Leadership and Staff

2021 AARO Officers

Our officers are a diverse team of thought leaders that serve as the governing body of AARO. Learn more about our officers, committee chairs and vice chairs.


Trish Young Brown


Chief Partnership Officer


Design Run Group, LLC


Jeff Hahn




Hahn Public

Past Chair

Ray Wilkerson




Ray Wilkerson Companies


Jeffrey Richard


Senior Consultant


J.L. Powers and Associates


2021 Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs



Nikelle Meade


Husch Blackwell


  • Chair

    Susan Dawson

    President and Executive Director

    E3 Alliance

  • Co-Chair

    Michael Whellan


    Armbrust & Brown, PLLC


  • Chair

    Amy Jones

    President & CEO

    O'Connell Robertson

  • Vice Chair

    Jeremiah Bentley

    Vice President, Marketing and Community Affairs

    Texas Mutual Insurance Company

Social Equity

  • Chair

    Scott Flack


    Live Oak

  • Vice Chair

    Mark Estrada


    Lockhart ISD


  • Chair

    Clarke Heidrick


    McGinnis Lochridge

  • Vice Chair

    Michelle Earley


    Locke Lord LLP


  • Chair

    Janet Mitchell


    M Group Agency

  • 2021 AARO Board

    AARO Members

    • Trish Young Brown


    • Jeff Hahn


    • Ray Wilkerson

      Past Chair

    • Jeffrey Richard


    • Stacy Armijo

    • Clarke Heidrick

    • Donna Klaeger

    • Amy Shaw Thomas

    • Susan Dawson

    • Amy Jones

    • Nikelle Meade

    • Kenneth Williams

    • Scott Flack

    • Ali Khataw

    • Janet Mitchell

    AARO Staff

    AARO Staff

    Sandy Hentges Guzman

    Chief Executive Officer

    Sandy joined the Austin Area Research Organization (AARO) in March of 2020. Before her role at AARO, Sandy was the Legislative Director for Texas State Senator Kirk Watson. Initially focused solely on transportation policy, Sandy served as point on the development and implementation of the senator’s 10 Goals in 10 Years from the inception of the initiative in 2011. This work led to a redesign of the community healthcare safety net system, the creation of the UT Dell Medical School, enhanced mental health facilities and services and Seton’s commitment to build a new teaching hospital, the Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, Austin.

    New to Austin in 2000, Sandy joined the campaign for light rail as Deputy Campaign Director. Though the effort was unsuccessful, it provided her the opportunity to get to know Austin, its elected officials and business and community leaders. Sandy subsequently joined the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce staff where she worked for eight years on local, state and federal policy, with a heavy emphasis on transportation, as Senior Vice President for Public Policy.

    Sandy relocated to Austin from Washington, DC where she worked for a Member of Congress following her graduation from The George Washington University with bachelor’s degrees in International Affairs and Latin American Studies. 

    A California native, Sandy and her husband Robert are the proud parents of two young Texans.

    Cynthia Sanchez

    Program Manager

    Cynthia joined the Austin Area Research Organization (AARO) in August 2020. Her work includes managing membership efforts such as the development and implementation of systems-change strategies and programs. Prior to AARO, she was the Director of Community Organizing within the Faith in Action Network, where she worked with clergy, community leaders and organizational partners in Orange County, California, to increase civic participation and voter engagement, pass social equity policies and expand resources for low income regions. She has also worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, advancing their Dignity for All Project on Homelessness, as well as with Disability Rights California, leveraging statistical and geographical analysis to identify critical rural regions in the state lacking legal representation for people with disabilities.

    Cynthia holds a B.A in English with a certification in Business from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as a M.S in Public Policy from the University of California, Irvine. As the daughter of an immigrant, single mother, Cynthia was raised with an unwavering spirit of resilience, hard work and hope. In her free time, she enjoys cooking traditional Mexican food, reading science fiction and playing with her dog, Lucy. Originally from Los Angeles, Cynthia is excited to build a life in Austin, and even more thrilled to support AARO as it continues making a long-lasting impact in the lives of all Central Texans.

    Christie Bradow

    Executive Assistant and Meeting Coordinator

    Christie joined AARO in October 2018. She has a Master of Arts in Organizational Development from the University of Phoenix. At the University of Houston she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management with a minorin German. She is also PROSCI certified in change managment and is a trained facilitator for Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Successful People" course. After a 15+ year career as a retail general manager she decided to pursue a career that closer aligned with her desire to give back to the community.

    Christie volunteers her time with NAMI Central Texas, Dress for Success and the Association of Change Mangement Professionals Texas and Houston chapters, and is a Trustee at her church. 

    Originally from Baton Rouge, LA, Christie has lived in Aruba, California, New Mexico and has been proud to call Central Texas home since 2004.