Eric Lupfer, Executive Director

Eric Lupfer became executive director of Humanities Texas in August 2019. He served as the organization’s director of grants and education from 2004–2019. Formerly a high school English teacher, Lupfer holds a PhD in English (2003) and an MS in information studies (2004) from The University of Texas at Austin and a BA with high honors in English from Bowdoin College (1991). While finishing his graduate studies at UT, he worked as assistant director of freshman writing in the university’s Division of Rhetoric and Composition and as editorial assistant on The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, published by Princeton University Press.

From 2002–04, Lupfer worked at UT’s Harry Ransom Center, where he codirected the center’s summer teacher institutes and curated a traveling exhibition on Isaac Bashevis Singer that was displayed across the country during the centennial of the writer’s birth. Lupfer has published articles on American literature and publishing history, including an essay in A History of the Book in America, a five-volume collaborative scholarly project sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society. The Missouri Review published his essay recounting his attempt to “thru-hike” the Appalachian Trail, which was later collected in the 2006 anthology The Best of the Missouri Review: Travel.

Marco Buentello, Assistant Director of Grants

Marco Buentello first joined Humanities Texas in September 2015. A native of Laredo, he received his MA in history and political thought and his BA in history from Texas A&M International University (TAMIU). During his graduate studies at TAMIU, he researched the involvement of American volunteers in the Spanish Civil War of 1936. He also worked as a graduate assistant for the Department of Humanities, assisting history professors with class administration and lectures. At Humanities Texas, he assisted in administering the grants program and supported the education program. In November 2018, he took a position in the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) at The University of Texas at Austin. At OSP, he assisted departmental grant seeking efforts by reviewing and submitting federal and private research grants. Marco returned to Humanities Texas in October 2020 to continue to support the grants program.

Brandi Carnes, Public Programs Coordinator

Brandi Carnes joined Humanities Texas in August 2018. A Texas native, she earned her BA in English and Plan II Honors from The University of Texas at Austin. As an undergraduate, Brandi worked as a program assistant at Humanities Texas. Brandi supports the traveling exhibitions program.

Elizabeth Bradford Frye, Assistant Director of Education

Elizabeth Bradford Frye joined Humanities Texas in October 2015. She received her PhD in English and her MA in creative writing from The University of Texas at Austin. While completing her doctorate, Elizabeth taught courses in literature, creative writing, and rhetoric and composition. She also served as the assistant director of UT's New Writers Project MFA program and as an editorial assistant for the Walt Whitman Archive. In addition to administering Humanities Texas’s family reading program Texas Storytime, she supports the organization’s teacher institute and education programs.

Lauren Gocken, Program Officer

Lauren Gocken joined Humanities Texas in January 2021. She holds a BS in secondary education with English and journalism concentrations from Kansas State University and an MBA from Texas State University. Prior to joining Humanities Texas, she worked as a high school journalism teacher in Georgetown Independent School District for six years and then as a textbook editor while in graduate school.

Yvonne Doerr González, Deputy Director

Yvonne González joined Humanities Texas as fiscal officer and grants administrator in May 1988, served as director of finance from 1995–1999, and associate director and chief financial officer through 2003. During an executive director search, she served as interim executive director for Humanities Texas from April through July 2002. Born and raised in Brownsville, she worked previously as fiscal agent for two non profit organizations funded by city, state and federal grants. She holds a BA of liberal studies in accounting from St. Edward's University. She serves as financial and compliance officer, human resources, and oversees the facilities, meetings, and events.

Betty Hewell, Director of Advancement

Betty Hewell joined Humanities Texas in June 2019. A multi-generation Texan, she attended The University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her BBA from the McCombs School. Betty has been a professional fundraiser for over two decades, primarily in higher education. She also serves on numerous boards. Betty is honored to serve as Humanities Texas’s first director of advancement. As the daughter of a teacher in an urban, underserved school, she is passionate about supporting educators across Texas.

Melissa Huber
Melissa J. Huber, Director of Programs and Communication

Melissa Huber joined Humanities Texas in December 2007. She holds a BA in art history from Arizona State University and an MS in historic preservation from The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining Humanities Texas, she worked at the Blanton Museum of Art and in UT's Architectural Conservation Lab. Her combined focus on collections, exhibitions, and historic buildings developed in her previous role as conservation assistant for the Arizona State Museum Preservation Division at The University of Arizona in Tucson. At Humanities Texas, she oversees the traveling exhibitions program and public programs including Veterans’ Voices, the Pivotal U.S. Elections: Then and Now statewide forum series, History Harvests, and the council’s website. She also curates the Byrne-Reed House collections and served as staff point-person for the restoration.

Liz James, Director of Education

Liz James joined Humanities Texas in September 2008. Originally from Austin, she attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated with a BA in the history of art in May 2008. As an undergraduate, she developed a passion for education through her involvement with ArtReach, a program designed to bring art and education programs to the underserved Nashville community. In addition to administering the Outstanding Teaching Awards, she works on Humanities Texas’s teacher institute and education programs, serving as lead coordinator for individual teacher institutes.

Aruna Kharod, PhD Career Pathways Fellow

Aruna Kharod is a 2021–22 PhD Career Pathways Fellow at Humanities Texas and a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at The University of Texas at Austin. As an Indian classical dancer, musician, and public scholar, Aruna has worked with institutions such as the Blanton Museum of Art, Texas Folklife, and UT Austin's South Asia Institute throughout graduate school. Aruna's academic training in South Asian studies and Hindi language and literature (BA 2017, UT Austin) and ethnographic research informs her work with Asian American communities across Texas during her fellowship this year. 

Henry Levine, Exhibitions and Facilities Specialist

Henry Levine joined Humanities Texas in December 2009. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a BA in fine arts and received his MFA from Parsons The New School for Design in 1997. Prior to joining Humanities Texas, he worked as an exhibitions installer and carpenter for numerous museums and galleries including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, MoMA-PS1, and The Jewish Museum of New York. Currently, he divides his time between Humanities Texas and his own company, where he designs and builds furniture with an emphasis on sustainable materials and building practices.

Brian Macias, Senior Education Officer

Brian Macias joined Humanities Texas in September 2015. Born and raised in San Antonio, he holds a BA in history from The University of Texas at San Antonio, where he studied in the Honors College as a Terry Scholar. As an undergraduate, he interned with Spare Parts Studio in the summer of 2012 supporting cultural and environmental sustainability through art education and spent a semester studying abroad in Urbino, Italy. Brian supports the Humanities Texas education programs.

Bethany Offer, Grants Program Officer

Bethany Offer joined Humanities Texas in May 2021. Originally from the San Antonio area, she received her master’s in public affairs and her BA in English and government from The University of Texas at Austin. During graduate school, she worked in varying capacities with a number of Austin-area non-profits, including United Way for Greater Austin, I Live Here I Give Here, and Dress for Success.

Abby Paschall, Public Programs Coordinator

Abby Paschall joined Humanities Texas in July 2019. Born and raised in Lubbock, Texas, she recently graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with her BA in both English and humanities. While at UT, she was part of the Liberal Arts Honors program and interned at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, fostering an interest in supporting public education programs and exhibitions.

Jenny Peterson, Exhibitions Curator

Jenny Peterson joined Humanities Texas in June 2020. Born and raised in The Woodlands, Texas, she graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos with her BA in political science and history and her MA in public history. Prior to joining Humanities Texas, she worked as the associate curator of exhibitions for the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin and as an independent museum and interpretation specialist based in Midland. Jenny supports the traveling exhibitions program and serves as the curator of the Byrne-Reed House collections.

Kate E. Rogers, Grants Program Officer

Kate Rogers joined Humanities Texas in May 2021. She is currently completing an MA in media studies at The University of Texas at Austin and graduated from The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a BA in English and studies in cinema and media culture. Prior to joining Humanities Texas, she was a film programmer and manager at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and worked in Moving Image at the Walker Art Center.

Lucy Ryan, Program Officer

Lucy Ryan joined Humanities Texas in March 2021. Born and raised in New York City, she recently graduated from Bowdoin College with a BA in history, Africana studies, and visual arts. At Bowdoin, she worked as a research and curatorial intern in the Special Collections and Archives Department, where she cultivated an interest in public history and exhibition development and programming. Prior to moving to Austin in August 2020, she was a digital projects intern for the Museum of the City of New York. Lucy supports the grants program, as well as public programs and communications.

Kelsi Tyler, Assistant Director of Public Programs

Kelsi Tyler joined Humanities Texas in October 2013. Originally from Houston, she holds a BA in English and rhetoric and writing from The University of Texas at Austin. As an undergraduate, she worked as a writing fellow for the Liberal Arts Honors program and as a consultant at the Undergraduate Writing Center. She supports Humanities Texas's public programs and serves as editor of the monthly e-newsletter.

Murphy Wilt, Program Officer

Murphy Wilt joined Humanities Texas in October 2019. He holds a BA in political science with a minor in philosophy from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He previously worked as a project coordinator for Thyssenkrupp Elevator Company, where he managed incoming orders and customer service for North America. Murphy supports Humanities Texas's education and public programs.

Tinbit Yirdaw, Accountant

Tinbit Yirdaw joined Humanities Texas in June 2021. Born and raised in East Africa, she received her BA degree from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Prior to moving to the United States, she worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) where she was involved with grass root level educational programs. She is a certified public accountant in the state of Texas and has experience working in both public and private contexts. Tinbit serves as an accountant for Humanities Texas.