AUSTIN, TX, Dec. 20, 2018 – The Center for Austin’s future has recruited its third ATXelerator class filled with 28 engaged and talented Austinites from all 10 city council districts and a variety of backgrounds including technology professionals, entrepreneurs, small business owners and public policy experts.
“Now in our third year, we are extremely pleased with this talent-heavy class, especially the large jump in female participants,” said The Center’s Board President, Jose Beceiro. “This group promises to produce some great policy advocates for planning for the future, including future city-council candidates and board and commission members.”
When the 2020 ATXelerator concludes in April, it will have an alumni base of 77 Austinites.
The ATXelerator, a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the only elected office candidate recruitment engine in Austin. It is designed to identify, mentor and promote the next generation of future-focused leaders interested in public service. The 28 individuals range in age from early 20s to mid-50s, with a majority in their 30s. Professional backgrounds also range from entrepreneurs to programmers, business and nonprofit executives, consultants, attorneys and a registered nurse. The 2020 class includes:
David Timberger, Director, General Law Division, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Vanessa Fuentes, Grassroots Advocacy Strategist, American Heart Association
Chris Barnard, Principal Industrial Design Engineer, Dell
Chris Paladino, Investor and Management Consultant
Taylor Smith, Senior Policy Advisor, Austin Board of Realtors
Jarred Shaffer, Senior Policy Analyst, Texas Senate
Mary Beth Cagle, Manager of Occupancy Planning, JLL.
David Colligan, Global Business Expansion Manager, City of Austin Economic Development
Natasha Masterson, Marketing Director, Lamborghini Austin
Sarah Norman, Vice President, CB Capital
Cheyenne Connors, Environmental Investigator, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Felicia Foster, Owner, Barron Custom Design
Lucy Figueroa, Director of International Affairs & Membership Specialist, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Nathan Gauldin, Policy Analyst, Texas Senate
David Gibbs, Account Director, Hahn Public Communications
Joshua Blank, PhD, Research Director, Texas Politics Project
Heather Seidel, Retired (U.S. Department of Treasury)
Robert Foster, Front End Developer, Austin Community College
Andre Gouws, Graduate Research Assistant, The University of Texas at Austin
Mandeep Kaur, PhD, Nurse Manager and Legal Nurse Consultant, Kaur Consulting
Erin Dempsey, Co-founder, Bess & George
Luis Gonzalez, Administrative Manager, Dell Medical School
Drew Graham, Policy Analyst, Texas Senate
Michelle Kinney, Owner, Kinney Recruiting
Matt Lamon, Chief of Staff, Texas House of Representatives
Cristina Masters, Communications and Policy Aide, Austin City Council
Monique Wright, Constituent Liaison, U.S. House of Representatives
Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ)
Scott Studzinski, Partner, Elevate Growth Partners
ATXelerator participants receive rigorous training and mentorship by experienced elected officials and community leaders. The 2019 ATXelerator curriculum included more than 50 subject matters experts including State Senator Kirk Watson, Austin Office of the Police Monitor Farah Muscadin, Texas Demographic Center’s Dr. Lila Valencia and Austin Monitor editor Liz Pagano, among others. Each class member is also assigned a mentor, typically a current or former elected official or a professional with experience working in and around city council.
The class’s opening retreat is Jan. 10-12, 2019 at The Native Hostel, followed by nine weekly Wednesday evening sessions taught by experts in the fields of transportation, land use, utilities, economic development, homelessness, diversity and social equity, and a variety of other issues intended to prepare future candidates and city board and commission members. The ATXelerator has a closing retreat on media training, how to run a campaign and class project presentations followed by a pitch-style competition before an expert
panel of judges and a public event for nine finalists, the Center4ATX Games.
About the Center for Austin’s Future The mission of the Center for Austin’s Future is to recruit, train and promote city council candidates who are equipped to focus on solutions that position Austin for future success, sustainability and excellent quality of life. The Center’s signature program is the ATXeleratorTM, which aims to encourage citizens to pursue and prepare for elected office and board/commission service through a technology accelerator model. The Center’s Advisory Board is comprised of former mayors Lee Cooke, Lee Leffingwell and Bruce Todd; former city council members Brewster McCracken and Randi Shade; and community/business leaders Greta Goldsby, Jeff Hahn, Nan McRaven, Pike Powers, John Scarborough and Lemuel Williams. For more information, visit: www.centerforaustinfuture.org.
Center for Austin’s Future