BHF Board Bios
BHF Board Bios
Matt Tessier, a lifelong Louisiana resident, has been involved in the bluegrass music community as a banjo player and vintage instrument collector for the past 20 years. Like many others, Matt started learning music on the piano at age six but became a banjo player at age 10 after discovering the music of Earl Scruggs. He has played with many local bands during his lifetime and was featured in the award-winning 2011 documentary short film Fanning the Fire produced by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation. Matt has worked with the Foundation on nearly all its events as a stage and artist accommodation manager since 2013.
For the past five years Matt has worked for Cavender’s Boot City, based in Tyler, Texas, and presently manages their store in Shreveport, Louisiana. He is an avid watch collector who founded a Facebook group called the Accutron Collectors in 2017. The group has grown to a membership of 1500 and is now the largest Accutron-specific organization in the world.
Julie Tompkins is a veteran middle-school mathematics teacher who has served as the Foundation’s volunteer staffing coordinator and assistant event manager for the past several years. She regularly uses her artistic talents to assist in the design and creation of innovative products provided to Foundation contributors. Julie earned her bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of Texas at Dallas, her teaching certificate from Brookhaven College, and a certificate in marketing from the Edwin L. Cox School of Business at SMU. Julie loves working side-by-side with Foundation volunteers at bluegrass music events and getting to know new members of our extended bluegrass family.
Mark Porter is a native of Montana who lived in Texas for three years and presently resides in Green Bay, Wisconsin with his wife Becky. He works as a product marketing manager for the Regal Rexnord Corporation. Prior to moving to Texas in 2015, Mark spent 19 years as a high school, college, and Indoor Football Referee. After coming to Texas, he retired from football officiating and decided to pursue his other passion – music. Mark’s dad, Dean Porter, is a retired professional guitarist, and his grandfather Russell Porter was a nationally known banjo player. After sitting in on a few Texas bluegrass jams, Mark decided to hang up his guitar and start playing mandolin.
Mark presently serves as Social Media Manager for the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation and runs the Bluegrass Society of America Facebook group. He manages and plays mandolin with the Biscuit Creek bluegrass band. Mark is a Certified Guitar Repair Technician and graduate of the Chicago School of Guitar Repair.
Robert Hough is an intellectual property attorney in Dallas who has been playing and recording acoustic music for over 20 years. An Arkansas native, Robert studied business management and music technology at the University of Arkansas prior to earning his JD at SMU. Robert is an accomplished musician on guitar, piano, and percussion instruments, and spent time as a studio musician in college. Robert also served four years on the drumline of the Arkansas Razorback Marching Band.
While in college, Robert founded A-Zone Sound, an audio production company focused on creating custom music beds and voice-overs for the advertising and entertainment industries, and providing live sound, lighting, and staging solutions for clients across the nation. Robert served as the President and Chief Audio Engineer of A-Zone Sound for seven years.
Robert currently practices law in the advertising, sports, and entertainment industries, concentrating on legal issues in music, television, and film. Robert is also active in numerous outreach organizations around Texas, including Kairos Prison Ministry and the Dallas Ramp Project. He enjoys hunting, fishing, and shooting, and holds a Master class ranking as a pistol shooter in the United States Practical Shooting Association.
Gerald Jones, a native Texan, has been involved with the performance, production, and teaching of music for more than 30 years. He’s played live or recorded with Jerry Douglas, Mark O’Connor, Vince Gill, Sam Bush, Tanya Tucker, Grand Master Fiddle Champion Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor, Hank Thompson, Red Steagall, and many others of many genres. Gerald edits Mel Bay’s web magazine Banjo Sessions and frequently contributed to Joe Carr’s web magazine Mandolin Sessions. Gerald is on the board of the Allegro Guitar Society, which presents classical guitar performances in Dallas, Fort Worth and Las Vegas. He also writes and performs many Allegro Guitar Society outreach programs each year. He invented the Acoustic Plus electronic banjo pickup used by Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Alan Munde, Bill Keith, and others. A multi-instrumentalist on banjo, mandolin, guitar, violin and dobro, Gerald has won banjos at the Winfield Banjo Championship. Gerald co-founded the Frisco Bluegrass Festival and Acoustic Music Camp, an instructional institute for acoustic musicians. Plus he teaches at many other camps across the country each year. For more about Gerald, see TheGeraldJones.com.
Alan Tompkins is the founder and president of the Foundation. A native of western Kentucky, he’s an avid bluegrass fan and an established banjo and acoustic bass player. His solo album, No Part of Nothin’, was released in 2012. His love of music began at an early age, and he played southern gospel and country music before and during his college years. With Gerald Jones, Alan co-founded the Frisco Bluegrass Festival (in Frisco, Texas; 2006-07) and Acoustic Music Camp, an annual instructional gathering for acoustic musicians. In 2010, together with the City of Farmers Branch, Alan created the Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival, the largest bluegrass event in north Texas, which was nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Bluegrass Event of the Year Award in 2014, 2017, 2019, and 2020.
Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in bluegrass music from Glenville State College as well as an associate degree in bluegrass and certificate in audio recording from the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music. He is a graduate of the IBMA Leadership Bluegrass class of 2009, served on the Leadership Bluegrass Planning Committee from 2010-2018, and served as Chair from 2011-2014. Alan received the IBMA Momentum Award for Industry Involvement in 2015, is a four-time nominee for IBMA’s Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year Award, and served on the IBMA board of directors from 2015-2019. He presently serves on the board of directors of the IBMA Foundation and the Professional Advisory Committee of the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music. For more, see AlanTompkins.com.
Alan is Vice President & General Counsel of Unity Hunt, Inc. in Dallas where he manages legal matters for the Lamar Hunt family and affiliated entities. He moved to Texas from Kentucky in 1983 to earn an MBA from SMU and later became licensed as both an attorney and CPA in Texas. He has served on the boards of charitable organizations including the National Soccer Hall of Fame Museum, AFI-Dallas International Film Festival, USA Film Festival, FC Dallas Foundation, Pegasus Theatre, Dallas Christian Leadership, and For The Love Of The Lake Foundation. Alan is a former chair of the State Bar of Texas Entertainment & Sports Law Section.