The Texas State Society opened up 2017 by hosting the quadrennial Black Tie and Boots Presidential Inaugural Ball held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. Texas State Society President, Congressman Roger Williams, Black Tie and Boots Committee Chair, Colby Hale, and the entire Black Tie and Boots Committee worked hard preparing for the event of the year. Starting with the sponsorship dinner on the evening of January 18. With more than 75 sponsors, the Black Tie and Boots Ball wouldn’t have been a success without them. The production team at epiphany productions, worked tirelessly with the Gaylord and surrounding hotels to accommodate the more that 11,000 who attended the ball the next night.

Starting at 7 PM and going strong until 2 AM, on January 19, 2017 Black Tie and Boots Inaugural Ball was one for the history books. Thousands of guests attended and we had special guests that came as well. These special guests include Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson, Governor Greg Abbot, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Senators Cornyn and Cruz, many members of the Texas Congressional Delegation, actor Jon Voight, businessman and start of Duck Dynasty, Willie Robertson, and Members of President-elect Trump Family, including Donald Trump, Jr.

Texans certainly know how to throw a party and what party isn’t complete without great music. Headlining this year’s Black Tie and Boots ball was none other than the Beach Boys. Other performers at the ball include: Kevin Fowler, Bonnie Bishop, Kenny Maines, Josh Weathers, Randy Rogers Band, Clay Walker, Jason Eady and Courtney Patton, Richie McDonald, Tim Rushlow, Larry Stewart, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Gary P. Nunn and Kenny Maines. Other performers like the Kilgore College Rangeretts, SMU Mustang Mavericks, Texas Dance Educators Association, Texas State University Strutters, and Lil’ Wranglers performed at the ball.

Rachel Miller was selected as the 2017 Texas State Society Chery Blossom Princess. Rachel comes from Cypress, Texas and studied Economics and Government at the University of Texas at Austin. Rachel is planning on attending Notre Dame Law School. Rachel represented Texas at the Washington DC Cherry Blossom festival during the Spring of 2017.

The Texas State Society’s annual meeting was held on April 26 at the Capitol Hill Club. As per the tradition for the past several years, Congressman Ted Poe gave a stirring recap of the Battle of San Jacinto. At the meeting, the gavel was officially passed from the Congressman Roger Williams to the next President, Ryan Thompson.

The slate of officers for 2016-17 was approved by voice vote. The Executive Committee: President, Ryan Thompson; 1st Vice President, Rep. Marc Veasey;

2nd Vice President, Gene Irisari; Secretary, Nicole Lansford; Treasurer, Jack Peterson

Historian/Communications, Jamie Baker.

Elected to the Board of Directors with terms expiring April 2018: Past President-Director, Julie Merberg; Kelsey Crow, Theresa Doyle, Rosemary Garza, Brooke Oberwetter and Hans Rickhoff.

Directors with terms expiring in April 2019: Immediate Past President, Rep. Roger Williams; LaKeitha Anderson, Barry Brown, Kyle Oliver, Austin Smithson, and Michael Yancey. Standing committee chairs: Todd Dupler, Chair Entertainment Committee; Robert Peters, Chair Membership Committee; Adrienne Gamez, Chair Sponsorship Committee.

Non-voting members elected were: Chair Texas Breakfast Club, Barry Brown; Chair Annual Picnic, Alisa Maso; Chair LBJ Celebration, Chris Bjornson; Chair BT&B Committee, Russell Thomasson; Chair Cherry Blossom Program, Loretta Solon Greene; Chair Salute to Congress, Taylor Hittle; Co-Chair Salute to Congress, Kelsey Crow; Congressional Liaison –Democrats, Mickeala Carter; Congressional Liaison -Republicans, Eric Gustafson; Collegiate Liaison/Volunteer Coordinator, Jordan Ballard; NCSS Liaison, Allison Roberts; Legal Advisor, David Pore; Photographer, Marco Santiago

On May 16, The Texas Breakfast Club hosted author Roger Polson. Roger took time to discuss his new book, Miles and Miles of Texas: 100 years of the Texas Highway Department.

Another Boots and Spurs Happy Hour was hosted at Tortilla Coast on June 9. With the summer weather upon the District, Texans enjoyed the company and cold margaritas and Shiners after work. Texans also got to view Kendra Scott’s Pop-up shop from their summer line.

The Boots and Spurs Happy Hour for July was held at Bullfeather’s on July 14. People were happy to connect with familiar faces and meet new ones.

The Annual Salute to Congress was held on July 26 at Tortilla Coast. The event gave reorganization to the 36 Members of Congress and two senators who serve our state honorably. In addition to honoring our Texas delegations, the event also gave a Texas sized welcome to Toyota USA, who recently moved their corporate headquarters from California to Texas.

The 109th Birthday of President Lyndon B. Johnson was celebrated Stonewall, Texas style at the LBJ Memorial Grove on Saturday, August 26. This year’s special guest was President Johnson’s daughter Lynda Johnson Robb.

Hurricane Harvey brought unprecedented rain, historic flooding, and devastating winds and destruction along the gulf coast and especially in the City of Houston. As such, the Texas State Society in conjunction with epiphany productions, answered the call to help our brothers and sisters back home by coordinating relief efforts to help communities who have been affected by this storm. The Texas State Society initiated a supply drive to send needed supplies. We continued to thank the first responders, rescuers, volunteers and all those affected have exemplified the Texan spirit and are true heroes.

The September 8 Boots and Spurs Happy Hour hosted at Tio Javier. Continuing the important work of helping those who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey, the Texas State Society set up an opportunity for individuals to donate to relief funds.

The 2017 Annual Picnic was held on September 17. For the second year in a row, the Annual Picnic was held at the Fort Hun Park with the Wil Gravatt Band performing. BBQ, Kolaches, Dr. Pepper, Frito Pie and Shiner was served at the event. A dance competition, Bingo, Rock Climbing and good ole fashion Texas fun were on full display at this year’s picnic. The Texas State Society used this picnic as another opportunity to partner with the Washington Area Food Bank and Giant Foods for hurricane relief. Many people who came to the picnic brought non-perishable items to the picnic to donate to those in need.

Members of the Texas State Society attended a ceremony and reception organized by Chairman Kevin Brady in honor of the unveiling of a bust of General Sam Houston in the United States Capitol Ways & Means Committee Room on October 24. The bust was created around 1860 by sculptor Elisabeth Ney and was on loan from the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, Texas.

The Annual Terlingua Two Step was held on October 31 at the Hamilton. Headlining Terlingua this year was none other than Bonnie Bishop and Jason Eady. Texans got to enjoy fantastic music, good food and great company and many got out on the dance floor and show off those Texas dance moves.

On Thursday, November 9th TSS members were treated to a Texas style Frito Pie Reception ad the American Legion Hall. Our sponsors were Anheuser-Busch and Pepsico and we were once again able to enjoy Texas food and drink while seeing old friend and making new ones.


The first Texas State Society event of the year started on January 27, with the Boots and Spurs Happy Hour at Bullfeathers. Texans came out and shared the holidays stories with one another after the workday.

On February 11, the Texas Breakfast Club welcomed Trammell Crow, Jr at Tortilla Coast. At the breakfast meeting, Mr. Crow discussed his efforts to create Earth Day Texas.

The Annual Salute to Congress was held on February 25 in the Cannon Caucus Room. Speakers included members of the Texas Delegation, including TSS 1st Vice President, Roger Williams. The event was well attended with Texans from all over the D.C. Metro area and Texas themed food provided at the Salute.

On March 22, the Texas State Society hosted our Terlingua Two Step. Event Chair LaKeitha Anderson secured the Kevin Black (Brother of Country Music legend Clint Black) band to perform at Eastern Market – North Hall. The event was an evening full of dancing, drinks provided by Dr. Pepper and food from Texas’ own Chuy’s.

Sarah Abigail Callison hailing from Baylor University was selected as the 2016 Cherry Blossom Princess and did a great job at representing Texas at the Annual National Conference of State Societies Cherry Blossom Princess Program and festival.

On April 19, the Texas State Society held its Annual Meeting at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Prior to the meeting, a special presentation of a Texas PBS documentary about the national parks in Texas was featured because of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary in 2016. The presentation was being narrated by Texas’s own Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Many people didn’t know that there are 16 different national parks in Texas. During the meeting, the gavel was passed from Julie Merberg to Congressman Roger Williams. Following recent tradition, Congressman Ted Poe gave a rousing recount of the Battle of San Jacinto which happened in April of 1836.

The Executive Committee: Rep. Roger Williams, President; Ryan Thompson, 1st Vice-President; Al Green, 2nd Vice President; Jennifer Daniels, Secretary; Jack Peterson, Treasurer; Jamie Baker, Historian.

Elected to the Board of Directors with terms expiring April 2017: Rep. Louie Gohmert, Past President Director; Kristina Harris Butts, Gene Irisari, Caryn Schenewerk, Patricia Tamez and Tim Teehan.

Directors with terms expiring April 2018: Julie Merberg, Immediate Past President; Rep. Mark Veasey, Theresa Doyle, Rosemary Garza, Brooke Oberwetter and Hans Rickhoff. Standing committee chairs: Todd Dupler, Entertainment Chair; LaKeitha Anderson, Membership Chair; Amy Hawkins, Sponsorship Chair.

Non-voting members elected were: Barry Brown, Chair Texas Breakfast Club; Taylor Gilliam, Chair Annual Picnic; Chris Bjornson, Chair LBJ Celebration; Colby Hale Chair BT&B 2017 Committee; Loretta Solon Greene, Chair Cherry Blossom Program 2017; Brystol English and Christa Danford, Co-Chairs 2017 Salute to Congress; Austin Smithson, Senior Congressional Liaison (Senate); Mickeala Carter, Congressional Liaison (House Democrats); Eric Gustafson, Congressional Liaison (House Republicans; Jordan Ballard, Collegiate Liaison; Allison Roberts, NCSS Liaison; Bill Christian, Alternate Delegate to NCSS; David Pore, Legal Advisor; Michael Yancey and Robert Peters, Volunteer Coordinators; Kelsey Crow and Cameron Harley, Communications; Marco Santiago, Photographer; Shana Teehan, Webmaster

Another edition of our TSS Boots and Spurs Young Professional Happy Hour was held on May 4th at Tortilla Coast. Many Texans came and enjoyed queso, margaritas, and Shiners and each other’s company.

On June 19, The Texas State Society hosted our annual picnic at the Fort Hunt Park in Alexandria, VA. At the picnic, there was musical entertainment provided by the Wil Gravatt Band. Blue Bell, BBQ, Pies, and Kolaches were all served at the picnic. The picnic also hosted the annual softball tournament, bounce houses, rock climbing, bingo and a raffle with prizes. Over 600 people attended this year’s picnic.

In celebration of President Johnson’s 108th birthday, the Texas State Society hosted their annual birthday celebration at the LBJ Memorial Grove on the grounds of Lady Bird Johnson Park on George Washington Parkway on August 27. Our speaker this year was Ambassador Peter Rosenblatt, who served on President Johnson’s White House staff coordinating non-military activities in Vietnam. He was also ambassador and personal representative to President Carter at the Negotiations on the Future Political Status of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. After the ceremony, refreshments were served Stonewall, Texas style.

On September 29, there was another edition of the boots and Spurs Happy Hour that was hosted at Hill County BBQ. Even though it was raining, there was still a good turnout for Texans coming together.


The first social event on the TSS calendar for 2015 was held on January 29. The Boots and Spurs Happy Hour was held at Hill Country Barbecue in Washington, D. C. Upon entering, the wonderful barbecue aromas almost made you feel like you were back home!

On February 24, former Senator Phil Gramm was the guest speaker at the Texas Breakfast Club’s dinner at the Tortilla Coast restaurant. Many considered it a “family reunion” with a number of former staff members in attendance.

On March 15, the Gridiron Club Reprise was held at the Washington Renaissance Hotel. The Reprise is a re-enactment of the annual white-tie Gridiron dinner from the night before. (The dinner typically includes the lampooning of the President of the United States along with Members of Congress.) Along with other members of the National Conference of State Societies, the TSS was well represented with 30 members in attendance.

The Texas Delegation now has its largest delegation ever with a total of 36 Members in the House of Representatives plus our two Senators. On March 18, over 300 happy, well-fed, TSS members attended the annual Salute to Congress in their honor. This annual event was held in the House of Representatives’ Cannon Caucus Room. All the usual Texas snacks and drinks were served along with our favorite Texas ice cream, Blue Bell.

On April 9, our TSS Cherry Blossom princess, Miss Madison Estes was among those honored at the annual Cherry Blossom reception at the Fort Meyer Officers Club, Arlington, Va. Hailing from Coldspring, Texas, she is a graduate from the University of Texas where she earned her Bachelor’s in International Relations and Global studies. After graduation, she worked for Senator John Cornyn before moving in to her current position with a global advisory firm that specializes in frontier markets. In her spare time, she is taking Arabic language classes. Allison Roberts, former TSS Cherry Blossom princess, again arranged TSS’ representation in the annual festivities.

The Society’s annual meeting and San Jacinto Celebration was held at the Capitol Hill Club on April 29. TSS president, Congressman Louie Gohmert, passed the gavel to his successor, Julie Merberg. As has become tradition in recent years, Congressman Ted Poe gave a commemoration of the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto.

The slate of officers for 2015-16 was approved by voice vote. Members of the Executive Committee are: Julie Merberg, President; Rep. Roger Williams, 1st Vice-President; Ryan Thompson, 2nd Vice-President; Bob Mansker, Secretary; Jack Peterson, Treasurer and Jamie Baker, Historian.

Elected to the Board of Directors with terms expiring April 2016: Barry Brown, Past President & Director, The Honorable Al Green, Jennifer Daniels, Dave Davis, Theresa Doyle and Katie Kaufman.

Directors with terms expiring April 2017: Rep. Louie Gohmert, Immediate Past President & Director, Kristina Harris Butts, Gene Irisari, Caryn Schenewerk, Patricia Tamez and Tim Teehan. Standing committee chairs: Ed Perez, Entertainment Chair; LaKeitha Anderson, Membership Chair; and Amy Hawkins, Sponsorship Chair.

Non-Voting Members elected were: Austin Smithson, Congressional Liaisons; Kelsey Crow, Co-Communications Director; Cameron Harley, Co-Communications Director; Robert Peters, Co-Volunteer Coordinator; Michael Yancey, Co-Volunteer Coordinator; Marco Santiago, Photographer; Loretta Greene, NCSS Liaison; Taylor Gilliam, Picnic Chair; Chris Bjornson, LBJ Celebration; Allison Roberts, Cherry Blossom Chair; Colby Hale, BT&B Committee Chair; Shana Teehan, Webmaster; Bill Christian Executive Director

On May 1, Apollo Astronaut Gene Cernan was the guest speaker at the Texas Breakfast Club’s event at Tortilla Coast restaurant Cernan was the 11th person to walk on the moon and as of 2015 was the last living astronaut who walked on the moon. Mr. Cernan discussed about his experience and his love for the Texas Hill Country.

The Texas State Society hosted another successful Boots and Spurs Happy Hour at Hill County Barbecue Market on May 21. Plenty of Shiner, Chips and Guacamole were served to the attendees.

On June 21, The Texas State Society hosted our annual picnic at Smokey Glenn Farms at Gaithersburg, MD. 550 people attended the annual picnic. There was plenty of BBQ, pies and Republic Kolache provided delicious meat and fruit Kolaches. Sadly, Blue Bell was not provided this year due to the recall of their product. The picnic included a softball tournament, zip line, face painting, dance competition, bingo and great family fun for everyone.

On July 16, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush was the guest speaker at the Texas Breakfast Club event on Capitol Hill. Congressman Roger Williams introduced Commissioner Bush who then shared with the Texas State Society about his vision for the Land Commission’s office. Rep. Al Green shared a nice story with the Commissioner regarding his Grandfather, President George H. W. Bush and Congressman Green.

Also on July 16, The Texas State Society and the California State Society hosted the first joint state society happy hour at Hill County Barbecue Market.

On August 22, The Texas State Society hosted the annual LBJ Birthday Celebration located at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove. In celebrating President Johnson’s 107th birthday, members of the society got to hear words from Senator Chuck Robb, the husband of Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, the eldest daughter of President Johnson.

Another edition of the Boots and Spur Happy Hour happened on October 1st at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. Roughly 35 Texans got to enjoy each other company in the heart of DC.

The Texas Breakfast Club welcomed former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on October 7. It was great to hear from Senator Hutchison again and getting her perspective on current events in our nation’s capital and sharing a bit of Texas history as she discussed her book “Unflinching Courage: Pioneering Women Who Shaped Texas”.

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Sam Rayburn House Office Building in 1965, the Texas State Society hosted a Frito pie receptions on November 16. Speaker Rayburn was an active participant in the Texas State Society for 48 years while serving a Representative for the 4th Congressional District of Texas. Fifty years ago, upon the opening of the Rayburn building, the Texas State Society proudly donated the statute of Speaker Rayburn that still looms large at the entry of the Rayburn Building. During the reception, we heard from Rep. Joe Barton (the Dean of the Texas Delegation), Julie Merberg (Texas State Society President), and Barry Brown (Rayburn Committee Chair who hails from the 4th District of Texas where Speaker Rayburn represented).

On November 18, The Texas Breakfast Club welcomed Texas Singer and Songwriter Robert Earl Keen to our Nation’s capital. To a group of about 70 Texans, Robert gave a rousing speech about his life on the road and the difficulty of protecting original works of oral art, then serenaded the group with some of his most famous songs. The group left the breakfast club with a pep in their step.