Ballet Austin welcomes audiences near and far to participate in its "classically innovative" vision for the democratization of dance. With a rich history spanning five decades, acclaimed productions, a commitment to creating access to programs, and operating the largest combined training facility associated with a professional ballet company in the United States, Ballet Austin is the 11th largest classical ballet company in the country.
From its home at the Butler Dance Education Center in downtown Austin, Ballet Austin and Artistic Director Stephen Mills actively engage the community, dancers, and audiences alike. The New York Times proclaims Ballet Austin "a company with big ambitions" originating work that is "absorbing." Hailed by The Washington Post as "one of the nation's best kept ballet secrets," Stephen Mills works closely with the 22 full-time professional dancers.
Ballet Austin has participated in international festivals including les Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationals de Seine-Saint-Denis in Paris, France, one of the premier modern dance festivals in Europe, and le Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur in Montreal, Canada. In the summer of 2005, at the invitation of the U.S. State Department, the company performed in Italy and Slovenia. In 2002, Mills led the Company to the Kennedy Center to perform to seven sold-out houses of A Midsummer Night's Dream as part of the Center's Youth and Family Public Performance Series. Mills was subsequently commissioned by the Center to create The Taming of the Shrew which made its world premiere in Washington, D.C. in 2004—after which The New York Times dubbed him "the bard of ballet." The following year, the company was invited to perform at the Joyce Theater in NYC for a week's engagement. Also in 2005, Mills' landmark Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project was awarded the Audrey & Raymond Maislin Humanitarian Award by the Anti Defamation League.
The Ballet Austin Academy is the official ballet school of Ballet Austin, and one of the largest in the U.S., serving more than 900 students each year. Ballet Austin II, established in 1999 by Associate Artistic Director Michelle Martin, is Ballet Austin's second and apprentice company, which offers an opportunity for post high school, advanced dancers to hone their skills in a professional environment. The Butler Fellowship Program offers 15 fully-underwritten scholarships to outstanding dancers, and features an innovative and personal approach to a traditional, professional-track training. They rehearse and perform with the main company and Ballet Austin II in main stage, touring and educational performances.
Founded in 2007, the Butler Center for Dance & Fitness serves over 9,000 people of all ages and skill level with year-round dance and fitness classes. It's is also home to one of Austin's top-ranked Pilates Centers. The company has developed outreach initiatives that reach 31 Central Texas school districts, 200 other area non-profits, engages families to dance together and invites patrons to informational talks.
In 2008 Ballet Austin became a founding resident company for the state-of-the-art Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts. Additionally, an in-house performance space, the 287 seat AustinVentures StudioTheater, now allows the company to offer intimate and affordable performances in an urban environment.
Known for his innovative and collaborative choreographic projects, Stephen Mills has works in the repertoires of companies across the United States and around the world. From his inaugural season as Artistic Director in 2000, Mills attracted attention from around the United States with his world-premiere production of Hamlet, hailed by Dance Magazine as "...sleek and sophisticated." The Washington Post recognized Ballet Austin as "one of the nation's best-kept ballet secrets" in 2004 after Ballet Austin performed Mills' world premiere of The Taming of the Shrew, commissioned by and performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The Company was first invited to perform at the Kennedy Center in January of 2002 with the Mills production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and at The Joyce Theater (NYC) in 2004. In 2005 after two years of extensive research, Mills led a community-wide human rights collaboration that culminated in the world premiere work Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. In 2006, Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project was awarded the Audrey & Raymond Maislin Humanitarian Award by the Anti Defamation League. In September of 2013, the work made its international debut with a tour in three cities across Israel.
In 1998, Mills was the choreographer chosen to represent the United States through his work, Ashes, at Les Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis in Paris. Most recently, Mills was awarded the Steinberg Award, the top honor at Le Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur International Choreographic Competition for One / the body's grace.
Mills has created more than 40 works for companies in the United States and abroad. His ballets are in the repertoires of such companies as Hong Kong Ballet, Ballet Augsburg, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, Atlanta Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Washington Ballet, Cuballet in Havana, Cuba, BalletMet Columbus, Dayton Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, Dallas Black Dance Theater, Louisville Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, The Sacramento Ballet and Dance Kaleidoscope. He has worked in collaboration with such luminaries as the eight-time Grammy Award-winning band, Asleep at the Wheel, Shawn Colvin and internationally renowned flamenco artist José Greco II.
As a dancer Mills performed with a wide variety of companies such as the world-renowned Harkness Ballet and The American Dance Machine under the direction of Lee Theodore. He also performed with the Cincinnati Ballet and The Indianapolis Ballet Theatre before becoming a part of Ballet Austin. Mills has danced principal roles in the Balanchine repertoire, as well as works by Choo-San Goh, John Butler, Ohad Naharin, Vicente Nebrada, Domy Reiter-Soffer and Mark Dendy.
In addition to his work as a choreographer, Mills is a master teacher committed to developing dancers. He has been invited as guest faculty at many pre-professional academies including Jacob's Pillow, Goucher College, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in Dallas, The Virginia School of the Arts, The New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, Stephens College and Point Park University in Pittsburgh. Mills is a member of the national dance service organization Dance / USA and has served both in leadership roles and on the Board of Trustees for the organization.
Licensable Works by Stephen Mills
Belle Redux / A Tale of Beauty & the Beast, Cult of Color: Call to Color, Don Quixote, Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project, Hamlet, The Magic Flute, The Mozart Project, Not Afraid of the Dark... The Show that Glows, Romeo & Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Truth & Beauty / The Bach Project
Additional Works by Stephen Mills
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Angel of My Nature, Ashes, Big Sky, Blue, Bolero (with Jose Greco II), Bounce, CARBON53, Carmina Burana, Cinderella, Circus, Circus, Desire, Desire (Pas de Deux), Desire in Three Movements, Dreams, Duel Fuel, Duo Concertante, Echo Boom, Five Flights Up, Four Mortal Men, Hush, Kai, Liminal Glam, Luminaria, My Wall of Names, One / the body's grace, Peter & The Wolf, Red Roses, Salve Regina, She Was, silence within silence, Songs of Innuendo, The Firebird, The Naughty Ones, The Nutcracker, The Rite of Spring, The Set, Though the Earth Gives Way, Torso, Touch, Transformations, Truth & Beauty, Wolftanzt, Women & Light
Cookie Gregory Ruiz has more than 25 years of experience in the areas of strategic planning, organizational development and non-profit fund-raising/management. Since 2002 she has held the professional designation of Certified Fund Raising Executive (C.F.R.E.) by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Her community honors include Austin Business Journal's "Profiles in Power" Award, Austin Community Foundation's Beverly S. Sheffield Award for Excellence as a Nonprofit Executive, The American Red Cross "Clara Barton Medal of Honor," Volunteer of the Year for the Austin Independent School District, The Junior League of Austin Volunteer Extraordinaire Award, the Lone Star Girl Scout Council "Women of Distinction" Award, and is a former President of The Junior League of Austin. Cookie is a member of the Mayor's Citizen Cabinet (Austin, Texas), served as the city-wide Chair of CreateAustin, served as a City Council appointee to The Citizen's Advisory Council of ImagineAustin, and is a graduate of Leadership Austin and Austin's City Works Academy.
Cookie is currently a member of the Board of Trustees and former national Chair of Dance/USA, a member of the national Board of Directors of the Performing Arts Alliance (Washington DC), a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of Texans for the Arts, a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), a member of the Board of Directors of Con Mi Madre (Past President), Sustaining President and a member of the Board of Director of The Junior League of Austin, a National Arts Strategies International Chief Executive Program Fellow, a member of the Board of Directors of Austin Housing Works (Affordable Housing), and Community Advisor to the Young Women's Alliance (YWA).
Cookie serves as a speaker, facilitator and presenter for a variety of leadership conferences, including the National Conference on Community Leadership, the National Performing Arts Conference, American for the Arts Annual Convention, National Conference of Dance/USA, The Governor's Women's Business Leadership Forum and the Texas Commission on the Arts.
She joined the Ballet Austin staff in 1996 as Development Director, became General Manager in 1997, and Executive Director in 1999.
As Executive Administrator & Tour Coordinator Lital is responsible for providing administrative support to the Executive Director, and project management of Ballet Austin's U.S. and international tours. Prior to Ballet Austin, Lital worked for the Jewish Federation of Greater Austin as Director of Outreach & Engagement and Partnership with Israel, where she helped grow the ties between Austin and the Western Galilee region in Israel and coordinated Ballet Austins Tour of Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project to Israel in 2013. As Director of Outreach & Engagement, she served as a first point of contact to newcomers to the community and managed the local chapter of a nation-wide literacy program. Before moving to Austin in 2010, Lital managed strategic procurement projects for the Israeli Cable Company and served as project manager with high-tech and telecommunication companies. She hold a B.A in Economics from the Tel-Aviv University.
Ian J. Bethany is from Long Island, N.Y. He started dancing as a tap and jazz student at Robert Mann Dance Centre. He started ballet at the age of 12 at Tap to Pointe Dance Center. Ian then went on to train at the Frank Ohman School of Ballet, at the School of Ballet Chicago with Daniel Duell and Patricia Blair, at Ballet Academy East with Darla Hoover and Francis Patrelle, and then as a full scholarship student in the Professional Division of Pacific Northwest Ballet School with Peter Boal, Elaine Bauer, Marjorie Thompson, Bruce Wells, and Nicholas Ade. With Ballet Austin, Ian has enjoyed performing in George Balanchine’s Agon and Allegro Brillante, Nicolo Fonte’s Lasting Imprint, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Requiem for a Rose, Gabrielle Lamb’s Dovetail, Bradley Shelver’s The Last Just, Stephen Mills’ Carmina Burana, The Magic Flute, and The Nutcracker, and the Bluebird Pas de Deux in The Sleeping Beauty. Ian has performed with project-based company Performa/Dance, has sung with the Austin Opera, was seen as Dream Curly in Zilker Theatre Production’s presentation of Oklahoma!, and does numerous juggling gigs around Austin. He also teaches in the Ballet Austin Academy. Ian would like to thank Jesus Christ, his wife, Grace, and his family for the support they give him each day.
Hailing from Seattle, Paul Michael Bloodgood began his training with Don Snyder at the L'Acadamie de Danse, and then continued on full scholarship with the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, with summers under the Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet. Now in his seventeenth professional season, Paul has performed with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, Terpsicorps, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and Ballet Austin, with tour highlights to Europe, Israel, Puerto Rico, the Kennedy Center, The Joyce Theater, and Hawaii. Professionally, he has had the privilege of principal roles such as Hamlet in Hamlet, Romeo in Romeo & Juliet, Albrecht in Giselle, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Prince Ivan in The Firebird, Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty, Young Warrior in The Rite of Spring, James in La Sylphide, Franz in Coppelia, Prince Charming in Cinderella, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Cavalier in The Nutcracker, Le Chevalier in Liaisons, as well as a principal in George Balanchine's Episodes, Allegro Brillante, and Agon, Antony Tudor's Sunflowers, and Choo-San Goh's Double Contrasts. Paul was one of two dancers to originate the role of The Beast in Stephen Mills' Belle Redux / A Tale of Beauty & the Beast. Past repertoire includes works by Twyla Tharp, Lynne Taylor-Corbet, Marius Petipa, Peter Pucci, Nicolo Fonte, Septime Weber, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and over fifty original works including Dwight Rhoden, Kent Stowell, Anne Marie DeAngelo, Jacques Heim, Paul Vasterling, David Allan, Gina Patterson and Thaddeus Davis, among others.
A three-time Austin Critics Table Award recipient, Paul is a union member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA, appearing in film, music videos and television; with work in director Michael Bay's Transformers, Forest Whitaker's First Daughter, Richard Linklater's Bernie, and over twenty-five independent films, some of which have toured the international film festival circuit. Paul has a B.A. from SEU and holds the rank of pum dan in Tukong Moosul martial arts under Grand Master Yi (Sin City). He runs a photography and film production company, Bloodygood Pictures, with his wife and fellow company dancer, Anne. His studio band, Floating Pockets, released an album entitled "Panacean Vacancy" currently on iTunes/Amazon/Spotify/Pandora Radio and other distributors. He is also in post-production for his film directorial debut, feature-length documentary, Trenches of Rock. Paul welcomed his newborn son last September, and he would like to thank God, his wife, Anne and his family for their inspiration.
Orlando Julius Canova began his ballet training in Southern California with Lawrence and Sarma Rosenberg at the Anaheim Ballet School. At age 16 he moved to New York City to train at the School of American Ballet. There, he received a full tuition merit scholarship and was sponsored by Debbie Allen. Orlando furthered his ballet training with Miami City Ballet School. In 2001, Orlando became an Arpino Apprentice with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and in 2003 he joined as a full company member. While at Joffrey, Orlando played the part of apprentice in Robert Altman's movie, The Company.
At Ballet Austin Orlando has danced lead roles in The Nutcracker, Cult of Color: Call to Color, Truth & Beauty: The Bach Project, Romeo & Juliet, Nine Sinatra Songs, silence within silence and The Magic Flute. He has worked with such choreographers as Stephen Mills, Twyla Tharp, KT Nelson, Dominic Walsh, Nicolo Fonte, Sonya Delwaide, Toni Bravo, Michelle Thompson, Reginald Harris, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Orlando has also had the pleasure of dancing for Molly Lynch’s National Choreographers Initiative in 2012 and 2013. There he worked with Darrell Moultrie, Melissa Barak, Val Caniparoli, Frank Chavez, Kitty McNamee, and Susan McCullough. In addition, Orlando teaches dance at the Ballet Austin Academy, the Butler Center for Dance & Fitness, Saint Mary’s Hall, Austin City Ballet, and Alamo Heights High School.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Penn., Edward received his first 12 years of ballet training at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School. After graduating high school, he continued his training at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto under the instruction of Lindsay Fischer. While there, Edward performed works by James Kudelka, Toer van Schayk, and Rudi van Dantzig. Since joining Ballet Austin, he has been featured in Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs, Bradley Shelver’s The Last Just, Nicolo Fonte's Left Unsaid and Lasting Imprint, originated roles in Stephen Mills' Angel of My Nature, Though the Earth Gives Way, and Belle Redux / A Tale of Beauty & the Beast, and has portrayed Claudius in Mills' Hamlet and Tybalt in Mills’ Romeo & Juliet. He has appeared as Drosselmeyer in every performance of Mills’ The Nutcracker since 2009. When not dancing with Ballet Austin, Edward teaches in the Ballet Austin Academy and works with local choreographers such as Jennifer Hart.
James Fuller is from Irvine, Calif., and was trained at Ballet Pacifica Conservatory. In 2004, James received a Youth America Grand Prix scholarship to study at the Boston Ballet School, where he completed his final year of training. James apprenticed with Oregon Ballet Theatre for a year before enrolling at Harvard University. At Harvard, James performed works by choreographers such as Paul Taylor, Martha Graham, George Balanchine, and Alvin Ailey. In the summers, James studied modern dance with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, American Dance Festival, and Beijing LDTX. James directed the Harvard Ballet Company in 2009 and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of the Arts in Philosophy, a secondary field in dramatic arts, and a language citation in Urdu-Hindi. Since joining Ballet Austin, James has performed in original works by Stephen Mills, including Luminaria and Though the Earth Gives Way, danced in Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, performed with the National Choreographers Initiative, and choreographed for Houston City Dance.
Oliver Greene-Cramer is originally from Marlboro, Vt. He received his early training at the Brattleboro School of Dance and Burklyn Ballet Theatre. He graduated from SUNY Purchase College cum laude with a BFA in Dance - Ballet Concentration and was given the award for Outstanding Senior in Modern Dance. While at Purchase he danced works by George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, Lar Lubovitch, Nicolo Fonte, John Heginbotham, and premiered works by Ori Flomin and Jonathan Riedel. In 2012 he was honored to join Purchase on a tour to Taipei to perform Dvorak Serenade by Lar Lubovitch. Immediately after graduation Oliver joined the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. Since joining Ballet Austin he has performed works by Stephen Mills, Jimmy Orrante, Jennifer Hart, and Nelly van Bommel. Oliver also works with Performa/Dance, an Austin company directed by Jennifer Hart and Edward Carr.
Rebecca Johnson is originally from Ann Arbor, Mich., where she received her early training from Marjorie Randazzo. From there she attended Virginia School of the Arts, as well as summer programs at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Charleston Ballet Theater, and Ballet Austin. She has danced roles in Stephen Mills' Carbon53, Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project, Liminal Glam, Hamlet, and Wolftanzt among others, as well as works by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Amy Seiwert, and Jimmy Orrante. Rebecca has also enjoyed dancing the role of Myrtha in Giselle, Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty, Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 2014, Rebecca received an Austin Critic's Table Award for Outstanding Dancer.
Aara Krumpe is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. She received her early training from Nancy Sulik and studied for three years at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School under David Holladay. Since joining Ballet Austin, Aara has enjoyed dancing in many Stephen Mills ballets, including the title roles in Belle Redux / ATale of Beauty & The Beast, Romeo & Juliet, The Firebird, and The Taming of the Shrew, as well as Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, Gertrude in Hamlet, Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, and The Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. She has also danced the principal roles in the classics Swan Lake, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Bournonville's La Sylphide as well as Dark Angel in Balanchine's Serenade. In 2007 and 2011, she was recognized with Outstanding Dancer awards by the Austin Critics' Table. Aara is most thankful for the opportunity to perform the role of the Survivor in Mills' Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. Aara and her husband, Ambrose, are the proud parents of two wonderful boys, Leo and Lucas.
Anne Marie Melendez began her ballet training in Torrance, Calif., with Diane Lauridsen. Anne Marie has previously performed with the South Bay Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, Nevada Ballet Theatre, and Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance appearing in works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Marius Petipa, Nicolo Fonte, David Parsons, Ron Cunningham, Val Caniparoli, Choo-San Goh, Thaddeus Davis, William Whitener, Ann Marie DeAngelo, Thang Dao, Gina Patterson, Heather Maloy, Salvatore Aiello, and Stephen Mills. Her favorite roles include Ophelia in Hamlet, Tsarevna in The Firebird, Effie in La Sylphide, Cupid in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an Evil Stepsister in Cinderella, and one of Kitri’s friends and Cupid in Don Quixote. She has been proud to represent Ballet Austin on tour to the Kennedy Center and The Joyce Theatre. Anne Marie is also a recent graduate of St. Edward’s University. She would like to thank Jesus Christ, her husband, Paul Michael, and her family for their endless love and support.
Grace Morton is from Seattle, Wash. She received her early training from Vivian Little and Mary Reardon, school directors of Dance Fremont. In 2010 she began training under the direction of Damara Bennett in Oregon Ballet Theater's professional division. She had the chance to tour to Korea and performed in company productions of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker and Nicolo Fonte's world premiere of Petrushka. As a member of Ballet Austin II, she enjoyed performing featured roles in Stephen Mills' Luminaria, Jennifer Hart's Wavemakers, and Nelly Van Bommel's Snow White. After joining the company, Grace has performed roles in classical ballets such as French in Stephen Mills' The Nutcracker, Puss 'n Boots in The Sleeping Beauty, and Four Little Swans in Swan Lake. She has also had the pleasure to appear in George Balanchine's Agon, Stephen Mills' One/the body’s grace, Gabriel Lamb's Dovetail, James Gregg's The Space Between, and Jennifer Hart's To Here. Grace has danced in project-based company Performa/Dance, and appeared in Zilker Theatre Production's presentation of Oklahoma! as Dream Laurie. She is also a teacher in the Ballet Austin Academy.
Jordan Moser is originally from Santa Ana, Calif. He received his training at Academy of Dance under Merle Sepel and Rebeca Tsvkin where he earned distinction in Advanced 2 RAD examination. He has danced with Los Angeles Dance Theater and performed in Beijing, China. He has also been a guest artist in Japan. Since joining Ballet Austin, he has been featured in Stephen Mills’ Cinderella as Master of Ceremonies, The Taming of the Shrew, Carmina Burana, and Light / The Holocaust Humanity Project. Jordan has been featured in classical roles, such as Peasant Pas de Deux from Giselle, Allegro Brillante and La Sylphide. He has performed in many contemporary ballets, namely, Dominic Walsh's The Whistling, Nicolo Fonte's Left Unsaid and Lasting Imprint, Loni Landon's Wild Card and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Requiem for a Rose. He is currently studying Humanities at St. Edward's University.
Jordan is also an active Austin musician who has had the opportunity to accompany renowned singer Khann Ly in the world premiere of Thang Dao's Quiet Imprint and has had two ballets, Path You Came Here By and Hiding Places created to his own compositions by Michelle Thompson. He would like to thank his parents for their love and support and his teachers for their generosity, support and inspiration over the years.
Originally from Roseville, Calif., Kevin Murdock-Waters began his training at Hawkins School of Performing Arts. He then went on to train at the San Francisco Ballet School where he performed roles in multiple main company ballets, including John Cranko's Onegin, Rudolf Nureyev's Raymonda, Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella and Helgi Tomasson's The Nutcracker and Romeo & Juliet. During the San Francisco Ballet student showcase, Kevin performed the second movement principal in George Balanchine's Western Symphony. With Ballet Austin II, he enjoyed performing as Hansel in Nelly van Bommel's Hansel and Gretel, the judge in Nick Kepley's Season of Innocence, and in Stephen Mills' Belle Redux / A Tale of Beauty & The Beast.
Preston Andrew Patterson was born in Atlanta, Ga., and began his dance studies at the Ballethnic Academy of Dance. At age 17 he attended the School of American Ballet and later the National Ballet School of Canada. As a member of Ballet Austin, Preston Patterson has had the privilege of performing in Stephen Mills’ Wolftanzt, Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project, Belle Redux / A Tale of Beauty & The Beast, George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, the Peasant Pas de Deux from Giselle, and the Blue Bird in Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty.
Elise Pekarek is originally from the Chicago area and began her early ballet training with the Judith Svalander School of Ballet. With the school's performing company, she had the opportunity to dance leading roles as well as perform in Dance Chicago for several years. Elise attended summer programs at Ballet Austin and Pacific Northwest Ballet. She continued her training with Ballet Austin as a trainee and then as a member of Ballet Austin II. As an apprentice, Elise was privileged to perform Stephen Mills' Touch, Carmina Burana, and Red Roses as well as Thang Dao's Quiet Imprint. Since joining the company, she has been honored to perform the role of the Rose Girl in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Requiem for a Rose in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as in Austin. She also has enjoyed performing the first pas de trios in George Balanchine's Agon and The Rose in Stephen Mills' Belle Redux / A Tale of Beauty & The Beast. In 2014, Elise completed her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration through Columbia College of Missouri. She also teaches classes for Ballet Austin's Butler Center for Dance & Fitness and Pilates Center.
Oren Porterfield hails from Dallas, Texas, where she trained with Tanju and Patricia Tuzer of Tuzer Dancenter. She continued to study under revered master teacher Truman Finney as a trainee and an apprentice with Ballet Austin. Oren has danced with Ohio Ballet and Dayton Ballet where she had the pleasure of performing the featured roles of Blanche DuBois in Karen Russo Burke's A Streetcar Named Desire and as Lucy Westenra in Stewart Sebastian's Dracula. Oren has been a guest artist with Verb Ballets, Motion Dance Theatre, and Performa Dance. Since returning to Austin, she has been featured in works by Nicolo Fonte, Annabelle Lopez Achoa, Loni Landon, Jennifer Hart, and James Gregg as well as in director Stephen Mills’ Angel of my Nature, Luminaria, and One/the body’s grace. Oren has recently enjoyed the role of Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty, and the iconic pas de deux in George Balanchine's Agon.
Chelsea Marie Renner, originally from Bozeman, Mont., received her early training from Ann Bates of Montana Ballet and Campbell Midgley of Queen City Ballet. Since joining Ballet Austin's main company, Chelsea has enjoyed performing in Stephen Mills' Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project, The Magic Flute, Kai, Hamlet, and as Waltz soloist in The Nutcracker, along with Nicolo Fonte's Lasting Imprint, and works by Nelly van Bommel, Gregory Dolbashian, Gabrielle Lamb and Jimmy Orrante. In June of 2013, Chelsea was honored to travel to Washington, D.C., to perform Stephen Mills' Hush for Ballet Across America III at The Kennedy Center, and in September of that year joined the company in Israel for a three-city tour of Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. Chelsea was the first recipient of the Sarah and Ernest Butler Scholarship in 2006. She also teaches in the Ballet Austin Academy. Chelsea would like to thank her husband Aaron, her parents, and her grandparents for their endless love and support. On April 14, 2015, Aaron and Chelsea welcomed their first child, Landon Jay Katz, into the world. He is the light in their eyes and the love in their hearts and they feel so blessed to have him. Chelsea is excited to be returning to the stage this season and to have an amazing son to share it with.
Ashley Lynn Sherman grew up in the Chicago area, where she trained with Ms. Sherry Moray. She spent four years with Alabama Ballet before joining Ballet Austin. With the company, Ashley has had the honor of premiering many works by Stephen Mills and performing in Italy, Slovenia, The Joyce Theater, and the Kennedy Center, where she was featured in Balanchine's Episodes with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. She has enjoyed dancing principal roles in Don Quixote, Hamlet, Swan Lake, Coppelia, La Sylphide, The Magic Flute, and Romeo & Juliet. Ashley has been featured in works by Thang Dao, Mats Ek, Nicolo Fonte, Gina Patterson, Dwight Rhoden, and Twyla Tharp and has made guest appearances with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater. In 2009, Ashley received an Austin Critic's Table Award for Outstanding Dancer. Ashley is a graduate of St. Edward's University and is on faculty with the Ballet Austin Academy and a yoga instructor at Dharma Yoga.
Frank Shott is a native of Vestal, NY. He trained in Pittsburgh, Houston and Seattle prior to joining Kansas City Ballet. After four seasons with KCB, he jumped at the opportunity to join Ballet Austin where he has had the fortune of performing a variety of principal and soloist roles. These include Romeo in Romeo & Juliet, Basilio in Don Quixote, Siegfried in Swan Lake, Albrecht in Giselle, and Peter in Peter Pan. He also had the rare opportunity to dance the role of Petruchio opposite his wife in the role of Kate for Mr. Mills' The Taming of the Shrew. He is particularly proud to have been a part of the creation of Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. Frank has also been featured on PBS performing the title role in Stephen Mills' Hamlet. Frank has traveled the nation teaching the fencing for Hamlet as well as choreographing the duels in Mr. Mills' Romeo & Juliet. When not dancing, Frank continues his education and enjoys every single moment he has with his beautiful wife and daughter.
Brittany Strickland is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She attended the North Carolina School of the Arts (now the University of NCSA) from 2001-2007 where she trained under Melissa Hayden, Nina Danilova, and Kee-Juan Han. With NCSA, Brittany was privileged to perform George Balanchine’s Serenade at the Hollywood Bowl as well as performing featured roles in The Nutcracker, La Fille mal Gardee, La Sonnambula and Jardin Anime. Following graduation she continued her training with Ballet Austin under full scholarship. With Ballet Austin II she was privileged to perform featured roles in works such as Thang Dao’s Quiet Imprint and Stephen Mills’ Touch as well as performing with the company in Mills’ Coppelia and his world premiere of The Firebird. Since joining the company, she has enjoyed performing in works such as Mills' The Taming of the Shrew, The Nutcracker, Carmina Burana, and Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project. In her free time, Brittany also teaches in the Butler Center for Dance & Fitness.
Christopher Swaim is originally from Bryant, AR, where he began his training with Kirt and Linda Hathaway at the Academy of Ballet Arkansas. He then went on to graduate with distinction from the University of Oklahoma with a B.F.A. in Ballet Pedagogy. Chirstopher has danced principal roles in The Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, The Nutcracker and Valse Fantaisie, and has been featured in works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Stephen Mills, Thaddeus Davis, Amy Seiwert, James Clouser, Miguel Terekhov, Septime Webre, Nelly Van Bommel, Loni Landon, Bradley Shelver, Sidra Bell, Gina Patterson, Nicolo Fonte, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Ben Stevenson. He has also performed at the 2010 San Francisco International Arts Festival as a guest with Amy Seiwert's company Imagery, at the Kennedy Center in 2008 with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet and again in 2013 with Ballet Across America III, with Ballet Arkansas as a guest in 2012, and at the 2011 Festival des Arts de Saint- Sauveur. Mr. Swaim teaches in the Butler Center for Dance & Fitness, Ballet Austin Academy, and has guest taught across the country.
Cassia Wilson completed her formal and pre-professional training at the Dallas Ballet Center and Company under the direction of Brent and Judy Klopfenstein. There she performed lead roles in The Nutcracker and Le Corsaire and in works by Jason Fowler and Thom Clower. She also received professional training with Kim Able. Cassia is the recipient of the 2009 Natalie Skelton Scholarship by the Dance Council of North Texas, the 2010 Outstanding Student - RDASW, the 2010 Lynn Kubinec Heart of a Dancer Scholarship, and three Guild Merit Scholarships. She attended summer intensives at the School of American Ballet, Ballet Magnificat!, and Nashville Ballet, and was offered a full-tuition scholarship to Pacific Northwest Ballet. Cassia was a member of Nashville Ballet II before joining Ballet Austin.
Jaime Lynn Witts is originally from Bucks County, Penn., where she received most of her training from Maxim Ponomarenko, Oleg Briansky, and Mireille Briane. She attended summer programs at CPYB, Boston Ballet, and Ballet Austin. There, she continued her studies with Truman Finney in Ballet Austin's Trainee program before joining Ballet Austin II. Since joining the company, Witts has performed in works by numerous choreographers including Stephen Mills, Thaddeus Davis, KT Nelson, Nicolo Fonte, Sidra Bell, Viktor Kabaniaev, Nelly van Bommel, Loni Landon, Jennifer Hart, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Gabrielle Lamb and Gina Patterson. She has enjoyed performing principal roles in George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante and Agon,Swanhilda in Coppelia, Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty and Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, for which she earned her second Austin Critics Table Award. Most recently she has made her premier as the title role in Mills’ The Firebird. Witts has also had the honor of performing the role of The Survivor in Mills' Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project in Austin and on tour in Miami and Israel. When she is not dancing, Witts enjoys spending her time off with her husband and daughter, Evaline.
Sarah and her husband are residents of Austin since 1969. Sarah's strong interest in Arts and Education has led her to serve on Ballet Austin Board of Directors. She has served as Chairman of Board of Directors over the last six years and as President of Ballet Austin Foundation over the last 10 years.
Alex is a senior vice president of investments for UBS and manages the financial affairs for a select number of families and privately held businesses in Central Texas. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and former Airborne Ranger, Alex has been in the private banking and investment management business for the last 11 years.
An award-winning space planner and interior designer in Texas since 1976, Marla has been recognized for her professional achievements by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and International Interior Design Association (IIDA). She was elected into the College of Fellows of the International Interior Design Association, and was among the first interior designers to be inducted into the Design Hall of Fame at The University of Texas. Marla also serves as an Honorary Life Member of Zach Scott Theater's Board of Directors.
Tom joined EZCORP in April 2009 and has responsibility for the legal, compliance, government relations, loss prevention and risk management functions. Prior to joining EZCORP, Tom was vice president - legal and general corporate counsel for Dell Inc., where he had primary responsibility for legal support of Dell's corporate securities, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, financial services, executive compensation and benefits, facilities, corporate governance and general corporate matters. Prior to joining Dell in May 1995, Tom was vice president - corporate development of Parker & Parsley Petroleum Company (predecessor to Pioneer Natural Resources), Midland, Texas, where he was primarily responsible for merger and acquisition, corporate securities and corporate finance matters. Before joining Parker & Parsley in July 1992, Tom was a shareholder with the law firm of Johnson & Gibbs, P.C., Dallas, Texas, having joined the firm upon graduation from law school in 1980.
Tom received a B.S. degree in Management from Purdue University in 1977 and a J.D. from The University of Texas at Austin in 1980. Tom has been active in past United Way annual campaigns (serving as chair of the Professional Division for two years) and had the pleasure of doing meaningful volunteer work for Caritas during his career break (April 2008 to April 2009). Tom and his wife, Sally, have lived in Austin for 15 years and have two daughters.
Edie and her family moved to Austin in 2009. Her work experience includes planning public programs for the Smithsonian Institution and management consulting for Ernst & Young. She previously served as Parents' Association President and Board Member of St. Mark's Episcopal School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. She has an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University and a B.A. from the University of Virginia. Edie and her husband, Cotter Cunningham, have three children.
Jennifer Garcia has 15 years of experience in civil engineering-specializing in land development, dam safety and U.S. Naval shipbuilding. She has extensive experience in land development in Central Texas performing project management, engineering design, and regulatory permitting of mixed use, master planned, single family, retail and office development projects. She is experienced with dam safety, design and emergency action planning for the State of Texas. Jennifer is extremely knowledgeable in providing engineering design and project management services for all aspects of land development and engineering design projects in Central Texas. She is proficient in performing site investigations and producing conceptual site planning and construction plans. She has effectively worked with government agencies and has spoken at multiple City Planning and Zoning Commissions and City Councils for zoning and development proposals. She has spoken at numerous workshops throughout the State of Texas on providing knowledge to the public on Emergency Action Planning for dam safety. She is responsible for technical and supervision leadership over Professional Engineers, Engineers In Training and CAD Designers, and QA/QC for dam safety, site development and utility projects.
Minsok Pak serves as the managing director at Actium Corporation. He served as a director at McKinsey & Company from 1991 to 2010. Minsok led Asia Pacific Marketing Practice from 2003 to 2008. He served as a Member of Industry Leadership Teams for high technology, telecommunication, packaged goods, and retail sectors in Asia and was a Member of North American Operations Leadership Team from 1999 to 2003. While at McKinsey & Company, Minsok was seconded to LG Electronics in Seoul, South Korea, where he served as an executive vice president and chief strategy officer from 2007 to 2009. He holds an MBA from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College.
Ryann Reaud was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. She attended college at Southern Methodist University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Ryann went on to graduate with honors from the University of Texas School of Law. She then served as a law clerk for United States District Judge Royal Furgeson in the Western District of Texas. She currently works as a prosecutor in the Travis County Attorney's Office.
As chief executive officer of Motion Computing, Cathy Thompson is responsible for guiding Motion's direction and day-to-day activities. Working closely with Motion's chairman, executive team and board of directors, she helps set Motion's strategic direction and oversees company activities focused on growth, innovation and industry leadership. Prior to her position as CEO, Cathy was Motion's chief operating officer and was responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of Motion's finance, operations and service and support organizations.
Prior to joining Motion, Cathy served as vice president of finance for Dell's Global Marketing organization, where she was responsible for the controller functions for those chief marketing offices. After beginning her career with Dell in 1993 as vice president of internal audit, she also held roles as vice president and corporate controller, vice president of business pperations in the Americas, vice president of customer support within the Relationship Group, vice president of global customer programs and vice president of finance supporting the sales segments in the Americas and Commercial Business Group. Before joining Dell, she was a partner at the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen & Company where she was director of the Dallas/Ft. Worth telecommunications and utilities audit and financial consulting practices. Cathy is a Certified Public Accountant and received a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Texas in 1974, where she currently is a member of the Advisory Board for the Evening MBA program. She is also on the boards of the Capital Area Food Bank.
Jeff Trigger is the founder of La Corsha Hospitality Group, a hotel management and consulting company. La Corsha Hospitality was recently selected to oversee the restoration and repositioning of two historic Texas hotels, the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio and the historic Stoneleigh Hotel in uptown Dallas. The company will also oversee the construction and manage the planned Seaholm Plaza Hotel in downtown Austin. Jeff has previously overseen the transformation of The Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin, as well as The Mansion on Turtle Creek and The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. Jeff is also on the boards of the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Austin Public Library Foundation, Communities in Schools, and Housing Works Austin.
Hunter Armstrong is a proud native Austinite. Before he started working in the family business in 2008, he studied Physics at the University of Texas at San Antonio and did a short stint in Tech Support. After working nearly every job in the building, he took over as President of Blue Whale Moving Company and Humpback Junk Removal in 2014. Hunter is an active participant in the Austin community, having been a Physics tutor and now a mentor to Eanes ISD Students.
Becky Beaver is widely regarded as one of Texas' preeminent family law attorneys. A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, Becky has practiced law for over 35 years, and handles all aspects of matrimonial and marital property litigation, including conservatorship of children and complex property issues. Her reputation as one of the best lawyers in the state is highlighted by Texas Monthly's recognition of Becky as a "Super Lawyer" for the last seven years. Becky has been an active force in developing and nurturing Austin's culture, having served on the board of directors of the Austin Children's Museum, Austin Women's Center, Planned Parenthood, Peoples Community Clinic, CASA of Central Texas, the Dispute Resolution Center, the Austin Bar Association, Travis County Family Lawyers, Travis County Family Law Advocates, Mexic-Arte Museum and the University United Methodist Church Foundation. She has also served on the Board of Advisors of the Austin Museum of Art. Becky has received the Profile in Power Award from the Austin Business Journal and the Women of Distinction from the Girl Scouts of Central Texas. She has also chaired events for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the Austin Community Foundation and serves on various committees for many other organizations.
Eric is a shareholder at Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody PC and focuses primarily on Trial & Appellate Litigation. He is a graduate of the University of Texas Law School. Eric also serves as a board member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Writer's League of Texas. He has previously served on the boards of the Sharir Dance Company, Austin Public Library Foundation and AIDS Services of Austin, Inc. and is a graduate of Leadership Austin.
As a regional brokerage manager with Wells Fargo Advisors LLC, Brett leads a select group of Financial Advisors who help their clients build, manage, preserve, and transition their wealth. Brett's team works to understand what is most important to their clients about their wealth, so that they can devise a sound, long term investment plan. In 2012, On Wall Street Magazine named Brett one of the Top 10 Branch Managers in the nation. Before entering the financial services industry, Brett graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing. Now a senior vice president of management for the San Antonio and Austin markets for the Wealth Brokerage Services division of Wells Fargo Advisors, Brett works closely with The Private Bank to deliver unsurpassed service and customized strategies for their clients. Brett lives in Austin with his wife Sherrill and their two daughters.
Richard B. Bennett is a C.P.A., C.F.P and founding partner of Durbin Bennett Peterson. He has more than 20 years of experience in individual, corporate, partnership, trust, and estate taxation. Rick graduated from The University of Texas. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, the Estate Planning Council, and the International Board of Certified Financial Planners. He is a Past President of Extend-A-Care (a non-profit organization) and is active in a variety of community and professional group activities. Rick is presently serving on the Ballet Austin Finance Committee.
Michael Blue is the managing partner for the Austin office of Ernst & Young. Prior to assuming his roles in Austin, Michael was a partner in the firm's Capital Markets Group in Paris, France and was responsible for European multinational companies going public in the Unites States and other European multinationals registered on U.S. stock exchanges. He has also worked in San Jose, Frankfurt, Germany and Houston offices.
Michael has more than 26 years experience serving high-growth, technology companies, from venture-backed start-ups to multinational public and privately held companies with a focus on the semiconductor, software and biotechnology industries. He has extensive expertise in SEC reporting, corporate governance, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, as well as international accounting and auditing, and strategic transactions. His clients have included Luminex, GenSet, Whole Foods, Business Objects, Cirrus Logic, Hytek Microsystems, ISSI, National Instruments, SAS, Silicon Laboratories, Topaz Semiconductor, and Xilinx. Michael has served or currently serves on the boards of The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, The University of Texas Accounting Department Advisory Board, and The United Way Capital Area. In addition, he serves on the Audit Committee for KLRU Public Television.
After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, Paula's career years were spent in Chicago, rising to Vice President of a major bank. There she was an international banker, specializing in trade finance, letters of credit, and foreign project financing. When she and her husband moved to San Francisco, Paula retired to raise her three daughters while taking on major community leadership positions, including chairing the Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance for four years, serving as Vice Chairman of the Coyote Point Environmental Museum, serving in various capacities for the Peninsula Family Service Agency, and chairing various school and community events. With two daughters deeply involved in dance, Paula also became an active supporter of the San Francisco Ballet. With a return to Austin in 2002, Paula soon joined the Ballet Austin board. Now, with her husband often working in the UAE, and family spread across the country, Paula dedicates her time to travel, family, supporting various local and philanthropic causes, including the Ballet Austin, the Arts, the University of Texas, and Songwriting with Soldiers.
Nikki Bryant opened Lakehills Lending after more than 20 years banking experience in Austin. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she was named Volunteer of the Year by Austin Chamber of Commerce in 1991 and was a member of Leaders' Club for Top Producers for major bank entity. In addition to serving Ballet Austin, Nikki also serves as Kappa Kappa Gamma House Board President, a Westlake High School volunteer, and is an active member of Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church.
Andy is partner in Austin Anesthesiology Group, a division of American Anesthesiology, and has lived in Austin since 1999. He grew up in the Dallas area and is a graduate of St. Mark's School of Texas. His undergraduate degree is from Duke University, where he studied French and chemistry. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, then did his residency in anesthesiology through Harvard Medical School at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He remained on the faculty for one year at Harvard Medical School before returning to Texas. He is currently an anesthesiologist in Austin, specializing in adult cardiovascular and thoracic anesthesia. He was the chief of anesthesiology at St. David's North Austin Medical Center for six years, where he served on the hospital's Medical Executive Committee and Peer Review Committee. He was elected to and currently serves on the Advisory Board of Austin Anesthesiology Group. Andy and his wife, Elizabeth, have two children.
Blaine Bull is a founding partner of ViaNovo, an international management and communications consulting firm with offices in Austin and Dallas, Texas, Washington, D.C. and Monterrey, Mexico. Prior to forming his own strategic communications company in 2004, the StratCom Group, Blaine was a founding officer and shareowner of Austin-based Public Strategies Inc. During his 13 years as a managing director with Public Strategies, Blaine developed, managed, and helped implement dozens of successful international, national, multi-state, and statewide corporate campaigns. Blaine earned his master's degree at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin and his bachelor's degree at Texas A&M University. Blaine is a past president of the Ballet Austin Board.
Cass Burton has been practicing law in Texas since he was licensed in 2003. His firm, Burton & Hyde PLLC, focuses on administrative and business law. He represents regulated entities before state agencies, primarily the Texas Department of Insurance. Cass is both an advocate and a counselor. He seeks creative solutions to enforcement actions, and, when fundamental differences arise, he litigates cases at the State Office of Administrative Hearings. He advises clients on how to interact with regulators, provides compliance planning services, and assists in navigating the licensing process. His firm also handles many other routine business needs. Cass earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from The University of Texas School of Law in 2003. He received his clinical training in mediation. He graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in 2000 with special honors for his work as a University Undergraduate Research Fellow. Cass is a member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, a bipartisan non-profit organization that has conducted bilateral exchanges with more than 30 nations since the 1960s. He has traveled with ACYPL to Jordan, New Zealand, and Israel and on his own to 15 other foreign countries.
Dan Byrne is a 29-year lawyer representing clients involved in both straightforward and complex commercial disputes in a broad range of areas, including real estate, technology, financial institutions, employment, bankruptcy and general business litigation, both at trial and on appeal. He was voted by peers to Texas Monthly's list of Texas "Super Lawyers" as one of the best Business Litigation attorneys in Central Texas. He is a member of the Austin Bar Association, American Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, Fifth Circuit Bar Association, and the Texas Association of Bank Counsel. His wife, the Honorable Darlene Byrne, is a Travis County Judge.
Greg Casas focuses his practice in antitrust, complex business litigation, and energy and natural resources law. Greg's antitrust practice is international in scope and includes litigating price-fixing, bid-rigging, market allocation claims and providing counseling for DOJ/FTC investigations, joint venture formation, mergers and acquisitions, pricing plans and other contractual relationships. Greg's complex business litigation experience includes international dispute resolution, arbitration and class action litigation. His energy experience includes litigating power plant disputes, disputes arising out of oil and gas leases and joint operating agreements, product liability claims relating to oil field tools and supplies, and personal injury and death cases unique to the oil and gas industry. With regard to natural resources, Greg has experience in greenhouse gas emissions trading under The EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and the Kyoto Protocol.
Socar is chief executive officer of Elegant Estates by Auction LLC, a local boutique real estate firm. She is the immediate past president of the Ballet Austin Guild and has been involved in dance since she was a young girl.
Jeff Coddington is a senior vice president of capital markets and national director of Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE: JLL), which provides commercial real estate and investment management services worldwide. Based in Austin and the San Francisco Bay Area, Jeff assesses, strategizes and executes on the complex commercial real estate requirements of investors, corporations, public entities and non-profit organizations. Pleased to have started his real estate career in Austin in 1984, Jeff's clients include Applied Materials, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Starwood Capital Group, the Thinkery and numerous others. Jeff formerly worked with the Austin affiliate of Cushman & Wakefield, another global commercial property services firm, for 20 years. Jeff double-majored in Finance and Real Estate at the University of Texas at Austin.
Lawrence Collins' work in Austin, Texas, began in 1992 as an intern in the Executive Office of Governor Ann Richards and continues today with his own independent consulting practice. Collins is a registered lobbyist and consults with various clients on state budget matters. Collins' active client list includes nonprofits, municipalities and Fortune 500 Companies. Collins has been in solo private practice in Austin since 2004. During Collins' time at the state capitol he worked for both Republicans and Democrats and is the only person in recent memory to direct the two most significant committees of the Texas Legislature: the House Committee on Appropriations under the Hon. Robert A. Junell and the Senate Committee on Finance under the Hon. Teel Bivins. Collins is married with three children.
Ken founded and currently serves as chief executive officer of KTC Advisors and Apogee Advisors. Both firms guide boards of directors and C-level executives on strategies in consumer-branded products by assessing, developing and then participating in carrying out various value-building activities of start-up, established and mature enterprises encompassing every aspect of the organization. Ken attended the University of Dayton earning his Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant. He was guest for the New York market "Business Nightly" television program, was a guest panelist to a boutique CFO business conference, contributed to the 21st Century Schools program through in-class instruction at the collegiate level, and has been involved with numerous charitable efforts. Ken has resided in Austin, Texas, with his wife Candice since 2011. The Corbys have two sons.
Priscilla Cortez provides direction for development/fundraising activities as Executive Director for Strategic Priorities with the University of Texas System. Additionally, she serves as a nonprofit consultant with Bacon Lee & Associates, assisting organizations with program design and implementation, governance and management, and fundraising. Priscilla earned a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University, a master's degree in education administration from The University of Texas at Austin, and a law degree from St. Mary's University. She is involved with the Junior League of Austin, also serves on the board of KLRU-TV, and is a founding member of FuturoFund Austin. She is a graduate of Leadership Austin's Emerge Program and Essential Class. Priscilla and her husband John-Michael enjoy traveling, giving back to the community, and spending time with their daughter, Isabella.
Mark Cravotta founded Cravotta Interiors in 1996 and has been the firm's creative and driving force ever since. Whether he's designing homes for A-list celebrities, corporate suites of CEOs, luxury lofts for leaders of technology, or designing custom furniture and one-of-a-kind fixtures to fill those environments, Mark's interiors always contain a sense of history and adventure. In achieving spaces that unfold in livable luxury, warmth and beauty, Mark uses a mix of natural elements, rich textural surfaces, and evocative furnishings. Mark's passion for design was first realized in his years as an artist and jewelry designer. This understanding of, and personal connection to art has resulted in Mark's ongoing relationships with galleries, artists and collectors around the world, and make art procurement an additional and important element in his practice. Today, working from his home base in Austin, Texas, Mark expresses his enduring passion for design in the homes he creates for clients. And whether the homes are across the country or around the world, Mark's goal is constant: to design a home that reflects the highest ideals of the people who live there.
After 25 years of working in major advertising agencies, Steve joined Moreland Properties. In his first year he was named "Rookie of the Year" and in 2006 was named "Top Producer" in the Lake Austin office, Moreland's largest office. A graduate of The Ohio State University, Steve worked in sales and founded and managed two companies while still in college.
Kristen serves as the Community Relations and Inclusion Program Manager for NXP Semiconductors. She oversees the NXP Inclusion Council and guides the strategic initiatives that support the NXP Community Engagement Council and Foundation. Kristen has more than 16 years human resources experience and has worked in a variety of industries including finance, publishing and technology. Kristen's love of dance began with her first ballet class at the age of 5. She received her degree from the University of Texas and received her SPHR certification in 2009. Kristen is a member of Leadership Austin’s Essential Class of 2016. She is also an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Austin and volunteers with the Regents School of Austin. She is married to Aaron Day and they have 2 wonderful boys, Colin and Elliott.
Ann joined Austin Civic Ballet Guild (precursor to Ballet Austin Guild) in 1977 and has been a member every since. As a volunteer for Austin Civic Ballet Guild she worked on costuming, program ad sales, postal mailings, and ticket sales. Ann served as the President of Austin Civic Ballet Guild in 1981/82, served as the Ballet Austin assistant box office manager, box office manager and Board secretary as well as co-chaired the Ballet Austin Guild's New Year's Eve Ball and the Ballet Austin Golf Tournament. She created the Ballet Austin Travel Angel Program and has supported various fundraising events. In 2013 she was the recipient of Ballet Austin Guild's Sarah and Ernst Butler Award for her service with the Guild. Ann is also involved in various chairmanships at Laguna Gloria Art Museum's annual Fiesta, and is a current Board member of BookSpring. She is a graduate of Austin High School and the University of Texas, with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She's been married for 50 years to Jim Downing and has two children and five grandchildren.
Cliff has practiced law for approximately 30 years, the majority of that time with the Austin law firm of Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody. Cliff was born in Bartlesville, Okla., and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oklahoma State University with his law degree coming from The University of Texas. Cliff and his wife, Martha, have one son.
Kathleen Farlow joined Deloitte in 1983 and became partner in 1994. For most of her career, Kathleen's role has been and continues to be as a client service tax partner on large multinational clients and high net-worth individuals. Kathleen is currently the Central Texas managing partner leading more than 500 client service professionals in Austin and San Antonio.
Lauren started her career in marketing at Sotheby's in San Francisco, before moving into a business development/corporate strategy role with Perricone MD, a luxury skincare brand owned by TSG Partners. Paralleling her 2009 move back to Texas with her husband, Don, Lauren decided to stay home a raise their growing family, which now includes three children. Lauren and her family support a variety of philanthropic organizations, including Texas Children's Hospital, Princeton University, UNICEF, and Good Shepherd.
Cynthia Fresch is a native Austinite. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from the University of Texas - Austin and worked as a senior vice president at Bank of America for 25 years. She also worked 10 years for First American/CoreLogic and is currently a national account executive for CBCInnovis. Cynthia has been involved with numerous Ballet Austin committees and groups during her time as a board member, including CORE, Ballet Noir, the Artistic Director Search Committee, and the Management Committee.
Renee is a graduate from the University of Texas with a degree in advertising. Her career is in investments and began more than 13 years ago at an investment advisory firm in Houston. She currently works with Comerica Bank, and her primary role is investment management for institutional clients and retirement plans nationwide. Over the years, she has been a supporter for several nonprofit organizations, including literacy programs for adults to aid to children worldwide.
Native Texan, Wade Giles is a realtor with Moreland Properties, serving the Central Texas area. He earned his degree in Finance with a concentration in Real Estate from Louisiana State University before starting out on his own business endeavors that led him across the globe to Australia, Guatemala, Southeast Asia, New York City, and finally, back to where he knew he ultimately belonged: Austin, Texas. Since his return, Wade has completely immersed himself in Austin's culture, specifically within the arts. Having studied at the International Center of Photography in New York, Wade has a true appreciation of all art in all forms and understands the importance of keeping culture alive and thriving in our city.
Richard is a partner in the Intellectual Property Group of King & Spalding LLP, an international law firm having offices in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Richard specializes in intellectual property law (patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret, internet, domain name, and related matters). Richard holds a Bachelor of Engineering Science in Environmental Engineering degree from The University of Texas at Austin and received his J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law. Richard has represented some of the most well-known brands in the world, and he specializes in providing creative solutions, strategic planning, and problem solving for businesses in branding and trademark issues. He is a frequent presenter and speaker, and has received a number of professional honors, including recognition in the World Trademark Review 1000; Chambers, USA; Legal 500 USA; The Best Lawyers in America, trademark law; Texas Super Lawyer, intellectual property; and designation as an IP Star by Managing Intellectual Property and a Global IP Luminary by Trademark World. In his free time, Richard enjoys writing music, primarily on guitar and keyboard.
Jennifer, together with a team of advisors at Texas Capital Bank, provides comprehensive wealth management advice and services including concierge private banking, investment management, and trust and estate administration. The advice is integrated by the development of a customized financial and wealth transfer plan designed specifically for each family. A certified financial planner, Jennifer’s role on the team is to seamlessly manage the overall relationship, coordinate with the family’s attorneys and tax counsel, as well as to provide deep expertise on client banking and credit needs. With more than 28 years of experience in the industry, she has expertise in structuring credit needs ranging from simple mortgages to complex interim construction loans and investment real estate loans.
Chris was born and raised in La Jolla, Calif., and graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor's degree in Business. Prior to Austin, he held positions in San Diego, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, Chicago and New York with Saks Inc. Chris is currently the vice president and general manager of Neiman Marcus, Austin. He is also currently on the board of Preservation Austin. He and his wife have a daughter and are also supporters of The Contemporary, Laguna Gloria, Austin Opera, MJM, and The Thinkery.
E.D. Hill is the CEO of the Lazy 8 Ranch Specialty Food Company, which specializes in kosher, organic and gluten free products. Previously, she co-hosted "In the Arena" on CNN, "Fox and Friends" on the Fox News Channel, and anchored the evening news in New York City, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Waco. Her work as a reporter earned her an Emmy and a Golden Quill. She has interviewed numerous world leaders, sports heroes and business leaders as well as written two books. E.D. is a graduate of Dripping Springs High School and attended S.M.U., Harvard, and the University of Texas. E.D. and her husband, Joe, have eight children and live in Driftwood where they raise exotic animals.
Aileen Hooks regularly provides legal counsel to clients on regulatory and permitting matters relating to environmental, health, and safety issues, including air and water quality, solid and hazardous waste, and fuel regulations. Additionally, Aileen works on the environmental and facilities-related aspects of corporate and real estate transactions, including international matters. She is active in the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development. On a pro bono basis, she worked on the drafting and negotiation of a memorandum of understanding between the Council and the U.S. EPA on Scientific and Technical Cooperation in the Fields of Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development. Aileen received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, and her J.D. from the University of Texas.
Chris Hosek is a principal of Texas Star Alliance, specializing in direct lobbying and state agency relations. Chris has experience with a broad range of legislative issues and policy initiatives including a specific expertise in the energy sector. Chris served as the chief of staff for five years to the chair of the Railroad Commission of Texas, Elizabeth Ames Jones. Prior to his work at the Railroad Commission, Chris was also the legislative director for Jones in the Texas House of Representatives for the 78th and 77th sessions. Chris served as the House's committee aide to the Appropriations Committee, responsible for drafting the state's two-year budget. He was also committee aide for Jones on the House Energy Resources Committee, where he received his background in the energy field. Chris served in various roles for elected officials where he managed and developed legislative issues. Other committees Chris has worked on include the Urban Affairs and State Recreational Resource committees.
During his time in the Legislature, Chris was instrumental in setting up Texas' first umbilical cord blood bank. The Texas Cord Blood Bank was created by statute in 2001 and funded in 2003. Chris worked to secure a $1 million initial state grant for the bank, as well as an additional $2.5 million private/public matching grant. Chris has met with numerous international trade delegations at the Railroad Commission. He also participated in the Texas Trade Mission to Mexico, Qatar and United Arab Emirates. In 2008, Chris was selected by the American Council of Young Political leaders as a delegate to participate in an overseas governmental exchange with Taiwan. Chris graduated from Texas State University at San Marcos with a Bachelor's degree in Communications. He is a member of the Texas State at San Marcos Alumni Association and the Phi Delta Theta Alumni Association. Chris and his wife, Chandra, live in Austin, Texas.
Laura Huffman assumed the role of Texas State Director of the Nature Conservancy in June 2008. Laura heads a Texas staff of more than 100 scientists, conservation experts and support staff working at 35 preserves and projects spanning from West Texas to the Big Thicket and the Panhandle to the Gulf Coast. A native of Austin, Texas, Laura has a long and distinguished record of public service. Throughout her career, she has devoted substantial energy toward advancing environmental causes to benefit the lives of citizens, including undertaking important projects to protect water supply quality and public green spaces. As deputy city manager of San Marcos from 1994 to 2002 and assistant city manager of Austin from 2002 to 2008, she spearheaded important watershed protection and neighborhood and economic development initiatives for both cities. Laura earned a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.Sc. in Political Science with a minor in History from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.
Jon Ivester is the senior vice president of worldwide operations for Silicon Laboratories, a mixed signal semiconductor company headquartered in downtown Austin. Jon has lived in Austin since 1993 when he came to town to start up the Austin manufacturing activities of Applied Materials. He and his wife, Jo, have raised four children in Austin. Jon has a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from MIT and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has also served as the chairman of the board of directors for the American Red Cross of Central Texas.
Jannette Keating is an art advocate. She hails from Canada where she enjoyed a career as a French Immersion teacher. In the United States, her passion for dance, and visual art has become the focus of her energy. Involvement with art museums such as LACMA and The Contemporary Austin as a volunteer art educator has enriched her personal lifework as an artist. A recent graduate degree in Art Education/ Arts and Cultural Management from the University of Texas has directed her energy toward service on various local art-related boards of directors, including the Texas Society of Sculptors and The Contemporary Austin.
Dr. Craig Kuglen has been active in arts organizations for more than 40 years. After "mostly retiring" from medicine, he moved to Austin and has worked with Chorus Austin, The Austin Chamber Music Center, Austin Lyric Opera, Ballet Austin, and The Austin Symphony in various board positions. An honors graduate of Colgate University, he obtained an MD degree from the University of Alabama and moved to Texas for internship and residency in Galveston at UTMB. Craig founded an ophthalmology clinic in the Rio Grande Valley, which expanded to include major subspecialties and operated two surgery centers. He and his wife Peggy, have four children and seven grandchildren.
Ava Late is a wife, mother, community volunteer, and owner of Late European. Late European consists of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Austin, Aston Martin of Austin, Lotus of Austin, and Bentley Austin. She has been a Media Spokesperson for 30 years, and the last 14 years for BMW and MINI of Austin. She also previously owned a music publishing company in Nashville for 15 years.
A graduate of The University of Texas, she has volunteered and served in various capacities with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Hospice Association, Alzheimer's Association, AWARE, Women's Symphony League, Ballet Austin Guild, Bridge Point Booster Club, Good Shepherd Episcopal School, Hill Country Middle School Booster Club, Westlake Hyline Parents Association, Westlake Chap Club, Family Christmas Dance, The Sam Houston Society of Friends of the Governor's Mansion, The Littlefield Society, Austin Country Club Women's Association, The Central Texas Circle of Red, and Life Member Texas Exes.
Ava currently serves on the Board of Summit Homeowner's Association, Ballet Austin, Capital of Texas Alzheimer's Association, Helping Hand, Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer's Disease, The Circuit of The Americas Official, UT Chancellor's Council, and UT Austin Development.
Nora is a consultant, serving clients in the areas of management efficiencies, project implementation and fundraising for nonprofits and political candidates. She spent the first 12 years of her career in state government management, including serving as the first executive director of the Texas Lottery Commission. As a community volunteer, Linares-Moeller currently serves on the board of directors of the Sally M. Kingsbury Knock Out Sarcoma Foundation Inc., as president of the board of the LBJ Museum of San Marcos, treasurer of the board of the Friends of the Family Justice Center (Hays County), and secretary of the La Tina Foundation. She was appointed as a national board member of the La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) organization (founded by Cesar Chavez) in 2006. A graduate of Southwest Texas State University (SWTSU), now Texas State University, she is also a 1989 graduate of Leadership Texas and a 1990 graduate of Leadership America. Linares-Moeller currently resides in Wimberley, Texas, with her husband Michael Moeller.
Dr. Marcella Madera came to Austin from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she was a faculty Instructor of Neurosurgery and an AOSpine fellow. She completed her residency in neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati and Mayfield Clinic. Marcella performs both spinal and cranial surgery to treat a variety of conditions for central Texas residents.
Marcella has studied ballet since the age of 9, and she minored in ballet at Washington University in St. Louis. She continues to enjoy classes at Ballet Austin living downtown with her husband, Austin software entrepreneur, Mark Obrecht.
George E. Martin, Ph.D., has been president of St. Edward's University since 1999 and has led the university's collaborative effort to attain national recognition as one of the best small universities in the country. Currently, the university is ranked 20th in the West by U.S. News & World Report, and donors have responded to Martin's vision by investing more than $70 million in St. Edward's. Martin volunteers with a number of higher education organizations and is equally dedicated to community development and the arts in Austin, serving on the boards for several important civic and artistic organizations.
Jennene Mashburn has been an active Ballet Austin Guild member for 14 years, serving as president in 2000/01. She has held several volunteer postions in Assistance League of Austin since 1993, and currently serves as one of their Thrift House day chairs. Jennene is married to Ray Mashburn and has two married daughters and three grandchildren.
Michael has accumulated a diverse business background over the past 20 years. He holds a Ph.D. and J.D. from the University of Texas, and has been a practicing attorney and businessman with experience in real estate development, oil and gas exploration and services, investments, and law. From 2004 to 2009, he was president and chief executive officer of an oilfield services company in Carthage, Texas. Currently, he is an investor and member of Central Texas Angel Network.
Lobbyist and political fundraiser Andrea McWilliams is a skilled strategist, combining grace with grit and patience with persuasion. Known for her meticulous attention to detail, McWilliams brings her unique expertise to every issue she engages, drawing on her time in both the private and public sector.
The national media—including FOX News, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, USA Today, CNN, BBC, and NPR—have all reported on McWilliams' role as a leading fundraiser and political strategist. She is a national political commentator and has been profiled in a number of Texas publications as well.
McWilliams is a proud recipient of the Austin Business Journal's "Profiles in Power Award" and was bestowed by the Girl Scouts of Central Texas with the "Woman of Distinction" Award. In 2012, Andrea received the "Austin Under 40" Award. The Austin American–Statesman has also honored her as a member of its Glossy 8 list.
Nikelle became associated with Brown McCarroll LLP in 1998. During prior legal appointments she has served as judicial intern for Justice Jack Hightower of the Supreme Court of Texas, as a legislative intern for State Representative Dawnna M. Dukes, and as an associate attorney with the law firm of Minter Joseph & Thornhill, PC. Her practice involves representation of clients before local and state agencies, and she provides legal advice in the areas of procurement, transportation, commercial and residential real estate, business negotiations and transactions, economic development incentives, zoning, platting and land use. Nicole's professional affiliations include the State Bar of Texas, the College of the State Bar, the Austin Bar Association, the American Planning Association, the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association, the Real Estate Council of Austin, and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. She is currently the president of the Hill Country Conservancy. Nicole received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992 and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Texas School of Law in 1995.
Emily Moreland plays an integral role in the day-to-day operations of the real estate company she started in 1986. Her top priority is supporting her agents and their clients, but she still finds the time and energy to be very involved in many organizations that create the quality of life that we all enjoy in Austin. Emily was privileged to serve on the board of directors of the Long Center for the Performing Arts from its inception until 2008. At the present time, she serves on the advisory committee for the Long Center. Additionally, Emily is a past president and former chair the board for Ballet Austin. As a member of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, she actively supports the Opportunity Austin initiative, which the chamber created to focus on bringing and keeping jobs in Austin. Emily is president of the Dell Children's Medical Center Foundation Grandparents Club and actively supports raising funds for the hospital. She also currently serves on the steering committee for Foundation Communities, which provides housing for the working poor.
Susan Nestegard currently serves as a corporate director for Hormel Foods, Inc. and American Capital, LTD. From 2008–2012, Susan was Executive Vice President and President of Global Healthcare for Ecolab, Inc., and from 2003–2008, Susan held the position of Senior Vice President of Research Development and Engineering and Chief Technical Officer. Prior to joining Ecolab, Susan was with 3M for over 20 years in research and development, technical management, and business leadership. Susan has served on numerous nonprofit and industry boards, and continues to be equally passionate about giving back to the arts, science encouragement, and business leadership.
Kate Perez is an experienced marketing professional, focused on the technology industry with more than 10 years' experience building strategic programs for companies, such as a Cisco and Dell. Kate is a graduate of the University of Texas with a B.A. in Economics and an M.B.A. from the McCombs School of Business. She is actively involved in Ballet Austin's fete*ish Committee, Symphony BATS, The Blanton Museum, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas. Kate is also part of the Advisory Board of the Texas Conference for Women and is a Next Generation Project Texas Fellow with the LBJ School of Public Affairs. She is a graduate of Leadership Austin's Essential Class of 2013 and Emerge Class of 2009 and has previously been involved in organizations, including Leadership Austin and Greenlights 501 Council.
Deborah Portman moved to Austin from Laredo, Texas 12 years ago and serves as First Vice President of International Bank of Commerce (IBC Bank). She has worked in the banking Industry for 22 years, both in Laredo and Austin. Deborah received her Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, and studied ballet at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland while in college. She is actively involved with activities of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and is a member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Austin. Deborah has four children and eight grandchildren.
Elizabeth is an associate with the Austin law firm of Hopper Mikeska PLLC, and focuses her practice on estate planning, estate and trust administration, and guardianship. Elizabeth received her undergraduate degree from Boston University and her J.D. from the University Of Texas School Of Law. She is a member of the Austin Bar Association, the Estate Planning Council of Central Texas, and the Travis County Women Lawyers' Association. Elizabeth is from Boston, Massachusetts, where she attended the Boston Ballet School and performed in the Boston Ballet's Nutcracker.
Forrest Preece is a fifth-generation Austin native who grew up seeing our town's ballet company perform on the cement stage at Zilker Hillside Theatre. He has been involved with Ballet Austin since 1993. After getting his degree in Plan II/English from the University of Texas at Austin, he worked in the advertising business for thirty-nine years until he retired in 2005. The last twenty-eight years of his career, he ran Good Right Arm Advertising Agency. Currently, he is on the board of the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, is the Master Scribe for the Knights of the Vine/Austin Chapter and serves with his wife, Linda Ball, on the Directors Council of the Butler School of Music at The University of Texas. He and Linda have endowed recurring "Young Authors Awards" for elementary and middle school/high school students in the Badgerdog creative writing program at the Austin Public Library Foundation.
Forrest has been a board member of The Austin Advertising Club, Badgerdog Literary Publishing, and The Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival; was a board member and founder of Longhorn Associates, a support group for UT Women's Athletics; and has held leadership roles with other organizations. Since 2001, he has written a personalities column for West Austin News. Forrest and his wife are now active dilettantes. They enjoy traveling and being part of the Austin social scene.
Alejandro Ruelas is chief marketing officer and manager partner of LatinWorks. After spending 18 years in the alcoholic bevera industry, most of them with Anheuser-Busch, Alejandro and Manny Flores, a fellow marketing executive, founded LatinWorks, a cultural branding agency headquartered in Austin. The agency helps Fortune 500 clients in marketing their goods and services to the U.S. Hispanic population. In its 13 years of operation, LatinWorks has distinguished itself for creating some of the most memorable advertising campaigns in the industry, including the No. 1 television advertisment in the 2007 Super Bowl broadcast that featured comedian Carlos Mencia for the Bud Light brand. As co-founder Alejandro has been instrumental in the strategic management of the agency and its work. He heads its business development efforts and dedicates significant time to nurturing relationships with key clients, such as Anheuser-Busch, General Motors, Domino's Pizza and Wrigley.
LatinWorks, a minority-certified enterprise, is the most-awarded agency and widely considered the creative leader in its space. In addition to four Cannes Lions, in the last three years the agency has twice been recognized by Ad Age and Adweek magazines as Multicultural Agency of the year--and in 2010 was named to Ad Age's prestigious A-List as one of the Top 10 advertising agencies in the country. Alejandro is a graduate of California State University, Los Angeles. He also received an M.B.A. from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis, where he was recently recognized with the Olin Distinguished Alumni Award. Alejandro and his wife, Ana, chaired Ballet Austin's 2015 Fete gala fundraiser at the JW Marriott Austin, one of the most-succesful fundraisers in the organization's history.
Shon Saliga works as a market manager for IBM, focusing on service-related offerings for the financial sector including banking, financial markets, and insurance and supports marketing programs that drive more than a quarter of a billion dollars in annual sales. During the past 25 years, he has held numerous executive and senior management positions that span many aspects of IBM's business, from operating system design and development, to server strategy/competitive analysis, pervasive computing operations and accessibility research. In his spare time, Shon is the president of Our BellaRosa Group LLC, an Austin-based company specializing in the design and construction of exceptional Tuscan farm homes and villas. Shon and his wife, Jani, have four children.
Cord and his wife Anne are one of our youngest Ballet Austin families. Cord has been involved with Ballet Austin since 1991 and Anne since 2002. Cord has served on the Board since 2001 and Anne was President of the Guild in 2005-2006. Cord is a Residential Realtor with Moreland Properties and is the #1 Realtor in Austin from 2002 - 2007, 2009 and 2011-2014 (Austin Business Journal). In addition, he has been Moreland Properties' top salesman for 10 years. He is among the top 1% of producers in Austin and Texas. Formerly a realtor with Moreland Properties, Anne now stays at home with their 4 children Tatum, Tinsley, Banks and Bevo.
Jare Smith is a past president and past chair of the Ballet Austin board and a former Ballet Austin Guild president. She currently serves on the Long Center Board and the Advisory Board of Texas State University Fine Arts College. Jare is also a past president of the Lone Star Girl Scout Council and served as co-chair of the organization's Capital Campaign.
Native Austinite, serial entrepreneur and urban core real estate advocate Will Steakley is the co-founder of DEN Property Group. With more than $180 million in closed transactions, Will consistently ranks as one of Austin Business Journal's top real estate producers. With a strategic focus on architecturally significant homes and the downtown lifestyle, Will is the top-grossing agent at his firm, exceeding the expectations of his diverse client base. Additional accolades include a vested interest in several local businesses ranging from clean technology to the live music sector that include The Mohawk, GreenLight Energy Services, KLD Energy Technologies, SoZo Global and Austin Surf Company. Will and his wife, Karen, have two children and served as chairs for Ballet Austin's 2014 Fete gala fundraiser at W Austin.
Born in New York City and raised in Houston, Texas, Judge George Thomas graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio in 1998 with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in History. He then earned his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center in 2002. After graduating, he worked as a legislative assistant in the Texas House of Representatives and practiced immigration law in Houston. He moved to Austin in 2004 and became a criminal prosecutor for the City of Austin. In 2010, he accepted a position as a prosecutor with the Travis County Attorney's Office-Criminal Division. After almost 10 years of being a prosecutor, he was appointed as a Judge to the Municipal Court of the City of Austin in 2014. He is the first Indian-American judge in Travis County history. He has been active in a variety of local civic and political organizations in the Austin-area for several years.
Ellen Troxclair is an accomplished businesswoman and an active member of our community. Elected to public office in 2014, she is the youngest woman to ever serve on the Austin City Council. In addition to her role at City Hall, she manages a successful residential real estate business and is a founding partner of Luxe Property Group. After graduating with a degree in business from the University of Texas, she began a decade-long career in public policy. In her capacity at the State Capitol she worked with constituents, local municipalities, state agencies, and interest groups in researching and developing effective policy on a vast array of issues. She played an integral role in crafting statewide legislation on topics such as improving our education system, assisting veterans, providing reliable water infrastructure, ensuring election integrity, and truth in budgeting and taxation.
Currently, she serves as chair of the City Council's Economic Opportunity Committee and as the vice chair of the Audit and Finance Committee. She also represents the City of Austin on the Regional Affordability Committee, the Capital Area Council of Governments, and the Joint Committee on Education. Ellen and her husband live in Southwest Austin. As a member of the committee for the St. David's Foundation Neal Kocurek Scholarship Fund, she dedicates her time to raising scholarship money for Central Texas students wishing to pursue health-related careers. She is also a long-time volunteer for Meals on Wheels, a Steward of the Wild with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation, and a member of the Ballet Austin Guild.
David Webber, AIA, is a native Austinite. He earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree with Highest Honors from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992 and founded Webber + Studio Architects in 1997. David has established himself as a prolific presence on Austin's architectural landscape, and the Studio has built a diverse portfolio of residential, retail, personal services and public projects. His award-winning designs have been featured internationally through print, Web, and broadcast media. A member of the American Institute of Architects, he is active in the Texas Society of Architects, and sits on the board of directors of The Frameworks Community Development Corporation. David resides in Austin with his husband.
Jason Wills is the senior vice president of development for American Campus Communities, the largest developer, owner and manager of high-quality student housing communities in the United States (NYSE: ACC). Wills has a diversified background in the functional areas of the student housing industry ranging from residence life, management operations, marketing, leasing, development and finance. He began his career in student housing in 1993 as a resident assistant at the University of Texas at Arlington. He continued his career in student housing operations when he joined American Campus Communities in February 1997. After serving in increasing operational capacities with ACC, in 1999 he moved into the company's on-campus development division. In 2003, Wills was promoted to the position of senior vice president of development and selected to lead American Campus Communities highly successful on-campus development business segment.
Wills also played a key role as a member of the company's senior management team when ACC led the student housing industry to a new plateau to become the first student housing company to go public. He is a frequent speaker on trends in student housing at industry conferences and served as a trustee on the ACUHO-I Foundation. In 2005 Wills was one of the founding members of the 21st Century Project, an ACUHO-I think tank seeking innovation in student housing. He continues to participate on the 21 Century Project's steering committee.
Scott Yarborough is director of business development for Aquasana, a leading manufacturer of consumer water filtration products and a member of the Inc. 500. Prior to Aquasana, Scott held key roles at Triple Tap Ventures (a franchisee of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema) and the Global Consumer Group at Dell Inc. Scott received his M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina and a B.A. in Economics from Davidson College.