Meet our Team

Our team is composed of exceptionally talented individuals, each with a passion for making a difference in the lives of children. Their collective expertise and dedication are the driving forces behind our mission to make a meaningful difference.

President

Melissa K. Bauman

Melissa Bauman is the President of the Harvey E. Najim Charitable Foundation and serves on its Board of Directors.

Melissa had served as the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation since 2008 before she assumed the role of President in 2023. During her tenure as the Executive Director, she demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and was instrumental in developing and implementing various internal and external processes and procedures that strengthened the Foundation's overall operational efficiency and effectiveness. Her contributions continue to play a crucial role in laying a solid foundation for the Foundation's continued success.

Over the span of 15 years, the Najim Charitable Foundation has made a significant impact by generously donating approximately $194 million in Grants and Pledges to more than 287 nonprofit organizations. Mr. Harvey Najim himself has been actively involved in the process, personally overseeing the charitable contributions made by the foundation. Through their philanthropic efforts, the Najim Charitable Foundation has played a crucial role in supporting a wide range of noble causes and initiatives.

Before joining the Najim Foundation, Ms. Bauman worked at AT&T for 11 years where she served in various departments. She began her career with AT&T in 1998 as a Temporary Service Representative in the Coin Department. From there, she served as Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Advertising, Executive Assistant in the Chairman & CEO’s office, and Manager at the AT&T Foundation, and in May 2007 she became Corporate Manager at the AT&T Foundation. As Corporate Manager at the AT&T Foundation, her portfolio included all Arts & Culture programs throughout the entire United States for AT&T and responsibility for AT&T’s Western Region including the State of Texas. She processed over $13 million in grants and contributions each year, in addition to successfully overseeing more than $172 million in multiyear grants and contributions in payout status.

Ms. Bauman, a San Antonio native, holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Wayland Baptist University.

She was a member of the Board for Texas Valor Club Softball and the St. John Paul II Catholic High School Blue & Gold Fundraising Committee.

Melissa and her husband, Darren, have two adult children named Bailee and Colton, as well as a college-aged child named Madison. They also have three grandchildren and two dogs. Darren, who is also a native of San Antonio, works as the CFO at Boysville, a nonprofit organization located in Converse, Texas. Both Melissa and Darren are passionate about making a positive impact on the lives of children, as they firmly believe that children are the future of our society.

Our Team

Grants Manager (Organizations A-F)

Veronica Nunez

Veronica Nunez graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies for Early Childhood through 6th grade from UTSA.

With a decade-long experience in the education sector, she has worked in San Antonio school districts, including Northeast ISD and Northside ISD. Her primary focus was on after-school programs, where she was accountable for the overall coordination, management, and implementation of two Texas ACE (Afterschool Centers on Education) sites. The programs were federally funded through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) initiative and administered on the state level by TEA. Veronica is an individual who is deeply committed to advocating for children in crisis and mental health.

This passion led her to work at Roy Maas Youth Alternatives for four years, where she held various roles including Board Liaison, Office Manager, and among the Development team. During her tenure, Veronica gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in the non-profit sector, including board compliance, administration, and development tasks. She played a pivotal role in the planning and execution of the annual gala's silent auction, which helped raise funds for the organization's programs and services.

Following her time at Roy Maas Youth Alternatives, Veronica joined Form Communities, a nonprofit organization known for its innovative approach to improving mental health through social practice and peer support. As a Project Management Specialist, Veronica played a key role in ensuring the successful completion of various projects. Her responsibilities included developing and implementing project plans, monitoring progress, and ensuring all deliverables were completed on time and within budget.

Now, Veronica enjoys the opportunity to assist children in and around the greater San Antonio area through The Najim Charitable Foundation as a Grants Manager. When not working, Veronica loves spending time with her husband of 16 years and their two young children.

Grants Manager (Organizations J-S)

Haylie Hennessey

Haylie is a dedicated social work professional with a degree from Texas State University. She brings a rich background in nonprofit work, having worked, and volunteered for various organizations in the San Antonio area.

Haylie’s commitment to non-profits extends to board service, dedicating 2.5 years to a local San Antonio organization focused on aiding individuals facing homelessness and addiction. Haylie’s diverse expertise spans case management, fundraising, program development, grant writing, and data reporting. Her compassionate outreach has touched various populations, including adults and children with special needs. As well as individuals facing homelessness, mental health challenges and addiction.

Additionally, Haylie has demonstrated a commitment to social justice by collaborating closely with legal aid groups and facilitating the acquisition of US documents for undocumented individuals.

Haylie is happily married with two children. She is thrilled to contribute to the Najim Charitable Foundation as she transitions from grant recipient to Grants Manager.

Director - Grants & Operations (Organizations T-Z)

Shannon B. Gansler

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Shannon Burke holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. After 13 years of experience working alongside executive compliance teams of Fortune 500 companies, in 2016 Shannon was inspired to make a change. She began her nonprofit career in 2016 at Gulf Coast Big Brothers Big Sisters (GCBBBS).

As Executive Director of GCBBBS, Shannon's dedication to the community significantly increased and improved mentoring programs for disadvantaged children facing adversity. Her compassion and strategic planning led to breaking cycles of poverty and abuse while creating lasting success stories where child safety was a top priority.

Throughout her multidisciplinary background and volunteer efforts, Shannon's passion for problem-solving and cultivating the best in people has been at the heart of everything she does. In 2020, as Campaign Director for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, she successfully led a $1 million fundraising campaign by personally connecting with those affected by cancer. Her devotion to the community and desire to champion strong relationships was later re-ignited with her role in Advancement at Chaminade College Preparatory School in St. Louis. In 2021, at the height of the COVID pandemic, Shannon's unwavering dedication to going above and beyond resulted in multiple million-dollar record-breaking fundraising campaigns to support young men on their educational journey.

Shannon has served as Director of Social Events for the Rotary Club of Galveston Island, Secretary of the League City Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit Committee, and as Treasurer of the Texas State Association of Big Brothers Big Sisters. In 2018 she was awarded the 40 Under 40 award from the Galveston Daily News in recognition of her personal and professional success. She continues to serve in a consulting capacity for numerous nonprofits.

Outside of work, Shannon loves focusing her time on her incredible husband Mike, her five stepchildren, and four fur babies.

Project Associate (Organizations G-I)

Anna Almaraz

Anna Almaraz is a first-generation Hispanic student at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
She graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio with a B.B.A in marketing and is currently working towards her M.B.A. in nonprofit studies and leadership.

Anna was recently inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame as The Harvey E. Najim Future Texas Business Legend. At 15, Anna founded Social Sophie Marketing LLC. Anna has collaborated with 25+ clients to develop marketing strategies and guide conversations on evolving marketing trends. She’s generated upwards of $675,000+ in gross sales through numerous social media campaigns. Well-known for influencer marketing efforts, she leverages human relationships and provides services in strategy development, community management, social content creation, and social listening. Anna’s acquired a breadth of clients and earns their trust through thought leadership.

With the true heart of an entrepreneur, Anna founded a second business in the midst of COVID-19, named Sophie's Sweets Cookie Co. Her second business specializes in baking both gluten-free and traditional Mexican sweets and cookies. Three days before Christmas Eve, Anna received a call from a friend in the non-profit sector. He asked her if she wanted to volunteer to distribute warm meals to hungry families on Christmas Eve. Without hesitation, Anna said she would bake 10,000 cookies for the event. She called her crew and family to successfully bake all 10,000 cookies in only 3 days! Participating in the event, Anna felt a profound sense of fulfillment, and she knew she was exactly where she was meant to be, making a difference in the lives of people.

Through her business experiences she realized that her passion and true calling was helping others and her home was the non-profit world. From that moment, she was determined to make it her career and life’s purpose.

While owning and running her business, Anna also serves as the Project Associate at The Harvey Najim Charitable Foundation, the assistant marketing coordinator at the San Antonio Children's Shelter, and the Venture Analyst at the UTSA Najim Center for Innovation and Career Advancement.

Anna is an aspiring philanthropist and consistently discovers new ways to make meaningful contributions to her community. Her non-profit passion has 3 key focus areas: advocacy for children, supporting educational causes, and alleviating food scarcity. She also aims to use her business success and experience to inspire young entrepreneurs to expand their business ideas and become inclusive leaders.

During her free time, Anna enjoys traveling to other states and countries, going to local coffee shops, and digging into a new book or strolling through a local farmer’s markets. She also values her time with her family and friends.

Administrative Assistant

Mary-Ann Ayala

Mary Ann is a Native of SA. She graduated from San Antonio College with a Paralegal degree in 2012 and has a legal background for 20 years. She landed her first office job at the State Bar of Texas Grievance Committee where she worked for 7 years, traveling to Field Offices throughout Texas to process attorney complaints, translated written Spanish complaints and scheduled disciplinary hearings. It was there that she grew a penchant for the legal world. She moved on to the Private Sector and worked for one of SA’s oldest & largest law firms with more than 50 attorneys; she supported 3 attorneys in different areas of law – Immigration, Wills & Estate Planning and Real Estate Condemnation for 7 years before deciding to stay home to raise 1 of her kids. She went back to work at HEB’s Corporate Law department for 13 years managing a variety of transaction-based contracts, subpoenas, HIPAA compliance, Trademark and Intellectual Property matters relating to HEB’s Own-Brand products.

She is continuously learning about the non-profit world and has a compassionate heart and a love for helping others. Coming from a family of 12, consisting of 10 brothers and sisters where food was scarce, she learned early on how to give even when you don’t have a dime; she has recently started to volunteer her time at non-profit organizations.

In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, growing her own herbs & vegetables and loves to cook. She has taken several cooking classes at Central Market and Sur La Table. Her favorite thing to do is cooking for large gatherings.