Austin Film Society Announces Two New Board Members

(L to R: Kathy Blackwell and Celeste Quesada)

Will Stefanski

Kathy Blackwell of Texas Monthly and Community Builder Celeste Quesada Join the AFS Board of Directors September 2023 – August 2026

September 21, 2023, AUSTIN, TX— The Austin Film Society is proud to announce the election of two new members to its Board of Directors: Kathy Blackwell, executive editor of Texas Monthly; and Celeste Quesada, real estate agent, community builder and artist. In addition, co-founder of Panacea Collective Lisa Hickey will serve as the Board President. Hickey takes the leadership reins from Eric Dejernett of CBRE who served as Board President from September 2020 to August 2023.

Each will contribute their breadth of knowledge and experience to the existing board’s expertise. Together, they will help lead AFS through its long-term, institutional goals for supporting film and filmmakers in Texas. They begin their tenures in September of 2023.

“AFS is fortunate to have a diverse board of community leaders who support our mission. Kathy Blackwell and Celeste Quesada both have long track records of service to AFS and will no doubt help us reach more Texans with the power of film,” says AFS CEO Rebecca Campbell. “Furthermore, we are excited to have Lisa Hickey, a lifelong Austinite, take over as President of the Board of Directors. As a leader in the local entertainment industry, she knows firsthand the opportunities and challenges facing creatives in our city.”

The Board of Directors is an integral part of the Austin Film Society, serving in a governance role and supporting AFS’s mission to create life-changing opportunities for filmmakers, catalyze Austin and Texas as a creative hub and bring the community together around great film. Their leadership includes forging connections in the community and providing valuable resources and knowledge to further advance the organization. Board member terms last three years.

Bios for the new AFS Board members are below, and photos can be found here.

Kathy Blackwell
Kathy Blackwell is an executive editor at Texas Monthly magazine. Since joining in 2017, she has edited two service packages that were National Magazine Award finalists. She was a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin from 2018–2020. She’s the founding editor in chief of Austin Way, was a longtime senior editor at the Austin American-Statesman and was also an editor at the Orlando Sentinel. She currently serves on the board for the American Short Fiction literary magazine and is a past board member of the Austin Bat Cave nonprofit writing program for kids. A native of South Carolina, she moved to Austin in 2000, where she now lives with her husband, Steve Scheibal; their teenage son; and dog, Coco.

Celeste Quesada
Celeste Quesada is a community builder, artist and real estate professional specializing in unique, historic and affordable homes. Quesada is a proud first-generation immigrant born and raised in Austin, Texas. Known for creating community by weaving together her 25+ years of working within the cultural arts, social impact and home-building worlds, she loves to inspire, educate and share her expertise with others. She was the co-founder of Cine Las Americas and has worked with numerous nonprofits including the Austin Film Society, SIMS Foundation, HAAM, American Gateways, Planned Parenthood, El Buen Samaritano, Forklift Danceworks, Creative Action, Austin Chronicle and the Austin Music Industry Awards and Austin Music Awards. She currently serves on the Leadership Council for American Gateways and is a Music Commissioner, appointed by Mayor Kirk Watson. She also owns a second residence in Lockhart, Texas, with her husband, Grammy-winning producer and musician Adrian Quesada; their daughters, Amelie and Marcelle; and their toddler canine, Itzá.

About Austin Film Society
Founded in 1985 by filmmaker Richard Linklater, AFS creates life-changing opportunities for filmmakers, catalyzes Austin and Texas as a creative hub, and brings the community together around great film. AFS is committed to racial equity and inclusion, with an objective to deliver programs that actively dismantle the structural racism, sexism and other bias in the screen industries. AFS supports filmmakers from all backgrounds towards career leaps, encouraging exceptional artistic projects with grants and support services. AFS operates Austin Studios, a 20-acre production facility, to attract and grow the creative media ecosystem. Austin Public, a space for our city’s diverse mediamakers to train and collaborate, provides many points of access to filmmaking and film careers. The AFS Cinema is an ambitiously programmed repertory and first run arthouse with broad community engagement. By hosting premieres, local and international industry events, and the Texas Film Awards, AFS shines the national spotlight on Texas filmmakers while connecting Austin and Texas to the wider film community. AFS is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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