Texas Tropical Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Executive Director & Board Members

  • Palmito Ranch Battlefield, BrownsvillePalmito Ranch Battlefield, Brownsville
  • Laredo, Photo by Valerie D. Bates Laredo, Photo by Valerie D. Bates
  • Fort Brown, Photo by Curtis CravenFort Brown, Photo by Curtis Craven
  • Port Aransas, Photo by Valerie D. BatesPort Aransas, Photo by Valerie D. Bates

photo of Bart Wales

Bart Wales, Vice Chair

A native, 5th generation Texan, Bart was born in Midland and raised in Refugio. He attended college at Texas A&M University College Station, receiving degrees in Environmental Design and a Masters in Architecture. Bart returned to Refugio where he operated his own business, worked with many nonprofit groups, served on the City Council, and as Mayor of Refugio for 3 terms. Currently, Bart is the Director of the Refugio County Museum and President of the Refugio County Historical Society. He is also President of The South Texas Back Thru Time Historical Association, a group that promotes historic sites and businesses in the rural area from San Antonio to Corpus Christi to Victoria back to San Antonio. Bart can also be found in Corpus Christi on the weekends, where he works as a designer for The Home Depot. Bart has always had an interest in history, art, and architecture. He currently lives in a historic home that is open for occasional tours, with a collection of art and antiques to rival none.

photo of Valerie Bates

Valerie Bates, Board Chair

Valerie Bates, born in California, but a resident of south Texas since the mid 1960s, has been involved in the Tropical Trail Region since 2005. As Marketing Director of Port Isabel (Cameron County) and photographer and writer with an interest in the rich history and culture of deep south Texas, Valerie enjoys traveling and capturing the stories and essence of our communities.

photo of Wanda Greenhill

Wanda Greenhill, Treasurer

Wanda Greenhill was born in Alice, Texas and moved to Harlingen at the age of four. Being a native Texan, she is proud of her state and wants to promote Tourism in every way possible. Wanda and her husband Paul live outside Lyford in Willacy County.  They have 4 children and 12 grandchildren. Wanda is Treasurer and Past President of the RGV Museum Association which is the fundraising arm of Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum.  Wanda has been following Texas Tropical Trail Region from the beginning and loves learning more about Texas every time they meet.

photo of Mike Carlisle

Mike Carlisle

Michael (Mike) Carlisle lives in Corpus Christi. He serves on the Nueces County Historical Commission and as treasurer for the South Texas Historical Association. Mike holds a M.S. Degree in Management Information Systems (MISY) from the University of Dallas, as well as different degrees from Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Kingsville and Del Mar colleges.  

Since retiring from Verizon in 2015, Mike focuses on MCC Media founded in 2010, providing audio-video-lighting (AVL) services, photography, media archiving, preservation and restoral. He is also a freelance writer, writing a wide range of articles published in print and across the web since 2003, including Authentic Texas magazine (

Mike enjoys volunteering, with a special interest in historic sites and events, encouraging and promoting historic preservation across the Tropical Trail Region. He works with churches to design, install and upgrade networks, computers, AVL and media systems. Mike is a Paul Harris Fellow who formerly served as the President of the Corpus Christi Northwest Rotary Club and Assistant Governor of the Rotary District 5930. 


photo of Rick Stryker

Rick Stryker

Rick Stryker is the Tropical Trail Region’s designated manager of Texas Heritage Trails LLC, which publishes Authentic Texas magazine (   Rick Serves as President of Texas Heritage Trails LLC, a collaborative, self-sustaining, business endeavor formed by seven of the ten Texas Historical Commission Regions, including the Tropical Trail Region.  After serving as director of the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History for 27 years, Rick retired in 2012.  He is a historian with a bachelor’s degree from Austin College in Sherman and a master’s degree from the University of Delaware in Newark.  He lives in Austin.

Photo of Marlett Bahn

Marlett Bahn, Secretary

A former Regional Coordinator for the Texas Tropical Trail Region, this Kingsville resident is currently working as a Historical Tour Guide on the famous King Ranch as well as at the Henrietta Memorial Center/King Ranch Museum.  She serves the King Ranch Visitor Center Program as a Safety & Wellness Instructor.  Marlett holds a BS and a Masters from Texas A&I University (now TAMU Kingsville), coming to college from her hometown of Austin, to major in Vocational Home Economics.  Her graduate studies were in sociology and education, whereupon she began a 30-year career as a school teacher.  She and husband David have 4 daughters and are blessed with 11 wonderful grandchildren.  Marlett is active in the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bishop, the Lutheran Women's Missionary League, the Kingsville/Kleberg County Birding & Wildlife Association, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the German-Texan Heritage Society.  She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Nueces County Junior Livestock Show and their Scholarship Committee, and was a school board member for the St. Paul Lutheran Church School in Bishop.

Nancy Deviney, Executive Director

Nancy Deviney has been active in South Texas tourism for over 30 years.  She currently serves as Executive Director of the 20-county Texas Tropical Trail Region heritage tourism program and is immediate past president of the 19-county Texas Coastal Bend Regional Tourism Council.  Nancy also serves on the board of El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association representing the 10-county South Texas Region from Zapata County to Medina County.

She served as a founding member of the 2005 Texas Tropical Trail Region board of directors, holding the offices of Chair and Secretary, until 2014 when she was offered and accepted the full-time position of Executive Director.

Nancy served as president of the Texas Coastal Bend Regional Tourism Council for 8 years while serving simultaneously as Chair of the annual Winter Texan Coastal Bend Travel Fair for 10 years.  During this time, she was also selected as Volunteer of the Year for 2009 and 2016 and received the first Leadership Award in 2015.

Previously, Nancy was Executive Director of the Freer Chamber of Commerce and wrote a monthly travel article for the South Texas Traveler magazine.  She is a native Texan, born in Corpus Christi and raised in Kingsville.

Nancy and her husband, Frank, live on the shores of Lake Corpus Christi in Live Oak County. They have twin sons and four grandchildren living in San Antonio and Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Edward Pro Meza

Edward Pro Meza was born in Alice, Texas and raised in Corpus Christi.  He received his B.S. in Museum Studies under the Wildlife and Fisheries Department at Texas A & M University in College Station.  He had been in the museum field for over 20 years as Executive Director of the Grayson County Historical Museum in Sherman, Curator of Education and Programs at the African American Museum in Dallas, Executive Director for the Webb County Museum Foundation in Laredo and Director of Historical Preservation in Port Isabel. He also served as City Manager for the City of Port Isabel.

He has served on several boards including the Texas Association of Museums, the North Texas Museum Association, Grayson County Historical Commission, Webb County Historical Commission,  Los Caminos Del Rio and was a charter member of the Texas Tropical Trail Region.

Currently he works as the Downtown Manager for the City of Harlingen for their Texas Main Street Program, consults on historical preservation and museums, and serves on the board of directors of   the Texas Tropical Trails Region and the Cameron County Historical Commission.

Penny Pillack

Penny Pillack is a native Texan, having lived in Nueces County all of her life.

She received her degrees from Texas A&I University in Kingsville. She was a teacher and administrator at Agua Dulce ISD. Currently as a “retire-rehire”, she is the testing coordinator at Port Aransas ISD. Her husband is a farmer and rancher.  Hobbies include reading, traveling, volunteer work, and spending time with family and friends. She is proud to say that she’s visited all 50 states! Penny serves on the Nueces County Historical Commission and is involved in several other historical and heritage organizations.