Deborah Fleming, Executive Director
Deb Fleming served as the president of the Board of Directors for Texas Dance Hall Preservation from 2014–2017 and became TDHP’s first executive director in June 2017. Deb is the current business/tour manager for five-time Grammy Nominee and 10-time Blues Music Award winner Marcia Ball and her international tour band, based in Austin, Texas. Deb migrated into the music business after a 20+-year tenure as a healthcare executive running large risk-management companies in Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia. In 2005, she bought and managed a 1200-person-capacity live music venue just east of Austin, before being recruited by Ball. A fifth-generation Texan and San Antonio native, Deb discovered her long Texas lineage on a dance hall visit to Panna Maria, and thus began her love and interest in the historic halls.
(Past Board President)
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Board of Directors
Kelley Russell (President)
Growing up in Houston, this almost- native Texan didn’t discover her love of dancing and dance halls until she moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas, where she studied archeology and anthropology. After graduation, Kelley worked as an archeologist, with projects that took her all over the state, exposing her to Texas’ unique cultural history. Through her travels, Kelley’s interest began to shift “above ground.” Her love of Texas history and architecture eventually led her back to UT, where she received her MS in Historic Preservation. Kelley is currently an architectural historian and historian for an engineering firm in Austin. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her dog, Franklin; listening to live music; road trips, dancing, and continuing the search to find the perfect pair of boots.
Linda Henderson (Treasurer)
Linda Henderson is a historic preservation professional with more than 20 years working in Texas government. With three different degrees from the University of Texas at Austin—in Architectural Studies, English, and Public Affairs—she brings a background that ranges from architectural design and history to medieval literature, and from sustainability to policy and public administration. She also has a passion for music, writing, dancing, and Texas history. During her career, Linda has climbed around inside courthouse cupolas and on historic metal truss bridges, written about 750 Official Texas Historical Markers, and visited as many of the state’s 254 counties as she can. She’s pretty sure her husband and two sons really do appreciate her pointing out architectural details when they travel together.
Stephen Ray (Secretary)
Texas Music Office Program Specialist Steve Ray administers the TMO License Plate Grant program, the TMO internship program, and the day-to-day office operations. Additionally Steve heads up the TMO’s music history program, including developing a Texas Music Trails program that promotes music history tourism around the state. He is co-owner of both a 1953 Art Deco movie theater and a 1960s era drive-in restaurant in north Texas.
Tracy Rohrbacher (President-Elect)
With more than 20 years of marketing experience in the real estate industry, Tracy Rohrbacher transitioned to tourism in 2013 and currently holds a marketing position with a Houston-area convention and visitors bureau. She creates and curates content for marketing channels geared toward leisure travel, in addition to event planning. Rohrbacher earned the Certified Tourism Executive (CTE) designation by Texas Travel Industry Association and the Texas Destination Marketer (TDM) certification by the Texas Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2017. A native Houstonian, Rohrbacher is also an active volunteer with the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.
Steph McDougal (Co-Founder, Past President)
Steph McDougal is the founder of McDoux Preservation, a data-driven, community-driven historic preservation consulting practice in Houston, Texas. She holds a Master’s degree in Technical and Scientific Communication from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Texas at Austin, where her thesis explored the construction technology of Texas’ “round” dance halls. Steph is currently pursuing a PhD in Public History at Middle Tennessee State University. She is the author of Lighthouses of Texas (Arcadia Publishing, 2014) and a very minor contributor to The Buildings of Texas, Volume One (Society of Architectural Historians, 2013). A swing dancer since the 1990s, Steph loves lindy hop, jump blues, and urban ballrooms of the big-band era.
Madeline is passionate about using historic preservation as a tool to help communities save treasured historic resources and improve quality of life. Most recently, Madeline served as the Program Coordinator for the Texas Certified Local Government Program at the Texas Historical Commission. In this role, she administered an annual grant program which awarded $150,000 each year to preservation projects across the state for projects such as National Register nominations, historic resources surveys, and citywide preservation plans. Before moving to Texas, Madeline worked for the Architect of the Capitol at the United States Capitol as a Program Analyst, overseeing preservation and conservation projects in the Capitol Building. Originally from Williamsburg, Virginia, Madeline holds a B.A. in Historic Preservation from the University of Mary Washington, and a Master in Historic Preservation from the University of Kentucky.
Charles John, AIA
With more than 40 years of experience as an architect, Charles John, AIA, has been involved with an array of building types with a specialization in the restoration and renovation of historic properties. His historic preservation projects make bold statements about the history of a significant place, and his adaptive reuse projects have led to the transformation of urban spaces by renewing their economic vitality, restoring their architectural character, and re-establishing their place in the historic context of the urban fabric of a city. He has received several awards for his preservation projects. Charles has spent time with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was on the Boards of the San Antonio Conservation Society and Mission Heritage Partners, served for 12 years on the Bexar County Historical Commission, and currently serves on the Board of Preservation Texas, and the Power of Preservation Foundation.
Julie McGilvray is a native Texan and grew up in Waco and her family ranch in the northern Hill Country. She learned to two-step as a child at local dance halls and has a great love of classic country music. Julie’s education is in archaeology, landscape architecture, and historic preservation. She is currently the park archaeologist and cultural resources program manager at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in far West Texas where she focuses on historic landscape conservation and preservation issues.
Jason Mellard is the Director of the Center for Texas Music History and Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Texas State University in San Marcos. He is the co-editor of The Journal of Texas Music History, general editor of the John and Robin Dickson Series in Texas Music History with Texas A & M University Press, and author of Progressive Country: How the 1970s Transformed the Texan in Popular Culture.
At a towering 6’7”, Philadelphia-born Ray Benson is considered a giant in the industry, but his contributions to music history, not his height, have made him a dominant figure on the music scene since 1970. As the frontman and founder of the world-renowned Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel, Ray has overseen the release of more than 25 albums, toured more than 150 dates each year, and won 10 GRAMMY™ Awards. He has been honored as the official Texas State Musician (2004) and Texan of the Year (2011) and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association; the NAMM Foundation’s Les Paul Award for Technical Excellence & Creativity (2008); and the Texas Medal of the Arts Award for Multimedia (2011). As a producer, Ray has worked with such artists as Willie Nelson, The Avett Brothers, Aaron Neville, Aaron Watson, and Suzy Bogguss, to name a few. Benson is an active advocate and founding board member for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) and also serves on the St. David’s Foundation Board. He is the author of the 2015 memoir, Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel. Currently, Ray hosts “Austin Outer Limits,” a bi-weekly segment on Sirius XM’s “Willie’s Roadhouse,” featuring hand-picked songs from all kinds of genres from his personal collection.
Bratten Thomason is the former History Programs Division Director at the Texas Historical Commission where she held that position from 2007 to 2016. She was previously the Certified Local Government Coordinator at the THC for eight years. She completed her Masters in Historic Preservation at Georgia State University and also studied City Planning at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta.
Amber Leigh Becerra, Schneider Hall
Patrick Cox, Ph.D.
Bobby Galvan, Jr., Galvan Ballroom
Jo Nell Haas, Twin Sisters Dance Hall
Abbey Road, Coupland Dance Hall
James Villafranca, Club Westerner Dance Hall
Support Texas Dance Hall Preservation
Your kind and generous help makes it possible for us to work directly with dance hall owners to provide technical assistance, workshops, grants for building repairs, and other resources. Please become a TDHP Member and make a donation today.