Katherine Wright is a real estate advisor at Engel and Volkers, a global luxury residential and commercial real estate company, and the Executive Director of the Wright Family Foundation’s Austin office. Born and raised in Baltimore, Katherine studied photography and lighting design at Bennington College in Vermont and worked in community relations at MBNA Bank and as a real estate agent in Wilmington, Delaware, before moving to Austin. A twenty-year citizen of Austin who is passionate about education and improving the lives of underserved young people, Katherine serves on the Board of Directors of the Texas Book Festival, the Austin Theatre Alliance (the Paramount and State Theatres on Congress), the Leadership Committee for the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium, and is a former board member of KIPP Austin Public Schools. A multiple marathon runner, snowboarder, and hiker, Katherine has been an avid world traveler her entire life. She is married to Will Burdick, an urban planner, and has three children, Hannah, James, and Lucy.
Leslie Wingo is President and CEO of Sanders\Wingo Advertising, a 90-person firm that is headquartered in El Paso with offices in Austin and New York.
A native of El Paso, Wingo earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from The University of Texas at El Paso. She moved to Austin in 2000 and has worked her way up in the family-owned business. She joined the agency in 1995 and was named agency Partner in 2001. She has led numerous accounts over the years, including the US Postal Service, Burger King and State Farm. More recently she has been responsible for the agency’s strategic vision and day-to-day operations.
In 2011 Wingo was awarded the Austin Advertising Federation’s Silver Medal for Excellence for her commitment to social welfare. The following year, she was named one of the “Top Women Executives in Advertising & Marketing” in Black Enterprise magazine’s Women of Power issue. In 2013, the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce named Sanders\Wingo “Small Business of the Year” and in 2014, Wingo won the Austin Business Journal’s 2014 Women of Influence Award.
She was previously the board chair of AIDS Services of Austin and has served as director and committee chair on several boards, including the Austin Advertising Federation, the American Heart Association of Texas, the American Lung Association, and The Contemporary Austin.
In 2014 Wingo graduated from Leadership Austin’s Essential Class and credits that experience with teaching her critical lessons that she immediately implemented into her personal and professional life.
Ravi Vemulapalli has more than 24 years of management and executive-level experience in corporations such as GE, Kidde fire Safety and United Technologies. Currently, Vemulapalli is the co-owner of Veteran Supply Services, a local solar contractor for homes and businesses and also general contractor for apartments and commercial businesses. Before that, Vemulapalli was the general manager of Enflite, a wholly-owned subsidiary of LifePort, a Sikorsky Company before it went private and is what brought him to Texas. Prior to his career as a civilian Ravi was history major at Annapolis in the naval academy and served in various roles as a naval officer. Positions included operational test and evaluation pilot, naval aviator flying H-60 Seahawks, and public affairs officer. Vemulapalli holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Duke University and a BS from the United States Naval Academy.
Michele Moore founded the Dell Corporate Communications department in 1989, which grew to encompass worldwide investor and public relations; executive and employee communications; civic sponsorships; and the Dell Foundation. In 1991, she was promoted to vice president, becoming the first female executive at Dell. In positions at previous companies, Michele directed various aspects of communications for pharmaceutical, steel and diversified industrial corporations. Michele and her late husband, Brad, have been longtime supporters of the Texas Book Festival and the Reading Rock Stars program; endowed The Brad and Michele Moore Roots Music Series through the University of Texas Press; and with the Library Foundation, established the Brad Moore Collections Endowment for the Central Library downtown. Michele is currently a member of the University of Texas Press Advisory Board. She has served on the boards of the American Cancer Society; People’s Community Clinic; and Austin Planned Parenthood, and was a founding board member of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. Michele received her bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford.
Jennifer Wilks is an associate professor of English & African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also serves as Associate Director of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies. Her current book project is a cultural history of Carmen with a focus on adaptations set in African diasporic contexts. Also an award-winning teacher, Wilks is a member of the inaugural Texas 10, the Texas Exes’ annual recognition of top UT Austin professors, and a recipient of the Harry Ransom Award for Teaching Excellence and the Thomas Cable Upper-Division Teaching Award. As part of her commitment to encouraging a love of literature and learning outside of the classroom as well as within, Wilks has moderated discussions or participated in events with the Austin Public Library and UT Humanities Institute, Del Valle High School, Texas Book Festival, Austin Public Library Foundation, Austin Playhouse, Austin African American Book Festival, Austin Film Society, and the Writers’ League of Texas. Wilks is a past board member of ProArts Collective and the Texas Wesley Foundation, the former Southwest chair of Bryn Mawr College’s Alumnae Regional Scholars Committee, and a former member of the City of Austin’s African American Resource Advisory Commission.
Carmel Borders is president of the Tapestry Foundation, whose primary focus is early childhood education and social emotional learning. She is past chair and board member of the National Institute for Literacy. Carmel has also served on the boards of Texas State Board for Educator Certification and the Texas Book Festival. She currently serves on the National Jump Start Board, Austin Community Foundation, Westcave Preserve, and the Advisory Council for Success by Six of Central Texas. She is a member of the University of Michigan President’s Advisory Group and the Chancellor’s Board for the University of Texas Systems. An educator for 20 years, she has seen the benefits of early education and social emotional learning. Carmel has served on the Austin Community Foundation Board of Governors since 2012.
Nana graduated from Exeter, Yale, and NYU Law School and practiced law for a dozen years on Wall Street and then in Nebraska, where her husband was the President of the University of Nebraska system. She retired in 1998 and raised three children. Over the past 30 years, she has served on the boards of numerous charitable organizations, primarily in the arts, education and child welfare. In Nebraska, she served on the Nebraska Arts and Humanities Councils as well as the fundraising boards of two university art museums, an art film theatre and the studio art department of the university. An artist herself, Nana thoroughly enjoyed being a docent at the Whitney Museum of Art and a copyist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art while her husband was the Chancellor of the City University of New York. During this time, she also championed a groundbreaking project for New Yorkers for Children, the private nonprofit partner of the NYC Administration of Children’s Services, which established year-round housing and academic and emotional supports for students at CUNY who came from the foster care system. In Austin, she loves being a docent at the Blanton Museum. She also sits on the homeowners’ association on a small island in North Carolina where they own a second home (which gives her an excuse to see the ocean once a month!). She reads only fiction. Growing
up, she was most influenced by mid-century Southern and South American writers like Marquez, Borges, Faulkner, Penn Warren, and O’Connor, as well as Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. She has read everything Willa Cather wrote at least twice. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was her bible for a few years. Her favorite contemporary authors include Colm Toibin and Colum McCann.
Brian D. Sweany has been active in Texas media and communications for more than two decades. As a founding partner at Upward Strategy Group, he has served as the communications director for state agencies, developed the communications strategy for a major public policy initiative at the Legislature, and worked closely with Richards Partners on behalf of national clients like the Salvation Army.
A proud alum of Texas Monthly, he started his journalism career there as an intern, in 1996, and ultimately served as Editor-in-Chief until he resigned in 2016. He led the magazine’s political coverage for multiple legislative sessions, and in his final year, he was named to the Folio 100 as an “Up and Coming Trailblazer” for leading “one of the highest quality regional magazines in the US, where editorial excellence is the norm.”
He is an active board member of the Texas Book Festival and the Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT, and in his free time, you can find him on the tennis court trying not to double-fault or at his home office trying to finish his biography of Charles Goodnight.
Maya Smart is a writer, literacy advocate and community volunteer. She serves on the boards of the Texas Book Festival and St. David’s Foundation, a health funder that invests $80 million annually in Central Texas. Previously, she chaired the University of Texas Libraries Advisory Council and served as the treasurer of the Austin Public Libraries Friends Foundation. Her advocacy and fundraising help enhance library collections, bolster community literacy programs, and inspire the next generation of readers. She interviews authors for Kirkus Reviews and muses about literacy, literature and more at MayaSmart.com.
Dan Goodgame is editor in chief of Texas Monthly magazine. He oversees the three dozen writers, editors, and designers who produce the award-winning magazine, its website, live events and podcasts. A Pulitzer Prize finalist and best-selling author, Goodgame has interviewed and profiled leaders in every field, including six U.S. presidents, Saddam Hussein, Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch, Colin Powell, and Tiger Woods.
Goodgame joined Texas Monthly in early 2019, after serving as a vice-president at Rackspace, a cloud computing company based in San Antonio.
Before joining Rackspace, Goodgame served as editor in chief of Fortune Small Business magazine and FSB.com, whose subscribers were more than a million owners and partners of small and mid-sized companies. He earlier worked for TIME magazine as White House correspondent, Washington bureau chief, and assistant managing editor. He is co-author of the book “Marching in Place,” about the first President Bush.
Goodgame previously worked for the Miami Herald, including as a correspondent in the Middle East and Europe, covering the Israel-Lebanon, Iran-Iraq, and Falklands wars.
A native of Pascagoula, Miss., Goodgame earned a B.A. at Ole Miss and an M.Phil. in international relations at Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes scholar. He serves on the boards of the Texas Book Festival, Texas Public Radio, and the San Antonio Medical Foundation.