The Texas Democracy Foundation
Parent board of the Texas Observer
In 1994, Ronnie Dugger, founding editor and the publisher of the Texas Observer for 40 years, transferred ownership to the Texas Democracy Foundation, which was established as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization to publish and promote the Observer.
Current board members
SUSAN LONGLEY, President
Susan Longley is president and owner of The Longley Group, a consulting firm in Austin, Texas. A fundraiser, volunteer, and political activist in Texas, Susan has been a tireless worker for democratic causes and campaigns. Susan is known for her knowledge of the legislative process and skillful political instincts, a mind for details and her love for doing what’s right for Texas.
Susan distinguishes herself in many areas of non-profit community service. She is President of the Board of Directors for the Texas Democracy Foundation that publishes the Texas Observer and for the past three years co-chaired the MOLLY National Journalism Awards. Susan serves on the National Founding Board for Atticus Circle and is on the advisory boards for the Bullock Archives Endowment at Baylor University and Texans for Stem Cell Research. She previously served on boards for the Texas Book Festival and Zachary Scott Theatre Center.
Cade Bernsen was born and raised in Southeast Texas, and some of his most formative memories are of watching his father, David, try cases. Cade graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in political science in 2006 and then from the South Texas College of Law in 2010. Upon graduating from law school, Cade joined the Bernsen Law Firm to realize his dream of practicing law with his father. Cade enjoys being in the courtroom and handling personal injury cases. He is a member of the Jefferson County Bar Association and serves as President-Elect of the Jefferson County Young Lawyers Association.
Carlton Carl, former CEO and Publisher of the Texas Observer, is a native of Houston, longtime resident of Austin, and owner of downtown Martindale, Texas. He is a graduate of Columbia College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He reported for the Houston Chronicle, the New York Times, and other publications. His experience in Texas Democratic politics and state and federal governments includes stints as a Texas gubernatorial press secretary, chief of staff to a Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, director of tax information for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, press secretary to a Texas Member of Congress, campaign manager and/or media consultant in numerous local, state, and federal campaigns. He also worked in non-profit advocacy as vice president of media affairs/policy and strategy for the American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America).
ROBERT R. “BOB” FRUMP
Robert R. Frump is a communications, content, and web marketing expert who has run internal and external communications, public relations, and editorial operations for McGraw-Hill, Knight-Ridder and Merrill Lynch.
He also has led multi-million dollar web development projects and served as liaison between marketing operations and IT. He is Finra series 7, 66 and 24 certified. He has been awarded the George Polk Award, the Gerald Loeb Award and served on a Philadelphia Inquirer task force that won the Pulitzer Prize. He was in charge of display advertising for a Knight Ridder daily newspaper, publisher of Insurance Review magazine, and publisher of S&P Ratings insurance services. He has authored three books.
MELISSA A. JONES, Secretary
Melissa is originally from Houston and has lived in Austin for the last 32 years. She graduated from St. John’s School in Houston and the University of Texas at Austin. Jones pursued a career in broadcasting in Austin and California before returning to Houston. In Houston and later at the state capitol she reported for KTRH Radio. She has two grown children, a married son in Denver and a daughter in Austin.
Melissa has been on several non-profit boards in both Houston and Austin: In Houston she was a member of The Society for the Performing Arts and a Trustee of Houston Endowment for twelve years. In Austin she is a member and past president of The Settlement Club of Austin, a former board member of SafePlace, Southwestern University Board of Visitors, the University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Sciences Foundation Advisory Board, Greenlights for Non-Profit Success Advisory Board, the Advisory Board of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the Blanton Museum Council. She is currently a member of GENaustin board of directors and a member of the KIPP Austin Academy finance committee. She is also a board member of Austin Trust Company and JT Jones Ranch.
Vincent LoVoi is publisher of This Land Press, LLC, a new media company in Oklahoma that has received national acclaim in just three years. He also serves as managing partner of Mimosa Tree Capital Partners, LLC, an investment firm in Oklahoma focused on socially responsible startups and turnarounds.
This Land Press was called “probably the best for-profit local journalism startup in the country” by the nation’s leading voice on media, the Columbia Journalism Review. This Land, its semi-monthly broadsheet magazine, has been described as “The New Yorker with balls.” This Land Press also operates This Land Films, a film production company that was invited to premiere its first feature-length documentary at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Mr. LoVoi was executive producer of that film. This Land Press also operates This Land Radio, which produces audio programming for podcast and public radio. It earned “best short documentary” at the 2012 Third Coast International Audio Festival for public radio.
Other projects of Mimosa Tree Capital Partners include technology (law enforcement communications, cultural curation, and helmet safety); food (restaurant group and urban farming); and socially responsible real estate development.
Mr. LoVoi received his BA from Notre Dame in 1978 and his JD from George Washington University in 1986. He worked for an Oklahoma Member of Congress in Washington, D.C., and then practiced law with a Texas-bred law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, eventually heading up the European practice in Brussels. He currently sits on the board of the Oxford American Literary Project, the publisher of Oxford American, and is founding and current chair of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, an economics think tank. He resides in Tulsa with his wife, Beatriz Perez. They have four children.
Jim Marston is the founding director of the Texas office of Environmental Defense Fund, located in Austin, where he has served since its beginning in 1988. He is the head of EDF’s National Energy Program and also serves as Regional Director of EDF’s Texas office.
Marston lead the successful fight to stop TXU from building a dozen coal plants in Texas and ultimately negotiating a first-of-its-kind deal with private equity buyers involving more than a dozen commitments on global warming. He also leads the Pecan Street Project, a partnership that includes Austin Energy, the University of Texas, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, and several large high/clean tech companies aimed at making fundamental changes in the nation’s electric system. Marston helped design and advocate for some of the most innovative state legislation in the country including the Texas Renewable Portfolio Standard that led to almost 10,000 MW’s of new wind energy in Texas. In 2010, Marston was awarded the Greg Cooke Award for Environmental Leadership. He also serves as President of the Texas League of Conservation Voters and Chairman of the Central Texas Clean Air Force.
MARY NELL MATHIS
Mary Nell has Texas roots in Amarillo, Lubbock, and Austin, which may be a perfect sequence. Growing up in Amarillo was so easy….could walk or bicycle to good schools, with good people. Won a scholarship to Mary Baldwin College, in Virginia, and with great support from faculty, made it through in three years, so she could come home and marry Phil Mathis, who was studying at Texas Tech. There he was required by his Philosophy professor to subscribe to the Texas Observer, and we’ve been subscribers ever since! MN, from her graduate-school desk, responded to little ads to join Common Cause and donate to Sissy Farenthold. That led to chairing CC/Texas and serving on the National Governing Board. In 1986, inspired by Sissy and others, MN ran for Congress in the fifteen counties of District 19, including Odessa, Lubbock, and Hereford. Even with enthusiastic help from many, she didn’t even win the primary. Disappointed, Phil and MN sold their accounting practice and followed their sons to Austin. Mary Nell now serves as CPA to many good clients.
Heather is an Austin-based communications and strategy consultant. She previously served as an Associate Vice President for EDF’s Oceans program, which works toward sustainable fisheries management around the world, including in the US, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Southeast Asia. Heather has specific expertise in management, strategic planning, legislation, politics and policy. Prior to her position at EDF, she was the political director for the Texas Association of Planned Parenthood affiliates.
Professor Ronald B. Rapoport is John Marshall Professor at The College of William and Mary. He received his B.A. from Oberlin College and his PhD from the University of Michigan. Since 1980 he has been doing research on U.S. party activists funded by a series of grants from the National Science Foundation. His book (with Walt Stone of UC-Davis), Three’s a Crowd: The Dynamic of Third Parties, Ross Perot and Republican Resurgence, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2005. It is based on surveys with national samples of individuals attracted to Ross Perot’s presidential campaigns between 1992 and 2000, as well as interviews with Republican and Reform party leaders. He is on the editorial board of Political Research Quarterly, and previously served on the Political Science Review Panel of the National Science Foundation. He has published more than forty articles and book chapters in the areas of political behavior, political parties and women and politics. Rapoport is the co-editor (with Alan Abramowitz and John McGlennon) of The Life of the Parties. His courses focus on American politics and public opinion and voting, as well as survey research and polling.
PETER RAVELLA, Treasurer
Peter Ravella is the owner of PARC, a coastal-management consulting firm, that offers a broad range of services to public and private sector clients, primarily in Texas, North Carolina, and Florida. PARC advises local governments and private-sector clients on the complex environmental, general legal, financial, and regulatory issues that arise during development and implementation of projects and programs in the coastal zone, most particularly beach restoration projects. Prior to PARC he served as the Director of the Coastal Division of the General Land Office of Texas. He founded and edited the Oregon Insider Environmental Digest, which is still in circulation today. He is an environmental lawyer by trade, and has a passion for all things coastal. He lives with his wife, Genevieve Van Cleve, and son Paul in Austin, Texas. He enjoys talking politics, gardening, and the occasional round of golf.
After receiving her BA from the University of Texas, Katie went to work as Production Coordinator for The Thompson Group helping elect progressive candidates in Texas. In 2011, she began working as Finance Director for the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, an organization focused on winning and maintaining a Democratic majority in the Texas House, later becoming its Executive Director. She now works with an Austin-area nonprofit in fund development.