The Kozmetsky Center of Excellence promotes healthy civic life and engagement in Austin, Texas. Through our active projects, community connections, and educational programs, we promote and equip students with the democratic tools for being productive and active citizens of a pluralistic society, capable of identifying, collaborating, and solving public problems that contribute to a more human, just and sustainable world.
We promote a strong civic education for students to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and disposition of active citizens. Kozmetsky will advance the role of global citizenship and applied scholarship to serve our community and advance St. Edward’s University’s academic excellence and distinction. Our activities in the center will promote a vibrant and inclusive campus life, following the Holy Cross Mission across all disciplines to attract broad student and faculty engagement in our projects and programs. Our goal is to be a leader in civic life that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.
The Kozmetsky Center of Excellence in Global Finance was established through a $3 million gift from Ronya Kozmetsky and her late husband, George. The couple, noted for their philanthropic leadership in Central Texas, established the RGK Foundation in 1966 and since then have awarded grants totaling more than $60 million to support humanitarian concerns in the areas of education, community and medicine/health.
Ronya and George Kozmetsky envisioned a Center of Excellence in Global Finance that would make an impact far beyond the campus of St. Edward's, benefiting not only students at the university — through interdisciplinary scholarly activities on campus and in international forums — but also individuals around the world who will be affected by sustainable financial stability.
The Kozmetsky Center contributes to academic programs and the learning experience of students at St. Edward’s University on several levels. The core objectives for our programs and activities in support of the St. Edward’s academic community include:
- Leading conversations and action about equality and justice in civic life.
- Connecting our Holy Cross mission to stakeholders across Austin.
- Teaching students how to be an engaged participant in civic life.
- Promoting a vision of hope to achieve a just, equitable and diverse society.
- Deeply integrated experiential learning opportunities for St. Edward’s students.
- Supporting faculty and student theoretical and applied research on civic engagement and civic life.
- Creating a nexus between St. Edward’s University faculty, students, community leaders and practitioners, to solve important civic issues in our community.
- Serving Austin and Central Texas as a source of research and information on best practices for civic engagement.
Dr. David Thomason, Director Read About Our Former Directors
David Thomason, Ph.D is an Associate Professor of Political Science with over 20 years of experience working in government related leadership positions and higher education.
David holds a doctorate in political science from Arizona State University, a Master of Arts from the University of Missouri and a Bachelor of Arts from West Texas A&M University. Most recently, he served as a professor at St. Edward’s University, where he created and directed an innovative program called the Civics Lab. As a professor, he conducts research and instruction in state and local policy, public budgeting and policy, advocacy, civic engagement, and the legislative process. Concurrently, he founded his own public policy firm, providing expertise and direction for clients in the Texas political process.
He served for over 11 years as senior vice president of public policy for a large Texas health-care association. David started his career in Texas policy and politics in the Texas Senate, working closely with elected leaders and statewide office holders. He also has a strong background in entrepreneurship, having launched two small businesses. In addition, he started and produced a series of podcasts on civic life in America, with a broad audience of 20 countries and every U.S. state.
David not only has legislative experience in Texas, but also in Arizona, where he served as a fiscal analyst with the Arizona Legislature’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee. As a public policy consultant, David has worked in over 15 states on public policy and civic engagement. His awards for professional excellence are too numerous to list, but his passions extend to the game of baseball, as well as fly fishing on almost any Hill Country river.
Allison Brooks, Executive Assistant
Allison Brooks is a St. Edward's alumna who currently serves as Executive Assistant of the Kozmetsky Center of Excellence. A 2010 graduate with a double Bachelors Degree in Communication and International Relations, Allison worked at the Texas State Capitol while finishing her degrees and climbed the ranks from senate messenger to legislative aide and finally to Scheduler and Capitol Office Manager to two State Senators. In this role, she formed a large network of legislative contacts including elected officials, their staff, lobbyists, advocates, and state agency representatives. She also built a strong foundation in operations and how to run an office. After a decade serving as a Senate staffer, Allison was invited to join a prestigious lobby firm as a Government Relations Specialist where she represented clients in the solar, education, recycling, and healthcare industries, and gained valuable experience working with people on both sides of the aisle.
Twelve years and six legislative sessions under the pink dome later, Allison left the world of politics to support VIPs in technology. She worked for CEOs, Chief Product Officers, Chief Technology Officers, and VPs of Business Development and learned from the best on how businesses come to be. It was here that she realized her gravitation towards operations and programming, and went on to pursue her Project Management Professional certification.
She has now taken all of her experience and brought it back to Hilltop where she works alongside the Executive Director to plan events, develop communication strategies, and implement processes to keep our Kozmetsky programs running.
Jessica Gallardo, Fall '23 Intern
Ian Clennen, Fall '23 Design Intern