Board of Directors
Jason Embry, Chair
Jason Embry is co-founder of New West Communications, an Austin-based strategic communications firm. The firm helps clients use a variety of communications tools to achieve their goals. Previously, Embry was communications director for Joe Straus, the former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. In his role with Speaker Straus, Embry oversaw all aspects of messaging, including media relations, social media, speechwriting, and constituent correspondence.
Before he went to work for Speaker Straus, 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. Embry has also written for the Waco Tribune-Herald, the Killeen Daily Herald, and the Williamson County Sun, and he has appeared on numerous media platforms to discuss Texas politics, including MSNBC, C-Span, SiriusXM Radio, KEYE, and KVUE.
Embry grew up in Sugar Land and is an honors graduate of Southwestern University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Communication.
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 the University of Texas School of Law. She received her B.A., 1992 from The University of Virginia.
Eric Bustos is the manager of government relations at Capital Metro.
He oversees the transit agencies advocacy efforts at the federal, state, and local level. He works with elected officials and other stakeholders to get their input on the agency initiatives and strategic decisions. Previously, Bustos worked in the Texas House. He also serves on the board of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber, PeopleFund, and the Community Advancement Network.
He has a B.A. in Political Science from St. Edward's University, and is a graduate of the Hispanic Austin Leadership and Leadership Austin Emerge programs. A native of Dallas, Bustos is a die hard Texas Rangers fan. In his off time, he likes to take advantage of Austin's Greenbelt, live music, and BBQ.
Ryann Collier is an account director and publicist at Arrow.
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.
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.
Elizabeth Doyel is an award winning political and nonprofit strategist with a strong emphasis on fundraising. She has over 20 years experience across the country working in the progressive community as an organizer and fundraiser on political campaigns ranging from state representative to US Senator. Additionally, she has raised millions of dollars for Planned Parenthood, Annie's List, NARAL-CA, Texas League of Conservation Voters, Emerge America, and other national progressive groups. She also was the executive director for the Texas League of Conservation Voters.
She is currently the principal of NU Strategies, a Texas-based political and nonprofit consulting business that in the 2018 election cycle raised multi-millions of dollars for several Congressional races, a Texas State Senate, multiple Texas state representative races, one of which she ended up stepping in to run and win by 113 votes. NU Strategies also works with progressive organizations on their fundraising strategy and strategic planning. Elizabeth is also a senior advisor to Superior Blue, a national direct mail firm for whom she won a 2019 Pollie Award for mail she aided in designing for a winning state representative race.
Outside of the professional arena, Elizabeth gives back in her personal time to a variety of organizations. She currently is co-chairing the Emerge America Texas expansion committee, serves on the Common Causes Texas board, and is on the Future Forum board of the LBJ Presidential Library. She is a graduate of the Leadership Austin 2017 class. She has also been the co-chair of g3: Girls Giving Grants, a program of Impact Austin, served on the boards of the Austin Animal Center and the San Francisco Ballet (she was the 2008 Gala ENCORE! Co-Chair), along with having served on the policy advisory committee for Generation Citizen Texas. She was also a legal volunteer for SAFE and has been active in the Junior League.
Luis Figueroa joined the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) in 2018 as the first legislative and policy director. He oversees CPPP's comprehensive legislative strategy and leads their distinguished team of policy experts. Prior to CPPP, he worked as general counsel for Texas State Senator José Rodríguez and as the executive director of the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus from 2014 to 2018. Previously, he served as the legislative attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in San Antonio, where he worked from 2004 to 2013 as a civil rights advocate and attorney. He has received numerous awards for his work on behalf of the Latino community.
Originally from El Paso, Luis Figueroa received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Speech Communications with a concentration in American Politics and Law from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX in 2000 and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law in 2003. He is licensed to practice law in the State of Texas.
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.
Lauren Lluveras is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis, housed in African and African Diaspora Studies at The University of Texas at Austin and a 2018 Public Voices Fellow with the Op-Ed Project.
As a postdoctoral scholar, Lluveras is studying the impact Texas' institutions and policies have on marginalized populations and Black communities, particularly. Her research interests include Texas' history and ongoing methods of voter suppression among communities of color; Texas' housing policies in relation to the state's Black community; and developing and leading the Institute's public engagement strategy. Along with several state periodicals, her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Conversation, Salon, Latino USA, Teen Vogue, and VICE. Previously, Lluveras provided diversity, inclusion, and racial equity consultative services to state institutions as well as organized and mobilized Central Texas communities around social justice issues through the state's equity office, the Center for the Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities.
Lluveras has also worked closely with victims of domestic violence, undocumented students, victims of crime and homeless communities as a clerk for Texas Advocacy Project and Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, and as a student defense attorney at the Center for Legal and Social Justice. She holds a Juris Doctor from St. Mary's University, School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M University.
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.
Nathan Ryan is an entrepreneur, business leader, and organizer. He is co-founder/CEO of Blue Sky Partners, focused on helping organizations put systems in place so they can scale; and co-founder/CEO of Good Politics, focused on connecting disengaged voters to the political process. He also serves as president of the board for Friends of Austin Neighborhoods, and as a commissioner on the Economic Prosperity Commission for the City of Austin.
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.