Board President Lizzy de la Garza Putegnat, Laura Lyles Reagan, new Executive Director, and Joanna Frausto, exiting Interim Executive Director pose in front of Maggie's House in San Benito. (Courtesy Photo)

SAN BENITO — Laura Lyles Reagan is embarking on a new professional route, one she is passionate about.

Reagan has been selected as the new Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Cameron and Willacy Counties by their board of directors.

Reagan has experience with nonprofit organizations as well as grant writing. She said her knowledge is one of the reasons she was selected.

Board President Lizzy de la Garza Putegnat said she is thankful Reagan is on board.

“I would like to thank Ms. Reagan for believing in our cause and joining our mission to serve and advocate for child victims of abuse through education, prevention, intervention, and recovery. We are confident Ms. Reagan is the visionary leader we need to take this organization to the next level,” Putegnat said.

Reagan holds a Master’s in sociology from UTRGV, wrote a book called “How to Raise Respectful Parents” and has experience working with parents of children with disabilities, which was the first nonprofit she worked for.

Reagan also worked as a substance abuse counselor in Mexico City.

Monica’s and Maggie’s House are located in Brownsville and San Benito. Reagan explained children who have been victims of abuse and have a cry for help can attend to begin therapy.

Children are interviewed by a specialized forensic interviewer using dolls with proper sexual organs to help them describe what they’ve been through.

Law enforcement officials are in a different room observing the interview, which is encouraged to be done only once, to not re-traumatize.

According to Reagan and staff members, therapy is offered for free to the abused children. They are also welcome to come back as adults to continue their therapy sessions.

“We want to emotionally support and glue the pieces back together,” she said.

“Sometimes the abuse is coming from someone they trusted and we are asking them to trust another adult,” she said.

Reagan said one of her goals is to diversify their funds and be able to move to a bigger location later on. Another goal she mentioned is hiring more forensic interviewers. Currently, the organization is preparing for their annual golf fundraising tournament on Feb. 22.

“We are here to make a difference in each other’s lives. I want to improve inequities in society. The adult/child power structure is the one with the greatest disparity,” Reagan said.

“Social justice issues are pretty much at the heart of who I am. Hearing children and helping them feel heard is the best way we can communicate love,” she said.