Elevating those who are making real change happen
Communication is a core competency of great leaders. Our team of experts provides customized coaching to strengthen every facet of your communication — written, spoken, non-verbal, and even visual — to advance your leadership skills and impact.
Alexza Barajas Clark
Connect your work to your why.
Founder & Chairman
Searcy founded Matterlab in 2017 to drive greater impact in the social impact sector through effective communications and marketing directly aligned to organizations’ most ambitious goals. She brings nearly two decades of experience as a strategist in the nonprofit sector, including working under former Secretary of Education of the Obama Administration, John King, and advising numerous states on education and child welfare policy. Searcy is a native Mississippian, a Teach For America Los Angeles alumna, a resident of Austin, Texas, and a wife and mother. She received her Bachelor’s degree in both English and Spanish literature from Rice University, and her Master of Science degree in Neuroscience from Columbia University with a focus on behavioral economics, language acquisition, and inner speech processing. She is proud to serve on the Advisory Board for Texas Children’s Hospital, ranked the #2 best children’s hospital in the nation. Across her professional endeavors, philanthropic involvement, and volunteer time, Searcy is driven by ensuring that all children have access to the opportunities they need to succeed.
See Searcy’s full resume on LinkedIn.
Anna Casey is a servant leader, communicator, and true social entrepreneur. She has served both in-house and as a management consultant, specializing in strategic communications, leadership, as well as in innovative culture change and team practices. Over the past 20 years she has served CEOs, leaders and policymakers across various sectors, including: education tech, law, local & national government, public policy, green energy, and finance. She has trained teams across the UK, EU, Ukraine, Australia, and the U.S. Anna started her career as a local government press officer and since then has sat on various poverty alleviation-related boards and committees as well as worked on the ground on a number of economic literacy and empowerment programs.
British and Texan by heritage, Anna comes from a family of educators, has a degree in communications, is a Chartered Public Relations Practitioner, and is a certified Stonewall Ally. Anna has spoken — in her trademark irreverent style — alongside philanthropists, nonprofit leaders, a secretary of state, and private sector CEOs, always problem solving with a restorative practices lens, and always thinking big-picture with an uncanny eye for simplifying complexity. She believes that authenticity and heart have a place in every team, and in every communications challenge.
See Anna’s full resume on LinkedIn.
Jessie began her career in tech where she specialized in account management, program and brand development, and team growth and retention. Through those roles and the experience of growing with a company from 36 to 225+ employees, Jessie recognized her strengths in building client relationships, creating scalable systems, and spearheading innovative communications to drive long-term goals. Jessie later transitioned her expertise into the social sector. She brings more than 12 years of experience working with new and growing organizations to find their identity. She joined Matterlab to build and lead the account management team and to contribute senior-level communications coaching and support across clients.
Jessie earned her undergraduate degrees from St. Edward’s University in communications and journalism and made Austin her permanent home after graduation. A believer in building connection through stories, Jessie is a published writer who features female business owners and creative entrepreneurs, and writes of her own experience in motherhood.
See Jessie’s full resume on LinkedIn.
Co-Founder & President
As Co-Founder and President, Lane manages day-to-day operations, brand, and people. In her 20 years working with executives and entrepreneurs, she has transformed hundreds of visions into reality through building brands, crafting messages, and amplifying missions. Lane spent her early career as a designer and creative director, then found her way into the classroom through Teach For America. She now combines her marketing expertise and passion for educational equity at Matterlab, helping leaders clarify their identities and communicate their impact.
Lane earned her MBA from The University of Texas McCombs School of Business and her undergraduate degree in journalism from James Madison University. She spends her free time exploring the outdoors with her husband, Alex, and two rescue dogs, Perry and George.
Brand, People, & Operations Manager
Afzal is inspired by the drive to connect individuals around the world through the power of digital marketing, branding, and communications. His experience leading marketing and digital strategies led him to Matterlab and social impact work, where he now gets to see positive change through his contributions.
Afzal has spent time consulting for organizations looking to create a powerful presence with their social media and branding. He is Digital Advertising Certified by Hubspot and uses his innovative skills to create and implement impactful digital ad campaigns. At Matterlab, he has overseen digital ad campaigns for over 50 Matterlab clients, with successes that have led to thousands of sign-ups/enrollments and over $20 million in earned revenue.
Afzal’s parents immigrated from South America to Queens, New York, where he and his twin brother were born, and he has been in Central Florida for the past 20 years. Afzal enjoys traveling near and far and has an extensive list of destinations he plans to visit. He enjoys spending quality time with his husband and loved ones and shares too many photos of his Standard Poodle, London, on social media.
See Afzal’s full resume on LinkedIn.
Web Designer & Developer
Shawn Hardy is the Founder of Smitten Labs, a digital design consultancy based in Tempe, Arizona. For the past 20 years, he has worked with and for award-winning agencies in a wide range of creative, leadership, and strategic roles serving clients all over the world. Shawn has led teams through design and development of hundreds websites and other digital applications. With each project, Shawn’s focus has been creating a solid foundation of strategy, great design, and technology to create real impact for clients and their audience.
Shawn was born and raised in Washington D.C., surrounded by a politically and culturally diverse environment, and has taken inspiration from all directions. Shawn completed his Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design at The Art Institute of Phoenix. Beyond his career, Shawn lives an active life which includes triathlons, a family, and four dogs.
See Shawn’s full resume on LinkedIn.
Associate Director, Business Development
Nique is a multifaceted communications strategist with a passion for bringing innovative initiatives to life. She brings 15 years of experience to her role as Senior Manager of Business Development, where she combines her ability to distill high-level information into engaging content with a drive for social impact. Nique earned her degree in Business Administration from Abilene Christian University.
Nique’s experience involves developing communication strategies for the Medical and Social Services Division at Texas Health and Human Services Commission, including their WIC and SNAP programs. She also crafted key messages and awareness programs for breast cancer while working at Susan G. Komen Austin, Texas. Nique lives in Austin where she is an active volunteer with multiple nonprofit organizations and daydreams about homesteading. More than anything, she loves spending time with her husband, children, pets, and friends who are like family.
Associate Director of Strategy
Amy is a creative communications strategist with over 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Her experience includes building and executing the communications and marketing strategy for a global education nonprofit in east and southern Africa to advancing educational equity as Associate Director of Strategy here at Matterlab. Amy is passionate about making an impact on her local community and thrilled to apply her global nonprofit experience here in the U.S. Amy received her B.A. from Texas A&M University with a degree in International Studies and a minor in French. She is a Certified Digital Marketing Professional recognized by the Digital Marketing Institute. Outside of work, Amy enjoys caring for her plants, painting, hiking with her dog, and debating the best Survivor strategies with friends.
Maya Giña Nelson
Associate Director, Project Management
Maya is eager to transform life outcomes for young people and is thrilled to be on a team with such a clear mission. After growing up in Glenn Dale, Maryland, Maya graduated from Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania and began her career in the social sector. Maya holds a Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification and her experience spans health, environment, and child welfare at nonprofits across the U.S. At Global Impact, she worked exclusively on the Combined Federal Campaign. In Los Angeles, she led development efforts for EarthShare. Eventually, she returned to her East Coast roots and worked for a local United Way managing projects across development, communications, and partnerships. Previous to her role at Matterlab, Maya led the creation of a new project management office for CHC: Creating Healthier Communities. Maya resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Josiah, and two daughters Morgan and Svea.
See Maya’s full resume on LinkedIn.
SL (she/they) are an equity-centered system change design lead with over 12 years of experience across tech, philanthropy, global health and government. SL has been (re)designing systems with a strong racial equity, inclusion and social justice mindset leveraging their end-to-end innovation and design expertise; including user experience, design strategy and design research. They currently lead the research and strategy practice at Substantial Insights, Design and Development Studio.
Previously they worked with the Office of Homeless Youth at the Washington State Department of Commerce through Foster America. In this work they co-designed policy, technology and services with lived experts, community based organizations and government stakeholders in foster care, homelessness, disability and juvenile justice.
Their practice is grounded in trauma informed design research, targeted universalism, co-design, and complex systems theory. SL is a strong proponent of evolving the design practice to be anti-racist, decolonized, and systems-thinking oriented.
See SL’s full resume on LinkedIn.
Sarah works to amplify the voices of those who drive social impact. As a Senior Strategist, she cultivates success for Matterlab partners by building creative and strategic communication solutions.
With over 15 years in PR and marketing, her experience ranges across industries and includes high-profile clients such as Domino’s and Target. Among her achievements, Sarah has secured media placement in The New York Times, CNBC, Forbes, and Fortune. Sarah regularly participates in diversity and inclusion training and integrates new learnings into every aspect of her work. Additionally, She has led workshops and coaching sessions championing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) best practices in communications.
Sarah graduated summa cum laude from the University of St. Thomas, earning her B.A. in communications. When she’s not crafting eloquent prose, Sarah enjoys outdoor adventures and exploring Austin’s eclectic art scene with her assistant/dog, Charlie Pablo.
See Sarah’s full resume on LinkedIn.
Associate Director of Business Development
Angie moved from her hometown Fort Worth to Austin in 2007 to attend St. Edward’s University, where she completed her undergraduate degree in Biology, minoring in Education. Upon graduation, she embarked on her 5 year career as a secondary Science teacher, teaching children with disabilities, ESL students, AP students, and everything in between. During this time, she completed her postgraduate degree in Curriculum & Instruction from The University of Texas at Arlington. In 2017, Angie moved away from the Education world and into the start-up world when she joined AlertMedia as a Sales Account Executive. After two years, she was asked to create and lead the Sales Learning & Development program, which led to the companywide L&D program. After returning from parental leave with her second son, she was asked to lead the Diversity & Culture at AlertMedia, which is another passion of hers. Angie is passionate about creating an equitable world where all people feel a sense of belonging.
Client Services Manager
Anna is a natural relationship manager. Her ability to read others and anticipate their needs began as a predilection and has been honed into a superpower by over 20 years in the hospitality industry with a large chunk of that time spent managing for McGuire Moorman Hospitality. During the pandemic, she made the decision to leave the service industry in hopes of using her enthusiasm for helping others in a more socially impactful way. Eager to use her training in journalism and creative writing from University of Georgia and Valdosta State, she found a home at Matterlab and is inspired daily by their passion for elevating the voices of those that often go unheard. In her spare time, she loves to read, write and soak up the rich musical culture that Austin has to offer. Cool party trick: She knows her way around a wine list and has an extensive knowledge of all of the wine regions around the world and their indigenous grapes.
Charley Devany has been a CPA for over 30 years with over 20 years in Virtual CFO roles. He joined Matterlab in June 2022 before working on several other projects with Matterlab President Anna Williams. He has an undergrad in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas and an MBA from the University of Maryland. In addition to Virtual CFO clients, he also has an active tax consulting practice for individuals and businesses. When not giving financial guidance Charley practices yoga, writes and still has an active Screen Actors card.
Director & Producer
Michael Burke is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and founder of Wild Reply. He loves telling the stories of real people striving to affect change in their communities and has traveled all over the world in search of subjects. Specializing in documentaries and branded content, over the past decade he has worked on projects for screens of all sizes, including national ad campaigns and main title sequences for Marvel Studios, and has worked directly with clients such as AT&T, Toyota, the University of Notre Dame, and the National Park Service.
See Michael’s full resume on LinkedIn.