Board & Leadership

Executive Director

Paul Gilford, LCSW

Paul Gilford, LCSW, is the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of Houston Achievement Place and Project CLASS.  Since 1977, Mr. Gilford has helped children, youth, teachers, parents and care-providers learn the skills and develop the relationships for life success.  Educational background includes: undergraduate attendance at London School of Economics (London, England); a Bachelor of Arts degree, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan; Honors College; Phi Beta Kappa); and a Masters Degree in Social Work, University of Washington (Seattle, Washington).  Mr. Gilford has extensive work experience in staff training and program evaluation and has served as consultant and evaluator for a number of social service agencies nationally.

Areas of expertise include: residential services for abused children; elementary school and early childhood programming to teach children core social skills for school and life achievement; innovative and extraordinarily effective training services- including Project CLASS (Children Learning Appropriate Social Skills).  Mr. Gilford believes that a heart-centered commitment to service must be paired with strong business practices and focus to effectively make a positive difference in the lives of children, families, schools and communities.

Program Director

Denise Larson, LMSW

Denise Larson, LMSW, is the Program Director of Houston Achievement Place and Project CLASS.  Since 1984, Mrs. Larson has assisted children, families, and teachers in developing Social Skills for Life Success.  Her Educational Background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree, from University of Minnesota Morris, and a Masters in Social Work, with a Family Concentration, from the University of Houston.

Mrs. Larson has done extensive work in Social Services which includes: Residential Group Care, Therapeutic Foster Care, Training and Consultation, and Project CLASS (Children Learning Appropriate Social Skills) Programing and Services.

Mrs. Larson believes in and is committed to life-long learning, and changing the lives of others through positive relationships.

Board of Directors

Norma Acker, Social Worker *Emeritus

Madeleine Appel, Experienced Volunteer *Emeritus

W. Clifford Atherton, Jr., Gulfstar Group, Inc *Emeritus

John R. Breeding, Uptown Houston *Emeritus

Kevin KC Carmody, Pathfinder LLC *Emeritus

J.C. Clemens, Flagship Capital

Susan Cohen, Indigo Minerals

Chad Deaton, Baker Hughes, Inc. (retired)

Milby Dunn II, Columbia Lloyds Insurance

Larry Ellis, Regions Bank *Emeritus

Keith Ellison, U.S. District Judge

Ron Farmer, US LED

George Ford, Children’s Protective Services (retired), Attorney

Paul Gilford, Houston Achievement Place, Executive Director

John Hartman, Entrepreneur *Emeritus

Tom Hopwood, Executive Advice

Anissa Jones-Thomas, Educational Consultant

John Kajander, Partners for Community Health *Emeritus

Carol Lewis, Texas Southern University *Emeritus

Paul Lombardo, PCSL, Inc.

Therese McGovern, TierPoint, LLC

Allison Miller, Beck Redden LLP

Linda L. Murphy, Experienced Volunteer *Emeritus

A.Y. Noojin III, Shell Oil (retired) *Emeritus

Bruce Padilla, MCM Worldwide

Martha Seng, Jackson & Ryan Architects (retired)

Keith Short, Real Estate Attorney *Emeritus

Cynthia Swaren, Experienced Volunteer

Jason Swaren, Oasis Petroleum

Emily Taylor, Walker and Byington

Karen Tripp, Tripp Law *Emeritus

Margaret Tucker, Experienced Volunteer

Adrian Villacorta, Villacorta Law Firm

Robert Warren, Energy & Oilfield Services

Jason Williams, Bissinger, Oshman & Williams LLP

Jeff Zaruba, Equinor (retired)