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Meet the President and Board

Members for 2017 – 2018


Officers

President – Ryan Thompson
A proud graduate of Texas A&M University, Ryan Thompson has served as a professional staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives for thirteen years. He currently serves as Chief of Staff to Representative Joe Barton (R-TX). Ryan’s position as President of the Congressional Sports Foundation has allowed him to become heavily involved with DC local nonprofits that focus on literacy and creating opportunities. 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, an Aggie tradition.

1st Vice President – Rep. Marc Veasey
Congressman Marc Veasey is the United States Representative for the 33rd Congressional District of Texas. Elected in 2012, Rep. Veasey serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, where he serves as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy. Before serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Veasey was elected to the Texas State House in 2004, representing District 95 – an area now part of the 33rd Congressional District – for four consecutive terms. Before serving in the Texas State House, Congressman Veasey worked as a congressional staffer in North Texas.  Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, he and his wife Tonya live in East Fort Worth and have an eleven-year-old son, Adam.  Veasey earned a BS from Texas Wesleyan University, where he majored in Mass Communication.

2nd Vice President – Gene Irisari
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

Secretary – Nicole Lansford
Nicole, an eighth-generation Texan, was born and raised in Richmond, Texas. She attended the University of Texas at Austin where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Government. While at UT she worked for the Texas Senate Sergeant at Arms Office. At the start of Nicole’s senior year of college she moved to Washington, D.C. as a Bill Archer Fellow and interned for Congressman Roger Williams. She has continued to work for Congressman Williams and is currently his Legislative Assistant.

Treasurer – Jack Peterson
Since January 1995, Jack has served as Federal Liaison for Harris County, Texas. Born in Beaumont, Jack grew up in Houston, moved to Austin in 1970 and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin.  He worked in a variety of capacities in and around the Texas Capitol Building from 1973 until 1989, when he moved to Arlington, Virginia.  Jack is the proud father of Michael N. and Charles K. Peterson.  Michael is in the Honors College at George Mason University.  Charles graduated with a BS in Communications from Longwood University in Farmville, VA in May, 2016 and resides in Richmond, VA.

Historian/Communications – Jamie Baker
Jamie is a proud fifth-generation Texan, born in Houston and raised in East Texas. 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, while concurrently working at the White House under President George W. Bush. 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.


Directors –  Terms Expiring in 2018

Past President Director – Julie Merberg

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.

Director – Kelsey Crow

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 currently works at the VENG Group, where she focuses on day-to-day and crisis communication operations, strategic communications, and social media consulting for non-profits and civil rights groups. 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.

Director – Theresa Doyle

Theresa is Divisional Senior Vice President and Chief Government Relations Officer for Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans in five states including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. She is responsible for HCSC’s health care policy, advocacy and political activities. With more than 30 years of government affairs experience, Theresa provides broad policy, legislative and regulatory expertise to HCSC. 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.

Director – Rosemary Garza

Rosemary Garza serves as Associate Director of Global Government Affairs for Medtronic.  In this capacity, Ms. Garza works with Members of Congress and U.S. federal agencies to advance healthcare policies that promote therapy innovation, globalization and economic value.  Ms. Garza strives to distinguish Medtronic as an industry leader in medical technologies and hospital solutions that not only improve healthcare for patients around the world but, provide cost-effective innovations for hospitals, health systems, and medical providers. 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). Ms. Garza was born in Brownsville and raised in Houston, Texas.  Ms. Garza is a graduate from the University of Houston with a B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in Spanish. Ms. Garza also has a Master in Public Health (MPH) from George Washington University.  Ms. Garza is a member of Women in Government Relations and Hispanic Lobbyist Association.  She is also an avid tennis player and longtime member of the Capitol Hill Tennis Club.

Director – Brooke Oberwetter

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.

Director – Hans Rickhoff

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.


Directors with Two-Year Terms (Expiring April 2019)

Immediate Past President – Rep. Roger Williams

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.

Director – LaKeitha Anderson

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.

Director – Barry Brown

Barry is a fifth-generation Texan from Greenville, Texas. After graduating from Greenville High School, Barry completed his studies at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and then moved to Washington to pursue a job on Capitol Hill.  Over the next 20 years he served as a Legislative Assistant to Congressman Larry Combest (R-Lubbock), Legislative Director to Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands), Chief of Staff to Rep. Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth) and Chief of Staff to Rep. Michael C. Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville).  He is currently a Vice President at the lobby firm the Alpine Group in Washington, DC.  Barry is married to Jennifer Brown and they have two children where they reside on Capitol Hill.

Director – Kyle Oliver

Kyle is a principal with BlueWater Strategies, an energy, environment, and natural resources focused firm. He spent ten years on Capitol Hill serving as Legislative Director and Chief Policy Advisor to Congressman Ralph Hall from Rockwall, where his mother grew up. Kyle is a 6th generation Texan, and the ox bow that pulled his ancestors to Texas from California in 1876 proudly hangs above the fireplace in his parent’s Austin home. Born and raised in Austin, Kyle graduated from the University of Texas, where he was a Silver Spur. Kyle’s wife Aaricka (an Aggie – yikes!) is from Denison, TX, and they have a little girl, Chancellor, who is learning the ways of what it means to be a Texan in D.C.

Director – Austin Smithson

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. in 2010. He currently serves as Legislative Counsel for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and previously served as Legislative Director for Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01). Austin and his wife live on Capitol Hill and have two boys: Will and Sam.

Director – Michael Yancey

Michael grew up in a military family and did not arrive in Texas until high school, where he attended Thomas C. Clark High School in San Antonio. He later attended Texas A&M University, where he studied History and was heavily active member of the Corps of Cadets. After graduation in 2011, Michael spent some time abroad working in sales in the maritime industry, but decided to move to Washington in 2013 to pursue a career in policy. Michael currently works for Congressman Michael Burgess (TX-26) as a Legislative Aide and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies at the Naval War College.


More information

Standing Committee Chairs

Entertainment Committee – Todd Dupler

  • 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.

Membership Committee – Robert Peters

  • Robert, a proud fifth-generation Texan, was born in Dallas but raised in Paris, TX. Upon 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 legislative staffer for Congressman John Ratcliffe. When not working, Robert enjoys attending sporting events, going to concerts, and spending time outdoors.

Sponsorship Committee – Adrienne Gamez

  • Adrienne is a native of Fort Worth, TX and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. She worked as a Legislative Aide in the Texas Capitol for two sessions and a political fundraiser at the state and national levels prior to moving to Washington, DC. She currently serves as the South Regional Deputy Finance Director for the Republican National Committee. Adrienne enjoys traveling, cooking, Longhorn football, and FaceTiming with her family’s chocolate lab, Bentley, in her spare time.

Event Chairs and Other Committee Chairs

Texas Breakfast Club Chair – Barry Brown

  • Barry is a fifth-generation Texan from Greenville, Texas. After graduating from Greenville High School, Barry completed his studies at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and then moved to Washington to pursue a job on Capitol Hill.  Over the next 20 years he served as a Legislative Assistant to Congressman Larry Combest (R-Lubbock), Legislative Director to Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands), Chief of Staff to Rep. Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth) and Chief of Staff to Rep. Michael C. Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville).  He is currently a Vice President at the lobby firm the Alpine Group in Washington, DC.  Barry is married to Jennifer Brown and they have two children where they reside on Capitol Hill.

Annual Picnic Chair – Alisa Maso

  • Alisa J. Maso moved to Washington, DC from the booming city of Frisco Texas, where she was born and raised with traditional Texas values. In Frisco, she attended Centennial High School and was involved in many community organizations. She holds a Political Science degree from Kansas State University which is in Manhattan, Kansas a.k.a. the “Little Apple.” Post-graduation, she proceeded to work at the Alpine Group a Government Relations Consulting Firm where she is currently a Policy Assistant. An avid community service volunteer, she is always looking for new ways to give back to those around her, such as recently becoming a member of the Certified Emergency Response Team, run by FEMA. Endless learning is a passion of hers, thus she enjoys reading, and continuing her practice of foreign languages, including Arabic and French.

LBJ Celebration Chair – Chris Bjornson

  • 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.

2021 Black Tie and Boots Committee Chair – Russell Thomasson

  • Russell Thomasson is a fourth generation Texan serving as Chief of Staff to Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX-19). Russell earned his accounting degree at Texas Tech University and law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. He previously served as Chief of Staff to Kent Hance—Chancellor Emeritus of the Texas Tech University System and former Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission and Congressman for TX-19. Russell was born in Crockett, Texas and raised in Lubbock, Texas. Russell met his wife Gracelyn Whittenburg Thomasson, a fourth generation Texan, at Texas Tech University and they currently live together with their 5 children in Falls Church, Virginia.

Cherry Blossom Program Chair – Loretta Solon Greene

  • 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.

Salute to Congress Co-Chair – Taylor Hittle

  • Taylor Hittle, 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.

Salute to Congress Co-Chair – Kelsey Crow

  • 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 currently works at the VENG Group, where she focuses on day-to-day and crisis communication operations, strategic communications, and social media consulting for non-profits and civil rights groups. 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.

Congressional Liaison – Democrats – Mickeala Carter

  • 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 Communications Director and 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 Citizens Heights Church, where she is a College Ministry and City Group leader, and a member of the Worship team.

Congressional Liaison – Republicans – Eric Gustafson

  • Eric Gustafson serves as Legislative Director for Representative Bill Flores (TX-17). 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.

Volunteer Coordinator/Collegiate Liaison – Jordan Ballard

  • 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.

National Conference of State Societies – Liaison – Allison Roberts

  • 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.

Legal Advisor – David Pore

  • David Pore is a fifth-generation Texan and a partner in the DC office of the Austin-based law firm Hance Scarborough LLP. He represents clients in federal legislative and regulatory matters. Prior to re-joining Hance Scarborough, David was a Counsel at the DC office of Arnold & Porter from 2009-2017. Before that he was an Associate at the Hance Scarborough Austin office (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.

Photographer – Marco Santiago

Past Board of Directors
Texas State Society Board 2015 – 2016

  • President – The Honorable Roger Williams
  • 1st Vice President – Ryan Thompson
  • Secretary – Jennifer Daniels
  • Treasurer – Jack Peterson
  • Historian – Jamie Baker

 Directors with Terms Expiring April 2017

  • The Honorable Louie Gohmert (Past President)
  • Kristina Harris Butts
  • Gene Irisari
  • Caryn Schenewerk
  • Patricia Tamez
  • Tim Teehan

 Directors with Terms Expiring April 2018

  • Julie Turner Merberg (Immediate Past President)
  • The Honorable Al Green
  • Theresa Doyle
  • Rosemary Garza
  • Brooke Oberwetter
  • Hans Rickhoff 

Board Positions

  • Entertainment Chair – Todd Dupler
  • Membership Chair – LaKeitha Anderson
  • Sponsorship Chair – Amy Hawkins
  • Director of Communications – Kelsey Crow
  • Volunteer Coordinator – Robert Peters & Michael Yancey
  • Photographer – Marco Santiago
  • NCSS Liaison – Allison Roberts
  • Annual Picnic Chair – Taylor Gilliamm
  • LBJ Celebration – Chris Bjornson
  • Cherry Blossom – Loretta Solon Greene
  • Salute to Congress Co-chair – Christa Danford
  • Salute to Congress Co-Chair – Brystol English
  • Black Tie & Boots Committee Chair – Colby Hale
  • Legal Advisor – David Pore
  • Senior Congressional Liaison – Austin Smithson
  • Congressional Liaison (House Democrats) – Mickaela Carter
  • Congressional Liaison (House Republicans) – Eric Gustafson
  • Collegiate Alumni Liaison – Jordan Ballard
  • Webmaster – Shana Teehan