About Us

Welcome to the Kozmetsky Center of Excellence. The Kozmetsky Center of Excellence is the hub connecting our campus, students, and faculty with civic life in Austin, Texas. Working with non-profit organizations, public officials, leading scholars, and media experts, the center provides a forum for solving some of our world’s most challenging public issues. We facilitate and promote opportunities for students and faculty to form working relationships with individuals and groups that are civically engaged in a public capacity. Our on-campus civics lab, podcasts, student projects, interviews with political experts, along with hosting forums and conversations on campus, provide an engine for generating collaborative solutions among experts, students, faculty and the broader public. The Kozmetsky Center contributes to advancing the mission of ϲʿ’s University to educate a diverse student body, preparing graduates with the tools needed to contribute to a more humane, just and sustainable world.

Mission and Vision

The Kozmetsky Center of Excellence promotes healthy civic life and engagement in Austin, Texas. Through our active projects, community connections, and educational programs, we promote and equip students with the democratic tools for being productive and active citizens of a pluralistic society, capable of identifying, collaborating, and solving public problems that contribute to a more human, just and sustainable world. We promote a strong civic education for students to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and disposition of active citizens. Kozmetsky will advance the role of global citizenship and applied scholarship to serve our community and advance ϲʿ’s University’s academic excellence and distinction. Our activities in the center will promote a vibrant and inclusive campus life, following the Holy Cross Mission across all disciplines to attract broad student and faculty engagement in our projects and programs. Our goal is to be a leader in civic life that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.

Objectives

The Kozmetsky Center contributes to academic programs and the learning experience of students at ϲʿ’s University on several levels. The core objectives for our programs and activities in support of the ϲʿ’s academic community include:

  • Leading conversations and action about equality and justice in civic life.
  • Connecting our Holy Cross mission to stakeholders across Austin.
  • Teaching students how to be an engaged participant in civic life.
  • Promoting a vision of hope to achieve a just, equitable and diverse society.
  • Deeply integrated experiential learning opportunities for ϲʿ’s students.
  • Supporting faculty and student theoretical and applied research on civic engagement and civic life.
  • Creating a nexus between ϲʿ’s University faculty, students, community leaders and practitioners, to solve important civic issues in our community.
  • Serving Austin and Central Texas as a source of research and information on best practices for civic engagement.

Leadership and Team

Dr. David Thomason, Director

David Thomason

David Thomason, Ph.D is an Associate Professor of Political Science with over 20 years of experience working in government related leadership positions and higher education.

David holds a doctorate in political science from Arizona State University, a Master of Arts from the University of Missouri and a Bachelor of Arts from West Texas A&M University. Most recently, he served as a professor at ϲʿ’s University, where he created and directed an innovative program called the Civics Lab. As a professor, he conducts research and instruction in state and local policy, public budgeting and policy, advocacy, civic engagement, and the legislative process. Concurrently, he founded his own public policy firm, providing expertise and direction for clients in the Texas political process.

He served for over 11 years as senior vice president of public policy for a large Texas health-care association. David started his career in Texas policy and politics in the Texas Senate, working closely with elected leaders and statewide office holders. He also has a strong background in entrepreneurship, having launched two small businesses. In addition, he started and produced a series of podcasts on civic life in America, with a broad audience of 20 countries and every U.S. state.

David not only has legislative experience in Texas, but also in Arizona, where he served as a fiscal analyst with the Arizona Legislature’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee. As a public policy consultant, David has worked in over 15 states on public policy and civic engagement. His awards for professional excellence are too numerous to list, but his passions extend to the game of baseball, as well as fly fishing on almost any Hill Country river.

Staff

Allison Brooks, Assistant Director of Academic Programs for Behavioral & Social Sciences

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Allison Brooks is a ϲʿ's alumna who currently serves as Assistant Director of Academic Programs for the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences, including The Kozmetsky Center of Excellence. A 2010 graduate with a double Bachelors Degree in Communication and International Relations, Allison worked at the Texas State Capitol and climbed the ranks from senate messenger to legislative aide and finally to Scheduler & Capitol Office Manager to two State Senators. In this role, she formed a large network of legislative contacts including elected officials, their staff, lobbyists, advocates, and state agency representatives. She also built a strong foundation in operations and how to run an office.

After a decade serving as a Senate staffer, Allison was invited to join a prestigious lobby firm as a Government Relations Specialist where she represented clients in the solar, education, recycling, and healthcare industries, and gained valuable experience working with people on both sides of the aisle.

Twelve years and six legislative sessions later, Allison left government for the tech world to support C-suite executives at a real estate start up. She learned how to build and manage businesses from the best and began to focus her career on operations and project management.

Back at the Hilltop, Allison works alongside the Executive Director on developing programming, executing logistics, coordinating outreach and creating the infrastructure for a successful Center.

Support Staff

Tori Flemming, '24

Paige Kennedy, '24

Andrea Ruiz, '24

Jacob Zivin, '24

Ian Clennen, '24

Research

The Kozmetsky Family

The Kozmetsky Center of Excellence in Global Finance was established through a $3 million gift from Ronya Kozmetsky and her late husband, George. The couple, noted for their philanthropic leadership in Central Texas, established the RGK Foundation in 1966 and since then have awarded grants totaling more than $60 million to support humanitarian concerns in the areas of education, community and medicine/health.

Ronya and George Kozmetsky envisioned a Center of Excellence in Global Finance that would make an impact far beyond the campus of ϲʿ's, benefiting not only students at the university — through interdisciplinary scholarly activities on campus and in international forums — but also individuals around the world who will be affected by sustainable financial stability