2010 – 2014

2010 – 2014


The Texas State Society began 2013 hosting the Black Tie & Boots Presidential Inaugural Ball held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. TSS President Rep. Gene Green, with the assistance of Veronica Custer, led the Black Tie & Boots team in executing a most memorable event. Held over two nights, the 9th quadrennial Black Tie & Boots Ball started with the Sponsor Dinner held on the evening of January 18th, followed by the “BIG as TEXAS” Inaugural Ball on the evening of January 19th. The Ball enjoyed generous sponsorships, including major underwriting by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas and the Texas Central Railway.

Black Tie & Boots Chairman Doug Centilli launched the opening of the two-day event by introducing the dinner’s master of ceremonies, Larry Gatlin, who performed and spoke about the creative works of songwriters. Entertainment at the Sponsor Dinner featured Texan songwriters, who each performed their own works. On stage were Bonnie Bishop, Radney Foster, Susan Gibson, Gary Nicholson, Carrie Rodriguez, Allen Shamblin, and Trent Williamson. The 4-course meal featured steaks donated by Cargill Industries (headquartered in Texas), delicious sides and salad, and pecan pie and Bluebell Ice Cream. Also, a gift of a home was presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas to a soldier as part of the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Inaugural Ball featured multiple stages with the following entertainers and celebrities: Asleep at the Wheel, Josh Abbott, Marcia Ball, Bonnie Bishop, Jody Booth, Scott Brown, Radney Foster, Ruthie Foster, Susan Gibson, David Grace, Phillip Griffin, Jack Ingram, Hamilton Loomis, John Arthur Martinez, James Patterson, Carrie Rodriguez, Cecil Shaw, John Slaughter, Josh Ward, the Wheeler Brothers, Tess Williams, Trent Williamson, Zona Jones, and country music superstar Charley Pride. Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx delighted the crowd in the Potomac Ballroom with Texas-style comedy prior to introducing country music legend Charley Pride, who performed his classic songs for over an hour.

In addition to the musical entertainment that began at 7 pm and ended at 2 am, revelers enjoyed an open bar, buffet tables of delicious tasty Texas-style treats, celebrity sitings, and the dance performances of the Kilgore College Rangerettes and the Lake Highland Wildcats.

Texans know how to throw a party, and the 9th quadrennial Black Tie & Boots Presidential Inaugural Ball was lauded by the thousands of guests, and it was even featured in an above-the-fold article in the Washington Post Style section.

Our traditional Annual Salute to Congress reception was held on February 25th in the Rayburn Foyer. Over 200 TSS dues paid (for 2014) members were in attendance. Senator John Cornyn extended a Texas welcome to everyone, as did TSS President, Congressman Gene Green. In addition, several other Texas Members of Congress were on hand to visit with attendees. Julie Merberg and Victoria Custer made all the arrangements for a most enjoyable evening.

The efforts by the TSS to re-activate the Texas Breakfast Club proved to be successful. On February 22, Texas Governor Rick Perry was the guest speaker, and the event was well attended. Governor Perry’s breakfast appearance was followed throughout the year by other state officials and persons of interest, including Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Chairman Bryan Shaw, Texas Transportation Commissioners Jeff Austin and Jeff Moseley, and, at the last breakfast of the year, Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus.

On January 28th, TSS members gathered at Lounge 201, on the Senate side of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, for the second season premiere of the recently revived television series, “Dallas,” the iconic and globally popular prime time soap opera that originally ran 1978 to 1991. The new version includes original cast members Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, and, of course, Larry Hagman, as the irrepressible villain, JR Ewing. After Hagman passed away in real life, the television writers killed off JR Ewing, as well, and TSS members returned to Lounge 201 on March 11th, to watch the episode featuring JR’s funeral.

For the first time, TSS members attended the Gridiron Club “Reprise” on March 10th. The “Reprise” is a re-enactment of the annual white-tie Gridiron Club dinner from the night before. The Gridiron Club dinner typically includes the lampooning of the President of the United States as well as other Members of Congress. The Texas State Society, along with other members of the National Conference of State Societies (NCSS), provided the second largest contingent at the Reprise with TSS providing the largest part (22) of the NCSS contingent.

Allison Roberts chaired our annual Cherry Blossom event held at Ft. Myer, Virginia. Texas’ Cherry Blossom Princess for 2013 was Miss Jordan Lewis of Lubbock. Jordan is currently a graduate student at George Mason University in Virginia.

On Tuesday, April 23, over 50 members of the Texas State Society met at Hill Country BBQ, in downtown Washington, DC, for our annual business meeting and San Jacinto Celebration. Following the consumption of Hill Country’s delicious barbecue and visits with fellow Texans, the meeting was called to order. As has become custom, everyone introduced themselves and gave their home town.

Outgoing TSS president, Congressman Gene Green, presided at the business meeting. He extended his heartfelt thanks to everyone who worked tirelessly on January’s Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball, particularly the ball’s chairman, Doug Centilli. He also extended a warm welcome to Congressman Louie Gohmert, who will assume the presidency in April, 2014, and to Congressman Ted Poe.

At the conclusion of the annual meeting, during the San Jacinto Celebration portion of the program, Congressman Poe gave us our annual “history lesson” about the fall of the Alamo and subsequent victory at San Jacinto. It was a lively presentation!

The slate of officers for 2013-14 was approved by voice vote. They are: President, Barry Brown; 1st Vice President, The Honorable Louie Gohmert; 2nd Vice President, Julie Merberg; Secretary, Bob Mansker; Treasurer, Veronica Custer; and Historian, Lois Auer.

Directors with terms expiring April 2014: Doug Centilli (Past President), The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson, Dan Aguillen, Don Carlson, Heather Traeger Cohan, and Jarvis Stewart. Directors with terms expiring April 2015: The Honorable Gene Green (Immediate Past President), The Honorable Roger Williams, Michele Famiglietti, Lonnie Johnson, Cody Lusk, and Ryan Thompson.

Board Positions: Entertainment/BT&B Chair, Ed Perez; Membership Chair, Tim Teehan; Sponsorship Chair, Jack Peterson; Congressional Liaison, LaKeitha Anderson; Newsletter Editor/Communications Director, Taylor Gilliam; Photographer, Marco Santiago; NCSS Liaison, Loretta Greene; LBJ Celebration, Chris Bjornson; Cherry Blossom Program, Allison Roberts; Executive Secretary, Bill Christian; Annual Picnic Chairs, Rep. Ted Poe and Shana Teehan; Volunteer Coordinator, Dakotah Smith; Corporate Advisory Panel Chair, Lane Luskey.

The weather was absolutely beautiful most of the day for our annual Father’s Day Picnic on June 16, 2013 at Smokey Glen Farm, Gaithersburg, Maryland. The softly falling rain toward the end of the picnic did not deter any of the approximately 622 attendees from having a great time. Representative Ted Poe was honorary chairman, while Shana Teehan chaired the event. In addition to all the usual fun events (softball tournament, zip line, face painting, and music by the DC3), the TSS was pleased to host a fundraiser for First Responders of West, Texas, for the benefit of families who were affected by a tragic explosion earlier in the year. A serving of the delicious Czech pastry prepared by Kolache Kreations was given to everyone who made a donation to the responders.

Although Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison retired from Congress in January when her term ended, she wasted no time in writing a book, Unflinching Courage: Pioneering Women Who Shaped Texas. In it, Senator Hutchison brings to life the incredible stories of the resourceful and brave women who shaped the state of Texas and influenced American history.” TSS President Barry Brown coordinated a book-signing for TSS members at the Capitol Hill Club on Monday, June 18th. It was so well-attended that the bookseller ran out of books before all attendees could be accommodated.

Our annual event honoring President Lyndon Baines Johnson was held on Saturday, August 31, 11 a.m. Chris Bjornson chaired the event with about 75 attendees present. The group enjoyed hearing from two speakers. The first speaker was Sid Davis, a reporter for Westinghouse who was in the motorcade when President Kennedy was shot and on the plane when President Johnson was sworn in. His remarks, “Reflection on the Events in Dallas on November 22,” were especially timely given the 50th anniversary in November.

The keynote speaker was Larry Levinson, a Deputy Special Counsel in the White House working for Joe Califano. His remarks, “The Rights of August,” provided insight on how August was a busy month in the Johnson Administration. At the conclusion of the program, tasty pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches were served along with sugar cookies and lemonade.

With a change of locations, our Terlingua Two-Step was held in the North Hall of Eastern Market, Washington, D. C. on November 13th. Bonnie Bishop and the Bonnie Bishop Band were our featured entertainers. Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul did an impromptu “guest appearance,” accompanying the band on guitar. A number of other Texas Members of Congress also stopped by for the evening. Our thanks are extended to Veronica Custer, Ed Perez, and Heather Traeger, who jointly chaired the event, with the assistance of our newly engaged fundraising and event production team, epiphany productions.

TSS History – 2012

The Kennedy Center advertised January 10, 2012 as “Texas Night at the Kennedy Center.” Lane Luskey, assisted by Lois Auer, quickly sold 100 tickets to TSS members to see the play, “ANN: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards,” a one-woman show created by and starring Emmy Award-winning actress Holland Taylor. It was a hilarious presentation of Ann Richards bringing back memories to many of the TSS members who had known her personally.

To welcome newcomers to Washington, D. C., a “TSS Winter Welcome” was held at 6 p.m., on Tuesday, January 24 at the “Top of the Hill” on the top floor of the Pour House, 319 Pennsylvania Avenue. It proved to be a very enjoyable evening, one which the TSS hopes to sponsor again in the future.

The Annual Salute to Congress was held on Wednesday, February 1, in the Cannon Caucus room with Barry Brown serving as Chairman of the event. As always, the evening was well attended by TSS members and Texas Members of Congress. Only TSS members who had paid their 2012 membership dues were eligible to attend. Texas-styled snacks as well as our favorite Texas ice cream, Blue Bell, were served.

Our annual Cherry Blossom event was held on April 7th in honor of our princess, Kyndel Henicke, originally from George West. Kyndel studied International Relations at the University of Texas at Austin. While at the university, she was very active as a Student Ambassador travelling to a number of foreign countries. During the summer of 2007, she was chosen as one of ten Student Ambassadors to travel to Kazan, Russia to live with a host family. She also was an Archer Fellow for the spring semester here in Washington, D. C.

The Annual Meeting and 176th San Jacinto Celebration, April 24, 2012, was held at Hill Country Barbecue in Washington, D. C. Everyone enjoyed a videotaped conversation between Congressman Gene Green and Mr. Sam Houston, IV, the great-grandson of Sam Houston. Remarks were made by Congressman Ted Poe giving everyone a quick update on Texas history, especially the fall of the Alamo and subsequent victory at San Jacinto. After the close of the meeting, there was a concert performance by JB and the Moonshine Band.

During the annual meeting, the TSS Board for 2012 – 2013 was approved as follows: The Honorable Gene Green, President; Barry Brown, 1st Vice President; The Honorable Quico Canseco, 2nd Vice President; Bob Mansker, Secretary; Julie Turner Merberg, Treasurer; Ed Perez, Historian.

Directors with terms expiring April 2013 were the Honorable Silvestre Reyes (Past President), the Honorable Ted Poe, Tim Teehan, Lane Luskey, Lois Auer, Leo Munoz, and Bryan Dierlam. Directors with terms expiring in 2014 were Don Carlson, Heather Traeger Cohan, Doug Centilli (Immediate Past President), Dean Aguillen, Jarvis Stewart, and the Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson.

Board Positions: Chad Sweet, Entertainment Chair; Jennifer Daniels, Membership Chair; LaKeitha Anderson, Sponsorship Chair; Chris Bjornson, LBJ Celebration Chair; Allison Roberts, Cherry Blossom Princess Chair; Johnna Carlson, Communications; Jack Peterson, Congressional Liaison; Stoney Burk, NCSS Liaison; Marco Santiago, Photographer; Bill Christian, Executive Secretary. Loretta Greene, Alternate.

LaKeitha Anderson chaired the Annual Father’s Day picnic, which was held on Sunday, June 17th at Smokey Glen Farm, Gaithersburg. She had an enthusiastic committee to help insure the picnic’s success. All of the usual activities were enjoyed, including bingo, dance contest, domino tournament, and face painting, as well as the always spirited softball tournament. A great time was reported by all.

Our annual LBJ Celebration was held on Saturday, August 25th, 10:00 a.m. at the LBJ Memorial Park, Va. Chris Bjornson again served as Chairman, and Ms. Ashton Gonella was the featured speaker. She related some of her interesting experiences while working for President Johnson. This year marked the 100th anniversary of Lady Bird Johnson’s birth. About 40 attended the event, including Senator and Mrs. Charles Robb.

As is customary, no Terlingua Two-Step dance was scheduled this fall ahead of all the planning and logistics involved in preparing for the 2013 Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball.

The Texas Breakfast Club honored Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on December 6 as she was retiring from the U. S. Senate at the end of the year. Senator Hutchison is the first female from Texas to have served in the U. S. Senate. Outgoing Members of Congress were also honored, including Representatives Quico Canseco, Charlie Gonzalez, Ron Paul, and Silvestre Reyes.

Throughout the year, periodic updates were presented to the TSS board regarding the 2013 Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball.

TSS History 2011

The Annual Salute to Congress was held on March 9th on Capitol Hill. A large contingent of TSS members (paid members for 2011) attended this annual event to enjoy an evening of visiting with Members of the Texas Congressional Delegation while also enjoying tasty Texas-styled treats and Shiner Bock beer. Blue Bell ice cream was a special treat at the conclusion of the evening.

In early April, 2011, our annual Cherry Blossom Event honored our TSS princess, Allison Roberts, who is from Odessa, Texas. Allison is a proud UT graduate where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government. After graduation, she soon moved to Washington, D. C. and has been employed by the University of Texas System Office of Federal Relations ever since. The reception in honor of Allison was the first time ever that the reception was held at the Ft. Myer Officers Club. Miss Amber Harris chaired the reception.

The Texas State Society held its Annual Meeting and San Jacinto 175th celebration on May 3 at the newly opened Hill Country DC barbecue restaurant in Washington, DC. Delicious Texas-styled barbecue and other Texas treats were served.

TSS officers installed during the meeting were as follows: President, Doug Centilli; 1st Vice President, The Honorable Gene Green; 2nd Vice President, Barry Brown; Secretary, Lane Luskey; Treasurer, Julie Merberg; and Historian, Ed Perez.

Directors with terms expiring April, 2012: David Hagy, Robert Head, Kevin Kimble, The Honorable Pete Olson, Erik Prince, Tim Teehan. Directors with Terms Expiring April 2013: Lois Auer, The Honorable Francisco “Quico” Canseco, Brian Dierlam, Jenny Sheffield Drucker, Bob Mansker, Leo Munoz.

Committee Chairs: Enertainment, Chad Sweet; Membership, Jennifer Daniels; Sponsorship, LaKeitha Anderson. Other board positions: Communications, Johnna Carlson; Congressional Liaison, Jack Peterson; NCSS Liaison, Steve Dutton; Photographer, Marco Santiago; Executive Secretary, Bill Christian.

A representative for Ambassador Zygimantas Paviliones of Lithuania provided a historical exhibit, as well as a very interesting verbal history of “The First Lithuanians in Texas.”

Also, during the evening, the outgoing Executive Secretary of the TSS, Lois Auer, was recognized and thanked for her 12 years of service. The new TSS Executive Secretary, Bill Christian was then recognized. Bill has been a long-time member of the TSS board, including having served as TSS president.

Following the conclusion of the meeting, entertainment was provided by “Keepers of the Southern Soul Flame.”

LaKeitha Anderson chaired our annual Father’s Day picnic, which was held on June 19th at Smokey Glen Farm. All the usual activities to be expected at a Texas picnic were there, including the ever-popular zip line, dance contest, and 42-domino tournament. Six softball teams competed for the first place prizes. The planning committee was assured that Dr. Pepper would be available in addition to all the other traditional favorites, including Shiner Bock.

Our annual LBJ event honoring President Lyndon Baines Johnson was held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 27th, at the LBJ Grove, George Washington Parkway, Virginia. The event coincided with President Johnson’s actual birthday, August 27. The featured speaker was Ambassador Lloyd Hand, a former Senate and White House staff member to LBJ. He had a number of interesting anecdotes to report on his time with President Johnson. Despite the threats of Hurricane Irene, the event went forward at the appointed time. Lemonade and cookies were served after the program.

November 15th marked the date for our annual Terlingua Two –Step, which was held at the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington, Virginia. Free dance lessons were the first item on the evening’s program, and that helped everyone enjoy a great night of dancing. Entertainment by Dale Watson provided an evening of old-style Honky Tonk and Bakersfield country music. Heather Traeger Cohan chaired this event, and everyone agreed that she and her committee had arranged a very special evening.


The Texas State Society kicked off the new year with the Annual Salute to Congress on Wednesday, January 27, 2010, from 6:00-8:00 pm in the Cannon Caucus Room of the House of Representatives. It was free for TSS members who had paid their 2010 membership fees. Members of the Texas Congressional Delegation attended and the famed Blue Bell ice cream was served as part of the traditional gathering. Approximately 400 TSS members were in attendance.

The Texas State Society revived another tradition with the Texas Breakfast Club on February 3 at Bullfeathers Restaurant on Capitol Hill. More than a few inches of snow did not keep 45 hearty souls from coming to hear our guest speaker, former Dallas mayor, Ron Kirk, U. S. Trade Representative. He is the highest ranking Texan in President Obama’s administration. Tentative plans were made for hosting periodic breakfasts in the coming months.

In March, the Texas State Society began operating under a “Green” system, whereby it moved away from printing newsletters and towards a paperless system of e-newsletters. This was a move with the times of environmental awareness, while also allowing the State Society to save on printing and postage costs.

On April 8th, Ashley Olivas, from El Paso, Texas, was honored as our 2010 Texas State Society Princess. Ashley took a break from her studies on Organizational and Corporate Communications at the University of Texas at El Paso to come to Washington, D. C. for her spring semester. While in DC, she served as a Bill Archer Fellow in the office of Congressman Ted Poe.

The Texas State Society joined the Mississippi and Alabama State Societies to honor their respective State Princesses. The event was held at Bobby Van’s Grill at 1201 New York Avenue, Washington, D. C. from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. Chairwoman Lindsey Mask did a terrific job in coordinating and scheduling the event at a new location. The Grand Ball was held on April 9th at the Grand Hyatt Washington at 1000 11th Street NW.

The 2010 Annual Meeting of the Texas State Society of Washington, DC (TSS) was held on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency Washington, DC on Capitol Hill. Organized by Jack Peterson, it was broken into four parts: first, the Annual Business Meeting, then a wonderful presentation by Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia on new developments of her “Project Star” at the San Jacinto Battleground. The third portion of the event was a very tasty reception and, finally, a superb musical performance by the great Texas singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen with approximately 275 guests in attendance.

At the business meeting, the 2010-2011 officers were approved and installed. They are: President, the Honorable Silvestre Reyes; 1st Vice President, Doug Centilli; 2nd Vice President, the Honorable Gene Green; Secretary, Jennifer Daniels; Treasurer, Jenny Sheffield Drucker; and Historian, Bob Mansker.

Directors with terms expiring in 2011: LaKeitha Anderson, the Honorable John Cornyn (Past President), the Honorable Charles Gonzales, Marc Gonzalez, Debra Law McKeown, and Jack C. Peterson.

Directors with terms expiring in 2012: Bill Christian (Immediate Past President), David Hagy, Robert Head, Kevin Kimble, the Honorable Pete Olson, and Erik Prince.

Board Positions: Membership Chair, Lane Luskey; Entertainment Chair, Jerri Ann Henry; Sponsorship Chair, Ed Perez. Non-voting positions: Executive Secretary, Lois Auer; Congressional Liaison, Barry Brown; Communications, Margaret Matthews; Photographer, Marco Santiago; National Conference of State Societies (NCSS) Liaison, Bill Christian. Event Chairs: Texas Breakfast Club, Jack Peterson; Congressional Reception, Sery Kim; Annual Meeting, Doug Centilli.

Over 700 folks attended our annual Father’s Day Picnic, which was held on June 20th at Smokey Glen Farm, Gaithersburg, Maryland. Chelsea Brown and Sarith Ruiz co-chaired the event. Typical Texas-style music was provided by the Hill Country Band featuring Wil Gravatt and Gretchen Purser. All the usual food favorites were served, including Texas brisket, Shiner Bock, and our favorite, Blue Bell ice cream.

Picnic door prizes were better than ever. These included airline tickets, a Texas trip package from the Dallas Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, and a weekend stay at the Gaylord National Hotel.

President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 102nd birthday was celebrated on August 28, 2010, one day earlier than his actual 1908 birthdate. The ceremony was held at the LBJ Memorial Grove on the George Washington Parkway. About 75 people attended, including President Johnson’s daughter Lynda Robb and her husband former Senator Charles Robb, their daughter Lucinda Florio and her husband Lars, and the late President’s great-grandchildren.

Dr. Stephen Gentle of National City Church provided the invocation. Will Shafroth from the U. S. Department of Interior spoke on President Johnson’s legacy relating to environmental issues. Lady Bird Johnson’s support of wildflower research and her love of nature were emphasized. Joanne Weiss, Chief of Staff to U. S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, spoke on the dedication of the Education Department’s headquarters as the LBJ Building and what President Johnson meant for the legacy of education in the United States.

Lyndon K. Boozer, a longtime friend of the Johnson family and son of the late President’s secretary, Yolanda Boozer, provided the keynote address entitled “What LBJ Means to Me.” Everyone enjoyed hearing Lyndon relay some of the stories that his mother had told him over the years about her time in the White House. Boozer led the effort to rename the Education Department headquarters after President Johnson. Special thanks were extended to Lyndon’s wife, Karen, for her delicious pimento cheese sandwiches.

Melissa Gold, Chairwoman for our Terlingua Two-Step dance party on November 17th, executed an outstanding evening for the TSS at the Clarendon Ballroom, Arlington, Virginia. Cory Morrow and his band provided real two-step, boot- scooting music. No wonder Willie Nelson likened Cory to “the artistic Dalai Lama to all Texas musicians.” The TSS appreciated the active participation by the local DC chapters of the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, and Southwestern University alumni. Great music and tasty Texas-style food were enjoyed by all.