Leadership Team

andre dowd

Susie Peake – Executive Director

Bio coming soon

john kurek - director of operations

John Kurek – Chief Director of Operations

Mr. Kurek has been a Martial Artist for over 39 years. He began his training at the age of five at the Chuck Norris Karate Studio in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with Master Aaron Norris as his chief instructor.

John grew up in a military family. His father was a Navy Commander who instilled discipline and respect in his children. After graduating from High School, Mr. Kurek served six years in the Marine Corps. After completing his tour of duty in 1992, Mr. Kurek became an Instructor in KICKSTART KIDS at its inception.

Twenty-two years later, Mr. Kurek’s leadership and dedication to KICKSTART KIDS and its mission has earned him the position and title of Chief Director of Operations, currently supervising over 60 school instructors, area leaders and regional directors.

Master Kurek currently holds a 8th degree Black Belt in Chun Kuk Do. He is a five time World Champion.

andre dowd

André Dowd – Director of Development

André Dowd joined KICKSTART KIDS as Director of Development in June 2015. In this position, André is responsible for building relationships and stewarding current and prospective donors. He is an accomplished development professional, successfully raising millions of dollars in private funding for various organizations.

Previously, André was a member of the executive team for his family business, Rise Soufflé Holdings, LLC, where he helped establish plans to launch ten Rise Soufflé restaurants by 2020 and raised $10M in private capital. André also served as Director of Marketing and Public Relations for ShowBiz Cinemas in Dallas, Texas. Formerly, he served as the development officer and administrator for the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Initiative (PRRR)—the global health flagship program of the Bush Institute. André also interned at the Office of George W. Bush, assisting key members of President and Mrs. Bush’s staff.

André holds a BA in Communications Studies and Music Business Administration from Loyola Marymount University where he graduated summa cum laude.

brittany horine

Brittany Horine – Director of Development

Bio coming soon.

justin fuqua

Justin Fuqua – Director of Marketing

Justin Fuqua joined KICKSTART KIDS in 2011 as a Multimedia Specialist and currently holds the position of Director of Marketing.  He is responsible for branding, marketing strategy, merchandise production, multimedia design, social media, advertising and business consulting. Mr. Fuqua attended the Art Institute in Dallas, Texas.

Mr. Fuqua has over a decade of experience in the marketing and media industries with a diverse background in video, web, print, marketing, advertising, and branding.  After spending a number of years  working with an advertising agency in Dallas, Texas, he jumped at the opportunity to work with the KICKSTART KIDS organization in order to truly “be the difference”  by supporting the mission to change and save children’s lives.  Mr. Fuqua had previously worked with KICKSTART KIDS founder, Chuck Norris, while producing Mr. Norris’s martial arts television show “World Combat League”.

diana calhoun

Diana Calhoun – Director of Finance

Diana Calhoun joined KICKSTART KIDS in 2013 as our Director of Finance. Her previous experience working with Fortune 500 companies and, most recently, as Director of Finance and Business Administration in the non-profit arena has provided a firm foundation to oversee the finances of KICKSTART KIDS. Ms. Calhoun has a BBA in accounting from Texas Tech University. She has served in leadership and board positions on a volunteer basis for non-profit service organizations for her entire adult life, believing that when we give our best in service to others, our best becomes better.

joey nelson

Joey Nelson – Director of Special Programs

Mr. Nelson started training in the martial arts in 1985. After four years of training, he received his black belt in American Tae Kwon Do. In 1996 he earned his black belt in Aiki Jujitsu. He then joined KICKSTART KIDS and before being promoted to North Texas Regional Director he produced 10 black belts from Florence Middle School. Mr. Nelson currently holds a 5th degree black belt in American Tae Kwon Do. He currently serves as the Director of Special Programs for KICKSTART KIDS.

sonia moreno-white

Sonia Moreno-White – Southeast Texas Regional Director

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Mrs. Moreno-White began her martial arts training in KICKSTART KIDS at Hamilton Middle School in 1992. A product of the program, she has been a black belt in KICKSTART KIDS since 1997 earning simultaneous and equivalent rank in Chun Kuk Do. She is currently a 5th Degree Black Belt. Her accomplishments include World Championship titles in Women’s Sparring and winner of the Chuck Norris Cup at the Chun Kuk Do Championships. She was awarded the Chun Kuk Do Female Competitor of the Year in 2012.

Mrs. Moreno-White began her journey as a KICKSTART KIDS instructor at Fonville Middle School in the year 2000 and was promoted to Southeast Texas Assistant Regional Director in June of 2013. In October of 2013, she was promoted to Southeast Texas Regional Director. She is responsible for the quality of program implementation on 28 campuses.

Derrick Stinson

Derrick Stinson – Southeast Texas Regional Director

Derrick Stinson has been a part of the KICKSTART KIDS program for 23 years. He began his training in KICKSTART KIDS at Central Middle School in Galveston, Texas under John Kurek.

Mr. Stinson has been a KICKSTART KIDS instructor since 2000. He has also served as an Area Leader in the Southeast Texas Region and has previously been head coach of the Southeast Texas All-Star Demo Team. He was promoted to Southeast Texas Assistant Regional Director in 2015 and then to Regional Director in 2017.

Mr. Stinson holds a wide range of accomplishments in the martial arts community including: Chun Kuk Do World Champion, UFAF 2009 Instructor of the Year, and 41 of his students are now KICKSTART KIDS Black Belts.

leroy sanchez

Leroy Sanchez – North Texas Regional Director

Mr. Sanchez has been training and competing in the Martial Arts for over 30 years. As a kid under the coaching of his father, he had a successful career as an amateur boxer and then moved up to the professional ranks. In 1987, he was awarded the rank of 1st degree Black Belt in American Tae Kwon Do. In 2007, he was promoted to the Martial Arts level of Master by being recognized and promoted to the rank of 5th Degree Black Belt. In 1998 he was hired by Grand Master Chuck Norris and the KICKSTART KIDS foundation to teach and share his experiences to as many students as possible. Mr. Sanchez was promoted to North Texas Regional Director in 2014.

jason chartouni

Jason Chartouni – Central Texas Regional Director

Mr. Chartouni earned his black belt in 1996 and is currently a 4th degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. He is a 10-time Texas State Fighting Champion and boasts National and World Fighting Championships as well.

During his time with KICKSTART KIDS, he has promoted 12 KICKSTART KIDS students to Black Belt and trained over 45 State Champions. His school has won the Most Competitive School award 4 consecutive years and Mr. Chartouni was awarded Instructor of the Year in 2016. He has also served as the tournament director for Central Texas and is a member of TEAM KICKSTART KIDS national competition team.

He holds a Bachelors of Business Administration degree from Texas State University, and in June of 2017, he was promoted to the position of Central Texas Regional Director. Mr. Chartouni truly enjoys his students’ success through martial arts.

ingrid fenton

Ingrid Fenton – Accounting Assistant

Ingrid Fenton joined KICKSTART KIDS in April 2015 as the Accounting Assistant to the Director of Finance. Ms. Fenton has a BA from the College of Arts, Science and Technology in Kingston, Jamaica. Her previous non-profit experience was as Fitness Director at The Jewish Community Center of Houston, and she continues to enjoy her fitness regime.  She has also worked in internal auditing for Price Waterhouse. Ms. Fenton is here at KICKSTART KIDS as a team player.

brenda franco

Brenda Franco – Marketing Assistant

A KICKSTART KIDS Alumni, Brenda Franco has been involved with the organization since 2002 starting out at Fonville Middle School under the instruction of Sonia Moreno-White. She earned her Black Belt in 2006 and her 2nd Degree Black Belt in 2008. She participated in the Houston City Wide Demo Team (now known as the All-Star Demo team), competed in several State Tournaments, and has had the privilege to train with many other KICKSTART KIDS instructors. Brenda has a BFA in Photography/Digital Media and joined the KICKSTART KIDS’ administrative staff in 2013.