Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Anthony L. (Tony) Burnett
President


Native Texan Tony Burnett was born and raised on the coastal plains south of Houston. After majoring in Music Composition at the University of North Texas (Denton) he gravitated to Austin where he enjoyed a varied but successful entrepreneurial career in various small businesses including an auto repair shop, a micro-brewery, a home remodeling company and property management all while raising five children, performing with various bands, songwriting and engaging in freelance journalism. An award-winning poet and songwriter, his short fiction has been widely published in nationally recognized literary journals. He resides in obscure Davilla, Texas, where he frolics with his trophy wife, Robin, on a small organic vegetable and melon farm.

 

Evelyn Palfrey
Vice President

Evelyn Palfrey is a native Texan and a lawyer who writes romantic suspense for the 'marvelously mature'--because romance is just as sweet with a little gray at the temple. She is the author of five romance novels, Three Perfect Men, The Price of Passion, Dangerous Dilemmas, Everything In Its Place and Going Home; and essays in two Chicken Soup releases. Evelyn met her agent at the WLT Agents conference. She is a gardener and avid motorhomer. You can learn more about Evelyn by visiting her website.

 

Rodney Sprott
Treasurer

Rodney Sprott of Austin graduated from the University of Texas with a BS in communications. He recently retired from Maximus where he served as Director. His debut novel Boonesboro is completed and seeking representation. Mr. Sprott is a long term member of WLT who has attended many workshops and served in volunteer positions. Now that he has free time he wishes to give back to the organization that supports him in his creative endeavors.

 

Marc Hess
Secretary

Marc Hess lives, works and raises his family in Fredericksburg, TX. Raised in Hawai’i, and educated in the northeast, Marc has held publisher-level roles with iconic titles such as The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Yankee magazine (yes, that is a lower case “m” in magazine), Aloha and Alaska Magazine (yes, that is a cap “M” in this case.) He has also served as editor of such obscure titles as Schutzhund USA and Gardening South Texas. As founding publisher of The Insider’s Guide to the Texas Hills, Marc leads a talented editorial team that dug into the soul of this recently discovered region and contributed to the early development of the tourist industry here. As publications morphed into websites Marc morphed into a techie and now works with Hill Country Telephone Coop where he gets paid to figure out how to bring optical fiber networks into small towns out in rural Texas.

 

Board Members

Olga Campos Benz

Olga Campos Benz is one of the most honored anchor/reporters ever to grace the Texas airwaves. A University of Texas graduate, Olga spent more than 30 years covering the biggest news stories in Houston, Corpus Christi and Austin. Following her retirement as a broadcast journalist, Olga enjoyed a smooth transition into an arena she knows well thanks to her active role as a volunteer and community supporter. She is now the Community Relations Director for businessman and philanthropist, Milton Verret. She also serves on several non-profit boards including The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), the Austin Film Festival, the Development Committee of the Austin Film Society, the Advisory Council of the University of Texas Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and the Luncheon Committee of Austin Gives. Olga is a 2014 inductee into the City of Austin Commission for Women Hall of Fame. In 2013, the Austin Business Journal named her one of the “Profiles in Power: Women of Influence”. Olga recently completed her first novel, “It’s News to Me” which takes readers behind the scenes of the often funny and unbelievable world of television news. She and her husband, Kevin Benz, are proud parents of 23 year old twin daughters, Corazon and Allegra. Olga can be reached at ocamposbenz@gmail.com.

 

Chip Dameron

Chip Dameron is the author of seven collections of poems and a travel book. His poems, as well as his essays on contemporary writers, have appeared in numerous literary magazines and journals around the country and abroad. A two-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, he lives and writes in Brownsville, Texas.

 

 

 

Anna Marie Dempsey

Anna Marie Dempsey is a partner in the Corporate and Securities section of Thompson & Knight LLP. She regularly advises clients on public and private offerings of equity and debt securities, private equity fund formation, mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, corporate governance, and compliance with securities laws, exchange rules, the Investment Company Act, and the Investment Advisers Act. Anna Marie received her J.D. and her B.S.B. in Accounting and Business Administration, with highest distinction, from the University of Kansas. Anna Marie also serves on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Fair Park.

 

Michael Hurd

Michael Hurd is a historian, author, and freelance writer who was born in Texarkana, Texas and grew up in Houston, where he graduated from Evan E. Worthing High School in 1967. He is managing editor for the Texas Black History Preservation Project which is documenting almost 500 years of African American presence in Texas as an online encyclopedia. However, his career includes an eight-year stint in the U.S. Air Force as a medic, serving one year (1971) at Phu Cat Air Base, Vietnam. He was honorably discharged in May 1976 with the Air Force Commendation Medal. He is a graduate in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and has worked as a sports writer at the Houston Post, the Austin American-Statesman, USA Today, and Yahoo Sports. He has authored two books, including “Black College Football, 1892-1992,” the only book that comprehensively documents the legacies of football programs at historically Black colleges. For more than a decade, he served as a member of the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court for Divisional Players, the group that selects small college players to the College Football Hall of Fame, and he currently serves on the selection committee for the Black College Football Hall of Fame. He recently began working on a book, "Thursday Night Lights," for UT Press about the history of football programs at black high schools in Texas before integration, 1920-1970. In the fall of 2015, he became director for the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture at Prairie View A&M University, a historically black college northwest of Houston. The institute focuses on documenting the almost 500-year history of African American presence in Texas.

 

Joseph Pluta

Joseph Pluta has been a college professor, magazine editor, radio show host, founder and director of a University Honors Program, economic consultant to foreign governments and to American small businesses, public address announcer, model train enthusiast, and writer. Now retired, he continues to be only the last two. His more than 25 books are a mix of history, economics, and historical fiction. He has also published over 100 short stories, more than 70 articles in academic journals, and numerous poems. He has been recognized for outstanding teaching at universities in California, Florida, and Texas. Joe grew up in Michigan, has lived on both U. S. coasts, has worked in Asia, and currently makes his home in Austin, Texas. What he loves most are his family, music, and good books. His webpage is josephepluta.com.

 

Terry Sherrell

Terry Sherrell is a native Texan with a BLA. in English and a CMBA from the McCombs School of Business. In her lifelong personal and professional crusade for literature she encourages and promotes authors and publishers in Texas. She was Vice President of Morgan Printing when they joined Ginny’s Printing (now OneTouchPoint Ginny’s) in 2010. Terry is a member of the Writers League of Texas, Story Circle Network, New College Writers and the Travis County Archaeological Society. She is advisor to St. Edward’s New Lit, Austin Community College’s Rio Review, Festival Hill’s Poetry at Round Top and the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

 

Carlotta Eike Stankiewicz

Carlotta Eike Stankiewicz is an award-winning creative director at GSD&M Advertising, where she has led national campaigns for brands such as Zales, John Deere, Texas Tourism and Hallmark. Her creative work has been recognized with industry awards that include the Cannes Lions, Addys, Clios, and inclusion in the Communication Arts Advertising Annual. She also is an avid punster; she won the 2003 O. Henry Pun Off World Championship. Carlotta is a long time member of the Writer's League and the Austin SCBWI. Check out her blog at www.wellversedmom.com.

 

Gina Panza Woodruff

Gina Panza Woodruff is a movie/TV fanatic and road trip enthusiast. She is a creative multipotentialite in her free time and by day a Marketing Consultant specializing in the high-tech industry. A 1993 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, she received a BFA in Communications Art and Design with a minor in Photography. Gina started her career as a graphic designer for an embossed hologram manufacturing company and went on to work in dot com and product marketing but found her passion in corporate social responsibility. While working with her own clients she continues to partner with larger agencies on projects for Fortune 500 companies including Lenovo, AMD and HP. Born in Corpus Christi, Texas but raised in three different countries, she is happy to call Austin home. Gina participated in her first NaNoWriMo ("50k words in 30 days" challenge) in 2009 and continues to take part each November with the support of her husband and their three boys. She has been a member of WLT since 2011 and is working on her first novel “Fertile Ground”. Follow her on twitter @gpwoodruff.

 

Staff

Becka Oliver - Executive Director
Michael Noll - Program Director
Jordan Smith - Member Services Manager & Project WISE Coordinator
Kelsey Williams - Administrative Assistant

 

Board of Directors Monthly Meeting

3rd Wednesday each month, 6:30 PM
All members are welcome.
If you'd like to attend a board meeting, please call 512-499-8914 for details.