Speaker Bios A-C


Samantha Alonso
Special Agent, Department of Homeland Security

Samantha Alonso is a Special Agent with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office in Houston, Texas. Ms. Alonso is assigned to the Worksite Enforcement Group and currently serves as coordinator of the HSI Houston IMAGE Program.

Throughout her fifteen year career as a Special Agent in Houston, Texas, with HSI and the U.S. Customs Service, Ms. Alonso has conducted criminal and administrative investigations involving narcotic smuggling, money laundering, human smuggling, and other immigration violations. 


Trista Carpenter, CPP, PHR, SHRM-CP
HCM Solution Consultant, Workday

Trista recently celebrated 10 years in the Payroll/HR industry. She spent over 7 years working for two PEO’s (Professional Employment Outsourcing), helping small businesses manage their payroll and HR processes with a focus on implementation success. For nearly 3 years prior to joining Workday, Trista served as a payroll consultant at Ascende for Oil & Gas clients, primarily based in Houston. In this role, she assisted clients with identifying, selecting, implementing and optimizing payroll and time and attendance technology. She has been an HCM Solution Consultant with Workday since 2016, responsible for understanding the challenges and goals of prospective customers and demonstrating how Workday can address those priorities. She received her BS, Psychology in 2006 from Sam Houston State University and is actively certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-CP).

Trista and her husband, Jason, reside in the north Houston area. They enjoy gardening, grilling and spending time with their 5 cats. While Jason is a native Houstonian, Trista is originally from Butte, Montana.



Susan Charles, CPP

A job transfer from Colorado brought Susan to Texas where she has been employed by GTE; ENSCO; the State of Texas; City of Arlington; Administaff (now Insperity); GameStop and most recently Sabre GLBL.

Susan obtained her CPP in 1996 while employed with the City of Arlington and has recertified every 5 years since then.

Susan has been an active member of the Dallas Chapter of the APA since 1995 and has taught several Payroll classes for the Dallas and the Fort Worth Chapters. In 2002 and 2011, Dallas recognized her with their Chapter’s Meritorious Service award and she was the recipient of the Dallas Chapter Payroll Professional of the Year award in 2014. Susan was elected as Education Director for the Dallas Chapter in 2009 and served in that position for three years.

In 2008, 2010 and 2013 Susan was nominated for the Texas Payroll Professional of the Year. She has been a speaker and volunteer for the Texas Payroll Conference since 2007.

During her many years as an APA member she served on the Hotline Committee (2012-2017); was on the National Speakers Bureau (2012 – 2017); and served as administrator for several of their seminars.

Susan spends her time mentoring payroll professionals and traveling the country with her husband, Rick in their RV and riding their Harleys.



Carolyn Cox, CPP
Payroll Business Lead, Wood

Carolyn L. Cox, CPP is the Payroll Business Lead for Wood. She has been in the payroll industry for 30 years. Carolyn began her payroll career as a Payroll Clerk at Allied Bank, which is now Wells Fargo. She has advanced her career by working in various positions such as Payroll/Benefits Administrator for Duddleston Management, Payroll Specialist for Tejas Gas, Payroll Supervisor for Input/Output and Landry’s Seafood Restaurants, Client Serving Associate for Ernst & Young, LLP, Payroll Manager/HRIS for Champion Technologies, and Payroll Manger at JV Industries, NRG and McDermott, Inc.

Carolyn has been a member of the American Payroll Association since May 1994. She passed the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) exam in 1998 and recertified in 2003, 2008 and 2013. Carolyn serves nationally on the Hot Line Committee for the American Payroll Association (APA). She has currently been elected to serve as the 2018 President-Elect and served as the 2017 Treasurer for the Houston Chapter of the APA (HCAPA). She has served as Chair of several HCAPA committees including Resume, Historian, Photography and Telephone. She also served on various other HCAPA committees. Carolyn has held the Secretary position for not only HCAPA, but also for the Galveston/Bay Area Chapter of the APA (GBAC) and Texas Payroll Conference (TPC). She has served in the Officer positions of Treasurer and Secretary plus served on various committees including Registration, Speaker, Decoration and Marketing with TPC. Carolyn was President with the 2006 Board of Directors for TPC and three terms as President with the GBAC. She has been a Speaker for Dallas APA, HCAPA and TPC. She holds the title of 2001 HCAPA Payroll Professional of the Year and 2011 Texas Payroll Professional of the Year.