The GlobalAustin Board meets monthly. Elections to fill vacancies are held during our annual meeting held in the summer months. The Board is diverse in gender and ethnicity and various professions represented are government, business, labor, law, and education.
2011 Executive Committee:
- Stephen Niemeyer, President
- Monica Benoit-Beatty, Immediate Past President
- Meredith Melecki, Treasurer
- Jane Dunham, Secretary
- James H, Hall, Member-at-Large
Additional 2012 Members:
- Catherine Crago
- Carol Eckelkamp
- Matthew Flueckiger
- Barbara Foreman
- James H. Hall
- Anita Knight
- Ramey Ko
- Jack Mason
- Lateefah Neal
- Estuardo Robles
- Sarah Sherman
- Julie Van de Zande
- Liz Walton
Full Time Staff Members:
- Margie Kidd, Executive Director
- Pamela-Jean Mohamed, Associate Executive Director International Programs
- Geoff Connor
- Frank Cooksey
- Lynn Cooksey
- Larry Graham
- Wayne Holtzman
- Joan Holtzman
- Mayor Lee Leffingwell
- Mortada Mohamed
- Judge Harriet Murphy
Board and Staff Member Bios:
Monica Benoit-Beatty As President of GlobalAustin, Monica is in her fifth year of working with the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program and its international citizen diplomacy program. In addition, as Past President and Board Member of the Better Business Bureau of Central Texas and its Consumer Education Foundation, Monica’s influence continues to flow over 79 Texas counties.
A finance graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, her career began in the insurance and financial services industry in the mid-80′s. In 2006, she became the Austin area Executive Managing Director for eWomenNetwork.com. Now she serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the Girl Scouts of Central Texas. In 2010, the Governor’s Commission for Women surprised her with a nomination to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame for her 25+ years of community service in Central Texas. A native Texan, Monica currently resides in Central Texas with her husband and son.
Catherine Crago leads Diversity Interactive, a firm that produces interactive learning and development tools focused on increasing organizational performance through cultural competence – she received the Texas Diversity Council DiversityFIRST award for her innovation in the field of diversity and inclusion in the Fall of 2011. Ms. Crago has participated in the development of international joint ventures, consortia and work teams in Asia and the US. She has been published in diverse publications such as the Journal of Project Management, the Corporate Comptroller and the IEEE International Engineering Management Society Journal. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Texas Asian Chamber of Commerce and is on the Board of Advisors for the University of Texas M.Sc. in the Human Dimensions of Organizations and the SXSW Interactive Festival. Ms. Crago holds Bachelor of the Arts degrees in History and Russian from the University of Texas at Austin and has lived and worked in Belgium, the Netherlands, Korea, and Taiwan. She speaks several different languages.
Jane Dunham is retired from advising international students and scholars. She directed the International Services office at Rice University for ten years, and has also advised internationals at the University of Houston, UT-San Antonio, and Texas A&M. Jane lived in the Netherlands from 1996-2000 as an accompanying spouse, and worked there for the Spouse Employment Center of Shell and for the Netherlands-America Commission on Educational Exchange. Her special interest in retirement has been the provision of support and services to the international spouses who accompany their husbands or wives to the U.S. She and her husband have hosted or housed about 1100 international visitors.
Carol Eckelkamp works as a Financial Advisor with New England Financial, runs and owns the consulting practice A Parenting Partnership LLC, and is the founding member of the Professional Women of Williamson County. She is currently a member of the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce Legislative Affairs committee, a chairperson of the Texas Women in Business Legislative Affairs Committee, and has run her own farm and ranch business in central Texas. Mrs. Eckelkamp has a special passion for health care issues and is an avid cook with an extensive collection of antique cookbooks, which she utilizes on a regular basis; she is an enthusiastic home hospitality host for international visitors.
Matthew Flueckiger: Currently working for an international medical device consulting company in Austin, Texas as a Regulatory Affairs Assistant, Matthew hails from Switzerland, speaks English, German and French, and received a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Western Carolina University where he also played four years of NCAA Division I Golf. He has lived in Montpellier, France, and Switzerland where he managed one of the most prestigious Swiss golf Clubs.
Barbara Foreman: Over the years, Barbara has acted as a Special Assistant in State and Local Program Development to the EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training as well as a Manager of Special Investigations and Commander of the TCEQ. She has acted as a Special Investigator for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; as a Senior Special Agent for the Texas State Treasury; an Investigator for the Texas Commission on Human Rights; and as the Deputy Sherriff for the Texas County Sheriff’s Department. She has been published many times for her works on Criminal Justice, has received both the Texas State Flag from the Texas House of Representatives as well as the United States Flag from the US House of Representatives, and is an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice at St. Edwards University Austin, Texas.
James H. Hall is a consultant on International Security Matters, his profession since he returned to the United States in September 2003 following a series of assignments as a Senior U.S. Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State. Mr. Hall joined the Department of State in 1973 and served in various capacities in Washington and at Foreign Service posts in Viet Nam, Belgium, China, Burma, Japan and Bosnia. In 1984, Mr. Hall opened the first Foreign Service post operated since 1949 by any country in Northeast China (formerly Manchuria) — the American Consulate General in Shenyang (formerly Mukden). He was Consul General from 1984 to 1986. In 1990, he was appointed Associate U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. He opened the United States Liaison Office in Hanoi in 1994 and was Chief of the Liaison Office, the United States’ diplomatic representation in Viet Nam until normalization in August 1995.
Prior to his diplomatic service, Mr. Hall served as a U.S. Army Officer from 1962-66, with assignments in the U.S., Germany, Korea and Viet Nam. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his service in Viet Nam. He was twice awarded the Department of State’s Superior Honor Award.
He holds an MA from Harvard University in Regional Studies, East Asia (1969), and a BS from Fordham University in Chemistry (1961). He speaks and reads Chinese (Mandarin), Vietnamese, Japanese, French, and some Serbo-Croatian. He is married to Huong Phan Hall and they have three daughters.
Anita S. Knight grew up in Queens, New York, to immigrant parents from Germany. She traveled to W. Europe to visit relatives as a teenager, then later with her husband on business and pleasure. With a love of travel and more time in retirement since 2004, she has recently traveled to E. Europe and S. America.
Anita met her husband in college in PA, and they moved to MI where they raised their children. In 1991, they moved to Chicagoland. Anita used her biology/chemistry degree and graduate work in environmental science in the chemical industry, primarily in product safety.
Always a dedicated volunteer, Anita is a life member of AAUW (American Association of University Women) for which she was an officer in MI, IL, and TX; former Program Chair for professional group SCHC (Society for Chemical Hazard Communication); former elected member of Board of Education in MI; member of several environmental groups; docent for Wild Basin Preserve and an NWF Habitat Steward.
Anita and her husband Don stay busy with grandkids, travel, entertaining and volunteer activities. They enjoy hosting international visitors from Australia and ESL teachers from Mexico.
Ramey Ko is a partner with Jung Wakefield PLLC, an immigration and business law firm, and an Associate Municipal Judge – the first Asian American judge in Austin. Ramey is also an adjunct lecturer in Asian American Studies at the University of Texas and serves on the Austin Public Safety Commission and the Advisory Board of the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce. In September 2010, President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which advises federal agencies on how to better serve the AAPI community. Ramey has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Yale University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Ramey speaks Mandarin Chinese and enjoys travel, public speaking, community work, and everything about food culture.
Jack Mason is a senior analyst with the Legislative Budget Board and provides recommendations and advice to members of the Texas Legislature regarding funding levelson a portfolio of state functions and programs.
Jack is also a mentor with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)2012 Fellowship for Afghanistan program. The Fellowship, an annual eight-month longprogram, is aimed at capacity building and enhancing the leadership, management andprofessional skills of a core group of senior government officials, academics and practitionersfrom Afghanistan. Looking forward to a post-conflict reconstruction within Afghanistan,the Fellowship program discusses important themes such as organization development andchange, project design and management, and human resource development/management. Jackserves as a mentor, along with two other individuals, to a group of six Afghan civil servantsin order to increase their knowledge and confidence in the transformation of a post-conflictAfghanistan.
Jack has also served as a 2012 World Learning Legislative Fellow in Bangladesh. WorldLearning, a non-profit U.S. State Department funded organization, seeks to bridge culturesand promote understanding among nations. World Learning conducts exchange programs forobservational study tours around the world in order to learn about the culture, people, andgovernment of developing countries. Jack was selected, along with five other participantsfrom around the United States, to travel to Bangladesh and meet with government officials,various Bangladeshi government entities, universities, and non-profit organizations regardinggovernment policy, budget, and public service related matters.
Stephen Niemeyer has worked on U.S.-Mexico border issues since June 1992 at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and predecessor agencies. At the TCEQ he has been responsible for a number of U.S.-Mexico border activities, including: managing border air, water and waste technical
studies; reviewing border waste, water and air quality studies and data; and recommending policy for agency management on border issues. He is currently charged with implementing the agency’s Border Initiative with Mexico. He has represented the agency in various fora, among them the Binational Border 2012 program; the Environment and Water Tables of the Border Governors Conference; and NAFTA-related environmental entities the Border Environment cooperation Commission, the North American Development Bank, and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
Since 2005, Stephen has represented the State of Texas on the Good Neighbor Environmental Board, a federal advisory committee to the President and the Congress on U.S.-Mexico border environmental infrastructure issues. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and is Chair of ASCEs Border International Water Quality Standards Committee.
Stephen holds a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the University of Texas at Austin, and is licensed in Texas as a Professional Engineer. His current service work includes volunteering for
the Worker’s Defense Project. He is a past president of both the LBJ School of Public Affairs Alumni Association and its Austin Chapter, and is also a past member of the Texas Exes Advisory Council.
Estuardo Robles is specialized in International Business Development. His experience includes opening new markets in Latin America for IT and BPO companies and in helping to promote the Nearshore region. He has advised several Investment Promotion Agencies in developing their BPO markets. His background also includes significant experience in economic development, country branding and promotion of municipal and city level redevelopment urban zones such as AirportCities, Tech Districts, and Medical Districts.
Robles is the co-founder of SMSRGENCY, a mobile technology startup which helps communities stay connected during times of crisis. His company has been recognized by the World Summit Awards and the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development. Robles holds a BBA in Marketing and International Business from the University of Texas at Austin, an MBA from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and exchange coursework at Fundação Getulio Vargas in Brazil. He has taught a seminar course on Foreign Direct Investment at the Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala, and has lived in cities like Miami, Boston, Guatemala, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Panama, San Salvador, and is currently based in Austin. He speaks fluent English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.
Sarah Sherman is a graduate of Texas State University, Sarah Sherman graduated with degrees in mass communication, public relations, and psychology. Sarah was involved in the Universities Spanish Language study abroad program in Costa Rica, was the principle volunteer in the 2012 Global Austin Auction at the Austin International Awards Ceremony, and is a current intern at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.
Margie Kidd – Executive Director
Appointed Executive Director in 2010, Margie is a long time community advocate for international interests. Among her many accomplishments, she succeeded Joe Neal as Director of UT’s International Office. Upon her retirement, she and her husband, Richard, embarked on a world cruise in their own boat over a 5 year period before eventually settling back in Austin. Her past GlobalAustin volunteer activities have encompassed serving as chair of the Scholarship Committee, Co-chair of the International Student Committee, and Tuesday morning coffee with families of international students. She was also honored in Washington, DC as the Lorinne Emery Award winner & “2008 Volunteer of the Year” by the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV) at their national convention.
Pamela-Jean Mohamed, Director of Programs, joined GlobalAustin in 2000. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in education, she taught French in grades 7-12 in Canada. In 2002, she received the National Council for International Visitors’ award for excellence in programming.