We were founded in 2018 with a vision to strengthen foster families and their communities through training and collaboration. Our first initiative, the Babysitting Collaborative launched in partnership with 4 child-placing agencies. Since then, 27 additional agencies have joined the collaborative, and 800+ babysitters have been equipped to provide quality, trauma-informed support for families parenting children in the foster system.
In August 2020, we launched a city-wide strategic initiative to mobilize Houstonians to address the various social issues facing their neighborhoods. Today, we are a collaborative network of agencies, congregations, nonprofits, school districts, and passionate individuals working together to transform the foster care system in Houston.
Watch the video below to learn more.
Amber Knowles RN, CPNP
Founder & Executive Director
Amber is a mother of 4, including 2 adopted through foster care. She has a BSN from Baylor and an MSN from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Prior to founding The Riverside Project, Amber worked as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in pediatric community health and school-based healthcare. She is also a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) Practitioner, and her husband, Drew, is a pastor in the Houston area.
Director of Operations
Matthew Schultz is Director of Operations for The Riverside Project. Matthew received his M.S. from the University of Illinois, and his B.A. from Concordia University Texas. Matthew lives in League City with his wife Jennifer and their two sons, Christopher and Alex. In his spare time, Matthew consults with other nonprofits on fundraising and operations, coaches youth basketball, smokes Texas barbecue, and cheers on the Houston Astros and University of Illinois Fighting Illini.
Director of Development
Brian Carr has been in non-profit fundraising for more than 20 years. Prior to joining The Riverside Project, Brian enjoyed success with organizations such as James Robison’s Life Outreach International, American Cancer Society, Rotary Lombardi Award, and Northwest Assistance Ministries. He excels in major gifts, planned giving, direct mail along with capital and annual campaigns, and has significant experience in non-profit executive management as well as communications and marketing. Brian is a graduate of the University of Texas enjoys sports and considers himself a bit of a history nerd.
Kathleen Cowie LMSW
Director of Agency Partnerships
Kathleen earned a Master of Social Work from the University of Houston, following a degree in Family and Human Services from John Brown University. She has served as a research assistant focusing on child welfare, as a direct care provider at an emergency shelter for children and youth in foster care, and as a Therapeutic Case Manager for the homeless population. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) Practitioner.
Director of Church Mobilization
Chandler earned his bachelor’s degree in Religion from East Texas Baptist University and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Houston Christian University. He has experience on staff with local churches as a Student & Next Gen Pastor and is passionate about mobilizing the church to meet needs within their community. Chandler and his wife, Caitlin, are licensed foster parents.
Church Mobilization Specialist
Evert Gonzalez is passionate, driven, and eager to make a positive impact in Houston as a Church Mobilization Coordinator. Evert brings a diverse skill set and strong passion for community engagement. In addition to organizing community events and promoting awareness of social issues, Evert is an uprising songwriter and worship leader. He was born in El Salvador under difficult circumstances and is a living testimony of God’s goodness.
Church Mobilization Specialist
Michael received his Bachelor’s Degree in Church Ministries from Southwestern Assemblies of God university. He previously worked in various pastoral positions throughout the state of Texas for 10 years. He grew up and was adopted through the Foster Care system of Texas into a multiracial family. Michael is also a certified Life Coach. His passions are Jesus, baseball, food, and laughter.
Caitlin Simpson LMSW
Director of Community Resources
Caitlin earned her Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies from Texas A&M University and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Houston. She previously worked with international nonprofits in sub-Saharan African and South Asia addressing humanitarian aid, poverty, and human trafficking. She also worked as a pediatric social worker in emergency medicine and labor/delivery.
James earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Houston. He has previous work experience in school districts, non-profits, and the local church. James utilizes his project management, event planning, and organizational skills to support the mission of The Riverside Project.
- Mark Felder – President
- Rachel Lake – Vice President
- Amber Robinson – Treasurer
- Hiji Washington – Secretary
- Jennifer Clifford
- Cherie Hassenflu
- Colleen McKnight
- Rolando Martinez
- Chelsea Rebollar