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It was Texas first, politics second as some of Austin’s key leaders met influential Texas “expats” in the national capital last week.
When natives—especially UT grads—leave Texas for Washington, D.C., they miss the Promised Land, of course. But often they rise to prominent positions from which they’re willing to speak up for the Lone Star State.
That holds true for Republicans and Democrats alike, as the nearly 100 people who gathered last week proved.
The reception was held in Teddy Roosevelt’s onetime home, now owned by the firm of former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes. Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett, BBA ’67, JD ’70, Life Member, and Republican Congressman Mike McCaul attended.
Washington Texas Exes supported their home state. Texas Exes DC Chapter president Johnna Carlson, BA ’07, was there. So was incoming Texas Exes board member Jeffrey Tsai, BA ’97, Life Member. They were joined by think tank leader Randall Kempner of the Aspen Institute, MBA, MPAff ’97, Life Member, and public policy leader Melanie Corrigan, MPAff ’94, of the American Council on Education.
A highlight of the evening came when Ben Barnes climbed onto a coffee table to speak about the vitality of Texas’ presence in Washington. (The Austin Chamber of Commerce’s Drew Scheberle held the delicate table steady so the elder statesman wouldn’t wobble.)
Texas Exes CEO Leslie Cedar followed Barnes’ lead, shedding her high heels to step up and talk about how the state’s flagship university, The University of Texas, is crucial to its future.
The trip, co-chaired by Barnes and Bush Administration stalwart Karen Hughes, was designed to connect the needs of the region with the decision-makers of DC. Local leaders, part of the Austin Chamber of Commerce-sponsored visit, included Mayor Lee Leffingwell, BS ’61; State Representative Donna Howard, BSN ’75, MA ’77; economic development champion Pike Powers, LLB ’65, Life Member; Seton Healthcare executive Jesus Garza, BS ’75, MPAff ’77, Life Member; and Chamber of Commerce chair-elect Lew Little, BBA ’79, MBA ’81, of Harden Healthcare.
Star Washington media guests included Karen Tumulty, BJ ’77, Life Member, and Marjorie Clifton, BS ’02, Life Member, who were recently featured in an Alcalde story on TV analysts from Texas, along with Beth Frerking, BJ ’80, Life Member, of Politico.
Photos by T.J. Kirkpatrick.