard places.
Cynthia is an experienced Director of Operations. She oversees the financial operations of Hope Rising; as well as, all Human Resources functions. She also happens to be a survivor leader and has many years’ experience working with trafficking victims. She has an in depth understanding of what the journey of freedom entails. Cynthia shares her story and trains first responders, church staff, teachers, parents and foster parents how to identify and prevent sex trafficking. Having a survivor on the Hope Rising team reflects a story of hope and healing.
Creative Services Director
Leanna received a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication at Oral Roberts University, majoring in Drama, Television, and Film. Leanna is the daughter of a survivor, and has been producing a 7-year documentary called “Another Child” about child sex abuse and domestic child trafficking. Her love for film has caused her to merge her passion with one of the issues closest to her heart. She loves being a part of the Hope Rising team. Her storytelling capabilities help her to share in creative ways, the story of Hope Rising and the stories of the survivors that are ready to share their stories of hope with those that may still be trapped in the life.
Community Outreach & Development Director
Case Manager, BA
Precious is pursuing a Master degree in Sociology at Prairie A&M University. She specializes in working with children with disabilities and mental health issues. She has also worked with juvenile girls and boys ages 13-18, helping to guide children on the right path. Precious works diligently to make sure that they are all seen and heard.
Case Manager, Foster Home Developer
Ashley earned her Masters of Social Work degree from Texas A&M in 2019. Ashley has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of foster care as a result of spending six years in the Texas Foster Care System as a child. Ashley also has experience as a caregiver, and joined Hope Rising because she recognized it as an agency who cares about the most vulnerable and truly desires to give them a bright and happy future.
RN Clinical Compliance Manager
Johanna received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Texas A&M, and ADN (Nursing) from Blinn College. She has worked as a nurse with organ transplant, in the operating room, and most recently, 11 years as a compliance nurse for the state of TX. Hobbies are playing with her two kiddos, Natalie (8) and Chase (5), and spending time with her amazing husband Will!
Nikki Lewis started with Hope Rising as a Volunteer back in 2017. She had a huge heart for the horses and initially worked exclusively taking care of the horses; however the more she got involved, she decided to shift over to respite care. Her dedication did not go unnoticed, she was brought on Full Time February 4th 2019. She now is a Residential Care Giver and still does respite. Nikki has a huge heart for the girls, and feels that the Lord prepared her for such a time as this and that this is her calling in life. The girls gravitate towards her because she has a soft and mothering personality, & she loves being their safe place. She is also in charge of the boutique. Hobbies: Horses, scrap booking, organizing, and spending time with her 2 sons, Tanner(18) and Tyler (21)
Mary was born into a military family. Her father was in the Air Force. She joined the Navy a year out of High School. After 8 years of service, she moved to Texas. She met her husband in Texas and then were transferred to Australia. They moved to the Brenham area and have lived here since 2006, not counting the two years they traveled in their fifth wheel. Mary didn’t think she would go back to work after so many years of being a housewife, but she is loving it!! Hobbies include golfing, crafting, traveling, and working out.