Beyond the Books: Aggie Women Authors

Join us as we hear the stories and inspiration behind these published authors.


We are proud to present a panel of authors who represent diverse genres but have one thing in common - they are all proud Aggies!

They’ve got the knowledge and are sharing it with you! Our panelists are always ready to deep dive into the Beyond the Books topics. Each series will feature new panelists. Read a little bit more about our panelists for our upcoming series, Beyond the Books: Aggie Women Authors, below.

Nikki Van Hightower

Name: Nikki Van Hightower
Title: Retired TAMU Faculty
Organization: Texas A&M University

Bio: Dr. Nikki R. Van Hightower is a retired faculty member from Texas A&M University, Department of Political Science, where she specialized in teaching Women and Politics and State and Local Government, publishing numerous articles on women and politics. She is the founder and former executive director of the Houston Area Women's Center. She has been a candidate for local and state office three times and was elected Harris County Treasurer in 1986, serving until 1990.

Name: Kathleen Y'Barbo Turner
Title: Publisher's Weekly Bestselling Author and Paralegal
Organization: Guideposts Books, Random House, etc.

Bio: Kathleen Y’Barbo is a Publishers Weekly Bestselling of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified probate and family law paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students, Aggie Women, Sisters in Crime, and American Christian Fiction Writers. To find out more about Kathleen and her latest book THE YES DARE, check out her website at

Kathleen Y'Barbo Turner

Amy Bacon

Name: Amy Bacon
Title: Gift Planning Officer
Organization: Texas A&M Foundation

Bio: Amy Bacon is an author/historian and a Gift Planning Officer for the Texas A&M Foundation serving Aggies who have generously included Texas A&M in their future plans as well as assisting others who are wanting to learn more about gift planning options such as gifts in wills, retirement accounts, charitable trusts, and other methods of giving. Her career experience includes being a professional fundraiser for Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, University of Houston-Clear Lake, and Rice.

Name: Deeanne Gist
Title: International Bestselling, Award-winning Author
Organization: Simon & Schuster

Bio: With books in trade, digital, audio, large-print, and foreign languages, Deeanne Gist has rocketed up bestseller lists. Her release, Tiffany Girl, was touted as a “Must Year of the Year!” by USA Today and one of the Top 10 Most Anticipated Books by Huffington Post. Her awards include National Readers’ Choice, Librarians’ Choice, Book Buyers’ Best, Books*A*Million Pick of the Month, Seal of Excellent, Award of Excellence, and RITA for Best Historical of the Year. Learn more at

Deeanne Gist

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To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to continually learn and grow. Go beyond the theoretical to discuss real-world advice for starting and owning a business! Connect with us to further your business knowledge and learn how to take advantage of today’s changing marketplace.

Thanks to all who attended Beyond the Books: Secrets to Starting and Running a Business! If you missed this event and want to learn more or maybe just want to watch it again, we’ve got you covered! You can watch the full recording below or head over to our YouTube channel to see it and our other videos.

Start your next chapter with real-world tips and insights.

You’ve spent years working hard and studying, and now you’ve learned everything you need to know to land your dream job and make it in the real world, right? Well, not exactly, but don’t worry, the Aggie Women Network has your back. From bringing you the best of Aggie life to making sure you make it past the applicant pile, our Beyond the Books series is here to help you succeed outside of the classroom.

Join us each month for the Aggie Women Network’s no-holds-barred take on all things Aggie. We’re covering it all: why your resume isn’t converting to interviews, how to navigate a male-dominated industry, even the things you never knew you needed to know about Texas A&M. Not getting what you need? No egos here – tell us what you want to hear about, and we’ll make it happen.

Check back often for details on upcoming sessions!

Blake Petty

Name: Blake Petty
Title: Executive Director
Organization/Company: McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship/Texas A&M University

Bio: Blake Petty ('98) serves as Executive Director for the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M, where he helps provide services and support to current and former students looking to build and grow their ventures. A Certified Incubator Manager, Mr. Petty also co-founded TAMU's student business incubator, Startup Aggieland, as well as the Aggie Angel Network. Over his career, Blake has helped launch more than 30 new companies, while mentoring hundreds of others launching businesses.

Name: Tim Jeffcoat
Title: District Director
Organization: US Small Business Administration

Bio: Tim oversees SBA in Houston and the surrounding 32 counties. Most of Tim’s career has been private sector leadership roles in international business, marketing and business development. An MBA graduate of Auburn, Tim also has BS degrees in Marketing and Music Business. Tim was nominated as Most Valuable Player at SBA, has completed four iron-distance triathlons and the Escape from Alcatraz, teaches graduate classes in Economics and produces music in his spare time.

Tim Jeffcoat

Celia Goode-Haddock

Name: Celia Goode-Haddock
Title: Retired CEO
Organization/Company: University Title Company

Bio: Celia Goode-Haddock is a native of College Station and graduated Texas A&M 1972. After graduation she went to work in her father's law firm and title company. In 1984 she and her partners bought University Title Company. It was once a small company but once she became manager it went from last place to first with over 60% of the market share out of four companies. In addition to her work, she has been active in leadership and volunteer positions statewide and locally.