William McLeRoy was honored in fall 2016 by the Fort Worth Metro Chapter of the National Association of Fundraising Professionals, receiving the Ben Franklin Award as outstanding fundraising executive of the year for his effort to support organizations ranging from the arts, human services, and healthcare, to offender re-entry. Bill has been a fundraising professional for more than 30 years and has helped clients achieve their philanthropic goals as a senior principal of The Whitestone Group since 1996. He also has served 51 other southwestern and national organizations, and serving on various boards of directors since 2000, he has advocated the value of philanthropic commitment to individual communities. He and his family have engaged in their own philanthropy through a donor-advised fund at the North Texas Community Foundation.
Keith Johnston recently published a new book The End Comes Quick – Lessons Live On about the first All-Canadian interuniversity football team. After graduating from Austin College, the former Kangaroo football co-captain enrolled in the MBA program at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He played football for that school’s team and was selected to that first All-Canadian team. His new book offers personal stories from the 24 team members, including his own reflections—which cover his days as a ’Roo. He also has written A Garage Full of Ferraris: How to unleash the potential in your high performance teams to drive extraordinary results. Keith lives in Vernon, British Columbia, and works with a Rotary program to recognize high school athletes, as well as the Rotary Youth Leadership program for the 60 Rotary clubs in the district. He also has been coaching football and continues to conduct leadership training sessions. Keith is pictured, at center, with two members of the All-Canadian football team.
Andrew Gillies became the planning director for Chesterfield County, Virginia, in October 2017, and oversees the county’s zoning issues and land development as well as its guiding document for growth. He spent the past 10 years as community services director for Farmers Branch, Texas, and was the executive director of the Warren County, Kentucky, planning commission from 2000 to 2006. He also has worked for several private sector engineering and planning firms and earned a master’s degree in urban planning from Texas A&M University. He is a certified planner through the American Planning Association.
Carlton Schwab was honored with the 2017 Jeffrey A. Finkle Organizational Leadership Award from the International Economic Development Council at its annual conference in Toronto, Ontario, last fall. The award recognizes an individual who has led the same economic development organization with integrity, tenacity, and a philanthropic spirit for at least 15 years. Carlton has served as president and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Council for nearly two decades. His career in economic development spans 30 years, including leadership at Deloitte, the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and the Lubbock Board of City Development.
Jack Wylie retired last spring from Van Alstyne High School after 30 years of teaching economics and coaching football in Texas, with many years in the head coaching position. Now he is an insurance agent for long-time friend Roger Luttrell ’76 at Benton-Luttrell-Brown Insurance Agency in Van Alstyne, Texas, where Jack lives with his daughters, Tatum and Keara.
Richard Hunter earned an MBA from the University of Dallas in May 2017. He lives in Dallas, Texas, and is the gallery director for the Great American West Gallery in Grapevine, Texas.
Kenneth “Kip” Matthews Jr. was elected a Fellow of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine in September 2017 in recognition of distinguished contributions in research, education, or leadership in the medical physics community. He earned a Ph.D. in 1997 from the University of Chicago and is certified by the American Board of Radiology in nuclear medical physics. Since 2001, he has been an associate professor at Louisiana State University in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and is the director of the Physics and Astronomy Research Experience for undergraduates program. He also is the deputy director of the university’s graduate program in medical physics and health physics. He served as the 2016 president of the Southwest Chapter of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine.
Amy Richardson Razzino has accepted a lead teacher position at Menta Academy North, a therapeutic day school in Waukegan, Illinois, that works with students removed from public schools due to behavior problems or other needs. She had been on a hiatus from education and worked in accounting for the past six years. She and her three children live in Oak Park, Illinois.
Lisa Fain, known to many as the Homesick Texan, has a new cookbook out from Ten Speed Press that is a celebration of chile con queso, called appropriately enough, QUESO! Regional Recipes for the World’s Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip. From her New York home, she continues to write about Texas food at HomesickTexan.com and also recently has done articles for Bon Appetit and Taste.
Dr. Thomas Newsom, president of Mesalands Community College, is shown in a meeting with U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in Washington, D.C. in July 2017. His institution in Tucumcari, New Mexico, has been recognized as the best community college in the state and among the top in the nation.
Jay P. Walters was named to the 2018 Best Lawyers in America list and was named Lawyer of the Year for his work in Litigation-Securities in the Oklahoma City area. A veteran attorney, Jay practices with the law firm GableGotwals. He works in Native American law and litigation-mergers and acquisitions and was named 2016 Lawyer of the Year for Native American law. A volunteer attorney with Oklahoma Lawyers for Children, Jay also serves on the Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel for the Western District of Oklahoma and the board for the Federal Bar Association’s Oklahoma City Chapter, which he serves as president-elect. He also serves as a Moot Court coach volunteer for the Youth Leadership Exchange and is on the board for the Red Bud Foundation.
Dr. George Zoys was recognized last fall on the 2017 Best Doctors list for orthopedics and orthopedics surgery, a list he has made every year since 2009. In 2017, he also was named to the Best Doctors in Collin County, Texas, list. He is highly regarded for using the most advanced medical technology and innovative techniques. After completing his M.D. and residency at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, he completed a sports medicine fellowship in Sydney, Australia, which allowed him to help provide medical coverage for the Sydney Olympic Games.
Jarrod Foerster has been appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas to a three year term (through June 2020) as a public member of the board of the State Bar of Texas. He is a founder and managing principal of Flagship Capital Partners in Houston, Texas. The firm provides debt capital through a variety of structures, in senior and mezzanine loans to entrepreneurial and qualified sponsors. Jarrod and his wife, Mimi, have two children, Meg and Charles.
Marc Parrish spends his free time writing historical Austin College sports stories he calls ’Roo Tales. The stories are posted in the “GoRoos” Facebook group, which Marc encourages interested alumni to join. He works as an IT manager for the University of Texas System and lives in Austin, Texas, where he and his wife, Dianne, are raising their two children, Alex and Malia. Marc is also a proud member of the Austin College Alumni “A” Athletics Board.
Kathryn Pourmand Nordick has rejoined Pepper Hamilton, a multi-practice law firm. She received her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2005 and began work at Pepper Hamilton. After leaving and joining Reed Smith, she is back at the firm as a partner in the Financial Services Practice Group. Kathryn has represented a variety of parties, including agents, lenders, private equity sponsors, corporate borrowers, and non-bank lenders.
Traci Leach was one of two deputy city managers hired for the City of Coppell in August 2017. She had served as assistant city manager for the city of La Porte, Texas, since 2011 and began her career in Farmers Branch as a management analyst in 1999. Traci had volunteered her time as a member of the La Porte Education Foundation, was president-elect of the La Porte Rotary Club, and was Rotarian of the Year in 2015. She earned a master’s degree in public administration at University of North Texas. She and her husband have one daughter.
David Noll has been appointed to the Allen ISD Board of Trustees, replacing a trustee elected to the Allen City Council. The term runs through May when the seat will be open for election. David is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and has worked in the public accounting industry for over 10 years. He currently is a senior tax manager at Goldin, Peiser & Peiser. He serves on the District Improvement Committee for Allen ISD, the Leadership Allen/Fairview Steering Committee, and is a local high school football official. He previously served on the Allen ISD Project Kids committee, the District of Innovation committee, and was a 2017 Allen/Fairview Leadership Academy graduate. He is married to Mandy (Cook) ’98, mathematics coordinator for Allen ISD.
Audrey D. Ebel was promoted to regional director of human resources for Bed Bath and Beyond in May 2017. She continues to cover all the company’s Canadian operations (including Buy Buy Baby, Cost Plus World Market, and other subsidiaries) and now adds Bed Bath and Beyond stores in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Utah. Audrey is the daughter of Bonnie Scranton ’90, who worked in Institutional Advancement at Austin College before retiring.
Dennis Nance is curator of the Galveston Arts Center, and he and staff at the coastal museum were ready when hurricane season approached this year, being prepared for a worst-case scenario based on hard lessons learned during Hurricane Ike in 2008. Significant loss was suffered because the staff could not reach the museum during the storm and could not have moved the large pieces alone even if they had. It took years to raise the funds to restore the building, and Nance, the new curator, was not taking any chances. During hurricane season, Dennis planned only small exhibitions that could be easily moved to safety. So, with early warning for Harvey, staff members were able to secure the art out of harm’s way. Many people were not so lucky, and since the storm, Nance and other members of the local arts community have worked to compile resources for artists whose work was damaged by flooding.
Clayton Scarborough (’01 MAT) became the principal at North Lamar High School in Paris, Texas, in June 2017. He previously had taught 10 years in Waxahachie, Texas, and spent five years at John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas, as the assistant principal. Clayton and his wife, Tiffanie (Jones) ’98, have two sons, Noah, 4, and Benjamin, 1.
Charles Gurley Jr. is vice president and loan team manager for Wells Fargo in St. Louis, Missouri. He works with a team to manage the credit process within the Regional Credit Banking Office for emerging middle market account relationships with revenues between $20 and $100 million in eastern Missouri and southern Illinois. He manages and develops the credit team, and liaises with the customer service manager regarding compliance risks and procedures. He joined Wells Fargo in January 2010 and has 15 years of experience in the banking industry. He earned a law degree from the University of North Texas College of Law in 2017. He earned a master’s degree in accounting at the University of Dallas and an MBA at Amberton University.
P. Lindley Bain has been named to the Texas Super Lawyers Rising Stars list for the eighth consecutive year. She also has been included in Up-and-Coming 100 and Up-and-Coming 50: 2017 Women lists. She is a board-certified family law attorney and manages GoransonBain’s office in Austin, Texas.
Brianna Burnett is a fine art photographer and is a visiting assistant professor of art at Austin College. Her photo exhibit, “Borrowed Whimsy” was a part of the 2017 Homecoming and Family Weekend celebration on campus. She integrates landscape, history, and the culture of her surroundings into photographs that are studies of historical and personal narrative. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Texas Tech University. She and her husband, Shaun Foreman, live in Dallas, Texas, with their son, Graeme.
Kurt Esslinger is a mission co-worker with Presbyterian World Mission, stationed in Korea. “My time as a Sallie Majors Religious Life Intern at Austin College encouraged me to adapt responses to the context instead of forcing my preconceived assumptions about what was ‘good’ and ‘valued’ onto others. It has been an invaluable lesson as I have sought to learn as much as I can about the Korean conflict and our role in it through U.S. military policy and the influence of the Presbyterian Church through mission work. It is now part of my mission to teach a better understanding of Korean history and context so that we can adapt our response to more successfully move toward reconciliation.” Kurt, pictured with his wife and son, presented the sermon for Homecoming and Family Weekend 2017.
Hayley Gillespie accepted a full lecturer position at Texas State University in fall 2017, teaching biology. She also is the founder and director of the Art.Science. Gallery. in Austin, Texas, which celebrated its fifth year last summer. The gallery’s bird-themed art show in fall 2017 was dedicated to the late Sandy Beach ’68, former Austin College biology staff member and bird biologist.
Karin Burk Busby graduated in May 2017 from the University of Texas at Dallas with a M.A.T. in Science Education. Her degree includes a thesis publication titled “Texas Science Teacher Characteristics and Conceptual Understanding of Newton’s Laws of Motion.”
Megan Varvir Coe earned her Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Texas in August 2016, completing her dissertation “Composing Symbolism’s Musicality of Language in fin-desiècle France.” Her article “Musicality of Language and ‘Corporeal Writing’ in La Tragédie de Salomé (1907),” appeared in the spring 2017 issue of Dance Chronicle: Studies in Dance and the Related Arts. Megan is currently an adjunct lecturer in music history at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Sara Anne Giddings, an attorney in San Angelo, Texas, received the Joseph M. Prichard Outstanding Director Award presented by the Texas Young Lawyers Association in June 2017 at the annual meeting of the State Bar of Texas in Dallas. She served as the president of the Tom Green County Young Lawyers Association from 2015 to 2017. Before launching Giddings Law Firm in San Angelo, she worked at the law offices of Smith Rose Finley, handling transactional services like wills, probate, tax law, and trusts, and she has worked extensively with oil and gas service companies. She sits on the board of directors for the Texas Young Lawyers Association, representing Region 15, which encompasses San Angelo and Abilene.
Ben Thomas was appointed to the Montana State Cabinet as director of the Department of Agriculture in January 2017. He previously served as the Deputy Under Secretary for the Marketing and Regulatory Programs Mission Area at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and helped oversee the Agricultural Marketing Service; the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration. He also was the chief of staff for the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Mission Area. In that role, he oversaw the department’s international activities and worked to implement provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill.
JR Ohr joined the Austin College staff in August 2017 as director of athletics development and engagement. He is pleased to have a positive impact on the lives of student athletes as he leads Athletics Enrichment fundraising. After graduation, he earned a master’s degree in sports management at the University of Texas and spent the past seven years at Sam Houston State University in a similar athletics fundraising position.
Jessica Lewis Wescott came into her current role for MOOYAH Burgers Fries and Shakes through a non-traditional route, after spending six years in the wealth management industry. At her first job after graduation from Austin College, she sat two seats from MOOYAH’s former CFO. After many years of keeping in touch, she says he gave her the opportunity at a position as MOOYAH’s first financial analyst, focused on studying the brand by using the analytics she learned in Kevin Simmons’ econometrics class at Austin College. She advanced quickly to vice president of development and finance, managing MOOYAH’s finance, analytics, sales, real estate, and construction teams. She said she still uses her textbook and notes from Austin College to mentor young analysts on her team. Jessica lives in Carrollton, Texas, with her husband, Geoff Wescott ’08.
Kate Johnson (MAT ’11) has been the coordinator of Supplemental Instruction at Tarrant County College’s Northeast Campus since August 2011. She made a presentation in May 2017 at the Regional Supplemental Instruction Conference at Texas A&M University.
Laura J. Lawson and her art exhibit, “Laura J. Lawson: Elements of Place,” were a featured highlight of Homecoming and Family Weekend 2017. Her satellite-view paintings explore how land and water shape the landscape and form significant regions, and the colors and patterns tie directly to light, water, soul, building materials, wildlife, and other elements. Laura was able to study abroad while at Austin College, with studies taking her to Scotland, China, France, Peru, and Ecuador. She since has earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Memphis and spent two months in residence at the Centre d’Art Marnay Art Center in France. She now lives in Dallas.
Kate Murphy is a senior child welfare policy associate at Texans Care for Children in Austin, Texas. She works to keep children safe at home through an effective Child Protective Services workforce, prevention services, and other efforts, and works to ensure child safety and success in foster care and beyond. Before joining Texans Care for Children, Kate was a Mental Health Policy Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin, Texas. In that role, she developed and advanced policy solutions at the state level to address a variety of mental health, public health, and criminal justice issues. Kate earned her law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law, where she was inducted into the National Order of Barristers for her achievements in oral advocacy, and was nominated for Who’s Who of American Law Schools.
Jill Murphy Elberson received her master’s degree in creative writing/poetry from Texas Tech University in spring 2017. She was awarded a scholarship with a stipend when she entered graduate school, which she completed with a 4.0 GPA. Jill has taught freshman English Composition at Texas Tech since 2016 and served as a substitute teacher for creative writing classes. She continues teaching composition through spring 2018.
Shruti Hegde earned her medical degree at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in 2017 and has begun a five-year residency program in general surgery at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Sarah Villasenor began work as a development associate in alumni relations at Houston Christian High School in January 2017. She is helping to build and design the alumni association program there. She said she is thankful that Austin College helped her find her passion for working with nonprofits and found the classes in the Nonprofit Organizations and Public Service program some of the best she had.
Sameen Wajid spent the 2016-2017 year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia, where she said she gained a greater understanding of cultural and religious interactions that promote inclusivity, specifically in educational environments. She worked in the state of Sarawak, where there are 40 subethnic groups, including Malay, Indian, Chinese, and many indigenous tribes. “It was refreshing and eye-opening to be in a place where maintaining one’s cultural identity was respected and encouraged,” she said. “I learned that integration and full membership in a community do not require forgoing your original identity. It was tremendously meaningful to witness ethnic difference enriching a diverse community, not dividing it. Empowered by what the people of Sarawak taught me, I am eager to use the tool of education to help refugees assimilate without abandoning their culture.” In fall 2017, Sameen began the International Education Policy program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education—with a defined objective: to better understand how to address educational challenges in refugee camps. She ultimately aspires to improve the quality of education in these camps. “I believe that education is the truest equalizer,” she said. “In an education policy role I can enact lasting change. I am committed to serving humanity on both a global and an individual scale, focused on those who have been cast aside by political and societal injustice. Post-graduation, I plan to pursue a career working with refugee populations in achieving equality of access.”
Abinav Leva is attending the California School of Podiatric Medicine (CSPM) at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, California. He plans to pursue surgery with a sub-specialty in diabetic wound care or sports medicine. He said his interview at CSPM reminded him of the close-knit family experience at Austin College so he knew he was in the right place. After completion of the program, Abinav plans to return to Texas.
Gabe McCarthy was commissioned an ensign in December 2016 after graduating that fall from Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He earned his flight suit in a Naval aviation ritual in July 2017 at Naval Air Station Pensacola’s training command. Paying homage to his alma mater, Gabe wears an Austin College ’Roo patch on his uniform. He was assigned primary flight training at NAS Corpus Christi in October. Proud dad Osler McCarthy ’73 shared the news.
Ohumumwen Aguebor is working in Washington, D.C., as the grants coordinator at Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry, a national anti-hunger nonprofit. Share Our Strength was launched in the mid-’80s in response to famine in Ethiopia. Today, the programs connect children to valuable nutrition in their areas across the United States.
Brianna Harvey (MAT ’17) is realizing a dream this year, teaching English in Thailand in the Bamnet Narong district in the southwestern part of Chaiyaphum Province. Through Teach Thailand Corps, she works with students from kindergarten through sixth grade in two different schools. Before she began her Texas teaching career, she wanted to experience another culture and a bit of a challenge. Unable to study abroad during her Austin College years, Brianna finds her assignment in Thailand a wonderful blend of international exploration and exposure to the challenges of English Language Learners she will encounter in her classrooms back in Texas. Since her own Thai language skills are limited she is experiencing firsthand the struggle to communicate. Austin College Career Services staff assisted Brianna in discovering the 10-month international teaching opportunity.
Amy Glazier, a graduate student and teaching assistant at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on full scholarship waiver, attended the 230th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in the summer of 2017. She presented the honors thesis and research she completed while at Austin College and was awarded the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award as the outstanding undergraduate presenter.