About the SERVE Team

Sarah Ritter

Project Co-Director

Current Roles: I am a full-time lecturer and MSW Program Director in the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, I am also the Project Director for the SERVE (Support, Encourage, Respect, Value and Empower Women & Girls project) funded by the Grant Me the Wisdom Foundation. I am wife to Josh Ritter, who is the Assistant Director of Spirituality and Public Life at Baylor University. We are the proud parents of two strong and brave daughters, Finley and Ellison.
Degrees: I received my BA in Social Work from Baylor University and an MSW from Temple University.
Social Work Background: After graduating, I worked with formerly homeless adults with serious mental illnesses. I then went on to work for the City of Philadelphia and Drexel University focusing on individuals with serious mental illness who intersect with the criminal justice system. I have also worked in inpatient and outpatient settings in the medical field, and most recently worked as the Senior Case Manager for Student Life at Baylor University, assisting students with crisis support and resource development.
Interests within the Grant: Much of her career has focused on women and interventions around sexual assault prevention and women’s health promotion both domestically and abroad. She is passionate about women’s rights and empowering women and girls through intervention, prevention, education, and research.
Book/TV Show/ Music:
Current Reading List:
            No-Drama Discipline: by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
            Bad Feminist: by Roxanne Gay
            Dare to Lead: by Brene Brown
Currently Listening to:
            Lord Huron, Sleeping at Last and Kidz Bop


Brianna Garrison

Project Co-Director

Brianna Garrison received her undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University and completed her MSW degree and graduate certificate in Health Disparities at the University of Houston. Brianna was awarded a pre-dissertation fellowship with the Association of Gerontology Education in Social Work (AGESW). Brianna is a 2020 recipient of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health’s Frances Fowler Wallace Memorial Award for mental health dissertation research. Brianna is a licensed clinical social worker and board approved clinical supervisor. Her clinical social work experience includes medical social work, grief and loss with older adults, adjustment to chronic and progressive illness, and working with persons living with dementia and their caregivers. Brianna currently serves as MSW program Director at the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work Houston Campus. Although her research has largely fallen within the realm of caregivers of persons living with dementia, her broader interests include gerontology, health disparities, health equity, mental health for older adults, grief and loss, and social connection for older adults.



Ciara White

From: Houston, TX

Undergraduate Degree: B.A. in Sociology from The University of Texas at San Antonio

Interests within the Grant: Being a part of the SERVE team truly captures my interest because I am passionate about the welfare of children as well as women. I have a passion for the population of young girls and women who face unimaginable challenges in their lives and this project has given me the opportunity to perform research in this area. Women are truly resilient beings and given the opportunity to be a part of the SERVE project is such a great honor.

Current Research: I am currently working with Dr. Parrish researching the improvement of the lives of the homeless population in Houston and juvenile justice mental health services.

Book/TV Show/Music: My favorite show is the Emmy nominated series, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” as well as my newly found favorite “The Office”. When it comes to music I have an obsession with 90’s R&B as well as the artists of the 90’R&B era such as Toni Braxton, Janet Jackson, and Céline Dion.

Plans After Graduation: After I graduate with my MSW, I plan on taking the licensure exam, obtaining my license, and hopefully starting a career that gives me the opportunity to work with children and adolescents.


Evelyn Bueno

From: Houston, TX

Undergraduate Degree: University of Houston-Downtown, Bachelor of Social Work

Interests within the Grant: I am thrilled to be working on this project, my specific area of interest includes working with women and girls who have experienced trauma and women and girls in immigration. I am devoted to the empowerment of females, being a minority in this country has shaped my way of thinking and visualizing the amazing things we can accomplish. My goal is to give women and girls the tools and resources they need to arise and become successful women in the world.

Current Research: I am working alongside a research team that is assessing Gerontology with a specialized focus on the  lack of resources offered to caregivers by the congregations.

Book/TV Show/Movie: On my free time I enjoy watching all of A million little things and my classic Novelas.

Plans After Graduation: After graduation I plan to take my licensure exam and find a job working with youth and children in the school setting.


Bianca Gonzalez

From: Houston, TX

Undergraduate Degree: B.S Science Criminal Justice with Minor Psychology, University Houston Downtown

Interests within the Grant: My interests consist of encouraging girls and young women to learn how to encompass their strengths through their power of reliance. The SERVE project gives me the opportunity to learn about issues that women face in our society. I want to provide them with tools to help them succeed and empower growth to be the best version of themselves.

Current Research: I am working with my team doing research on gerontology and the impact on lack of congregational resources for caregiver community and older adult population.

Book/TV Show/Movie: I enjoy reading poetry, I like watching comedies, drama, action, psychological thrillers and SCI-FY movies and shows.

Plans After Graduation: After I complete my MSW, I plan on taking my licensure exam to work with youth in a school or Children’s Hospital regarding mental health.


Paula Huber

From: Houston, TX

Undergraduate Degree: University of Houston – Downtown, Bachelor of Social Work

Interests within the Grant: I am incredibly honored to be a part of the SERVE project. My interests within the grant focus on trauma for the most part. I am passionate about educating the community on the effects of trauma, generational trauma, and the healing process. I am also very passionate about empowerment in women and girls, and providing the tools for them to utilize their inherent resilience and strength.

Current Research: I am currently working with Dr. Zhao and her research team on analyzing research data regarding arrest history and the effect it has on mental health, substance abuse, or both among women and girls. Other research we are conducting is examining the criminal justice and juvenile justice system in regards to rehabilitation among women and girls.

Book/TV Show/ Movie: I am currently reading The Magic of Marie Laveau: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans by Denise Alvarado, as well as Felon Poems by Reginald Dwayne Betts. During my free time, I like to watch social cultural documentaries, stand up comedy, The Golden Girls, Glow Up, Grey’s Anatomy, and anything Halloween related. I also love to listen to music, particularly when I am commuting or driving in the car.

Plans After Graduation: After graduation, my plan is to become licensed as an LMSW, and work with adolescents in either a juvenile justice setting, school setting, or some sort of treatment facility.


Domonique Henderson

My name is Domonique Henderson (she/her/hers) and I am a second-year graduate student at the Diana R. Garland school of social work at Baylor University. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Howard University. I have a lot of experience with mental health, children, adolescents, at-risk populations, international populations, and populations from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. My experience with mentoring young urban girls is extensive and I currently serve on the National Board for a non-profit organization, Jewels Incorporated, that focuses on mentoring girls from ages 8-18. Watching mentees take tools and wisdom passed down to them as they navigate their journey as a woman is an amazing process. I genuinely enjoy helping youth in their journey of growth.

From: Compton, CA

Undergraduate Degree: B.S. Psychology, Howard University

Interests within the Grant: The SERVE project embodies advocacy, support, resilience, strength, understanding, and diversity of the experiences of female-identifying people. Working collaboratively with a team who shares the same drive and interests is empowering and inspiring. My interests within the SERVE project are understanding the resiliency and coping of youth in difficult environments/settings, understanding the root of misconceptions amongst female-identifying people of color, psycho-social development, mental health, and trauma experienced by children, adolescents, and young adults.

Current Research: Currently, I am working on a research team that focuses on trauma and interpersonal violence as it relates to women. We are working to gain access to valuable data in effort to further our research goals.

Book/TV Show/Music: I enjoy watching historical period dramas, especially about monarchs in Europe. Toni Morrison’s books are my favorite, such as Beloved and Songs of Solomon. I love listening to female rap music, but there is a special place in my heart for R&B artists such as Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker, Toni Braxton, especially Lauryn Hill.

Plans after Graduation: I plan to take the licensure exam and apply to social work or psychology Ph.D. programs. I also plan to continue my involvement in research and my involvement in non-profit service organizations. Building a stronger background in research and developing skills that will further my abilities to contribute to the helping profession and future patients/clients are important to me.



Maddie Van Ness

From: Hudson, Wisconsin

Undergraduate Degree: Bethel University, Bachelor of Social Work

Interests within the Grant: My experience in the field includes working with women and children experiencing homelessness, and women battling a substance abuse addiction. I have a passion for working with women because I have seen the amount of resiliency, strength, and courage they reveal in trying times.

Current Research: Currently, I am researching issues surrounding the integration of homelessness and mental health. I am passionate about working with women and girls experiencing homelessness and are in need of mental health care.

Book/TV Show/Movie: I love crime documentaries, Breaking Bad, Friends, and Gilmore Girls! My favorite book is The Body Keeps the Score.

Plans After Graduation: I hope to obtain my MSW license and become a therapist working with youth/adolescents who have experienced trauma, abuse, neglect, and/or homelessness. Long-term, I hope to start up my own non-profit for youth experiencing homelessness.