Board of Directors
Paul Gautier - Chairperson
Since the early 80s, Paul has been engaged full-time in deal-making. As a principal he has founded, grown, merged and sold companies; and as advisor, consulted hundreds of lower middle-market businesses. He manages the Investment Banking team whose services include matching business sellers with the right buyers, raising capital, and targeting opportunities for accredited and institutional investors. Paul is President-Elect of the Central Texas Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, serves on the Due Diligence Committee for the Real Estate Investment Securities Association and is active with the National Due Diligence Alliance. In addition to Spirit Reins, he is also a board member of RiverStone Financial Group and CHRISTUS St Michael Rehabilitation Hospital. Paul is a Lamar University graduate and is active in his church, and numerous non-profit and civic organizations.
Mark Olguin – Vice Chairperson
Mark has been a Real Estate Professional for over 26 years with a concentration in Brokerage, Development and Investments. Mark holds both a Texas and South Carolina Real Estate Broker’s License. Mark enjoys being a Volunteer at Hill Country Bible Church of Austin in the Children’s Ministry. He is also the past Assistant Middle School football Coach and Assistant Girls Basketball Coach for 5th grade at Hill Country Christian School of Austin. Mark is proudest of being a two-time Cancer Survivor and the father of two wonderful children. He has served on several Boards and is one of the Founding Members of the Hill Country Young Men’s Business League which sponsors “Dream Kamp for Kids” in Kerrville, Texas. Mark enjoys hiking, golfing, fishing, travel and racecars.
Kathy Friar – Treasurer
Kathy is currently the Office Budget Liaison for the Office of Legal Services for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, where she has worked for 13 years. Kathy grew up in Irving and graduated from Texas A&M University in 1995 with a B.S. in Animal Science. She began her affiliation with Spirit Reins as a volunteer feeder in May of 2006. Kathy has one daughter and recently became the proud grandmother of her new granddaughter, Presley Ann. She also enjoys spending time with and training her horse, Vegas
Laura McFarland, PhD – Secretary
Laura has a Ph.D. in Multicultural Special Education from The University of Texas at Austin. She has taught in the U.S. and in Perú at the secondary, post-secondary, and elementary levels in public schools, private schools, charter schools, and universities. She entered the teaching profession because of a passion to serve disenfranchised youth and that passion currently drives her research activities at The University of Texas, where she focuses on the education of vulnerable youth with special educational needs, including culturally and linguistically diverse youth and those in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. In addition to her work at the university, she consults with and evaluates not-for-profit programs serving vulnerable youth and volunteers her time supporting several of these programs, including Spirit Reins, in various ways. When she is not working or volunteering, she enjoys being active outdoors running, cycling, swimming, backpacking, and playing tennis and golf. Laura has loved horses since she was a child, and feels very blessed to be able to combine her passions for horses and youth by working with Spirit Reins.
D.J. Tessier - Director
D.J. is retired from the Navy and now spends her time tirelessly advocating for children in the child welfare system. She has two Master’s degrees from Park University in Public Affairs and Disaster and Emergency Management. D.J. has served on over 35 Boards dealing with child abuse and neglect over the past 26 years. Most recently, she served as President of the Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards for four years. She is considered an expert in the field of child welfare and speaks nationwide on the plight of children. Most importantly, she is the mother of two beautiful daughters adopted from foster care.
Susan McDowell - Director
Susan McDowell is Executive Director of LifeWorks, a youth and family service organization in Austin, Texas that provides a continuum of support for youth and families facing issues such as homelessness, abuse, poverty, emancipation from foster care, and mental health challenges. Susan is active in numerous civic organizations and regional health and human service planning initiatives. Susan has been awarded “Austinite (Under 40) of the Year” by the Young Men’s Business League and Young Women’s Alliance and “Central Texas Social Entrepreneur of the Year,” by Ernst and Young. Susan holds a B.A. and M.A. from Vanderbilt University and the University of Texas-Austin, respectively.
Kay Wilemon, PhD - Director
Kay is a licensed psychologist and organizational consultant with over 25 years of experience. She has extensive knowledge of trauma informed therapy and is particularly passionate about the transformative clinical mode at Spirit Reins. She is a founding member of Impact Austin and Innovation+ and spends her free time working with non-profits in Austin who are innovative and successful in accomplishing their missions. Kay received her BFA from Southern Methodist University and her Masters and Ph.D. from the University of North Texas and has served on many boards over the years. She is a member of the American Psychological Association.
Bonnie Mills - Director
Bonnie Mills is President of the Mills Dennis Family Foundation and has been involved with the nonprofit community in Austin for over 20 years. She has served on several nonprofit boards, including LifeWorks, SafePlace, Zach, Leadership Austin, Austin Habitat for Humanity, People's Community Clinic and St. Andrew's Episcopal School. She currently serves on the boards of Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan and Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. She has received the Volunteer of the Year Award from both SafePlace and LifeWorks, and the AFP Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year Award in 2013.