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 25thyear 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.
Karen Brimble is a co-founder and director of the Austin based One Skye Foundation. Having been philanthropically active since 2000, she currently serves on the Board of the Barton Springs Conservancy and is a member of the Austin Community Foundation’s Women’s Fund. Karen has served on the boards of National Charity League-Austin, A Legacy of Giving, Round Rock Health Clinic, Girlstart and Avance. In addition to having served as the Board Chair of the Texas Book Festival, Karen is a former Board President of the Round Rock Health Clinic and was honored as the 2005 Sertoma Round Rock Volunteer of the Year for her work with the clinic. She and her husband, Ray, were honored by Interfaith Action of Central Texas with a Hope Award in 2014. Karen is a graduate of the University of Texas, McCombs School of Business.
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.
Zeynep Young has more than 15 years of entrepreneurship and consulting experience in the technology sector. Zeynep was the founder and CEO of Double Line Partners (DLP), an education technology company developing information systems and tools to help teachers improve student performance. Zeynep founded DLP in 2009, and led the company from bootstrapped concept to $18M in revenues, with adoption in more than 24 states across the country. Zeynep guided DLP through two successful acquisitions – initially in 2011 to the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and subsequently in 2015 to a private equity firm. Prior to founding Double Line Partners, Zeynep was a grant portfolio manager with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), where she managed a $150 million grant portfolio to improve education and health outcomes for children. Before MSDF, she was an Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company, where she served as a leader in the worldwide high tech practice. Zeynep has a master’s degree in management from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s from Rice University. In 2014, she was a regional finalist for the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year award and was named to the Forbes list of The Women Who Built Outstanding Companies. Double Line Partners is among Forbes’ 2014 list of America’s Most Promising Companies and was recognized in 2013 by Inc. magazine as one of America’s top private companies on the forefront of job creation and by the Austin Business Journal as one of Central Texas’ fastest growing companies. Most recently, she served as CEO of Milk + Honey Spa and is currently a venture partner at Next Coast Ventures, an Austin-based venture capital firm. In addition to serving on the Texas Book Festival Board, Zeynep serves on the boards of Austin Speech Labs, St. Stephens Episcopal School and Enspire Advisory Board and is a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). She resides in Austin with her husband and two children.
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.
Spencer Wells is a geneticist, anthropologist, author and entrepreneur. For over a decade he was an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and Director of the Genographic Project, which collected and analyzed DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of people around the world in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the planet, in the process launching the consumer genomics industry. Wells graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas at Austin, received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and conducted postdoctoral work at Stanford and Oxford. He has appeared in numerous documentary films and is the author of three books, The Journey of Man, Deep Ancestry, and Pandora’s Seed. His work has taken him to more than 100 countries, where he has collaborated with everyone from heads of government and Fortune 500 corporations, to tribal chieftains eking out a precarious living in places as remote as Chad, Tajikistan and Papua New Guinea. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he is founder and CEO of consumer genomics startup Insitome, an adjunct Professor at the University of Texas and owner of the iconic blues club Antone’s.
Leslie Ward is president of AT&T Texas, where she works closely with community and business leaders, elected officials, and others at AT&T to bring the most advanced communications and entertainment technologies and services to the state.
Over two decades with AT&T, Ward has served in numerous legislative and regulatory positions. As AT&T’s senior vice president of legislative and corporate external affairs, she developed and executed strategies impacting AT&T’s participation in the Texas political process, including state legislative policy and initiatives for Texas, development of legislative and political strategy, and management of the AT&T external affairs team. She has been ranked as one of the top corporate lobbyists in Texas by Capitol Inside since the inception of the ranking system.
Currently, Ward serves as vice chair for the Texas Cultural Trust and is a member of the executive committee for the board of the Texas Taxpayers Association. She is also a member of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institution board of directors, ZACH Theatre board of trustees, Texas Department of Public Safety Foundation board of directors and is a sustaining member of the Austin Junior League. In 2014, Ward was appointed by former Texas governor Rick Perry to serve as CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corporation. Ward currently serves on the executive committee of the Texas Civil Justice League and the board of directors for Dress for Success.
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, and KLRU Strategic Planning Committee. 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.
Darryl Tocker is the third Executive Director of the Tocker Foundation since its inception in 1964. The Tocker Foundation supports rural public libraries 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.
Brian D. Sweany is a founding partner of Upward Strategy Group, a strategic public affairs and communications firm. Previously, he served as the editor in chief at Texas Monthly. He began his career in journalism as an intern at the magazine in 1996, and before being promoted, he was a senior executive editor in charge of Texas Monthly’s political coverage. Born in Richardson and raised in Plano, Sweany earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of North Texas, in Denton, and a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Sweany has also worked as an assistant professor in the journalism department at Ithaca College, in New York, and as a senior editor at D Magazine, in Dallas. He is active in a number of civic and volunteer organizations, including serving on the board of the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT and being named a Next Generation Fellow by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT-Austin. He lives in Austin with his wife, two children, and an ever-growing manuscript for The Kingdom of the Saddle, a biography of Charles Goodnight to be published by Penguin in the spring of 2016.