Heather Thomas
(512) 305-4174

Emily Plunkett
(512) 236-2825

Veronica Frohm

(512) 769-3798

veronica.frohm @goodwillcentraltexas.org

Paul Solis
(512) 496-0542

Lindsey Sermons
(512) 610-3566

Heather’s passion for serving the homeless community began in the summer of 2008 when she started volunteering at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH). Since then, she has worked in a variety of capacities within homeless services in both Austin and Denver. Heather has worked for Front Steps as the Programs Assistant since August 2013. Last July, she approached the 5 sponsoring organizations about the idea of a job fair and played a key role in coordinating the prep and pep events at the ARCH leading up to the fair and employer outreach. Heather earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from The University of Texas at Austin and is a proud social worker.

“Being a part of the Employ & Empower team has been one of the most important and meaningful experiences of my life. I am incredibly proud of the work that has been put into this event, particularly the creative planning and collaboration . The numerous hours spent on making the job fair happen were well worth it when I saw the confident, smiling faces on the faces of the job fair attendees. I feel so grateful to be a part of this empowering event.”

Emily joined Austin Free-Net as a Programs Specialist and Curriculum Developer in March of 2012. Prior to joining Austin Free-Net, Emily worked in a variety of social services in both research and teaching positions. A native Australian, Emily holds an M.A in Education specializing in Art Education and Curriculum and Instruction. Emily has been based out of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless since joining Austin Free-Net and has been a key contributor to Employ & Empower, providing her expertise in data collection and analysis, web/graphic design, outreach and curriculum development. 

"The rallied support of some of Austin’s leading homeless and employment service providers offers a level of encouragement and expertise that really is, truly empowering. I am so unbelievably proud to be a part of the Employ & Empower team." 

Veronica has been with Goodwill Industries of Central Texas since July of 2012, working as a Placement Specialist with the homeless community.  She joined Goodwill directly after receiving a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Endicott College in Beverly, MA.  In her 3 years working with this population, Veronica has gained valuable experience in direct client service and job readiness training which she carried over to the implementation of the 1st Employ and Empower Job Fair.  Veronica was a key component in coordinating volunteers for the resume rallies and planning the training classes provided to clients before the fair.  

“Everyone that worked on the Job Fair, from the committee to the volunteers to the employers, are all passionately committed to helping people find their self-worth, and that’s what makes this project so special. It is so incredible to see participants go through the Employ and Empower process and end up at the doors of the job fair looking confident and prepared.”

Paul is a longtime runner, and is the Program Director for Back on My Feet Austin. Paul has a bachelor's degree in business administration and has completed graduate coursework in Education as an Instructional Specialist. He has more than five years of experience as a case worker for several Austin nonprofits, and he has worked closely with individuals experiencing homelessness. Paul has been a key contributor to the Employ and Empower job fair through his support of and implementation of employer outreach

"I am proud to say that the Employ and Empower job fair is making a huge difference in the lives of many of Austin's underserved population. Not only is it providing quality employment opportunities to those who need them, it's also providing quality employees to many of the best businesses in the Austin area. This event makes connections that positively impact our clients' lives and the overall Austin economy."

Lindsey is a Chicago-area native who has made Austin her new home over the past two years. She completed her undergraduate field placement at Caritas of Austin, where she worked as a case manager to newly-arrived refugee families. While earning her MSW from Texas State University, Lindsey completed her final field placement at the Trinity Center. Currently working as the Operations Coordinator at Trinity Center, Lindsey aided to the success of the first Employ & Empower Job fair by orchestrating the event location specifics and implementing outreach efforts within her AmeriCorps staff.

“It’s hard to express how deeply gratifying it is to see our homeless neighbors walk into the fair with their heads up and résumé in hand, and walk out with a job prospect – or better yet, an offer! It’s an honor to work alongside such dedicated and creative individuals to create new opportunities for the folks we serve.”