from the University of North Texas.
Michael C. Sproat, Curator of Education
Sam Houston Memorial Museum, Huntsville
Michael C. “Mikey” Sproat received his BA in socio-cultural anthropology from Texas A&M University in College Station. As an emerging historian, he has served as a Curator of Education at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville for 13 years. In the summer of 2013, he advanced to a new role as Curator of Collections. He has lectured about Texas history to universities, museums, and civic organizations all across the state. Mikey enjoys helping TAM through his past involvement with Program Committee, Museum Emerging Leaders of Texas, and Southeast Texas Museums Association. Currently he serves on TAM Council as Councilor-at-Large and a member of development committee and membership committee.
His professional memberships include the Texas Archeological Society, Texas Association of Museums Educators' Committee, Sons of the Republic of Texas, and – as an Eagle Scout – the Boy Scouts of America. Mikey was recently named a Texas Museum Professionals Fellow to the American Association of Museums annual meeting in Houston. Ultimately, Mikey is a Texas History factotum.
Vice President for Development
Chris Dyer, CEO
Arts Council of Brazos Valley, College Station
Chris Dyer was appointed CEO of The Arts Council, College Station, in 2010. Under his leadership, The Arts Council now provides marketing and professional development support to over 60 organizations in a seven-county region and will distribute over $400,000 in direct funding support to arts, culture and heritage organizations in the coming year. Dyer previously served as Executive Director of The Williamson Museum, Georgetown, from 2004-2010. He earned his BA from Baylor University, 1998, where he was a founding member of the Baylor Museum Studies Student Association, and his MA from Texas Tech University in Museum Science, 2002.
Chris currently serves on the boards of the Academy for Visual and Performing Arts at Texas A&M University and the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial. He recently represented the Texas Aggies Go to War Exhibition Task Force in Europe. He is a frequent guest lecturer for Texas A&M University and the Texas Historical Commission. A long-time member of TAM, Chris has worked with TAM as instructor of the popular workshop, “The Basics of Financial Management.”
His awards include the Texas Historical Commission’s John L. Nau, III Award of Excellence in Museums (2006), Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Brazos Valley Hometown Hero Award (2014), and the Texas Art Education Association Texas Friend of the Arts Award (2014).
Vice President for Programs
Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Fort Worth
Lacie Ballinger joined the staff of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in 2008 as Collections Manager. She earned her MA in Museum Science from Texas Tech University in 2000 and previously a BA in History and Political Science from Texas Christian University in 1998. Upon graduation, Lacie worked as the Collections Coordinator at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. She held that position for two years before advancing to the Content Development and Collections Coordinator in 2002.
Lacie has been an active TAM member since 1999 and served as the Competition Coordinator for the Mitchell A. Wilder Awards for 12 years. She also served on Program Committee, Local Arrangements Committee, and has been a speaker at multiple TAM annual meetings. Most recently she served on TAM Council as a Councilor-at-Large and on the long range planning committee and membership committee.
Professionally and personally Lacie is committed to the museum field. She is a member of four local historic preservation organizations and volunteers her time and expertise at the East Parker County Genealogical and Historical Society. She has served as Chair of the Northeast Texas Museum Association and has also been an IMLS grant reviewer since 2008
Vice President for Special Projects
Christine Jelson West
Museum Consultant, Houston
Christine Jelson West has been the Executive Director of Lawndale Art Center since January 2007. During that time Lawndale began an artist in residency program that is now nationally recognized. From 2004–2007 she served as Executive Director of the Galveston Arts Center. Both institutions exhibit innovative contemporary art with an emphasis on emerging Texas artists. A native Houstonian, West has over 14 years’ experience in non-profit arts administration working with the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, Fresh Arts Coalition, and with Glasstire, Texas Visual Art Online. She is active in the Texas art community and serves as Treasurer on the board of the Houston Museum District Association. West has served as a juror for several regional exhibitions and has participated in grant review panels for both local, state and national granting organizations. West also writes about art and is a practicing artist. In 2010 West was invited to participate in the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture Leadership institute fully funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. She previously served as Councillor-at-Large for the Texas Association of Museums from 2008–2010 and on the board of Glasstire from 2007-2014.
Luis D. Contreras, II
San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum, San Benito, TX
Luis Contreras is a Museum Coordinator for the City of San Benito. Working closely with the San Benito Economic Development Corporation, he focuses on promotion while overseeing and guiding the operations of the San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum (SBCHM).
After spending almost a decade in museums working mostly as the head of operations for the Weslaco Museum of Local History and Cultural Art in Weslaco, TX and the Mission Historical Museum in Mission, TX, Contreras brings seasoned skills in strategic planning, public programming, community outreach, and economic development through heritage tourism. He is a strong advocate for professionalism, innovation, diversity, transparency, efficiency, and excellence.
Contreras contributed to various initiatives with the City of Mission. They involved historical research on various historical districts and sites, which included a historical assessment update of the rehabilitated historical landmark – La Lomita Chapel, project management for the museum grounds renovation project, downtown city streetscape project, and provided artistic designs for various city beautification projects.
Additionally, he assumes a significant leadership role in museums as an executive member for the Texas Association of Museums council.
Contreras holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas-Pan American and a Master of Fine Arts degree from The Ohio State University.
Managing Director, City of Lubbock Museums, Lubbock
Brooke Witcher has served as the Managing Director of the City of Lubbock Museums (Buddy Holly Center and Silent Wings Museum) since 2007. On the City staff since 2003, she is currently Managing Director of Cultural Facilities and Special Events. Brooke manages the Municipal Museums, Garden & Arts Center, Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, City Bank Coliseum/ Auditorium, Amphitheater and City Services for Special Events. A native of Plano, she earned her MA in Museum Science at Texas Tech University.
During her tenure, the Buddy Holly Center has restored and opened a historic home on the property, moved and constructed a Walk of Fame, grown the collection, and undergone a large renovation project. Under her direction, The Silent Wings Museum has seen extensive advances in collections work, including acquiring an Aeronca L-3 aircraft.
Brooke is dedicated to the museum field and is a long-time member of TAM and the Northwest Texas Museum Association. She recently served on the Local Arrangements Sub-Committee for Development for the 2014 TAM Annual Conference. She volunteers with the Texas Aviation Heritage Foundation, Inc., United Way of Lubbock, Art of the Llano Committee, Broadway Festival, Inc., Ballet Lubbock, is a Texans for the Arts Certified State Arts Advocate, and has served on the Lubbock County Historical Commission since 2009..
Dreanna Belden, Assistant Dean for External Relations
University of North Texas Libraries, Denton
Dreanna Belden has been with the University of North Texas Libraries since 2003. She holds an MLS from UNT, and her interests include exploring how digital cultural heritage collections can most effectively be used in education, and working with museums, libraries, and archives to place their materials online.
She began her career managing partnerships with the Portal to Texas History's 280 plus collaborators, including dozens of museum partners. The American Library Association selected Dreanna as a participant in its prestigious Emerging Leaders program in 2007.
A member of TAM since 2005, Dreanna has served on Council since 2011, most recently as Vice President for Development and chair of the development committee. She’s a past Chair of the Advisory Board for the Texas State Library and Archives Commission's "Train to Share" IMLS funded program. She serves on the Advisory Boards for the Texas House Oral History Project, PBS’s Texas Our Texas programming initiative, and the Community Advisory Board for KERA/KXT, Public Media for North Texas.
Rebecca Bridges, Head of Programming and Interpretation
The Grace Museum
Rebecca Bridges has been with the Grace Museum in Abilene since December 2012 beginning as Registrar. Prior to coming to the Grace, Rebecca served as the Registrar/Collections Manager for The Old Jail Art Center in Albany for almost five years. In March of 2016 she transitioned into the role of Programming & Interpretation where she is responsible for all adult, college, and family programming as well as all in-gallery interactives and interpretation.
Rebecca has been an active member of the Texas Association of Museums since 2008. Beginning in 2009 she served as Councillor-at-Large for the Permian Basin Museum Association and then as President until its sunset in 2014. For the past two years Rebecca has served as the Chair for the Art Affinity Group. Rebecca has served a two-year term on the Annual Meeting Programming Committee, has been a speaker multiple times, and currently is serving on the Local Arrangements Committee for the 2017 Annual Meeting in Abilene.
Stacie Hanna, Director of Marketing and Education
Stacie Hanna is the Director of Education and Marketing at the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum. She has been with the Museum since 2011. While at the Petroleum Museum she has instituted new programs such as Building Bots Robotics and revamped other programs including Family Science Night and Summer Science Camp. Stacie was also instrumental in the recent re-branding of the Petroleum Museum and has begun digital marketing campaigns. Since 2012, Stacie has been a member of TAM. She has presented at TAM annual meeting sessions and is currently the vice-chair of TAMEC. In her free time, she volunteers at her church and loves spending time with her son, Conner, and husband, Wesley.er.
Amy Rogers, Managing Director
1940 Air Terminal Museum
Amy Rogers is the Managing Director of the 1940 Air Terminal Museum at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, TX where she has held this position since September 2011. Amy holds a BA in History from Sam Houston State University and a MA in Nonprofit Management from the University of Houston-Downtown. She is an accomplished grant writer and fundraiser having secured funding for multiple museum programs. Amy served as a staff of one until October of 2014 when she was influential in securing the necessary funding to hire additional staff members based on her vision to further develop and grow the museum.
In addition to her work at the museum Amy was elected in 2012 to serve as Councilor at Large of the Southeast Texas Museums Association (SETMA) and currently serves as the organization’s Secretary. She presented on the topic of Nonprofit Board Relationships at the 2014 TAM Annual Meeting and on Small Museum Growth and Organization at the 2014 Mutual Concerns of Air & Space Museums Conference in Washington DC. She is a current member of the TAM Program Committee and also volunteers with the Houston Airport Systems. She holds membership in TAM, SETMA, AAM, and various other professional organizations. Amy truly has a passion for historic preservation and museum interpretation and enjoys working with others who dedicate their time and talents to this field.
Melissa Linden, Professional Fundraiser and Museum Volunteer
Melissa Linden has been a professional fundraiser in Boston, New York City and Austin, Texas since 2001, and she has been a dedicated volunteer since 1988. Melissa has worked for the Audubon Zoo, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Boston Children's Museum, in addition to her work in educational fundraising. Most recently, she has worked to support the Bullock Texas State History Museum and the University of Texas at Austin.
Aaron Pan, Director
Don Harrington Discovery Center
Aaron Pan was born in San Francisco, CA, and grew up in Amarillo, TX. Aaron is the Executive Director of the Don Harrington Discovery Center. Prior to his directorship, Aaron was the Curator of Science at the Fort Worth Museum of Science. He is also currently a research associate at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, board member and Secretary of Cal Farley’s – Boys Ranch, and chairman of the Convention and Tourism Committee for the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Pan’s research interests includes the evolutionary history, floristics, and paleoecology of African Cenozoic tropical moist and wet forest ecosystems, velvet ants (Mutillidae) of the High Plains, and the flora and lepidopteran fauna of the Southern Rockies.
Connie McAllister, Director of Community Engagement
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston,TX
Connie McAllister is the Director of Community Engagement at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston since 2012. As the Director of Community Engagement, she oversees the public face of the Museum, which includes education, public programs, visitor services, retail operations, public relations, and marketing. She joined CAMH as the Marketing Manager in 2008. Previously, McAllister held positions at Artpace, an internationally recognized artist residency program in San Antonio, TX. She received her BBA in Marketing from The University of Texas at Austin.
Sarah Beth Wilson, Curator of Exhbitions and Collections
Art Museum of Southeast Texas
Sarah Beth Wilson joined the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in October 2014. Prior to this position, she worked at various art galleries in Houston, Texas, and taught art history with Lone Star Community College. She received her Bachelor of Arts in both art history and museum studies from Baylor University, Waco (2006), and attended Texas Christian University, Fort Worth (2009), for graduate school where she was awarded a full fellowship, travel grants and graduated with her Masters of Arts in art history. Wilson brings a wealth of art knowledge to AMSET, including curatorial, installation and research experience. She has given numerous lectures at art galleries and institutions, including speaking to art department students at Baylor University about her career in the art world, and most recently presented at the Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art Annual Symposium (Dallas, 2016) and the McFaddin-Ward House Historic House Museum Lecture Series (Beaumont, 2016). Wilson is also published and wrote the appendix including artist biographies for Dr. Katie R. Robinson’s recent book entitled Mid-Century Modern Art in Texas (published by UT Press, 2014), as well as articles and essays in her curatorial position at AMSET. She currently serves as Vice-Chair on the Executive Committee and Board for the Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art (CASETA), on the programs committee of the Texas Association of Museums (TAM), and is a member of the 2017 Leadership Southeast Texas class. As Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at AMSET, Wilson envisions, plans, researches and oversees museum exhibitions from their inception, manages the museum’s collection and curatorial staff, and performs numerous other curatorial duties.
Charlie Walter, Director
Mayborn Museum, Baylor University
Charlie Walter currently serves as director of Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum. He has worked in the museum field since 1986 and has held additional positions as director of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Executive Vice President of Programs at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and recently helped to open the new San Antonio Children’s Museum, The DoSeum, as Chief Operating Officer.
Walter has served on the Board of the Association of Children’s Museums, was the Annual Conference Program Committee Chair for the Association of Science and Technology Centers, and is an American Alliance of Museums Accreditation Visiting Committee Member. He was selected as a Noyce Leadership Fellow in 2010. Walter has numerous publications on museum administration, education collaborations, and exhibition development to his name. He has been a project leader or senior staff member on a variety of National Science Foundation funded projects.
He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science with and emphasis in Museum Science from Texas A&M University, and an MBA from the University of North Texas.