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  • 2015 Keynote Speakers

    Keynote Speakers Announced

    Antonio Garza
    U.S. Ambassador (Ret.)

    Christi Craddick
    Chairman, Railroad Commission of Texas

    Keynote Moderator:
    Evan Smith
    Editor-in-Chief, CEO, The Texas Tribune

10th Annual Alumni Business Conference

Seats are still available!

Please register at the door with cash or check. The conference fee is $160.

The McCombs Alumni Network's 10th Annual Alumni Business Conference is March 6, 2015  in Austin, Texas. This year's conference theme is "The Next Frontier for Texas Business" and features a keynote panel with Ambassador Tony Garza, Texas Railroad Commission Chair Christi Craddick, and Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith as the keynote moderator. Texas CPAs will be eligible receive CPE credit for the conference. View the attendee list.

Conference Schedule

Friday, March 6

 8-8:45 a.m.

Registration and Breakfast 

 8:45 a.m.

Welcome from Conference Moderator Lillian Mills, Chair, Department of Accounting

 9-10:15 a.m.


Topic: Outlook for Commercial Real Estate, Texas and Beyond: addressing the most relevant commercial real estate topics facing the industry today, presented by some of the industries top CRE leaders.

Moderator: Jay Hartzell, Sr. Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, McCombs School of Business

Jack Fraker, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, CBRE Capital Markets
Patton “Pat" Jones, Principal, ARA Real Estate Investment Services
Colby Mueck, Managing Director, HFF, LP

 10:15-10:45 a.m.

Break and Networking Time 

 10:45-11:15 a.m.

Tom Gilligan, Dean, McCombs School of Business
School Update

 11:30 a.m.-
 12 p.m.


 12-1:30 p.m.

Keynote Panel:

Antonio Garza, U.S. Ambassador (ret.)
Christi Craddick, Chair, Texas Railroad Commission

Keynote Moderator:
Evan Smith, Editor-in-Chief and CEO, The Texas Tribune

 1:30-2 p.m. Break and Networking Time
 2-3 p.m.

Michael E. Webber, Ph.D., Author, Energy101 | Deputy Director, Energy Institute | Co-Director, Clean Energy Incubator | Josey Centennial Fellow in Energy Resources | Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Topic: Thirst for Power: The Nexus of Energy and Water

 3-3:15 p.m. Break and Networking Time
 3:15-4 p.m.

Sheril Kirshenbaum, Associate Director, UT Energy Poll 

Topic: Energy in Texas: Insights from the UT Austin Energy Poll

 4-6 p.m.

Networking Reception


Below are the 10th Annual McCombs Alumni Business Conference speakers. Each is a leader in his or her field, and we know their insight will be incredibly helpful as we discuss today's most pressing business issues.

Keynote Panel

GarzaThe Honorable
Antonio Garza
U.S. Ambassador (Ret.)

Antonio Garza serves as Counsel in the Mexico City office of White & Case LLP, one of the world’s leading global law firms with 39 offices in 26 countries. Additionally, Ambassador Garza is Chairman of Vianovo Ventures, a management consultancy with a focus on cross-border business development.

Drawing on decades of high-profile, political, legal, and business experience, Garza serves as a strategic counselor to CEOs, investors, and entrepreneurs. He is acknowledged as one of the top experts on U.S.-Mexico relations and on the business and political environments of both nations.

Ambassador Garza currently serves as a director of Basic Energy Services, Inc. (NYSE: BAS), an oil and gas well services company, Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU), a rail based transportation company and MoneyGram (NYSE: MGI), a global money transfer company. Mr. Garza formerly served on the boards of BBVA Compass and the U.S. holding companies of BBVA (NYSE: BBVA).

Mr. Garza is a member of the Board of Trustees of Southern Methodist University, the Development Board of the University of Texas at Austin and past member of the Dean’s Council at the Harvard School of Public Health. The Ambassador is a director of the Americas Society, member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a recipient of the “Aguila Azteca” or Aztec Eagle, the Mexican government’s highest honor bestowed upon a foreign national.

From 2002 to 2009, Garza was the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Prior to that time, Mr. Garza served as chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, having been elected to statewide office in 1998. Mr. Garza is a past partner at Bracewell & Patterson (now Bracewell & Giuliani) and served as Secretary of State of the State of Texas and Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor of the State of Texas from 1994 to 1997, and as Cameron County Judge from 1988 to 1994.

Garza holds a BBA from The University of Texas at Austin and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Southern Methodist University School of Law and has been honored as a distinguished alumnus at both institutions. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the District of Columbia Bar and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. Garza is married to Dr. Liz Beightler.

Twitter: @aogarza

CraddickChristi Craddick
Texas Railroad Commission

Chairman Christi Craddick was elected statewide by the people of Texas in November 2012 to serve a six-year term as Texas Railroad Commissioner, and was elected Chairman of the Commission in August 2014.

A native of Midland, Christi is an attorney specializing in oil and gas, water, tax issues, electric deregulation and environmental policy.

Craddick formerly served as president of a grassroots advocacy firm specializing in coalition building in the public policy arena and development and implementation of issue strategies.

Craddick served as the chief political and legal advisor to the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Tom Craddick from 2002-2011, the first Republican Speaker in over 100 years.

In 1994-95, Craddick clerked at the law firm of Jackson Walker, L.L.P., formerly Small, Craig & Werkinthin, where she specialized in agricultural, electric deregulation, environmental and tax issues.

In 1994, she worked in the legal department of the Railroad Commission of Texas and at the Third Court of Appeals. Craddick also clerked at the law firms of Scott Douglas & McConnico in Austin and Cotton, Bledsoe, Tighe & Dawson in Midland in 1993. In 1991, she served on the staff of U.S. Congressman Joe Barton.

Christi earned her Bachelor’s Degree as a Plan II graduate and her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from The University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas. Christi resides in Austin with her daughter, Catherine, and is an active member of St. Austin’s Catholic Church.

SmithKeynote Moderator:
Evan Smith
Editor-in-Chief, CEO
The Texas Tribune

Evan Smith is the Editor in Chief and CEO of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan digital news organization recently called “one of the nonprofit news sector’s runaway success stories.” The Tribune's deep coverage of Texas politics and public policy can be found at its website,; in the pages of the New York Times; and in newspapers and on TV and radio stations across the state. Since its launch in 2009, the Tribune has won international acclaim and numerous honors, including nine Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association, two general excellence awards from the Online News Association, and IRE's Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism. Before co-founding the Tribune, Evan spent nearly 18 years at Texas Monthly, including eight years as Editor and a year as President and Editor in Chief. On his watch, Texas Monthly twice won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence.

Master of Ceremonies

MillsLillian Mills
Department of Accounting
McCombs School of Business

Department Chair Lillian F. Mills is the Beverly H. and William P. O’Hara Endowed Chair in Business. She joined University of Texas at Austin in 2006 and served as Graduate Advisor for the accounting doctoral program during 2009-2010. Her research interests in tax compliance, accounting for income taxes and effective tax rates, and international taxation arose through her professional experience, where she was a senior manager in taxation for Price Waterhouse. Professor Mills especially values her continuing working relationship with the IRS Large Business and International division. In 2003 and 2004 she was a consultant to the IRS/Treasury workgroup developing Form 1120 Schedule M-3. In 2005 and 2006 she was a Stanley Surrey Senior Research Fellow at the Office of Tax Analysis for the U.S. Department of Treasury. In 2007 she was appointed to the IRS’ Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee as a member of the Tax Gap Measurement subcommittee. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan and worked at the University of Arizona from 1997-2005. She received the 2000 Arizona CPA Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2004 Eller College Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2005 she and co-author George Plesko were awarded the American Accounting Association Deloitte Wildman Medal for “Bridging the reporting gap: a proposal for more informative reconciling of book and tax income,” National Tax Journal, December 2003. The Wildman Medal is awarded to the published paper that has made or is likely to make the most significant contribution to the advancement of the practice of accounting. Her paper, “Last chance earnings management: Using tax expense to achieve analysts’ forecasts,” co-authored with Dan Dhaliwal and Cristi Gleason, won the American Taxation Association 2007 Manuscript Award. She served as 2009-2010 president of the American Taxation Association. She has served on numerous other American Accounting Association, American Taxation Association, and National Tax Association committees, including the AAA Doctoral Consortium Committee, the AAA New Faculty Consortium Committee, and the selection committees for the AAA Notable Contribution Award and the Deloitte Wildman Award. She chaired the inaugural 2005 KPMG/ATA Tax Doctoral Consortium. She serves or has served on the editorial boards of The Accounting Review, Contemporary Accounting Research, National Tax Journal and Accounting Horizons and The Journal of the American Taxation Association. She recently concluded a three year term as an Editor at Contemporary Accounting Research. In 2014 she received the American Accounting Association EY/Ray Sommerfeld Outstanding Tax Educator Award, largely for her national leadership in tax doctoral education. Lillian and her husband Jim Mills enjoy golfing and visiting their grown children and grandchildren in AZ, MI, NJ and WI. Lillian plays the piano at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and enjoys swing dancing.  

Additional Speakers

FrakerJack Fraker
Vice Chairman and Managing Director
CBRE Capital Markets

Jack Fraker is a Vice Chairman and also, Managing Director of CBRE’s Capital Markets Industrial Practice. He has 30 years of real estate experience, specializing in the sale of investment properties for institutional clients, as well as tenant representation (office and industrial) for corporate clients. He has consistently ranked as a top producer nationally in investment sales, representing some of the country’s largest corporations, pension fund advisors and REITs. He has leased or sold over 630 million square feet and approximately 6,600 acres of development sites in more than 60 U.S. cities, and in Mexico, Europe and South America.

Professional Affiliations and Achievements:

  • Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR)
  • National Association of Investment and Office Properties (NAIOP)
  • Urban Land Institute (ULI), Council Chair
  • Stemmons Service Award – 2003 (awarded by the North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors)
  • CBRE’s Edward S. Gordon Award – 2007
  • CBRE’s Gary J. Beban Teamwork Award – 2006 & 2011
  • CBRE’s Colbert Coldwell Circle Award (Top Producers) – Multiple years
  • The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs Real Estate Finance & Investment Center – Advisory Council


  • The University of Texas at Austin, Bachelor of Business Administration

HartzellJay Hartzell
Sr. Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Office of the Dean

Jay Hartzell is the Sr. Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the McCombs School of Business, Professor of Finance, Allied Bancshares Centennial Fellow, and the Executive Director of the Real Estate Finance and Investment Center. Also, he recently served as the Finance Department Chair. He received his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin and he taught previously at New York University's Stern School of Business. His research focuses on corporate finance, especially real estate finance and corporate governance.

JonesPatton "Pat" Jones
ARA Real Estate Investment Services

As ARA Central Texas Founding Principal, Mr. Jones is responsible for the Austin and San Antonio conventional multifamily business, the ARA National Student Housing Group, and the ARA National Manufactured Housing Group. Mr. Jones oversees business development, market research, and all aspects of property disposition. The collective business lines produce roughly $1 Billion in sales annually.

Prior to joining ARA, Mr. Jones was cofounder of an aviation parts company. He lived and worked in London and Hong Kong and was responsible for sales in 33 countries. The company grew 9,200% in three years and was winner of numerous business awards – ranked #1 in “Houston’s 100 Fastest-Growing Businesses” in 1999 by the Houston Chronicle, ranked #7 in Dun & Bradstreet and Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Hot 100, America’s Fastest-Growing New Businesses 1999,” and scored one of the Aviation Industries’ best web sites rated by Forbes Magazine in 2000.

Additionally, Mr. Jones’s past work experience includes single-family patio home development, energy trading, and serving as an international sales manager for a Fortune 500 tech firm. Pat received his Political Science degree at the University of Texas at Austin.

Professional / Philanthropic Associations:

  • Real Estate Council of Austin Member
  • ULI Member
  • Dell Children’s Hospital Campaign Leadership Board
  • Foundation Communities “Home Builder”
  • The Rise School “Sportsman Club” Member

Sheril KirshenbaumSheril Kirshenbaum
Associate Director
UT Energy Poll

Sheril Kirshenbaum, director of the UT Energy Poll, works to enhance public understanding of energy issues and improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. She is the author of two popular science books and regularly contributes to magazines and academic journals. Sheril is a 2012 Marshall Memorial Fellow, a Next Generation Project Texas Fellow, and has served as a legislative Knauss Science Fellow in 2006 on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy.

MueckM. Colby Mueck
Managing Director

Mr. Mueck is a Managing Director in the Houston office of HFF with more than ten years of experience in commercial real estate finance. Mr. Mueck is actively involved in the debt and equity capitalization of both existing and to-be-built assets in Texas and across the country. Throughout the course of his career, Mr. Mueck has executed more than $3.6 billion in total transactions spanning office, industrial, retail, multi-housing, hotel, self-storage and healthcare assets. Prior to joining HFF in 2005, Mr. Mueck worked in multi-housing brokerage in Austin, Texas. He received his BS degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

WebberMichael E. Webber
Deputy Director of the Energy Institute
The University of Texas at Austin

Michael E. Webber is the Deputy Director of the Energy Institute, Josey Centennial Fellow in Energy Resources, Co-Director of the Clean Energy Incubator at the Austin Technology Incubator, and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, where he trains a new generation of energy leaders through research and education at the intersection of engineering, policy, and commercialization. He has authored more than 200 scientific articles, columns, books, and book chapters, including an op-ed in the New York Times and features in Scientific American. Read more.

Hotels and Resources

Reservation Information

We invite you to stay at our premier hotel and conference center:

AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center
1900 University Avenue (at Martin Luther King Blvd.)
Austin, TX 78705 
Map and parking information 

Reservations: 512-404-3600 or 877-744-8822 (toll free); register online  
Room Block Dates: Nights of March 5 and March 6, 2015
Special Conference Rate*: $179
Room Block Deadline: February 19, 2014
*Refer to reservation code ALUMBC0315 or the McCombs School of Business Alumni Business Conference to receive this special rate.

If the room block sells out, or if you prefer a different location, you can search this list of area hotels.

Restaurants and Entertainment

You will most likely want to visit your favorite restaurants, museums and music venues while you are in Austin. Here's a brief list of recommendations and resources.

Virtual Packet

Conference Schedule (pdf file)

Attendee List (web page)

Speaker Bios (pdf file)

Welcome Slides (pdf file)

Speaker Slides 

REFIC Panel Slides (pdf file)

Dean Gilligan Slides (pdf file)

UT Energy Poll - Sheril Kirshenbaum Slides (pdf file)

Online Survey

Please take our online survey if you did not have the opportunity to complete a hard copy at the conference.


Video from the presentations will be available 3-4 weeks following the conference.