Board of Commissioners

Commissioner James Batiste

James Batiste, Board Chair

James Batiste has lived in Abilene since 1997. Mr. Batiste served our country in the U.S. Air Force for four years before moving on to become a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service for 31 years, before retiring in 2011. Mr. Batiste currently works as a Texas Licensed realtor for Coldwell Banker here in Abilene.

Mr. Batiste has been married to his wife Janet for 30 years. They have two daughters, Janelle Sands and Janaye Widemane, along with three grandchildren. Mr. Batiste is an active member at the Minda Street Church of Christ where he serves with his minister.

Commissioner Batiste can be reached at

Commissioner Vanessa Faz

Vanessa Faz, Vice Chair

Vanessa Faz has lived in Abilene since 1995. In 2005 Ms. Faz joined the First Financial Bank mortgage team as a Mortgage Loan Officer and brought over 8 years of experience and knowledge to the department. Over the years she has helped many families attain their dreams of home ownership. Ms. Faz originates First Financial Bank's Affordable Home Loan Program, which helps low- to moderate-income families achieve the dream of home ownership and assists the seasoned home buyer in finding the ideal loan program that will best fit their financial needs. Her fluent Spanish has enabled Ms. Faz to assist First Financial Bank's Spanish-speaking borrowers through the mortgage loan process. She also underwrites VA and Conventional loans.

Ms. Faz is active in her community. She serves as Secretary on the Executive Board of Habitat for Humanity Abilene, where she also serves on the Family Selection Committee. She is also an active Board Member of the Women's Council of Big Country Homebuilders where she served as Treasurer in 2007 and 2008. Ms. Faz is married to Ramiro Faz and they have one daughter, Isabel.

Commissioner Faz can be reached at

Commissioner David Mukire

David Mukire, Board Commissioner

David Mukire currently lives in the Riviera Apartments. He has been a resident of Public Housing since 2007. He is 28 years old and lives with two brothers, Gadeon age 31 and Roger age 22. David and his brothers moved to Abilene, Texas from their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007.

David has worked in the hotel service and manufacturing industry while living in Abilene. Currently David attends Cisco Junior College full-time in the study of Computer Information. David's goal is to complete his Associates Degree and seek employment in the Computer Information Technology field. David's goal in coming to the United States was to seek freedom and the opportunity of obtaining an education to better himself and the lives of his family.

Commissioner Mukire can be reached at

Commissioner Cole Bennett

Dr. Cole Bennett, Board Commissioner

Dr. Cole Bennett, a native of Tyler, Texas, is a Professor of English at Abilene Christian University. Dr. Bennett holds a degree from Harding University, The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and The University of Southern Mississippi. Cole has lived in several southern cities in the U.S., but has lived in Abilene since the year 2000. Dr. Bennett is interested in both economics and the political sphere.

Commissioner Bennett can be reached at

Commissioner Gwendolyn Blount

Gwendolyn Blount, Resident Commissioner

Gwendolyn Blount has been a resident of Abilene, Texas since 2003. Upon moving to the Abilene area, Ms. Blount decided to pursue the field of substitute teaching. Her background includes an Associates Degree in both Business Administration and Behavioral Science. Ms. Blount also holds a certificate as a computerized Administrative Assistant. A wide range of skills and work in various occupations has lead Ms. Blount down a successful and beneficial path to continue her career in teaching, which she still pursues today.

Commissioner Blount can be reached at