Our Team & Board
Our team hustles, creates outsized positive impact and knows how to have fun. We are deeply committed to supporting each other in the long, hard work of protecting justice, dignity and freedom.
John Nehme, MPolEc - President & CEO
After leading Allies Against Slavery as a volunteer for two years, John managed the organization's transition from a grassroots effort to a nonprofit in 2014. As President & CEO, he guides the overall strategy and serves the team as they pursue their mission to build slave-free cities. Under John's leadership, Allies has supported hundreds of survivors of trafficking, successfully petitioned the Austin City Council and Mayor to unanimously pass a resolution to become a slave-free city and tripled the number of organizations actively participating in the Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking. John also forged a research partnership between Allies and the University of Texas, funded by the Texas Governor's Office, and co-authored the groundbreaking study "Human Trafficking by the Numbers: The Initial Benchmark of Prevalence and Economic Impact for Texas". John has a degree in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University where he studied as an Ingram Scholar, and he earned a Master of Political Economy from the University of Sydney in Australia as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. His experience working in the public, private and social sectors to affect change in marginalized communities has deeply shaped his belief that sustainable positive impact is created by meeting the individual needs of the most vulnerable while also addressing the root-cause, systemic challenges that perpetuate their vulnerability. Outside of work, John and his wife Rachel enjoy hiking with their two children and are active in Austin's faith community.
Torey Tipton, MPA - Director of Strategic Partnerships
Torey is deeply passionate about seeking justice for all people, and leverages her experience as a professional in the social sector in pursuit of that goal. She joined the Allies Against Slavery team after learning about the immense problem human trafficking presents to society. Torey believes in the power of collaboration to influence change, the importance of innovation, and loves working on the Allies team in pursuit of the Slave-Free City vision. She brings both a breadth and depth of social sector experience and training including grant writing, board development, fundraising, policy research, policy development, public finance, and economics. Torey has a Master’s in Public Service and Administration from the Bush School of Government and Public Service and Bachelor’s in Political Science from Texas A&M University. She lives in Austin with her husband, Craig, and their dog Rory.
Tally Jorn, MS, LMSW - Executive Operations & Program Coordinator
Tally advances the Allies' mission by supporting internal operations and external program partners, driving effective collaboration and creating lasting change through Allies' Slave-Free City Network. With a Masters of Social Work from The University of Texas, she brings a history of evidence-based study, as well as skills conducting independent trauma-informed research. In her role with Allies, Tally also draws from over seven years of domestic and international experience working directly with populations that have experienced trauma and exploitation in both therapeutic and community development capacities. Tally is committed to giving back to the Austin community, and she practices clinical social work with vulnerable populations at Dell Seton Medical Center and Dell Children’s Hospital in their emergency departments in addition to her work with Allies. With an insatiable love for travel and the outdoors, and a propensity for adventure, you can find her camping, rock-climbing and running off to the mountains every chance she gets.
Board of Directors
Kyle McDaniel, CPA, Chair
Kyle is the Managing Director of Strategic Research & Partnerships for Whitebox Advisors which manages $5 billion in multi-strategy hedge funds. He holds a Bachelor's degree in both Finance and Accounting from Texas A&M University. During his time at A&M, Kyle was a proud member of the Corp of Cadets and the Ross Volunteers program. He and his wife Terra have have been investing in the Austin philanthropic community since 1999. Kyle brings over 25 years of executive experience leading diverse teams, managing complex global investments and executing on strategy and risk assessments in the public, private and social sectors. His area of core expertise is the efficient and synergistic allocation of human and financial capital. Kyle is motivated to protect the dignity and inherent value of every person, and he is passionate about serving with Allies to shape how people see and therefore how people behave.
Paula Wendling, CPA, Treasurer
Paula is a member of Flieller, Kruger, Skelton & Plyler, PLLC, a leading Austin CPA firm that provides sophisticated tax planning and compliance services as well as analysis and strategic planning for business matters. Paula graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, emphasis K-8 education, from The University of Northern Colorado in 1994, and she earned her Master in Professional Accounting from The University of Texas at Austin in 2002. Paula began her public accounting career with what is now Flieller, Kruger, Skelton & Plyler in 2003 and was admitted to the partnership in January 2011. While with the firm, Paula has gained extensive experience providing tax compliance and advisory services to high net worth individuals, businesses and investment entities. Her focus areas include oil and gas taxation, estate/gift/generation-skipping transfer tax planning, partnerships, and exempt organization compliance and consulting. Paula is deeply committed to serving the Austin community, and she volunteers with community organizations in several capacities.
Grace Dai, Secretary
Grace Dai has a strong technical background, graduating with a B.E. in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech. However, a desire to round out her technical side took her to Columbia University, where she received her M.B.A. Her studies have led her abroad to France, where she began her career in telecommunications at Orange/France Telecom, working with teams in Europe, Africa and North America. Upon returning to the U.S., Grace moved on from telecommunications to software and internet applications, working for companies such as Amplify (a subsidiary of News Corporation, formerly Wireless Generation), The XO Group (formerly The Knot), and most recently, Thomson Reuters. She has a heart for survivors of trafficking and served on the board of Restore NYC from 2010 to 2013. Grace recently served as the Allies treasurer, and she previously served on the Allies Advisory Council for two years.
Jon Olstein is a Managing Director of Marketing and Investor Relations at Monroe Capital. Mr. Olstein has over 25 years of experience in trading and marketing. Prior to Monroe, Mr. Olstein held marketing positions at Investcorp, Whitebox Advisors and Waterstone Capital. Mr. Olstein obtained his trading and sales experience at Deutsche Bank and PaineWebber. Mr. Olstein earned his M.B.A. in Finance from Seton Hall University and his B.A. in Psychology from Denison University.
John Nehme, President
Strategic Advisory Board
Rebecca Powers is well known in the Austin community for her philanthropic passion and empowering people to help others. In 2003, Powers founded Impact Austin, a collective giving organization whose concept was simple and inspirational - bringing women and their financial resources together to make a profound impact in Central Texas. To date, Impact Austin has raised over $5 million on behalf of those in need in Central Texas. Powers speaks nationally inspiring women to connect their capacity to give with their confidence to do it well. She also serves on the National Board of the Jeremiah Program - helping young moms and their kids move from poverty to prosperity. Powers graduated from the University of Richmond in Virginia with a B.S. in Business Administration in 1976 and worked as a sales rep with IBM until 1990 when she retired to focus on her family. She and Phil have two grown children, Brad and Claire. In her spare time, Rebecca cheers wildly for her World Champion Chicago Cubs and the Green Bay Packers.
David has over 25 years experience in software pricing and business management, including 10 years of mergers and acquisitions with IBM and pricing leadership roles at other US software companies, currently working as Pricing Director with Epicor Software. New to the Allies team, he is focused on helping develop a sustainability model and pricing strategy for a software-based screening tool created by Allies. David holds Bachelor of Arts-Plan II Honors, Bachelor of Business Administration and Masters of Business Administration degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, is an elder in his church and a long-time volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America Capitol Area Council. He is excited to have the opportunity to work with Allies to end human trafficking.
Shelton is the Chief of Staff for a State Representative and the Founder & CEO of Good &Fair Clothing, Inc., a fair trade and organic clothing company that has brought slave free clothing alternatives to American markets since 2010. He regularly speaks about social enterprise, labor trafficking, and the economic dimensions of the global slave trade. In 2008, Shelton launched the human trafficking awareness campaign called "What's Your Response?" Through the campaign, teams distributed over 81,000 drink coasters containing the stories of freed slaves in bars and coffee shops across Texas to raise awareness and motivate action. Shelton is one of the founding members of Allies, and he served on the Allies Advisory Council for three years prior to becoming Chair of the Board.
Dr. Laurie Cook Heffron, PhD, LMSW
Laurie is one of the founding members of Allies Against Slavery and she has served on the Allies Advisory Council since 2010. Laurie is an Assistant Professor St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and she has interest and expertise in the areas of forced migration, domestic and sexual violence, and human trafficking, and her research explores the experiences of, and relationships between, violence against women and migration. As former Associate Director for Research at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (IDVSA), she has contributed to multiple research projects since 2001, including a program evaluation for services to victims of human trafficking, a statewide domestic violence prevalence study, program evaluation of Texas’ Non-Report Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program, and a national pilot program to develop professional and organizational resiliency among child welfare workers. Laurie has both direct social work practice and research experience with a variety of immigrant communities, including refugees, survivors of human trafficking, and asylees. Currently, she provides assessments and serves as an expert witness in immigration cases of women and children seeking T visas, U visas, and asylum based on domestic violence. Laurie earned a master's and a doctoral degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin and an undergraduate degree in Linguistics from Georgetown University. She has studied in Santiago, Chile, and in Quito, Ecuador, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger, West Africa. above all a mother of two energetic and creative children.