AKILAH MANCE, J.D.
Akilah Mance joined HFSC in 2018 as the corporation’s in-house general counsel. She serves as the chief legal officer for HFSC, including managing outside legal counsel and providing legal advisement to the organization and its board of directors. She works closely with HFSC’s leadership and management team to address the legal implications of HFSC’s daily operations. Ms. Mance has more than 10 years of experience in criminal law, municipal law and general litigation. She previously served as a senior felony prosecutor at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and an associate attorney at a municipal law firm. Ms. Mance has a J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law and a B.A. from Rice University. She also completed coursework at Philipps Universität-Marburg in Germany and Oxford University in England.
Amanda DeBerry, Associated Press prize-winning photojournalist, joined HFSC in June 2021 as its public information officer and board secretary. Ms. DeBerry has seven years of experience in media and communications, including her most recent role as the public affairs specialist with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston. Prior to that, she spent several years as a multimedia journalist at KOSA-TV in Odessa, Texas and LUTV-NEWS in Missouri. In those roles, she sourced stories, developed communications strategies and created compelling visuals to relate to different audiences. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Tennessee State University and a master’s degree in journalism and communications from Lindenwood University.
AMY CASTILLO, PH.D.
Dr. Amy Castillo, HFSC’s COO and vice president, has been working for HFSC since its establishment in 2014. Previously, she served as HFSC’s director of research and development. In that role, Dr. Castillo’s division worked with all disciplines to identify and apply for new grants while also managing existing grants. The group also oversees, the validation of instruments and methods for multiple disciplines. Prior to HFSC’s establishment, Dr. Castillo worked as a forensic biology criminalist under the HPD Crime Laboratory. She became a supervisor in July 2013, and helped oversee the elimination of Houston’s backlog of untested sexual assault kits. Dr. Castillo holds several patents and is an expert in semen and blood identification, differential extraction, amplification of forensic DNA and other scientific methods related to forensic biology. Dr. Castillo completed her doctoral degree in biochemistry at the University of Houston.
Caresse W. Young has been HFSC’s director of human resources since December 2013, helping guide the development and expansion of its staff￼ as the organization has grown to meet the needs of the city and the region. Ms. Young provides human resources leadership and direction, which includes overseeing recruitment, selection, compensation, benefits, employee relations, employee health and policies and procedures. Ms. Young has more than 30 years of experience in human resources. She joined HFSC after serving as vice president of human resources at the Houston Area Women’s Center and previously served as a director of human resources at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital. Ms. Young also held various leadership positions within St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and senior-level certifications from the Society of Human Resources Management) and the Human Resources Certification Institute. Ms. Young completed the CoachRICE leadership coaching curriculum through Rice University’s Doerr Institute and is certified to administer emotional intelligence assessments.
Carina Haynes joined HFSC in 2017 as a crime scene supervisor and promoted to director in May 2021. She has over 12 years of experience in crime scene investigation, beginning her career at the Durham Police Department in North Carolina. In addition, Ms. Haynes has over 1,000 hours of training in various forensic disciplines and is certified by the International Association of Identification as a Senior Crime Scene Analyst. She is well versed in leading teams in high-stress environments and preparing new staff for a career as crime scene investigators. Ms. Haynes has a bachelor’s of art in criminology from North Carolina State University.
DAVID LEACH, CPA CIA
David Leach joined HFSC in 2015 as the organization’s chief financial officer and treasurer. He previously served as chief financial officer of a privately held chemical company. Prior to that, Mr. Leach spent 10 years at EnPro Industries, a publicly traded manufacturing company with revenues of more than $1 billion. After serving in several roles in EnPro, including vice president of business development, Mr. Leach became general manager of the company’s Lubrication Group. He oversaw all aspects of that $25 million facility and led a team through a process to resolve significant supply chain issues.
Erika Ziemak, HFSC’s quality division director, joined HFSC in 2017 as a quality specialist and promoted to director in 2019. Ms. Ziemak leads a team of seven people who oversee the laboratory’s accreditation, blind proficiency and internal audit programs. She previously worked for 17 years as a forensic biology/DNA analyst experienced in serological methods for the detection of semen and blood, extraction, amplification and other scientific methods related to the testing and interpretation of biological evidence. Ms. Ziemak has a master’s in forensic science from Pace University in New York City.
Dr. Peter Stout, HFSC’s CEO and president, initially joined the agency in 2015 as its chief operating officer and vice president. He has more than 20 years of experience in forensic science and forensic toxicology. Prior to joining HFSC, Dr. Stout worked as a senior research forensic scientist and director of operations in the Center for Forensic Sciences at RTI International. Dr. Stout also has served as president of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT). He represented SOFT in the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations and has participated in national policy debates on the future of forensic sciences in the United States. Dr. Stout has a doctorate in toxicology from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. Dr. Stout also served as an officer in the U.S. Navy Medical Service Corps.
PRESHIOUS REARDEN, PH.D
Dr. Preshious Rearden, director of the Research and Development Division, joined HFSC in 2016 as a method validation analyst. Dr. Rearden has a comprehensive background in analytical research and development, and is proficient in a broad range of analytical techniques and instrumentation. Dr. Rearden has more than 10 years of experience in research and development, has co-authored scientific papers and patents, and has worked in chemistry, engineering and higher education. Dr. Rearden has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Ohio University.