Twelve Aggies have been named to the 2021 cohort of the Texas A&M University 12 Under 12 Young Alumni Spotlight. This honor from The Association of Former Students recognizes 12 former students who have graduated in the past 12 years for demonstrating excellence in business and service, while representing Texas A&M’s core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service.
Since the inception of the award in 2014, only 96 of Texas A&M’s 527,000 former students have been recognized with the 12 Under 12 Young Alumni Spotlight.
“This year’s 12 Under 12 recipients represent a group diverse in professional calling, yet each epitomizing Texas A&M’s core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service. Their early achievements are a true inspiration,” said Porter S. Garner III ’79, Association president and CEO.
The 12 Under 12 Young Alumni Spotlight was conceived by the Young Alumni Advisory Council, a selected body of younger former students who advise The Association’s staff on ways to better connect with the hundreds of thousands of recent graduates of Texas A&M.
Marty Holmes ’87, association vice president of programs, said: “Young former students are making a tremendous impact in the business world and their local communities after leaving campus, and are carrying the Aggie core values throughout the world. This honor allows The Association to spotlight the successes that Aggies of all ages and stages of life have achieved.”
The 2021 cohort of the 12 Under 12 Young Alumni Spotlight are:
Elizabeth “Liz” Allbright ’09, Washington, D.C.
Director of product strategy for WhyHotel
Notable achievements: Director of product strategy, previously chief of staff, for WhyHotel, a pop-up hotel startup; communications consultant for Brunswick Group, where she worked with Facebook, Hilton, Walgreens and more; supported several startups.
Service: National Capital Texas A&M Club board member; provided pro-bono communication consulting to nonprofits, and post-prison re-entry support.
Christopher Beavers ’10, Fort Worth
Wealth management advisor and senior vice president at Merrill Lynch.
Notable achievements: Honored as one of the youngest senior vice presidents at Merrill Lynch. Named to Forbes’ lists of Best-in-State Wealth Advisors, Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors and Best-in-State Next Generation Wealth Advisors; named 40 Under 40 recipient by Fort Worth Business Press. Classically trained pianist with performances in Carnegie Hall.
Service: Mays Business School Dean’s Advisory board member; American Cancer Society and Kellsie’s Hope Foundation volunteer, where he raised more than $250,000 for cancer research; Fort Worth-Tarrant County Texas A&M Club and Fort Worth Youth Orchestra past board member; Harvard Club of Fort Worth president and board member; Van Cliburn International Foundation executive board member.
Lauren Cornell ’09, Hillsboro, TX
CEO and co-founder of NovoThelium; staff research biologist at U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research
Notable achievements: Heads NovoThelium, which is developing nipple-areola complex replacements for patients who have undergone a mastectomy; awarded the Military Health System Research Symposium Young Investigator Award; previously a research fellow in the Federal Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research; has conducted research at Southwest Research Institute and the University of Oxford.
Service: Vice president of strategy for the Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholar Alumni Association; STEM mentor, especially for other women, including through the University of North Texas Professional Leadership Program, Women Business Enterprise National Council Student Entrepreneurship Program and U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research.
Kristen Free ’11, Austin
Product marketing manager of EP Therapies, Abbott
Notable achievements: Led the product launches of a variety of medical equipment, such as the novel diagnostic catheter, which yielded multimillion-dollar revenue in its first year; Mentor of the Year in diabetes therapy associates for Medtronic in 2012.
Service: Former The Wells Project alumni mentor; Austin Stone Community Church student ministry volunteer.
Jayci R. Giaccone ’08, Dallas
Director of development, Essilor Vision Foundation
Notable achievements: Career fundraiser and nonprofit executive who has raised over $50 million for charitable work. Increased revenue by 80 percent since joining EVF in 2016, accomplished through projects like an annual fundraising event she launched that has grown from raising $50,000 to more than $1 million; this allows EVF’s impact to grow from 120,000 people in 2015 to 537,000 in 2019.
Service: Leadership Women graduate; RAICES board member; Special Olympics Texas President’s Advisory Council past member; Junior League of Dallas volunteer.
Clinton “Brooks” Herman ’09, Richmond, TX
Senior facilities construction project manager at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Notable achievements: Decommissioned a cyclotron for UTHealth and has completed over 150 other projects around the Houston campus; managed over 20 projects with Academy Sports + Outdoors and over 90 Francesca’s stores.
Service: Young Alumni Advisory Council charter member and committee chair; Construction Owners Association of America board member; Commercial Construction & Renovation magazine advisory board member.
Kelli Koehler ’08, San Antonio
CEO and co-founder, Wildway natural food company
Notable achievements: Just five years after graduating from Texas A&M, she co-founded Wildway, a multimillion-dollar company with a presence in H-E-B, Whole Foods, Kroger and more. Wildway was one of nine companies chosen out of 700 for the Chobani Food Incubator, and one of 10 companies chosen for the PepsiCo Incubator, which mentors entrepreneurs.
Service: CASA volunteer; created Wildway’s “We Rise” initiative, which aims to protect the wild, back entrepreneurs and support organizations that fight for equal opportunities.
Maximilian Leutermann ’12, College Station
Nuclear submarine officer and lieutenant, U.S. Navy; assistant professor of naval science at Texas A&M
Notable achievements: Career in the U.S. Navy, including being named the Edward L. Beach Nuclear Officer of the Year for the Pacific Fleet in 2017; licensed professional engineer; owns two dive companies.
Service: U.S. Navy submarine and diving officer; Knights of Columbus member; Dive Pirates Foundation adaptive SCUBA diving instructor; search and rescue diver; public safety dive team trainer.
Ross Morel ’10, Bryan
CEO and founder of Frogslayer
Notable achievements: His custom software development firm was named an Aggie 100 honoree six times, voted among best places to work in Texas Monthly five times, received Bryan Rotary 10 Performance Award four times and Inc. Magazine’s best workplace in America in 2018.
Startup Aggieland mentor and guest speaker; Texas A&M McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship 3 Day Startup mentor and judge; donates to local charities, schools and Texas A&M.
Sean Murphy ’08, Dallas
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University assistant director of leadership and civic engagement; U.S. Navy officer
Notable achievements: Career active duty and reserve officer for the U.S. Navy, including as command staff for NATO Base Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, and a deployment to Bahrain, where he commanded gunboats on more than 30 missions.
Service: Active duty in U.S. Navy before transitioning to reserves; organized multiple community service projects at Embry-Riddle, including Emerging Leaders Program for first-year students, campus-wide days of service, Rise Against Hunger meal packaging and blood drives.
Alden Warr ’16, Frisco, TX
Co-founder and vice president of finance and strategic partnerships, VoCo Technologies.
Notable achievements: Co-founded ALT Investments, which has launched an accelerator to guide student entrepreneurs through building and scaling a company; co-founded VoCo Technologies, which helped pioneer the use of voice-controlled, artificially intelligent technology for health care in older populations; led finance and accounting functions at Essentium Inc., which during Alden’s tenure grew 16-fold and gained international recognition for inventing a new, groundbreaking form of 3D printing.
Service: Mays Business School volunteer, donor; started and scaled the “Share Your Stimulus” movement to help aid families and businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis; Habitat for Humanity volunteer; Teach The Story board member.
John “Trey” Yates III ’17, Artesia, NM
Director, Abo Empire; owner and operator, 1Eleven Cattle Co.
Notable achievements: Has continued his family’s integral part in developing the Permian Basin through their former exploration and production company Yates Petroleum, which at the time of its merger with EOG Resources had grown to the largest independent E&P company in the U.S., and in Abo Empire; manages the family’s vast land holdings in New Mexico as well as his own cattle operation, 1Eleven Cattle Company located in Bridgeport, Texas.
Service: Helped establish, fund and is currently vice president of the Illinois #3 Foundation, which supports organizations and projects that conserve and enhance land and water resources through sustainable practices; 12th Man Foundation’s Champions Council member; funded the Charles Brown Scholarship in the Department of Animal Science; Veterinary Science Certificate Program advisory board member.
The Association honored the 2021 recipients in the January-February 2021 issue of its Texas Aggie magazine.
Nominations for the 2022 Texas A&M 12 Under 12 Young Alumni Spotlight will be accepted through Feb. 28, and profiles for any qualifying former student must be completed by May 9, both at tx.ag/12Under12.
The Association of Former Students, established in 1879, is the official alumni organization of Texas A&M University. The Association connects hundreds of thousands of members of the worldwide Aggie Network with each other and the university, and is providing $13 million in impact to university scholarships, awards, activities and enrichment for students, faculty, staff and former students in 2021. For more information about the Texas A&M 12 Under 12 Young Alumni Spotlight or The Association, contact Kathryn Greenwade atKGreenwade88@AggieNetwork.com or visit www.AggieNetwork.com.