TAM Council Nominations
In a state diverse in populations and cultures, TAM supports association members working in Texas museums, arts organizations, historic sites, and other cultural and community organizations. TAM is a nonprofit, 501(c) (3) governed by a volunteer board of directors called Council. TAM Council holds responsibility for the management and governance of the organization. Council is composed of 15 duly elected TAM members in good standing, six officers, eight Councillors-At-Large and the immediate past president.
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 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 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 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.
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.
Luis Contreras, McAllen
Luis D. 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.
Contreras began his museum field experience with the City of Mission back in 2006 when he worked as the Archivist/Curator for the Mission Historical Museum. In 2008, he became the executive director of the Weslaco Museum of Local History and Cultural Art. Since 2006, Contreras has also been involved with the University of Texas-Pan American and South Texas College as an Arts Instructor. In August of 2012, he returned to the City of Mission as Director of the Mission Historical Museum where he manages two facilities and supervises the daily operations, while implementing the strategic plans set forth by the Museum’s board of directors.
Contreras is Vice-President of the Troquero Hall of Fame organization he supported in starting alongside Weslaco community leaders and is a current member of Class XXXI of Leadership Mission. He strives to stay actively involved in city and community beautification initiatives. He recently served as project manager for the Mission Historical Museum’s Landscape renovation project, which was realized in summer 2013. His current projects involve an historical and cultural collaboration with a city streetscape renovation project and an exhibit/museum design for the historical John H. Shary mansion in Palmhurst, TX.
Contreras is a strong advocate for professionalism, teamwork, innovation, donor focus, diversity, transparency, efficiency, and excellence.
Dreanna Belden, Assistant Dean for External Relations
UNT 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.