Board of Directors
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.
Karen Brimble, Chair
Karen Brimble is a co-founder and director of the Austin based One Skye Foundation. Currently, she serves as the Chair of the Texas Book Festival. Having been philanthropically active since 2000, she has served on the boards of National Charity League- Austin, A Legacy of Giving, Round Rock Health Clinic, Girlstart and Avance. 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.
Sarah Bird is the author of nine novels and one book of non-fiction. Her latest, Above the East China Sea, made the Dublin International Award long list; was an ALEX Award nominee; winner of the 2016 Texas Philosophical Society Literary Award; a Chicago Tribune Editor’s Choice; a Seattle Times Best Book of the Year; a Tucson Book Festival Great Books for Book Club selection; and a Marie Claire Best Summer Reads. This past October, Sarah was selected for the Meryl Streep Screenwriters’ Lab. This spring, the Texas Institute of Letters will present her their Lifetime Achievement Award. She was the 2014 Texas Writer Award winner. Sarah has also been a Moth Radio Hour storyteller; a writer for Oprah’s Magazine, NY Times Sunday Magazine and Op Ed columns, Real Simple, Mademoiselle, Glamour, Salon, Daily Beast, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, MS, Texas Observer; and a columnist for Texas Monthly. Sarah was selected for B&N’s Discover Great Writers series; New York Public Libraries Books to Remember; a Dobie-Paisano Fellowship; an Illumine Award for Excellence in Fiction winner. She is a five time winner of Austin Chronicle’s Best Austin Author and an inductee into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame. She has been hired to write for Paramount, CBS, Warner Bros, National Geographic, ABC, TNT, as well as several independent producers. Her original screenplay, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is currently being developed by Pantheon of Women films. In April the University of Texas Press with publish her latest, A Love Letter to Texas Women.
Gigi Edwards Bryant
Gigi Edwards Bryant is a sixth generation Austinite. She started GMSA Management Services, an Austin based business development consulting firm started in 1993 after a 20 year career in information systems. The firm, recognized as one of Texas’ outstanding small businesses, focuses on community outreach/involvement, employee engagement and business development. Gigi serves her community through organizations that address issues surrounding family such as education, youth in the foster system, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Some immediate past public service includes gubernatorial appointments with two Chairmen assignments, Department of Child Protective Services and Texas School Safety Center, Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Council, Saint Edward’s University New College Advisory, Austin Police Department’s Blue Santa and the Austin Community College Foundation. Membership Organizations include: Douglass Club of Austin, American Association of University Women, Executive Women in Golf Association, Texas Exes – Life Member, Austin Chapter of the Links Incorporated and Balcones Women Golf Association. A partial list of community honors include: Distinguished Austinite, Campfire Promise, Outstanding Texan Award, CASA-Inspiring Leader and Fierce Advocate for Children, Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction, Ma Ferguson – Award of Excellence Finalist, Dedicated Volunteer of the Year, Outstanding Citizen for Leadership. Gigi started her education at Austin Community College in 1977 and transferred to St. Edwards University where she earned a degree in business with a minor in computer science. She earned a MBA in Global Leadership from University of Texas at Dallas. She a 1992-1993 Graduate of Leadership Austin.
Josefina Casati is the Editor of ¡Ahora Sí!, the Spanish weekly of the Austin American-Statesman which began informing, inspiring and celebrating Austin’s Spanish-speaking community in 2004. Since moving to Austin in 1998 from northern California, Josefina has held various positions in the Statesman newsroom, and has been part of many community organizations and events including the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Las Comadres para Las Americas, Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, Hispanic Marketing Symposium, Feria Para Aprender, Día de Los Niños/Día de Los Libros, the International Latino Book Awards, Austin Leadership, Latinitas and Hispanic Austin Leadership. She has served on the KLRU Community Advisory Board and is currently on the University of Texas Elementary School board. She lives in Austin with her husband Kit Casati, their son Enzo and daughter Iliana.
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. Andrew’s 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.
Regina Montoya is the Senior Vice President, External Relations and General Counsel at Children’s Medical Center Dallas where she oversees several major departments, including legal, compliance, governance, government relations and community relations. In 1993, she served in the White House as an Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. In 1998, she was nominated by the President to serve as a U.S. Representative to the 53rd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Prior to joining Children’s in 2009, she was the chief executive officer of the New America Alliance, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the economic advancement of the American Latino community. A nonprofit community leader, Regina was the volunteer National President of Girls Incorporated from 1996 -2000. Past board service has included the Dallas Museum of Art, the Volunteer Center of North Texas, Child Care Group, Leadership Dallas Alumni Association, and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Currently, she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the North Texas Commission, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), the General Counsel Forum DFW Chapter, the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation and the Dallas Friday Group. In addition, she serves on the Texas Lyceum Advisory Council. Regina earned her B.A. from Wellesley College, where she is a Trustee Emerita, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She also has served as vice president and elected director of the Harvard University Alumni Association. She is married to Paul Coggins, Rhodes Scholar, novelist, partner with the law firm of Locke Lord, and a former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
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.
Amy Paddock is Co-Head of Global Client Service for Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Partnering with account teams, Amy leverages H+K’s unparalleled expertise to establish H+K as a strategic partner and thought leader to achieve clients’ business objectives. She also manages campaign strategies for Fortune 50 clients involved in complex financial transactions and reputational, public image, legislative and regulatory issues. Prior to joining Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Amy was an associate in the equities division of Goldman, Sachs & Co. and was a financial analyst in Credit Suisse First Boston’s Latin American Investment Banking Group. Amy has an MBA from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. She participated in the 14th Annual Texas Conference for Women and currently serves on the Board of the Good Shepherd School.
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 is Senior Legal Counsel at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a company that offers senior counsel, insightful research and strategic communications planning throughout the world. Sarah joined the Texas Book Festival in 2012, and works with the Reading Rock Stars program. Sarah was the founding Executive Director of Explore Austin where she is now a member and officer of the board. Previously, Sarah served as Secretary of the St. Andrew’s Board of Trustees, a member of the Elizabeth Ann Seton Board, and a member of the Wonders & Worries Board. Sarah earned her BA from the University of Virginia and her JD at the University of Texas School of Law. She practiced corporate law for five years before joining Hill+Knowlton.
Kate Rogers is a native of Corpus Christi, Texas and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising/Public Relations from Texas Christian University. Kate started with H-E-B in 1998 and has held roles from Host/Producer of the TeleVentures interactive distance learning program to Director of Advertising. Currently, Kate is H-E-B’s Vice President of Corporate Communication and Engagement. In 2006, Kate was honored with Ford’s Salute to Education Award for creating H-E-B’s Excellence in Education Awards and in 2011, Kate launched H-E-B’s Read 3 early childhood literacy program. In addition to her education efforts, Kate heads H-E-B’s Statewide Advisory Board on health and oversees H-E-B’s initiatives related to health and wellness, including the creation of Healthy at H-E-B, a new brand designed to education Texans on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and the Slim Down Showdown, a Biggest Loser style competition.
Ana Ruelas has been the director of strategic initiatives and human resources at KLD Energy Technologies, and has also served in senior management roles in the U.S. and abroad at PepsiCo, Towers Perrin, Lenovo, Ace USA and Image Logistics Corporation. In Austin, Ana has been active in the community by leading all corporate social responsibility initiative for KLD, and collaborating closely with Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Backpacks for Kids and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She currently serves on the board of Wonders & Worries, which she learned about through her husband, Alejandro Ruelas, principal of the LatinWorks advertising agency.
Dave Shaw is President of Arrow, 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 M.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.S. in Communication Studies from UT Austin.
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.
Maya Payne Smart
Maya Payne Smart is an Austin-based book lover and reviewer. An active community volunteer, she works to increase access to books and inspire a community-wide love of reading by serving on the board of the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation and the UT Libraries Advisory Council. She muses about literacy, literature and more at MayaSmart.com, KirkusReviews.com and BookRiot.com. She also volunteers with the St. David’s Foundation Community Fund, serving on its Toast of the Town Fundraiser Committee and reviewing applications for its scholarship program. Smart holds a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree with honors from Harvard University. Her honors include Style Weekly’s 40 under 40 Award, an Excellence in Journalism Award from The Press Club of Cleveland, and a Citizen of the Year Award from the Mid-Atlantic Region of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Heidi Marquez Smith
Heidi Marquez Smith is principal of Marquez Smith Consulting where she provides development, program, event and strategic planning assistance for non-profit organizations. A native of El Paso and graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, Heidi currently serves as a director and executive committee member of the Texas Lyceum, on the St. David’s Foundation Toast of the Town Committee, and Friends of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. She recently wrapped up fundraising as Eanes Elementary PTO underwriting chair and also served as co-chair of the 2014 Legacy of Giving Blue Sky Luncheon. Heidi has served as a board member and volunteer for numerous organizations including the Literacy Coalition of Texas, the Futuro Fund Austin, the University of Texas 1883 Council, St. David’s Day School Board of Directors, and the University of Texas Libraries Advisory Council. She served as the Texas Book Festival’s Executive Director from 2008 – early 2012 and also as the TBF’s Interim Executive Director and development consultant in 2013. Prior to her roles at the TBF, Heidi worked in Washington DC, where she served in several roles including Special Assistant to the President for Cabinet Liaison in the White House, Special Assistant to the President and Director for Presidential Correspondence, and Deputy Associate Director in the office of Presidential Personnel. She lives in Austin with her husband, David Smith, and their three boys.
Brian D. Sweany
Brian D. Sweany was named editor in chief at Texas Monthly in July 2014. 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.
Darryl Tocker, Treasurer
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.
Gregory J. Vincent
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent has served as vice president for diversity and community engagement at The University of Texas at Austin for the last decade, pioneering new organizational models so that the award-winning Division of Diversity and Community Engagement could become one of the most comprehensive and innovative of its kind in higher education. A native of New York City, Dr. Vincent earned his bachelor’s degree from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, his law degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, and his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a professor in the School of Law and in the Department of Higher Education Administration, where he holds the W. K. Kellogg Professorship in Community College Leadership.
Dr. Vincent also serves on a number of boards and has received various community awards and recognitions. Past board service includes the Austin Area Urban League, the American Heart Asosciation, Communities in Schools and the African-American Men and Boys Harvest Foundation and current board service includes Austin Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Austin, Girl Scouts of Central Texas, 100 Black Men of America, Texas Appleseed and Breakthrough Austin.
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.
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; www.calendars.com, 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.
Katherine Wright, Secretary
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.
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. 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.