Staff and Board

Colin's Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members are passionate about saving children's lives and helping aid in the prevention of child drownings.  For additional inquiries and information about how you can become involved with Colin's Hope, please email

Executive Director

Alissa Magrum -

  Alissa Magrum recently transitioned from Colin's Hope volunteer to Colin's Hope Executive Director. She is mommy to an energetic 6 year old named Ella who loves to swim. Her own love of the water and her passion for keeping Ella (and all children) safe has led Alissa to her dream job with Colin's Hope. The mission of Colin's Hope and the message that drowning is preventable is one she believes deeply in.

Alissa's background is in nonprofit and volunteer management. She holds a Master's degree from St. Edward's University in Organizational Leadership and Ethics and is a Certified Volunteer Administrator. She worked for Communities In Schools of Central Texas for almost 10 years helping to bring much needed resources and support to children who were struggling in school. She is excited to now bring her energy and expertise to Colin's Hope.

Alissa is a “charity” athlete who runs, bikes and swims in events that benefit charitable causes. Most recently, she organized and participated in the Got2Swim for Colin's Hope. 55 swimmers swam 4 and 8 miles in Lake Austin and raised over $78,000 for Colin's Hope. Alissa is currently training for the Kerrville Half Ironman and the Big Bend Ultra 50K Trail run. She will do the the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon with the Colin's Hope Running Buddies. She uses these events (and others) as a platform to spread the Colin's Hope mission and raise awareness for drowning prevention and water safety.

Colin's Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that creates and supports programs that aid in preventing children from drowning. Despite numerous sources for water safety, the number of children who drown per year is staggering. Colin's Hope of saving children from drowning is being achieved through increased water safety awareness and improved standards throughout the community.

Program Coordinator

Jess Rains -

Jess' initial involvement with Colin's Hope was as a Got2Swim participant, and a volunteer in 2012. She had heard about Colin's story, and like so many others, she knew she had to become involved. A competitive swimmer in middle and high school, and like other teens, a lifeguard during the summer, she knew keeping safe around water was obviously important. However, she was surprised by facts she learned while chatting with Alissa and others during training swims. For example, only about one third of Americans knew how to swim. And that swimming is the number one cause of accidental death for children under 5 years of age. Armed with this knowledge, she made a mental note to volunteer more come 2013.

Jess' love of the water (and the creatures that live there) led her to initially go into the field of biology, specifically ichthyology while working in a natural history museum. After 12+ years in that field, she found herself wanting to do "more". Already familiar with the non-profit world, she felt a stadium sized lightbulb go off when the posting for a Program Coordinator postion opened up. Here was an ideal opportunity to do "more". A lot more. Things worked out, and she has now been "on the job" for a little over one month and has loved every second of it so far. She's looking forward to helping with increasing the reach and impact of Colin's Hope with a new educational outreach program, an enewsletter, and expanding the volunteer base. Want to get involved? Send Jess an email!

Board of Directors

Jeff Holst - Chair

Jeff Holst is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Colin's Hope and former acting Executive Director of the foundation. Jeff was one of the founders of Colin's Hope in August 2008 after he lost his 4-year-old son, Colin, to a drowning accident that June. Jeff, his wife, Jana, and their daughter, Kayla, live in Austin, Texas.

Jeff is a computer science graduate of Texas State University. He is currently employed by Liberty Source, where he architects and programs software solutions for K-12 school districts. He has spent more than 15 years in the technology industry, during which time he has worked in and led all aspects of the software development lifecycle.

When not spending time with his family, work and Colin's Hope, Jeff enjoys mountain biking, weight lifting, snow boarding and traveling. He is active in his church on the Children's Special Ministries Committee, YMCA Metro Board Member and volunteers as a youth soccer coach. However, Jeff's current favorite pastime is giving water safety presentations to lifeguards, school children, parents and other community groups. He has also become certified in CPR and AED by the American Heart Association and as a lifeguard by the American Red Cross.

“I firmly believe that knowledge is power and that, in raising awareness to this epidemic, we can help save children's lives.” – Jeff Holst

Jana Holst - Secretary

Jana Holst is the Secretary of the Board of Directors for Colin's Hope. Jana was a founding member of the foundation in August 2008 after the drowning death of her son, Colin, that summer. Jana lives with her husband, Jeff, and daughter, Kayla, in Austin, Texas.

Jana graduated from The University of Texas at Austin. She is employed as a pharmaceutical sales representative where she has worked for the past 13 years. Jana is also a member of several advisory boards within the pharmaceutical industry.

When not busy being a full-time working mom, Jana likes to spend her time cooking, decorating, and traveling with her family. She serves as a Brownie troop leader, classroom photographer, and “team mom” for her daughter's soccer team. In addition, she devotes countless hours to Colin's Hope, handling many of the administrative details and networking tirelessly to find partners to work cooperatively with the foundation. Jana is also certified in CPR and AED by the American Heart Association, and is a Licensed Medical Technologist through the American Society of Pathologists, MT.

“It is with great determination that I get involved with Colin's Hope…to help in preventing a tragedy like ours from happening to other families or parents like myself.” – Jana Holst

Karen Holst - Vice-Chair

Karen Holst is the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Colin's Hope. When her nephew, Colin, drowned in June 2008 at the age of 4, Karen was driven to take an active role in the foundation that her family began in his honor. Karen has lived in Austin, Texas for 13 years now and is extremely active in the tight-knit community.

Karen is a graduate of The University of Texas and an active member of the Texas Exes. She is now the Vice President of Marketing and Sales at MyEdu, a software company in the higher education market. Karen has served on the Board of Directors for Texas 4000 and was formerly the President of the Austin ADPi Alumnae Association. In addition, she recently earned certifications in CPR and AED from the American Heart Association and in lifeguarding from the American Red Cross.

After work and on weekends, Karen can be found playing the fiddle, hiking with her dog, wine tasting with friends or, most likely, training for one of the many marathons and triathlons that she has competed in. She is a member of the Austin Runners Club and Austin Triathletes, as well as the leader and originator of Colin's Hope Running Buddies Program. Karen also volunteers her time at the Ronald McDonald House and for the “26 Miles for 26 Charities” organization that works in conjunction with the Austin marathon.

“I was heartbroken to think that something as fun as playing in the water could be so deadly. By serving Colin's Hope, I know I can make a difference.  It is my goal to raise water safety awareness while still reminding others that swimming is fun!" – Karen Holst


Glenna Sager -Treasurer

Glenna Sager became a member of the Colin's Hope board of directors in March 2011 and is now serving as Board Treasurer. She and her husband, Jason, and their two daughters live in Austin, Texas. Glenna has been a long-time water safety advocate as a result of her passion for aquatic education. Glenna first became involved with Colin's Hope as a volunteer in 2009 and quickly decided that contributing to such a dynamic organization would be a highly rewarding and productive investment.

Glenna attended Texas State University and California State University Hayward, where she studied English and French. She worked in retail management for 9 years, followed by an 8 year career in the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors' Bureau industry. Through all of her "business" pursuits, she was always drawn to the water.

In 2001, she took a leap of faith and made a career change, becoming a swim instructor and supervisor at La Petite Baleen, a prestigious swim program in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2003, she returned from California to her home state of Texas and opened an Austin location for Emler Swim School. Emler Swim School, originally founded in Dallas/ Ft Worth in 1975, is one of the top 3 swim schools in the United States. In 2010, Glenna and a committee of terrific volunteers organized Colin's Hope's first Water Safety Walk, distributing 5,000 water safety packets to residents of Lakeway and Pflugerville. In 2011, the Water Safety Walk and Splash committee has expanded distribution to as many as 50,000 water safety packets. Glenna has American Heart Association CPR and AED certifications.

When not on the job, Glenna loves to be outside. She and her family enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, geocaching, horseback riding, and ANY kind of water recreation. They can often be found working Colin's Hope booths on weekends, then dashing off to explore a hidden Hill Country treasure.

"I believe that good parents - parents who want do the right thing for their children - are not aware of the factors that will keep their precious children safe around water. Let's change that. My goal is to help others enjoy the beautiful wonder of water SAFELY." - Glenna Sager


Ari Brown - Board Member

Ari Brown, MD, FAAP joined the board of directors of Colin's Hope in March 2011. Dr. Brown was Colin Holst's pediatrician, and she has known the Holst family since before Colin was born.

Ari has been a pediatrician in the Capital Pediatrics Group in Austin, Texas since 1999. She is also the co-author of the best-selling parenting guides Expecting 411, Baby 411 and Toddler 411. Dr. Brown earned a bachelor's degree in child development from the University of Texas at Austin, then completed her general pediatric residency at Harvard Medical School/Boston Children's Hospital. She practiced in Baltimore, MD for 4 years before returning home to Texas.

Locally, Ari is involved with the University of Texas Child Development and Family Relationships department and the Alumni Association. She serves on the Texas Medical Association's “Be-Wise Immunize” Task Force. In addition, she is a national spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the medical advisory board for Parents Magazine.

When not working or writing, Ari enjoys spending time with her two kids, her husband and her Jack Russell terrier. She is a self-proclaimed “junior foodie” because she loves enjoying other's great creations but fears actually getting in the kitchen and cooking herself. Ari also loves to travel and sit down with a good book.

“I love being a pediatrician because I am a part of so many families' lives. Colin was my patient, and losing a patient to illness or an accident drives me to educate families so that another child and family will not suffer.” – Ari Brown


Rob Cunningham - Board Member

Rob Cunningham joined the board of directors for Colin's Hope in March of 2011. Rob was introduced to Colin's Hope when he was invited to swim in the inaugural Got2Swim 4 Miles for Colin's Hope event in 2010, which was a very successful fundraising event that generated significant local recognition for the foundation and its mission.

Rob is the Community Relations and Special Projects Director for FOX 7, an Austin television station. Rob has produced and directed several videos for Colin's Hope over the past year, including the foundation's new promotional video featured on our website. In addition, he has been instrumental in arranging appearances on Fox 7 Good Day Austin for Colin's Hope, allowing the foundation to take its mission to more and more people in the Austin and surrounding area. Rob is also a member of the Capital Campaign Committee for the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.

Rob and his wife, Amy, live in Austin with their two sons, ages 13 and 10. His wife, Amy, serves as his Water Guardian during his open water swims in Lake Austin for the Got2Swim events and is also passionate about safe swimming and drowning prevention. During his free time, Rob likes to spend time cycling, swimming, hunting, fishing and coaching his sons in youth sports. In addition, he enjoys escaping from Texas from time to time to snowboard.

“Being involved with Colin's Hope means that I am using my time and talents to help prevent children from drowning. Knowing that the work I do with CH is saving lives means that my life has meaning beyond my family.” – Rob Cunningham


Tom Jennings - Board Member

Tom Jennings transitioned from Director of Corporate Relations for Colin's Hope to board member.  Tom works to plan, organize, and implement strategies and events to maximize philanthropic investments from local, regional, and national organizations and companies. Additionally, he is responsible for raising corporate and community awareness and building strong partnerships in creating and advancing programs that aid in preventing children from drowning. Tom is also the Executive Director of Jennifer's Fund, a fund established in 2008 by the friends and family of a breast cancer patient to raise money for her treatments. In addition, Tom is an active cancer advocate for LiveStrong, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. When not spending his time raising money and awareness for great causes, Tom enjoys cycling, cooking and watching any and all college and professional sports. He also competes in triathlons all over the country. Tom was the chairperson for the first annual Colin's Hope Kids' Triathlon, which was held in October 2009.

"All the folks at Colin's Hope are talented, dedicated, passionate and caring people, and I am not only inspired and proud, but fortunate to be part of such an amazing organization doing such important work." - Tom Jennings


Julie Neas - Board Member

Julie Neas joined the board of directors for Colin’s Hope in December 2012.  Julie is the Controller of St David’s Foundation, a Central Texas Non-profit and joint owner in the St David’s Healthcare System.   Julie is responsible for the budgeting, internal controls, financial accounting and reporting of the Foundation and its affiliates.  Prior to joining the Foundation, Julie was the Vice President of Finance for Johnson Communities Inc., where she was responsible for all finance and accounting functions, employee benefits and risk management.  Julie started her career in public accounting, working for Deloitte & Touche, in their New York and Denver financial service and real estate audit groups.  Julie has a MBA in finance and accounting from NYU’s Stern School of Business and an BA in Public Policy Studies from Duke University. Julie is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Internal Auditor. She is a member of the Texas Society of CPAs and the Austin Non-Profit Financial Leadership Group.

Julie and her husband, Jerod, live in Austin with their three children, ages 9, 7 and 4. They are active members of West Lake Hills Presbyterian church, where Julie sits on the Finance Committee and leads a Wednesday Night Life kid’s class.  Julie (and Jerod) are avid runners, and can be found most weekends on the soccer field or at the pool with their kids.

"Being a part of Colin’s Hope is an opportunity to further a cause that saves lives and promotes youth fitness.  It is an honor and privilege to serve with such an amazing group of board members, staff and volunteers." – Julie Neas


Jaime Slaughter - Board Member

Jaime Slaughter joined Colin's Hope as a board member in March 2011. He was present at the pool the day that Colin drowned and, although he did not know Colin or his family, he participated in the rescue effort, an experience that impacted his life significantly.

Jaime is an Assistant District Attorney in the Travis County District Attorney's office. He is also a licensed paramedic who volunteers with EMS and a member of the Texas State Guard. Jaime has earned certifications as a CPR instructor, a National Registry EMT basic and as a lifeguard.

When he's not working, Jaime enjoys spending time outdoors swimming, cycling, sailing, scuba-diving, camping or riding his motorcycle.

“I couldn't NOT be involved with Colin's Hope…and will be eternally grateful for having the opportunity to be a part of it.” – Jaime Slaughter


Katharine Teleki - Board Member

Katharine Teleki joined the board of directors for Colin's Hope in December 2012 after swimming the 4 mile Got2Swim event in Lake Austin earlier that year and getting to know the inspiring people and mission of the organization.

Katharine is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, a legislative oversight agency charged with evaluating and making recommendations to make Texas government more efficient, effective, and accountable. She has a Master's degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where she concentrated in nonprofit studies at the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service. She also has a Bachelor of Arts from UT-Austin, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Plan II Liberal Arts Honors Program. Originally from Houston, Katharine has lived in Austin since 1998 and has been involved in volunteer and leadership capacities with several nonprofit organizations since her early teenage years. Aside from her professional life and Colin's Hope events, she enjoys spending time with her large extended family, using her right brain through creative pursuits, and getting outdoors whenever possible, whether through gardening, hiking trips, or participating in numerous charity athletic events.

"With four nieces and a nephew under eight years old, I have witnessed several close calls in and around water with small children. Learning about Colin's story brought home how quickly things can go wrong and how critical it is that every family understand and act to prevent the all-too-common tragedy of childhood drowning. The passion of the people involved in Colin's Hope is catching and I'm excited to be a part of the great things this growing organization is accomplishing." - Katharine Teleki


Carrie Wilkin - Board Member

Carrie Wilkin is the past Treasurer of the Board of Directors of Colin's Hope. She and her husband, Kurt, have three sons and live in Austin, Texas. They are longtime family friends of Colin Holst and his parents. Carrie joined the Board of the foundation at its inception, seeing it as an opportunity to use her skills, contacts & enthusiasm to make a difference in her community. She spends much of her volunteer time now writing for Colin's Hope, including pieces for the website, articles for local newsletters and magazines, and brochures for events. Writing for the foundation has become one of her passions.

Carrie received both an undergraduate and graduate degree from Texas Tech University. She worked for 7 years in both the Audit department and the recruiting office for the Dallas office of Ernst & Young, LLP.

Carrie and her family are avid sports fans. She spends much of her free time playing tennis, as well as watching her sons play baseball, football or soccer or swim for their swim team. They also enjoy taking snow-skiing trips as a family.

Carrie is also an active volunteer at her children's schools, currently chairing the Staff Appreciation Committee and serving on the Solicitation Committee and the Children's Art Project committee for the school's annual Auction & Gala. In addition, Carrie and her husband are key supporters of and volunteers for the Eanes Education Foundation.

“I believe that drowning can be a preventable tragedy if parents and children are better equipped with ‘best practices' regarding water safety…and even attention-grabbing statistics. As a part of Colin's Hope, I hope to help make these things more readily available and, by doing so, move water safety to the forefront of every parent's mind.” – Carrie Wilkin


Key Volunteers

Colin's Hope would like to express it's sincerest gratitude to the following people for their committment and support to our mission of drowning prevention:

Jenny Stafford and Debbie Stack ( original board members ), Amy Domecq, Katie Hutcheson, Erica Jaimes, Justin Simmons, Michele Arceo, Marj Shoobe, Bob Fonseca, Aaron Harrell, Chris Garcia, Joe Richmond, Tiffany Wilkinson, and Joyce Flint (Colin's Grammy).