PALS Leadership

Board of Directors

Lori Martin

President and Founding Member

Lori Martin is the director of a Montessori preschool. Previously, she worked for 12 years in various leadership positions in marketing and public relations. Her son, Will, was diagnosed with Leigh syndrome at the age of 2. Since then, she and her husband Neil have worked to advocate and spread awareness on a local and national level of the deadly disease.     

Tahra E. Peterson

Vice President and Founding Member

Tahra Peterson has spent the past 14 years working with children of all ages. After graduating from the University of Virginia, she moved to Houston and worked as the Associate Director for a nonprofit dedicated to helping children with life threatening illnesses. In 2010, she began working for Houston’s Independent Schools in the capacity of development and eventually moved into admission. In 2014, Peterson joined the Admission Team at St. John’s School as an Associate Director. She also currently serves as an Upper School advisor.          

Peyton Jones

Treasurer and Founding Member

Peyton Jones currently serves as EVP/Director Commercial Real Estate with Veritex Bank (previously Green Bank).  An esteemed leader, Jones has been recognized in the top 5% of producers each year for the past ten years.  He is a founding member of PALS and has also given time as a board member to other organizations including Young Texans Against Cancer, McCombs Alumni Association and SFA Letterman’s Association.        

Melissa Knight


For eight years, Melissa Knight worked as staff assistant and director of special programs at the UTHealth Mitochondrial Center of Excellence at UTHealth/McGovern Medical School.  During her tenure, Knight served primarily as a patient and family advocate for pediatric patients with neuro degenerative, neurometabolic, mitochondrial (Leigh syndrome), and lysosomal storage diseases.  She’s also been personally impacted by mitochondrial disease – three of Knight’s children have been diagnosed with various mitochondrial diseases.       

Founding Members

  • Joelle Derrick
  • Mitch Derrick
  • Peyton Jones
  • Andre Granello
  • Lauren Granello
  • Walker Molinare
  • Craig Peterson
  • Tahra Peterson
  • Emily Sperandio
  • Mike Sperandio
  • Ken Tsai
  • Jane Tsai

Advisory Council

  • Mary Kay Koenig, M.D.