Board Leadership

The State Fair of Texas Board of Directors consists of a long line of distinguished community leaders who have provided governance for the State Fair of Texas since it was originally chartered in 1886.

Bruce Sifford

Board Chair

Bruce Sifford has served on the volunteer board of directors for the State Fair of Texas for the past 20 years. In addition, Bruce currently serves as president of the Fair’s advisory board and chair of the finance and audit committee. He currently serves or has previously served on additional committees during his tenure with the Fair, including the Big Tex Scholarship Committee, Heritage Hall of Honor Committee, Long Range Livestock Facility Improvement Committee, Livestock Committee, and Development Cabinet, helping raise millions of dollars to support Texas youth.

Currently, Mr. Sifford serves as President and Chief Operating Officer of Direct Retail Partners, with responsibility for the operation of the development, construction, and management of more than three million square feet of retail space in the Texas and Oklahoma area. Before joining Direct Retail Partners, Bruce spent 18 years as a managing principal of Centre Development Company, developing office, industrial, land, and apartments. He was directly responsible for more than five million square feet of properties in numerous geographic areas. Bruce was also an operating partner in Travis Holdings, LLC, a commercial real estate development and acquisition firm operating commercial properties in Texas.

He is a former chairman of the board of Goodwill Industries, former tournament chairman for the Byron Nelson Golf Classic, and former president of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. Bruce grew up in Dallas and received his Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

Gilbert Gerst

Treasurer/Vice Chair

Gilbert Gerst has been dedicated to the State Fair of Texas and its mission for the past 15 years. He joined the Chairman’s Task Force in 2008 and was elected to the board of directors in 2018. Gerst now chairs the finance and audit committee and previously served on the advisory board. 

Gerst holds a Bachelor of Science from The University of North Texas and a master’s degree in commercial real estate from the University of Texas at Arlington. He is currently the Senior Vice President, Manager of Community Development Banking for BOK Financial (BOKF). Gerst joined BOKF in June 2011 after more than 25 years with JPMorgan Chase. He has corporate-wide responsibility for the bank’s community development lending and investment activities and is a key partner in the bank’s CRA compliance and examination process.                       

He is actively involved in the community and currently serves on multiple boards and committees including Board Chairman of the Dallas Black Dance Theater, Tulsa Economic Development Corporation; Board of Governors – The Affordable Housing Investors Council (AHIC); President – Dallas Development Fund, a NMTC Community Development Entity; The Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers; Board Member and Member of the Executive Committee for the Dallas Economic Development Corporation; Roundtable Member – Texas Association of Community Development Corporations.  

Other board membership and participation includes the AT&T Performing Arts Center; The Texas Mezzanine Fund; Board Member – DFW Regional Housing Consortium; Board Member – CDFI Friendly – Tulsa; The Real Estate Council Community Loan Fund; Board Member and Treasurer – Forest Forward; Past President, University of North Texas Black Alumni Network; Lifetime Member, UNT Alumni Association; Board Member – St. Philips School and Community Center; Trustee and Chairman of the Board of Deacons – New Birth Baptist Church.

Board of Directors

Bruce A. Sifford, Board Chair

Robert Abtahi

Sean Allen

Cheryl Amerine

Heath Cheek

John De La Garza

Ruben E. Esquivel

Lois Finkelman

Brian P. Foley

Gilbert Gerst

John Harkey

Wendy Lopez

Felix Lozano

Steven Mancillas

Alyssa G. Martin

Warren E. Mayberry

Frank Mihalopoulos

Gina Norris

Elizabeth Reich

James C. Roberts

Pete Schenkel

George Shafer

Robert B. Smith

Mary Suhm

Alan Walne

Advisory Board

Joe Alcantar

Monica R. Alonzo

Lance Andrews

Alex Arellano

Norm P. Bagwell

Bob W. Best

Jan Hart Black

Billy Bos

Christa Brown-Sanford

Richie Butler

John W. Carpenter, III

Terry R. Dallas

Paul Dyer

Matrice Ellis-Kirk

Randy R. Engstrom

Rob Farrell

Lupe Garcia

Gary Griffith

Donna Halstead

Doug Hawthorne

Vonciel Jones Hill

Jim Hitzelberger

Chip Huffman

Brenda Jackson

Tom Lazo

J. Michael Lewis

Alex D. Madrazo

Stephen Mansfield

Todd C. Meier

Alice Murray

Donnie Nelson

William J. (Bill) O’Dwyer

David Osborne

Martin Peck

Ray F. Quintanilla

Rob Ramage

Robert Rhoads

Michael Rideau

Robin Robinson

Deirdre Ruckman

John Scovell

King Scovell

Chris Simmons

Blake Taylor

John L. Taylor, Jr.

Doug Thompson

John P. Thompson Jr.

Nina Vaca

Kelvin Walker

Les Ware

Buck Wharton

Joel T. Williams, III

Joe Willoughby

Trisha Windham

Craig Woodcook

Reverend S.M. Wright II