Governor-Appointed Council Members
Mary Durheim, Chair
Mary Durheim is an educational consultant. She has served as the national president of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD) and as chair of the CHADD national Public Policy committee for several years. Durheim is co-founder and co-author of CHADD’s Parent to Parent: Family Training on ADHD program. Durheim is a former parent liaison for the Hidalgo County Community Resource Coordination Group. She received a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University. Durheim was appointed to the Council as a parent in February 1996 to fill the remainder of an unexpired term. She was appointed for a full term in February 2000 and was reappointed in September 2005. She was designated as Council Chair February 23, 2012.
Rebecca Hunter Adkins
Rebecca Hunter Adkins is a volunteer and non-profit spokesperson. She is a volunteer for Ride on Center for Kids, SIRE Therapeutic Equestrian Center, and Texas Hearing and Service Dogs. She is a volunteer facilitator and mentor for the Texas Youth Leadership Forum, and an ambassador for the Ms. Wheelchair Texas Foundation. Hunter attended Austin Community College. She was appointed to the Council as a self-advocate in March 2009 for a term that expires February 1, 2015.
Kristine Clark is a sales associate with Smith and Nephew, Inc. She received a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin. Clark was appointed to the Council as a parent in February 2000 and reappointed in September 2005 and August 2011. Her current term expires February 1, 2017.
Kristen L. Cox
Kristen L. Cox is founder and president of Checkpoint Services Inc, a technology company in El Paso. She is a board member of the El Paso Children’s Hospital, University Medical Center Foundation, Texas Association of Historically Underutilized Businesses, Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas and the Austin Regional Office of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Cox received a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and master’s degree from The University of Texas at Dallas. She is president of the El Paso A&M Club; as well as a graduate of Partners in Policymaking, Leadership El Paso and Leadership Texas. She was appointed to the Council as a parent in March 2009 for a term to expire February 1, 2015.
Stephen Gersuk of Plano is a business developer for Quantum3D Inc. He is past president of the Denton State Supported Living Center (DSSL) Family Association and a chair of the DSSL Volunteer Services Council. Gersuk received a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech University. He was reappointed to the council for a term to expire February 1, 2019.
Scott McAvoy is Vice-President of Operations for Marbridge Foundation, which provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities. He is a member of LeadingAge Texas and the American Network of Community Options and Resources — and is a founding member of the Texas Culture Change Coalition. He was appointed to the Council in February 2012 as a representative of local, nongovernmental organizations, for a term that expires February 1, 2015.
Dana Smith Perry
Dana Smith Perry is an advocate for people with disabilities. She is a member of The Arc of Brownwood and previously served as a board chairperson for the Texas Center for Disability Studies at The University of Texas. Perry also has served as a volunteer coach for Special Olympics. She graduated from Partners in Policymaking in 1996. Perry was originally appointed to the Council as a parent in August 2002 to fill the remainder of an unexpired term. She was appointed for a full term in November 2003 and again in March 2009 for a term that expires February 1, 2015.
David Taylor is a retired master trainer for the U.S. Army Recruiting Company. He is founder and executive director of the Autism Community Network of El Paso, a child advocate for Court Appointed Special Advocates of El Paso, and a member of the Socorro Independent School District Health Advisory Council and Bond Accountability Committee. He is a member of the Omar Bradley Masonic Lodge 1028, American Legion Post 615, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9231. He is also a past board member of the Children’s Disability Information Coalition and a past member of the El Paso Independent School District Special Education Advisory Council. He served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. He was appointed to the Council in February 2012 for a term that expires February 1, 2017.
Richard A. Tisch
Richard A. Tisch is responsible for new sales growth in Texas and Oklahoma for PayFlex, an Aetna Insurance Company subsidiary. He is a graduate of the Texas Partners in Policymaking program. Tisch is a basketball coach for Special Olympics. He received a bachelor’s degree in business from The University of Texas at Austin. Tisch was appointed to the Council as a parent in April 2001 to fill the remainder of an unexpired term. He was appointed for a full term in November 2002 and was reappointed in March 2009 for a term to expire February 1, 2015.
Texas Center for Disability Studies at The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Amy Sharp
Dr. Amy Sharp is the Executive Director of the Texas Center for Disability Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Previously, she served as the Associate Director of the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University from 2008-2015. Dr. Sharp has also been the Director of the Family Support Network since 2002. She taught 2nd and 3rd grades as well as serving as a Diagnostician in Texas schools. She is involved in numerous organizations and professional groups. Dr. Sharp has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston; a master’s degree from Angelo State University; and a doctorate in special education leadership and interagency collaboration from Texas A&M University.
Dr. Zaccheus J. Ahonle
Dr. Zaccheus J. Ahonle is the Disability Studies Training project manager at the Texas Center for Disability Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. He is also a lecturer at the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Ahonle earned a master’s degree in Information Science from the University of Agric., Nigeria and another master’s and Ph.D. in Special Education from The University of Texas at Austin. He is a certified vocational rehabilitation counselor with experience counseling people with disabilities. Dr. Ahonle is a reviewer with Campbell Collaboration and National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials. His primary areas of research include community re-integration (i.e., competitive employment and post-school outcomes) for individuals with disabilities, including transition-aged youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Dr. Ahonle’s employment outcome research examined the effects of race/ethnicity, comorbid disabilities, and vocational rehabilitation services on employment outcomes of individuals who experienced a traumatic brain injury.
Texas Education Agency — IDEA
Ron Roberts is a special education complaints investigator with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), a position he has held since 2006. Prior to his position at TEA, Ron served as the project manager for the Parent Alliance for Learning and Support (PALS) at the Brighten School in San Antonio. He also served as the area director for the community outreach program at the Austin State School’s Supported Living Centers in Llano and New Braunfels. Ron holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Tarleton State University and is a 1996 graduate of Texas Partners in Policymaking.
Barbara Kaatz is a program specialist for IDEA Support.
Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) — Older Americans Act
Lisa Akers-Owen is the Deputy Associate Commissioner for Community Supports with the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). She has over 26 years of experience working with individuals in need of medical and social services. Akers-Owen’s prior positions include Director with HHSC Health Care Finance Division, Manager and interim Assistant Commissioner in the HHSC Office of the Ombudsman, and Director of Community Services and Program Operations with the Department of Aging and Disability Services. In her current role, she oversees the operations associated with programs serving older adults and people with disabilities. Akers-Owen is a graduate of Southwest Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.
Sue Fielder has spent much of her career working in the aging network in numerous positions and capacities. Beginning with the Concho Valley Area Agency on Aging in 1987, positions included both programmatic and fiscal work, and program development in the areas of contract administration, care coordination, benefits counseling, information and assistance, and the nursing home ombudsman program. In 2001 Fielder accepted the position of Director of the Permian Basin Area Agency on Aging in Midland. She held this position until joining the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) in 2008, which transformed to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) in 2016. Fielder was selected as the Director for the Office of Area Agencies on Aging (OAAA) within the Access and Eligibility Services division of HHSC in August 2012, having previously served as the Manager for the Contract Accountability and Oversight Unit in the OAAA since she joined the state. Fielder attended Angelo State University in San Angelo and Canton College in Ohio.
Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) — Title V Maternal/Child Heath Texas (formally DSHS)
Rachel Jew is the Title V Children with Special Health Care Needs Director for the Department of State Health Services, where her work focuses on improving systems of care for children and youth with special health care needs in Texas. Previously, she was the Public Health Manager for the Texas Pediatric Society, the Texas Chapter of the AAP. Jew was also a data analyst and program specialist for the Children with Special Health Care Needs Services Program at the Department of State Health Services. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.
Ivy Goldstein has been a Program Specialist with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in the Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) Services Program since December 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Boston University and is a graduate of Partners in Policymaking. Goldstein represents DSHS on the Consumer Direction Workgroup, the Texas System of Care Consortium, Texas Respite Coalition, Children’s Policy Council, and the Community Resource Coordination Groups State Work Group. Prior to her position with DSHS, Goldstein worked at Disability Rights Texas (formerly Advocacy, Inc.) supporting a self-advocate and she continues to be actively involved in community efforts to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.