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Backbone Leadership Dismounts

May 31 marks the end of the AHCA fiscal year and triggers another changing of the guard. Several key members of the AHCA Board of Directors have completed service and are stepping down. As a group, they have given hundreds of volunteer hours, expert guidance, and steady leadership to the AHCA for the benefit of the Austin History Center. Through economic turmoil seriously affecting non-profits, vital bond elections critical to the future of the Austin History Center, and a change in city governance, they have each stood tall.


Immediate Past President Charles Betts, recently honored at the 12th annual Eberly Luncheon, served four years as AHCA president. Of the 28 former presidents, he served the longest, and has been active in the AHCA since the 1980s. Betts helped raise money for AHCA operations and led the efforts to secure citizen support for the bonds now being used to upgrade the AHC and Faulk buildings. With his four decades of support to the AHCA, Betts’ commitment to the AHCA is beyond reproach.


Second Vice President Saundra Kirk, another native of Austin, has provided critical links between AHCA and city government the last several years, especially in support of expanding the 2018 bond ballot to add three million additional dollars for the AHC and Faulk building improvements. Kirk also lent her extensive professional skills in the annual evaluations of the AHCA executive director and in mentoring committee chairs in volunteer and project management during a complete review of policy and programs the last two years.


For more than seven years, retiring Board Member Adam Friedman led the effort to attract a younger Austin demographic to the AHCA, culminating with a highly successful event featuring former St. Sen. Kirk Watson as keynote speaker. However, Friedman’s most significant contribution has been his leadership as AHCA treasurer, providing the board financial reports and analysis.


Bob Ward has made a career of discovering, presenting, and preserving local history. Ward’s most notable activity has occurred as the appointed chair of the Travis County Historical Commission. As a three-year member of the AHCA board, Ward brought insight, contacts, and deep knowledge of Austin and Travis County. Bob also played a vital role in developing programming for the annual Eberly Luncheon in 2020 and 2021 by bringing playwright Paullette MacDougal to write two plays covering 1840 to 1880. Ward also served on the membership committee as the association saw record growth.

“These four board leaders have helped pull a heavy wagon, creating a complete make-over of many aspects of AHCA during their tenures. They have left important marks for the future growth and impact to Austin history to ensure it remains at the forefront of our rapidly changing community with many new faces.”

– AHCA President Lee Cooke.


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