The Retooled Aggie Football Team and Aggie Baseball Update

Ryan Brauninger, TexAgs Recruiting & Baseball Analyst

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Ryan Brauninger
TexAgs Recruiting & Baseball Analyst

Ryan Brauninger
Ryan joined TexAgs in August of 2015. A college baseball player at McNeese State (Class of ’09), he moved to College Station in 2010 to pursue a Master’s in sport management at Texas A&M. Since receiving his degree, Ryan has been active in the youth sports scene in the Brazos Valley, the state, and region; including a summer stint with USA Baseball. He is a member of the TexAgs Recruiting team and a baseball analyst.

Coach-Mike-Elko-autographed-footballThis is our annual evening event with at Aggie Owned Stiles Switch BBQ on North Lamar. You will be entered into a drawing for a Coach Mike Elko autographed football if we have received your dues by March 1st.

This also is an event you can bring your spouse (or guest). Non-dues paid members and guests will be $40 at the door.

State of Our Nation’s Defense and How Businesses are Capitalizing

The Future of Austin, A panel Discussion

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

A Panel Discussion with
Captain Craig C. Sicola ’94,
Matt Prochaska ‘86,
COL (Ret) Frank Coppersmith.

Captain Craig C. SicolaCaptain Craig C. Sicola ’94: Director of Training and Readiness for Commander Naval Air Forces; Commanding Officer USS NIMITZ (CVN-68)
Captain Craig C. Sicola is a 1994 graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering. He is a 2016 graduate of the Navy Nuclear Training pipeline in Washington DC and earned a Masters in Mechanical Engineering Management from Old Dominion University in 2018. He was designated a Naval Aviator in 1997. Sicola is currently serving as the Director of Training and Readiness for Commander Naval Air Forces in San Diego, CA.

Sicola’s sea tours include Commanding Officer of USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in Bremerton, WA; Commanding Officer of USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) in Yokosuka, Japan; Executive Officer of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in Norfolk, VA; Executive Officer and Commanding Officer for the “Stingers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113 in Lemoore, CA; Department Head and Junior Officer for the “Tophatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14 in Lemoore, CA; and first assigned to the “Dragon Whales” of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 8 in Norfolk, VA following completion of flight training. Ashore assignments include the Navy Personnel Command as an aviation detailer; U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) joint duty assignment to include a ground deployment in Iraq with SOCOM in 2007; Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) as the F-35 requirements officer.

Sicola has accumulated more than 3,400 flight hours. His decorations include the Legion of Merit; Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards); Air Medal (5 total awards: 1 individual, 4 Strike/Flight); Navy Combat Action Ribbon, as well as other various personal, unit, service and campaign decorations.

Matt ProchaskaMatt Prochaska ’86 Chief Development Officer at BlueForge Alliance
Matt has held leadership roles over the past 25 years that have shown proven success in economic development and manufacturing. He has over two decades of experience in c-level positions partnering in economic development opportunities and has held numerous volunteer positions at both the state and local levels of economic development. He is a flexible and creative problem solver, particularly in highly dynamic situations, who brings a collaborative and analytical approach to any situation. Matt is a devoted husband of 32 years to Merrilee, and a proud father to his two children, Anne-Marie and Joshua. Matt received his Bachelor of Arts – in Speech Communication in 1986 and Master of Arts, Speech Communication from Texas A&M in 1997.

Frank CoppersmithFrank Coppersmith, CEO at Smarter Reality
Frank is the CEO of Smarter Reality, a developer of custom software applications with demanding user experience and business requirements serving entrepreneurs and innovative business leaders. Frank ensures delivery of on-time and on-budget projects via business-aligned objective definition, clear scope commitments, rigorous project management and dedication to quality control.

Frank chairs the International Game Developers Association, Austin Chapter, is a frequent keynote speaker on entrepreneurship and technology, and is colonel in the US Air Force Reserves.

Frank earned an MBA from Wharton, a law degree from Samford University and an engineering degree from The Citadel. Smarter Reality has been awarded the Inc. 5000 and Austin “Fast 50” by the Austin Business Journal.

Community Leadership Initiatives at Texas A&M

Dr. Susan Ballabina

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Dr. Susan Ballabina, Texas A&M University, Vice President for Academic and Strategic Partnerships

Dr. Susan Ballabina
Ballabina will report directly to university President Mark Welsh. In her position, Ballabina leads all aspects of community impact programs and initiatives, oversight of cultural assets, and strategic planning, especially as they relate to community leadership for the university.

Ballabina recently served as deputy vice chancellor and chief operating officer for Texas A&M AgriLife and associate deputy dean for administration for the College of Agriculture A&M Life Sciences. In these roles, she led initiatives for improved organizational effectiveness within the college and provided oversight for AgriLife professional services divisions, including outreach and strategic initiatives, business and strategic management, communications, digital education and information technology. She also worked to advance collaboration between AgriLife and The Texas A&M System including programs like Healthy Texas, which engages communities across Texas in health education programming.

After starting her career in 1994 as a county agent with AgriLife Extension, Ballabina progressively advanced to regional program director, associate director for program development, and executive associate director before finally assuming the role of deputy vice chancellor and chief operating officer for AgriLife. She received her bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences from Tarleton State University in 1994, a master’s degree in communications from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1998, and her doctorate in public affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2007.

Ballabina was named a Regents Fellow by The Texas A&M University System in 2014 and has received the Superior Service Award from AgriLife Extension four times. Tarleton State University has recognized her as a distinguished alumna.

Aggie Technology Entrepreneurship is Alive and Well

Larry Warnock '83, Partner Emeritus, Ring Ventures

Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023

Larry Warnock ’83,
Partner Emeritus, Ring Ventures

Larry Warnock ‘83
Larry Warnock is an experienced technology venture investor that will share with the group some interesting stories about Aggie Technology Entrepreneurs and the impacts they are making.  From hypersonic drones to software that streamlines manufacturing, to advanced AI, and even orbiting robotic spacecraft.  He will also share his thoughts on some major initiatives underway across The Texas A&M System to further advance technology innovation and commercialization.

Larry Warnock serves as Partner Emeritus of Ring Ventures, a Venture Capital Fund made up of Aggie investors. He is a seasoned venture-backed tech executive with multiple exits via acquisition or IPO. He launched Ring Ventures as the Founding Managing Partner. Prior to that he was the President & CEO of Olono, an AI platform for sales effectiveness. Previously he was the CEO of Gazzang, a provider of big data security software, and Phurnace, a provider of DevOps software. After moving to Austin from Silicon Valley, Larry was a Venture Partner at Austin Ventures. Lake LBJ is now his home with his wife of 39 years (also Aggie Class of ’83). He started his software career in sales and marketing and has been a VP executive at several successful high-growth companies. Larry is a graduate of Texas A&M, a frequent speaker on campus and serves on the Advisory Board for The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship in the Mays School of Business.

Texas A&M Getting Back to our Roots: Engaging Rural Texas Communities Around Healthcare Shortages

Austin Mayor Kirk Watson

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Curtis Donaldson ‘81
Director of Rural Medicine, Texas A&M Health & Director of Community Engagement, West Texas Office of Academic and Strategic Collaboration

Curtis Donaldson ’81
Curtis Donaldson was born and raised in Valley Mills Texas, so he is a rural Texan by birth! He graduated from Texas A&M University in 1981 with a BBA in Management. While attending A&M he was a member of the Fightin Texas Aggie Band, where he also served as B Company Commander and was a Bugle Rank Member and a Ross Volunteer.

Upon graduation he headed to Ft Sill as 2nd Lt and then served 10 years in the Texas Army National Guard in Field Artillery units in Odessa and San Angelo. He also worked for Conoco during this same 10-year period in Midland, Houston, Maljamar, NM and San Angelo.

Leaving corporate America, he started his own business located in Georgetown, TX known as CleanFUEL USA, focusing on technology for the propane vehicle marketplace. At one-point CFUSA had operations on 4 continents and in the USA had customers such as UPS, TxDOT, General Motors and Freightliner.

After 25 years of running CFUSA, he sold the business in an attempt to slow down and he moved to Mason, Texas. There he met and married his wife Mary and between the two they share 6 kids! A few months later, a small community bank would hire him to help grow their business. As a community banker, he threw himself into the community and worked tirelessly on many initiatives such as Economic Development, Chamber of Commerce, ISD Committees, Community Advocate Leadership Team and most recently helped spearhead the capital campaign to raise $5.2 million to help rebuild their burned courthouse.

Along that journey Texas A&M School of Medicine engaged Curtis to help them think through a Rural Medicine Initiative strategy and eventually they would pilot that program in Mason County. The Mason pilot results were so good it spread to the 5 surrounding counties and those results have been so good they had inquiries from other counties, as word spread among medical providers and County Judges. Texas A&M then elected to take the program statewide and asked Donaldson to lead that charge. With his roots in rural Texas from Valley Mills to his now living in rural Mason, he is even more passionate about changing the landscape of rural medicine and has been moved by the impact the program is already having in so many communities.

Curtis works 50% for the Office of Academic and Strategic Collaboration as their Director of Community Engagement for West Texas and 50% for the School of Medicine as their Director of Rural Medicine.

A Conversation with Mayor Kirk Watson

Austin Mayor Kirk Watson

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Kirk Watson
Austin Mayor

Kirk Watson
For three decades, Kirk Watson has been immersed in public policy, spanning local and state government in Texas. He served in the Texas Senate for over 13 years, leading on a wide range of issues and serving as a member and vice-chair of multiple standing and special committees and the Sunset Advisory Commission. His peers elected him President Pro Tempore of the Senate in 2019.

Watson was appointed in 1991 by Gov. Ann Richards as Chair of the Texas Air Control Board, the agency charged with addressing air quality issues. He was Vice-Chair of the committee that oversaw creation of the agency now known as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

He was first elected Austin mayor in 1997, where he won praise for bringing different political sides together around transformative environmental and economic development initiatives. In 2012, serving in the Texas Senate, he led the effort to build a new medical school at The University of Texas at Austin.

As a result of his numerous health care efforts, Watson has been honored by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and NAMI Austin. The American Medical Association recognized him with the prestigious Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service.

Watson also served as the Founding Dean of the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston.

He was honored multiple times in Texas Monthly magazine’s analysis of the state’s best legislators. In 1998, the magazine described him as “a man with a vision of what the community wants—and the moxie to carry it out.”

He is a recipient of the prestigious President’s Citation from The University of Texas at Austin and the Pro Texana Medal of Service from Baylor University. The Baylor Line Foundation (formerly the Baylor Alumni Association) named him a Distinguished Alumnus. Austin Community College awarded him an honorary degree. The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas gave him its Open Government Lawmaker of the Year award, and the Texas Press Association named him a Friend of the First Amendment. The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce also has named him Austinite of the Year.