Bios

Harrison Keller, Commissioner

Harrison Keller is Commissioner of Higher Education for the State of Texas. Dr. Keller is a sixth-generation Texan with nearly twenty-five years of experience in state budget and policy, university administration, fundraising, and building coalitions among higher education institutions, school districts, and policymakers. He is a recognized innovator in programs to improve college readiness and student success, especially for low-income and first-generation students.

Dr. Keller has taught at Georgetown University, St. Edward’s University, and the University of Texas at Austin. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown University. From 2005 to 2015, he served as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve. He and his wife live in Austin with their three children.

 

Samantha Thomson, Student Experience and Outcomes Transformation Coach, Austin Community College

Samantha has worked for Austin Community College for 9 years and holds an advanced certification as an autism specialist, a master’s in Autism Spectrum Disorder, and is a certified neurodivergent professional. In her current role as a Student Experience and Outcomes Transformation Coach at Austin Community College, Samantha Thomson works to increase equitable outcomes, bridging the gap between ACC and employment for neurodivergent persons. One of Sam’s specialties is providing comprehensive training in social cognition, executive functioning, and self-advocacy skills to increase professional success rates, including the long-term, professional goals of her students. Additionally, Sam provides training and workshops to establish meaningful and supportive connections with community partners to scale services for the neurodiverse population.In addition to her role as a transformation coach, Samantha is also the advisor for ACC’s student-led organization NeuroBats of ACCess Autism, an ACC GROW supervisor, and the creator of the ACC virtual reality program for neurodivergent students, BatVntR.

 

Danielle Moak, President of NeuroBats

Danielle is a student at Austin Community College seeking her Associate of Applied Science Degree in 3-D animation. Danielle is the president of NeuroBats of ACCess Autism, a student-led organization by and for neurodivergent students attending Austin Community College. As a student working in the ACC GROW program Danielle has utilized her strengths in art to create murals on campuses that communicate the importance of inclusion. Danielle’s passions include art, advocacy, and supporting her peers.

 

 

Aaron Moeller, Vice-President of NeuroBats

An aspiring journalist, short story writer, and opera singer, Aaron Moeller is passionate about spreading awareness of the disenfranchisement of autistic and neurodivergent communities and aims to thrust representation in a highly polarized society. Aaron is the Vice President of NeuroBats of ACCess Autism, Austin Community College’s neurodivergent-friendly student-led organization. Aaron creates and develops journalistic columns for the university newspaper to guide and give resources to neurodivergent students navigating college. Aaron is Hispanic, gay, and neurodivergent. He has championed equal rights for neurodivergent and disabled persons for over seven years working as a direct support professional, helping people with intellectual disabilities achieve their goals. Aaron has an Associate of Arts in General Studies and is pursuing another degree in vocalization with a specialization in opera singing.

 

Ray Martinez, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TAACC)

Mr. Martinez serves as the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC), a comprehensive membership association comprised of a diverse mix of 48 community colleges from across Texas. Public community colleges in Texas play a critical role in supporting the continued growth of our state’s economy by expanding access to high-quality and affordable academic programs, workforce education training, and continuing education instruction. As President and CEO of TACC, Martinez provides leadership to advance state policy, institutional practice, and research in support of Texas community colleges.

Before joining TACC, Ray served as Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Workforce Education for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, President of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, Chancellor of Western Governors University (WGU) Texas, and he has held senior government affairs positions at Rice University and Texas A&M International University. Ray has also served as the director of the Committee on Higher Education in the Texas Senate.

A native of Alice, Texas, Ray received his bachelor’s degree from Southwestern University, and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center, and he recently completed postgraduate studies at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Sinjin Clark, Events Manager of NeuroBats

Sinjin Clark is the events manager for Austin Community College’s student-led organization NeuroBats of ACCess Autism and is an ACC GROW associate majoring in manufacturing/general studies. Sinjin’s passions include advocating for inclusion, self-advocating to help support their journey through college, being a strong peer support to fellow neurodivergent students, and having a great passion for obtaining and building large-scale Lego sets. Sinjin’s full-of-life attitude can be felt by anyone who meets them, and they consider their superpower to be their sense of humor.

Vidya Moorthy

Vidya Moorthy has worked with American community colleges for more than 20 years and has a deep understanding of the role of community colleges in the communities they serve, the economics of community colleges, student needs and mindset, and the importance of program relevance. Throughout her career, she has worked extensively with educational institutions in both Asia as well as Europe and it is this enriched perspective that she brings to her professional development sessions.

She is a staunch believer in the power of education and the importance that both access and affordability have at this point in the nation’s history. She serves on various boards including the LEEF Board for Leander ISD, Texas Diversity Council, and Texas Women in Business, and strives to open minds and instigate thought and action in her sessions.

 

Tim Cason, TNG Consultant (NABITA)

Tim Cason is a passionate professional with a commitment to proactively cultivating an environment of trust and productivity through actively listening, collaboration, and thinking practically. He has worked the better part of a decade in higher education at multiple institutions nationwide. Cason is well-versed in engaging key stakeholders, including executives, faculty, staff, and students, regarding student conduct, behavioral intervention and case management work, Title IX, and other civil rights laws. Prior to his recent tenure at TNG, Cason served as the Director of Student Conduct and Prevention Education and Deputy Title IX Coordinator for the Trinity River Campus of Tarrant County College. He holds a B.S. in communication studies from Texas Christian University and an M.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina.

 

Alejandra Campoverdi, Women’s Health Advocate, Author, Former White House Aide to President Obama.

Alejandra’s memoir, FIRST GEN, examines the often unacknowledged emotional tolls of being a trailblazer. A national bestseller, FIRST GEN is the winner of the California Independent Booksellers Alliance (CALIBA) Golden Poppy Martin Cruz Smith Award, and longlisted for the Outstanding Works of Literature (OWL) Award for the First Year Experience. FIRST GEN is also the 2024 Opportunity Matters Book Club selection for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), a national book club for first-generation and low-income students at colleges and universities across the country.

Previously, Alejandra served in the Obama White House as the first White House Deputy Director of Hispanic Media. She produced and appeared in the groundbreaking PBS documentary Inheritance, and founded the LATINOS & BRCA awareness initiative in partnership with Penn Medicine’s Basser Center for BRCA.

Alejandra holds a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and graduated cum laude from USC. She currently serves on the Boards of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, and the California Community Foundation.

 

Ana Rummer, Associate Vice-Chancellor Student Affairs, Austin Community College 

Ana Rummer has served as the college’s director of Student Affairs Communication since 2017. In her new role, she will continue to lead the Student Affairs Communications and Technology Projects teams and she will take on oversight of professional development, new employee onboarding, strategic planning, and other special projects for Student Affairs.

Prior to joining ACC, Ana served in various leadership positions at Goodwill Central Texas, where she created data-driven, multi-channel, multi-platform internal and external communication plans while providing strategic oversight and execution.

Ana holds a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication & Innovation from Texas Tech University, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Tarleton University, and an Associate of Arts in General Studies from Central Texas College. Additionally, she earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership & Management from Austin Community College.

 

Chelsea Biggerstaff, Interim Manager for Faculty Development, Austin Community College

After visiting classrooms in Japan, China, the United States, and the Navajo Nation during her undergraduate studies at Indiana University, Chelsea Biggerstaff recognized a disparity in educational settings that was inexcusable. In response, she devoted two years to national service with AmeriCorps and later accepted a position at Skillpoint Alliance. As a program lead at Skillpoint Alliance, Chelsea coordinated the NEXT Intermediate Job Program and developed and facilitated professional development trainings and workshops in areas such as

leadership, presentation skills, team skills, task and time management, communication in the workplace, and creative problem solving. Chelsea’s background in education and passion for transformative development opportunities drew her to Austin Community College where she uses her creativity, educational background, and positive spirit to inspire and learn from the college’s hardworking faculty.

 

Linda Garcia, PhD   Executive Director of CCCSE

Dr. Linda García is the Executive Director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) at The University of Texas at Austin. Linda never imagined she would one day lead CCCSE. In fact, she never dreamed of earning a doctoral degree. As children, Linda and her siblings constantly heard from their parents—a father who grew up as a migrant worker and a mother who immigrated to the United States from Mexico—that enrolling in college after high school graduation was the only choice to pursue. Even though she aspired to rise to the ranks of her favorite journalist, Diane Sawyer, little did she know that people and situations along her journey would become “turning points” that prepared her to become a community college leader.

Prior to her current role, Linda served as the Assistant Director of College Relations at CCCSE. She was Vice President of Community College Relations at the Roueche Graduate Center at National American University, and she has worked at Lone Star College, Maricopa Community Colleges, The University of Texas at Brownsville, and Texas Southmost College. Linda served as a coach for the American Association of Community Colleges Pathways 2.0 and continues in this same role for the Texas Pathways Project.

Linda is an award recipient of the Terry O’Banion Prize for Inspiring Significant change to Teaching and Learning by the League for Innovation. She was also awarded the College of Education’s Leadership Excellence Award by The University of Texas at Austin.

Linda earned a Bachelor of Journalism with a concentration in broadcast and a doctorate in higher education administration with a specialization in community college leadership from The University of Texas at Austin. Her Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies degree is from The University of Texas at Brownsville.