About Us

A Quick Glance at AVDA

Our Mission Statement, a brief history and more information about AVDA

About Us

A Quick Glance at AVDA

Our Mission Statement, a brief history and more information about AVDA

Mission statement

The mission of AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse) is to end family violence by advocating for the safety and self-determination of victims, promoting accountability for abusers and fostering a community response to abuse.

AVDA is a unique non-profit that has served Houston for over 37 years. Beginning November 1, 2017, the organization expanded to provide our free legal services to victims of domestic abuse in Fort Bend County through a full-time AVDA staff attorney and paralegal.

We envision a non-abusive and violence-free environment where relationships are based on mutual respect.

Read more about us on GuideStar here.

Our history at a glance

AVDA was founded in 1980 by the National Council of Jewish Women Greater Houston Section as a non-residential domestic violence center to provide resources for thousands of battered women in need of legal advocacy. Recognizing that batterers must also receive rehabilitative services to end their abuse, AVDA added the Battering Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP) in 1984, which became the first in the state to become fully accredited.




Sherri Kendall, Chief Executive Officer


Sherri Kendall is AVDA’s Chief Executive Officer and has been with AVDA since 2002. Kendall has over 30 years of professional experience in the domestic violence field, spending much of that time in specialized work with domestic violence abusers in Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. Kendall also served as Interim Shelter Director in Oklahoma prior to her move to Texas. Kendall is also a survivor of domestic violence.

More About Sherri
Kendall has served as AVDA’s Battering Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP) Director, as well as Deputy Director, and became its CEO in 2012. She is currently Area Director of Region 7 for Texas Council on Family Violence. She serves on various local and statewide task forces, including the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and its Adult Fatality Review Team; the Public Policy Committee of Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV); Project SAFE (a collaborative effort of TCFV and the Department of Family and Protective Services); as well as the Fort Bend Crime Victims Response Team.

She holds a Masters of Counseling from the University of Houston-Victoria and a Masters in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Maisha Colter, Director of Legal Advocacy Program


After returning to AVDA in March of 2012, Maisha Colter was named Director of Litigation and now directs the agency’s Legal Advocacy Program. She has dedicated her professional life to advocating for the needs of children and families in crisis.

More About Maisha
After attaining a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Public Policy as well as a Masters in Social Work from New York University, Colter became a licensed social worker in Brooklyn, NY, where she tirelessly worked with children and families involved with the Child Protective Services.

After a few years, she pursued her law degree from Rutgers University and graduated in 2001. In 2003, she moved to Texas, learned about AVDA, and reached out to the Executive Director to volunteer and was instead hired as the agency’s only staff attorney in 2004. She remained with the agency for almost four years and returned in 2012 to lead a staff of attorneys and paralegals who are in charge of fighting on behalf of victims of abuse in Harris County. 

Pamela Dickson, Managing Attorney


Pamela Dickson received her undergraduate degree in Political Science at the University of Houston and thereafter earned her law degree from the highly-accredited Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. She has been with AVDA since 2013.

More About Pamela

A native Houstonian, Dickson brings to AVDA extensive years of experience in representing the underserved community. She worked for Dallas Legal Aid, Legal Services of North Texas and other legal clinics representing the poor, the elderly and the terminally ill. Dickson also worked for the Office of the Attorney General and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to ensure that the children of Texas are supported and protected. Her wealth of experience and two-plus decades of practicing law in every capacity guarantee AVDA’s clients a source for excellent advocacy and knowledge about family law matters. Dickson has dedicated her career to helping others, and her continuance of that dedication is seen in her commitment to AVDA.

She now manages AVDA’s staff attorneys and provides expert legal advice for the agency, as well managing her own case load.

Chastidy Patterson, Director of BIPP


Chastidy Patterson is Director of AVDA’s Battering Intervention and Prevention Program, where she conducts BIPP groups, oversees BIPP staff and facilitates domestic violence seminars across the state.

More About Chastidy

Patterson has been with AVDA since 2009. A Beaumont, Texas, native, she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. After completing her undergraduate studies, she pursued an advanced degree from Texas Southern University, earning a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology in May of 2008. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has experience in administering social and coping skills training, behavior and symptom management, crisis intervention, anger management, medication-related education, parenting and family skills training and resiliency and disease management.

Nicole Franklin-Jones, Director of Youth and Outreach 


More About Nicole

Maria Casco, Director of Advocacy Services


More About Maria

Lauren Summerville, Director of Development


More About Lauren

Marie Jacinto, Director of Public Relations


More About Marie


2018 Board of Directors

Board Officers

Steve Winter, ASTOUNDZ – Chair
Mark Russell, Morgan Stanley – Chair Emeritus
Bethany Andell, Savage Brands – Secretary
Michelle Tran, Berkley Research Group, LLC – Treasurer

Board Members

Afolabi Arikenbi, CPA, FCCA, Amazon
Carla Diaz-Lewis, Community Volunteer
Joslyn (Joey) Fisher, M.D., M.P.H., Baylor College of Medicine
Karen Freedman, Community Volunteer
Kathleen McAllister, Community Volunteer
Leisa Holland-Nelson, ASTOUNDZ
Amy Huggins, Community Volunteer
Meg Kamin, Spencer Stuart
Karl Oswald, Global Fabrication Services, Inc.
Honorable Katherine Cabaniss Parsley, 248th Criminal District Court of Harris County
Rani Russell Shea, Siemens PLM Software
Don Woo, Mission Constructors, Inc


Upcoming Events

november, 2018

No Events

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1001 Texas Ave., Suite 600 Houston, TX 77002
P: 713-224-9911
F: 713-715-6935 | 713-715-6945


1001 Texas Ave., Suite 600 Houston, TX 77002 P: 713-224-9911 F: 713-715-6935 | 713-715-6945

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