Meet the President and Board
Members for 2016 – 2017
The Honorable Roger Williams – President
Since January 2013, Roger Williams has represented the 25th District of Texas in the United States Congress. Congressman Williams was raised near Fort Worth and attended Texas Christian University. After graduating from college, Congressman Williams was drafted by the Atlanta Braves and briefly played in their farm system before he began working in the family car business. In the House of Representatives, Williams has been the voice of business owners across America. Williams previously held fundraising roles for George Bush and John Cornyn and served as Chairman of the Republican National Finance Committee’s Eagles Program. In 2005, Governor Rick Perry appointed Williams to serve as Texas Secretary of State. In the 114th Congress, Williams will serve on the House Financial Services Committee.
Ryan Thompson – 1st Vice President
A graduate of Texas A&M University, Class of 2001, Ryan Thompson has served as a professional staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives for eleven years. He currently serves as Chief of Staff to Representative Joe Barton. In 2013, Ryan was presented the Champion for Literacy Award for his work on behalf of The Literacy Council. From June 1993 to June 1997, Ryan served our country as an infantryman in the United States Marine Corps and was promoted to Non-Commissioned Officer, performing the duties of an acting Platoon Sergeant. While at Texas A&M, Ryan spent his free time working on Aggie Bonfire
2nd Vice-President-Currently Vacant
Jennifer Daniels – Secretary
Jennifer Daniels grew up in Farmers Branch. A first-generation Texan, Jennifer is a proud Texas Aggie graduate and moved to Washington, D.C. in 2004. Most recently, Jennifer served as the Director of Government Relations for Washington’s Catholic Schools. Previously, Jennifer served in the Bush Administration at the Department of State as Special Assistant to Under Secretary Karen Hughes, and in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs. On Capitol Hill, Jennifer worked for the Committee on Education and Workforce for Chairman John Boehner and for fellow Aggie, Congressman Jeb Hensarling. Jennifer lives in Cheverly, MD with her husband, Gavin and daughters Emily, Ella, and Everly.
Jack Peterson – Treasurer and Interim Executive Director
Since January 1995, Jack has served as Federal Liaison for Harris County. Born in Beaumont, Jack grew up in Houston, and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked at the Texas Capitol and lived in Texas until 1989, when he moved to Arlington, Virginia.Jack is the proud father of Michael N. and Charles K. Peterson. Michael was an Honors Graduate of Yorktown High School in Arlington, VA and is a rising Freshman at George Mason University. In May, 2016, Charles graduated with a BS in Communications from Longwood University in Farmville, VA.
Jamie Baker – Historian
Jamie is a proud fifth-generation Texan. After graduating from Harleton High School, Jamie attended The University of Texas at Austin for his undergraduate degree and then moved to Washington to pursue a Masters at the George Washington University. Upon graduation from GW, Jamie was hired to work for Congressman Michael C. Burgess. Jamie worked for Dr. Burgess for 4 years and then moved in March of 2015 to Congressman John Ratcliffe’s office to work as his Senior Legislative Assistant. When not working on the Hill, you can find Jamie cheering for the Texas Longhorns or training for his next marathon.
Director with term expiring April 2017
The Honorable Louie Gohmert – Past President
Congressman Louie Gohmert is the Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. Prior to being elected to serve in Congress, Louie was elected three terms as District Judge in Smith County, Texas and was appointed as Chief Justice of the 12th Court of Appeals.
Kristina Harris Butts
Kristina Harris Butts is originally from Pearland and has lived in Washington, D.C. since 2004. She is the Executive Director of Legislative Affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Kristina has her undergraduate degree in Agricultural Communications and a Master’s of Science in Animal and Food Sciences with a food safety emphasis from Texas Tech University. Prior to joining NCBA, Kristina worked for Congressman Lamar Smith. Kristina and her husband Randy (from Lubbock) live on Capitol Hill with their two daughters, Josephine and Katherine, and Randy’s younger brother, Jeremiah.
Gene Irisari is Director of Government Relations for Texas Instruments. He came to Texas Instruments in 2010 after serving as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Congressman Michael McCaul, including as the Congressman’s lead staffer for the Congressional High Technology Caucus. Before that, Gene served as Legislative Counsel for Congressman Kevin Brady for more than five years. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and European History, and a graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law. Gene and his wife, Catherine, live in Vienna, VA with their three children.
Caryn Schenewerk is Counsel and Director of Government Affairs for Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX). Previously, Caryn served as the Deputy Associate Director for Legislative Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget. Caryn spent five years on Capitol Hill; she last served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Policy Director for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Before entering the political realm, Caryn practiced international trade law at a Washington, D.C. firm. Caryn grew up in New Boston. Her undergraduate degree is from Austin College in Sherman; her J.D. is from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin; and she has a Masters in Laws from the University of Nottingham in England.
Patricia Villarreal Tamez
Patricia Villarreal Tamez was born in McAllen and graduated from Texas A&M University. She is a Government Relations Advisor at Shell Oil Company, one of Texas’s largest employers. Patricia moved to Washington in 2003 to work in the office of Congressman Ciro Rodriguez. She later joined the office of Congressman Solomon Ortiz where she served the people of Corpus Christi and South Texas for four years. Patricia was appointed Executive Director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in 2009. Patricia lives in Springfield, VA, with her husband Adrian, also a proud Texan, and their daughter Valentina.
An Aggie from San Antonio, Tim lived in College Station and Dallas before moving to Washington, D.C. to fundraise for Members of Congress and charities close to his heart. Tim is married to Shana Teehan, and they live in Virginia with their four children. When not working, Tim can be found two-stepping, mountain biking, cross fitting, or teaching kayaking classes (although not all at the same time). Tim is the Director of PACs & Associations at L2 and a partner at Columbia Books & Information Services, the leading specialty information publishing firm for the government relations and association community for nearly 50 years.
Directors with Two-Year Terms (Expiring April 2018)
Julie Turner Merberg – Immediate Past President
Julie Turner Merberg was born in Fort Worth and grew up in Abilene and Amarillo. An Amarillo High School Sandie, she graduated from Texas Christian University before moving to Washington, D.C. Julie began her service on Capitol Hill with Congressman Charlie Stenholm before joining the staff of Congressman Ciro Rodriguez. She worked for Congressman Silvestre Reyes, who represented El Paso. Currently, Julie works as legislative director to Congressman Filemon Vela. Julie is an active member of the Junior League of Washington. Julie lives in Maryland with her husband Glenn and children Alison, Natalie, and Elliott. She misses Six Flags, Palo Duro Canyon, and Diet Big Red.
The Honorable Al Green
On January 6, 2015, Congressman Al Green took the oath of office to serve the people of Texas’ 9th Congressional District and began his sixth term in the United States House of Representatives. As a veteran civil rights advocate, he has dedicated his life to fighting for those in society whose voices, too often, are not heard. Congressman Al Green currently serves on the Financial Services Committee. He sits on two subcommittees: Housing and Insurance, as well as Oversight and Investigations, where he serves as Ranking Member. Within the Democratic Party, he holds the position of Assistant Whip.
With more than 25 years of government affairs experience, Theresa Doyle provides broad policy, legislative and regulatory expertise to HCSC. She has chaired a variety of stakeholder coalitions and served in positions with the Healthcare Leadership Council and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. She has represented companies before Congress and the executive branch on a variety of health care topics and has built comprehensive policy, legislative and regulatory strategies for a number of organizations. Theresa is also a member of Health on Wednesday, an organization for women in Washington that represent the interests of health organizations before Congress and the Administration.
Rosemary Garza is Associate Director of Global Government Affairs for Medtronic. In her role, she strives to distinguish Medtronic as an industry leader in medical technology and aims to promote her company’s mission of improving healthcare for patients around the world. As Associate Director, she works with U.S. Members of Congress and U.S. Federal Agencies where her primary goal is to achieve a fair legislative balance between healthcare policy and government regulation. Ms. Garza comes to her role at Medtronic after serving 7.5 years with the U.S. House of Representatives where she worked for U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee Representatives Gene Green (TX-29) and Charlie Gonzalez (TX-20). Rosemary Garza was born in Brownsville and raised in Houston, Texas. She is a graduate from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Art Degree in Political Science and a Minor in Spanish. Ms. Garza also has a Master of Public Health (MPH) from George Washington University. Ms. Garza is an avid tennis player and a member of the Capitol Hill Tennis Club.
Brooke Oberwetter is the manager of external affairs for policy at Facebook, where she manages the company’s relationships with think tanks, public policy advocacy organizations, and other civil society groups across a range of public policy issues. Previously, Brooke worked on Facebook’s communications team and managed Facebook’s Small Business Boost program and Safety Roadshow program. Before joining Facebook, Brooke was a policy analyst at New Media Strategies in Arlington, VA. She served as manager of strategic communications at USTelecom, and has worked in public policy research roles at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute. Brooke is a fifth-generation Texan, hailing from Dallas. She holds a B.A. in political science from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and pursued her Master of Public Policy at American University. She lives in Alexandria, VA, with her husband and two children.
Hans Christopher Rickhoff grew up in San Antonio, Texas and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received his J.D. from Texas Tech University School of Law, where he served as president of the Student Bar Association, commencement speaker, and law school budget chair, and was a member of the Board of Barristers. He currently is Senior Policy Counsel with the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP where he represents clients in legislative, regulatory and administrative matters at the federal, state, and local levels. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Rickhoff was senior principal and general counsel at a public policy firm. He has worked in the Texas state legislature and regularly speaks to Associations and professional groups on a variety of issues and has been involved in local, state and federal campaigns. Hans and his wife Amber (from San Antonio) live in Bethesda, MD with their three boys: Townes, Emmett, and Pierce.
Standing Committee Chairs
LaKeitha Anderson – Membership Chair
LaKeitha Anderson, a native Texan from the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, began her public service as a legislative assistant for Texas State Representative Helen Giddings. Shortly after leaving public service, LaKeitha worked for Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C. after relocating here in 2000. Most recently, LaKeitha worked as the Federal Government Relations Coordinator for the City of Dallas. LaKeitha currently is a Senior Manager of Federal Government Relations for Reynolds American Inc. LaKeitha is a graduate of the University of North Texas and recently earned her Executive MBA from Georgetown University.
Todd Dupler – Entertainment Chair
Todd Dupler is the Senior Director, Advocacy & Public Policy for The Recording Academy, the organization internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards. In this role, Dupler works with Academy leadership to develop policy positions on issues affecting the music community, and represents the interests of the Academy’s 24,000 members before Congress and federal agencies. He previously served as legislative director for Rep. Lamar Smith during Smith’s tenure as chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. Dupler also served on the legislative staff for Rep. Kevin Brady and Sen. Phil Gramm and was a Presidential appointee at the U.S. Department of Labor. Dupler received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and his Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science from Baylor University. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas.
Amy Hawkins – Sponsorship Chair
Amy C. Hawkins is the Vice President of Federal Government Affairs at BNSF Railway. Previously, she was counsel and statewide projects director to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. She was also counsel for the State of Texas’ Office of State-Federal Relations in Washington, D.C., and worked for Senators Phil Gramm and John Tower. Amy graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law School. Amy and her family reside in Arlington, VA.
Taylor Gilliam – Annual Picnic Chair
Taylor Gilliam, seventh-generation Texan, is the Health Policy Advisor for Congressman Markwayne Mullin. She began her career as a volunteer for Governor Rick Perry’s gubernatorial campaign in 2010. Ready to branch out of Texas, Taylor decided to move to Washington D.C. with hopes of working for Congress. Shortly after arriving in Washington, she was hired as Staff Assistant for Congressman Michael Burgess in 2011. She was later brought into Judge John Carter’s office in summer 2012 and worked as Deputy Press Secretary and Legislative Assistant until February 2015. Taylor was born and raised in Houston, and she is a proud Longhorn from the Class of 2009.
Christopher Bjornson – LBJ Celebration Chair
Chris serves as chair of the Society’s annual tribute to President Lyndon Johnson. An avid student of presidential history, Chris has more than 125 books on the Johnson. He is Of Counsel with Steptoe & Johnson LLP, where he specializes in telecommunications, Internet and media law. Chris graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School. He earned his law degree from Catholic University.
Colby Hale – BT&B Committee Chair
Colby Hale, fifth-generation Texan, serves as Chief of Staff to Congressman Roger Williams. Prior to Congressman Williams’ election in 2012, Colby served in numerous campaign and political positions around Texas, including service at the Texas Secretary of State’s office and Republican Party of Texas. Colby was born in Fort Worth and raised in Pampa. He graduated from Hardin Simmons University and was a member of the 2006 American Southwest Conference Western Division Champion Cowboy’s Basketball Team. He keeps his home in Fort Worth, where his wife, Jennifer, and 2 dogs, Pecos and Brewster, hold down the fort. His passion for Texas has been compared to the likes of Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, and Nolan Ryan. He enjoys hunting, fishing, pitching washers, and making fun of Oklahoma.
Loretta Solon Greene – Cherry Blossom Program Chair
Loretta Solon Greene is founder of the Washington, D.C.-based global consulting company Greene Strategy. She is also proud to serve as a Georgetown University Adjunct Professor, Internship Advisor for their Semester in Washington Program. She recently served as the 2014 NCSS Cherry Blossom Grand Ball and U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen Coronation Chair. Greene is a native of Dallas, Texas, where she attended Ursuline Academy. She holds a BA in Political Science from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Her husband, Bill Greene, works on Capitol Hill. They have three children, Julia, Tommy, and Isabella.
Christa Danford – Salute to Congress Co-Chair
Christa was born in Lubbock, Texas and moved to Fort Worth where she attended Haltom High School. She comes from a long line of Red Raider fans and proudly went on to Texas Tech University where she graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education in 2011. During her collegiate career, she was President of her sorority, Kappa Delta, was a member of President Select (student ambassadors), and was selected to Mortar Board (top 50 seniors). Upon graduation, she was selected to participate in the Texas Tech Government & Public Service Internship Program and moved to Washington, DC. She interned for Congressman “Judge” John Carter (TX-31) and shortly thereafter was hired by Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21). She has been serving as Congressman Smith’s Executive Assistant for almost 5 years. Christa is married to James Danford, her high school sweetheart and fellow Red Raider.
Brystol English – Salute to Congress Co-Chair
Brystol was born in Corsicana, Texas, and grew up in Irving. Brystol is Professional Staff on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology where she handles oversight of research and development programs at the Department of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security, and the Small Business Administration. Prior to that, she served as a Special Assistant in the Office of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member of the Science Committee. Before she began working on the Hill in 2009, she worked at a transportation policy firm in Dallas and consulted on economic development, environmental impact, and security issues along major U.S. trade and goods movement corridors, including ports and border crossings. Brystol holds a J.D. and Certificate in Comparative and International Law from The Catholic University of America and a B.A. in Political Science and French from Austin College. She is a member of the Association of Women in International Trade, a White House Volunteer, on the Connections team at the Lincoln Theater campus of National Community Church, and is an avid baker.
Kelsey Crow – Communications Director
Kelsey Crow grew up in Cypress, attended Cy-Fair High School, and received degrees in Spanish and Political Communication from the University of Texas at Austin. Upon moving to Washington, Kelsey worked for Congressman Lloyd Doggett, serving as Press Secretary. She is currently Senior Communications Associate at the VENG Group, where she focuses on day-to-day and crisis communication operations, strategic communications, and social media consulting. The daughter of a Texas history teacher, Kelsey is excited to serve on the Texas State Society board and bring a little bit of home to the Capital.
Austin Smithson – Senior Congressional Liaison
Austin Smithson was born and raised in Tyler. He attended The University of Texas where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Radio-Television-Film. He received his Juris Doctor degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio. After practicing law in San Antonio, Austin moved to Washington, D.C. He works on Capitol Hill and is currently the Legislative Director for Congressman Louie Gohmert. Austin and his wife, Anne-Bennett, have two boys: Will and Sam.
Mickaela Carter – Congressional Liaison (House Democrats)
Mickeala Carter was born in Dallas and raised in Desoto, TX. Upon graduating from DeSoto High School, she attended Texas A&M University where she received her Bachelor of Science in agricultural leadership and development. Mickeala moved to Washington, DC in 2013, where she began as an Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy intern in the office of Congressman Filemon Vela (TX-34). Currently, she serves as a Legislative Assistant for Rep. Vela. When she isn’t working, Mickeala spends her time volunteering for Everybody Wins! DC, an organization dedicated to promoting children’s literacy, and serving at The City Church DC, where she is a College Ministry and City Group leader, and a member of the Worship team.
Eric Gustafson – Congressional Liaison (House Republicans)
Eric Gustafson is a Senior Legislative Assistant to Representative Bill Flores (TX-17), responsible for energy and environmental policy. Prior to joining Representative Flores’ staff in 2011, he spent four years working for Representative Roy Blunt (MO-07) and just over a year for Representative Tom DeLay (TX-22). Born in Houston and raised in Brownwood, Eric has called Pearland home since 2001 and is a 2005 graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in economics. He has lived in Washington, DC since 2006.
Jordan Ballard – Collegiate Alumni Liaison
Born and raised in East Texas, Jordan is a fifth generation Texan from Texarkana, Texas. Following his graduation from Pleasant Grove High School, Jordan received his bachelor of arts from The University of Texas at Austin in 2009 and interned at the Texas Capitol for State Representative Rick Hardcastle. Jordan spent much of his time serving the Longhorn baseball team, the university, and the city of Austin with his fraternity the Texas Iron Spikes. Upon graduation from UT, Jordan began working as a staffer for the Bill Flores for Congress Campaign in 2010. Following Bill Flores’ successful campaign, he moved to Washington, D.C. to be a part of the Congressman-elect’s (TX-17) policy team. Since 2011, Jordan has been a Legislative Assistant handling many public policy issues. In 2014, Jordan graduated from Texas A&M-Texarkana with a master in business administration. In his free time, Jordan loves to exercise, cook, golf, play tennis, and cheer on the Longhorns, Cowboys, and Nationals. As of 2015, he has become an active runner and participates in a number of races and looks forward to running a marathon.
Allison Roberts – National Conference of State Societies Liaison
Allison was born and raised into Odessa, and attended Permian High School, home of the famous “Friday Night Lights.” She is a 2009 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor’s degree in Government and a minor in Business. During her collegiate years, Allison worked with the Texas Senate Sergeant at Arms Office during the 81st Texas Legislative Session. Upon graduation, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the University of Texas System, Office of Federal Relations. Allison was also selected as the 2011 Texas Cherry Blossom Princess for The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.
David Pore – Counsel
David Pore is a fifth generation Texan currently serving as Counsel at Arnold & Porter, LLP in DC. He represents clients in federal legislative and regulatory matters. Prior to joining Arnold & Porter in 2009, David was an Associate at the Hance Scarborough law firm in Austin, Texas (2005-09) and a lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators (2002-04). David served as Legislative Director for a US Congressman from Texas (1999-2002) and as a Legislative Aide to a member of the Texas House (1998-99). He is a 1998 graduate of the Texas Tech University School of Law.
Robert Peters – Volunteer Coordinator
Robert was born in Dallas, but raised in the great small town of Paris. Robert is a proud fifth-generation Texan. After graduating from North Lamar High School, Robert went on to attend The University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Government and a minor in Business. Upon graduation, Robert moved to Washington, D.C. where he is currently a Staff Assistant for Congressman John Ratcliffe. When not working, Robert enjoys attending sporting events, going to concerts, and spending time outdoors.
Michael Yancey – Volunteer Coordinator
Michael Yancey attended Texas A&M University, where he was active in the Corps of Cadets’ Squadron 2 and Fish Drill Team. After graduation Michael spent time working in College Station, before moving to Jiangsu, China for work in International Business and learn about Chinese business and history. Upon returning to the United States, Michael began pursuing a career in policy, leading him to his current position as Legislative Correspondent for Congressman Michael Burgess. He has been active in the Texas State Society for a year and joined the board as one of two Volunteer Coordinators in March 2015.
Marco Santiago – Photographer
Bio Not Available
Shana Teehan – Webmaster
A native of Brazoria, the ‘Cradle of Texas’, Shana Teehan is a proud mother of four who traces her Texas roots to her great, great, great, great, great uncle William Barret Travis. Shana has worked for several conservative candidates, personalities, and organizations from across the country, helping to develop comprehensive media and public relations strategies for brand promotion, advocacy, fundraising and list-building. Shana currently works on the Hill, serving as Communications Director for Congressman Will Hurd. Shana, her husband Tim, and their children, Molly, Alex, Jak, and Sam, spend their downtime exploring the great outdoors surrounding our nation’s capital.
Bill Christian – Past Executive Director
Hailing from Monahans and Midland, Bill Christian served on the TSS Board as both President and Executive Director. He also serves as President of the National Conference of State Societies. Including service in the Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 administrations, Bill also worked for Sens. John Tower and Phil Gramm and Congressmen Tom Loeffler, and John Culberson. In 2003, Bill returned home to run for Congress, in a special election to succeed Rep. Larry Combest. A graduate of the Naval War College, Bill retired from the Marine Corps with 27 years of service. An alumnus of UT Austin (1986) and the Texas Lyceum, Bill’s hobbies include coaching The RBIs of Texas softball team and serving as a Commissioner in the U.S. Senate Softball League.