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2020-21 AHCA Board of Directors

 

About Our Board Of Directors

Executive Committee

Lee Cooke-President

Lee is a businessman, a former Austin mayor and a military veteran. He was born in Marion, Alabama, where Margaret Lea married Texas hero Sam Houston in 1840. After graduation from Louisiana Tech University, he served five years in the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence officer, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. Lee has many decades of leadership experience in the public and private sectors, including eleven years at Texas Instruments and as founder of U. S. Medical Systems, among others. Lee served as Austin’s mayor from 1988-1991, and before that as Mayor Pro Tem and Council Member from 1977-1981. He was the President and CEO of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce from 1983 – 1987. He is a past board member for Huston Tillotson University and a long list of other Austin-based philanthropic organizations. He has one grown daughter, Kim, son-in-law, Doug, and two granddaughters Kylee and Kamdyn, both native Austinites attending college.


 

Kent Collins-First Vice President

Kent is the founder and owner of Centro Development, LLC, and an Austin-based real estate development company specializing in mixed-use and residential urban infill properties. At the forefront of developing vertically mixed-use properties in Texas, New Mexico and Georgia for more than 20 years, Kent received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas and a master’s in business administration from the University of California at Los Angeles. He is the past chair of the UT School of Architecture Advisory Council and the Downtown Austin Alliance and a member of the City of Austin Comprehensive Plan Task Force. Kent and wife Reenie are the parents of three adult children – CeCe, Winston and TyeHe is the incoming President for FY21-22.


 

Saundra Kirk—Second Vice President

A former member of the Austin Planning Commission, Saundra is a native East Austinite who grew up in the time of forced racial segregation. Her father was a military veteran of World War II. Her mother, Willie Mae Kirk, was a civil rights leader in Austin and an active member of the Library Commission for 12 years, providing great support to Austin’s library system. As a college student at University of Texas, Saundra demonstrated in the face of the Ku Klux Klan and other violent counter-protest groups. Now retired, she spent 40 years working in California and Texas as a counselor, writer, program director, facilitator, performance improvement training professional, consultant, conference and seminar presenter, and public speaker. She provides advice and guidance to AHCA Committee Chairs throughout the year and overseas the evaluations of the Executive Director.


 

Ruthann Rushing-Secretary

Active in AHCA since 2015, Native Austinite Ruthann actively works to identify important Austinites still living and capture their stories to add to the Austin History Center archives.  She grew up in South Austin; in a home with surrounding grounds that included horse pastures that later became part of Interstate Highway 35. She graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Interior Design and married fellow UT student Roy Rushing. After working in design, Ruthann became a stay at home mom. Fascinated with history and following family tradition, she began community philanthropic activity as a volunteer and led the revitalization of the Oral History program and took it to new heights before joining the Executive Committee.


 

Treasurer & Finance Chair—Joe Pacheco

An Eastside Austin native, Joe grew up working in his father’s San Jacinto Cafe, a
legendary hangout for local politicos just south of historic Scholz’s Beer Garden.  He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Austin. While pursuing an MBA at Southwest Texas State University, Joe accepted an offer in 1984 from the State Bar of Texas as its first Director of Computer Services. He created the original computer system for the State Bar to serve an attorney membership of 64,000. For 30 years, Joe trail blazed a career in Information technology in both the public and private sectors, including seven public organizations within the State of Texas and the City of Austin.  Active in community all his life, he has served on the Travis County Appraisal Review Board and as an officer of the Knights of Columbus Council of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Austin. Now retired, he enjoys travels with his wife of 50 years, Mary, and takes daily pride in the successes of their accomplished children and grandchildren.


 

Charles Betts— Past President and Nomination Chair

An Austin native, Charlie Betts retired as the Executive Director of the Downtown Austin Alliance after 17 years.  He was previously the President of Franklin Savings, an institution involved in preserving and utilizing historic properties in Austin.   In the 1970’s he assisted in the writing of the city’s Landmark Ordinance and served on the first Historic Landmark Commission for the City of Austin.   He also served two terms as president of the Heritage Society of Austin (now Preservation Austin).  He has served as a board member of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin Area Research Organization, Headliner’s Club and is Emeritus on the St. Edward’s University Board of Trustees. Charles is the immediate past president of AHCA and leading efforts to create effective board succession.


 

At-Large Member--- Ronney Reynolds

Ronney Reynolds is a 5th generation Austinite, where his great-grandparents were married in the historic St. David’s Episcopal Church in 1872. His family has a rich heritage in Austin. Ronney values the preservation of all of Austin’s history for generations to come. Currently, Ronney is President of Reynolds & Franke, PC (CPA’s) with a real niche in assisting not-for-profits. The firm currently provides auditing, tax, and/or bookkeeping to some 125+ not for profits. Ronney Reynolds has served in many top and important municipal, civic, and professional leadership roles throughout his career. They range from two terms on the Austin City Council from 1991 to 1997, President of the Rotary Club of Austin as well as the District Governor for Rotary International. Today, he is very active at the historic St David’s Episcopal Church downtown and he bleeds orange which led to his leadership as President of the Longhorn Club along with being a founding member of the Austin “T” Club. A recipient of many community and professional recognitions and awards, Ronney resides in Austin with wife Mary. Their daughter Nancy Michelle teaches in Austin and their son Bo (wife Carole) and 2 grandsons Jacob & Henry live in Bastrop. He is serving on the AHCA Executive Committee and assisting in the creation of Corporate Membership strategy.


At-Large Member--TBD


Committee Chairs

Membership Chair--Jeffrey Dochen

Jeffrey Dochen has been a top real estate broker in Austin for more than 40 years. With a rich family history in Central Texas, he attended Pease and Eanes Elementary schools, O’Henry Middle School and Westlake High. After graduating from Texas State University, he worked in banking before turning his talents to real estate investment and development. A founder of Sky Realty, Jeffrey now helps people buy and sell their homes through his company, Shelton Properties, started by his parents Joyce and Emmett Shelton in 1962. Jeffrey’s grandfather, Sam Dochen, immigrated to Austin from the Ukraine in 1908 and helped found the city’s first synagogue.  Great grandfather Thomas Jefferson Johnson settled in Driftwood around 1860 and founded the Johnson Institute. Great grandfather Shelton moved to Texas in 1880.  Father Emmett Shelton was a local lawyer and historian and the original developer of West Lake Hills, Texas. Jeffrey is married to Yasmine Serna Mesa. They have two children, Kerrie and Daniel Dochen.


Marketing, Public Relations & Social Media-Co-Chair-Lori Duran

With a Master’s Degree that combined Latin American Studies with Masters of Business Administration classes from the University of Texas, Lori Duran researches interesting historical stories of social changes. This has been her life-long passion. Duran serves on the board of directors at the Austin History Center Association. In her spare time she writes free-lance magazine articles and pictorial books about local history.  Her current book Austin’s Travis Heights Neighborhood describes the rich and fascinating history of the original south Austin. Her next book, The University of Texas at Austin: The First One Hundred Years will be released later in 2020.


Marketing, Public Relations & Social Media-Co-Chair-Dave Helfert

Dave moved to Austin in 1962, graduating from St. Edward’s High School and entering the University of Texas in 1963.  He left after a year and a half and went on active duty in the U.S. Navy, serving a year in Vietnam.  In 1969, he returned to UT, majoring in journalism.   Over his career in communication, Helfert was a news reporter and weekend anchor at KVUE-TV, public information officer for the Texas House of Representatives, and a partner in KHZ Marketing-Advertising.  He was also active in numerous city boards and commissions, including service as the first chairman of the Airport Advisory Board, and a number of community organizations.  In 1994, Dave was recruited to the Clinton Administration, spending six years as a Public Affairs Director.  He then worked in Congress for nearly 10 years.  While on “The Hill,” he earned a Master’s in Public Communication at American University, and in 2005, began teaching evening graduate classes there.  In 2007, he added a class at Johns Hopkins University.  Retiring in 2010, Dave and his wife, Kathy Ledbetter Helfert, a fourth generation Austinite, moved home.  He began teaching at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.  But for seven years, he returned to D.C. each fall to teach at Johns Hopkins, and also lectured at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Now full-time in Austin, Dave teaches communication courses at Texas State University, and authored, Political Communication in Action: From Theory to Practice, a textbook published in 2017.


2021 Eberly Event Chair-Rita Kreisle

Rita is a native Austinite and a proud graduate of Austin High School and the University of Texas. She taught in the Austin Independent School District before becoming a full-time community volunteer. In addition to her current AHCA leadership for its largest fundraiser, Rita currently volunteers with the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion, the Pease Park Conservancy and Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Austin and the Austin Settlement Club. Rita is married to Matt Kreisle, a fifth generation Austinite, and they have a daughter, Claudia, who lives in Houston.


 

Waterloo Press Chair-J. Fotini Margos

J. Fotini Margos is a fifth-generation Austinite through her father’s mother. Her Dad grew up in the Deep Eddy area of Austin, where he and Fotini’s mother also raised their three girls. Fotini majored in Studio Art at UT and then attended SMU Paralegal School in Dallas, where Fotini worked for the law firm of Gardere & Wynne as a real estate paralegal for 17 years. She has worked 18 years as a Legal Operations Advisor and contract negotiator in the Legal Department at Dell Technologies. In 1995, she was appointed by the State Bar of Texas, Board of Legal Specialization, to a Commission working with attorneys and other paralegals to develop the Real Estate specialty exam for paralegals in Texas. Fotini attended Mathews Elementary, O. Henry Jr. High and the old Austin High. She also worked after school as a page at Howson Branch Library. She is a traditionally published author, who writes suspense and commercial general fiction. Her first novel was published by a division of Harper Collins, and she has just finished her next novel, writing under the pen name “J. F. Margos”.


 

Oral History Chair- Cynthia O’Keeffe

Cynthia recently retired from the Office of the Texas Attorney General, where she was the Deputy Chief of Litigation for the Civil Medicaid Fraud Division. She also served as General Counsel for the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services (2013-2014). Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office in 2002, she practiced family law in San Antonio and served in leadership roles on several non-profit boards and committees, including as one of the early co-chairs of the San Antonio Express-News Book & Author Luncheon. Cynthia is a descendant of Dr. John Jenkins (J.J.) Tobin and his wife, Ida Marr Tobin, who arrived in Austin in the early 1870s to raise their family and establish a drug store, bookstore, printing company and mule-drawn streetcar service. Cynthia has a passion for the preservation of Austin history that motivates her to lead the AHCA Oral History Committee and volunteer at the Neill-Cochran House Museum.


 

Annual Meeting/Awards Chair-Charles Peveto

Charles has been an architectural historian at the Texas Historical Commission for many years and has devoted his professional career and private life to the historic preservation of Austin’s historic parks, historic bridges and the arts. He serves on several Austin boards and committees, including Preservation Austin, Old Austin Neighborhood Association,  Friends of Wooldridge Square and MidTexMod. Charles is an active advocate in preserving Austin’s RICH and DIVERSE histories that give Austin that “Sense of Place”. He served for several years as Chair of the popular Eberly Luncheon, leading it to new records, before assuming the leadership role for reactivating the Katherine Drake Hart annual award and overseeing the AHCA Annual Business Meeting.


 

AHC Campus Expansion Chair-Candace Volz

Candace is a long-time Austin resident whose family has lived in the Central Texas area for more than 175 years. She has a deep personal and professional interest in history and, with her husband John, is part of an architectural practice that undertakes restoration projects throughout Texas. Candace has a BS in Interior Design from the University of Texas and an MS in Museum Studies from The George Washington University. As a decorative arts historian, she prepares historic furnishing plans for museums and historic sites throughout the U.S. Leading the oversight of the construction upgrades to the Faulk and AHC, her committee is also focused on a funding effort for a Master Plan for the two former Central Libraries of Austin.


 

Communication Chair-Geoff Wool

Geoff spent his first 10 professional years in Austin working in the newsroom of KVUE-TV, where he gained an appreciation for the city, its people, and its history. Since 1991, Geoff has served as a communications specialist in state government - first with the Texas General Land Office, then with the Department of Family and Protective Services and now with the Health and Human Services Commission. Geoff has served on the AHCA board since 2012. He and his wife Veray have been married since 1981 and have three grown children. He is leading the current efforts to transition the AHCA Newsletter-AUSTIN REMEMBERS-- to a quarterly produced digital product.


 

Strategic Planning Chair—Mayor Ron Mullen

Ron Mullen has been in the financial services business since 1964. Coming to Austin in 1966, he founded and built a branch of the Principal Financial Group, a worldwide leader in insurance and investments today. He retired from Principal in 1998 and has been an Independent Wealth manager ever since. A Texan, he formerly served as a San Antonio police officer and his alma mater is Texas State University. After establishing his business firmly in the Capital City and serving in many national leadership roles in his profession, Ron expanded into a distinguished record of local community service. He was elected to the Austin City Council from 1977 to 1985, serving as mayor from 1983 to 1985. He led Austin’s efforts to create a 911 system, Keep Austin Beautiful and was a leader in transportation enhancement and economic diversification, among many of his strategic visions for Austin. From President of Rotary of Austin to a major leader in various roles in Austin Baptist Church, he was also Chair of the Greater Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council with his eye always on the big picture to make the community’s quality of life better for all. Widowed in 2019 after 60 years of marriage to his beloved Carole, he lives in Austin near the families of his two daughters Lacy and Misty along with their husbands Jim and Drew, five grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. He is serving AHCA from the Past Mayor’s Advisory Council.

 


 

Corporate Membership---TBD


 

At Large Board Members

Adam Friedman-

A native Austinite, Adam is an Austin environmental attorney with McElroy, Sullivan, Miller & Weber, L.L.P., where he represents and assists governmental and commercial interests with numerous water issues, including groundwater permitting and surface water rights. He received an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a law degree from the University of Houston Law Center. In addition to serving as the former AHCA Treasurer, he is a member of the Austin Bar Association’s Environmental Law and Oil and Gas Law sections and previously served as a board member for the Galveston Bay Foundation and the Houston Bar Association Environmental Law Section. Adam is the son of former Austin mayor and City Council member Jeff Friedman. He is serving on the Finance Committee.


 

Bryan Hardeman

A graduate of the University of Texas, Bryan worked in the banking business until he purchased his first automobile dealership, Continental Cars, in Austin in 1978. His dealerships have expanded to include Audi, Honda, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, and Subaru. Bryan’s roots in Texas go all the way back to the early 19th Century, when his family came from Tennessee to become part of Stephen F. Austin’s land grant colony. Bailey Hardeman helped author and sign the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836 and served as the Republic’s first Treasurer. His brother, Thomas, built the first home on the north side of the river on what is now 17th Street. Bryan’s father, Dorsey B. Hardeman, was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1936 and the Texas Senate in 1946, where he served through 1969. Bryan is married to high school sweetheart Rebecca. They have three adult children – Will, Joy and Genny - and four grandchildren living in Austin. He serves on Strategic Planning and Corporate Membership.


 

Nefertitti Jackmon

Nefertitti Jackmon has over 20 years of experience in operations, program management and consulting in the nonprofit sector. Jackmon’s diverse skill set and cultural understanding of black history and the complexities of community engagement are welcomed assets. She has worked with many community-based groups in Austin, Houston, California, Louisiana and abroad to cultivate, preserve and promote African and African Diaspora culture. Jackmon’s greatest desire is to elevate the black cultural aesthetic helping clients to create relevant and intentional program design, authentic community engagement, thoughtful curriculum development, and engaging event experiences. Jackmon was appointed by Austin Mayor Steve Adler to serve as the co-chair of the Anti-Displacement Task Force, she also served as a representative for the city of Austin with Policy Link All-In Cities Initiative on Displacement and she currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Austin History Center Association. As former Executive Director for Six Square: Austin’s Black Cultural District, she positioned the 10 year old organization to become a powerful voice on issues of displacement, created local and national platforms to share Six Square’s story and strategies and powerfully led Six Square to serve as a visionary player for major projects to preserve, educate and sustain black arts, history and culture in Central East Austin. Jackmon has presented at a number of conferences and workshops across the country. She is also a writer and had an essay published in a book edited by Nikki Giovanni and another essay to be published in the fall 2019 by Emmy Award Winning Artist James Gayles. An outdoor enthusiast, Jackmon enjoys camping, hiking, and kayaking and is proud that her son recently graduated with an Ivy League education debt free, but smiles slightly when she reminisces on his words “Mom, you were hard.”  She currently serves on serves on Communication and Marketing, PR and Social Media.


 

Jenniann McKnight

Jenniann has been serving as Event Coordinator and Bookkeeper for the past 12 years for her family owned businesses, The Old Pecan Street Café, The Ranch, Shakespeare’s Pub and The Blind Pig. She graduated with honors from the Education School at The University of Texas at Austin with a minor in Dance and American Sign Language. There she was active at The Texas School for the Deaf, worked at several elementary schools in the Austin area, and camp counselor at Camp Ozark. She was a member of Kappa Delta Pi, Pi Lambda,Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority and The Texas Pom Squad. She was a professional dancer growing up for 10 years. She taught dance at dance studios, high schools and dance conventions throughout Texas earning numerous awards and is a member of The Texas Association Teachers of Dancing, (TATD). Also she is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, Texas Exes, Texas Longhorn Foundation, Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumni and Austin History Center. She is a volunteer in the Mobile Loaves & Fishes program at her church, Saint John Neumann. She is also on the Board of the Rise School of Austin. Jenniann and her husband, Matt McKnight, are proud parents of three beautiful girls. She serves on Eberly and Marketing, PR and Social Media Committees.


 

Marilyn Poole

Marilyn Poole is an Austin lawyer born from generations of Old East Austin leadership. She is the niece of the late Dr. James Hill, the first African American to become a Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also the niece of Dr. Oscar and Irene Hill Thompson. A former professor at Huston Tillotson University, Oscar was the first African American to earn an advanced degree from UT. Irene was a librarian at the original historic Anderson High School. Marilyn holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in behavioral psychology from Austin College in Sherman, Texas and a juris doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law. Previously assisting in Spotlight and Eberly events, she is currently serving on the Oral History Committee.


 

Dr. Rachel Ruiz

Rachel is a native Austinite. Her mother was born in nearby Kyle and her father born in Buda. She earned her undergraduate and doctorate degrees from The University of Texas at Austin and her MPA from Harvard University. She has worked in the private sector (Capital National Bank and IBM), in the non-profit sector (Assistant State Director for Communities In Schools) and in the public sector in the Office of Bob Bullock and Governor Mark White.  She has served 20 years in higher education in the positions of dean and vice president in colleges in San Diego, Boston and Vancouver, Washington as well as UTSA in San Antonio. In each of these communities, she was a member of the local Chamber of Commerce and various local boards.  She is currently the Dean of Student Affairs at Austin Community College, Cypress Creek Campus and teaches an online leadership studies course at Texas State University. Rachel has two sons, Ron and Randall and six granddaughters, four of which are currently attending college.


 

Evan Taniguchi

Evan is an AHCA Past President and Treasurer and has served on its Board since 2008. He grew up in Austin, where he attended Bryker Woods Elementary School, O. Henry Middle School and the old Austin High School. After attending the University of Texas School of Architecture, Evan established Taniguchi Architects with father Alan Taniguchi, former Dean of the University of Texas School of Architecture. Evan’s grandfather, Isamu Taniguchi, was born in Wakayama, Japan and moved to California in 1916. As a gift of gratitude to the City of Austin and as a symbol of peace, Isamu created the City’s Japanese Garden in Zilker Park, working for 18 months without pay to transform a three-acre tract into a renowned spiritual retreat. The Garden recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary.  Isamu and Alan had been wrongly incarcerated in a detention camp in Crystal City during WWII, so the symbol of peace has special significance.  He currently serves on the Campus Expansion and Finance Committees


 

Bob Ward

A Marine Vietnam veteran, Bob has been a been a real estate appraiser for more than 40 years, working extensively with affordable housing organizations around Austin. He currently serves as Chair of the Travis County Historical Commission, an Archeology Steward with the Texas Historical Commission, a member of the Antiquities Advisory Board with the Texas Historical Commission and on the board of Preservation Austin. He is also involved with the Save Austin’s Cemeteries organization and the Travis County Archeological Society. Bob holds an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Archeology from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in Geography from the University of Texas.


 

Chad Williams

A native Austinite, Chad grew up in Austin during the 1970s. His earliest childhood recollections are playing at Pease Park, swimming at Deep Eddy, and being scared to death (though oddly intrigued) by the Littlefield fountain. Chad attended Mathews Elementary, Pleasant Hill Elementary, Highland Park Elementary, Baker 6th Grade Center, and Lamar Junior High. His family moved to California in 1981 where he attended Fairfield High. He completed his first two years of college at Napa Valley College and then transferred to San Diego State University where he completed his baccalaureate degree in English. In 1992, Chad returned to Austin with his wife, Giselle, and moved into his family’s house in West Austin. The passage of SOS rekindled his curiosity and passion for Austin local politics. As a result, he became active in local politics in 1993 helping environmental candidates get elected to the Austin City Council. In the fall of 1993, Chad enrolled in graduate school at Southwest Texas State University. He completed his M.A. in English in 1996. While at SWT, Chad served as president of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor’s society. Soon after graduate school, he began an 18-year career at IBM in 1999. During his time at IBM, he continued to stay active in local political endeavors, serving as an officer for West Austin Democrats. He also served on numerous city commissions, as well as an AISD Facilities Master Plan Task Force. Currently, he is serves as previous Chair on the Library Commission. In all commission assignments, Chad has served as an officer. He was also a board member of Channel Austin, the non-profit awarded to manage and operate Austin’s public access channels. Chad and Giselle have two children: Savannah and Conor.  He is a member of the Waterloo Press and Facilities Expansion Committees.

 

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