2019-20 AHCA Board of Directors


About Our Board Of Directors

Executive Committee

President Lee Cooke

Membership Chair

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. 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. 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, a son-in-law, Doug, and two grandchildren, both native Austinites.


First Vice-President  Kent Collins

Kent is the founder and owner of Centro Development, LLC, 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 Tye.


Second Vice President  Saundra Kirk

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.


Secretary  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 is currently serving 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.


Treasurer  Evan Taniguchi

Evan is an AHCA Past President 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.  Isamu and Alan had been wrongly incarcerated in a detention camp in Crystal City during WWII, so the symbol of peace has special significance.


Past President   Charles Betts

Nominations Chair

An Austin native, Charlie Betts he recently retired as the Executive Director of the Downtown Austin Alliance for 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


Committee Chairs

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.

Communications 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

2020 Eberly Luncheon 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 onseveral Austin boards and committees, including Pease Park Conservancy, Preservation Austin, Old Austin Neighborhood Association, and Friends of Wooldridge Square. Charles is an active advocate in preserving Austin’s RICH and DIVERSE histories that give Austin that “Sense of Place”.


Sponsor Chair Becky Heiser

As a fifth generation Austinite, Becky enjoyed visiting her grandparents, the Bradfield and Walling families, whose homes were located next to the General Land Office, next door to the Capitol.  As one of the major land owners from its earliest years, her family's history is closely interwoven with the development of Austin.  Becky is a graduate of Austin High School and The University of Texas.  She serves on The MD Anderson Board of Visitors, is a member of the Austin Board of Realtors, and Texas Association of Realtors. She also spends her time serving on the University of Texas Chancellors Council Executive Committee, the Austin High School Continuing Education Foundation, a member of the Seton Development Board, and Helping Hand Home for Children Associate. Her family's early involvement in Austin has led to her desire in helping to make a significant contribution toward the preservation of Austin.


2021 Eberly Luncheon 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 the AHCA, 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.


Marketing and Public Relations  Beth Fowler

Beth is a past AHCA President, serving on its executive committee as founding chair of the Angelina Eberly Luncheon and creative director of the Austin Remembers newsletter. A University of Texas graduate, her advertising work in New York and Dallas for Procter & Gamble, Hunt-Wesson, Frito-Lay, Kraft, and Zale’s earned Clio and Silver Effie awards before she returned to Austin to write. She is the author of the “Could You Love Me Like My Dog?” bestseller and sequels “Could You Love Me Like My Cat?” and “Could You Love Me Like My God?” The Portal to Texas History features her history of early Texas churches “The Spirit of Missions,” and Austin history permeates her suspense novel “Drawn.” She and husband Mike Buls have an adult daughter.


Oral History Chair Ruthann Rushing

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 with AHCA in 2015.


Spotlight Events Chair 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 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.


Volunteer Chair Lori Duran

With a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree that combined Latin American studies with a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas, Lori Duran researches interesting historical stories of social changes. This has been her life-long passion. Lori is a long-time volunteer at the Austin History Center and writes free-lance articles for publication. She has published a book titled “Austin’s Travis Heights Neighborhood” and is working on another book “The University of Texas at Austin: The First One Hundred Years.”


Waterloo Press Chair Kathleen Davis Niendorff

Kathleen holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rice University and a law degree from the University of Louisville. She trained as a scholarly editor in history and has also worked as a medical and legal editor. For 12 years Kathleen was general counsel for her husband’s real estate brokerage and consulting firm. More recently, she has been an independent literary agent and publishing consultant. She and husband Frank are parents to two adult sons.


Board Members-At-Large

Lynn Cooksey

A former AHCA President, Lynn has been an active board member for 10 years. She also served the City of Austin as First Lady during husband Frank’s tenure as mayor from 1985 – 1988. Lynn currently works on women’s issues dealing with health, happiness, cultural enrichment and pay equity as a volunteer member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Austin Woman’s Federated Club, the Austin branch of the American Association of University Women, PART and the United Nations Association – Austin Chapter.


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 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.”


Pastor Steve Manning

Steve is the pastor of the Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church congregation in the historic Clarksville area of Austin, where he has served since 2008. Born in Sterlington, Louisiana, he moved to Lockhart, Texas with his parents and five siblings. Named after the talk show host, Steve Allen is a graduate of the University of Texas. He and wife Janiece have been married for 38 years and are the parents of two adult children, Mathew and Denise.


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 serve on the AHCA Oral History Committee and volunteer at the Neill-Cochran House Museum.



Judge Bob Perkins

Bob was elected Justice of the Peace in Southeast Austin and Travis County in 1974, becoming the first bilingual judge elected in Austin. He went on to become a County Court at Law judge in 1980 and later was elected District Judge of the 331st District Court of Travis County, where he served from 1982 until he retired at the end of 2010. Born in Laredo, Bob was raised in Eagle Pass, Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1970 and from the UT Law School in 1973.


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.


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.


Anne Wheat

Anne is a sixth generation native Austinite and a descendent of John Wahrenberger, a hero of the Republic of Texas Archives War. She is an Austin photographer, property owner and former Realtor. In addition to serving on the AHCA board and taking photos at the Angelina Eberly Luncheon, she is on the board of Luminé and active with the Women’s Symphony League and the Downtown Austin Alliance. She holds a bachelor’s degree in home economics from the University of Texas with a specialization in interior design.


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.

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