Dr. Cassandra LeClair

Senior Lecturer of Communication Studies at Texas State University

Dr. Cassandra LeClair is an author, professor, communication consultant, and motivational speaker. She is an expert on communicating feelings and improving connections. Cassandra’s mission is to educate individuals on how to have effective and healthy communication to enhance their relationships. She works to help others gain understanding of their communication practices to improve their relationships with friends and family members, in the workplace, and beyond. Cassandra completed her Ph.D. in Communication Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she focused on Interpersonal and Family Communication, with a specialization in Women’s and Gender studies. Dr. LeClair teaches a variety of classes at the collegiate level, where she encourages her students to explore their own patterns and improve their communication. Her teaching and research interests fuel her campus and community involvement. She is active in many local organizations that seek to empower and educate individuals on relationships and identity. Cassandra lives in New Braunfels, Texas with her two children.

Hector Ruiz

CEO of Advanced Nano Technology Solutions Inc.

Hector Ruiz came to the USA from Mexico at 18 to attend The University of Texas at Austin, where he received a BS, MS in Electrical Engineering and was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2012. He also attended Rice University where he received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1973 and was also named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2002. His whole career has been in the high-tech industry where his last two significant positions were President of Motorola Semiconductor Sector, and Chairman and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Currently he is involved in assisting start-ups that involve underrepresented people and whose business objectives are to make a significant impact on advancing technology, creating a great company, and most importantly, improving the state of the world.

Erin Cargile

KXAN Investigative Reporter

Erin Cargile is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging for the truth, creating change and improving lives through the stories she tells. She is an investigative reporter at KXAN News in Austin, where she has worked for more than 11 years. From the Fort Hood shooting to the Winter Olympics in South Korea — Erin has covered it all. Over the last year, Erin traveled across the country to spotlight solutions working to improve the mental health of children, and raised awareness about a little-known FDA warning connected to the death of an Austin police officer. Problems she discovered after deadly flooding, prompted city officials to put new safety measures in place to save lives. Erin grew up in Waxahachie, Texas and is a graduate of Oklahoma Christian University.

Maria Tahir

Graduate Student

Maria is a master’s student at Texas State University and is pursuing sociology. Her academic interests include cultural sociology, political sociology, and race/class/gender studies. Her research focuses on the cultural exchange and identity formation of second-generation immigrants, and her thesis is about arranged marriage in South Asian communities in the US. Maria is a feminist, a scholar and a political activist who is passionate about social justice and civil rights. She spends her free time reading, writing and browsing Twitter in search of ideas that challenge her thinking. After completing her master’s degree, she intends to get a Ph.D. in Sociology and become a professor, or enter politics. Her goals are to inspire those around her by bringing more kindness into the world and to help enact lasting social change.

Mueni Rudd

Graduate Student

Mueni Loko Rudd graduated from Alief Hastings High School in Houston, TX at the age of 16 before beginning her higher education journey in Central Texas. Mueni earned her BA in Sociology from Huston-Tillotson University in East Austin. Currently, she is a graduate student in the School of Social Work at Texas State University. At Texas State, she has held the roles of Graduate Research Assistant, Academic Coach, FACES MSW Advocate, and Center for P16 Initiatives student worker. Mueni considers herself a scholar advocate and attributes much of her research ambitions to her Kenyan American heritage. She advocates for creating safe spaces to discuss the state of race relations from multicultural points of view. She hopes this can address cross-cultural communication, awareness, and healing. Her research interests include identity, self concept, internalized racism, and white supremacy.

Dr. Russell Lang

Associate Professor of Special Education
Executive Director of Texas State University’s Clinic for Autism Research Evaluation and Support

Russell Lang, PhD, BCBA-D, is an associate professor of Special Education and the executive Director of the Clinic for Autism Research, Evaluation and Support (CARES) at Texas State. He earned his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin and completed a post-doctoral researcher position at the University of California in Santa Barbara. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed research papers concerning the education and treatment of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Dr. Lang is an associate editor and board member for numerous scientific journals including the Journal of Child and Family Studies, Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Journal of Development and Physical Disabilities, Developmental Neurorehabilitation, Journal of Behavioral Education and Learning Disability Quarterly. He is the recipient of the Association of Positive Behavior Supports Research Award, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarly and Creative Activity

Rachel Runnels

Graduate Student

Rachel is a recent graduate from the Communication master’s program at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. When she wasn’t teaching classes as a graduate assistant or helping manage the university’s speaking center, Rachel spent her time exploring one of her passions: conspiracy theories. Research for her master’s thesis aimed to understand why conspiracy theories continue to grow in influence and popularity, particularly on the internet. Her love for communication and language combined with an interest in uncommon beliefs led her down a very interesting path of Netflix documentaries and conspiracy communities to some new discoveries about the power of online conspiracy rhetoric. Today, learning about unique and paranormal conspiracies is still one of Rachel’s favorite hobbies (and conversation topics), filling up the downtime from her job as a marketing coordinator at Bonafide, a Houston marketing agency.

Kayli Head

Foral Artist and Owner of The Bloom Bar

Kayli Head is the owner of The Bloom Bar, a boutique floral design studio specializing in fresh and current wedding florals and unique designs for corporate events. Kayli launched her business in 2015 after 18 years of experience in the floral and event industry. Today, she designs more than 100 events per year all over central Texas from her studio in downtown San Marcos, Texas. Kayli is a 2008 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University where she studied public relations and marketing. She was encouraged to start her own business after working with entrepreneurs during her time with the Texas Main Street Program, and has a love for historic places and stories. When she’s not designing flowers, she can be found taking care of her garden at the family ranch in La Grange with her husband, Derek, or floating the San Marcos River.

Jessica Soukup

Systems Analyst for Texas State University’s Division of Student Affairs

Jessica is a transgender woman, passionate intersectional
feminist, and advocate for the equal rights of transgender and
gender diverse people. Her mission is to increase awareness of
intersectional feminism and LGBTQIA issues by connecting to
diverse audiences as a public speaker, author, and activist. In 2017, she published
He/She/They – Us: Essential information, vocabulary, and concepts
to help you become a better ally to the transgender and gender
diverse people in your life. She’s been a keynote speaker at, Out
in West Texas, the Stephen F. Austin Women’s Empowerment
Summit and the Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit.
She’s currently serving as vice-chair on the board of the
Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), a host and co-
founder at the queer media collective, QIRadio, and co-chair for
Austin Pride. Her commitment to empowering and motivating
LGBTQiA allies through education, coupled with her enthusiasm
for uplifting those around her, has made her a sought after speaker
at conventions, in corporate diversity education, and universities.

Dr. Raymond Fisk

Professor of Marketing at Texas State University

Raymond P. Fisk focuses on service teaching, service research, and professional service. He was Department Chair of Marketing for 12 years at Texas State and 11 years at the University of New Orleans. His research focuses on services marketing, service design, and transformative service research. He has published numerous journal articles and six books including Serving Customers: Global Services Marketing Perspectives. In 1993, he founded the AMA Services Marketing Special Interest Group (SERVSIG), which is the only organization serving the service research community. Ray has since received the 2005 Career Contributions to the Services Discipline Award from SERVSIG. In 2012, he received the Grönroos Service Research Award from the Hanken School of Economics in Finland; and in Fall 2020, he returns to Finland to be the Fulbright-Hanken Distinguished Chair in Business and Economics. Recently, he founded ServCollab, a service research collaborative for diagnosing and treating humanity’s service system problems.