What our members are saying:

“You should introduce this program to everyone by making it a requirement for all college students.”

“Services were very helpful and I will recommend them to my daughter.”


Kate Rose Marquez  |  Chief Executive Officer

Kate Rose Marquez comes to Ascend with a strong and deep background, having most recently served as director of development at St. Vincent de Paul Society of North Texas.  Kate Rose has helped various nonprofit and for-profit organizations fulfill their mission through impactful branding and transformative fundraising. She has worked on all sides of the nonprofit equation and understands how to marshal the resources and infrastructure needed to successfully serve the North Texas community.

As the vice president of marketing at The Dallas Morning News (TDMN), Kate Rose led a team of professionals in creating and executing all TDMN and sub-brand communications. In addition, she was the point person for all TDMN’s sponsorships in the North Texas community – crafting multi-year, multi-million dollar partnerships that leveraged the TDMN brand while supporting hundreds of area community efforts.

Kate Rose has also consulted with several area nonprofits to help them evaluate themselves “from soup to nuts,” examining mission, processes, structure and internal database practices, and guided the development of branding, fundraising, board succession plans and long-term goals that further their mission externally. She has an extensive history of fundraising and especially executing large events such as Cotes du Coeur and Go Red for Women for American Heart Association, Partners’ Card for The Family Place, Change is Good for Community Partners of Dallas, among others.

With a heart for service, Kate Rose has served on many regional nonprofit boards over the past 20 years, utilizing her expertise in fundraising, marketing and board development to support their efforts. She also serves on many advisory boards/councils including Community Partners of Dallas, Heroes for Children and Launchability. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.

Susan SmithsonSusan Smithson  |  Chief Strategy Officer

Susan Smithson brings more than 20 years of experience in program development and administration to Ascend. She has worked in public, for-profit, and nonprofit sectors and has held multiple leadership positions for agencies serving the needs of individuals and families.

Susan is committed to decreasing economic and health disparities in the community, and represents Ascend on numerous community initiatives. Her passion had led her to serve on the Advisory Board for the Center for Community Health, RAISE Texas Board of Directors, and the Information and Education Planning Committee for Parkland Health and Hospital System. Susan holds a B.A. in Psychology from Texas Women’s University.

Laura LaRochelle  |  Chief Development Officer

A Dallas native, Laura LaRochelle started her career in the film industry in Los Angeles but moved back to Dallas to run a local production company. After volunteering with different non-profits in Dallas, she decided to change careers and use her fundraising and production skills to work in non-profit.

In her role as CDO, Laura is responsible for providing strategy and implementing Ascend fundraising efforts. Additionally, Laura oversees WiNGS communication efforts. With over 10 years of relevant experience, Laura is thrilled to be supporting the Ascend mission and empowering women in her hometown.