Institute Staff

Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life
Roderick P. Hart
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Dr. Roderick P. Hart

Founding Director

Dr. Hart holds the Allan Shivers Centennial Chair in Communication and Government at The University of Texas at Austin. His area of special interest is politics and the mass media, about which he has written numerous  books and articles. He has been named a Research Fellow by the International Communication Association, a Distinguished Scholar by the National Communication Association, and has received the Edelman Career Award from the American Political Science Association. He is also a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at the University. Click here to view Dr. Hart's website and full bio. 

Susan T. Nold


Before being named Director of the Annette Strauss Institute in September 2015, Nold worked as General Counsel to Texas Senator Kirk Watson and as a Staff Attorney for the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. Prior to working in the Texas Capitol, Susan practiced law as a Litigation Associate at Bracewell & Giuliani, volunteered as a Congressional Affairs Liaison for a presidential campaign, worked in development for a political committee in Washington, D.C. and was a White House intern. Nold’s appreciation for civic engagement is deeply rooted in the experiences of her upbringing in Crockett, Texas, where generations of her family engaged in public and community service, including her father, who served in the Texas House, Texas Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Nold has worked effectively with people of all political persuasions and she profoundly believes in the need to get all Texans involved in civic lives of their communities. Nold earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern Methodist University in 1999 and her law degree from The University of Texas School of Law in 2004. 

Sharon E. Jarvis
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Dr. Sharon E. Jarvis

Associate Director, Research

An Associate Professor for the Department of Communication Studies, Dr. Jarvis researches the intersection of language use, politics and persuasion and teaches a variety of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels including political communication, campaign communication, and persuasion theory. She is the author of  The Talk of the Party: Political Labels, Symbolic Capital & American Life (Rowman & Littlefield) and a co-author of  Political Keywords: Using Language that Uses Us (Oxford University Press).  Dr. Jarvis has been the Principal Investigator on a $100,000 grant to investigate the political participation of college students and working youth (CIRCLE, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts) and a co Principal-Investigator on two related projects focusing on the politics of youth (over $550,000 in funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts).  She has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards and honors, including the Texas Exes Outstanding Professor for the Moody College of Communication, the Eyes of Texas Teaching Award, and the Outstanding Professor in the Moody College of Communication. In 2005, she was the second Assistant Professor in the history of the University to receive the Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship, the largest undergraduate teaching honor at U.T. Austin.

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Tim Kubatzky

Associate Director, Development

Tim Kubatzky is a fundraiser with 30 years of experience in a variety of higher ed institutions in Texas. Since 2000, Tim has worked directly with board members, presidents, and deans to craft cases for support and deliver the institutions’ messages to potential donors and volunteers, and to secure funding at the highest levels. Tim is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and holds the CFRE designation and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  Tim and his wife Kathy are CASA volunteers in Williamson County for children in the foster care system. They have grown twin sons who are UT grads (Communications and Government) and an older son and a daughter-in-law. They live northeast of Georgetown with their mutts Stella and Walter, on a lot that is too big to be a yard and too small to be a ranch.

Melissa Huebsch
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Melissa Huebsch

Center Administrator

Melissa manages the Institute's operations and program fulfillment, assists the Institute's Director with special projects, and leads the operational team on accounting and purchasing for all research grant, endowment, and general accounts. Since joining the Annette Strauss Institute in 2003, Melissa has also provided event planning & coordination expertise, photography and design skills, developed staff training systems, and managed projects and events of all varieties. Melissa studied History and Vocal Performance at the University of Texas, and follows government and politics avidly in her personal time.

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Bianca Solis

Outreach Program Coordinator, New Politics Forum

Bianca Solis is the New Politics Forum Outreach Program Coordinator. She previously worked as a the fundraising associate at Norma Denham & Associates, a full- service political consulting firm. She supported political candidates in state, county, and city races meet their campaign fundraising goals by coordinating various fundraising events and growing their donor base. Prior to her work in local politics, she was the Assistant Program Manager for Student Services at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. She managed recruitment and promotion efforts for a national internship program and several scholarship opportunities. She assisted the coordination of local professional development events, regional STEM Summits, and an annual higher education conference. Bianca received her B.A. in Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Cole Wilson

Events Program Assistant, New Politics Forum

Cole serves as the New Politics Forum Events Program Assistant. Before coming to the Annette Strauss Institute, Cole worked with Young Invincibles, a consumer education and advocacy organization amplifying the voices of young people. He served as a Legislative Director for Rep. Jarvis Johnson during the 86th Legislative session and a Legislative Aide for the Garcia Group during the 85th. Between the 85th and 86th sessions Cole worked in New York helping at-risk children navigate the college application process. He has worked in campaign research and in campaign fundraising on various city, state, and national races. He earned his Bachelors in History for the University of Texas at Austin and currently spends his spare time as a Travis County CASA.

Heather Vaughn

Sr. Educational Outreach Coordinator, Lecturer

As the Sr. Educational Outreach Coordinator at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, Ms. Vaughn has served many roles previously, including coordinator of advanced academics, district K-12 gifted and talented specialist, gifted and talented enrichment teacher, and core curriculum teacher in early childhood, elementary, and middle schools. Most of her career has been devoted to curriculum development and teacher training. At UT High School, she designed and facilitated online gifted/talented professional development for teachers and coordinated the AP Summer Institutes on campus, in addition to overseeing Credit by Exams and working with advanced students and school districts throughout the state. In Pflugerville ISD, she coordinated and developed curriculum for the ASCEND Program for highly gifted students, and conducted district-wide professional development. Ms. Vaughn has been recognized by the National Association for Gifted Children and the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented for her contributions in creating and championing services for gifted students. Ms. Vaughn holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction and Gifted & Talented from the University of Mississippi, and an Ed.S. in Educational Psychology from the University of Georgia.

Paul Sokolow

K-12 Strategic Growth AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer

Paul Sokolow is currently serving as the K-12 Strategic Growth Americorps Vista. Paul recently graduated from American University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Spanish. Paul studied in Chile for his Junior year, and has worked with various other NGOs previously, ranging from working with poverty in his hometown to Civic education in Santiago. Paul is passionate about involving underprivileged young people in politics, on a local, national, and global level.

Institute Fellows

Liz Chadderdon
Marjorie Clifton
Jenifer Sarver
Larry Schooler