April 10th Future Fest Launch Event!
Powered-up conversation and Q&A with top thought leaders and futurists Pam Henning, Enver Kaba, John Kovacs, Dr. Elizabeth McRae, Kelly O’Connor, Gilberto Salinas. Moderated by Ceslie Armstrong.
Uplifting vibes, delicious bites and liquid fueled concoctions created by culinary innovator Chef Martino Ortega paired with flavorful spirits by Hill Country Distillers.
Register for your complimentary ticket and event credential. You must present your ticket at registration to attend*:
The Trailblazers Future Fest 2019 programming includes live-audience speaker conversations, discussions, Q & A’s, and experiences about “what’s next” from high profile thought leaders, experts, and innovators in their areas of expertise. Future Fest celebrates the value of research and development with immersive programming showcasing leading-edge concepts, ideas, strategies, products, and plans.
Media & Entertainment Executive
Vice President of Travelex Currency Services
New York, NY – London, UK
Pam Henning is a business catalyst with a track record of developing breakthrough ideas that drive revenue and build brand equity through ideation, sales and execution of multi-platform integrated marketing initiatives. Innovative executive with career experience in film, live entertainment, magazine, retail and television, leveraging a background in start-up, early stage and Fortune 500 companies.
Henning’s career in media and entertainment have included senior and leadership positions at Pamalot Entertainment (owner), Fox Cable Networks, The Weinstein Company (Los Angeles/New York), Serino Coyne, Inc (an Omnicom Company), Loews Cineplex Entertainment, Travelex Currency Services (New York/London) and more.
She has developed native content and customized programming for brands including Anheuser-Busch, Audi, Cadillac, Hershey, Jeep, Kayak, Microsoft, Mercedes Benz, Miller Coors, Pepsi, Subway, VW, West Elm (a Williams Sonoma Company), Sonos, Samsung, PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats, Microsoft, and, Wonderama Entertainment.
Henning ran The Weinstein Company’s global integrated marketing department. Oversight of merchandising and licensing programs for Weinstein/Dimension film and television properties. She was the lead business executive for television franchise Project Runway. Worked with network partner BRAVO and magazine partner ELLE to create and execute brand-sponsored challenges with agencies and their clients.
American Express, Blackberry, Bravo, Elle magazine, Hershey’s, General Motors, Levi’s, LVMH, L’Oreal Paris, TRESemmé, and T-Mobile for Weinstein and Dimension films from The Nanny Diaries and The Great Debaters to Grindhouse and Halloween.
Pamela Henning is an active member of the Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences; and board member (past and present) of the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Digital Hollywood Women in Business (advisor); The President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities.
Executive Vice President & General Manager,
Enver Kaba joined Aston Martin/Pagani Dallas as Executive Vice President and General Manager in August of 2018 bringing with him over 16 years of automotive experience, 15 years of which are in key positions with Aston Martin, Pagani, Ferrari and Porsche.
Enver Kaba was born and raised in Connecticut. Educated at Holy Cross High School in Waterbury Connecticut. Attended Texas Christian University and West Virginia Wesleyan College where he holds a degree in Government. After graduating college he held management positions with AT&T (SNET & SBC), Advanced Telecom Group and Cablevision-Lightpath. Shortly after 9/11 Kaba left the Tri-State area to be closer to family in Texas and to focus on his real passion: Cars! Enver enjoys motorsports, soccer, travel and spending time with his wife and twin boys.
“In matters of style, swim with the current;
in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Owner, Hill Country Distillers
John Kovacs is a native of San Antonio and graduated from Texas State University. John spent most of his career in sales in roofing and the construction products industry, creating and growing both a sales and marketing firm (The Kovacs Group) and a manufacturing company (STS Coatings), providing leading edge technologies for the industry. After selling both firms, he and his wife Cayce wanted something different for their retirement years.
The Kovacs attended “moonshine school” in Kentucky in 2013 and began thinking about how to make uniquely Texas products that could stand out from the crowd. Their retirement project, Hill Country Distillers, opened on July 3, 2014. Since the opening, they have expanded from the original two spirits, prickly pear and jalapeno, to include a barrel-aged prickly pear, a gin, a brandy, and a line of dulces. The goal from the beginning of this venture has been to stay true to “TEXAS” in all things, from buying raw materials to choosing the ingredients for their spirits. The spirits are based in using Texas cactus and the byproducts from producing the spirits are then used for other agri-business.
The award-winning spirits can be tasted at the distillery in historic Comfort, Texas where guests can tour the grounds, see the stills, and enjoy live music and kid-friendly fun in the Comfort Backyard. An expansive and truly unique menu of drinks expertly created with all of Hill Country Distillers spirits are at the bar. Purchase bottles at the distillery and also available at specialty retailers.
Hill Country Distillers is a member of the Texas Distilled Spirits Association. John and his wife, Cayce, have been married for 26 years, and they moved to the hill country in 2003. He has two children and three granddaughters, and they enjoy taking family trips together whenever their schedules allow.
DR. ELIZABETH McRAE MD, FACP
Medical Laser Technology Expert
Dr. Elizabeth McRae MD, FACP has been board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine since 1991. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center where she received her Medical Degree. Dr. McRae received her internal medical training as part of the LSU Charity Hospital System. She is also a fellow of the American College of Physicians.
Dr. McRae has practiced Advanced Laser Aesthetics since 2005. She has been a Fellow of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery since 2007. The Doctor has also published research for ASLMS Journal in 2013. Dr. McRae has trained with specialists in the Laser and Aesthetic fields, both plastic surgeons and dermatologists, to bring the latest in Aesthetic Services to the Texas Hill Country. She has hand-picked an elite staff to serve her patients.
Dr. McRae has been a leader and speaker for several laser companies and the international Esthetics Conference Locally active, Dr. McRae was named Rotarian of the Year for her club in 1994. She was President of the United Way of Kendall County and has served every office of the Kendall County Medical Society as both a past president and charter member since 1996. She has also served as founding medical director for Medical Mission for health for 10 years and was named Hill Country Outstanding Woman in business in 1997.
McRae is an avid horsewoman and continues to compete around the US in top hunter jumper competitions. McRae was born in Thierville, France, where her father was stationed in the U.S. Army and she grew up in Germany and Oklahoma, where she learned to ride Western style. Elizabeth and her husband Patrick own several horses including a colt from their own mare. Clementine, an 11-year-old Hanoverian mare, is Dr. McRae’s competition horse who was the 2014 Reserve Champion in the U.S. National Hunter Derby, and together, Clementine and Elizabeth were the Zone 7 Champions for 2017, and Texas State Champions in the Adult Equitation competition. Dr. McRae, and her husband enjoy caring for their German Warmblood horses at their ranch in Boerne, Texas. An avid explorer, she recently returned from Mongolia where she rode the native horse breed of Mongolia. The Mongol horse breed is purported to be largely unchanged since the time of Genghis Khan.
Head of Collections & Communications,
Linda Pace Foundation, Ruby City
San Antonio, TX
San Antonio-born visual artist Kelly O’Connor began her career as Linda Pace’s Studio Manager. She currently is the Head of Collections & Communications for Linda Pace Foundation. In 2017 she oversaw the Foundation’s rebranding and identity shift to Ruby City, a contemporary art center.
You will find O’Connor’s artwork in the McNay Art Museum’s permanent collection as well as a 36 ft mural in the newly renovated Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. She was recently accepted to UTSA’s School of Business to complete an Executive MBA degree. Outside of being a professional in her field, she enjoys chasing around her two toddlers and is a Crossfit enthusiast.
COO, Kerr Economic Development Corp.
Gilberto is the Chief Operation Officer of the Kerr Economic Development Corporation in Kerrville, Texas, which is in Hill Country and part of the San Antonio-Austin business corridor. As the economic development executive in Kerrville, Texas, he is implementing strategies for business and corporate growth in an array of sectors which are tied to the recently launched 2050 Your Voice-Your City comprehensive plan.
In his prior role, he was the head of economic development for the Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Mexico Borderplex, a binational and bicultural region of 1.2 million where he managed a prospect pipeline of $11 billion in projects and regularly met with top-level executives of Fortune 500 companies.
As an economic development career-professional, Gil has had the distinctive opportunity to work a project of significant impact with Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, and its founder Elon Musk, who in 2014 announced the construction of their South Texas Launch Site at Boca Chica Beach. He recently was chosen to present his story about the SpaceX project in a Ted Talk series at the IEDC 2017 Going Global Conference in Toronto.
In 2016, Governor Gregg Abbott appointed Gil to his Texas Aerospace & Aviation Advisory Committee.
He is a recipient of the DCI 40-Under-40 Rising Stars in Economic Development in the nation and in 2015 was named the Distinguished Alumnus of Leadership Brownsville and Masons Community Builder of the Year.
Gil is currently a board member of the International Economic Development Council and a founding board member of the Bordernomics Initiative-Mexican and Americans Thinking Together (MATT). Salinas earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Texas–Pan American.
In his off time, Salinas has been casted to play protagonist roles in Texas-based productions, including Robert Rodriguez’s cult classic ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ and most recently in ‘Queen of the South’ on the USA network.
Director of Dining Services,
Schreiner University Kerrville, TX
Chef Martino Ortega was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM. He has studied culinary arts for the majority of his personal and professional life. He spent his early years in the Bay Area and wine country; studying at California Culinary Academy; and, making his way through the South (Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina) in the role as Regional Executive Chef and ultimately New Mexico and Texas. He is excited to be in the Hill Country in the role as Director of Dining at Schreiner University where all the magic continues!
Chef Ortega’s mother is Japanese and inspired him early on when spending time in the kitchen as her prep cook. He was 12 years old when his interest really took off learning how to scratch bake in Home Economics during his middle school tenure.
He grew up in Santa Fe, NM with a very unique family dynamic. Santa Fe is a hub of cuisine and growing up with Japanese flavors incorporated into his style has given him a whole new perspective on Spanish/ Asian/ Northern New Mexican cuisine. An interesting example of this combination of flavors is a dish he created: Edo Negi Maki with Hatch Green Chile Appetizer finished with a Catalan Style Sofrito on a nest of Pomme Rosti. Always on the quest for new flavors, Chef Ortega says it has taken him many years to continually master his craft and the disciplines associated with culinary creativity.
Chef Martino Ortega is the recipient of three gold medals (ACF) A Tasters Award (sponsored by Rio Grande Chapter ACF), Bronze medal Culinary Competition Boston MA. Recognition in culinary excellence from Schreiner University, UNM, NM Tech, University of Montevallo, UTSA and various other affluent organizations.
Trailblazers Moderator, Co-Executive Producer
CEO, NYTEX Productions
New York, NY – Los Angeles, CA – San Antonio, TX
Ceslie Armstrong is an award-winning journalist, producer and writer. She is the CEO of NYTEX Productions LLC and the co-executive producer of Trailblazers Future Fest and The Trailblazers Series at Schreiner University. She is a media, entertainment, marketing, and communications executive; thought leadership expert; digital marketing and acquisition strategist; and premium content creator specializing in organizational, corporate, and entrepreneurial leadership to strategically interface brands and organizations into positions of increased consumer recognition, value, revenue and growth. Armstrong creates premium content with a strong digital marketing and distribution backbone to drive revenue for organizations and brands using processes that adapt to changing and emerging technologies to connect to audiences and build strong relationships. Armstrong has deep experience in subscriber-based recurring revenue business models; audience and content acquisition; impact investing advisement.
Ceslie Armstrong’s credits include major networks and national publications. She has held the post of editor-in-chief, senior editorial positions, and contributed to titles including Marie Claire, Grace Woman, Glamour, Mode, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, and more. She has been featured and quoted in hundreds of publications including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, WWD, Forbes, Fortune, & Entrepreneur. She has appeared as guest, host, and correspondent on Good Morning America, CBS Early Show, The View, E!, Access Hollywood, Food Network, Entertainment Tonight, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and more.
Armstrong has interviewed world leaders, icons, celebrities, innovators, and experts throughout her career and produces content across all digital, experiential, and print platforms including live news and scripted; magazines; fine and performing arts; radio/podcasts; and oversees all aspects of content creation and production. She specializes in the culinary and hospitality industries. She is the founding co-conference director along with Chef Bobby Flay’s production company (Rock Shrimp Productions) and Digital Hollywood founder Victor Harwood for the Food Innovations + Wellness programming twice annually in Los Angeles. She owns culinary brands Grapes, Grains and Grub™ and Hill Country Culinary™.
She has been on the producing team for many music artists including John Cale, Alejandro Escovedo, and Grammy-winners Los Lonely Boys and Matisyahu. She has art directed and worked with celebrated photographers including Mick Rock, Lynn Goldsmith, Billy Name, Patrick McMullan, Jack Guy, Francesco Scavullo, to name a few. She attended and reported live from New York Fashion Week for 38 seasons.
Since relocating back to Texas in 2012, she was the keynote speaker at the George Bush Presidential Library; received a Texas Press Association award; a proclamation by the State of Texas for her excellence in journalism. She was the publisher of San Antonio Magazine; created the brand and editor-in-chief of Hill Country Culture Magazine; hosted the “Ceslie’s Texas: Food, Music & Storytellin” radio show on Cox Radio KKYX; and was the executive content producer of the TV show “YOLO Texas” distributed on NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox throughout Texas. She owned a restaurant and dance hall in Bandera, TX where she produced concerts featuring Wade Bowen, Ronnie Milsap, Stoney LaRue, and more. She was born in San Antonio and raised there; in Acapulco, Mexico; and, throughout the Texas Hill Country where her family has deep roots. She began her professional career in New York after graduating high school in San Antonio and earning a BFA from Texas Christian University. She is a member of Geekdom (SATX), The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Wine Committee, The Friars Club (NYC), Fashion Group International (NYC), and the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association.
*Event is limited to 100 guests. One ticket per guest; tickets are non-transferrable; ticket-holders / guests must be 21 to consume alcohol; non-alcoholic beverages will also be served; food served may include gluten, nuts and shellfish; the information for your event credential will be generated by your ticket registration information; doors open at 5:30 pm for open seating.