Texas Lyceum to Install New President, 16 New Directors

The appointments of Kennedy, Dixon and Jackson will mark the first time the Texas Lyceum has been led by a trio of women

NBC 5 News

The Texas Lyceum will swear in Houston energy executive Castlen Kennedy as its 2021 president and welcome 16 new directors from across Texas during its annual Investiture ceremony on Thursday in Austin.

The Texas Lyceum is the only nonprofit, nonpartisan, stateside leadership organization that focuses on identifying the state's next generation of leaders and providing a forum for civil discourse.

The organization hosts meetings and conferences, publishes a nationally-acclaimed annual poll, and offers scholarship and fellowship programs with the goal of bringing together diverse opinions.

According to the Texas Lyceum, the outgoing president, San Antonio's Laura Dixon, will move into the role of chair and Dallas public affairs executive.

Civic strategist Sarah Jackson will be formally named president-elect for 2022.

The appointments of Kennedy, Dixon and Jackson will mark the first time the Texas Lyceum has been led by a trio of women, the organization said.

"I am honored to lead this unique organization during a time when the ideals on which were founded and continue to operate are more important than ever," Kennedy said. "Amidst the backdrop of unprecedented political division exacerbated by the ongoing global pandemic, The Texas Lyceum serves as a model for bringing together diverse and diverging viewpoints in an effort to collectively move Texas forward."

Kennedy currently serves as Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for Apache Corporation, a Houston-based energy company.

She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration in 2001, and she earned dual-master's degrees in public affairs and energy and earth resources in 2011. 

According to the Texas Lyceum, the 96-member board acts as a catalyst to bring together diverse opinions and expertise to focus on national and state issues, and it seeks to emphasize constructive private sector, public sector and individual responses.

The Texas Lyceum said the organization selects new directors to fill the seats of outgoing directors annually through an application process that ensures that the directors represent the diversity of Texas.

The selection process ensures Lyceum directors are active and involved in their communities, have demonstrated leadership abilities, and are eager to contribute their talents and time to the betterment of Texas, the Texas Lyceum said.

The Texans selected to serve as Directors in the Class of 2021 are:


  • Cary Dupuy - Texas Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association (Texas Tech University, B.A., MPA)
  • Hon. Dustin M. Howell - 200th District Court Judge (University of Texas at Austin, B.A.; Texas Tech University School of Law, J.D.)


  • Josh L. Winegarner - Director of Government Relations at Texas Cattle Feeders Association (McMurry University, Hardin-Simmons University)

Corpus Christi

  • Omar Garcia - Chief External Affairs Officer at Port Corpus Christi (St. Edward's University, B.A.)


  • Rachel G. Baughman - Senior Pastor at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church (Texas Wesleyan University; Drew Theological Seminary)
  • Jennifer L. Chandler - Managing Director, Market President at Bank of America (University of Texas at Austin, B.A.; University of Dallas, MBA)

El Paso

  • Mario A. Porras - Director of Binational Affairs at El Paso Community Foundation (University of Texas at El Paso, B.S.)
  • Angelica A. Rosales - Business Development Executive at Sundt Construction (University of Texas at Austin, B.S., University of Texas at El Paso, M.S.)


  • GeJuan Cole - Director of Tactical Projects at Williams (Morehouse College, Georgia Tech, B.S.; University of Houston, MBA)
  • Elizabeth A. McGee - Director of Innovation and Engagement at Intel (University of Washington, B.S.; Northwestern University, MBA)
  • Lila Ontiveros - Strategic Accounts at Palantir Technologies (Cornell University, B.S.)
  • Hon. Ravi K. Sandill - 127th District Court Judge (University of Texas at Austin, B.A.; University of Houston Law Center, J.D.)


  • Dr. Nathaniel S. Wright - Director of the Masters in Public Administration Program at Texas Tech University (Binghamton University, B.A., MPA; University of Kansas, Ph.D)

San Antonio

  • Jordan Ghawi - Director of Strategic Initiatives at Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) (The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, B.S.; Rutgers University - Newark, MPA)
  • Bret Piatt - Chairman at Porthcawl Holdings (California State University, Chico, B.S.; Quantic School of Business and Technology, EMBA)


  • Jessica Attas - Vice President of Public Policy, Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce (Baylor University, B.A, M.A.) 

Kennedy will lead organization's board of directors in discussion regarding a variety of topics in 2021, including COVID-19's impact on the Texas economy, opportunities and obstacles of aging, the balancing of commerce and conservation on the Texas coast, and the the science, economics, and politics of energy in Texas.

The Texas Lyceum's 35th public conference, called "The Texas Economy: Wrecked, in Reckoning or Recovery Amidst COVID-19," will be held virtually on Thursday and Friday.

More information, including conference registration, is available at texaslyceum.org.

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