TRFA Board Members
Board President: Matt Knifton
Matt Knifton was raised in Austin and has been a partner or co-owner of Texas Rowing Center since 1999. He rowed on the University of Texas Crew from 1986 to 1990, and trained for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Rowing Team. In 2009, Matt worked with Diane McDiarmid and Randy Rosens to start Texas Rowing For All to provide rowing and paddling activities for people with physical, sensory, and intellectual disabilities. Matt has served as President of the Board for Texas Rowing For All for the past two years. He is very proud of the partnership between TRC and TRFA, and is energized by the challenge of making Austin the national leader in recreation for people with disabilities. Today, Matt still rows and has won many national championships as a masters sculler. He is also a practicing attorney, husband, and active father of two beautiful little girls.
Board Treasurer: Julie Maloukis
Julie enjoyed a career in financial administration and business management. She is officially retired but works a few hours a week with children at a local non-profit. She also works/volunteers with several organizations that provide recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Julie is an avid alpine skier and has been leading an annual trip to the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, Colorado for nearly fifteen years. She also likes participating in all things outside such as camping, water skiing, sailing, and especially (sit down) paddle boarding.
Board Member at Large: Greg La Komski
In 1996, Greg was struck by a car on the side of a major Austin road, leaving his lower left leg severely crushed, and later amputated below the knee. Just a year later he competed in his first cycling road race as an amputee. In 1998 he was named to the US Disabled World Cycling Team. In 2008, Greg competed at the US Paralympic Cycling Nationals where he place 3rd in the Road Race. Greg continues to ride and race, participating in the Livestrong Challenge; the grueling Copper Triangle; and Texas State Time Trial Championship.
In 2009, after reading about Texas Rowing For All in the Austin American Statesman newspaper article, Greg became fascinated with the concept of rowing as a way to boost his strength and cross train. Little did he know, that he would become hooked on rowing! Greg began his rowing career learning to row and training with TRFA and as his rowing technique and skills quickly formed, he joined the adaptive competitive ”Air Crew” . Greg entered regional rowing regattas and always came away with a medal! In 2010 he attended the US National Rowing Team Camp in Oklahoma City. In early, 2011 Greg went on to compete at the World Indoor Rowing Championships-the CRASH-B’s in Boston where he came in 6th!
Greg has both a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA and has just completed the Certificate in Computer of Science ( equivalent to a BS Computer Science) at Texas State -San Marcos. Greg is now working on his Masters Degree in Computer Science.
Beyond his racing, training Greg is a tremedous asset as a volunteer to Texas Rowing For All organization where he serves on the TRFA Board of Directors and is one of the principals managing the design of the www.texasrowingforall.org website.
Board Member at Large: Diane Kearns
Diane Kearns is a parent of a son with multiple disabilities and a community volunteer with a focus on services for special needs children. A commissioner on the Austin Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities, she advises the city council and city manager regarding problems affecting persons with disabilities in the Austin area. She also serves on the STAR Kids Managed Care Advisory Committee that advises the State of Texas Health and Human Services Commission on the establishment of a Medicaid managed healthcare program for children with special healthcare needs. In addition, Kearns is a former Board Member and former Chairman of the Board for Sammy's House, a nonprofit that provides services in an inclusive environment for children in Central Texas who are medically fragile and/or developmentally delayed. She was a speaker at the 2016 Roundtable on Health Literacy at the National Academies of Sciences in Washington D.C., on the Panel of Family Caregivers at the 2014 Texas Respite Summit, presented by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), and participated in the 2015 Personal Family Leadership Series developed by Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired and Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), Division for Blind Services. Kearns works as a product manager at a national telecommunications company. She lives with her husband and 3 children in Austin, Texas.
Board Vice President: Dennis Borel
As Executive Director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD), Dennis is frequently called on for research, policy analysis and recommendations to the Texas Legislature and state agencies on issues surrounding disabilities. He serves on multiple advisory groups to state health and human services agencies and was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to the State Independent Living Council and by HHSC Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins to the Promoting Independence Advisory Council. He has successfully advocated for positive change in government policy and practice in employment, transportation, housing, health care and architectural barriers to promote the full inclusion of people with disabilities in community life. He was Project Director for CTD’s history-making Team Everest expedition, an internationally-recognized expedition by a team of people with diverse disabilities to the world’s tallest mountain. Dennis has twenty-eight years’ experience as a senior manager of nonprofit organizations, during which time his programs have received numerous state recognitions and national awards from HUD, the Points of Light Foundation, the New York Interactive Film Festival, the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management and the Barbara Jordan Media Awards. In 2006, the University of Michigan honored him with the national James Neubacher Award for creating opportunities for people with disabilities and in 2009, he received the National Advocacy Award from the National Council on Independent Living. He is a former high school teacher and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco.
Board Secretary: Vince Perez
Vincent Perez III is an experienced Marketing & Communications Consultant. His experience includes work academia, print advertising and radio. He specializes in promoting and selling radio features and advocating educational programs. He has extensive experience planning and excuting events, conferences, and conventions.
Vincent competes nationally as a Masters Level competitive rower, and racing coxswain with the Austin Rowing Club Men’s Competitive crew.
Vincent holds a BAAS degree from Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.
Board Member at Large: Roger Brannon
Roger Brannon joined our board with the goal of promoting rowing for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The experience he brings with him includes many years of coaching Special Olympics basketball and softball. Mr. Brannon, a retired Air Force officer, flew in the Vietnam War and is the holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross as well as The Air Medal with Sixteen Oak Leaf Clusters. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration as well as a Master’s degree in Psychology. Mr. Brannon has a real estate business in Austin.
Roger is most proud of his four successful children and his four charming and energetic grandsons.
If you have an interest in adaptive rowing for the Intellectually Disabled, please contact Roger Brannon at 512-280-3419
Board Member at Large: Angie Houtz
(Bio and Photo Coming Soon)