Who We Are

Our History

AURA began in 2013 as Austinites for Urban Rail Action. A group of community activists came together to advocate for a transparent, data-driven approach to choosing the best route and plan in Austin’s ongoing urban rail study. In 2014 and 2015, AURA was voted Best Grassroots Group by Austin Chronicle readers.

We organized, mobilizing more than a hundred supporters to sign letters, attend meetings, and take action to press for a more open, data-driven process. We quickly won a spot on the citizen advisory group appointed by the mayor to provide feedback during the urban rail process, and our efforts helped to ensure that more data became available to residents.

As AURA’s original executive committee and their allies reached out to a wide variety of stakeholders and interested residents, it became clear that there was a hunger for a way to organize around a whole range of urbanist issues, including but not limited to rail. The new AURA platform was adopted at the first meeting, held in April of 2014.

Please feel free to join us as a member, and add your voice to the growing chorus calling for a more inclusive, connected Austin.

AURA has an Executive Board elected by its members.

Our Board

 

Tommy Ates

Tommy AtesThomas Ates is a Technical Writer who works with software, hardware, and mobile web applications. He loves learning about the history of Austin and the Central Texas area. This interest has led to research the development of Texas cities and wondering how these sprawling metropolitan areas can adapt and adjust to serve Texas' large diverse populace. Thomas' research with urbanism has concluded the best days of Texas cities lay ahead with unique, tailored urban solutions containing the cooperation of local neighborhoods, businesses, and municipalities

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Eric Goff

Eric Goff was raised in Houston's suburbs, and is 35.  He first got politically active protesting against the start of the second Gulf War in 2003, but eventually realized the best way to affect change was at home, in his community.  Eric is a Director at Citigroup Energy where he advises the organization on the impacts of local, state, and federal energy policies on markets, a co-founder of Austin's bike powered composting company, the Compost Pedallers, and wants an Austin where everyone who wants to afford to live here can.

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Mary Pustejovsky

Mary.jpgMary Pustejovsky enjoys walking, riding her bike with her two girls, and taking the bus. Some days she begrudgingly drives the car, but wishes it didn't have to be that way. In her day job, she works with Salesforce, delivering awesome solutions that help nonprofit organizations to achieve their missions. Being raised Catholic has left her with a strong concern for social justice. She became involved in AURA out of a desire to help build a city that is equitable, affordable, and safe for all Austinites, new and old. She is also involved with Vision Zero ATX, advocating for zero preventable traffic deaths for all road users.

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Susan Somers

Susan Somers

Susan Somers came to Austin in 2005 to pursue graduate studies in history. Moving to Austin without a car forced her to learn a lot about transit quickly. Around 2008, she fell into the urban Austin blogosphere and she hasn't looked back since. She got involved with AURA in 2013 after meeting its founders on Twitter during the urban rail planning process. She is passionate about creating a welcoming Austin. Since 2010, she's been an academic advisor at UT-Austin, currently serving undergraduate majors in the Classics and Philosophy Departments. She is the proud parent of an AISD elementary schooler.

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Stephanie Trinh

Stephanie TrinhStephanie Trinh is a public interest attorney dedicated to empowering low-income communities in Texas. She believes housing is a human right and wants those who build this city to afford to live in it. In her free time, she enjoys crossword puzzles, television, travel, and large dogs. Stephanie joined AURA to promote housing and justice for all.

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Thomas Visco

ThomasVisco.jpgThomas Visco is the co-Founder of Glasshouse Policy, a nonprofit community engagement organization. Through all of his work, Thomas seeks to collaborate between established and newly formed constituencies to produce community-oriented public policy to the benefit of all citizens. In his free time, Thomas enjoys reading—mostly history—two-stepping, and pondering a life at sea.

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Liza Wimberley

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Chris "Kaz" Wojtewicz

Chris.jpgAs a fifth-generation Austinite, Chris "Kaz" Wojtewicz has a deep understanding about the angst that change has brought to Austin. These changes, and managing change, inspired Kaz to study economics at TX State as well as continue his studies in Public Affairs at UT.  With over 12 years as a public servant, as well as experience in the private sector, Kaz brings unique experiences to the AURA board. As a staunch believer in the maxim, "leaders eat last", Kaz advocates for public leadership and government that serves all of society.  Kaz lives with his wife, 2 daughters, and one labrador in Northwest Hills. He enjoys running, exploring the Austin food scene, and spending time with friends and family.

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Steven Yarak

Steven Yarak

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