Reprinted with permission from the November – December 2010 issue of The Fourth R.
Accounting for Westar
Boards of directors require members with a variety of talents to run smoothly. In Becki Brinkerhoff, Westar found an Associate with splendid experience in the business world. She had been Director of Finance for a Pepsi franchisee in New York and then Chief Accounting Officer for Ruth’s Chris Steak House in New Orleans, where she contributed to its rise to an international corporation. Becki also serves as secretary to the Westar board, keeping her at the center of all its activities.
Becki’s college career did not predict this bent for business. She studied Spanish literature at Colorado College, then went to Italy for six months to study Italian. Early in her career, she became interested in accounting while working at her godfather’s KFC franchise business as assistant to the comptroller.
A native Texan and “cradle Episcopalian,” Becki also brings a strong interest in religion to the Westar table. Over time, however, she found herself growing increasingly uneasy with the teachings of the church, but put aside those thoughts during her husband’s five-year battle with lung cancer.
After his death, she began seeking answers to her religious questions. She undertook the Episcopal church’s rigorous, four-year Education for Ministry program. She also discovered the Foundation for Contemporary Theology in Houston, run largely by Westar Associates Bill Linden and Bob Tucker. Soon she attended her first Westar meeting and began teaching courses with Bill Linden.
Her search also brought her back in touch with a University of Texas professor whom she had met when she lived in Austin in the late ‘90s. L. Michael White holds the Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Christian Origins and frequently lectured at the Episcopal church Becki attended. A Westar Fellow, he had written a highly successful book, From Jesus to Christianity, and did a workshop on the subject at Westar’s 2007 Spring Meeting.
Becki was at that meeting. The two renewed their friendship and realized they shared more than just an interest in religion—they married in 2009. The couple spends six to eight weeks each summer in Rome, where Michael runs an archeological dig in Ostia, Rome’s ancient port city. They are excavating the oldest known synagogue on the continent.
Becki made one of the early commitments to the Campaign for Westar. “It made sense to me because I was more in sync with what I was learning at their meetings than what I was hearing when I went to church. My money followed my interest, and I was pleased to be part of what was happening at Westar.”