The ATXelerator announces its fourth cohort of future Austin leaders

35 future-focused class members will comprise our largest class yet




AUSTIN, TX, Dec. 10, 2020 – The ATXelerator has recruited its fourth class filled with 35 engaged and talented Austinites from around the city and a variety of backgrounds including technology professionals, entrepreneurs, educators, and CEOs.


“Despite the uncertainties of the global pandemic which has resulted in the canceling or postponement of many popular events and programs in Austin, interest in the ATXelerator remains very high,” said ATXelerator Board President Ashley Amini. “Fresh off the exciting news of 2020 ATXelerator graduate Vanessa Fuentes’ convincing victory in November’s District 2 city council election, we received even more applications than the pre-pandemic 2020 program.”


When the 2021 ATXelerator concludes in April, it will have an alumni base of 110 Austinites, including more than a dozen current or former city board and commission members, two candidates and Councilmember-elect Fuentes serving on the city council.


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 35 individuals selected for the Class of 2021 have a standout dedication and commitment to the future success of Austin and to serving our community through public service.


The 2020 class includes:


District 1:

Ruben Cantu, CEO, Social Good

Conor Kenny, Director of Public Affairs, Civilitude Group

William Lynch, Chief Operating Officer, MembersiQ

Andrew Weinrich, Founder and CEO, Give Texas and Give Austin


District 2:

Josh Blair, Digital Products Manager, Accenture

Dan Hennessey, Director of Mobility, Wantman Group, Inc.

Alex Navarro, Regional Director, Camp Gladiator

LaRessa Quintana, Campaign Manager, Office of Councilwoman-elect Vanessa Fuentes

Nathan Ryan, CEO, Blue Sky Partners

Roy Woody, Associate Engineer, AMD


District 3:

Tannya Paola Oliva Martínez, Policy Analyst & MALLF Program Director, Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC)

Damián Pantoja, School Board Trustee, Del Valle ISD

Neha Shah, Senior Product Manager, Accruent


District 5:

Missy Bledsoe, Learning and Development Specialist, Whole Foods

T. Leigh Buehler- Rappold, Assistant Professor, American Public University System

Jennifer Houlihan, Lead Instructor, General Assembly

Robin Lerner, President and CEO, Texas International Education Consortium

Colin Madden, Senior Director of Sales, Feedonomics

Colin Nickells, Management Analyst, Texas General Land Office


District 6:

Suraj Reddy, Self-employed


District 8:

Trammell Cooper, Executive Wealth Manager, Genesis Wealth Management

Kevin Jackson, Special Education Teacher/ Case Manager, Round Rock ISD

Maggie Saenz, Digital Strategist, Apron


District 9:

Devon Darden, Insurance Agent, New York Life

Jordan Gentry, Digital Marketing Specialist, Auth0

Isha Kaur, Digital and Partner Marketing Manager, Anaconda, Inc.

George Ramon, Audit & Credit Compliance Manager, Instapay Flexible, LLC

Jessie Wilson, Operations Manager, Good Apple


District 10:

Sarah Belzer, Business Coordinator, LCRA

Christina Thoda Biven, Stay-at-Home Mother of Four

Stephanie Carter, RN/ Davis Elementary PTA President, Davis Elementary School

Rick Hansen, Executive Consultant, Thoughtworks

Kelsey Hitchingham, Founder, The Hitchingham Group

Nicholas Tuccio, Government Affairs Liaison, LDG Development, LLC


Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ)

Javier Valencia, Commodify Manager, Abaco Systems, Inc.


ATXelerator participants receive rigorous training and mentorship by experienced elected officials and community leaders. The 2020 ATXelerator curriculum included more than 50 subject-matter experts including then-State Senator Kirk Watson, Texas Demographic Center’s Dr. Lila Valencia, Austin Monitor editor Liz Pagano and Austin Chamber of Commerce CEO Laura Huffman, 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 virtual opening retreat is Jan. 9-10, 2020, 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 ATXL Games.

About the ATXelerator

The mission of the ATXelerator is to identify and prepare future-focused leaders for public service and educate the community about solutions that will improve Austin's quality of life for generations to come. The program aims to encourage citizens to pursue and prepare for elected office and board/commission service through a technology accelerator model. The ATXelerator’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.atxelerator.org.


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