About Us

Our Mission:

The Texas Association of Olive Oil (TXAOO) supports, promotes, and defends the growing, harvesting, processing, marketing and sale of Texas olive oil. TXAOO, through its members, coordinates all olive related activity in the state of Texas.

The Texas Association of Olive Oil (TXAOO) was established in 2016. TXAOO working with the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas A&M AgriLife and the American Olive Oil Producers Association, combines all segments of the olive industry together in one organization which can effectively work to promote and develop the Texas olive oil industry.

Currently, Texas accounts for a very small percentage of olive oil production, with the majority of the commercial oils imported from Europe, and the bulk of American olive oil coming from California. However, the Texas industry is growing! Your support of Texas olive oil ensures continued growth and development of this industry in Texas.

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Board of Directors

Interim Executive Director – Daniel Gustafson

Daniel Gustafson is an Austin attorney. He is a third generation farmer/rancher. His olive orchard is located in Goliad County.

President – Michael Paz

Michael Paz is an honor graduate of Texas State University. He is General Manager of Texana Henrichson Ranch. His 136 acre olive orchard is located in LaSalle County.

Vice-President – Jim Kruger

Jim Kruger holds a BBA in Statistics from the University of Texas. He is also a veteran of the US Army. Jim retired from the retail jewelry business in 2014. Jim has held many board positions including former board member of Texas Olive Growers Association & Council and currently serves as a board member of University High School. Jim owns Krugie’s Double O olive orchard in Hays County.

Treasurer – Josh Swafford

Josh graduated from Texas A&M University with B.S. In General Agriculture and Agricultural Business. He is the 6th generation farmer on his home orchard in Williamson County TX; and has had the opportunity to install, manage, and consult on orchards all over Texas for the past 8 years. Since 2014, he has been a board member of the American Olive Oil Producers Association.

Secretary – Kerry Thornhill Houston

Kerry Thornhill Houston holds a BA in Communications from The University of Texas – Austin and brings extensive investment banking and corporate communications with NYSE and NASDQ companies. Kerry began farming olives in 2012 in Dimmit County, Texas where her family enjoys an almost 100 year presence. She has worked with Texas olive growers and organizations to support and educate growers in Texas.

Board Member – Cathy Bernell

Cathy holds a BBA in Finance/Real Estate from The University of Oklahoma. She has been in the olive business with involvement in orchard installations, consulting, management and milling since 2008. She co-owns Texas Mobil Mill and Lone Star Olive Ranch, an 80 acre olive orchard located in Madison county Texas.

Board Member – Cara Gambini

Cara Gambini holds a BA in Computer Science from St. Edward’s University. She is an owner of Texas Hill Country Olive Company in Dripping Springs, TX. Cara joined the family business in 2013 after six years in the Oil & Gas industry. She has helped turn her family farm into one of the top Agro-tourism attractions in the state of Texas. She is passionate about growing the olive industry in her home state as well as educating others on the sensory properties of olive oil.

Ad Hoc Board Member – Monte Nesbitt

Monte Nesbitt is an Extension Program Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, assigned to work on commercial orchard crops in Texas. He is a horticulturist by training, holding a BS degree from Texas Tech University and a MS degree from Texas A&M University. Monte has over 25 years of experience in university research and extension work and serves the Texas olive industry by conducting applied research, developing educational programs and working with growers to solve horticulture-related problems.

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