An Austin museum loses a leader, the rodeo gala gains two headliners and Andy Roddick rocks

Victoria Ramirez, leaving her post at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Contributed

Victoria Ramirez leaves the history museum. The Bullock Texas State History Museum is losing a classy leader. “After much consideration, I have resigned from my position at the Bullock Museum to be the new director of the El Paso Museum of Art,” Ramirez announced in an email. “I have enjoyed my nearly four years here at the Bullock and am looking forward to this next chapter in El Paso.” In a follow-up message, she endorsed the interim director, Margaret Koch, who will take the reins Jan. 1. During her tenure, Ramirez opened the doors of the museum wider to more voices and oversaw some exceptional shows, some of them staged in the nifty upstairs rotunda gallery. Each of the current special exhibits, “American Flags” and “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda,” not only pack a powerful punch, they utilize artifacts from local collections.

“The museum has seen tremendous strides under the leadership of Ramirez, including an increase in revenue and attendance, the launch of an award-winning website, and the milestone arrival and display of the shipwreck La Belle,” says Bob Barnes, president of the museum foundation’s board of trustees. “She brought an innovative vision and perspective to the museum that resulted in some of our most successful exhibitions and programs since opening. We are very sorry to see go, but are confident that she set us on a strong course and  the museum will continue to flourish.”

Musician Randy Houser will headline the Rodeo Austin Gala. Contributed

Rodeo reveals headliners for gala. In terms of attendance, the Rodeo Austin Gala is among the biggest, if not the biggest such fandango in town. On Feb. 4, the mingling crowds at the Palmer Events Center will tap their boots to the tunes of Randy Houser along with special guest Ronnie Milsap. With a string of No. 1 hits and millions in singles sales, Houser is just the sort of talent that helps drive this, the second largest fundraiser for the group after the fair and rodeo in March. Milsap is quite the crossover star himself, having compiled more than 40 No. 1 country hits over the course of a long career. The Rodeo is beginning to burst out of its customary cultural bubble with a new leader, businessman Rob Golding, who we’ll profile in these page in the coming weeks. He’s got plans aplenty.

Abigail and Andy Lapidas at Andy Roddick Foundation Gala. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Andy Roddick’s era of good feeling. It’s hard not to be crazy about tennis star, media celebrity and philanthropist Andy Roddick and his wife, equally talented, open and giving Brooklyn Decker. Along with his family — and visionary leaders such as Jeff Lau and Richard Tagle — they have built an Austin charity that is making a noticeable community impact through after-school, spring break and summer programs for needy students. The foundation’s gala is now a fond tradition, not only for local do-gooders, but also for random guests attracted by mega-stars such as John Legend and Elton John performing in the sublime setting of ACL Live. This year, I arrived late after a wedding rehearsal cruise on Lady Bird Lake just in time for the dinner and auction and met, of course, some sharp folks while learning more about the foundation’s work.

Susanne McDonald named new superintendent at LBJ National Historical Park.

A new leader in LBJ Land. We tipped our hand a few weeks back when we met Susanne McDonald at an LBJ Ranch barbecue and subsequently revealed she would become the new superintendent at the LBJ National Historical Park come January. That means she’ll also oversee the Waco Mammoth National Monument. She takes the place of revered leader John “Russ” Whitlock, who will retire in January after 37 years of federal service. “Susanne’s diverse experience in park leadership, operations and partner development are a solid fit for the community-focused management of the Lyndon B. Johnson and Waco Mammoth parks,” says Sue Masica, National Park Service Intermountain Region director. During her 21 years with the Park Service,  McDonald has run various operations in Vermont, North Carolina, Colorado and Wyoming. She moves to Texas with a son, Sam, age 5, as well as three dogs and a cat.

Texas Cowboys. Contributed by Alcalde magazine.

Cowboy for a day. The Texas Cowboys contingent at the University of Texas are perhaps best known for shooting off Smokey the Cannon during football games while wearing leather chaps, red bandanas and black cowboy hats. Yet this social reporter knows that they also serve as volunteers at countless charity events. Since 1954, they have made a special effort to help the ARC of the Capital Area, which helps folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Well, one of the ARC’s clients will be honored as the first ever “Cowboy for a Day” at the UT/TCU game on Nov. 25. He’ll wear the Cowboy regalia and will root from the sidelines during the pregame festivities and the first quarter. For these purposes, his name is rendered only as “Stephen R.,” a student in the ARC’s art education program, who has gone from being severely withdrawn to being dubbed “The Ambassador” for this effervescent personality.

Author: Michael Barnes

Michael Barnes writes about Austin's people, places, culture and history for the Austin American-Statesman and

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