By Megan Wehring
KYLE — Panelists will be joining together for the second event in the Dialogue for Peace and Progress series on Friday. Discussion will begin at 7 p.m. at Kyle City Hall but other ways to participate include Spectrum 10, YouTube and the city of Kyle’s Facebook page.
The series works to provide a platform for open, honest conversations that will raise awareness about issues that are seldom talked about publicly.
Meet the Panelists
Dex Ellison – moderator
Council member Dex Ellison moved to San Marcos from Austin where he attended high school. Ellison has been a Kyle resident since 2010, following his time at Texas State University where he studied mass communication and coaching athletics. Ellison spent his career in community banking, working to help those solve fiscal issues and improve lives financially.
He has prioritized community involvement in different ways: volunteer youth football coach for the Kyle Invaders, Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce, 2013 graduate of the Kyle Citizens Police Academy and Kyle Leadership Academy, charter member of the Kyle Rotary Club and other local nonprofits and organizations.
Previously serving a 2-year term on the Kyle Planning and Zoning Commission, Ellison was elected in 2017 for the Kyle City Council and still serves his city in that capacity. He is passionate about hearing resident concerns and building bridges to move forward.
Pastor Marquet V. Curl
Marquet Curl is the senior pastor of the R.O.C.K Kyle. Curl is well-versed in his academic degrees: bachelor of applied arts and sciences with an emphasis on business management and bachelor of theology; master of arts in organizational leadership. Curl is currently pursuing a master’s in theology from Kingdown Bible University with plans set to begin a doctoral program soon.
Curl is a vital part of the Hays County community as he is the founder of several organizations: first chaplain program for the city of Kyle, Impact Education Program in Hays CISD, Vision in Progress organization at Texas State University and Allied Service of Kyle (A.S.K.).
Kyle native Aaron Taylor currently attends the University of Texas at Austin, where he will graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in management information systems (MIS). He participated in programs based in New York City and Beijing, China. Taylor embraces his identity as a Black man with diverse, global experiences along with a welcoming personality to reach others and facilitate change.
Derrick “David” Bryant
Derrick “David” Bryant serves as a Lockhart council member for District 2, senior pastor of Arise Christian Ministries and business owner. Bryant recently hosted a December event called ‘Black Voices in Caldwell County: A Virtual Discussion.’ He has been married to his wife Mary for 20 years and is the proud father of 12-year-old daughter Shekinah.
Adrian Gooden is an IT Helpdesk technician for the city of Kyle, while also working as an independent commercial and portrait photographer. Born in Crockett, TX and raised in Corsicana, TX for 18 years, Gooden moved to Central Texas in San Marcos to attend Texas State University to pursue a degree in computer information systems and business administration.
Gooden’s interests include technology, cameras, cars, music and cooking. He is consistently looking for new ways to be creative, create a better environment for his peers and remain introverted in his lifestyle.
Grace Bohannon Castañeda
Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Auntie, Educator, Avid Reader and Book Collector, Social Justice Advocate and Passionate Human Being
Grace Castañeda is married to husband Rubèn Castañeda and proud mother of Charles Bohannon, 2017 Hays High School graduate. Residing in Plum Creek for over 16 years, Castañeda is a Texas State University alumna and currently serves at Negley Elementary School in her 12th year as a classroom teacher. She is a founding member of Kyle Cultural Awareness, hoping to be a voice of marginalized people in and around her community.
Levi Griffith is currently a 16-year-old junior at Lehman High School. He has been attending virtually since last March 2020. He also attended Hemphill Elementary, Fuentes Elementary and Chapa Middle School. Griffith has participated in the band program of both middle and high school and is currently participating in the powerlifting program.
Mayor Travis Mitchell
Mayor Travis Mitchell is a small business owner, entrepreneur, along with his responsibilities as the current mayor of Kyle. A native Texan, Mitchell met his wife Cori at Texas A&M University before moving to the Austin region in 2007 to start a family of three sons in elementary school with a dog named Jack.
Vanessa Westbrook has been a Kyle resident for 10-plus years. Westbrook is an independent consultant, Hays County election judge, Hays County historical commission member and chair of the African American Heritage Committee, former lecturer at Texas State University, and former executive director of the Calaboose Museum.
Westbrook recently served as the chair of the West Ranch to Market 150 naming committee.
With more than 35 years of experience in education, science and engineering, she implemented programs and projects in public schools, universities, professional organizations and state and federal agencies.
Westbrook has a passion for engaging everyone at the discussion table to create innovative, emphatic solutions to defined problems and/or identify problems that need attention.
Jonnie Wilson is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in clinical and mental health and a nationally board-certified counselor. She is currently a sexual assault outreach counselor at Hays-Caldwell Women Center in San Marcos.
Wilson has over 25 years of experience working in a professional environment, a strong advocate for marginalized students at Texas State University, mentoring adolescents and adults along with providing guidance and advising.
She also has 25 years of experience working with specialized populations: women of color, veterans, adolescent girls, black males, victims of sexual and race-based trauma, chronic illness, unplanned pregnancies/college students, LGBTQIA college students and first-generation college students.
Born in Panama City, Richard Dixon moved to the U.S. at only 6-years-old. He graduated from Sonoma State University in California in 1992, majoring in sociology and minoring in kinesiology. Dixon moved to Texas in 2006 and currently works at the University of Texas at Austin.
He is married to Karina Dixon and they have seven children, ranging in age from 14-years-old to 29-years-old, along with an 18-month-old granddaughter. Dixon played and coached football at every level except professionally. He currently serves as president of the Kyle Youth Football Association, established in 2008.