The Board of Advisors supports the Texas Book Festival with strategic advice based on each member’s unique professional, philanthropic, and cultural expertise. This statewide group helps the Festival reach communities across Texas and as Texas Book Festival ambassadors they inspire Texans of all ages to love reading.
Betsy Abell, Austin
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.
Kay Cattarulla, Dallas
Kay Cattarulla is an independent writer and literary producer who has lived in Dallas since 1990. She was a member of first Texas Book Festival advisory council and has served consistently ever since. In an earlier life in New York, she was part of the group that founded the performing arts center, Symphony Space, in 1978. She conceived that theater’s literary hit, SELECTED SHORTS: A Celebration of the Short Story and, together with Isaiah Sheffer, built it the series of short fiction readings by actors into a success, both live and on public radio. She founded the literary series Arts & Letters Live at the Dallas Museum of Art in 1992 and produced its first twelve seasons (the program celebrated its 25th year in 2015.) Her two-voice script SCOTT AND ZELDA, about the famous Fitzgeralds, was first performed by John Benjamin Hickey and Natasha Richardson as part of Arts & Letters Live in 2002. She is also co-writer and co-producer (with public station KERA) of SWEET TORNADO: Margo Jones and the American Theater, an innovative documentary about the Texas-born pioneer of American regional theater. Kay is currently researching and writing about the tumultuous early history of Symphony Space, a not-well-enough-known story of real estate and the arts on New York’s Upper West Side.
Viki Chupik, Co-chair, Austin
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 Stephen’s 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, Dallas
Paul Coggins is a principal in the Dallas office of Fish & Richardson P.C., a published author, and a regular contributor to the Texas Lawyer website. He is involved in numerous public service organizations including the boards of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) – serving as its president in 2005, the Dallas County Historical Foundation, and Friends of the Dallas Public Library. He is also a member of Southern Methodist University’s Town and Gown Club and served as its president from 2003-04.
Elizabeth Crook, Austin
Elizabeth Crook is the author of four novels: Monday, Monday; The Night Journal;Promised Lands and The Raven’s Bride. Monday, Monday received the Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction and was named by Kirkus Reviews as A Best Fiction Book of the Year; The Night Journal was awarded a Spur Award from Western Writers of America and a WILLA Literary Award from Women Writing the West. Elizabeth has written for Texas Monthly and the Southwestern Historical Quarterly and has served on the council of the Texas Institute of Letters and the Board of the Texas Book Festival. Her forthcoming book,The Which Way Tree, will be published by Little, Brown and Company and is optioned by Maverick Films with Robert Duvall to star; Elizabeth has co-written the screenplay. Her website is http://www.
Julie Edwards, Midland
Becky Ferguson, Midland
Becky Ferguson has spent more than 30 years in communications and public service in Midland, from journalism to publicity to fundraising to community leadership. In addition to serving as chair of The University of Texas Psychology Advisory Committee, she currently serves on the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, The University of Texas Council for Liberal Arts, and the Midland Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee and Board. Ferguson graduated with a B.S. in Radio, Television, and Film from The University of Texas at Austin in 1976. She served as news director for local radio stations and as a television news anchor, producer and reporter. She also worked for the Midland Independent School District as communications coordinator. She has worked as a strategist for bond campaigns for Midland ISD and Midland College and has chaired campaigns for various local races and as a contract fundraiser for the Midland ISD Educational Foundation. She also has been a freelance writer. Ferguson is a member of the Texas Lyceum. She is a former president of the Midland Citywide PTA. Ferguson is a founding board member of the George W. Bush Childhood Home and is an elder and deacon of the First Presbyterian Church. She is married to Doug Ferguson and has two adult children, AJ and Joanie.
Katy Flato, San Antonio
Katy Flato is the founding executive director of the San Antonio Book Festival. She served on the board of SAPLF from 1989-2012 and helped to create the “Copyright Texas” author reading series, as well as other literary events, which would eventually lead to the founding of SABF in partnership with Texas Book Festival. Katy currently serves on the boards of The Texas Tribune, The Rivard Report, and the Planned Parenthood Community Leadership Council. Originally from Houston, Katy is a graduate of the University of Texas with a BA in English. Post-graduation, she attended the Rice University Publishing program. She joined the editorial department of Texas Monthly in 1982, where she worked for ten years. During her tenure, she founded and served as editor of Domain, the lifestyle magazine of Texas Monthly, and managing editor of Texas Monthly. She has lived in San Antonio since 1989 with her architect husband, Ted Flato, and they have two daughters.
Olamaie Fotjasek, Dallas
An active community advocate for education and children’s issues, Ola has been a leader, volunteer and fundraiser for many philanthropic and civic community programs. She is a member of the board for the Dallas Women’s Club, Sweetheart Ball Committee and the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education, and Human Development board at Southern Methodist University. In addition, she has served as a member of The Crystal Charity Ball for more than a decade, helping to promote their mission to improve the lives of every child in the Dallas community and beyond. Ola and her husband, Randall, have been blessed with four wonderful sons and have recently become proud grandparents with the birth of their first grandchild, Maie.
Regan Gammon, Austin
Regan Gammon has been a community volunteer and a nonprofit fundraiser for the past 35 years. She currently serves on the board of Sailors for the Sea as well as the advisory boards for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the South Texas Natives project. She is a founder of Taking Care of Texas. Regan has been a member of the National Park Foundation board and served as its citizen chair for two years. She is a founder of the Texas Book Festival and was chair of the board for three years. She has served as president of the Junior League of Austin and the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School board. Regan and her husband, William, have two grown children. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University.
Deborah Green, Austin
Minnie Hollyman, Austin
Mignette (Minnie) Hollyman, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, brings more than twenty-five years experience in the non-profit world. Her community involvement has included board and committee work in environmental issues, literacy and arts organizations. In Austin she has served on the board of the Austin Public Library Association, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School and is currently on the Advisory Council of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the Gazelle Foundation. Her professional career began at the CBS News television show “60 Minutes” working with Mike Wallace. She then went on to manage the studio of American abstract painter, Kenneth Noland until moving to Austin. She lives with her husband and two dogs. They have three daughters.
Whitney Hyder More, Fort Worth
Suzon Kemp, Austin
Suzon Spiller Kemp, Austin investor, received her education from the University of Texas at Austin where she graduated with Honors and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She worked at the Library of Congress, and for United States Senator Albert Gore Sr. in Washington, D.C. She was Director of Hospice and Volunteer Services for Girling Health Care Inc., in Austin. She served both civic and social leadership roles, being recognized for her services by the City of Austin for her contribution on the Human Relation Commission and the Police Community Relations Advisory Board. Later, she worked within charitable organizations such as Women’s Resources Class of 2011 Leadership Texas and the Tranquility Garden University Medical Center Brackenridge steering committee, the City of Austin Parks and Recreation/UT Memorial Museum Dino Pit steering committee and served on the Board of Directors of The Settlement Home for Children, Home of the Holy Infancy (Marywood Adoption Agency), Travis County Integral Care New Milestone Foundation, Mental Health America of Texas, in addition to many others. She currently serves on the University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts Advisory Council, UT Austin College of Liberal Arts Department of Psychology Advisory Committee, The University of Texas Elementary School (Little Longhorns) Management Board, Board of Directors of Austin Child Guidance Center, UT Austin College of Liberal Arts History Department Visiting Committee, Board of Trustees of St. Gabriel’s Catholic School and President of Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of Greater Austin.
Shrub Kempner, Galveston
Harris L. “Shrub” Kempner, Jr. is President and Portfolio Manager of Kempner Capital Management, Inc. an investment advisory firm in Galveston, Texas since 1982. He was President of U.S. National Bancshares and Chief Investment Officer for Frost Bank of Galveston (formerly United States National Bank) from 1969 to 1982. He currently serves as a Director for Balmorhea Ranches, Inc, Pecos, Texas, and Director Emeritus and Advisor to Frost Bank, Galveston, Texas. He has been a Director of Legacy Holding Company in Houston, Texas since 1996. He serves on the American Jewish Committee Board of Governors, Executive Committee, the Audit Committee, and the Budget Committee. He is a member of The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Development Board; an Executive Board Member of the Galveston Economic Development Partnership; a Board Member of the Center for Houston’s Future; and serves on the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Advisory Council at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a member, Treasurer and Past President of The Philosophical Society of Texas. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in 1961 and an MBA from Stanford University Business School in 1963. He is married to the former Hetta (Peaches) Towler and resides in Galveston, Texas.
Phil Loewy, Austin
Phil Loewy has devoted a large part of her career to recruiting at a Texas hedge fund and later at Goldman Sachs. A graduate of the McCombs School of Business at UT-Austin, Phil currently works for a parent tech startup, Babyation, and enjoys volunteering in the Austin community for organizations such as the Texas Book Festival and Shalom Austin to name a few. Her other passions include traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.
Kurt May, San Antonio
Janie McGarr, Dallas
Janie McGarr is a community volunteer in Dallas. She currently serves on the Board of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and the Advisory Board of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at UT Austin. She has chaired the boards of The Hockaday School, where she is a Life Trustee, Planned Parenthood of North Texas, KERA North Texas Public Broadcasting, The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Girls Adventure Trails and the Dallas County Juvenile Board Advisory Committee. She has served on the boards of The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Humanities Texas, The Dallas Women’s Foundation, and The College for All Texans Foundation, among others. She has chaired the Cattle Baron’s Ball, The TACA Ball, and the Sweetheart Ball. She is a member of the Junior League of Dallas, the Crystal Charity Ball, Charter 100 and The Dallas Woman’s Club. Janie practiced law with the firm of Jackson, Walker, Winstead, Cantwell, and Miller. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UT Austin and the UT School of Law. She and her husband, Cappy, have two adult daughters and the cutest granddaughter in the world!
Catherine Miller, Austin
Catherine Miller, an attorney, received a B.A. in English from Princeton University and a J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law. A community volunteer for many years, she has served on the Texas Literacy Council; the Board of Trustees of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, including three years as Board Chair; the executive committees of parent leadership groups at both Vassar College and the University of Southern California; and the Downtown Austin Community Court Advisory Board. Catherine and her husband, Bill, have three adult children.
Anna Near, Austin
Anna Near is an attorney at Saunders, Norval, Pargaman & Atkins, LLP. Her practice consists of estate planning and probate work, and she is involved extensively in philanthropic planning. She has served on the Board of Directors of Explore Austin and Tarrytown United Methodist Church Child’s Day Out, the Consultants’ Council of Breakthrough Austin, as well as development and event chair positions for numerous other charitable organizations, including St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, JDRF Austin, and Breakthrough Austin. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas and Meals on Wheels have also been her favorites for hands-on volunteer work. She holds a B.A. in English from Rice University and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. In her free time, Anna adores long bicycle rides and Saturday lunches with her husband Jason and their two boys, Jake and Chase. She also loves to read and write fiction and has enjoyed being a member of the Writers’ League of Texas in recent years.
Wolfgang Niedert, Austin
Wolfgang Niedert 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 Paulson, Austin
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.
Jake Silverstein, New York City
Jake Silverstein is Editor of the New York Times Magazine. He received a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University, an M.A. in English from Hollins University in Virginia, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. He was a reporter at the Big Bend Sentinel in Marfa from 1999 to 2000 and a 2002 Fulbright Scholar in Zacatecas, Mexico. He is a Contributing Editor to Harper’s Magazine, and his essay for that magazine, “Highway Run,” about a Mexican road race, won the 2007 PEN/USA Journalism Award. His journalism has also been featured in several anthologies, including the Best American Travel Writing 2002, and Submersion Journalism, a 2008 collection of first-person non-fiction. His first book, Nothing Happened and Then It Did, a Chronicle in Fact and Fiction was published by W. W. Norton in 2010. He worked for Texas Monthly in 2006 as a Senior Editor and in 2008 he was named Editor. He was named Editor of the New York Times Magazine in 2014.
James Taylor, Austin
Born in Texas, Taylor grew up in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico. He received a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Texas State University and a master’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin. His aunt, Mary-Agnes Taylor, was a Texas State Distinguished Alumna and his uncle, George Taylor, also was a Texas State graduate. A founding partner of Vianovo, Taylor advises government and corporate leaders in Mexico and the United States in business and policy outcomes. He served as special assistant to the late Lloyd Bentsen, former U.S. Senator of Texas, and deputy campaign director for Texas during the Bentsen’s successful 1988 re-election bid. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is involved in several nonprofit organizations in Austin including the Mexican American Legislative Leadership Foundation.
Carol Wagner, Co-chair, Board of Directors, Austin
Carol Wagner has lived in Austin 18 years. Her professional experience includes VP of consumer marketing for Citibank in New York, account management for BBDO Advertising in Los Angeles, and founder of a marketing consulting practice in Austin, Texas. She has produced documentary films as well. Carol is currently a member of the Fusebox Festival Board of Directors, KLRU Strategic Planning Committee, and co-chair of the Texas Book Festival Board of Advisors. Other community organization engagements include Austin Museum of Art Trustee, Art Ball Chair, KIPP Austin Schools Luncheon Chair and St. Stephens Episcopal School Gala Chair. Carol earned a BA in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and her MBA from the University of Southern California.
Ron Weiss, Austin
Ron Weiss is owner and founder of an Austin-area favorite since 1975, Jeffrey’s Restaurant and Bar. Jeffrey’s has garnered annual awards for its wine list, cuisine, and service in publications such as The Wine Spectator and Texas Monthly. Ron and his wife, Peggy, have been inducted into Who’s Who in Food and Wine in Texas. They have opened other Austin restaurants including the Shoreline Grill in 1989, Cipollina in 1999, and O’s Campus Café in 2000. Ron was formerly the treasurer of the board of YouthLaunch, an Austin-based organization dedicated to helping at-risk, Texas high school students.
Darren Woody, Austin/El Paso
Darren Woody is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jordan Foster Construction, LLC, a construction firm with offices in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio, Texas and field operations throughout the United States. The firm specializes in military, commercial, multi-family, and highway construction. He has served in this capacity since August of 2000. Previously Mr. Woody was a partner in the law firm of Krafsur, Gordon, Mott, Davis and Woody P.C., where he specialized in commercial real estate. Mr. Woody is board certified in Commercial Real Estate Law. He has a BBA in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin and a J.D. from Texas Tech University where he served as Editor-in Chief of the Law Review.
Mr. Woody is involved in a variety of other business ventures including serving as managing partner of Equity Realty Investments L.P. a real estate investment firm. Mr. Woody has served since 2004 as a director of Helen of Troy, Limited, a designer, developer and worldwide marketer of consumer brand-name housewares, health and home and beauty products. He currently is chairman of the Corporate Governance Committee and a member of the Compensation, Nominating and Audit Committees. He has a long history of civic commitment including serving as a board member and past president of the El Paso Library Association; Vestry of St. Clement’s Church and is a past chairman of the El Paso/Juarez chapter of the Young Presidents’ Association. Mr. Woody currently is a member of the Executive Council of the McCombs School of Business Real Estate and Investment Center, the YPO Real Estate Roundtable and the Austin chapter of YPO-Gold.
He is married to Maria Woody and they have two children and two grandchildren.
Katherine Wright, Austin
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 Yancy, Austin
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.