Shannon Sedwick, President
Co-producer of Esther’s Follies for 44 years with Michael Shelton. Besides producing the comedy shows, “The Follies czarina” (Robert Faires, Austin Chronicle) also performs, playing the likes of Madonna, Ann Richards, Patsy Cline and Hilary Clinton. She is co-owner of The Velveeta Room, Patsy’s Cowgirl Café and along with partner Michael Shelton have recently re-opened The Tavern, a beloved Austin institution. She has produced thousands of live shows and been in several movies as well, including Scary Movie, American Detective and the Cohen brothers’ first major production, Blood Simple. She won the 2009 B. Iden Payne Award recognizing outstanding contributions to Austin theater, and is active in downtown politics. Besides her long tenure with PSA, she serves as Vice President of the board of ECHO, served as past president of the 6ixth St. Property Owners Association and on the boards of the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Austin Arts Commission, and the Task Force for Street Closures (focusing on Sixth St. closures). In 2018, she was the recipient of the “I am Austin Woman!” award.
Brian “Bydeeman” Joseph, Vice President
Bydee Art Gallery
Self-taught artist, poet, author and motivational speaker, Brian’s colorful, joyous paintings reflect the spirit of the Pecan Street Festival. His art focuses on education and diversity, and his books, such as “People Come in All Colors,” “Color Me Bydee,” and “We Love Teaching” reflect this philosophy. His art has been commissioned by the City of Austin, Texas A&M University, the Texas State Reading Association, the University of Texas and the National Education Agency, to name a few. His murals can be seen around the country and Austin, such as at Kealing Middle School, Del Valle Middle School and at Live Oak, Blackshear, and Oak Springs Elementary schools. His awards include the TNOYS Spirit of Giving Award and The Austin Links Honoree of Community Arts. He’s been featured in KLRU’s “In Concept” documentary. Born in Trinidad, he has a BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Tougaloo College and a MA in Urban Studies from Trinity University.
Cynthia Pérez, Treasurer
Co-winner of PSA’s 2017 Heritage Award, co-owner of La Peña art gallery on Congress Ave., council woman of Alma de Mujer/Center for Social Change, and Austin change-maker, Cynthia joined the board in 2019. She is a familiar face in the fight to maintain Austin’s heritage, while providing incubation for artists and activists alike.
Honored by a multitude of organizations, including the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and AIA Austin – where, in 2016, she and her sister Lidia were named “Collaborators of the Year,” Cynthia still reigns as dean of “The University of Rice & Beans” as the waitstaff t-shirt aptly claimed at her former Las Manitas restaurant that lost out to gentrification-gone-amok in downtown Austin.
Lynn Raridon, Secretary
The “vivacious, no-nonsense owner of Austin’s beloved fetish boutique Forbidden Fruit” – (Austin Chronicle).
Lynn began working at the iconic store in 1982 and took over ownership in 1987. Forbidden Fruit is a 22-time winner of the Austin Chronicle’s Readers Poll for “Best Naughty But Nice/Adult Business.” Lynn has been a pioneer in expanding the social acceptance of adult-oriented products under the cloud of puritan state obscenity laws. The store has flourished into a community resource, offering educational outreach and workshops, in a sex positive environment. She serves as director and co-producer of the Texas Burlesque Festival ( 2008-present), Extravagasm Fantasy Ball ( 2002-2012) and co-producer and talent coordinator for The Austin Zombie Ball (2011-2016). Lynn served as secretary for The East Sixth Street Community Association and The Sixth Street Property Owners Association for over 15 years from mid 90’s until 2011, and is currently a board member for The Edgecreek Condominium Property Owners Association. Lynn has been a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for the State of Texas and a director the Bill Hicks Foundation for Wildlife since 1998, and has been an adjunct faculty member at Austin Community College for over 25 years. A blissfully married mother of one, she has a BFA in dance from UT.
Pastor Jimi Calhoun
Author – Musician – Storyteller – Pastor
Musician, storyteller and author of “The Art of God: Reflections on Music, Diversity, and the Beauty in You” and “A Story of Rhythm and Grace, What the Church Can Learn from Rock & Roll about Healing the Racial Divide.” Jimi is a world-class bassist who has performed and recorded with Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Dr. John, Rare Earth, Parliament-Funkedelic and other rock and roll greats. A gifted storyteller and popular speaker, he’s made numerous television appearances and hosts a weekly radio program. He is the co-chair of Community Dreams, an Austin-based non-profit serving urban youth, and a member of the Austin Interfaith Inclusion Network, which serves people living with disabilities. He is on the boards of the Interfaith Arts Council, Humanitarians in the Arts, and the Exnihilo Art Center in Deadman’s Cay, the Bahamas.
Co-producer of Esther’s Follies for 44 years with Shannon Sedwick, Michael Shelton has designed the fanciful stages and sets, creating its trademark style. He is also co-owner of The Velveeta Room, the standup comedy club next door to Esther’s, Patsy’s Cowgirl Café and most recently, The Tavern. As a partnership, Shannon and Michael have produced thousands of shows, started several restaurants such as Liberty Lunch, Phillies’ Diner, and The Buffalo Grille and managed performances at a variety of venues. Michael has remodeled and restored dozens of houses in East Austin and has created an arts village in eastern Travis County where he has moved an eclectic assortment of historical cottages from East Austin to create a thriving living/working compound. His and Shannon’s professional history is explored extensively in a new book by Jesse Sublett.
“If there are any two people who have done more to ‘keep Austin weird’ than Esther’s Follies co-founders Shannon Sedwick and Michael Shelton, I’d be hard-pressed to name them.” – Virginia B. Wood, Austin Chronicle.
Winston G. Williams
Winston is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and life member of Texas Exes. He serves as Treasurer of the Texas Exes Black Alumni Network, President of Black Professional Alliance, Treasurer of Spectrum Theatre Company’s Board of Directors and is a member of the Austin Film Society/Austin Public’s Community Advisory Committee. He is a member of the Austin Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorpoated, and a graduate of Leadership Austin.
Executive Director of the Capital City Black Film Festival, is a writer, actor, producer and entrepreneur. In 1997, Winston founded PS Focus, LLC, a management and consulting company, dedicated to providing Proactive Solutions which allow entrepreneurs to Focus on their core services. In 2013, he founded the Capital City Black Film Festival dedicated to providing emerging and established independent filmmakers from around the world an opportunity to showcase their work in “one of the best places to live and work as a moviemaker” (according to MovieMaker Magazine) – Austin, Texas.
John T. Wright
John T. Wright is a solo practicing attorney in Austin, Texas, who specializes in nonprofit governance, administrative law, government relations and entertainment law. Mr. Wright has over 13 years of experience advising member-governed nonprofits on governance, administrative law, and government relations matters primarily in the Texas electric industry. John also has extensive experience in the promotion, booking, management and production aspects of the music industry and has assisted many artists and organizations with legal transactional matters. Mr. Wright is currently assisting a group of music industry professionals to establish a member-governed nonprofit to advocate on behalf of the Texas country music scene. Mr. Wright is a native Texan and has been a resident of Austin since 2003, residing in the Zilker area.
Gavin Lance Garcia
As publisher/editor of Austin’s premiere multicultural new, arts/entertainment and lifestyle free monthly newspaper, Gavin promotes the concept of “community” in our ethnically diverse city. TODO Austin celebrates our common heritage while closely mirroring the changing demographics of Austin, and seeks to provide a platform to profile the individuals, groups and organizations that present a positive vision in the community. Gavin also serves as: director of Austin Dias de los Muertos; executive director of Humanitarians in the Arts; and assistant director of UT’s Project on Conflict Resolution. A native Austinite, Gavin is also a musician and event producer/promoter known for being well-connected in many communities, and has been dubbed by the Austin Chronicle as both a “longtime scenester” and “scene fixture.” He served in the late ‘90s as the Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s “Austin’s Music Liaison” back when “The Live Music Capital of the World” moniker was born.