Women in Leadership: Leading Through a Pandemic

Aug 05, 2020

Each year the Future Forum hosts a discussion on “Women in Leadership,” a series which has explored a variety of topics including building diverse and inclusive teams; the competing professional and personal demands women may face; women in government, featuring a conversation with Madeleine Albright; the historic mobilization of women in politics the last election cycle; and–most recently—the next generation of changemakers.

The 2020 "Women in Leadership" event highlights how COVID-19 has impacted female leaders in our community in the healthcare, education, civic engagement, and mental health spaces. The video includes perspectives from:

  • Nicole Conley, Chief of Finance and Business Operations, Austin Independent School District
  • Raven Douglas, Political Director, MOVE Texas
  • Kate Garza, Director of Advocacy & External Affairs, Ascension Seton & Ascension Providence
  • Emily Ramshaw, Co-founder and CEO, The 19th*
  • Karen Ranus, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness


About our Speakers

Nicole Conley

Nicole Conley is the chief business and operations officer for the Austin Independent School District, where she is responsible for managing a nearly $3 billion budget and capital program, which includes 129 school communities serving more than 80,000 students, including her two sons.

Nicole has more than 20 years of financial management experience, more than a decade of which has been in an executive role. She has amassed a breadth of knowledge from serving large, complex urban systems, including: the New York City Department of Education, District of Columbia Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Atlanta Public Schools. She is nationally recognized for her deep expertise in school finance and for turning around troubled financial systems.

At AISD, she leads and manages the district's business and operations division, which comprises more than 1,600 team members and includes finance, as well as the bond program, construction management, facilities, HUB program, nutrition and food services, purchasing, service center, transportation, and warehouse operations. Recently, Austin voters approved $1 billion bond program to modernize AISD schools and address critical deficiencies.

Nicole is active in her sons' school communities, as well as the Delta Sigma Theta national sorority. As a mom and financial professional, Nicole brings community perspectives into the business and operations of Austin's school district, while remaining keenly focused on the bottom line: student success.

Raven Douglas

Raven Douglas is the Political Director of MOVE Texas, a grassroots, nonpartisan nonprofit organization ensuring young people have a voice in our democracy. Raven initially joined the MOVE team in 2016 as a field fellow before going on to intern at America Votes in Washington, DC and then worked as a legislative aide while participating in the Texas Legislative Internship Program in Austin, TX. She is a graduate of The University of Texas at San Antonio where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Raven is a 2019 MTV Leaders for Change Winner, a grant program that invests in young people doing extraordinary work at the local level to advance voting access.

Kate Garza

Kate Garza currently serves as the Director of Advocacy & External Affairs for Ascension Seton and Ascension Providence where she uses her over 20 years of federal, state, and local experience to advocate for a more compassionate and just society, especially for people who are living in poverty, working families, children, and vulnerable individuals. Previously, Kate served as senior counsel for Austin's first Latina City Council Member, Delia Garza. Kate has extensive federal policy and political experience, having served as a senior official in the Obama Administration for the US Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

She has also served at the US Department of Education, for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, and the House Education and Labor Committee. Kate holds a degree in Elementary Education from Aurora University and taught in the Cabrini Green public housing projects in Chicago. She received her law degree from Indiana University - Bloomington. Kate, her husband Jose, and their two children live in Austin and love to explore the world. Kate is active in the advocacy community, serving on various boards and committees, including the Downtown Austin Community Court Advisory Board, Early Matters Greater Austin Steering Committee, and Opening Central Texas Task Force.

Emily Ramshaw

Emily Ramshaw is the co-founder and CEO of The 19th. She was previously editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, an award-winning nonpartisan digital news startup that now boasts the largest statehouse reporting bureau in the country and the nation’s most successful business model for local news. A Washington, D.C., native, Emily started her career at The Dallas Morning News. She is the youngest member of the board of the Pulitzer Prize. A graduate of Northwestern University, Emily lives with her husband and daughter in Austin.

Karen Ranus

Karen Ranus is the Executive Director of the Central Texas affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Central Texas). She sits on the Travis County Behavioral Health Advisory Committee, the Steering Committee of the Austin State Hospital System Redesign, and the Advisory Council for the Center on Youth Mental Health. She is a 2020 Frank McBee Fellow, a nationally recognized Schwab Local Hero and often shares her own family's story of navigating mental illness in an effort to help dispel myths and encourage positive mental health conversations.

Quick Links

Contact Us

Sarah McCracken
Director of Public Programs
LBJ Presidential Library
2313 Red River St.
Austin, TX 78705
[email protected]


Deborah Arronge
Membership Manager

LBJ Presidential Library
[email protected]


Please be aware that LBJ Presidential Library events may be filmed and/or photographed. Your attendance constitutes your authorization for the LBJ Library to use your photograph, voice, or other likeness for purposes related to the Library, including but not limited to marketing and promotion in both print and electronic forms.