Austin Bat Cave Board of Directors
Yvonne Adams is a facilitator, educator, and activist in the areas of diversity, social justice, and equity. She is currently the Director of Equity and Inclusion at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, where she has worked for 25 years. She loves her job and the many opportunities it provides to experience the life of adolescents from all over the world. In addition to her role in the Diversity Office, Yvonne is an academic advisor for students, advisor for Unapologetic (Black Student Group), Health Teacher, Girls Basketball Coach, and a dorm parent to high school girls. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in Community Health and Education and a Master’s degree of Education from University of Texas at Tyler. She is also a consultant for The Glasgow Group, an organization that provides professional development, consulting, and coaching for school, individuals and organizations in leadership across the nation. Her favorite role is being the wife to her husband, Kevin, and Mama to her three children: Brittany, KJ, and Jaila. When not hard at work, she enjoys watching her children participate in their various activities, watching Law and Order marathons, and reading late into the night. Yvonne joined the ABC board in 2015.
Roberto Ainslie graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in History. After working for several years as a private tutor in Austin, Tokyo and Shanghai, he taught English and coached soccer at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School for four years. Stepping away from teaching to pursue graduate work in counseling, Roberto ended up following his passion for food and wine, beginning a career in hospitality that eventually took him New York City to manage a Michelin starred restaurant. He sees his work in restaurants as an extension of his love for education and mentoring and as an exercise in community-building through the lingua franca of the shared meal. He is currently the General Manager of Olamaie in central Austin. When he’s not at the restaurant, Roberto enjoys gardening, tennis, reading and cooking. Roberto joined the ABC board in 2015.
Elizabeth Barrett (Vice President) has worked in the book publishing industry since 2007, serving as a bridge between the worlds of business and editorial to provide a holistic perspective on a rapidly-evolving industry. She spent six years in the books division of the National Geographic Society with roles as an Editor, Project Manager, and Foreign Rights Specialist, managing book projects spanning 35 countries. She also worked at Greenleaf Book Group as a Strategist, advising independent authors on brand positioning, audience engagement, and increased readership. In addition to her office jobs, Elizabeth has worked as a freelance writer and editor for academic journals, a newspaper, and private companies including Google. She holds an MBA in International Business, speaks fluent German, and currently works as a Marketing Manager for Liaison Creative Marketing and PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she manages marketing, social media, and book distribution campaigns. Elizabeth joined the ABC board in 2014.
Kathy Blackwell (Secretary) is editor in chief of Austin Way magazine, which she helped launch in 2014. Before that she was Senior Editor in charge of features at The Austin American-Statesman, which she joined in 2000. The University of South Carolina alumna’s journalism career also included stints at The Orlando Sentinel and The News & Record in Greensboro, N.C. She lives in East Austin with her husband, Steve Scheibal, and their son, Gabriel. She’s on Twitter @kathyblackwell. Kathy joined the ABC board in 2013.
Claudia Chidester (President) has been on the board since 2010 when she was empowered by Kirk Walsh’s workshops to find her own voice in writing. From that point on she has been devoted to ABC’s mission. She was Chair of the board of the School of Information at the University of Texas for ten years and also the VP Board of the Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company. By way of career, she was the Director of Research at Austin Ventures for fourteen years and had been an adjunct professor at the University of Texas for nearly twenty years teaching business research strategies. She is presently the Director of the Fontaine Archive, an archive of the letters and art works of Virginia and Paul Fontaine. She enjoys writing, reading, EDM, hard workouts, dancing, running and live music. She and husband Phil have three children. Claudia joined the ABC board in 2010.
Deborah de Freitas started a lifelong love of writing about a minute after she learned to read. Professionally her writing chops are currently in service at Spredfast, where she heads up employee programs and focuses on internal communication and employee empowerment tools. She joined Spredfast in 2014 when the company merged with another Austin startup, Mass Relevance, where she worked directly for the CEO. Previously, Deb was Director of Marketing at Bazaarvoice, where she grew a small startup team into a brand and lead generation powerhouse. She spent her early career marketing at Dell, including working on the famous “Dude you’re getting a Dell” campaign. In 2004, she left Dell to run wellness programs, retail, and spa services at The Crossings, a progressive retreat center in the Hill Country, returning to technology in 2008. In her spare time, Deb writes novels and short stories, reads a book a week, and sees as many movies as she can at the Alamo Drafthouse. Deborah joined the ABC board in 2017.
Julie Kuglen grew up in south Texas, has taught English, reading, and art, and has edited English literature and language-arts textbooks. She is presently an attorney practicing general civil law in Austin. Julie joined the board in 2015 and almost never misses an ABC Story Department.
Austin McKenna spent fourteen years in New York City as an ad man, a documentary filmmaker, and a Biz Dev guy; during that time he lived mostly in lamp factories and fire stations. McKenna relocated to Austin in 2009 and is currently working for McGarrah Jessee, a full-service brand development agency. McKenna’s interests include fishing, talking about fishing, EPL soccer, Monte Hellman movies, 45-RPM
records made between 1988-2001, and positing on beer varietals. He is married and has two daughters. Austin joined the board in 2013.
Audra Martin Merrick has spent her career helping media companies reach more readers, make more money, and work more effectively, including leadership roles in user experience, marketing, data and insights, strategy, product, and operations. Armed with degrees in music and German from UT Austin in the late 90s, Audra quickly realized she wanted to work with words and technology and help editorial teams expand from print to digital. She started her career at Hoover’s Online (Dun and Bradstreet) in Austin and then spent 12 years in New York and London working for The New York Times and The Economist. As a fan of the spoken word and an avid traveller, Audra seeks out storytelling events wherever she lives or visits. Upon her return to Austin in spring 2016, Audra discovered Austin Bat Cave and its mission at a Story Department event and had to get involved. A true believer in the importance of writing skills and critical thinking to transform lives and affect positive change, Audra has been a supporter of 826 in Brooklyn, The Economist Educational Foundation in London, and is now a volunteer with Texas Talking Books and board member for Austin Bat Cave. She lives in Austin with her husband and son. You can find Audra on Twitter @audrainaustin or the next Story Department event. Audra joined the board in 2016.
Sara Oswalt owns her own business as an interior design consultant and stylist. She grew up in Austin and attended its largest inner-city public school, S.F. Austin High. After obtaining her B.S. at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, she lived in New York City, where she established her career as a fashion stylist, working for many top magazine publishers. From there she took her business to California, servicing both San Francisco and Los Angeles in the advertising, music, and celebrity fields. She believes that being able to express oneself in words is among the most important skills children can be given. Oswalt also gives support and time to the organization her father founded, The Heartgift Foundation. Sara joined the board in 2013.
Matthew Patin has worked with authors, publishers, and educators for almost fifteen years. He’s edited novelists, essayists, academics, celebrities, and business pros, and his clients include NYC publishing houses and dozens of independent authors. He is an alumnus of the Author-Editor Clinic in Seattle, a sort of flight simulator for fiction editors, and is a ghostwriter certified by California State University. As the former editorial director of an entrepreneurship MBA program, Matthew worked closely with faculty to design curriculum, launch and to outline, write, and edit over half a million words’ worth of educational material. He is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, a former committee co-chair at the Texas Book Festival, and sits on the advisory council for Lit Crawl Austin. His book reviews and author profiles have been published in the Austin Chronicle and Kirkus Reviews. Matt joined the board in 2015.
Lee Schultz (Treasurer) has been a practicing CPA for 45 years. He has taught accounting at the University level, has advised non-profit organizations as their accountant and has served on the Boards of several as treasurer. Lee joined the ABC board in 2014.
Ana Martinez Stapleton is a creative consultant in the hospitality industry with a lifelong passion for the arts. Born in Nueva Rosita, Mexico, she grew up in a bicultural Spanish-speaking family and frequently crossed the border for dance and art classes. After earning a BA in English and Art from Duke University, she moved to Austin to attend the UT School of Law. After graduation, she parlayed her legal skills into the more artistic world of film production, where she spent over a decade working in the Art Department of feature films sourcing, styling and coordinating set designs for movies such as The Rookie, Miss Congeniality, and the Spy Kids franchise. In 2005, Stapleton shifted from entertainment to hospitality, working with renowned designer Kelly Wearstler and the Viceroy Hotel Group on award-winning projects throughout Mexico. Her work there paved the way for her current role at Austin-based hospitality management and development company New Waterloo as a creative consultant and curator of artwork, accessories, furniture and art programs for Hotel Ella and the South Congress Hotel. Ana’s favorite class in college was creative writing and she’s thrilled to be involved with the mission and work of the Austin Bat Cave. She’s a mother of four, closet writer, weekend chef, and yogi. She still keeps in touch with her favorite writing teacher from college. Ana joined the ABC board in 2017.
Jen Strickland holds a degree in dramatic writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. After following her heart for many exciting years of writing, editing, and problem solving for Austin institutions including The Austin Chronicle, Texas Monthly, and Milkshake Media, she decided to follow her stomach and open Home Slice Pizza on South Congress with her husband, Joseph, and her college roommate. Strickland lives in Hyde Park with her husband and their two kiddos: Highsmith, 5, and Hazel, 2. Jen joined the ABC board in 2010.
Austin Bat Cave Board of Advisors
Doug Dorst currently teaches at the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Texas State University in San Marcos. He is the author of Alive at Necropolis, the story collection The Surf Guru, and S., a collaboration with J.J. Abrams. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. Doug was a three-time Jeopardy! winner and competed in the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions.
Spike Gillespie is a prolific writer who has published in Elle, Self, GQ, Playboy, Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, and Texas Monthly. Gillespie’s books include All of the Wrong Men and One Perfect Boy and Pissed Off: On Women and Anger. She teaches at the Griffin School in Austin and makes regular guest author appearances at AISD schools.
Tom Grimes is the author of five novels, a play, and a memoir. An alumnus of the University of Iowa’s creative writing MFA program, he also edited The Workshop: Seven Decades from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Grimes now directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Texas State University-San Marcos.
Katie Angermeier Haab, former Executive Director of Austin Bat Cave, holds an MFA in fiction from Texas State University where she also served as writer-in-residence at the Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center, running the Visiting Writers Series. She relocated to London with her daughter and husband, but stays active with ABC, her favorite organization, from afar.
Michael Hall is an award-winning journalist and editor who joined Texas Monthly in 1997. Previously, he served as associate editor of Third Coast magazine and managing editor of The Austin Chronicle. Hall’s stories have appeared in Best American Magazine Writing, Best American Sportswriting, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Best Music Writing (Da Capo). Hall has also written for Trouser Press, The New York Times, Men’s Journal, and The Austin American-Statesman.
Shaun Jordan is director of marketing at Abraham Trading Company. Prior to joining ATC, Shaun operated a sports marketing company that placed elite athletes in instructional clinic environments around the world. His sponsors included NIKE, Dell Computer Corporation, and The Pepsi Bottling Group. He was also a member of the 1988 and 1992 USA Olympic Swim Teams, winning two Olympic Gold Medals.
Keith Kreeger has been working with clay for over 20 years. Born and raised in New York, he opened his first ceramics studio in Cape Cod. He brought his work and Keith Kreeger Studios to Austin, Texas, in 2009. Once in Austin, he began to focus on the heart of his work, which has always centered around the singular concept, objects matter—the objects we use on a daily basis are as important as what they hold. Keith is president of the board of Big Medium, the arts nonprofit that produces the East Austin Studio Tour, West Austin Studio Tour and the Texas Biennial. Keith is also an active supporter for many organizations in Austin, including the Austin Food and Wine Alliance, Communities in Schools and the Andy Roddick Foundation.
Richard Linklater is a film director and writer whose feature films include Slacker, Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Before Sunrise, and The Bad News Bears. Linklater founded the Austin Film Society in 1985, where he remains Artistic Director. In 1999, the AFS received the first National Honoree Award from the Director’s Guild of America in recognition of its support for the arts.
James Magnuson is the Director of the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. He is the author of ten novels; his most recent work is The Hounds of Winter. A former Hodder Fellow and playwright-in-residence at Princeton University, Magnuson has also been a TV series writer for Knots Landing, Class of ’96, and Sweet Justice.
June Rodil is the beverage director of McGuire Moorman Hospitality,overseeing the wine, beer and spirits programs at six of Austin’s most popular restaurants: Jeffrey’s, Josephine House, Clark’s, Elizabeth Street Café, Perla’s and Lamberts Barbecue. Born in the Phillipines and raised in Dallas, Texas, June is a Master Sommelier — only the seventh in Texas and the 23d woman in the United States — after passing The Court of Master Sommelier’s rigorous test in 2015. June runs June’s, an all-day bar and restaurant on buzzy South Congress Avenue.
Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet, essayist, and teacher. For the past thirty years, she has traveled the world leading writing workshops that inspire students of all ages. She is the author and/or editor of more than 20 volumes. Her poetry collection, 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, was nominated for the National Book Award in 2002. In 2001, she received a presidential appointment to the National Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
James Pennebaker has spent much of his life trying to understand the power of words. He’s a professor, teacher, and researcher in the Psychology Department at UT who conducts experiments on writing and language use. He is known for his early work showing that expressive writing about emotional upheavals can improve people’s physical and mental health. His more recent research relies on computerized text analysis to link word use to psychological states. He is the author or coauthor of 10 books, hundreds of scientific articles, two children, and a grandchild. He and his fellow advisory board wife live in Austin.
Ruth Pennebaker is the author of eight books of fiction and non-fiction, a former columnist for the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Observer, and a commentator for KUT, Austin’s public radio station. She has a B.A. in comparative literature from Eckerd College and for reasons that now elude her, a J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law. Parents of two grown children and recently minted grandparents, she and her mad-scientist husband live in Austin.
Evan Smith currently serves as president and editor-in-chief of Texas Tribune. Smith also hosts a weekly interview program, “Texas Monthly Talks,” which airs on PBS stations across Texas. Prior to joining the staff of Texas Monthly in 1992, Evan was the deputy editor of The New Republic.
Kirk Walsh (Founder of ABC) has worked as a writer-in-residence in public schools, hospitals, and shelters in New York City and Texas on behalf of Teachers & Writers Collaborative, Gemini Ink, and other nonprofits. During her 16 years in NYC, Walsh also worked at numerous magazines, including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and Entertainment Weekly. Her writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and The Times Literary Supplement. She is at work on a novel.
Simone Wicha currently serves as director of the Blanton Museum of Art. Previously, Wicha worked as the director of development at the Noguchi Museum, as the director of annual giving at The Juilliard School, and as a management consultant at C.W. Shaver in New York City. She earned a bachelors of science in mathematics at the University of Texas.