Staff

Biographies

Michael L. Gillette, Executive Director

Michael L. Gillette has been Humanities Texas’s executive director since 2003. His former positions include directing the LBJ Library’s Oral History Program from 1976 to 1991 and serving as director of the Center for Legislative Archives from 1991 to 2003, with responsibility for the official records of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives at the National Archives. Gillette serves on the Board of Distinguished Visitors of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. His previous affiliations include the board of directors of the Congressional Education Foundation, the board of directors of the Everett Dirksen Congressional Leadership Center, and the Law Library of Congress’s National Digital Library Program. Gillette is the author of Launching the War on Poverty: An Oral History and Lady Bird Johnson: An Oral History, both published by Oxford University Press. He received his BA in government and his PhD in history from The University of Texas at Austin. He is a recipient of the UT College of Liberal Arts’ Pro Bene Meritis Award.

For more on Michael L. Gillette visit the Director's page.

Marco Buentello, Grants Program Coordinator

Marco Buentello 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. Marco supports the Humanities Texas grants and education programs.

Brandi Carnes, Exhibitions 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.


Lydia Chao, Finance and Operations Assistant

Lydia Chao joined Humanities Texas in May 2015. A native of Oklahoma, she holds a BS and MS in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from Oklahoma State University. Prior to joining Humanities Texas, she worked with both Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide in accounting, sales, and operations management. Lydia supports bookkeeping, meeting and event coordination for the Byrne-Reed House, and facilities management.

Allison Dillon, Grants Program Officer

Allison Dillon joined Humanities Texas in October 2016. An Austin native, she holds a BA in English from The University of Texas at Austin and a MA in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London. Before joining Humanities Texas, Allison served as the outreach assistant for Shakespeare at Winedale, where she taught Shakespeare through performance to elementary-aged students in underserved Austin communities and prepared and administered grants supporting the organization’s mission. Allison supports the administration of Humanities Texas’s grants program.

Elizabeth Bradford Frye, Foundation Relations Coordinator

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. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Elizabeth writes poetry that considers the relationship between identity and place. Elizabeth provides support in the areas of grant writing, development, and education.

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. A Texas native from 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.

Melissa Huber
Melissa J. Huber, Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs

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, Assistant Director of Educational Programs

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.

Marissa Kessenich, Communications Officer

Marissa Kessenich joined Humanities Texas in June 2017. Originally from San Antonio, Marissa earned her BA in English and history from The University of Texas at Austin. While at UT, she worked in the Harry Ransom Center's public affairs department and developed a passion for fostering interest in and development of the arts and humanities. As Communications Officer, Marissa promotes Humanities Texas’s mission around the state and supports the organization’s education programs.

Henry Levine, Exhibitions Technician

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.

Eric Lupfer, Director of Grants and Education

Eric 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). Before joining the staff of Humanities Texas in 2004, he worked at UT’s Harry Ransom Center, where he curated an NEH-funded traveling exhibition on Isaac Bashevis Singer and codirected the center’s summer teacher institute. He is a former high school English teacher and has published articles and book reviews on American literature and publishing history, including an essay in the five-volume, collaborative scholarly work, A History of the Book in America. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Eric directs the Humanities Texas grants, education, and awards programs.

Brian Macias, Program 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.

Sam Moore, Program Officer

Sam Moore joined Humanities Texas in September 2015. After various family moves, she landed in Texas, where she graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in December 2014. She holds a BA in English literature with a minor in anthropology. As an undergraduate, she was a member of the Liberal Arts Honors program and an active participant in the Foot in the Door Theatre troupe, and spent semesters studying in both Scotland and Los Angeles.

Kelsey Morgan, Visual Communications Coordinator

Kelsey Morgan joined Humanities Texas in June 2017. Originally from Georgia, she is a third generation Aggie and recent graduate. She holds a BA in both philosophy and English and a minor in religious studies from Texas A&M University (TAMU). Most recently, she worked as an undergraduate apprentice and program aide for the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at TAMU.

Mary Kemp Thornberry, Program Officer

Mary Kemp Thornberry joined Humanities Texas in June 2018. Originally from Amarillo, she grew up in the Washington, DC area and the Texas Panhandle. She holds a BA in English from Davidson College and previously worked for El Taller Latino Americano, a community-based arts and education non-profit in New York City.


Kelsi Tyler, Coordinator 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.