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Executive Committee

Brian Donovan


Brian Donovan grew up in College Station, TX. After completing his high school studies in Manchester, England, he returned to College Station and graduated with a BA in English, which he followed with a MA from UCLA in Folklore and Mythology. Brian worked in grassroots politics for the California League of Conservation Voters and for Apple Computer in sales and sales management in Apple's education division for eight years.

In 2000, Donovan joined the board of a local non-profit, Theatre Action Project (TAP), where he served as treasurer and chair. Today he works for the University of Texas Inter-Cooperative Council managing cooperative student housing in the West Campus area of Austin.  In addition to his service to Liveable City, Brian serves on the board of the Campus Cooperative Development Corporation and is a trustee of the Kagawa Fund.  Both groups help fund the start up and development of student coops in the US and Canada.

Susan Moffat

Board Vice Chair and Chair of the Education Committee

Susan Moffat is a founding member of Austin Full Circle, a volunteer coalition focusing on the economic impacts of increased big box development in Austin. A two-term past president of Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, Moffat played a central role in the Triangle redevelopment project and served as a member of the Neighborhood Planning Team, leading to the adoption of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Conservation Combining District. She is also an active parent in the Austin public school system and has served multiple terms as a PTA president, Campus Advisory Council Co-chair and representative to the Austin Council of PTAs.

Ann Kitchen

Treasurer and Education Committee member

Ann Kitchen is a former State Representative in the Texas House of Representatives, where she successfully passed groundbreaking legislation related to public education, healthcare, violence against women, and the environment.  She has served on the boards of numerous community organizations such as the Austin Rape Crisis Center and People's Community Clinic.

Kitchen is an attorney and former healthcare consultant, state agency official and social worker with expertise in Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and other state and local programs for uninsured and underinsured individuals. She currently serves as Executive Director of the Indigent Care Collaboration (ICC) a regional collaboration of public and private hospitals, clinics, MHMR, public health departments, university medical departments, and medical society responsible for providing care for uninsured individuals. The ICC is a nationally recognized leader in proactive coordination of community healthcare for the underserved.

David Foster

Secretary and member of the Program Committee

David Foster is State Program Director for Clean Water Action and Texas Community Project, where he coordinates public outreach to numerous Texas communities, elected officials and regulatory agencies. Previously, Foster served as Executive Director of Trans Texas Alliance, a statewide transportation reform group, from 2001-2003, successfully implementing a TX DOT pedestrian safety grant.

An avid bicyclist, Foster co-founded the Austin Political Pedal, an annual bicycle ride of elected officials to express support for bicycle transportation; was instrumental in adding the rails-with-trails an integral component of its Capitol Metro rail system, and served on the steering committee of All Systems Go to pass the Capital Metro's November 2004 rail referendum committee.

Foster is also a founding member of Connect Austin, whose goal is to create an electric streetcar system for Austin. He serves on the boards of Envision Central Texas, Austin Metro Trails & Greenways, and is Vice President of the Southwood Neighborhood Association.

John-Michael V. Cortez

John-Michael V. Cortez

Secretary and Fundraising

John-Michael V. Cortez is a Community Involvement Coordinator for Capital Metro and is responsible for collaborating with neighborhoods and community groups to improve transit service in our region. Prior to joining Cap Metro, John-Michael served as Outreach Director for the Office of Congressman Lloyd Doggett, was previously employed as a marketing consultant at an Austin-based firm, and co-founded and ran a local, small business in the construction industry. John-Michael is a member of the Rotary Club of East Austin, serves on the Community Action Network Community Council, and is Treasurer of the Austin Latino Music Association.

He is a former City of Austin Planning and Zoning and Platting Commissioner, and has been a board member of several local organizations, such as the Austin History Center Association, Austin Partners in Education, and Austin Public Library Foundation. Recently, John-Michael co-chaired the Austin ISD Task Force for the District Strategic Plan. A native Austinite and third-generation attendee of UT-Austin, John-Michael is a rabid Longhorn fan, yet recently found himself falling in love with and happily marrying a wonderful Aggie, Priscilla Guajardo Cortez.

Brigid Shea

Fundraising Co-chair

Brigid Shea is president of Brigid Shea & Associates, an environmental and public policy consulting business. A former award-winning journalist, environmental advocate, and elected city councilmember, Shea has been advising businesses and governments on environmental and public policy issues for almost 20 years.

After nearly a decade in broadcasting, mainly at NPR stations in Minnesota and Philadelphia, Shea co-founded the state chapter of Clean Water Acton in Austin in 1988. In 1991, Shea helped found and direct the Save Our Springs Coalition, heading-up the most successful grassroots issue-campaign in the history of Austin. Shea was elected to the Austin City Council in 1993 where she championed environmental and quality-of-life initiatives as well as telecommunications, utility and campaign-finance reform. She was a Rockefeller Fellow at UNC Chapel Hill and a Research Fellow at Yale Divinity School.

Catharine Echols

Chair Research Committee and member of the Education Committee

Catharine Echols is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas. After obtaining a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, she conducted research at Stanford University before joining the UT faculty in 1990. A longtime leader on neighborhood issues, Echols helped to establish Hyde Park's Neighborhood Conservation Combining District and the successful Triangle redevelopment project. She has served on Community Advisory Groups for Corridor Planning and Capitol Metro, and on the Community Bond Oversight Committee for AISD, and currently serves on the Commercial Design Standards Taskforce. Echols serves on the board of the new affordable housing advocacy nonprofit, HousingWorks. She recently helped to organize a highly successful symposium, Affordable Housing in Downtown Austin: Oxymoron or Opportunity that was held in Austin in April.

Elizabeth Mueller

Research Committee

is an Associate Professor in the Community and Regional Planning, School of Architecture, the University of Texas at Austin where she teaches courses on affordable housing policy, community development, urban politics, qualitative research methods, and research design. Mueller’s research focuses on community-based efforts to revitalize low-income communities and to help their residents leave poverty. Current research projects include development of Housing Report Cards for Texas cities (with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation) and a review of evidence on the effects that lack of decent, affordable housing have on education and health outcomes. Her published works include "Through the Roof: A Report on Affordable Homes", a report on affordable housing barriers in Austin, published by the Community Action Network's Affordable Housing Task Force.  

In addition, she served as a member of a team of researchers, lead by Rutgers University's Center for Urban Policy Research, evaluating the work of Ford Foundation-funded Community Development Partnerships in five cities, authoring the case study on the El Paso Collaborative for Community Economic Development. In the Austin community she serves on the city's housing task force.

Robin Rather

Projects Committee

Having lived or worked in a number of seriously UN-liveable cities such as Washington DC and San Jose, Robin Rather now spends most of her free time looking for ways to enjoy and protect Austin's quality of life.

Robin Rather has been a past chair of Liveable City, a founding Vice President of the Hill Country Conservancy, a former Chair of the Save Our Springs Coalition and serves on the Envision Central Texas Executive Committee. She also serves on the Texas Advisory Board of Environmental Defense, and the Board of the University of Texas Center for Sustainable Development.

Rather is the founder and CEO of Collective Strength, an independent consulting firm specializing in market research and strategy for a range of business, non-profit and governmental clients.  Rather has recently served as a lead consultant on projects that involve renewable energy strategies, water conservation, the future of healthcare, non-point source pollution, community values, citizens' definitions of a healthy economy, and corporate trends. Ms. Rather previously held senior executive positions at leading market research firms including Director, International Data Corporation, Vice President, Intelliquest, Vice President, CMP Media and CEO of Mindwave Research.

Mark Yznaga

Past Chair, Projects and Research Committees

Mark Yznaga, Chair, member of Projects and Research Committees, combines a broad background in public policy development with expertise in community organizing. With over 16 years experience managing successful issue and candidate campaigns in Austin, Yznaga is a leader in policy development on a wide range of issues including transportation, energy and housing. His current areas of study include comparative planning, regionalism, public participation, and community decision-making.

Yznaga co-founded and managed the Save Our Springs Coalition, the community organization responsible for passing the groundbreaking city ordnance to protect the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer. He has been involved in numerous community initiatives; from founding the Trans Texas Alliance, to serving as a Regional Co-Chair for the Central Texas Smart Growth Conference, and sitting on the board of the Central Texas Sustainability Indicators Project. Most recently, Yznaga was instrumental in bringing together community leaders to form HousingWorks, Austin's new affordable housing coalition.



Eva DeLuna Castro

Eva DeLuna Castro

Research Committee

Eva DeLuna Castro is a Senior Budget Analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, focusing on state budget issues. Before coming to the center, she was an Analyst for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, researching various policy issues related to state revenue and spending. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and Literature, cum laude, from Harvard University in 1988 and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin in 1997.

Kevin Foster

Kevin Foster

Education Committee

Dr. Kevin Foster is an educational anthropologist dedicated to understanding and accounting for the social, cultural and structural factors affecting students' educational outcomes. He is also the director of ICUSP, The Institute for Community, University and School Partnerships. His ultimate goals are 1) to identify the norms and values that facilitate student success as well as the structural barriers that hinder success, and 2) to collaborate with others to develop concrete programs that positively impact students' educational attainment. As a student of Douglas Foley, Dr. Foster believes in rich ethnographic work as an important basis for understanding students' academic circumstances and settings. As a student of Ted Gordon, he believes in action oriented research and in institution building as a means to facilitate positive changes in communities and schools.

Jill McRae

Fundraising Committee

Jill McRae was the executive director of the Open Door Preschools, which is dedicated to the inclusion of children with disabilities; the Austin Children's Cancer Center; and the Human Rights Documentation Exchange, a national organization that documented human rights violations for claims of political asylum. She spent 20 years as adjunct faculty in the Austin Community College Child Development Department, is currently working with a community organization that promotes positive parenting and early childhood education, and serves on the City of Austin Child Care Council.

Michael Oden

Research Committee

Dr. Oden is an Associate Professor of Community and Regional Planning, School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin. Michael's teaching and research areas include local and regional economic development, regional growth dynamics, program evaluation methodologies, and affordable housing policy. Oden has been recognized for his excellence in teaching, winning the Texas Excellence Teaching Award in 1998 and the Outstanding Teacher Award for the School of Architecture in 2001.

Oden's current research interests include the role of advanced telecommunications and information technology in regional development, evaluation methods for economic development and environmental projects, and the role of community development corporations in affordable housing development. Over the last decade, Oden has published a number of reports and articles on economic development, program evaluation, and affordable housing.

Danny Roth

Danny Roth is a general partner in Southwest Strategies Group and has been the guiding force behind historical re-use projects such as Penn Field and the current Seaholm restoration. He holds a master's degree in public affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas and has completed the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Course offered by the Texas Engineering Extension Service of Texas A&M University. His extensive professional experience includes commercial leasing, sales and acquisition, as well as land acquisition for nonprofit and public agencies.

Niyanta Spelman

Project Committee

Niyanta Spelman is past-President of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, past-Chair of the Austin Asian-American Chamber of Commerce, founding and current board member of the Texas Federation of Asian American Chambers of Commerce, a former board member of India Community Center, a Texas Exes (University of Texas at Austin alumni association) council member and a former Austin Zoning and Platting and Planning Commissioner.

Spelman worked for the Texas Legislature as a budget analyst with the Legislative Budget Board before forming Performance Partnership, a public sector-oriented management consultancy. Now as a consultant, she works on a broad range of interesting and challenging projects. These range from efficiency reviews to estimating the percentage of adults who lack basic literacy by each census tract in Central Texas to estimating tax impact on a Texas industry from various school finance proposals.

Jim Walker

Project Committee

Jim Walker grew up in Eugene, Oregon and arrived in Austin ten years ago as a carpenter working in the hills of northwest Austin. He was introduced to the concepts of sustainability in planning and building by Pliny Fisk at the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems. Curious with why local and regional planners are more often blamed than credited with the way Austin was growing Jim went back to school in the Community and Regional Planning Program at the Univ. of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, finally graduating in 1998. During this time Jim settled in the Cherrywood neighborhood (French Place area) and started getting involved in neighborhood issues such as the redevelopment of Mueller Airport; Jim is currently serving as the 2001-2002 President of the Austin Neighborhoods Council.
Jim Walker is the Director of the Central Texas Sustainability Indicators Project (SIP). The Indicators Project covers Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties and tracks over 40 indicators of the health of the Central Texas economy, environment, and social equity. The SIP produces an annual report on these indicators. Walker is the former president of the Austin Neighborhood Council and current chair of the Mueller Neighborhood Coalition overseeing a 700 acre redevelopment of the city's former airport based on new urbanist principals. Walker is also vice-chair of Envision Central Texas.

Bruce Willenzik

Project Committee

Bruce Willenzik is a leader in the Austin arts community. Bruce has served on the Austin Arts Commission from 1989 to the present. He has also served on the Airport Advisory Board, as an appointed citizen advisor to the new City Hall's chief architect, Antoine Predock, and on the Downtown Commission as liaison to the Arts Commission. Bruce currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Interfaith Care Alliance and produces the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, a 25 year old, Austin cultural institution.


Advisory Council

The Liveable City Advisory Council brings together thoughtful, imaginative and experienced community leaders with expertise in a diverse range of issues. Advisory Council members broaden and enrich our public conversation about the many critical issues facing Austin today, and engage a wider group in developing effective solutions for a more livable city for all.

The Liveable City Advisory Council includes the following community leaders:

Liveable City Advisory Council

Steve Bercu · Suzee Brooks · Greg Esparza · Sean Garretson · Ann S. Graham · Sherri Greenberg · Marguerite Jones
Andrea Keene · Tara Kirkland · Ben Kramer · Cynthia Levinson · Louis Malfaro · Jana McCann · Maryann Overath
Jana McCann · Jay Reddy · Claudia Santamaria · Clint Smith · Bill Spelman · Donna Taylor · Carmen Tawil · Kathie Tovo
Margo Weisz · Heather Way · Chad Williams



Heidi Gibbons, Outreach and Development Coordinator
(512) 663-8865 •

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