The mission of the KDK-Harman Foundation is to break the cycle of poverty
through education while promoting a culture of giving excellence.
2017 Summer Fellow
rachel [at] kdk-harman.org
Rachel is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin studying social work administration and policy. She is passionate about the intersection of innovation and social justice to empower youth and reduce poverty in Texas, and considers it a privilege to be part of KDK-Harman Foundation’s work this summer. Rachel earned her undergraduate degree from Baylor University and spent four years working directly with at-risk youth and their families. During graduate school, Rachel has coordinated policy councils for Texas Health and Human Service Commission, and worked in community-based protection at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. In her spare time, Rachel likes to spend time with friends, learn how to code, and explore Austin’s running trails.
Grants and IT Manager
mary [at] kdk-harman.org
Mary Verhaeghe serves as the Grants and IT Manager for the KDK-Harman Foundation. Most notably referred to as the 'cornerstone' of the KDK-Harman Foundation, Mary has supported the Harman family and operations for more than ten years. Mary oversees all office operations, logistics, and technology that supporting all staff members so their work lives are efficient, organized and in order. Additionally, as a champion of new media and technology, Mary serves as the KDK-Harman Foundation’s webmaster. Mary is also in charge of processing and tracking grant applications to make sure that they meet the guidelines and standards.
Prior work before the Foundation, was being the Executive Assistant to the Foundation's President and Founder, Janet Harman, an Executive Assistant to a Private Wealth Management Group, an Information Technology Professional, and Conference Administrator. Mary and her husband, Dean, raised four daughters in Austin and are now empty nesters. She enjoys doing volunteer work with different organizations around Austin, traveling, playing golf, going to concerts, and being able to do things spontaneously again. Mary attended the University of San Francisco in California.
lauren [at] kdk-harman.org
Lauren Whitehead serves as the Research Associate for the KDK-Harman Foundation. Lauren earned a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin as well as a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Before joining the Foundation as the Research Associate Lauren worked as the summer intern in 2013 and 2014 with a special focus on evaluation and management of the summer STEM grantees. In 2014 she had a brief stint at the State of Texas in the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) serving as the Data Evaluation Specialist where she maintained the data system and quantified the evaluation metrics for the Texas Home Visiting Program under the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) federal grant program. Lauren has a broad range of experience in data, evaluation, and research at the state level. She also worked for the Office of Health Coordination and Consumer Services (HHSC) at the Texas Department of Aging and Disabilities Services (DADS) in the Center for Policy and Innovation, the Office of e-Health Coordination within HHSC, and Texas State Senator Kirk Watson’s office.
Lauren also graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Zoology and a M.S. in Biology. As a graduate student at Texas A&M Lauren studied how fish communities recover from mass extinction events, and presented her research at international and national scientific conferences. In her spare time Lauren teaches Pilates, Yoga, and Barre classes at Green Bird Fitness, a fitness studio her and her husband founded in 2015.
melanie [at] kdk-harman.org
Melanie serves as the Foundation’s Executive Director. Melanie brings a blended skill set and expertise from a career including both high tech and nonprofit leadership. She was the founder and executive director of Badgerdog, a literary-focused nonprofit organization. Under her leadership, Badgerdog garnered numerous awards for innovation, growth, and impact in Austin and nationally, including being named in 2010 and 2011 to the Bulldog 100: Fastest Growing Companies (owned or run by University of Georgia alumni). Melanie was named A Glimmer of Hope Foundation’s Angel in the Community in 2010, and was a finalist in the Austin Under 40 Awards. Prior to her nonprofit work, Melanie led high-performing and cross-functional teams in large and small software companies in Atlanta, Georgia, and Austin, Texas. Her high-tech experience spans all disciplines including Research and Development, Marketing, and Sales where she led her company in revenue attainment. Melanie volunteers as a Special Olympics tennis coach. In her spare time, she enjoys activities with her family and dogs, listening to live music, boating, and playing golf and tennis.