Kristin Cotten.jpg
Gayle Epperson.jpg

Kristin Cotten, Program Manager

Kristin began working with Achieving Dreams in August of 2022 initially as a Program Specialist and accepted the role of Program Manager in September 2022.  She was born in Seattle, Washington but moved to Texas at the age of three.  She married her husband, Rick, in 1980 and has three grown children and also five grandchildren that she loves seeing as often as she can.  She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas at Tyler in Interdisciplinary Studies with specializations in Special Education and English.  During her teaching career, she taught Special Education Resources classes, Life Skills, and then moved into general education.  After 24 years of teaching, Kristin retired and later realized that she missed working with people with disabilities.   She feels very blessed to have found this opportunity to work with our Achievers and the rest of the Achieving Dreams team. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and being on their farm in Chandler.

Gayle Epperson, Program Coordinator

Gayle is pleased to have joined Achieving Dreams in July of 2022 as a Program Coordinator. Her role is primarily focused on working with the team at the recently launched Lindale satellite, though she also collaborates on outreach, development and service provision for the Tyler area.   She is a recently retired teacher, formerly with Tyler Legacy High School, who expresses love for every minute having worked with her students. A busy lady, she also substitutes part-time.  Previously, she was a Special Education teacher at Lindale High School and was blessed to have a couple of our Lindale Achievers in her English class. She has strong connections to both the Lindale and Tyler area which, along with her friendly personality, makes her a great fit for her role. She currently lives in Tyler with her daughter and "roommate" Chelsea, in a home they built in the fall of 2018. They happily share custody of their Miniature Aussie, Sophie, whom Chelsea rescued last December. Gayle also enjoys singing in the choir at her church, working part-time at the Tyler Civic Theatre Center in the box office, searching for unique items at Canton First Monday Trade Days, and loves weekend road trips to areas of interest. In her role, her goal is to help make the Lindale and Tyler Achieving Dreams programs grow and be the BEST they can be, and she will be reaching out to the community to help during the process! This will be done through our new Achieving Dreams Auxiliary Chapters. She's grateful to be able to work with the wonderful Achievers, and to be of service to the community.  Upon expressing her feelings for the Achievers, she recently shared: "They’ve already made themselves a special place in my heart :-) ".

Joie Roblin's Photo.jpg

Joie Roblin, Program Specialist

Joie began working with Achieving Dreams in April of 2021. Born in Reno, Nevada, she became a Texan in the last 10 years. She fits in wonderfully with the rest of our team, as she is a cheerful gifted person with a diverse set of talents and experiences. With a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and an associates degree in medical assistance, her work history includes being a medical assistant, a newspaper reporter/columnist, a costumed character for various companies, an author, a comedian and her first job was working with people with disabilities in a similar role, as she serves in today with us. She feels she has come full circle and truly loves working with everyone. As a caring and devoted daughter, she helps her aging mother which makes her part-time position ideal for her personally, as well.  She is a warm-hearted, responsible and thoughtful person who provides stable, supportive skills for our busy day habilitation program.  

Cindy Moore _edited.jpg

Cindy Moore, Program Specialist

Cindi joined our team in June 2022 to primarily be a support to the Achievers and team for our new satellite location in Lindale. She brings a wealth of experience and a love for those we serve. Having retired from Andrews Center in Tyler, she already knew several program participants and their families which has enhanced transitions which are in process. In addition, her community involvement and work in Lindale has included Life Skills at the school and many years with the wonderful JOY ministries program with her church.  So, she is thrilled to reconnect with prior students and their families and for the opportunity to make new friends. She has a Bachelors' Degree in Psychology, and an Associates in Theology which complements our mission perfectly. In addition to her service with us and with others, she enjoys creative projects including crafting and gardening, along with quality time with family and friends. The mission of Achieving Dreams will be further developed due to her talents, knowledge, wisdom and sincere warmth.

Shaneka Baker.jpg

Shaneka Baker, Program Specialist

Shaneka joined our team in September 2022. A native Texan, she was born in Pittsburg and raised in Daingerfield After graduation from High School, she moved to Longview, and lived there for 19 years. She and her teenage son now reside in Tyler. Throughout her life, she has worked in a variety of organizations with focus on human services supportive roles. A compassionate person, she brings over 12 years of working experience with individuals with disabilities including direct caregiving. The specialized training and skills she has gained over the years are a great asset to our growing organization. In addition, her fun and friendly personality instantly helped her connect with the Achievers and our entire team. One of our long-time volunteers complimented her client interaction as being "a natural". Reliable, hard-working and responsible, her work ethic exemplifies quality service. She describes her role with us as "not seeming like work, as it is so fun". She has also shared enjoying being able to meet so many nice people including the friendly Achievers, her co-workers, volunteers and our community partners.

Ana Gaffney.JPG

Ana Gaffney, Administrative Assistant
Ana began working with us on a contracted basis in 2019 and came on staff in mid-2020. She is married with three children. She previously worked in retail for the Disney corporation in the DFW area. While living in Seattle, she worked in banking before moving back to Texas. In Tyler, Ana became involved with the PTA at her children's schools. This reignited her passion for serving others. She also serves at her church, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. A valued member of our team, she is bright, helpful, and efficient in her bookkeeping and several other administrative office responsibilities. In addition, her bi-lingual skills are helpful to our mission.

Laura New Photo 2021.JPG

Laura Mattheis, Executive Director
Laura began volunteering with Achieving Dreams in June 2017 while working as an independent non-profit consultant/researcher following many years of service in various executive and entrepreneur roles. Upon also accepting a part-time position with the United Way of Smith County, her schedule was too full to continue volunteering. Later, upon a friend notifying her of Achieving Dreams seeking an Executive Director, she felt called to apply. Having had a sister with severe intellectual and developmental disability, she has been drawn to serve those within the special needs community. God's plan and the decision of the Board of Director's opened the door to an unanticipated blessing to serve starting February 2019. She deeply appreciates working with respected visionary community leaders/board members, valued caring staff and the many generous collaborative community partners who join together in supporting the wonderful Achievers and their families. She has continually worked since her teen years in Longview, Texas, and after graduating high school, took courses in Commercial Art and General Business at Kilgore College. She later majored in Business Management, earning her Bachelor's degree with honors from UT Tyler. Primarily due to her husband's career job location, they moved to Tyler over 20 years ago. Soon after, related to one of her human services management positions, she took Psychology courses at TJC and UT Tyler along with other specialized training. She is also a Leadership Tyler Alumni. After years of various leadership roles in East Texas, the diverse abilities needed to oversee and help our team advance the mission of Achieving Dreams are a perfect match for her skills and advocacy vision. She especially enjoys developing collaborative projects toward expanding services to underserved areas and populations.