Black History Month: Highlighting local leaders in the Austin area

For Black History Month, KVUE highlights a local guide each day who is making a difference in our community.

AUSTIN, Texas – February is Black History Month, and throughout the month we want to highlight the black leaders who are making a difference in our community.

This article will be updated every morning as we introduce you to more black leaders in the Austin area.

Joel G. Baker

Joel G. Baker, named Fire Chief of the Austin Fire Department by Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk in December 2018, began his career as a firefighter in 1986 with the East Point, Georgia City Fire Department. In 1988, he joined The Atlanta Fire Department rose to the rank of fire chief, a rank he held after 30 years of service until his retirement in February 2018. Chief Baker holds multiple degrees including an Associate of Applied Sciences in Fire Science Technology, a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources and Policy Studies from Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, and a Masters of Public Administration from Columbus State University ;; He is a graduate of Harvard University’s senior executive education program for state and local government. Chief Baker’s dedication to the fire department and the citizens he serves has earned him numerous recognitions from various public and private organizations throughout his career.

Joi knight

Joi founded The Cook’s Nook, Austin’s first joint commercial kitchen and culinary incubator, after serving nearly 20 years in the tech industry as an e-commerce product manager and marketing director. She is a graduate of the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. The mix of her love for culinary arts and technology has enabled her company to support more than 30 Austin area companies with research and development, product development, employee meetings, compiling business plans and more. In 2018, Joi became the first black woman to run for Texas Comptroller. She is also a two-time Austin Food and Wine Alliance fellow. Joi is a member of the Austin-Travis County Food Policy Board, which advises the council on issues related to our local food system.

Tiffanie Harrison

Tiffanie Harrison is an educator, stockbroker, community organizer, entrepreneur, designer, and investor. Tiffanie spent eight and a half years as a marketing teacher at Round Rock ISD high school and is now RRISD trustee and board secretary. She is a general partner at the Radical Equity Fund, where she advises various founders and EdTech startups and invests in them. She is also an advisor to schools, counties, and public and private corporations on racial justice practices.

Daron K. Roberts

Daron, a fifth generation East Texan, is a partner at Notley Ventures and founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation at the University of Texas. His work focuses on creating channels for wealth creation for black people through venture capital and real estate investments. Through his work at UT, he also develops and implements leadership and financial literacy programs.

TiWanna Kenney

Astounding Auctions and Fundraising Strategies founder Kenney and her team lead on-site and virtual fundraisers for nonprofits in the United States. This versatile mom does it all: she teaches future auctioneers and runs fundraising drives, serves as a dedicated presenter and talent spokesperson, advocates diversity in the auction industry and is a full-time entrepreneur.

She is also a member of the National Auctioneers Association and the Texas Auctioneers Association and a member of several boards across Texas. She was featured as “Woman to Watch” in Austin Woman Magazine, featured on the Summer ’20 cover of Texas Meeting & Events Magazine and was a finalist for “2020 Austin Under 40” in the “Innovation & Startup” category.

Dr. Kazique J. Prince

Dr. Kazique J. Prince, affectionately known as “KP”, is an award-winning founder and CEO of Jelani Consulting LLC, based in Austin. Jelani Consulting LLC provides executive and executive consulting and coaching services with an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion for businesses and nonprofits.

Prince also serves as Senior Policy Advisor and Education Coordinator for Austin Mayor Steve Adler, with Racial Justice, Education and Public Safety in his portfolio. Recently, Prince was named Interim Executive Director of the Central Texas Collective for Racial Equity to continue the regional initiative to reduce institutional racism and systemic inequalities. He is also the father of two students.

Tonya Nixon

Police officer Tonya Nixon has been in law enforcement for 16.5 years. She was the first black woman to hold the position of sergeant in a Travis County Police Department. She is now the first black woman to run for constable in Travis County and the Central Texas area. She believes the only way to effectively serve your community is to make a direct connection without official request or direction.

Rudy Metayer

Rudy Metayer is President and Executive Director of the Texas Black Caucus Foundation. He is now in his second term on the Pflugerville City Council. He is the son of Haitian immigrants. He belongs to the first generation of his family and has completed a higher education.

Metayer also teaches children at risk, co-authored a code of honor for the University of Texas, and established pro bono legal counseling clinics for U.S. military veterans.

Michael Ward Jr.

Michael Ward Jr. is the President and CEO of the Austin Urban Technology Movement. He started his career at Oracle in corporate sales with a focus on cloud and on-premise technology.

During that time, Ward Jr. also led Oracle’s Black Employee Resource Group, African American Business Leaders for Excellence (ABLE), which focused on the upward mobility of Oracle Black employees in the United States, Canada, and Brazil.

Tam Hawkins

Tam Hawkins is President and CEO of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce.

Hawkins is a board member of the East Austin Conservancy, which promotes affordable housing and economic diversity. She is also a member of the Austin Area Research Organization, Texas Lyceum, and serves on the boards of Leadership Austin, Visit Austin, and the Ronald McDonald House of Central Texas.

Leslie Wingo

Leslie Wingo is the CEO of the Sanders Wingo team, a Texas-based independent multicultural creative intelligence company. Their goal is that every employee and every culture is valued, their contribution is maximized and the organizational culture of the company is inclusive.

As a speaker, she confronts stereotypes, challenges labels, reveals biases, and has tough conversations about race and gender.

Leslie also volunteers with local organizations like the Texas Book Festival and Creative Action.

Ryan Coaxum

Ryan Coaxum is the Vice President and Lender for Guarantee Bank & Trust. He is a board member of Ballet Austin, I Live Here, I Give Here, and The Trail Foundation. A native of Austin, he enjoys speaking to students and civic organizations about financial literacy and economic empowerment. He is passionate about people and helping underserved communities. and bring diversity, equity and inclusion to the Austin metropolitan area.

Lora Livingston

Travis County Judge Lora Livingston has been on the bench since 1995.
She is the first African American woman to be elected to a district court in Travis County.

Judge Livingston was instrumental in setting up the Travis County Self-Help Center, which helps many low-income individuals navigate the civil and family justice systems.

Darrell Bazzell

Darrell Bazzell joined the University of Texas at Austin in 2016 as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Bazzell oversees the $ 3 billion operating budget and has launched several initiatives focused on improving processes to better serve the campus community.

In the summer of 2020, Bazzell announced a commitment to diversity and began developing initiatives that will help build a culture of inclusion, justice and diversity. He says he is committed to a work environment where everyone is comfortable putting all of their self to work.

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