Ashley Brown Ruiz


Ashley is a Licensed Master of Social Work certified by the State of Texas. She received a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in Early Childhood Education from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. Fueling a passion from working over a decade in a Title 1 school in Houston ISD, Ashley pursued a Master of Social Work from the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work. As part of her role as Director, she leads The Daring Way Internship Program with students seeking a Master of Social Work. Ashley works with the interns to run therapy groups at different agencies around the Houston area. Her experience comes from working with women in residential recovery, adolescents in recovery, and middle school girls. Ashley’s work with vulnerability and courage allows her to help clients put together all the pieces of their lives in order to help them move toward the life they hope to create. She is a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator and a member of the National Association of Social Workers.

When Ashley isn’t working, she enjoys listening to music, laughing with her friends, Texas road trips, and spending time with her daughter and family.

Hannah Kimbrough

Assistant Director

Hannah is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker certified by the states of Arkansas, Georgia, and Texas. She is currently a Ph.D. student and research assistant for Dr. Brené Brown and Dr. Ronda Dearing at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She holds a Masters of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Communication from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville where she continues to teach social work courses. Hannah has experience working with foster children, young adults in a college setting, adults in residential recovery, women experiencing homelessness, as well as groups, couples, and families. Her research interests include intervention research, program evaluation, shame, and leadership and organizational development. Her treatment interests include trauma, grief, and relationships. Hannah is a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers.

When Hannah isn’t working or studying, she enjoys traveling, being outdoors, photography, skiing, antiquing, watching college sports, and hanging out with her golden retrievers Lily & Ellie, and her husband Mark.

The Daring Way™ Senior Faculty

Ronda L. Dearing

is a clinical psychologist, a visiting research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and Director of Research for Brené Brown Education and Research Group. Dr. Dearing has been an investigator on several NIH-funded grants, and she is co-author of three books: Shame and Guilt (Tangney & Dearing, 2002), Alcohol Use Disorders (Maisto, Connors & Dearing, 2007), and Shame in the Therapy Hour (Dearing & Tangney, Eds., 2011). Her current research activities focus on developing measurement instruments and facilitating research collaborations related to Brené’s work (including The Daring Way™). Her earlier research interests and other publications focus on self-change, help-seeking, treatment engagement and outcome, and issues related to shame and guilt.

Dawn Fey Hedgepeth

is a licensed clinical social worker in San Antonio, Texas. From 1994-1998, Dawn was a Senior Parole Officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. As a Parole Officer, she worked with sex offenders and incarcerated women. Clients tell her that she has a warm, engaging style, where humor, empathy, and compassion intersect, providing individuals the ability to move towards a happier life. Her work is client-centered: she meets clients where they are, and will help them identify their concerns, cope with challenges, and establish goals. Dawn specializes in adolescent issues, relationships, parenting, family issues, anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, and law. She sees individual clients, adolescents and families. She offers specialized groups several times a year, and is certified in EMDR. She can assist individuals overcoming trauma-related experiences.

Virginia Rondero Hernandez

is a licensed clinical social worker and currently serves as the Executive Director/Principal Investigator of the California Social Work Education Center at the University of California, Berkeley, the state’s largest workforce development program for social workers in the fields of child welfare, behavioral health and aging. Virginia has deep practice experience, in the fields of health care services, non-profit administration and higher education. She is a Senior Faculty member and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator and Consultant and Certified in the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory through the Korn Ferry Hay Group. Virginia has participated in a number of national Daring Way™ trainings and consults with Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator candidates on an individual and group basis. Virginia conducted original research reported in Shame resilience: A strategy for empowering women in treatment for substance abuse, cited in the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions (2011) and has also contributed to Daring Way™ research and evaluation activities.

Susan Mann

is a leadership coach, with over 30 years of leadership experience in banking, higher education, and philanthropy. In her most recent role with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Susan created an award-winning leadership development and professional coaching program, and led a global Learning and Development organization that enriched the lives of those within the organization and beyond. Susan’s depth of knowledge around transition, culture change, leadership, innovative learning, and resilience have led her around the world consulting, teaching, facilitating, coaching, and speaking. Susan’s clients value her ability to connect in an authentic way, her passion for life-long learning, and her courage to foster impactful changes both in her work with individuals and organizations.

Sandy Mitsch

Sandy has more than thirty years of direct experience as a leader in
executive coaching, organization development, and human resources with
experience in various industries and diverse corporate settings. She has
been a coach and a member of senior management teams for companies driving executive and leadership development, organizational change, and team optimization programs. Sandy’s authentic style and fiercely compassionate coaching approach gets to the root cause, creating higher levels of resiliency and success. She helps her clients brave new challenges, and discover and overcome the obstacles that can prevent them from performing at their full potential. Sandy is a regular speaker on key leadership topics in the area of human development. She is a master certified coach through the International Coach Federation (ICF) and is formally trained and certified through the Coaches Training Institute (CTI).

Cynthia Mulder

is a licensed clinical social worker, in Houston, Texas. Cynthia received her Master’s degree from Smith College School of Social Work. She has worked in community mental health as an individual and group therapist with victims of trauma and at the Austen Riggs Center, in Stockbridge Massachusetts, as a family therapist in a long-term psychodynamic hospital. In 2010, she joined the Menninger Clinic as a senior social worker on the Professionals in Crisis (PIC) unit, where she served as an individual, couples, and family therapist and facilitated the Connections Curriculum and in 2013, she became the Director of Education and Training for the Menninger Clinic. Passionate about education and training, she continues to supervise, provide individual therapy, and facilitates The Daring Way™ to all units in the hospital, with interests in family systems, co-occurring disorders, personality disorders, and issues of grief and loss. Since being introduced to Dr. Brown’s work on shame, vulnerability, empathy, and authenticity, she has had the privilege of witnessing the transformative power of the work both personally and professionally.

Debbie Okrina

is a licensed clinical social worker, with a Master of Science in social work from the University of Texas. She is a board-approved clinical supervisor, and worked for 9 years at the Houston Area Women’s Center, with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She was Clinical Director when she left to pursue her passion for using horses in helping people heal. For 8 years, she worked at Lone Star Behavioral Health, in Tomball, Texas. She was Program Director for both inpatient and outpatient services, where she also helped develop and manage their Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy program. She currently works at Promises Austin in Spicewood, Texas. Debbie originally piloted and co-facilitated the Connections Curriculum with Brené at the Houston Area Women’s Center, and has since integrated shame resiliency into all of her therapeutic and supervisory work.

John Douglas Sorensen

is a licensed clinical social worker who has been in private practice in Houston, Texas since 1989. His clinical focus has been with individuals seeking to rebuild their lives from the consequences of childhood trauma and addiction. Doug began his training with Patrick Carnes, PhD, in the outpatient application of his Task-Centered treatment model in 1996.

Cheryl Scoglio

is a licensed clinical social worker who completed her post-graduate clinical training at the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry in Topeka, Kansas. She worked for the next ten years at the Menninger Clinic treating Professionals in Crisis. Currently, Cheryl has a private practice treating individuals, couples, families, and groups. Psychodyanamically trained, Cheryl specializes is mood disorders, addictions, personality disorders, and relationship struggles. She began working with Dr.Brené Brown’s research through the Connections Curriculum in 2006, and facilitating groups in 2009. She uses the concepts of vulnerability, courage, and authenticity daily in her practice, helping others strive for whole-hearted living.

Eric Williams

is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Houston, Texas. Eric’s focus is addiction and trauma, with five years’ experience delivering intensive outpatient treatment to professionals at the Council on Alcohol and Drugs, Houston. Eric has been trained as a certified sexual addiction therapist (CSAT) for adults and adolescents. He believes empathy and self-compassion are underutilized mechanisms essential to the process of change and healing.