Jennifer Esterline, Executive Director

Jennifer is the founder and executive director of the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium, a collaboration of private, corporate and community foundations across the state working to promote, protect, and improve Texas public education through advocacy and public policy.

Jennifer has been working in the nonprofit space for over 15 years, first as a program and development director for nonprofit and higher education institutions, and later as executive director for the KDK-Harman Foundation in Austin. A proud product of Texas public education, Jennifer grew up in Dallas and received her B.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Over the past decade, Jennifer has volunteered in a number of capacities for a variety of nonprofits working in the fields of education and health and human services. Currently, she serves on the board of Communities in Schools of Central Texas. Jennifer lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and three young sons. She hopes to carry on the family tradition by inspiring her children with a passion for nonprofit work and a commitment to public service.

Michelle Smith, Advocacy Consultant

Dr. Michelle Smith recently joined as TEGAC's new policy/advocacy consultant. As part of the HillCo Partners team, Michelle connects policy, research and classroom experience to offer innovative approaches to the challenges in education policy in Texas. Since joining HillCo Partners in 2010, her focus has been on various issues in public education including public school finance, school choice, assessment and accountability, facilities funding, transparency, and public retirement plans. In addition to her advocacy and research responsibilities, Smith has served as the executive director of the Fast Growth School Coalition (FGSC) for the past five years, concluding in August of 2016.

Smith brings a unique perspective to the education policy space because she has served as a public school teacher and holds a doctorate in School Improvement from Texas State University. For the past six years, she has worked with education-based for-profits, not-for-profits, advocacy organizations and nonprofit associations. Smith is particularly skilled at educating association members and boards of directors regarding how to positively engage in the legislative process. She has presented throughout the state to school districts, education service centers, nonprofit organizations, and colleges of education regarding education policy and the political process.

Elayne Buechler, Development and Communications Manager

Elayne has more than 12 years of experience in nonprofit.  She brings an extensive background in public affairs and communications to the work of the Consortium and provides support to the executive director in all areas of communications and fundraising. Elayne has a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the LBJ School and a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Becky Calahan, Administrative Assistant

Getting her start as a graduate assistant at the Greater Texas Foundation then working in the Texas Legislature, Becky has experience in both the nonprofit and policy fields. Becky received her B.A. in French and International Studies from the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana, and a Master’s degree in Public Service and Administration from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.