Background | Education

I attended high school at Clear Creek High School in League City, Texas. My father was transferred from Southern California to work on the first manned moon mission in the Greater Houston area. I participated in the highly regarded choral program at Clear Creek and received several UIL awards for choral and ensemble performance. Despite my best efforts (smiles), I received the honor of being approved for the National Honor Society and I wore its gold cord around my neck during my high school graduation ceremony.

I was accepted to the two universities to which I applied, the University of Colorado at Boulder (where both my parents attended college), and The University of Texas at Austin. I chose the latter. There, I received two degrees and studied two languages, Arabic and French. In the end, I took more university courses than required to graduate. I have always loved learning.

My first degree was a Bachelor of Arts With Honors in Middle Eastern Studies, College of Liberal Arts (1977); the second a Master of Arts, 19th Century American Art History, College of Fine Arts (1985). During graduate school, I was the recipient of the Meredith Long Scholarship in American Art. I was also elected to membership in the national academic honor society, Phi Kappa Phi. I remain a member today.


During graduate school I authored and co-authored articles for professional publications like the book, Collecting the West: The C. R. Smith Collection of Western American Art (The University of Texas Press, 1988); Gilcrease: Magazine of American History and Art; and The Magazine Antiques.

Carolyn during graduate school.
This photograph was taken during my graduate school years, but I cannot recall by whom (apologies).

The same year I obtained my Master’s Degree, I participated in and completed the intensive grant training course offered by The Grantsmanship Training Center in Los Angeles, California. Hence, my development career was founded on grant research and writing. If you follow me on social media, I share information about the Center’s work occasionally, and I recommend it highly. I have since that time regularly taken continuing education coursework, and I have shared my knowledge as a guest speaker at a wide range of local and national conferences (see the Media Room on this website).

After my first three years as an undergraduate student, I assumed my own college and living expenses. No silver spoon for me! Once I secured my B.A. With Honors, I worked for a few years and took additional college courses. I then applied to and was accepted to graduate school. I recall feeling that at age 26 I was so “old”! I feared I would be an odd duck in graduate school, but was surprised to discover many of my student colleagues were older than I was, a few almost twice my age.

I obtained a guaranteed student loan and multiple part-time jobs. To this day, I marvel at how organized I had to be to work, take courses, study and write my master’s thesis simultaneously. But several years of “office” work around The University of Texas campus gave me fast fingers, a ready knowledge of software, and the typing skills that would allow me to take the majority of my future nonprofit development work, “in-house” (DIY). That was actually an added benefit.

My first nonprofit development experiences occurred during graduate school. I began volunteering for a local art museum to gain some hands-on experience and after about a year, the staff noticed I could research and write well and that I was comfortable with museum patrons. I began working as an employee half-time then full-time. My greatest and best mentor worked there. Follow the link to read more.

Since those early days, I have received awards for excellence in work and volunteering from the likes of NTEN: Nonprofit Technology Network, Art Museum of South Texas, North American Butterfly Association, Dallas Zoological Society, The Nature Conservancy of Texas, Botanical Research Institute of Texas and more. See my LinkedIn profile for details.