Glenn Towery is the founder of the Veterans Suicide Prevention Channel. He is also a Vietnam combat veteran who served on the USS Rupertus DD851 as a Quartermaster. Glenn is considered a service connected disabled United States veteran but that hasn’t stopped him from working hard at contributing to America through media and the arts, nor from working to help other veterans who have served in the United States armed services.
Visual Art Director
April Sullivan has a BFA in Art History from UT-Austin and has been working in the arts in Austin since 1996 at venues such as Gallery Lombardi, Flatbed Press, Laguna Gloria, and Access Arts Austin. She has been the Artworks Director at VSA Texas since 2002 and Curator of Access Gallery from 2009-2012.
April has curated hundreds of exhibitions throughout the years, including the National Arts Program at Austin annual exhibition for 10 years, which featured over 200 works of art.
Performance Art Director
Bart Pitchford is a PhD candidate in Performance as Public Practice at the University of Texas. His dissertation examines the intersection of performance and community with displaced Syrians in Jordan. While at the University of Texas, Bart has also taught undergraduate classes on theatre history, performance analysis, ethics of representation, and artistic policy.
Prior to entering his PhD program Bart was a sergeant in the 4th Psychological Operations group at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. During his 8 years in PSYOP, Bart deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and to Sana’a, Yemen and Islamabad, Pakistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He received two Meritorious Service Medals and one Joint Services Commendation Medal for these deployments.
A Nashville native, Dustin grew up surrounded by writers, singers, pickers, and artists of all kinds. At an early age, he was exposed to the literary value of song form, and formed his own unique style of storytelling. Appalachian grooves and melodies coupled with lyrics, strange and beautiful. He encountered solid recognition for his talent and hard driving music and lyrical style for his first two solo records Whisky Priest and Tijuana Bible, putting him into the upper realm of Austin rockers. His long awaited third installment, Amateur Theater, is due out in the spring of 2018.
The highlight of his active schedule is hosting weekly songwriting and guitar workshop in San Marcos for Armed Forces veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress for a non-profit organization he founded called Soldier Songs and Voices. It's inspiring...it's a beautiful thing.
Health and Wellness and writing conference DIRECTOR
Celia Hughes has over 35 years of experience working in the arts - mainly focused in theater, film and music - as teacher, producer, artist and administrator. She has also worked alongside people with diverse disabilities for over 30 years. In her role as Executive Artistic Director of VSA Texas, she develops and oversees inclusive arts programs in partnership with public schools, community centers, cultural arts facilities, and disability service organizations across Texas. Celia has developed programs including ArtWorks: Creative Industries, professional development opportunities for emerging artists with disabilities; New Media Arts, workshops that combine traditional arts and media to engage transitioning youth in pre-employment training activities; Opening Minds, Opening Doors, public speaking by people with developmental disabilities, and Body Shift, a mixed-ability dance initiative. In 2000, Ms. Hughes wrote Stop the Violence, Break the Silence, an abuse prevention manual for professionals who serve people with disabilities (published by SafePlace, Austin); and in 2001, she produced “The Art of Audio Description” the only video training series currently available. Ms. Hughes is a professionally trained audio describer, and has described performances across the country; highlights include a concert by jazz pianist Henry Butler at the Americans for the Arts conference in Boston, MA, and the world premier of the documentary “The Eyes of Me,” at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. She holds a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.
Director of Spoken Word aka Master of Words
Christopher Michael has been a regular in The Texas Slam scene since 1999 and the National Slam since 2004. He is the co-founder of Killeen Poetry Slam, and a regular host at Austin Poetry Slam. Among his accomplishments are 2005-2006 Austin Slam Champ, 2008 Killeen Slam Champ, 2010 ArkansasGrand Slam Winner. He has been a member and coach of 9 National Slam Teams and coached 4 Youth Poetry Slam Teams. Former Executive Director and Slam Master of They Speak Youth Slam in Austin Tx., and is now the SlamMaster of Austin NeoSoul.
Reji Thomas has supported the arts in Austin for decades. From 1979 to 2014 she generously shared her studio, Pine Street Station, with the community, featuring the work of hundreds of fellow artists as one of the original participants in the East Austin Studio Tour. Additionally, Reji’s Pine Street Station played an important role in the Austin culture of art, music, literature, and community, becoming an Eastside hub for numerous events.
Veterans Service Officer at Travis County
Elaine Zavala is a dedicated professional whose calling is public service committed to assisting our state’s veterans and their families. She is appointed to the State Employee Charitable Campaign Advisory Committee for the state of Texas with a term ending 2019. Ms. Zavala has
active memberships with the Harry Ransom Center and the American Society for Public Administration where she currently serves as President for the Central Texas Chapter. Elaine is a TexasExes Lifetime Member and Texas State Alumni Life Member. Dedicating her time as well to be a member of the Young Catholic Professionals and Texas State University’s
Ms. Zavala received a Bachelor of Science in advertising from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Public Administration from Texas State University.
D. Randall is the Vice Chairman of the Board. He also the founder and president of Randall Jones Coaching, Inc. He was a Defense Contractor for Bae Systems / Integrated Defense Solutions for 3 years. He was the Vice President for business Affairs at Western New Mexico University.
He has served in the US Army and the US Marine Corps and retired as Sergeant Major in the Army. He has supervised 6 Division Directors and controlled contracting activities and relationships including coordination of the US withdrawal from its military presence in Berlin.