The Economics Department

Economics Advisory Committee

The Economics Advisory Committee (EAC) works in conjunction with the Department of Economics to support and strengthen its academic goals, while providing advice on how the Department can better serve its students, the University, and the State of Texas. EAC members serve a three-year term with possible renewal at the end of their term.

PDF of Mission Statement

Members: A-F | G-L | M-R | S-Z

Scott Van Pelt



Dimensional Fund Advisors | Senior Trader and Vice President
UT | BA 2008

Scott grew up in the Dallas, Texas suburbs and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Economics. While attending UT, Scott served as an undergraduate research assistant in the Economics Department and interned at an energy services company in Austin. Upon graduating UT in 2008, Scott joined the Equity Trading team at global asset management firm Dimensional Fund Advisors. In his time at Dimensional, Scott has worked in Austin, Texas and in Dimensional's European headquarters in London. Now a Vice President and Senior Trader, Scott's role is to create efficient investment implementation strategies primarily in equity, FX and derivatives execution. Scott serves as a member of the Best Execution Committee and chairs the Trading Research group within Dimensional. He also regularly speaks to clients about trading and trading-related topics and is an expert on Transactions Cost Analysis. Scott has a BA in Economics from the University of Texas, an MS from London Business School in Finance and an MS in Statistics from Texas A&M University. He also holds the IMC from the CFA Society of the UK.

Scott lives in Austin with his wife Elizabeth and their two sons. When he is not changing diapers he plays hockey and enjoys reading, wine and cooking fish tacos.


Sunny Ahmed



Amazon Web Services | Sr. Partner Development Manager 
UT  | BA 2006

Sunny Ahmed is a complex solution sales, global marketing, and partner alliances spearhead. He is recognized as a captivating speaker, change management strategist, and a go-to-market revenue leader in highly competitive Fortune 1000 cloud, mobile, enterprise software, and professional services markets.

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Felix Akompi



Energie Row LLC | Managing Director & Senior Commodities Trader 
UT  | BA 1997

Felix heads Global Supply & Trading operations for Energie Row (a boutique commodities trading firm). He operates primarily out of Houston & heads the Global Commodity trading desk - including serving as the client-lead & the lead commercial & trading interface. Prior to Energie Row, he spent over a decade with Royal Dutch Shell (Shell Oil Company-Houston, London, Den Haag...) in a Senior Management capacity. At Shell, he developed deep commercial deal-making skills in Global and regional leadership roles. He was a Global Commodity Manager (with responsibility for 100+ countries) and was the lead negotiator and deal-structurer on complex multi-billion dollar commercial deals. Felix has proven expertise in structuring and successfully negotiating complex high dollar-value commodity deals across countries - and in the emerging markets. In his final role at Shell, he was Head of the Commercial Buy Side Deal Team for the Americas region (both North & South America) with an annual deal portfolio of $2+ Billion. He is a US Military Veteran & is a proud Economics graduate from The University of Texas at Austin (Class of 1997).

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Todd Benson



Law Firm of Savrick, Schumann, Johnson, McGarr, Kaminski & Shirley LLP | Of Counsel 
UT  | BA 1988

Todd Benson is currently Of Counsel at The Law Firm of Savrick, Schumann, Johnson, McGarr, Kaminski & Shirley LLP in Austin, Texas and serves as General Counsel to the international transportation and logistics firm Sunline Global, Inc. Todd has twenty plus years of senior level business and legal experience. Using his background in business and law, Todd has a passion for developing corporate vision and strategy for emerging market businesses integrating the latest in technology, business, regulatory & legal processes.

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Steve Brink



AIRINC | Chief Executive Officer 
UT | BA 1983

Steve drives AIRINC to address the ever-changing challenges of workforce globalization for global organizations. During his 10 year leadership of the company, he has led a significant transformation of AIRINC which includes: expanded global footprint, released innovative solutions, increased the customer base including new verticals and enhanced the reputation of AIRINC to be the premium provider of information, advice, and technology in global talent mobility. He is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Prior to joining AIRINC, Steve was the Global Leader and Worldwide Partner at Mercer responsible for its Information and Software businesses. As part of his global leadership role, he was based in Geneva, Switzerland, and has significant work experience in all regions of the globe. He is a frequent speaker on international HR issues and trends. Prior to his fourteen years at Mercer, he served as an Operations Manager at Towers Perrin, with a focus on HR software tools and global job evaluation systems.

Steve has been teaching the Quantitative Analysis course at the WorldatWork organization since 1990. In addition, he was co-creator and current lead instructor for the course on Business Acumen for HR professional. Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.S. in Economics from the University of North Texas.

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Barret Bruce



SunTX Capital | General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer 
UT | BA 1994

Barrett Bruce is the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of SunTx Capital Partners, a middle-market private equity firm based in Dallas, Texas. Barrett manages legal support for all of the SunTx portfolio companies and is a member of each of the firm’s investment teams. Before joining SunTx, Barrett practiced law at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where he focused on venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate finance. Barrett received his JD from Texas Tech University School of Law and his BA in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin. Barrett was born and raised in Dallas, where he currently resides with his wife and four children. Barrett is also a member of the UT College of Fine Arts Advisory Council, and has been active as a prior member of the board of directors of Zachary Scott Theatre in Austin and the board of trustees of the Dallas Theater Center.

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Lisa Clawson



Amegy Bank | SVP/Private Banking  
UT | BA 1993

Lisa Clawson, a native Texan with 23 years of experience in financial services, joined Amegy Bank in 2016 as a Senior Vice President in Premier Wealth Management. While Clawson's role involves several functions, her favorite is meeting with clients to develop customized solutions so that every individual can meet their financial goals. Her career has always been client focused with a goal of excellent customer service.

Lisa is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Her charity involvement is extensive and includes: The University of Texas at Austin Economics Advisory Committee, Texas Council on Economic Education Board Member, United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, March of Dimes: March for Babies and Signature Chefs, Go Red for Women, Gabby's Sanctuary Ark, homeowners' association treasurer, and volunteer for The City of Corinth.

Lisa lives in Corinth with her husband, Scott, and their daughter, Caroline. She loves to read and spend time with Caroline, who was an accomplished ballerina but has now found her passion playing team sports.

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Scott Cohen



CD Wealth Management | Founder & CEO  
UT | BA 1993

Scott is the Founder, Principal, and CEO of CD Wealth Management — a wealth management firm based in Dallas, Texas. Scott’s company specializes in financial consulting for individuals, not‐for‐profits and privately held companies, with an emphasis on asset management, estate planning and retirement planning.

Scott graduated in 1993 from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in economics and was a member of the Silver Spurs and Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT). While in college, Scott worked at Brown Distributing Co. as a College Sales Rep.

Before Scott started his own company in 2014, he worked at Allmerica Financial for a few years and then Waldman Bros for almost 19 years. Scott is a Certified Financial Planner™, Certified Fund Specialist, and Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®.

Scott has been in the financial sector for over 28 years and is known throughout the industry as a confident and trusted wealth advisor, Scott holds a seat on Kestra Financial’s Advisor Council and has been named to Barron’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisors list and the Forbes Best‐in‐State Wealth Advisors rankings.

Scott is a dedicated volunteer who believes in giving back to the community and helping others. For the past 15 years, Scott has served as chairman of the Maxine Irwin Waldman Golf Tournament – raising over $3M for under‐privileged children Scott serves on other non‐profit boards including being past chairman of the board of the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center and past vice‐chairman of the DaVinci school.

Scott loves spending time traveling with his wife Barbi and three daughters, Kacey, Ella, and Olivia.

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Jim Curry



BuildGroup | Co-Founder 
UT  | BA 1994

Jim is the Co-Founder of BuildGroup, a $370m SaaS growth equity firm based in Austin. Prior to BuildGroup, Jim was the SVP of Product and Strategy at Rackspace in San Antonio through its IPO in 2008. In 2010 he founded and launched OpenStack which has grown to become the leading open source cloud infrastructure project and one of the largest open source projects overall.

Jim is a 1994 graduate of UT Austin with a degree in Plan II and Economics. Immediately after UT he worked as an M&A banker for Goldman Sachs in New York and as an investment associate for SCF Partners in Houston.

Jim actively serves on a number of corporate and community boards. He is an active dad serving as coach, Scout leader, and overworked fishing guide. He lives in Austin with his wife of 23 years and their three children.

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Barry Dauber



Primer AI | VP of Business Development   
UT  | BA 2005

Barry runs Business Development and Sales at Primer, an SF based AI and Machine Learning company, where he focuses on growing relationships with some of the largest partners and customers in the world to help them meet their mission needs. He has held similar roles at Cloudera, Topsy Labs (Apple), and Deloitte Consulting. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in Economics and Government.

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Patrick M. Dies



UTIMCO | Investment Counsel 
UT | BA 2009, MPA 2010, JD 2013

Patrick holds an Economics degree, Master in Professional Accounting and JD from UT. After graduating from law school in 2013, Patrick practiced corporate law with the Houston and Austin offices of Andrews Kurth LLP. Patrick now serves as Investment Counsel at The University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Company.

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Esteban Fernandez



Lenox Park Solutions | Vice President   
UT  | BA 2016

Esteban is an Associate at Lenox Park Solutions. His responsibilities include financial modeling, due diligence, product development, and client relationship management. Esteban holds a B.A in Economics with a focus in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a member of the Hispanic Business Student Association.

Esteban serves as a board member of the Birimbi PAZifico Foundation, a non-profit organization with a mission to improve education and living standards in Colombia, his native country.

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Brandon Freeman



Freeman Group | CEO 
UT | BA 1995

Brandon is the CEO of Freeman Group - a private investment firm based in Dallas, Texas. During his career, Brandon has been involved in the early formation and management of several companies and participated in a number of buyouts and restructurings, including the acquisition and turnaround of technology, energy, and real estate assets. He was a co-founder and the Chairman of LayerOne, DataBank and Cypress Industries and a founder and board member of Rusk Energy. Brandon is currently the Chairman of Pixia and DirectStream. Prior to starting Freeman Group, Brandon was a venture lawyer at the Austin, Texas office of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati.

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Stephanie Goodman


UT  | BA 1995

Stephanie Goodman graduated from UT with a BA in Economics in 1995 and returned to Austin with her husband and three children in 2011. Upon graduation, she worked in the energy markets and pipeline business with Koch Energy in Houston, until her family relocated to London. In Austin, Stephanie has been involved with the Blanton Museum and served on the board from 2016-2020 and has been the co-chair of the Blanton Art Club for many years. She is also on the Advisory Council for the College of Fine Arts at UT and on their Executive Committee. Stephanie has served as a mentor for the Helping Hand Home and Settlement Home since 2016. She and her family are strong supporters of Pease Park Conservancy and the Austin youth sports community. Outside of Austin, Stephanie sits on the Dean’s Parent Council at the University of Chicago.

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Steve Houston



m+ funds |  Partner 
UT  | BA 1989

Steve was born and raised in Houston. After graduating with an Economics degree from UT, Steve moved to New York to work in the financial services industry. While living there he also earned his MBA in Finance from Columbia University.

For several years, Steve work with Bankers Trust Company in their innovative financial derivatives division. During this period, he lived in Hong Kong for five years, expanding the firm's business footprint in Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore. Most importantly, it was there that he met his wife, Mimi.

Steve joined Merrill Lynch in 1999 where he worked for 10 years. Leading the firm's Alternative Investments and Structured Investment businesses, he returned to Asia, this time to Japan, where he lived for three years.

In 2009, Barclays Bank recruited Steve to head their Americas Wealth Management business. During his six years with the firm he was named to the Board of Directors of Barclays Capital, Inc. Steve is now a partner with the start-up funds management firm, m+ funds.

Steve and his wife live in Connecticut and have three children; Marley (sophomore at UT, Austin), Sadie and Miles. He has been active on his children's school boards and committees and is also currently the Chair of UT's Economics Advisory Committee. He is also a member of UT's Liberal Arts Advisory Committee. Steve is a passionate music supporter and currently sits on the Board of National Sawdust, the Brooklyn performing arts center.

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Erica Huerta



Good Food Holdings | Senior Director (Merchandising Analytics & Consumer Insights)
UT | BA 2019

Erica Huerta is an accomplished and results-driven Pricing, Competitive Intelligence, and Data Science Executive with broad-based expertise in building and leading effective strategies in consumer value optimization. She has a successful career in developing and implementing customer centric strategies for companies such as Amazon, Whole Foods Market, Good Food Holdings, The Home Depot, and Expedia. Erica is currently the Sr. Director of Merchandising Analytics & Consumer Insights for Good Food Holdings overseeing Consumer Insights, Competitive Intelligence, Price Optimization, Promotion Optimization, Assortment Mix Optimization, and Category Management decision sciences. Erica holds a BA in Economics at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Jason Lamin



Lenox Park Solutions, Inc. | CEO  
UT  | BA 1998

Jason is the Founder of Lenox Park Solutions and oversees all aspects of the firm. Before founding Lenox Park, Jason was a Director in Merrill Lynch's Fixed Income Structured Credit group in New York. In that role, Jason was instrumental to Asset Management due diligence for a highly selective Investor base.

He began his career in Investment Banking working on M&A transactions for Financial Institutions, then helped launch a start-up group in London focused on deepening Merrill Lynch's most lucrative institutional client relationships. Jason graduated from the University of Texas with a B.A. in Economics. At the University of Texas, he was a member of the prestigious organization, The Texas Cowboys. Jason remains active at his alma mater, where he serves on the advisory boards for the Department of Economics and the Department of Black Studies.

He is an active member of the United Nations Private Sector Forum, where he has had the honor of serving as Co-Chair of the Private Sector Working Group for the 10th principle UN's Global Compact's Anti-Bribery & Anti-Corruption; and Keynote speeches to the General Assembly on matters relating to Capital Access and Infrastructure Investing on the Continent of Africa.

In 2008, Jason founded Nyawa Funding Group, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to improve living standards in his home-country of Sierra Leone.

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Serio Leal



Ericsson | Head of Compliance (M&A, N&S America) 
UT  | BA 2003

Sergio V. Leal is an international anticorruption and white-collar attorney based in Houston, Texas. As a member of Ericsson’s Legal & Compliance team, Sergio is Head of Compliance for the Americas and global M&A activity. In 2019, Ericsson paid a $1 billion settlement for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and is currently under a 3-year monitorship period. Previously, Sergio was the Chief Compliance Officer of Layne Christensen Company—where he led the company to a successful FCPA settlement resolution, and after that he worked at Bilfinger as a member of the Global Compliance Leadership Team, helping the company resolve its extended FCPA Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the US DOJ. Before his anticorruption practice, Sergio was a commercial litigator, beginning his legal career with the international law firm of Baker Botts LLP.

Sergio graduated from Columbia Law School and obtained a B.A. in economics from UT (with honors) in ’03.

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Taylor Lee



PE-Backed Storage Company | Consultant
UT | BA 2017

Taylor consults for a private equity-backed subsurface hydrocarbon and industrial gas storage company where he focuses on evaluating acquisition and business development opportunities. Before consulting, Taylor worked at HSBC in the Global Banking group, where he was involved in cross-border M&A transactions. Prior to HSBC, he worked in the U.S. Corporate and Investment Banking group at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, where he focused on corporate finance advisory. Taylor received his BA in Economics with High Honors and Departmental Honors from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was actively involved in Omicron Delta Epsilon and the Texas Bass Fishing Team and currently serves on the Economic Advisory Committee.

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Eric Lewis



Energy Finance Professional 
UT  | BA 1999

Eric Lewis is the owner of a digital marketing agency in Houston that focuses on search engine optimization and digital advertising to help companies find more clients online. Eric is also the host of The Weekly Option, a podcast recorded each week about option trading that started in 2018.

Eric worked 11 years in the energy business, mostly in trading petroleum products and renewable fuels. Prior to the energy business, he worked nearly 5 years as an option trader market-maker at the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

Eric received a BA in economics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1999 He also earned his MBA in analytical finance from the University Of Chicago Booth School Of  Business in 2007.

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Zal Masani



Castleton Commodities International (CCI) | Senior Managing Director and Head of Europe
UT | BA 1998

Mr. Masani is Senior Managing Director and the Head of Europe at Castleton Commodities International (CCI). Mr. Masani leads teams of portfolio managers who trade across global energy markets, as well as investment professionals who make principal investments in energy assets. Since joining CCI in 2008 Mr. Masani has deployed capital across multiple markets and has led a number of different businesses in the U.S. and Europe. Prior to CCI, Mr. Masani was an investment banker at Citigroup focused on mergers and acquisitions and IPOs for financial institutions. He began his career in the commodity trading divisions of Enron and American Electric Power. Mr. Masani holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.B.A from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

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Warren Matthews



Wells Fargo & Company | Senior Vice President 
UT  | BA 1988

Warren Matthews has been with Wells Fargo and Company for 30 years, where he currently leads strategic and business initiatives for the Texas Region within the Consumer Banking business line. His primary responsibilities include strategic planning and development, organizational effectiveness, project management, and business initiative implementation.

Warren received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from The University of Texas at Austin and his Master of Business Administration degree in finance and economics from the University of Houston. A longtime resident of Houston, he is actively involved with the local and business communities, with an emphasis on public education. He is a former chairman, former finance committee chairman and current board member of the Spring Branch Education Foundation. He currently serves as chairman of the Foundation's Scholarship Committee. He is active with the Greater Houston Partnership, serving on the Education and Workforce Advisory Committee with other Houston business leaders. He was recently elected to the March of Dimes board of directors and is a board member of the Altharetta Yeargin Art Museum in Houston.

His wife Melissa is also a graduate of UT, and their two children Emily and Austin are 4th generation Longhorns, both with recent degrees in Economics.

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Suzy Monford



Founder of Food Sport International & Focal Systems | Chief Strategy & Marketplace Officer of Focal Systems
UT  | BA 1985

Suzy Monford is CEO/Founder of Food Sport International and the Chief Strategy and Marketplace Officer for Focal Systems. She is the former CEO of PCC Community Markets in Seattle, a role she was recruited to from the Kroger Corporation, where she served in three senior executive roles: Group Vice President of eCommerce, Group Vice President of Fresh, and president of QFC Grocery. In her executive roles, Suzy created and implemented go-to-market strategies for new ecommerce markets across the U. S., led branding and marketing for all fresh departments as well as product development, digital merchandising and innovation growth strategies. Prior to joining Kroger, Suzy held CEO roles for Andronico’s Community Markets, the San Francisco Bay Area chain that was sold to Albertsons in 2017, and FitBank.Works, the fitness platform she created and launched in 2015. She is passionate about creating healthy communities.

Suzy serves on the Board of N.E. Grocers Inc. and as an advisor to the leading tech-focused innovation companies Infarm and Q-Hop. She has held Board positions with FMI, Seattle Food Lifeline, the Beecher’s Foundation/Sound Food Uprising, the California Grocer Association, YMCA of Greater San Antonio, and the San Antonio Mayor's Fitness Council. Industry achievements and recognition include: 2019 “Top Woman in Grocery”, 2016 “Top Woman in Retail Tech”/RIS, 2016 “Top Woman in Grocery” and 2015 “Top 25 Technological Disruptors” by Super Market News.

Suzy holds a BA in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin, is a Certified Holistic Health Coach under the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and is an internationally certified group exercise instructor.

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Aneesa Needel



Mitratech | Product Marketing Manager
UT | BA 2013

Aneesa has been part of the EAC since late 2017. She is currently a Product Marketing Manager for a local Austin software company. She is a leader throughout the Austin community and is part of many professional organizations. Previous to Product Marketing, she has a background in tech sales for large enterprise companies, including a Fortune 100. When at UT Austin, studying Economics and Plan II Honors, she took part as one of the first mentors in the Economics Peer Mentor Program (EPMP.) Mentorship is very important to her and she helps to create and ensure the Economics Alum Council Peer Mentor Program (EAMP) thrives.

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Steve Orr



Texas Capital Bank | CIO 
UT | BA 1983

Chief Investment Officer for Texas Capital Bank. He is responsible for the strategy, construction, and performance of client portfolios and trusts.
With over 30 years of portfolio management experience, Steve joined Texas Capital Bank from Communities Foundation of Texas where he managed investments and helped to raise the Foundation’s performance to among the highest in their peer groups of universities and foundations.

Prior to Communities he successfully ran insurance and bond arbitrage portfolios for Associates First Capital totaling $4 billion. At Caterpillar he turned around portfolios, taking a public mutual fund from one Morningstar star to four and a Lipper F to A ranking.

He is an attorney, CFA charter holder and recently completed the CMT designation exams.

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Susan Pohl



Director of Acquisitions | Barvin
UT  | BA 1983

Susan has over 25 years of experience in the multi-family industry. She's acquired over 30,000 units, covering all aspects of the transaction. Prior to joining Barvin, Susan was Vice President, Acquisitions for Resource Real Estate covering the western U.S. and acquiring just over $1B in assets in less than 5 years in Texas, California, Arizona, and Oregon. She spent 9 years with KC Venture Group acquiring 21 assets in Texas. Susan has worked in both the acquisitions and development side of the business with The Morgan Group, Flagship Properties, Guardian Savings, and Lan Bentsen Interests underwriting and acquiring property coast to coast.

Susan holds a BA in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin and currently serves on the department's Economic Advisory Council. She is the 2011 past president of CREW Houston and is an active member of NMHC. She holds a broker's license in the state of Texas.

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Carlos F. Sanchez



Valero Energy Corporation | Sr. Trader 
UT | BA 2004, MBA (UT-SA), MS 2019

Carlos Sanchez currently lives in San Antonio, was raised in Costa Rica, and is a second-generation UT Economics graduate. Carlos has over 15 years of professional work experience and is currently a Crude Oil Trader at Valero Energy Corporation, where he has worked in Business Development, Analytics, and Trading. Carlos earned his BA degree in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin, a MBA in International Business from UT-San Antonio, and a MS in Technology Commercialization from the University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Business. In addition to commodities trading, Carlos has experience in commercial lending and sales. Carlos played collegiate volleyball for UT, is a father of three, enjoys golf, and loves to travel.

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Michael Schmidt



Merrill Lynch | Senior Vice President
UT | BA 1994

After completing his B.A. in Economics at The University of Texas at Austin in 1994 and M.A. in Economics from the University of Houston in 1996, Mike commenced on a 23 (and counting) year career in the financial services industry with Oppenheimer & Company, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, and current Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management.

Economics plays an important aspect of Mike's day-to-day life as the high-frequency data informs his investment decision processes.

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John Shaddix



Momentum Glass | CFO
UT  | BA 2006, MBA 2012

John manages business operations, financial planning and analysis, corporate development, and supports performance improvement efforts across the company. Prior to joining Momentum, John was a Principal in the Houston office of The Boston Consulting Group. John graduated with honors from The University of Texas at Austin with a BA in Economics and later earned an MBA from the McCombs School of Business.

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Mallory Shaddix



Coca Cola Co | Retired 
UT  | BA 1972, MBA 1975

After graduating with my MBA I worked in product management at General Mills in Minneapolis. I moved back to Texas and joined the Foods Division of the Coca Cola Co in Houston (now the Minute Maid Co). I was brand manager on several beverages and eventually served as VP of Minute Maid OJ and VP of Trade Marketing. I retired early to care for our 2 boys. Since that time, I have volunteered in our son's schools and continue to volunteer in our schools and in our community, primarily with social service organizations. I am an avid reader and am now enjoying being a grandparent.

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Kelly Shieild



Fifth Third Bank | Managing Director  
UT  | BA 1989

Kelly is a financial services professional with over 25 years of experience and currently employed by Fifth Third Bank in Dallas where she covers large corporate clients for the Commercial Bank. Prior to joining Fifth Third, Kelly was an SVP with GE Capital's Dallas.

Before moving back to Texas in 2008 Kelly lived in New York City for almost 20 years while working for JPMorgan in a variety of roles including Real Estate, Financial Institution, and Syndicated Finance.

Kelly is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics.

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Faheem Siddiqi



Lamark | Chief Strategy Officer 
UT | BA 2014

Faheem is the Chief Strategy Officer at Lamark, where he works with Fortune 500 brands and high growth startups to manage omnichannel marketing programs. Prior to joining Lamark as CSO, Faheem was Founder and CEO of SocialWithin, a performance marketing agency for consumer brands. SocialWithin was acquired by Lamark in 2019. At the time of acquisition, SocialWithin was influencing $100M+ annually on digital advertising and driving $500M+ in annualized revenue for clients.

Faheem is an active early stage investor with focus areas including eCommerce, SaaS, marketplaces, and productivity tools. He is also a Venture Partner and LP at Swiftarc Ventures, where he provides guidance to founders and helps oversee early stage investments in consumer brands space.

Prior to starting SocialWithin, Faheem was at Facebook, Inc., where he worked on eCommerce, retail, and CPG verticals.

Faheem graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014 with a Bachelors in Mathematics and Economics.

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Robert Smith



The Friedkin Group | Director-Investments 
UT | BA 1987

Robert Smith is the Director of Investments for The Friedkin Group, Inc. where he oversees direct investments and portfolios that include personal, trust, insurance, ERISA, and partnership assets for a private family office and group of operating companies. Since joining The Friedkin Group, he has also held the position of Director: Corporate Development for a Forbes Private 100 group of related companies that include automotive distribution, insurance, logistics, hotel and hospitality, and film production and distribution.

Mr. Smith has an undergraduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin, an MBA from Texas A&M University, and was selected for The Washington Campus program at Georgetown University. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), a member of the CFA Institute, and a member of the Houston Society of Financial Analysts.

Mr. Smith has served on several boards and advisory committees including Green Bank, Inc. and Green Bank NA; TDC Clay; Dos Rios Partners; OEI VI and OEI VII; Fraser McCombs Ventures II; Transwestern Mezzanine Realty Partners; and Redstone Bank.

Robert is active in the Houston community; volunteering with multiple charitable organizations including the Strake Jesuit Foundation board where he is the current chairman, the Strake Jesuit College Prep board where he previously served as chairman, and the St Agnes Academy Foundation Board and Investment Committee.

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Kenley Steeg



Alta Resources, LLC | CFO
UT | BA 1998, MBA 2003

Kenley Steeg is the CFO of Alta Resources, LLC, an upstream oil and gas company focused on the acquisition and development of resource plays in North America. Prior to joining Alta in 2012, Kenley was an investment banker for 6 years at Jefferies and Citigroup where he covered exploration and production clients.

Kenley graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Economics in 1998. He then returned to the University of Texas for his M.B.A. in 2001, and graduated from the McCombs School of Business in 2003.

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Ragen Stienke



Ballast Asset Management | CEO
UT  | BA 1997

Ragen Stienke has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, spanning from early-stage investing in start-ups to public equities. Before starting Ballast Asset Management, Ragen was the Senior Portfolio Manager of the SMid and SMid Plus products at Westwood Management, an investment firm with over $20bn in assets under management. Ragen joined Westwood in 2004, and was responsible for managing and growing the SMid product from its infancy to over $3bn. Upon closing the SMid product, Ragen launched a sister portfolio in SMid Plus where he raised nearly $1bn in assets. During his management of SMid, the portfolio ranked in the top 5% against its respective peer group. Ragen was also a member of the Portfolio Risk Committee and the Business Management Committee at Westwood.

Ragen graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Economics. While pursuing his undergraduate degree, he worked at the IC2 Institute, a research unit of the University of Texas focused on fostering constructive forms of capitalism that accelerate economic development. Upon graduation, Ragen joined Arthur Andersen in the Business Valuation Group. In 2000, he accepted a position with UBS Investment Bank's research group in New York. While at UBS, he spent three years as a research analyst focused on the software industry. In 2003, Ragen was promoted to Associate Director, where he served on the U.S. Equity Strategy team. Ragen received his CFA charter in 2003.

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Desmonde Thomas



Athenian Consulting | Head of Sales Strategy  
UT | BA 1998

Economics degree from the University of Texas, Desmonde relocated to Houston to continue his career in technology with Compaq Computer Corporation as an SAP Business Analyst.
After two years at Compaq and working as an independent consultant for various companies, in 2001 Thomas moved to Brazil to work with the multinational petroleum corporation, Petrobras. Upon returning to the US, he started a technology consulting firm, Brock Industries.

Desmonde led the consulting group for a decade with clients spanning the US, South America, Europe, and Canada. In 2011, he sold Brock to Pant Technology and joined the organization as the Vice President of SAP Consulting Services. In 2014, Desmonde Joined Tata Consulting Services, an Indian multinational information technology (IT) service and consulting company headquartered in Mumbai. There he became a Partner and went on to be a graduate of the Harvard Business School General Management Program. He left after four years and now Mr. Thomas is Head of Sales Strategy at Athenian Consulting Group and part owner of The Houston Sports Show, a local sports show on NBC.

Desmonde and his wife live in Austin with their two boys, Desmonde II and David. He is active in his community as a Board Member of the Austin Area Urban League and very involved with his children's school and sports activities. Beyond his professional and family life, Thomas is a sports enthusiast and has competed in and completed many events throughout his life.

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Christopher Wagner



Rivington Holdings, LLC | Managing Partner  
UT | BA 1993

Christopher R. Wagner has 32 years’ experience in various energy-related banking, corporate finance, and advisory roles.

For the past twenty years Mr. Wagner served as the Managing Partner of Rivington Holdings, LLC, a firm he founded in 2002. Based in Houston, Texas, Rivington Holdings is an independent merchant and investment banking firm specializing in private capital transactions and corporate finance advisory services within the middle market upstream energy sector. Inception to date, the firm has closed > 100 capital and advisory transactions with an aggregate value exceeding $8 billion.

Prior to Rivington Holdings, Mr. Wagner was a founding partner and Chief Financial Officer of Shenandoah Energy Inc., a privately held energy company with upstream and midstream operations in the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. Shenandoah was sold in July 2001 to Questar Corp. for ~$420 million, yielding >100% IRR to the equity holders.

From 1992 to 1999, Chris was employed by ING Baring Furman Selz LLC (New York) in the Natural Resources Group. While at ING, Mr. Wagner originated and executed corporate finance and investment banking transactions within the small cap upstream energy space. Prior to ING Barings, Chris worked in the Petroleum & Minerals group of First City, Texas Bancorp in Houston, Texas.

Mr. Wagner currently serves on the Board of Managers for Larchmont Resources, LLC, a private, institutionally backed independent producer with interests in > 2,500 producing wells located in seven states. Additionally, Mr. Wagner serves on the Advisory Council for the Department of Economics at The University of Texas at Austin.

Mr. Wagner received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin.

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David Webb



Caruth Capital Partners | Partner
UT | BA 1987, MBA 1991

David is a Partner of Caruth Capital Partners, a Dallas-based private equity firm that partners with growth-minded business owners and management teams to build long-term value in companies. He has over twenty years of experience in investment banking and institutional investing and began his career in management consulting. He has also been a board member of several companies.

Prior to joining Caruth Capital, David was a Principal for SunTX Capital Partners in Dallas, where he was involved in sourcing, financing and executing middle market investments and prior to that he worked in New York City as an investment banker in the leveraged finance and private equity funds departments of Montgomery Securities, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (CSFB) and UBS Investment Bank. Earlier in his career, David was an investment consultant for Wilshire Associates and was also a Managing Director of Wilshire Associates’ Private Markets Group, where he led the secondary fund investment team. He began his career as an associate consultant for Watson Wyatt Worldwide, completing global assignments while working in London, Hong Kong and Washington D.C.

A native Texan, David graduated with a BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and earned an MA from SMU in Applied Economics. He also attended the London Business School as an exchange student.

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Jim Yoder



Velocis | Co-Founder & Partner 
UT  | BA 1986

Jim Yoder, Co-Founder & Partner at Velocis, has more than 35 years of commercial real estate experience in investing, leasing, asset management, acquisition, disposition, due diligence, and market intelligence. At Velocis, Yoder serves on the Investment Committee and is responsible for asset operations and acquisition sourcing.

Prior to Velocis, Yoder was a Managing Director at JLL, where he led the Dallas office for JLL. Prior to JLL, Yoder was a Principal at Trammell Crow Company, directing both the Corporate Advisory Services Division and the Office Buildings Group. Earlier in his career, Yoder worked in asset management work for Tower Realty Management Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.

Yoder lives in Dallas with his wife, Ana, and has four adult children. He is active in multiple charitable organizations including the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. Yoder received his BA in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1986.

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  • Department of Economics

    The University of Texas at Austin
    2225 Speedway
    BRB 1.116, C3100
    Austin, Texas 78712
    512-471-3211 (main) & 512-471-2973 (advising)