Board of Directors
Ryann Collier, Chair
Ryann Collier is an account executive and publicist at Arrow in Austin.
She has worked on a wide variety of media projects, including the rebranding and reopening publicity of the LBJ Presidential Library in December 2012. Ryann excels at working with organizations to find creative publicity opportunities, and has led local, regional, and national campaigns for clients like H-E-B, Jason’s Deli, and the Texas Book Festival. Outside of the office, she has donated her time and services to Art Alliance Austin, the Downtown Austin Alliance, Grounded in Music, and The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas. In her spare time, she enjoys event planning, cooking, and spending time in Austin’s many beautiful parks. Ryann graduated with honors from Texas State University, President Johnson's alma mater, with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication-Public Relations.
Catherine Robb, Honorary Chair
Ms. Robb is the founder and chair emeritus of the LBJ Library Future Forum. Catherine Robb is of counsel in the Business Litigation Practice Group in the Austin office of Haynes and Boone, LLP. Catherine represents clients in the broadcast industry. Her practice is focused on commercial and business litigation, First Amendment litigation, pre-publication review and editing, copyright and trademark litigation, general commercial litigation, open government issues, and privacy concerns. She advises clients concerning media law issues for an extensive array of content providers including online and traditional newspapers, magazines, radio and broadcasters, cable television stations, production companies, and music entities.
Ms. Robb is a member of the American Bar Association (and the Women in Communication Law), Texas Bar Association, and the Austin Bar Association. She served on the Judicial Relations Committee for the State Bar of Texas (2001-2004 and 2009) and graduated from The First Amendment Institute's First Amendment Leadership Program in 2002. After completing law school, Ms. Robb clerked for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Chambers of W. Royal Furgeson) before going into private practice.
She serves as a board member and current board chair of KLRU (where she also serves on the Austin City Limits Committee), and serves on the board of the Mayor’s Health and Fitness Council, and the Texas Lyceum and on the Advisory Council for the University of Texas School of Undergraduate Studies, LBJ School of Public Affairs, and the Texas Exes. She is a past board member of the Austin Film Society (where she served as board president), Humanities Texas (where she serves as an alumni board chair), the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, the Austin Music Foundation, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and of the American Heart Association (Capitol Area Division). Ms. Robb served on The University of Texas' Commission of 125 (and Service to Society Committee) and is an active member of Leadership Austin.
In addition to these positions, Ms. Robb volunteers for several nonprofits in the community, including Reading is Fundamental of Austin, Trinity Center, and Volunteer Legal Services. She was awarded the 2007 Austin Under 40 Award in the category of Community Service. In her free time, Catherine runs and does triathlons. Ms. Robb earned her J.D., 1998, with honors, from he University of Texas School of Law. She received her B.A., 1992 from The University of Virginia.
TJ Costello is a senior economist with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts where his focus is on economic and data analysis as well as transportation issues. He previously oversaw special projects for the Comptroller including the Major Events Trust Fund (METF) and the Endangered Species Research Project. Prior to his state service, TJ worked as director of economic development at the Greater Austin San Antonio Corridor Council; a consultant on economic growth initiatives and small business development in Austin; and as national coordinator for the American Arbitration Association in New York City (overseeing outreach efforts for the Association's 37 regions).
Costello is a native New Yorker and graduated with honors from Ithaca College with a degree in applied economics. He received his master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin with a graduate portfolio in dispute resolution. He is a 2015 graduate of the Leadership Austin – Essentials program as well as the Comptroller's Leadership Academy. He has been a frequent speaker on leadership, market research, and the City of Austin's Charter revision creating a 10-1 city council. He currently serves as vice chair of Austin's Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) where he leads the commission's obligation to create and maintain Austin's 10-1 city council districts.
He has also served as president of the LBJ School's Austin Alumni Association and currently is an active member in the Texas Rugby Union and volunteers with local nonprofits Treefolks and BiGAUSTIN. He is also an award-winning basketball coach at the high school and collegiate levels.
Jason Embry is communications director and lead spokesman for Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. In his role with Speaker Straus, Embry oversees all aspects of messaging, including media relations, social media, speechwriting, and constituent correspondence. He has been with Speaker Straus since 2012.
Previously, Embry spent 14 years as a newspaper journalist. He was the Texas Capitol Bureau Chief for the Austin American-Statesman and also served as the Statesman's Washington Correspondent. He founded the "First Reading" political blog in 2009. He covered numerous local, statewide, and national political campaigns, including former Gov. Rick Perry's 2012 presidential run and the 2010 and 2006 races for governor. He also specialized in covering the state budget and public education. Before joining the Statesman in 2003, Embry covered education and politics at the Waco Tribune-Herald, and he has also written for the Killeen Daily Herald and the Williamson County Sun. Embry has appeared on numerous media platforms to discuss Texas politics, including MSNBC, C-Span, SiriusXM Radio, KEYE, and KVUE.
Embry grew up in the Houston area and is an honors graduate of Southwestern University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Communication.
Amy Garza is a senior associate in the public affairs and crisis practice at Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations and communications firm. Amy’s work focuses on project management, media relations, social and digital strategic communications and competitive intelligence research on behalf of clients across industries.
Amy previously served as a customer support analyst at Shell Trading US Company and Shell Energy North America in Houston. Her direct line accountability to crude oil and natural gas traders involved the accounting and net settlements of commodity and futures transactions. In addition to her energy experience, Amy has political experience under her belt, having served as finance director for Congressman Pete Gallego’s (TX-23) congressional campaign in 2012. Amy began her career at Public Strategies Incorporated where she assisted in the research and development of hospital crisis management communications. A native Austinite, Amy is a graduate of the University of Chicago with a B.A. in public policy studies.
Carsi Mitzner is an attorney serving as an advisor to the chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Prior to that, she worked at the government relations firm of Adams and Zottarelli, LLC advocating for various clients at the Texas Legislature. Previously, she worked for the law firm of Nix, Patterson, and Roach and in both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate. Before gaining experience in the Texas Legislature, Carsi worked for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
Carsi received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and a B.S. in Communication Studies with high honors from The University of Texas at Austin.
Carsi joined the LBJ Future Forum in 2008 and became a board member in 2010. Outside of the Future Forum, Carsi volunteers with SafePlace and is active in the Austin Young Lawyers Association.
Victor O. Obaseki
Victor O. Obaseki is an equity advocate, educator, and legal and policy researcher. He works as a policy coordinator and researcher at The University of Texas at Austin, with particular interest in how race and identity affect public policymaking in health, education, justice, and socioeconomic systems. Obaseki regularly collaborates to achieve racial and social justice with community members and organizations as well as local and state policymakers.
Prior to academia, Obaseki worked as a legal analyst and attorney in private practice and then as a drafting attorney at the Texas Legislative Council. He also formerly worked as a public affairs newspaper reporter for The New York Times Company and The Lone Star News Group.
Some of Obaseki's other civic involvement includes serving as a member of the 100 Black Men of Austin, Inc.; a board member of the Ghisallo Cycling Initiative; a board member of Liveable City; and co-chair for Government Affairs of the Greater Austin Black Chamber.
Obaseki earned a print journalism degree from the University of North Texas and a law degree from The University of Texas School of Law. In 2017, he was named Alumni of the Year by UT Law School's Thurgood Marshall Legal Society.
Emily Ramshaw is the editor of The Texas Tribune. Under her leadership, the Tribune has won three national Edward R. Murrow Awards, IRE's Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism, and a general excellence award from the Online News Association. Before coming aboard as one of the Tribune’s original reporters, Ramshaw spent six years at The Dallas Morning News, where she broke national stories about sexual abuse inside Texas’ youth lock-ups, reported from inside a West Texas polygamist compound, uncovered “fight clubs” inside state institutions for the disabled, and investigated a series of deadly transplants where patients received rabies-tainted organs.
Lorena Reyna is the social media and content coordinator for TurnKey Vacation Rentals. Previously, she worked for two sessions at the Texas Legislative Council. She also served two members of the Texas House of Representatives for two sessions and worked on a campaign for lieutenant governor. Lorena earned her B.A. in Political Science (with a minor in Journalism) from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Lorena is passionate about independent journalism, football, and Texas. She is a native Austinite.
Widely recognized as an authority in environmental and natural resources law and policy, David Smith returned to Texas – and private practice – after more than a decade in public service in both Austin and Washington, D.C. Mr. Smith has dealt with all major Texas and federal natural resources agencies as counsel, policy advisor, or appointed official. As a result, Mr. Smith has a keen understanding of complex regulatory issues and agency processes, as well as strong relationships with key agency personnel.
Most recently, Mr. Smith served as deputy assistant secretary of the Interior and Counselor for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, where he developed and oversaw implementation of policies for both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service. In this capacity, he was a member of the Secretary of the Interior’s senior management team, working with political and career leadership across the Department of the Interior, the White House, Congress, and other federal agencies. As former Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton noted, “David Smith has a national reputation as a problem-solver in conservation and parks management.” He has testified before both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and has delivered speeches and position papers to national and international audiences on such topics as the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Act, National Wildlife Refuge System, the National Park System, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Mr. Smith went to Washington as one of the Bush administration’s first appointees to the Department of the Interior, after serving on the Bush-Cheney transition team in late 2000 and early 2001. He previously served in the Appointments Office of then-Governor George W. Bush, overseeing all gubernatorial appointments in the areas of natural resources, conservation, real estate, housing, finance, and water. Before devoting his career to public service, Smith was an attorney in private practice in Austin, where he concentrated on environmental and land-use issues on the federal, state, and local levels.
Tim Taliaferro is the vice president of communications and digital strategy for Texas Exes, the alumni association for The University of Texas at Austin, and the editor-in-chief of Alcalde, the award-winning alumni magazine. Under Tim’s leadership, the communications arm of the Texas Exes has expanded to include video, interactive media, television, and podcasting. He oversees the association’s website, bimonthly print publication, social media, creative services, media relations, video production, and the Alcalde show on Longhorn Network.
Tim earned his bachelor’s degree in history and Plan II at UT, and his master’s in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School. Before joining the Texas Exes, Tim worked at the Huffington Post on their politics desk, and he helped launched the Chicago page, the Huffington Post’s first local vertical. In his free time, he alternates between running and cycling, and is an assistant coach for Austin Junior Volleyball.
Jessica Weaver is the assistant director of events at The Texas Tribune, where she manages and helps direct the Tribune’s nearly 60 year-round events and the annual Texas Tribune Festival. Before joining the Tribune, she helped establish a year-round educational events program and administer a federal Title VI grant at the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and worked for South by Southwest.
A Houston native, Jessica graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in history.
Lemuel Williams currently serves as the chair of the Future Forum. Lemuel is the channel development manager for Gemalto, Inc. based in Austin, Texas. In his current role, he is responsible for managing thought-leadership, industry trends and presentation of cyber security solutions with resellers and distribution partners for the North American market.
Prior to joining Gemalto, Inc., Lemuel worked in various roles such as program director, product management, director of alliances and business development, and channel management. All with local technology companies, which include Dell, Inc., Uptime Devices, Inc., and Bazaarvoice, Inc. Along with his work within the tech industry, Lemuel has been featured in various online magazines/publications: GovTech, Cloud Summits, The University of Texas at Austin Business Executive Communication, and Processor Magazine.
Lemuel first became interested in the world of politics and public policy as a summer intern when President George W. Bush was Governor of The State of Texas in 1999. As an intern in the policy office, he worked alongside various policy directors researching and organizing issues affecting citizens within The State of Texas. From that time, Lemuel has been active within and throughout by fundraising and campaigning for local, statewide, and national races.
In 2007, Lemuel was appointed to the City of Austin Technology and Telecommunications Commission. Today, he is serving his third term as chair, overseeing a seven-member group which advises city council on issues including, community technology, telecommunication services, new funding sources for access television projects, allocation of annual financial support, and evaluation of the performance of franchise holders. Under Lemuel’s leadership, he has helped create the city’s first-ever Chief Innovation Office, revised the Imagine Austin plan to include a community technology component, made recommendations on 100 GoogleFiber® connection sites, create a residential study on digital divide, increased funding for nonprofit grants known as GTOP’s from $100K to $200K and in 2014, formed a resolution for the passage of Distracted Driving.
In addition to these positions, Lemuel serves on the executive board of The Seton Forum and development committee within Leadership Austin. He has won several awards as Austin Under 40 Technology & Sciences 2010, The University of Texas at Austin – Concordia Emerging Leader, and is a graduate of Leadership Austin’s Emerge 2012.
Lemuel Williams is a 2001 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Geographic Information Systems.
Megan Woodburn is a seasoned association professional who has worked with national, statewide, and local associations during her 14-year career with nonprofits. She began her career in 2000, organizing grassroots fundraising campaigns for various nonprofit organizations throughout the country. After a few years, she directed the administrative functions of over 64 offices and worked on a national campaign team.
Since moving back to Texas in 2005, Megan has made her career in association management. She has managed statewide leadership boards while overseeing many local association affiliates. In 2010, Megan earned her Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential, awarded by the American Society of Association Executives. In 2011, Megan was awarded the Young Professional Leadership Award given by the Texas Society of Association Executives. This was the same year that she began the association management company, Strategic Association Management.
Her company, Strategic Association Management (SAM), manages multiple associations and nonprofits by providing staff support for those organizations. SAM takes care of the practical details of running an organization, which increases efficiency and allows the volunteers to spend more of their time and money doing good work.
In 2014, Megan served as the volunteer leader of the YMCA of Austin’s Annual Fundraising Campaign, where they raised over $1.1 million dollars.
Megan is a passionate traveler and has visited every continent, except Antarctica. She once lived in Tanzania for a year where she worked with the Jane Goodall Institute. Megan currently serves as a director with the Texas Lyceum and as a board member with the Texas Society of Association Executives.
She is a graduate of the Colorado College in Colorado Springs.