About our Board Of Directors


About Our Board Of Directors

Executive Committee

President   Charles Betts

An Austin native, Charlie Betts has 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.


First Vice-President   Geoff Wool

Communications Chair 

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.


Second Vice President  Arnold Garcia

For 22 years, Arnold was the Editorial Page Editor for the Austin American-Statesman. He has served on a Pulitzer Prize jury for editorial writing, chaired a Pulitzer jury on Editorial Cartooning and acted as dean for Texas editorial page editors. Arnold is a veteran and earned a degree in government and history at Angelo State University, where he was designated a Distinguished Alumni in 2003. A guiding force in the creation of Ahora Si!, he has long led the charge to ensure that media coverage in Austin truly reflects the area’s growing diversity. Arnold is a past president of The Headliners Club in Austin and a past board member with the local Crime Prevention Institute. He currently serves on the boards of Austin KIPP Public Schools, the Capital Area Public Defender Service and AustinUP. He has a daughter, Jennifer, and a son, Teodoro.


Secretary  Monte Akers

Monte is an author, historian and a partner in the Austin law firm Akers & Akers, along with wife Patty Akers. A graduate of the University of Texas Law School and the former Director of Legal Services for the Texas Municipal League, he is a former Adjunct Professor at Texas State University and the author of eight published books, primarily historical fiction. Monte has made frequent appearances on television documentaries and radio programs and is a popular speaker at regional and national conventions. He and Patty are the parents of Nathan and Megan Akers.


Treasurer   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.


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.


Past President   Beth Folwer

Beth is the immediate 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.



Committee Chairs

Membership Chair Lee Cooke

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.



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.”



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”.


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.


Nominations Chair 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.


Campus Expansion Chair Candance 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.


Board Members-At-Large

Terrell Blodgett

Terrell Blodgett’s early career includes a 10 year stint with the City of Austin, culminating in his service as an Assistant City Manager.  He later was city manager of Waco, then Garland, an Administrative Assistant to Texas Governor John Connally, a partner in an international accounting firm, and finally, an endowed professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT-Austin for 13 years.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


2nd Event Chairs Charles Page

A fifth-generation Austin native, Charles is President and General Manager of Austin Air Balancing Corporation, an independent environmental system testing, adjusting and balancing agency. Charles developed a passion for the Austin History Center while spending many hours researching great grandfather Charles Henry Page, a legendary Austin architect who designed many Texas courthouses, including the U.S. Courthouse in Austin. Charles also has been actively involved in architectural and cultural landscape preservation and is involved with Preservation Austin, the Shoal Creek Conservancy and the Save Muny effort to preserve century-old Austin Lions Municipal Golf Course.



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.


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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