Patricia V. Hayes, J.D., is a strategist, executive advisor, public speaker and career empowerment coach. She is the owner of PVH Consulting Group, LLC, a strategy consulting, public policy, and leadership development firm where she supports executive-level leaders. A passionate advocate and community leader, Patricia is committed to issues affecting education, child abuse awareness/prevention, workforce development and women’s empowerment. Patricia is a 25-year veteran of the legislative and policy arena, where she served as a respected policy confidante and advisor to executive leadership in governmental, private and non-profit organizations. She served as the first African American and female Vice Chancellor in the Texas State University System. She has served on numerous community boards and committees including at the Center for Child Protection and Texas Legal. Currently she serves as Board Chair of the Community Advancement Network, Immediate Past Chair of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, on the Central Health Equity Policy Council, and as an E3 Alliance Blueprint for Educational Change Leadership Council member. A dedicated Girl Scout leader, she was awarded the GSUSA Volunteer of Excellence Award in July 2019. A licensed attorney, she graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. She is married with two children.
Becka Oliver spent more than sixteen years in the publishing industry before joining the Writers’ League of Texas, the largest literary arts organization in Texas, as Executive Director in 2013. Working at two of the “Big Five” publishing leaders (Macmillan and Hachette), Becka negotiated foreign and domestic licensing deals for such notable authors as Sandra Brown, Nelson Demille, Nicholas Sparks, and Jon Stewart & the Daily Show. In 2007, Becka made the transition from Associate Director of Subsidiary Rights at Grand Central Publishing to Literary Agent. She was a founding member of the Endeavor Talent Agency’s book department and, in 2009, she joined the William Morris Endeavor Agency (WME) when the two powerhouse entities merged. Her client list included New York Times bestsellers Brunonia Barry, Sheryl Crow, Tracy Morgan, Daphne Oz, and Awkward Family Photos, as well as Joanna Philbin, Susan Rebecca White, Kamran Pasha, and more. Becka is a former board member of the Women’s Media Group and is a Community Ambassador for the Texas Book Festival.
Leslie Perkins is a proud graduate of Huston-Tillotson University with a bachelor’s degree in Education. She has been a child advocate and teacher in the East Austin and Manor communities for over 15 years. Leslie is honored to be a catalyst in making “firsts and lasts” – Breakthrough’s work consists of making first generation college students that will be the last in their families to navigate the higher education system alone. Her commitment to the community exemplifies her belief that our children’s education is the most valuable investment we can make.
Archana Vemulapalli grew up in South India and is drawn to all forms of literature, poetry and writings ranging from Urdu compositions, Shakespearean/Elizabethan era novelists, 19thand 20th century essayists and humorists from Oscar Wilde to Wodehouse to R.K Narayan. She loves the classics and literary fiction and she also enjoys a good dose of fantasy fiction and sci-fi. She lives in Austin with her two daughters and husband who enjoy books just as much. You can see some of her writings at www.myasays.com
After Rebekah studied Public Relations at Grand Canyon University, she worked for Carnival Cruise lines as a Social Hostess and an Assistant Cruise Director. She couldn’t shake the dream of writing to inspire and delight children and earned her Master of Fine Arts in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. In Rebekah’s website, Brave Tutu, she hopes readers will “take courage in delight and discover power in small moments.” Aside from her writing career, Rebekah is the Coordinator for the Texas Center for the Book at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission; affiliate of the National Center for the Book at Library of Congress. Rebekah is passionate about individuals making personal connections to literature.
Gerry Tucker is a college administrator, attorney and author. Currently, as Vice President of Human Resources at Austin Community College, she is responsible for all aspects of Human Resources. Through continuous improvement, Gerry has implemented an efficient timekeeping system, balanced the payroll, created a leadership academy, implemented a career development program and a supervisory certification program.
Gerry received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law, a Master of Arts in Student Personnel Administration from Howard University, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Fisk University. She also served on the Fisk University Board of Trustees upon graduation.
Dedicated to serving in the community, Gerry has served on a variety of local boards and is an active national committee member of the Links, Incorporated. She has been recognized with the YWCA Woman of the Year Award, First Tees Integrity Award, AISD Heritage Community Service Award, African American Chamber of Commerce Award of Valor and the Fisk University Women of Prominence Award.
In her personal time, Gerry enjoys her catering business, Affairs Unlimited. As an author, Gerry has contributed to the Texas Bar Journal and the Austin-American Statesman. She recently published her first book Bedside Chat.
Nora de Hoyos Comstock, Ph.D. was elected to the Austin Community College Board of Trustees in November 2016 for a six-year term. She is an entrepreneur, business leader, and pioneer in utilizing social media to build a community for Latinas. Nora believes that education, which translates into hope and opportunity, is the single most important factor that transforms lives. Her Ph.D is from the University of Texas at Austin in Educational Administration with an emphasis on community college management (1982) and a B.A. in History (1974), with a specialty in Latin America.
Leadership in the Austin community includes chair and member of the Capital Area Workforce Development Board (1999, now Workforce Solutions). During her tenure as Interim Executive Director of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (1999), she implemented the Hispanic Austin Leadership Program. Currently she serves on the board of the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy (Cambridge, MA) and Latino Literacy Now (Los Angeles, CA).
Nora is the national/international founder of Las Comadres Para Las Americas. She served as the organization’s Volunteer President and CEO, since its founding in 2000. She built the organization to over 20,000 women in100 cities, 28 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada. She has retired but remains active on the board.
Ami Gandhi is a founding and Advisory Board member for the nonprofit South Asian Austin Moms. She served as an Executive Board member from 2015 to 2018. As a SAAM board member Ami has helped to organize and facilitate various cultural festivals throughout the Austin Metro area, the profits of which have been donated to charitable organizations such as Dell Children’s Hospital and the Rosedale School in Austin. Ami has planned and led all children’s educational programming offered at SAAM events and has blogged about parenting and education for the nonprofit’s web site. In 2018 Ami represented SAAM in its new partnership with Texas Book Festival and participated in general publicity and programming for the Children’s Activity Tent. Prior to having children Ami was a high school English teacher in New Jersey for eight years. She has her M.A. in English Literature from New York University and her B.A. in English and Education from the University of Michigan. Ami resides in Cedar Park with her husband and two sons.