Staff & Directors
Meet our Staff
Rod “Bass Heavy” Tillman, President CEO
Bass is at the helm of Workshop Houston after 10 years of serving as Beat Shop & program directors. As the long time lead mentor for students at Workshop Houston, he has the relationships with the youth and community necessary for leading Workshop Houston in a new youth-adult partnership paradigm. He hails from Shreveport, Louisiana where he attended performing arts schools from the age of ten. He went on to The University of New Orleans where he double majored in jazz studies and engineering. Bass has produced and engineered several big name rap artists such as Mannie Fresh, Mos Def, Big Sean, Snoop Dogg, Juvenile, Rick Ross, and Kanye West to name a few. Bass also teaches Audio Engineering and Music Production at Houston Community College as an adjunct professor.
Sarah Atwood, Development Director COO
Sarah Atwood has worked in nonprofit fundraising for 17 years. She has a long history with Workshop Houston and served as board chair from 2005-2010. She joins Workshop Houston from serving as the Director of Development for The Chinati Foundation, living and working in Marfa, TX. During her time at Chinati, Sarah and her team increased the annual operations budget, grew the endowment, and strategically planned, and implemented a $40 million-dollar comprehensive capital campaign. Sarah’s past fundraising roles include Associate Director of Philanthropy for The Nature Conservancy where her role was to build relationships and fund raise major gifts (million +) to contribute to the Conservancy’s mission to protect the land and water on which all life depends. She has served as Director of Development of the Houston Zoo, overseeing all aspects of major gifts, private events, and donor relations. Previously, she served as Executive Director of Girl Inc. of Greater Houston and Director of Development of the Park People. Sarah was a publicist before entering the philanthropic sector. She is a 2009 Rice University Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives Graduate and holds a BS from the University of Houston.
Jasmine Samone, Style Shop Teaching Artist Mentor
Jasmine Samone is a self-taught couture fashion designer, wardrobe stylist, and model from Houston, Texas. She fell in love with fashion at a very young age. At 14, she attended and graduated from Barbizon modeling and acting school. That same year she discovered her love for sewing. She debuted her brand “Astonishing Apparel” in March 2015 while taking classes classes at Sam Houston State University, where she graduated with her Bachelors in Business Management in December 2017. Jasmine went into full-time entrepreneurship immediately after earning her degree with her debut in LAFW in March 2018. Since then, she has also expanded into designing and styling for numerous celebrity photo-shoots and events. Jasmine brings her entrepreneurial success and years of experience to Workshop Houston as the Style Shop Coordinator.
LaRodney Freeman – Dance Shop Teaching Artist Mentor
O’Shea Woodhouse – Media Shop Teaching Artist Mentor
Mike Ashford – Near Peer Instructor
Robert Griggs – Near Peer Instructor
Brianna Burns – Near Peer Instructor
Marissa Pellerin – Near Peer Instructor
Ophelia Morin – Near Peer Instructor
Savion Reed – Near Peer Instructor
Victoria Bonner – Near Peer Instructor
Taylor Chavis – Near Peer Instructor
Joshua Denkins – Near Peer Instructor
Stephanie Atwood, CFO
Meet our Board
Jamal Cyrus was born in Houston, TX. He received a BFA from the University of Houston in 2004 and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. In 2005 he attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and in 2010 he was an Artist in Residence at Artpace San Antonio. Cyrus has won several awards, including the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, the Artadia Houston Award, and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. He has participated in national and international exhibitions, including The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 – Now, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL (traveled to ICA Philadelphia, 2016); Arresting Patterns, ArtSpace, New Haven, CT (traveled to the African American Museum in Philadelphia, 2016); two exhibitions at The Studio Museum in Harlem (both 2013); the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2012); and the New Museum, New York (2011).
Andrew Davis is Dean of the College of the Arts at the University of Houston. His work focuses on integrating interdisciplinary training opportunities into the curriculum and on establishing the arts as a leading force for social engagement and community impact. He serves on the Boards of Directors of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Immanuel and Helen B. Olshan Foundation, Music Doing Good, the PhiBeta Kappa Alumni Association of Greater Houston, and the Texas Society for Music Theory. A music theorist by training, he is the author of two books and numerous articles on the opera and instrumental music of the 19th century.
Kate Dearing Fowler
Kate Dearing Fowler is the Executive Director of The Jerry C. Dearing Family Foundation and Founder of Houston Improvement Project, an organization that revives and restores Houston’s nonprofit-owned community spaces. A Houston native, she grew up through the public-school system in Cy-Fair ISD and graduated from Tulane University with BAs in Communications and Spanish. She lives in the Heights with husband Stephen and their dogs Lucy and Susan and cat Jonas.
Katy grew up in Oakland, California, before attending Oberlin College, where she graduated with a B.A in Politics. Her studies and work have centered on creative communities, civil society, and education. She is a founder of Workshop Houston, where she was Co-Director until 2015, and also works as a development consultant for many Houston-area non-profits.
A native Houstonian, Elizabeth received a B.A. from the University of Texas and an MBA from Duke University. She became interested in Workshop Houston after being introduced to the organization through The Children’s Fund, where she and her husband Rogers have served on the board for over five years; including last year as co-presidents. A former Zoo Friends member, she has also served on the founding board for Heartgift Houston and enjoys volunteering at the Houston Foodbank and her children’s school. She loves raising her three daughters, Lola, Charlotte, and Frances.
Mary Hale Lovett McLean
Mary Hale is a leading real estate broker, community leader, fourth-generation Houstonian, and a graduate of the University of Texas. She is a 28-year member of the UT Health Science Center Development Board, serves on the UT School of Nursing Partner Board, Medical School Advisory Council, UT Chancellor’s Council, and Medical School Scholarship Committee, and belongs to the Faculty Wives. She raised the first $3 million for the laboratory for The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases and co-chaired the first IMM capital campaign. Mary Hale is a member and past chair of The Menil Collection’s development, real estate and corporate committees, and serves on the boards of Friends of Smither Park, and the advisory board for Asia Society, Houston. She raised the essential funds for the lot purchase and building of the new Looscan Library in 2004; is a former board member of Houston Ballet, Christ Church Cathedral Vestry, and The Garden Club of Houston, and served on the Rice University Centennial Committee.
Roxannne is an attorney at the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where she practices complex commercial litigation. As a Houston native and a public interest advocate, Roxanne is committed to helping under served communities overcome obstacles, including through both her pro bono legal work as well as her volunteer efforts with students to help bridge the gap. That dedication led Roxanne to be a pro bono leader at her firm, for which she has achieved numerous awards; further, she was the first Akin Gump Fellow at Her Justice- a New York based non-profit- where she first-chaired numerous family -law and immigration cases for low-income women and victims of domestic violence. Roxanne received her B.A. in History with honors from New York University and her J.D. from University of Texas School of Law,
Dr. Desmond Lewis
Desmond Lewis is the Interim Associate Vice Chancellor of College Readiness at Houston Community College. With 25 years of higher education experience, Dr. Lewis has extensive knowledge in the areas of developmental education, accelerated learning program design, English, History, ESOL, Music Business, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Dr. Lewis is committed to student success and equity. As such, he is a Fellow of the New Leaders Academy (NLA) at the University of Michigan that focuses on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in conjunction with the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. In addition, he has completed the University of California at Berkeley’s The Innovation Organization Seminar, received Diversity and Inclusion training from Cornell University’s ILR Workshop, and serves as Houston Community College’s Quality Enhance Plan’s Co-Chair. Dr. Lewis holds a doctorate in Community College Leadership from Ferris State University.
Kandace is a Rice Business Board Fellow turned full-time Board member. As a native Houstonian who grew up partly in the Dallas area, she was excited to reconnect with her roots and give back to her local community. Her passion for the arts and her love for the education drew her to join Workshop Houston’s board. She 8 years of experience working in specialized areas of HR (data analytics and D&I) and Corporate Social Responsibility. She has a background in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Texas A&M University (B.S.) and Illinois State University (M.S.), and most recently completed her MBA at Rice University. She is set to begin her Post MBA career as a Senior Strategy Consultant at EY-Parthenon in fall 2022.
Dr. Rhoda Freelon
Rhoda is an Assistant Professor of Education Leadership & Policy Studies in the College of Education at the University of Houston. Her research interests are related to two specific areas — the exploration of educational inequality rooted in various forms of systemic oppression and the democratic engagement of youth, families, and community members in the life of schools and districts. Prior to her role with the University of Houston, Rhoda worked in the areas of early childhood care and education policy, K-12 district leadership, higher education admissions policy, youth and community-based learning, and education philanthropy. Her interest in supporting the mission and vision of Workshop Houston is connected to her previous community-based work in Chicago where she was the co-founder of a youth digital media program that supported young people in exploring critical issues impacting their community.
Mannie Fresh otherwise known as Byron Thomas, is a multi-platinum selling music producer. Mannie was introduced to Workshop Houston 10 years ago through our CEO. Since that time Mannie has had a vested interest in the programs we offer. This year he decided to have deeper involvement by joining our board.