Julie McElrath Ray, LMSW, LCDC-I

Executive Director

Julie McElrath has served as Executive Director for University High School since June 2015 and has been involved with the organization since its inception in 2013. As a social worker and counselor, she has experience working with adolescents and young adults in a variety of therapeutic settings. She is a member of the Austin Metro Drug Free Coalition (2016), Travis County Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (2015), Recovery Oriented Community Collaborative in Austin (2015), and Strategic Planning Group for the Alliance for Adolescent Recovery Treatment in Texas (2016). She is a founding member of the Central Texas Youth Recovery Network, established in 2016 and funded by the St. David’s Foundation. Julie has spent the last several years focusing her time and energy furthering her education, building relationships in the nonprofit community, and developing a working knowledge of nonprofit best practices.  She has worked in the nonprofit community as a Director of Advancement, Business Manager, and member of an Exploration Committee that successfully established and developed a statewide chapter of a national nonprofit organization.  Julie recently received the 2017 Communities for Recovery “Mac” McLester Champion of Recovery Award. She has co-authored articles for the Journal of Social Work Practice in The Addictions and Illinois Institute for Addiction RecoveryParadigm Magazine, and is also the co-author of a book chapter to be published early 2018 in Implementing the Grand Challenge of Reducing and Preventing Alcohol Misuse and Its Consequences. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Ms. McElrath holds a Master of Science in Social Work and a Bachelor’s in Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin, as well as a certificate from the Graduate Portfolio Program in Nonprofit Studies from the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at The University of Texas.



Leya Samiloglu

Director of Advancement

After working as a private art dealer, gallery owner and art consultant for over fifteen years, Leya Samiloglu turned her focus to various nonprofit causes. As a development and organization consultant for a donor alliance, Leya established a for-profit model creating a table structure with nonprofit political entities, while facilitating fundraising and Board of Director outreach. As a communications consultant, Leya has created and implemented media and messaging strategies behind the revamp of a major art fair. Leya has also worked as a special events consultant and has vast experience in creating and executing fundraising events, luncheons, galas and concerts.

Leya holds a BA in Governmental Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and has done significant graduate coursework in Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago.



Joseph Dias, M.Ed., LPC-S

Director of Wellness and Recovery Support

Joe Dias has worked in the Mental Health field for 13 years in various capacities. He first started working in Phoenix, AZ with refugee adolescents coming in from Latin America unaccompanied at a halfway house.  Upon moving to the Austin area in 2005, Joe worked as a counselor with “Council for At-Risk Youth” (CARY) specializing in violence prevention in a group setting for AISD middle schools and then a “Transition Specialist” for AISD’s “Alternative Learning Center” (ALC).  For three years, he helped shape best practices within the district for Secondary School Administrators, students and families as well as partnering with District Superintendents.  Mr. Dias has a private practice offering a broad range of services and supervises several LPC-interns.  He also serves as an adjunct professor at St. Edwards University for Addiction Psychology coursework.

Prior to joining University High School, Joe most recently worked with Memorial Hermann PaRC as a Clinical Program Specialist where he led the clinical team at the Austin Intensive Outpatient Program providing treatment services for both adolescents and adults seeking recovery from drug/alcohol addiction and dually diagnosed mental health needs.




John Ingham

Student Engagement Coordinator

John Ingham has experience providing support with drug and alcohol recovery, support with HIV and other STI health, mental health support, grief and loss support, and support for children in families affected by substance use disorders.  John managed Austin Turning Point Sober Living and has volunteered with Phoenix House adolescent treatment center, The Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, Infinite Recovery, CRI-Help, and other organizations supporting young people’s recovery.

John is currently attending Austin Community College majoring in psychology and planning to transfer to the University of Texas to complete his Bachelor’s degree.



Libbey Sanford, LCDC-I

Student Engagement Coordinator

Libbey Sanford has experience providing support with drug and alcohol recovery and working with teens and families affected by substance use disorders.  Prior to finding her passion as an adolescent drug and alcohol counselor Libbey was involved in summer programs teaching children with Autism and other intellectual disabilities social skills helping them to integrate into the community. Before joining University High School she worked as the Youth Staff Coordinator at Teen and Family Services where she was able to gain further knowledge and skills helping her grow and connect with youth.

Libbey Sanford holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of Texas at San Antonio and is currently completing her clinical practicum hours to earn her LCDC.