MEET OUR TEAM
Chief Executive Officer
Growing up in Houston's Kashmere Gardens and Sunnyside neighborhoods, Jarvis Taylor was surrounded by men and women that used their wisdom and creativity to make these communities home for all. Their commitment to these historical African-American neighborhoods left an indelible impression on him and inspired him to choose community development as his life's work.
In 1999, at the age of 17, he led efforts to bring community and brotherhood to formerly incarcerated men living in a transitional home in Kashmere Gardens and a Back-to-School Drive for families in Acres Homes. He is forever indebted to the New Life Tabernacle Church for allowing him to develop his community outreach skills at such an early age.
After his discharge from the Navy, Jarvis continued his service to the community through youth leadership development and providing supportive services to our homeless neighbors in Southeast Houston. In 2015 he founded Project College Counseling, now Project Canvas. This organization equips underserved youth with the tools and support to participate in social action projects and continue their development at their best-fit college. In 2017, Jarvis became the Executive Director of Crossroads at Park Place a homeless services provider to more than 1000 people experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty in Southeast Houston.
Jarvis received a Bachelor of Science in Christian Leadership from the College of Biblical Studies-Houston. He earned an MBA from Texas A&M University-Commerce, where his capstone project focused on competition among Texas public university systems. In 2018, Jarvis earned the Rice University Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives (LINE) certificate at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.
Jarvis is a member of and affiliated with the following organizations:
- American Association of Service Coordinators (AASC) and the Texas Chapter
- Texas Association of Community Development Corporations (TACDC)
- Houston Housing Collaborative
Jarvis enjoys having a stimulating conversation over a good cup of coffee.
Vice President of Real Estate Development
As Vice President of Real Estate Development, Mr. William H. Merrick is responsible for building the overall development program for Empower CDC including affordable and market-rate housing, acquisition activities, single-family, multi-family, and commercial development and long-term strategic visioning. During his decade-long career, he has managed dozens of large-scale industrial and residential projects in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and has extensive professional experience in land and community development efforts. Mr. Merrick holds college degrees and certifications in architecture, construction management, and community development & rehabilitation. He has previously been or is currently a member of the Urban Land Institute, Texas Association of Community Development Corporations, Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation, the Houston Housing Collaborative and various economic development organizations.
Prior to joining the staff of Empower CDC, Mr. Merrick served on the organization’s board of directors and was vice president of the board until stepping down. As a board member, William was instrumental in developing several on-going programs, including Empower’s Senior Home Rehabilitation program which allows our community’s most vulnerable residents to age in place.
Raised by a single mother in Natchez, MS, William experienced first-hand how difficult it is for certain demographics to attain generational financial stability through home ownership. This fueled his passion for affordable home development and general community improvement.
In his downtime, Mr. Merrick can be found gardening or playing sports with his family.
Director Of Programs
Daniel Brown is native of a small town in the state of Louisiana. He's been a resident of Houston, TX since 2006 and is proud to call Houston his home. Daniel is a leader amongst many and spends a great deal of time serving the community with a smile. With a Business Management background, Daniel expresses and lives the ideal of "People First" and continuously strives to have intentional interactions daily. Daniel is a speaker for the youth and a small business owner.
In his downtime, Daniel plays tennis, loves to cook, and is a lover of nature.
Lashundria Penny Small
La'Shundria Penny Small is a Houston Native from Sunnyside of the South Park community. She graduated from the University of Houston-Downtown with her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Criminal Justice. Associates in Arts from Houston Community College in 2017. “It’s the ART side of me that has my passion blooming to keep working and helping communities reach their full potential.”
She has assisted the College of Public Service Department in supporting 70 UHD/H.E.A.R.T Students with Intellectual Disabilities to graduate with their Continuing Education Certificate at UHD since 2017. Mrs. Small has mentored and volunteered with many nonprofit organizations over the years.
Fund Development Coordinator
Madison Narges was raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and graduated in 2019 from The University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a bachelor's degree in environmental politics. She moved to Houston in 2020 and has enjoyed learning more about the community and history of the area. Madison has previously served two AmeriCorps terms in Utah and Nevada, focusing on environmental restoration and education. She is excited to be working with a non-profit that focuses on community outreach and development as the social media development vista. In her free time, she enjoys being a new mother to her daughter Reign, and finding places to hike and camp.