Board of Directors & Advisory Council

Laura Bush, Honorary Chair

One of the most beloved and admired American First Ladies, for decades Laura Bush has championed key issues in the fields of education, health care, and human rights. The author of the bestselling memoir, Spoken From The Heart, Mrs. Bush also founded both the Texas Book Festival and the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. Today, as the Chair of the Woman’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, Mrs. Bush continues her work on global healthcare innovations, empowering women in emerging democracies, education reform, and supporting the men and women who have served in America’s military. Born in Midland, Texas to Jenna and Harold Welch, Laura Bush holds a degree in education and a master’s degree in library science.  She taught in public schools in Dallas, Houston, and Austin, and worked as a public school librarian.  In 1977, she married George W. Bush.  The Bushes are the parents of twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, and recently became grandparents with the birth of their darling grand-daughter, Mila.  

Winkelman 200x200Marc Winkelman, Chair

Marc Winkelman is an Austin business man with longstanding ties to the world of books.  Between 1977 and 1990, Winkelman operated independent bookstores in suburban Detroit.  Before moving to Austin in 1993, he worked for Barnes & Noble, as the bookseller began opening superstores throughout the country.  Marc is the president and CEO of Calendar Holdings LLC, which operates seasonal stores and kiosks selling calendars, games, and toys in six countries (the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland), mostly on a seasonal basis;, which offers more than 6500 different calendar titles online; BookExpress, a concept that sells remaindered books in mall based pop-up locations; and Fuego, a year-round retailer of fashion accessories and novelty items.  In February 2010, Marc also became president and publisher of Kirkus Reviews, when he and his partners rescued Kirkus – a trusted source for book reviews since 1933 – from closure.   In addition to serving as board chair of the Texas Book Festival, Marc is secretary/treasurer of The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity; a vice chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council; a board member of the St. David’s Foundation and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; and a member of the Advisory Council of the University of Texas Press.

Karen Brimble, Vice Chair

Karen Brimble is a co-founder and director of the Austin-based One Skye Foundation. Currently she serves as the Vice Chair of the Texas Book Festival and serves on the board of National Charity League-Austin and A Legacy of Giving. Karen is a former President of the Board of Round Rock Health Clinic, and was honored as the 2005 Sertoma Round Rock Volunteer of the year.  Past charitable board seats include Girlstart and Avance. Karen is a graduate of University of Texas, School of Business.

Tocker 200x200Darryl Tocker, Treasurer

Darryl Tocker is the third Executive Director of the Tocker Foundation since its inception in 1964. The Tocker Foundation supports rural public library in Texas. During his term with the Tocker Foundation, Mr. Tocker has advanced the organization’s commitment to public library advocacy. Due to the many initiatives and projects the Tocker Foundation was one of the initial organizations on the American Library Association’s National Honor Roll and a recipient of the Texas Library Association’s Centennial Champion medallion. In addition to his role with the Foundation, Darryl Tocker serves on the board of the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas, the support organization to the Texas State Library. He is a member of the Board of the Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation and the Executive Board of Raising Austin, Inc. Mr. Tocker also serves on the Advisory Board of the University of Texas, School of Information. Mr. Tocker’s affiliations include his long time memberships to the American Library Association, Texas Library Association and Conference of Southwest Foundations.


Betsy G. Abell, Secretary

Betsy Abell is the president of the Buena Vista Foundation and a partner in Llano Partners, a cattle ranching and commercial real estate venture in Texas and New Mexico. She is a member of the Austin Recovery Board of Directors, the University of Texas Elementary School Development Board, the United Way’s “Success by Six” Initiative, the United Way Capital Area Board of Directors, the Center for Social and Emotional Education of New York City, the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School Endowment Board, and the YMCA. Betsy holds a master’s degree in counseling from St. Edwards University, and is a recipient of the 2006 Rostow Leadership Award.

Brands 200x200H.W. Brands, Board of Directors

H. W. Brands was born in Oregon, went to college in California, sold cutlery across the American West and earned graduate degrees in mathematics and history in Oregon and Texas. ~ He taught at Vanderbilt University and Texas A&M University before joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History. He teaches history and writing to graduate students and undergraduates. ~ He writes on American history and politics, with books including The Man Who Saved the Union, Traitor to His Class, Andrew Jackson, The Age of Gold, The First American and TR. Several of his books have been bestsellers; two, Traitor to His Class and The First American, were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. ~ He lectures frequently on historical and current events and can be seen and heard on national and international television and radio. His writings have been translated into Spanish, French, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Ukrainian.


Viki resizedViki Chupik, Board of Directors

Viki Chupik is a co-founder and Principal of Chupik Properties and Design, Inc., a residential development company focused on timeless design, authentic craftsmanship and careful attention to detail. She has been involved as Gala Chair of the Texas Book Festival since 2005 and joined the Board of Directors in 2011. She also served on the Advisory Board for Tarrytown United Methodist Church Children’s Day Out, Gala Chair for Trinity Episcopal School, and has served as décor chair for numerous galas including Trinity Episcopal School, St Stephens Episcopal School, and Hospice Austin.  Chupik earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas in Interior Design and is proud to be a 2nd generation Austinite and a 4th generation Texan.




Paul Coggins, Board of Directors

Paul Coggins is a partner at Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP, where he heads the firm’s national White Collar Criminal Defense and Internal Investigations practice. Paul served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas from 1993 to 2001. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Yale University and both a B.A. and a Diploma in Law from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, before graduating from Harvard Law School. Paul is a former radio host, a published author, a frequent speaker, and is involved in numerous public service organizations.

Kathryn O’Connor Counts, Board of Directors

Kathryn Counts was born in Victoria, Texas and has been a resident of Austin since 1978. She is owner of the O’Connor Bros. River Ranch and a partner in TC Oil Company. As a member of the Junior League of Victoria, Kathryn chaired a number of committees including the Taste of Victoria Cookbook committee. She is an Advisor to the Open Door of Victoria, Inc. In Austin, Kathryn has served on the boards of Laguna Gloria Art Museum, the Austin Symphony, and Safe Place. She is married to Donald R. Counts, M. D. and has three children and eight grandchildren.

Elizabeth resizedElizabeth Crook, Board of Directors

Elizabeth Crook is a novelist whose books include The Raven’s Bride, Promised Lands, The Night Journal, and Monday, Monday. She has written for periodicals such as Texas Monthly and the Southwestern Historical Quarterly and has served on the council of the Texas Institute of Letters. She is a member of Western Writers of America and The Texas Philosophical Society, and was selected the honored writer for 2006 Texas Writers’ Month. The Night Journal was awarded the 2007 Spur award for Best Long Novel of the West and the 2007 Willa Literary Award for Historical Fiction.




Mary ResizeMary Herman, Board of Directors

Mary Herman is a former Executive Director of the LBJ Foundation and the Texas Book Festival.  She also formerly served as the president of the Junior League of Austin, the chair of the St. Andrews School Board, a member of the Austin Community Foundation and the Helping Hand Home for Girls, among others.  She is currently on the Foundation for the Ann Richards School for Young Leaders as well as the Texas Book Festival.  She attended the University of Texas at Austin.






wolfgang resizeWolfgang Niedert, Board of Directors

Wolfgang is the Managing Partner at Cielo Private Equity in Austin.  His philanthropic efforts focus on the arts and humanities in Texas.  In addition to the Texas Book Festival, Wolfgang’s leadership positions have included the Long Center for the Performing Arts, the Blanton Museum of Art, the Ransom Center for the Humanities, the UT School of Information, the Butler School of Music, the Subiendo Academy for Rising Leaders, Austin Symphony Orchestra’s BATS group, and the UT System Chancellor’s Executive Committee.  A published essayist and former radio DJ, Wolfgang has resided in Austin  with his wife Julie for the past twenty years.





janna headshotJanna Paulson, Board of Directors

Janna Paulson is president and chief executive officer of ACI Group LLC. She also serves as leader of PPDS, a division of ACI Group LLC. In 1989 Paulson started PPDS as a multi-faceted Interior Design firm. She has space planned over a million square feet of office space and has a work portfolio that includes hospitality, multi-family and residential work. Over time her work evolved to specialize more in environmental design. She continues to embrace the green movement by successfully completing the LEED exam and NEPA course. Paulson manages cross-divisional issues, opportunities, and evaluates new technology and business models for both divisions. ACI Group LLC is a $3M business that includes the business teams of environmental consultants and interior designers. She oversees initiatives related to design, client development and strategic growth. Her leadership has earned SBE Certification in New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas. ACI Group is ranked in the top ten “women owned firms” in Austin. Throughout her career, Paulson has been recognized for her contributions and industry leadership. She has served as Texas/Oklahoma Chapter president for the International Interior Design Association as well as International Residential Forum Advisor and International Region Director. She has served over sixteen years on the Austin Theatre Alliance (Paramount/State Theatre) and is currently on The Texas Book Festival governing board. Paulson holds a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Arizona State University and has studied abroad at the Universitaria Fiorentina. A native of Texas, Paulson enjoys golf, cooking, reading and traveling.

Sarah Queen, Board of Directors

Kate Rogers, Board of Directors

Kate Rogers is the Project Director of H-E-B Grocery Company. She served as Head of Communications at Kiln Ltd. 2002-2008 and currently is the Director of Alamo Public Telecommunications Council, Inc. Rogers earned her Bachelor of Science degree in advertising/public relations from Texas Christian University. She has received many awards and commendations, such as the Ford’s Salute to Education Award for her work in creating the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards in 2006. She currently serves on the Boards of the Witte Museum and KLRN Public Television.

Dave Shaw, Board of Directors

President of Arsenal, a full-service advertising and PR firm based in Austin, Dave’s experience ranges from advertising, branding, and public relations to public affairs work with major brands and Fortune 500 companies. His work has been featured in PRWeek and recognized with industry awards from PRSA, the American Advertising Federation, Texas Public Relations Association and International Association of Business Communicators. He is a past chair of Greenlights for Nonprofit Success, an executive committee member of the Texas Lyceum, serves on the UT College of Communication Advisory Council and the Communication Committee for the Texas Exes. Dave has previously served as board president of the Austin Public Library Foundation, as a board member of Leadership Austin and YouthLaunch. Dave earned an MA in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a BS in Communication Studies from UT Austin.

John Spong, Board of Directors

In 1997, after a brief yet dramatically unfulfilling stint as a civil litigator in Austin, John Spong joined Texas Monthly as a fact-checker, becoming a staff writer in 2002. John was named the 2005 Writer of the Year by the City and Regional Magazine Association. He has twice been a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters O’Henry Award for Magazine Journalism, which he won in 2006 for his story “The Good Book and the Bad Book” (September 2006). His story “King’s Ransom” (October 2003) was collected in Literary Austin (TCU Press 2007), and his story “Sand Trap” (May 2002) appeared in Rio Grande (University of Texas Press 2004).

Paul Stekler, Board of Directors

Paul Stekler is the Chair of the Radio-Television-Film Department and the Wofford Denius Chair in Entertainment Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a nationally recognized documentary filmmaker whose critically praised and award-winning work, including George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire; Last Man Standing: Politics, Texas Style; and Vote for Me: Politics in America, have won two George Foster Peabody Awards, three Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Journalism Awards, three national Emmy Awards, and a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Paul holds a doctorate in Government from Harvard University. He previously was a political pollster in Louisiana, while teaching at Tulane, and was the founder of Center for Politics and Governance at UT’s LBJ School of Public Affairs. His writing has appeared in the Texas Observer, Texas Monthly, among other places, and his films have all been broadcast nationally on PBS, on POV, the American Experience, and Frontline. Paul has also been an executive or consulting producer on a number of documentaries including Margaret Brown’s Be Here to Love Me, Peter Frumkin’s Woody Guthrie: Ain’t Got No Home, and Karen Skloss’ Sunshine.

Leslie Ward, Board of Directors

Leslie Ward, Vice President of External Affairs, AT&T Texas, was appointed in 2008 after having served in numerous legislative and regulatory positions within AT&T. She is responsible for developing and executing strategies impacting the company’s participation in the Texas political process, as well as in state legislative policy and initiatives, development of legislative and political strategy, and management of the AT&T Texas PAC. She also serves on the Texas Supreme Court Emergency Preparedness Task Force, the Board of the Texas Taxpayers Association, the Texas Conservation Coalition Research Institute Board, the Texas Center for Public Policy Research, the National Foundation for Women Legislators, and on the Board of the Texas Cultural Trust. Leslie attended Texas Tech University and St. Edward’s University and holds a B.A. in Political Science.

KatherineKatherine Wright, Board of Directors

Katherine Wright is the executive director, Austin, of the Wright Family Foundation and works with nonprofits focusing on the needs of at-risk youth, particularly in the areas of education, literacy, arts, teen pregnancy prevention.  Katherine has been involved with the Texas Book Festival for several years, particularly the Reading Rock Stars program, and is in the process of starting her own real estate company.







Mary Garwood Yancy, Board of Directors

Mary Garwood Yancy is a licensed psychologist currently working in private practice. Mary’s enthusiastic support of the Texas Book Festival began with its founding in 1996 and expanded with her role helping to establish the Reading Rock Stars program. Her community involvement has included board and committee work with several nonprofit social service, education, and arts organizations. Mary has been instrumental in the creation of the Texas Child Study Center, a collaboration between the UT Austin Department of Educational Psychology and Dell Children’s Hospital. She holds a doctoral degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

2013 – 2014 Advisory Council

Linda Abbey, Austin

Teresa Amend, Dallas

Beth Ann Bryan, Austin

Kay Cattarulla, Dallas

Elizabeth Danon-Leva, Austin

Cathryn Seymour Dorsey, Austin

Courtney Read Hoffman, Austin

Katy Flato, San Antonio

Carol Hoey, Dallas

Kit Moncrief, Fort Worth

Whitney Hyder More, Fort Worth

Steven P. Schneider, Edinburg

Suzon Spiller Kemp, Austin

Harris “Shrub” Kempner, Houston

Janie McGarr, Dallas

Andrea White, Houston