Meet Your Texas Parents Staff

Full-Time Staff

Susie Smith, Director

Susie is from Texas and received a B.S. in Speech Communication from The University of Texas at Austin in 1987. Her career has focused in the areas of membership, development and event planning at organizations such as Barton Creek Country Club, Riverplace Country Club and destination management company, Circa Austin. Susie found her way back to the Forty Acres in 2008, serving as associate director for constituent relations in the College of Natural Sciences. In 2011, she was named director of Texas Parents and charged with developing strategies to enhance and expand Texas Parents services for all UT families. As mom of three active kids ages 24, 20 and 20 (yes, twins!), she enjoys being her kids' biggest fan in all that they do. Quite simply, Susie loves being a mom and sees her position at UT as an opportunity to draw on her and others' parental experiences to help UT parents and their students. 

Favorite UT Austin Fact: Back in the day, class Adds and Drops were done manually with index cards and tables circling the multiple levels of the Erwin Center.

Sarah Lancaster, Program Coordinator

Sarah is a Native Austinite and life-long Texas fan with fond memories of attending sporting and other events at the UT campus dating back to the 1990s. She holds a B.A. in History and a Masters of Divinity. Much of her professional career has been focused on supporting parents and families, particularly through transitional times such as welcoming new family members or sending students off to school, as well as advocacy to make sure families have the resources and supports they need. In these roles, she has often worked or volunteered alongside Longhorn students and encouraged their career explorations. Sarah is excited to officially join the Longhorn family and to bring her experiences working with families to a new demographic at Texas Parents. In her time away from the Forty Acres, she enjoys spending time with family and friends out by Lake Travis, sharing meals, or supporting local performing arts. Her cat Willow is happiest when Sarah is at home with her watching Netflix.

Favorite UT Austin Fact: LBJ used to surprise visitors to his Presidential Library on campus by sitting at the desk in the replica of his Oval Office.

Nicole Villafaña, Office Manager

Nicole is from San Antonio and holds a Master of Arts degree in Mass Communication with an emphasis in Strategic Communication. She has won several awards for her writing and marketing skills. While studying business marketing as an undergraduate, she participated in the AMA International Collegiate Case Competition where her team of seven presented an advertising campaign that earned second place, beating all but one of 100 competing universities. As a Graduate Instructional Assistant, she taught Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media while honing her writing skills as a freelance writer for South Texas College of Law. Nicole has expertise in e-commerce website design and construction and proven results as a digital marketing campaign specialist. Her volunteer experience with Make-A-Wish America and Mobile Loaves & Fishes spans eight years. She has worked as an advocate for foster children. Nicole remains an active member of the American Marketing Association, Students in Free Enterprise and Chi Omega Fraternity. Her time with Texas Parents has given her an appreciation for the richness of university life beyond the student experience as she continues to broaden her professional skills. She and her partner Robert love living in Austin and enjoy spoiling their pups, Stella and Chuck, with boat rides on Lady Bird Lake. 

Favorite UT Austin Fact: Nicole is curious about a missing fact, actually: the fact of how Bevo got his name. Was he named after a near beer? Or was his name derived from combining Beeve, the plural form of beef, with O? Or was he actually branded with the 13-0 score by some Texas A&M enthusiasts, which Texas students turned into the letters BEVO? We may never know!