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.
Vice President for Development
Kathryn Mitchell, Director of Education
The Grace Museum, Abilene
Kathryn Mitchell has been in the museum field for nearly 15 years. She is the Director of Education at The Grace Museum in Abilene, where she has been for three years. Kathryn was previously at The Old Jail Art Center in Albany working in the same capacity. While at The Grace Museum she has reestablished distance learning, overseen the doubling of the art research library, is in the process of redesigning the Children's Museum, tripled involvement in the outreach art program, and programs attendance has increased 20%.
Since 2001, Kathryn has been an active member of TAM. She currently serves on the TAM Council as Councilor-at-Large, as well as on the development committee and membership committee. She has been active with TAMEC and AAG, the art affinity group. Kathryn is a graduate of Hardin-Simmons University where she is actively involved in the Board of Young Associates.
Vice President for Programs
Michael C. Sproat, Curator
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 Special Projects
Christine Jelson West, Executive Director
Lawndale Art Center, Houston
Christine Jelson West joined Houston First Corporation as their first Cultural Programs Manager in December of 2015. She previously served as the Executive Director of Lawndale Art Center from 2007 to 2015. During that time Lawndale began a successful artist residency and established the annual rotating mural program. She was the Executive Director of the Galveston Arts Center from 2004 to 2007, securing a National Treasures grant for the restoration of their historic building in 2007. A native Houstonian, West has over 16 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 has served on several boards including the Houston Museum District Association and Glasstire and has been the Vice President for Special Programs on the TAM board since 2015. She curated and juried several regional exhibitions and has participated in grant review panels for local, state and national granting organizations. In 2010 West was invited to participate in the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) Leadership institute fully funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Lacie Ballinger, Collections Manager
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.
Allen Lea, Executive Director
McFaddin-Ward Historic House, Beaumont
Allen Lea is the executive director of the McFaddin-Ward Historic House Museum in Beaumont. As a sixth-generation Texan, he was reared on a working historic ranch in central Texas that has been in his family for over a century. His celebrated Texas relatives include Margaret Lea, wife of Sam Houston, and Tom Lea, El Paso artist and writer. Allen earned his BA in Art History from Baylor University and received his MA in Fine and Decorative Art from Christie’s Auction House in London, England.
An active member of TAM, Allen served as Local Arrangements Chair for the 2013 Annual Meeting. Most recently he has served as Councilor-at-Large on TAM Council and is a member of the development committee and long range planning committee. He is also an AAM accreditation peer reviewer, a proud member of Rotary International and a devoted volunteer to many organizations in Southeast Texas.
Brian W. Bray, Director of Community Services
City of Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches
Brian W. Bray became the Director of Community Services in May 2012, after having previously served as the Historic Sites Manager and Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Nacogdoches since November of 2003. Prior to working in the City of Nacogdoches, he served as the Director of Education for the Texarkana Museums System for two and a half years. He graduated from Texas Lutheran University in 1998 with a BA in Public History and he earned an MS in Library Sciences from the University of North Texas in 2000. Brian completed the Certified Public Administration Program in 2006 through Stephen F. Austin State University. He also served in the Army Reserves for nine years as a Chemical Operations Specialist.
Brian is an active member in the Texas Association of Museums and just completed a term as President. He works closely with the Texas Historical Commission and is involved with the El Camino Real National Historic Trail. He is the Vice-Chairman for Small Business Affairs on the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is a board member of the Friends of Historic Nacogdoches Inc. and the Nacogdoches County Historical Foundation.
Luis D. Contreras, II, Arts Instructor Faculty
South Texas College - McAllen, TX
Luis Contreras, II received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2004. He went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree from The Ohio State University in 2006.
In 2006, Contreras began his experience with museums in collections management as the archivist/curator for the Mission Historical Museum and later as the curator and assistant director for the Weslaco Museum in 2008. A few months later, Contreras led the inauguration of the newly renovated Weslaco Museum as its executive director. In August of 2012, he returned to the City of Mission as director for the Mission Historical Museum where he continued his focus on strategic planning, development, and the promotion and preservation of the local history through interpretive programming and educational outreach. Through 2016, Contreras also participated in City of Mission initiatives with historical research, project management, a historical assessment update of the rehabilitated historical landmark - La Lomita Chapel, and also provided design work for various city beautification projects. Currently, Contreras is an arts instructor faculty member for South Texas College, but continues an independent leadership role in the museum field as both an independent freelance researcher, consultant, designer and active member of the council for the Texas Association of Museums.
Chris Dyer, CEO
Arts Council, 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).
Alex Freeman, Director of Special Projects
New Media Consortium, Austin
Alex Freeman is the New Media Consortium's (NMC) Director of Special Projects and has seven years of experience working with museums in a leadership capacity. He holds an MA in Art Education from The University of Texas at Austin, and manages the NMC's Museum Initiative, which provides online training and timely research on a variety of emerging technologies being investigated and integrated by museums. Prior to the NMC, he was the Education Director at Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin and Education Curator at Artpace San Antonio.
Alex is a co-author and researcher for the NMC Horizon Report series, which analyzes technology uptake across global museums, higher education, K-12 education, and a number of other sectors and regions. Additional interests include grant writing, conducting technology usability studies, in person and online event planning and hosting, and developing social media content.
A committee member of the American Alliance of Museum’s Media & Technology Professional Network since 2013, Alex has presented on museum technology at the following conferences: Museums and the Web, Museum Computer Network, American Alliance of Museums, and Texas Association of Museums.
Buster Ratliff,Operations Coordinator
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon
Buster is the Operations Coordinator at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the largest history museum in Texas and his duties include social media, cell phone tours, building rentals, building maintenance, security, liaison to West Texas A&M University, and the museum's sports collection.
His involvement with TAM includes initiating and having served as chair of the MELT affinity group and serving two terms on the Programs Committee. Buster has also chaired and presented sessions at the TAM Annual Meeting. He holds a BA in History from West Texas A&M University and a MS in Information Organization from the University of North Texas. Buster currently serves on TAM Council as Councilor-at-Large. He serves on the membership committee and as chair of the communications committee.
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.
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.
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.
Brooke Witcher, 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.