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Board Members

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Cindy Work Abell

Blake Absher

Ruben Cantu

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Ashton Cumberbatch

Elsa Decker

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Karen Friese

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Karen Frost

Preston James II

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Patsy Woods Martin

Founder
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Jackie Mata

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M.P. Mueller

Todd Ross Nienkerk

Erica Saenz

Board Chair
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Carolyn Schwarz

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Dwight Thompson

T.J. Turner

K.C. Waldron

Terri Broussard Williams


Their Bios:


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Cindy Work Abell

 

Cindy Work Abell holds Bachelors Degrees in Government and Advertising from the University of Texas and a J.D. from the UT School of Law. She worked in administrative law and policy in a variety of capacities at the Federal Communications Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC for eleven years. Since her return to Austin she has been active in the community in a number of ways. Her love of theatre led to service on the boards of performing arts organizations, including TexArts and Austin Musical Theatre. Her passion for Austin also has led to volunteer interests at Ballet Austin Guild, Women’s Symphony League, St. Stephen’s and St. Andrew’s Episcopal schools and most recently at I Live Here, I Give Here.


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Blake Absher

Blake joined BB&T in 2007 where he currently serves as the Austin Market President. Prior to joining BB&T, Blake served as the Retail Sales Manager for IBC Bank in Austin. He has worked in Commercial Lending roles with BB&T in Austin, Houston, and The Woodlands, TX areas. He also has served in several roles in BB&T’s Retail & Small Business Lending areas in the Austin market. In early 2013, he was given the opportunity to become the North Houston Market President to lead the Bank’s expansion efforts in North Houston and surrounding areas. He served in that role until November 2014 when he became the Austin Market President. Blake and his wife, Christine, enjoy the local performing arts and being active in several non-profits & causes.

Blake also serves on the board of directors at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas and Make-A-Wish of Central & South Texas.


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Ruben Cantu

Stories connect us all. They are the thread by which we all grow, learn, and prosper. The hero’s journey from obscurity to triumph is something we can all relate with.

Ruben has established this caveat at the center of his, and CORE Media Enterprise’s, mission, which is to change the world through social entrepreneurship and thought provoking content.

Defining himself more specifically as a “mediapreneur,” Ruben has been working in media since he was 14 when he hosted his first weekly radio show. During this early period, he established his first company at 18 and won national recognition for his college television show in 2002-2003. In 2004, he gained a clearer perspective on inner workings of the media industry while working at MTV and Sony Music. He decided that the power of media could still be profitable if it was harnessed to bring awareness to social and environmental issues instead of just selling sensationalism. That idea sparked CORE Media Enterprises which launched in 2007.

CORE Media Strategies is the commercial arm of CORE, that creates strategies and marketing campaigns through web, high-end video production, and experiential activations. He takes these methods and specializes in cause branding, strategic storytelling and sparking cross-cultural conversations.

This work provides the foundation for CORE’s mission of impacting hearts and minds by creating remarkable campaigns for brands that are changing the world. The company’s film division, COREageous Films, reflects Cantu’s extensive background in filmmaking and provides a path for these socially aware and progressive projects to come to light.

Ruben is a first generation college graduate. He holds a B.S. in Radio-TV-Film from the Moody College of Communications and an M.S. in Technology Commercialization from the McCombs School of Business, both from The University of Texas at Austin.

As a social entrepreneur, his ambitions are focused on establishing a platform through media that allows society to reflect on its condition and spur progressive change.

He is also the Executive Director of Austin+SocialGood a community-based action tank and accelerator which is part of the Social Good Summit where he serves as a global connector and Director of Business Development. Also, he is a co-founder of WeAreAustinTech.com a video series which covers the tech community in Austin Texas. Ruben graduated from Leadership Austin’s Essential class of ‘14. He was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year for Austin Under 40 in 2015. He also was nominated for Changemaker of the Year in 2016 by the Austin Young Chamber. As an international speaker and trainer on startups and social innovation, he is helping shift the focus onto triple bottom line economics. When not working he is focusing on fostering entrepreneurship with the youth.


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Ashton Cumberbatch

Ashton G. Cumberbatch Jr., is the Vice President of Advocacy and Community Relations for Seton Family of Hospitals. Prior to joining Seton, Ashton served as Police Monitor for the City of Austin; a partner in the law firm of McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore, L.L.P., where he was head of the employment law section; and Chief of the Trial Division at the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.  In addition to his work at Seton, he still provides legal counsel at Cumberbatch & Associates.

Cumberbatch is an Associate Pastor at Agape Christian Ministries; and also ministers at Austin Bridge Builders Alliance (ABBA), a faith-based intermediary that influences Christian and community leaders to build partnerships that connect the resources of the Church to the needs of the community.  As part of his ministry, he has been doing cultural competency training since 2001 and is one of the co-authors of the Austin Pastoral Covenant for Racial Reconciliation and the (Austin) Commitment to Racial Reconciliation.

Cumberbatch, a graduate of the 2002 Leadership Austin Essential Class, has an A.B. in Economics from Brown University, as well as a law degree from The University of Texas School of Law.  He is married to his bride of 31 years, Pastor Jennifer R. Cumberbatch, who ministers via her gifts of teaching, preaching, counseling, singing, song writing and acting.  And they are blessed with four children: Graham, Virginia, Benjamin and Elizabeth.


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Elsa Decker

A San Antonio native, Elsa relocated to Austin to attend the University of Texas. She promptly fell in love with the city, its quality of life and all it has to offer.  After graduation she made Austin her permanent home, and began to work as a Realtor in the residential arena.  In 2001, an unexpected opportunity led Elsa to focus her industry experience on property title work with a locally owned Title Company, focused on the upper-end of the residential market.  After 11 rewarding years, she returns to residential sales armed with over a decade of knowledge in the upper-end market, property conveyance, development issues, and local government and growth trends.

Combining business experience and a sincere concern for people and their happiness, Elsa offers a unique set of talents to clients along with a clear understanding of their needs. Coupled with true professionalism and a sincere commitment to her work, Elsa’s reliability and tenacity is evident in every task she undertakes. She provides expansive knowledge in the centralized segments of Austin’s residential market, and tireless dedication toward finding her clients the home of their dreams.

 

 


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Karen Friese

Karen Friese has been an Austin resident for more than two decades, having moved here after receiving her B.S. degree from the University of Illinois in Civil Engineering.  In both her professional and personal role, she has been both an active participant and advocate for the responsible development and management of the growth of our City.

After spending most of her career with a large engineering corporation, Karen made the decision to start her own engineering consulting company in 2003.  Focusing on large scale regional and municipal water supply planning, water and wastewater infrastructure, and transportation and drainage planning, design, and construction services, her firm has grown to employ 15 people.

A graduate of Leadership Austin, Karen is currently a member of the City of Austin Bond Oversight Committee.  She is also a former member several of the City of Austin Commissions and Task Forces including the Water and Wastewater Commission, the 2010 Transportation Bond Citizen Task Force, and the 2011 Austin Energy Rate Review Public Involvement Committee.  Other professional contributions include national and State Board positions within the American Consulting Engineers Council.

Karen is an Austin Chamber Board member, a member of the UT Performing Arts Director’s Council, and a member of the Junior League of Austin.  As an Austin resident, she has contributed her time and talents to a number of local charitable organizations including the Breast Cancer Resource Center and Habitat for Humanity, with one of her most cherished memories being a trip to El Salvador with Austin Smiles.


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Karen Frost

Karen Frost is principal and owner of Frost Media Relations, and currently serves on the Board of I Live Here, I Give Here. A few of Frost’s public relations clients include Whole Foods Market, Keller Williams Realty International, The Red Twist, The Nobelity Project, Zachary Scott Theatre, The Texas Medal of Arts Awards and American Mensa.

Karen currently serves on the board of The Long Center and served as alumni president of the Bob Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University, as well as the executive board for CreateAustin, Impact Austin and Leadership Austin. In 2006 Karen was honored with Austin Business Journal’s Profiles in Power Award and in 2008 she received the Austin Under 40 Award for business entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Karen was raised in Houston, but spent a number of years living in Dallas, Fort Worth and Washington, D.C. Since April 2002, she has claimed Austin as home and lives in the central part of town with her husband, Charles Levy, and their border collie/golden retriever mix, Melvin, and their rhodesian ridgeback, Athena.

Following the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Karen collaborated with one of her clients – Jackie Waldman – and together they co-authored America, September 11th; The Courage to Give, which ultimately raised over $100 thousand for the American Red Cross.

 

 


Preston James II

Preston is the Co-Founder/Chairman of E3 Angel Network, which is the first in Texas focused on increasing angel investment participation amongst ethnically diverse and women accredited investors as well as increasing the number of minority led startups that get early stage funding.
Most recently, in August of 2015, he was appointed to the position of Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) at the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship in the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, where he works to inspire and support entrepreneurship amongst UT students and faculty.

Preston is a 25+ year IT Technology Sales and Consulting leader, including 20 years at Dell, where he led teams responsible for driving $250M+ in enterprise product sales. Preston has always been passionate about leveraging technology to solve business and social problems of our world. He’s currently an active mentor, advisor and consultant to tech startups, small businesses and social impact organizations. His current board commitments include The Fifty (Seton Health Fund), The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, Mission Capital and the Austin Vipers Basketball Club (AAU). He is also a mentor at Capital Factory and Impact Lab in Austin.

Preston earned his Bachelor’s of Science and Engineering degree from Howard University, in Washington, DC. A proud native New Yorker, Preston has lived in Austin since 1997 with his wonderful wife Kim and their four children, Sydney(15), Cori (12),Presli (9) and Preston, III (6).


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Patsy Woods Martin

Founder, I Live Here, I Give Here

 

Patsy is the founder and former Executive Director of I Live Here, I Give Here. Through its outreach and educational campaigns, Patsy designed the organization’s programs to inspire a movement to grow the culture of philanthropy in Central Texas. Under her leadership, I Live Here, I Give Here has changed the definition of philanthropy in Texas, making it fun and accessible. The organization’s newest program, Amplify Austin Day, a 24 hour online fundraiser, is a leading example of this innovative approach.

Before assuming her role at I Live Here, I Give Here, Patsy was the Vice President of Resource Development for United Way Capital Area. She has been a key fundraiser and volunteer for a wide range of Austin nonprofit organizations for over twenty years. Patsy currently serves on the board of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, the Women’s Fund of Central Texas and the advisory board of the newly created Legacy of Giving, an initiatives to expose children to philanthropy. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Junior League of Austin, Leadership Austin, and is a founding member of Impact Austin and UWCA’s Women’s Leadership Council. She has also co-chaired galas for the Helping Hand Home for Children and Hospice Austin and was a member of the Board of Regents at Texas Tech University. Patsy has been recognized by Ballet Austin as a “Woman on Her Toes”; by the Junior League of Austin as “Volunteer Extraordinaire” and by the Girl Scouts of Central Texas as a “Woman of Distinction.”

A fourth generation rancher in Montague County, Texas, Patsy is active in her family ranching and oil business.

Patsy and her husband Jack have three grown children and have called Austin home for over 30 years.


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Jackie Mata

 

Jackie Mata is a private banker with J.P. Morgan Private Bank assisting clients with tailored solutions drawn from her twenty-five years of experience across the broad spectrum of wealth management services to high-net-worth individuals, families, foundations and endowments. Jackie has significant background in the areas of investment management, finance, estate and income taxation and philanthropy.  Prior to joining the firm, she was COO and founding executive director of an Austin-based family foundation while simultaneously serving as the family’s CFO.  She had previously been Director of Wealth Management services at an Austin-based investment management firm.  In addition, she had served as the CFO for a family office serving the financial needs of a three-generational family. She began her career in Michigan with Deloitte & Touche where she served as tax manager in Ann Arbor.  Jackie is a graduate of Michigan State University with a BA in Accounting.  She is a Certified Financial Planner® and certified public accountant.

Jackie is currently a board member of I Live Here, I Give Here and a social ventures partner with Mission Capital.  Previously she has served on the boards of College Forward, Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, and Broad College of Business Alumni Board at Michigan State University.

Jackie lives in Lakeway with her husband of 25-plus years.


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M.P. Mueller

MP Mueller is president of Door Number 3, a 17-year-old indie ad agency based in Austin. The award-winning agency represents a diverse stable of clients including The Alamo, the Dallas/Ft. Worth Area Tourism Association, Texas.gov, the Austin Film Festival and the Blood & Tissue Center of Central Texas.  She writes a weekly blog, Branded, about marketing for small business that is featured on the New York Times’ website.  Door Number 3 has a long-term commitment to giving back to a community that has supported them for so long.  The agency has helped numerous non-profits through pro bono marketing and advertising campaigns.  These include the Austin Humane Society, the Breast Cancer Resource Center, People’s Community Clinic, the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, the Paramount Theatre and the Hispanic Scholarship Consortium.

MP is currently active on the board of the Foster Angels of Central Texas and on the communications committee for People’s Community Clinic.  She has served on the board of New Milestones Foundation for six years, and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce for three. She She’s been recognized as a Profile in Power by the Austin Business Journal, as a Woman on Her Toes by the Austin Ballet and, in 2010, by the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas as a Rising Star.

In earlier roles, MP was a standup comedian, worked for a Texas senator on Capitol Hill in D.C., and led advertising for Pharmaco (now PPD), an international contract research organization.  The mother of two teens, Lawrence and Helen, she graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in Communications and Public Affairs.  She’s also farms hay in the Texas Hill Country.

 


Todd Nienkerk

Todd is a Digital Strategist, CEO, and Partner at Four Kitchens. Todd’s role is to help organizations define and reach their goals using a combination of technology, creativity, and strategy. His background in design, development, communication, and psychology provides unique insight into how people use technology: how we think, feel, interact, and form communities both off- and online.

Since 1996, Todd has designed and built countless websites and written for, edited, and managed several online and print publications. In 2006, he co-founded Four Kitchens, a web design, development, and strategy consultancy. Four Kitchens’ mission is to change the world by setting knowledge free. They achieve this mission by working with open-source software and communities, choosing projects that advance human knowledge, and freely sharing our expertise with the world. Recent awards for client projects include an Emmy, Stevie Award, Davey Award, AVA Award, WebAward, and two Communicator Awards.

The business leadership and progressive management philosophy Todd helped shape at Four Kitchens have garnered both local and national attention. Four Kitchens has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., BetaNews, Texas CEO, and Texas Tech Pulse to name a few. Four Kitchens was named one of the “Best places to work in Central Texas” by the Austin Business Journal in 2014 and 2015, and Todd was a finalist for the Austin Under 40 Awards in 2015.


Erica Saenz

Board Chair
Erica Saenz joined The University of Texas at Austin in 2008 and currently serves as Assistant Vice President for Community and External Relations (CER) in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. The CER portfolio includes the Communications Unit, the Community Engagement Center and Special Events. CER is also responsible for providing program and sponsorship management for campus and community partnerships. Erica holds a Bachelors degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a Masters degree from UCLA. Prior to coming to UT-Austin, Erica held various positions at UCLA including serving in the Chancellor’s Office where she liaised with campus and community constituencies on behalf of the Assistant Chancellor and Assistant Provost and gained experience in managing emerging areas of campus concern of both external and internal origin. Erica is a proud member of Austin Creative Alliance, Austin Script Works, FuturoFund Austin, Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas- Austin branch, Las Comadres Para Las Americas, and the Screen Actors Guild. Erica’s current board and service commitments include the Austin Involved Advisory Council, Community Action Network, Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, Hispanic Scholarship Consortium Advisory Council, I Live Here, I Give Here, The Long Center for the Performing Arts, Teatro Vivo, and the Texas Exes Hispanic Alumni Network.

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Carolyn Schwarz

Carolyn Schwarz serves as Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas. Carolyn has her Master’s Degree in Social Welfare from UC-Berkeley. Prior to joining RMHC of Austin and Central Texas, Carolyn was founding executive director of Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM). She helped build a first-of-its kind, nationally recognized organization providing access to affordable health care for Austin’s musicians. In 2009, Schwarz was named Austinite of the Year and won the Arts and Entertainment category at the 11th Annual Austin Under 40 Awards. In 2010, she was named a winner in the Austin Business Journal’s 16th Annual Profiles in Power and Women of Influence Awards. In 2011, she was one of four people to receive an Austin ICON Award. She lives in Austin with her husband and their two children.


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Dwight Thompson

Dwight Thompson is currently the President of Texas Steel Culvert Company, Inc. – Austin, in addition to his business in real estate investment and management. He is the former president of National Corrugated Steel Pipe Association in Dallas and the South Central Corrugated Steel Pipe Association in Kansas.

Dwight Thompson’s extensive community involvement includes his work on the Austin Salvation Army District Advisory Board, Vice-Chairmanship of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization from 2001-2006 and former Chairman of the Travis & Williamson County Alliance of Cities from 1999-2006. He is a past instructor at Boy Scouts Longhorn Council Merit Badge University, and is a Rotary Foundation Paul Harris Fellow. He is also a Leadership Arlington Graduate, and perhaps most notably the former Mayor of the City of West Lake Hills, Texas (1996-2006). Awards include the Westlake Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2000 and the City of Arlington Texas Reserve Police Officer of the Year in 1981.

Dwight has been married to Cathy Thompson for 24 years. They have two children, Sarah and John.

Mr. Thompson has a deep interest in the Austin community and the well being of all its citizens.  He and his wife, Cathy, has been involved in fund raising for United Way, Safeplace, March of Dimes, and many others.  Their ties to the community are strong; Austin is their home.


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T.J. Turner

T.J. Turner is a partner in the Austin law firm of Cain & Skarnulis PLLC where his practice focuses on business litigation. He has previously served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas, as Assistant General Counsel in the Office of the Governor, and as a Briefing Attorney at the Eleventh Court of Appeals.

Mr. Turner is a proud graduate of Texas Tech University, where he earned a bachelor of arts in Public Relations, and Baylor University School of Law, where he earned his juris doctorate.

In 2012, Mr. Turner received a gubernatorial appointment the Texas Real Estate Commission where he continues to serve as a public member commissioner. He is also involved with I Live Here, I Give Here, Austin Young Lawyers Association, Baylor Business Network, Texas Tech University Alumni Association and First United Methodist Church of Austin where he has served on the Administrative Board and Board of Trustees. Mr. Turner resides in Austin with his wife, Jamie, and their two children.

 


K.C. Waldron

K.C. Waldron is the Vice President of Compliance for Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. Advisor Services. In this role, she leads the team responsible for compliance and regulatory risk related to brokerage account transactions by independent investment advisors. She has extensive legal and compliance experience in the financial services industry. She has previously been in-house counsel with Schwab; an enforcement attorney for the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission; and a securities law attorney with Morrison & Foerster LLP. KC graduated from Texas A&M University, and the University of Texas School of Law. Her Austin community involvement includes Texas Wall Street Women, the Junior League of Austin (sustainer), and Women’s Symphony League.

 


Terri B. Williams

Terri Broussard Williams is the Vice President of Government Relations for the American Heart Association-SouthWest Affiliate. In this role, she oversees the AHA’s legislative portfolio and advocacy staff in six states including Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming. Under her leadership the SouthWest Affiliate Advocacy Team has successfully passed laws that improve the region’s cardiovascular health. She has a long list of American Heart Association honors including being named 2013 Rome Betts-Advocacy (highest honor given to an AHA employee by the association), 2013 & 2014 National Team of the Year, and 2013 Affiliate Team of the Year and was named Affiliate Manager of the Year in 2012. Terri has been with the AHA for nearly twelve years beginning her career as the Louisiana Government Relations Director. She lives in Austin, Texas where she is an active member of the non-profit community and volunteers between 10-20 hours each week. Terri is a strong believer of servant leadership and has served as a member of several community boards including but not limited to Leadership Austin, The Junior League of Austin, Concordia University, Austin Travis County Integral Care, and Giving City Magazine. The Greater Black Austin Chamber of Commerce named Terri the 2014 Executive of the Year. Concordia University conferred its Inaugural Emerging Leader award to Terri and her husband, Lemuel Williams in 2013. Terri was named one of the Most Influential Women in Central Texas by Austin Business Journal in 2012. She is also an active volunteer of the American Red Cross of Central Texas she chaired their signature gala- Luminaria 2013 and was the founder of Club Red, the young professionals’ arm of the organization. In 2012, Terri and Lemuel launched a scholarship for minority young professionals under the age of 40 to participate in Leadership Austin’s Emerge Program. Since then 3 individuals have received this scholarship and in return volunteer 20 hours to the Austin community. She and Lemuel served as the inaugural honorary chairs for the 2015 Austin Under 40 Awards.