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ATXelerator announces its third cohort of future councilmembers, board/commission members

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:

District 1:

David Timberger, Director, General Law Division, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

District 2:

Vanessa Fuentes, Grassroots Advocacy Strategist, American Heart Association

District 3:

Chris Barnard, Principal Industrial Design Engineer, Dell

Chris Paladino, Investor and Management Consultant

Taylor Smith, Senior Policy Advisor, Austin Board of Realtors

District 4:

Jarred Shaffer, Senior Policy Analyst, Texas Senate

District 5:

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

District 6:

Cheyenne Connors, Environmental Investigator, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Felicia Foster, Owner, Barron Custom Design

District 7:

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

District 8:

Joshua Blank, PhD, Research Director, Texas Politics Project

Heather Seidel, Retired (U.S. Department of Treasury)

District 9:

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

District 10:

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:


Ward Tisdale

Center for Austin’s Future


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