Mac Walker provides media and strategic communications counsel to Crosswind’s energy, healthcare, technology and government clients. He is passionate about helping people with different political ideologies connect on important issues through effective communications and story-telling.
Mac previously worked for Governor Greg Abbott as his Deputy Press Secretary and a primary spokesperson for the Governor’s office. During this time, Mac was responsible for the Governor’s media releases, media engagement and query responses, and social media. Most recently, Mac served as the communications associate for a national education policy consultancy, where he directed all internal and external communications and was directly responsible for highlighting the company’s work online and in the media.
Born and raised in Florida, Mac earned his bachelor’s degree from Rollins College in political science and communications. He was a Division 2 student-athlete and team captain, as well as actively involved on campus. Outside of work, Mac enjoys playing golf, watching sports, and spending time with friends and family.
A respected and inspirational executive with over twenty-five (25) years’ experience in advertising, communications, organizational strategy, business development, corporate leadership, and finance. Eric is recognized for his collaborative leadership style, proactive approach, and keen ability to effectively translate complex strategies and concepts into tangible action plans. He has worked in various disciplines that include capital raising, sports sponsorship, media relations, marketing, client relations and entertainment.
Eric is founding member of Invicta Funds, a specialized investment firm that focuses on early stage startups in the technology, sustainability and filmmaking sectors.
Additionally, during his career, Eric has worked for GSD&M, McCann, Edelman, FOX Sports Net and Learfield IMG. His clients have included, AT&T, the Boy Scouts of America, ExxonMobil, United States Postal Service (USPS), Frito Lay, Starbucks and IndyCar, where he traveled to Japan to work with families and communities who were affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Eric also has experience with multicultural marketing where he has worked on campaigns in the Latino/Hispanic, African American and Asian American communities.
A Dallas native, Eric is a Texas A&M University graduate and Football Letterman. He also serves on several boards with an emphasis on youth leadership development, education and economic development.
April Dang is Crosswind’s Management Consultant, bringing to the agency 20 years of experience in team and project management leadership and consulting, spent principally in global finance and banking. She has extensive experience in navigating high-profile staff and clients through fast-changing market challenges and she is an accomplished crisis responder with a history of team leadership in sales, marketing, credit underwriting and audit. She has deep international roots. April has proud Jamaican, Chinese and British bloodlines. April and her four siblings began working at age 16 to put themselves through university and have since gone on to careers in a variety of industries including accounting, engineering, art design, banking and marketing. April herself, a varsity athlete in high school and a member of the African American Caribbean Students Association at the University of Toronto, graduated with a bachelors degree, majoring in psychology. She met her husband , currently an engineer for Austin-based Dell , in 1993 – across the net on the U of T volleyball court. April and her sons have been deeply committed volunteer members of the Texas-based Young Men’s Service League that sets mothers and sons to a common and local philanthropic project during high school years. She has taken on many board positions in this organization. Her passion for volleyball also lives on and she can be often found as the most animated fan in the stands at historic Gregory Gym on the nearby UT Austin campus where her equally-aggressive Longhorn spikers were this year the Number 1 women’s team in the nation.
Charles is President/CEO for Charles R. Smith Consulting, LLC. A company he founded in June 2018 after retiring from Texas state government. His primary practice areas are healthcare, technology, and human services where he has thirty years of state government experience.
Charles created relationships with many business leaders, state executives, and legislators. He has a state and national reputation for being a man of high integrity and honesty, improving operations, thoughtfully using technology to increase efficiencies, creatively resolving problems, and fiscal stewardship. He is a frequent speaker at state, regional, and national conferences.
Charles spent more than twenty-six years in Texas Child Support Division at the Office of the Attorney General. He worked his way up from caseworker to division director. Along the way, he established a long history of partnership with HHSC staff at the local, regional, and state levels to outreach TANF, Medicaid, WIC, and SNAP recipients who could benefit from child support services. Throughout his career at CSD, Charles was a frequent speaker at HHSC meetings and trainings. Under his direction as Director of Field Operations from 2004-2013, the program rose to become the highest performing child support program in the nation. He served as the Director of Child Support from 2013-2015.
Charles was appointed to serve as the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s (HHSC) Chief Deputy Executive Commissioner in July 2015 and became Executive Commissioner effective June 1, 2016. As Executive Commissioner, Charles oversaw the Texas’ Health and Human Services system agencies consisting of a $40 Billion annual budget and 50,000 employees serving 7.5 million Texans in more than 600 programs that included child welfare, Medicaid, WIC, SNAP, mental health, regulatory, and aging. During his tenure at HHSC, Charles successfully consolidated agencies and improved its overall efficiency and accountability to Texas citizens as directed by the state legislature. In December 2017, he successfully negotiated a federal waiver with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that will bring $30+ Billion in healthcare funding to Texas.
Charles presently serves on the board for several private companies and non-profit associations/organizations. He has worked on, led, or overseen many efforts and campaigns associated with public awareness, outreach, and marketing.
Charles is a proud graduate of Texas Tech University.
For nearly 30 years, Rear Admiral Robert Durand has been entrusted to lead teams, deliver results and provide key strategic insight at the nation’s highest and most critical levels, providing counsel to CEOs, CMOs and four-star combatant commanders. Robert recently retired from the U.S. Navy as Vice Chief of Information and he now provides strategic media and spokesperson services to clients of Crosswind Media and Public Relations.
As the senior reserve public affairs officer in the Navy, Robert led 500 Navy Reserve public affairs professionals and mass communication specialists who provide communication support to the Navy worldwide for events, exercises and combat operations. His command was the equivalent of a major marketing agency’s global workforce with supervision over media relations, crisis communication, strategic messaging, multimedia production, organizational communication and executive positioning.
In his civilian career, Robert has led corporate communications at five venture-funded high-technology companies, from early stage-startups to private equity turnarounds. He has taken four startups from invisibility to market prominence, resulting in two $400M+ acquisitions, and has also led public relations at a global cybersecurity company through a $2B acquisition, merger, and global rebranding effort.
He translates complex technology into the words, ideas and images that excite customers, investors, employees and partners.
A native of Lakewood, Colorado, Robert was commissioned in 1988 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. He was deployed to the Red Sea in support of Operation Desert Storm, was mobilized twice to serve as director of public affairs, Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and was recalled to active duty from 2009-2012 as director of Public Affairs for the Chief of Navy Reserve at the Pentagon.
Robert counts the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and various service and campaign awards as symbols of homage to his service.
Adam Beckner is a Digital Content Specialist at Crosswind Media & Public Relations. He was born and raised “up North” in the Texas Panhandle in Amarillo where he and his wife still call home. Adam is a first generation college graduate with an Associates Degree in Business Administration from Amarillo College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from West Texas A&M University. Adam is focused on building digital brands that provide long term value and he brings to us a fierce out-of-the-box, entrepreneurial spirit, and understands our digital future. He knows that even digital marketing requires consistent innovation with solid story development to be truly impactful. He has already captured and powerfully positioned stories for clients and companies across the Web2 and Web3 industries. In 2017, Adam found his passion for creating digital content by live streaming content to platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. Shortly after developing his content creation skill, Adam excelled in guiding other companies to online success through the use of new era media like podcasting, video ads, and short form video content. Outside of the workplace, Adam enjoys reading books within the self help and business development genre, working out, and spending time with his family. On summer weekends, Adam also fuels his adrenaline needs by racing his Limited Dirt Modified at Route 66 Motor Speedway.
Aurora Silva is an account executive at Crosswind Media & Public Relations. She is a born and raised Houstonian, currently living in the Cypress area, who enjoys anything involving Mediterranean food and Texas sunshine. Her mom makes the best ribs, and she is always excited to see what new creation she will be cooking up in the kitchen.
She attended Texas A&M in College Station where she received her Bachelor’s in English and fell in love with fantasy novels after attending a Fiction Fantasy literature course. Princess Bride is still the wittiest novel she’s ever read, she recommends that novel to everyone looking for a good laugh.
Aurora is a co-founder of a non-profit organization named Positioning Excellence Around Kids (P.E.A.K.). The goal of P.E.A.K. is to ensure that students in the K-12 environment have equal access and opportunities to build a bright future. P.E.A.K. works with low-income families in Texas to offer programs that introduce participants to the skills and interests they have not yet acknowledged.
During her time at A&M she was also a member of Her Campus, an online global community for college women. Her Campus is now the #1 media site for college women, written entirely by the world’s top college journalists. In this organization, founded by three smart, empowered, and fearless college women, Aurora wrote blog postings and contributed to the social media of her chapter in College State – all dedicated to and empowering college women.
Aurora was an member of Texas A&M’s chapter of American Association of University Women (AAUW), a non-profit organization founded in 1881 that advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research to end discrimination. Advocacy efforts by AAUW have propelled countless new laws, including the Equal Pay Act, first proposed in 1945 and finally passed in 1963; the Title IX amendment in 1972; the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993; and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.
After graduating, Aurora returned to the Houston area where she enjoys watching scary movies like A Quiet Place with her Mini Schnauzer named Fifer, always followed by something funny like Bob’s Burgers. She also loves trying new foods and would love to try Japanese food in Tokyo one day. Aurora stays active by going on long walks, doing yoga, and lifting weights at the gym. Her favorite international trip was visiting Greece during New Year’s Eve where she ate one too many gyros and traveled to Delphi. Her dream vacation is going to the Florida Keys where she’d spend her time out in the sunshine and by the beach.
Dr. Veronika Korobko is a native of Kharkov in Ukraine, but spent her adolescence in the nation’s capital of Kiev. She has a Ph.D. in journalism from Taras Shevchenko National University, the largest and most prestigious university in the country.
She is a journalist, who has worked on the nation’s primary channels. She was an assistant producer for Ukrainian 30, founded on the 30th Anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, which became Ukraine’s most vital policy forum in the months leading up to the war.
She has a weakness for the animals. In her motherland, she helped organize the award ceremony “Four Paws Defenders” established by the biggest cynological organization, the Ukrainian Kennel Union, which recognized the contributions of service dogs from the military, in fire stations, and alongside border patrols.
Her own 13-year-old dog, named Jason, lives in Kyiv. He is a small elegant, longhaired Biewer Terrier, but he is a significant member and protector of her family left behind in Ukraine.
Randall is an accomplished documentary producer who has conducted in-depth, on-camera interviews with President George Bush, First Lady, Laura Bush, and MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. Randall sports two of the strongest wrists in Texas and has competed aggressively in the U.S. Open of Table Tennis. Being from rural Texas, he is also a formidable cow-chipping expert, always happy to offer tips on proper ‘chip grip’ techniques for fellow chip-pitch enthusiasts. And yes, he always washes his hands thoroughly before business meetings.
Richard Kelley is a San Antonio native with a long family tradition of elected public service in Texas. He is a film buff (Alamo Drafthouse has been a second home to him) and is an admitted public policy wonk with time spent as a legislative intern and policy aide for the Texas House Republican Caucus, working under the pink dome of the State Capitol Building. Richard’s standout passion is a life-long commitment to animal welfare across the state, with time served as a volunteer and adoption counselor with Austin Pets Alive, the country’s largest no-kill animal shelter. He has recently married and moved to the species-rich Corpus Christi area facing the beautiful, always challenging Gulf of Mexico.
Jonathan W. Taylor has devoted his career to public service. He has served his country as a frontline combat medic and the State of Texas as a leader of its economic development programs, with oversight of the state’s investment and reinvestment programs. Most recently, Taylor managed contract programs for the Lower Colorado River Authority which delivers vital electrical power, water and public recreation to many thousands of Texans.
Before that, he was executive director under Governor Rick Perry for the state’s Economic Development and Tourism effort where he oversaw integrated marketing (advertising, public relations, research) in domestic and international markets, successfully encouraging non-Texas travel to the Lone Star State and generating millions of dollars to local Texan communities and securing thousands of jobs in local communities.
Jonathan also served as Director of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. The Fund is the state’s largest, most active seed and early stage venture capital investment fund with over $400 million in expenditures. Jonathan led the development of the strategic plan and managed the State’s investment in 133 portfolio companies and 22 large scale research projects. He reported results directly to the Texas Legislature and advised the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House on investment decisions of taxpayer funds.
Jonathan’s prior public service includes managing the $100 million Research Grant Matching and Research Superiority Grant programs, developing and leading the Texas Small Business Summits, and creating the Texas Small Business Advisory Council. Jonathan served eight years in the United States Army Reserve, as staff sergeant, combat medic and combat Advisor.
In Afghanistan, he served at a remote U.S. combat outpost and trained Afghan National Army and National Police staff, leading them to deploy and equip an emergency medical treatment facility for a population of over 50,000 Afghans.
Previously, Jonathan managed 200 medical personnel, $4 million of equipment, and patient throughput of a fully functional 80 bed Level 3 Army Field Hospital. He served in the Dominican Republic, providing emergency medical treatment of approximately 700 U.S., Central American and Caribbean military and police forces, and he has trained and supervised the medical personnel in a variety of remote and hostile environments.
He has earned the Combat Medic Badge, Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal with service star, a Global War on Terror Service Medal, NATO medal for ISAF, and several other commendations.
Jonathan holds a BA in Political Science, Economics emphasis with a minor in criminal justice from Texas Christian University and extensive military training including U.S. Army Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training, Warrior Leader Course, U.S. Army Combat Advisor among others. Jonathan’s medical training has included NREMT-B, Advanced Cardiac Life Support Provider and Instructor, Pediatric ACLS Provider and Instructor, Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support Provider and Instructor, Combat Medic Advanced Skills Provider and Instructor, Field Management of a Chemical and Biological Casualty Course, MITT Medical Course, and many others.
“Windy” is a 2015 Kentucky-bred thoroughbred mare who was registered with the Jockey Club, a thoroughbred breed registry, as Princessdaisyleigh. Her sire is Graydar, the son of Unbridled’s Song – who won $1.3 million and was posthumously granted the title of leading sire in North America in 2017 – and grandson of 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, who claimed almost $4.5 million in race earnings. Her dam is Cherry Sherry, a granddaughter of Canadian-bred Deputy Minister who sired many successful racehorses – a feat replicated by his son, and Windy’s grandsire, Awesome Again.
Her excellent racehorse breeding was done at the hands of international breeding operation SF Bloodstock breeders – the “SF” stands for Soros Fund. George Soro’s investment firm, Soros Fund Management, is behind SF Bloodstock and its international racing operation, SF Racing Group. This Soros arm also owned a 15 percent stake in Triple Crown winner Justify.
Windy’s breeding brought her owners and investors $15,000 in 2016 at the famed Keeneland Yearling Sale, where she was bought by a top racehorse owner named Craig Aguiar. However, as is the case with so many racehorses, excellent breeding did not translate into top racing talent. Princessdaisyleigh’s final race at Churchill Downs on September 17, 2017 culminated in an 8th place-finish (out of nine horses). She had earned less than $2500 in her three races.
Almost exactly one year later, on September 13, 2018, A Crosswind vice president noticed her sitting in a Texas kill pen, waiting to be saved, or shipped to slaughter in Mexico. We had recently done work for the producers of “Unbranded,” so rescue horses were on our mind at the time, and we couldn’t resist this beautiful girl.
After quarantine, vet attention and rest for an injury, Windy spent the next few months relaxing and just “being a horse.” In June 2019 she entered training with Dan Keen, during which she had to learn that not every ride is a race, as well as encountering many other things most racehorses don’t see – from cows, to ATVs. Now, she lives on the XW Ranch just east of Austin and is learning to jump under the care of William Graham and Savannah Sinderud.
Regardless of what Windy’s final horse “degree” will be in – whether it’s trail and pleasure, jumping, or working cows – she has become an important member of the Crosswind team and is a reminder of what can happen when responsibility wanes, and as a symbol of hope for new beginnings.