Council Members

Governor-Appointed Council Members

Mary Durheim, Chair
Spring, Texas

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.

John W. Thomas, Vice-Chair
Weatherford, Texas

John Thomas of Weatherford is owner of No Podium Needed and president and CEO of the Joseph Thomas Foundation. He is the West Texas representative on the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities and a member of the American Advertising Federation. Thomas received a bachelor’s degree from Angelo State University.

Rebecca Hunter Adkins
Lakeway, Texas

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.

Kimberly Blackmon
Fort Worth, Texas

Kimberly A. Blackmon is a data entry specialist and office assistant at Harman Construction Inc. She is a self advocate for The Arc of Greater Tarrant County, the Down Syndrome Partnership of Tarrant County, and the Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas. She is also a drama member of We Have a Voice, a volunteer hostess for Friday Nite Live and a past focus representative for Self Determination. Blackmon attended Tarrant County College and graduated from the Eastern New Mexico University Office Skills program.

Kristine Clark
San Antonio, Texas

Kristine Clark is a sales associate with Smith and Nephew, Inc. She received a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Gladys Cortez
McAllen, Texas

Gladys Cortez is an administrator at Mission Rehabilitation Services. She is a member of Leadership Mission, Valley-ICAN and The University of Texas Pan American (UTPA) Deaf Rehabilitation Club. Cortez is also a past member of the UTPA American Sign Language Club and a volunteer with the Rio Grande Valley Special Olympics. She has a master’s degree in general rehabilitation counseling from The University of Texas Pan American and is a certified rehabilitation counselor.

Kristen L. Cox
El Paso, Texas

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.

Andrew D. Crim
El Paso, Texas

Bio coming soon.

Mateo Delgado
El Paso, Texas

Mateo Delgado of El Paso is an assistant district attorney for the 34th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. He is a member of the State bars of Texas and New Mexico, and the Western District of Texas and District of New Mexico chapters of the Federal Bar Association. Delgado received a bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of New Mexico.

Stephen Gersuk
Plano, Texas

Stephen Gersuk of Plano is a business developer for Quantum3D Inc. He is past president of the Denton State Supported Living Center Family Association and a chair of the DSSL Volunteer Services Council. Gersuk received a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech University.

Ruth L. Mason
Houston, Texas

Ruth Lore Mason is a special education and disability advocate. She is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Down Syndrome Association of Houston Board of Directors, Arc of Texas Government Affairs Committee, University of Texas Center for Disability Studies Community Advisory Council and Harris County MHMRA Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Planning Advisory Council. She is a volunteer for Texas Parent to Parent and the Disability Rights Texas Houston office, and special education advocate for A4 Autism.

Scott McAvoy
Cedar Park, Texas

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 as a representative of local, nongovernmental organizations.

Michael Peace
Poteet, Texas

Michael Peace of Poteet is a habilitation worker. He is a volunteer for the Sand Branch Baptist Church Food Bank. Peace is attending Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio.

Dana Smith Perry
Brownwood, Texas

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.

Brandon Pharris
Beaumont, Texas

Brandon Pharris of Beaumont is the Southeast Texas Self Advocates representative for the Texas Advocates Board, and a board member of The Arc of Greater Beaumont. Pharris received a food service certificate from the Lamar Institute of Technology.

Lora Trainer Taylor
Houston, Texas

Lora Taylor of Houston is a piano teacher. She is a member of the Music Teachers National Association, Texas and Houston Music Teachers associations and National Guild of Piano Teachers. Taylor received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas.

Richard A. Tisch
Spring, Texas

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.

Agency Representatives

Disability Rights Texas

Mary Faithfull

Mary Faithfull has worked for Disability Rights Texas/Advocacy, Inc. since 1985 and has been executive director about 10 years. Earlier positions included regional manager in the Houston office for 10 years and coordinator for the Transition Services Task Force (a TCDD funded project). Before that, she was the education coordinator on the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine assigned to The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research from 1979 until 1984. Faithfull received bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology and a master’s in rehabilitation counseling. She is also on the board of the National Disability Rights Network.

Patty Anderson
Alternate

Patty Anderson is the Deputy Director at Disability Rights Texas.

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. Nina Zuna
Alternate

Dr. Nina Zuna is the Associate Director of the Texas Center for Disability Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. She has over 20 years of experience working with individuals with disabilities and their families in a variety of roles, including professor, researcher, certified special education teacher, and in-home/in-school behavioral skills trainer. She earned her Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Kansas. Her research and community service interests include family quality of life, individual and family supports across the lifespan, community inclusion, and transition from high school to postsecondary education and/or the workforce.

Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University

Dr. Dan Zhang

Dr. Dan Zhang is Director of the Center on Disability and Development and has been Professor of Special Education at Texas A&M University since 2005. Prior to joining Texas A&M, he had experiences working with DD Councils and UCEDDs (University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities) for nine years in two other states. Over the years, Dr. Zhang has provided training, service, and research work in the areas of intellectual and developmental disabilities and topics related to transition from school to adulthood. Through various grant supported projects, he has provided self-determination and leadership training to individuals with special support needs in Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas.

Dr. Meagan Orsag
Alternate

Dr. Meagan Orsag is the Associate Director of the Center on Disability and Development (CDD). She has been CDD’s Project Coordinator for Postsecondary Access and Training in Human Services and Bridge to Career in Human Services. Dr. Orsag earned her doctorate in Special Education Administration at the University of Texas at Austin. While at the University of Texas at Austin, she mentored pre-service special education teachers as a university facilitator. Dr. Orsag was also a graduate research assistant on an IES Early Mathematics Intervention Project. She has presented at several national and international conferences. Dr. Orsag is a published author in peer-reviewed journal’s such as “The Urban Review,” “Leadership and Policy in Schools,” and the “International Journals of Leadership Education.”

Texas Education Agency — Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Dr. Justin Porter

Dr. Justin Porter holds a Doctor of Education degree from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas and has had a lengthy career working with at-risk populations, including students with disabilities, in a variety of school districts across the state of Texas. His leadership experience began at the campus level and then moved into supervisory roles in varied central administration positions where he worked extensively with programs to serve students in special populations, as well as general curriculum and instructional programs. Currently, Dr. Porter serves as the Texas State Director for Special Education at the Texas Education Agency.

Keith Swink
Alternate

Keith Swink is the Manager of Dispute Resolution at the Texas Education Agency.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission — Title XIX Medicaid

Stephanie Muth

Stephanie Muth is the Deputy Executive Commissioner overseeing Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program services across Texas.

Dana Williamson
Alternate

Dana Williamson is the Director of Policy Development and Support within the Medicaid/CHIP Division at the Health and Human Services Commission. She has worked in health and human services policy since 2008 and in Medicaid policy since 2011. Williamson is a 22-year veteran of state government and has experience in child and adult protective services, HHS legislative support and strategic planning, and policy governing the delivery of Medicaid long-term services and supports to individuals with disabilities and the elderly. Williamson holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission — Older Americans Act

Vacant

This position is currently vacant.

Vacant
Alternate

This position is currently vacant.

Texas Workforce Commission — Vocational Rehabilitation Program (formerly DARS)

Jennifer Hines

Jennifer Hines is the State Autism and Developmental Disorders Specialist for the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, Division for Rehabilitation Services. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has practiced in the field of Developmental Disorders for 22 years.

Sara Kendall
Alternate

Sara Kendall has been the Program Specialist for benefits planning and DADS-DARS service integration for the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services Division for Rehabilitation Services (DARS/DRS) since January 2012. Prior to assuming this role she was the Administrator for the Texas Medicaid Infrastructure Grant. She has more than 20 years of experience assisting people with disabilities to achieve their vocational goals, including being an employment specialist; writing and implementing home and community based waivers; and working as an administrator for private provider agencies. Her brother, who had intellectual and developmental disabilities, provided the inspiration for her to leave the private industry and enter the field of human services.

Texas Department of State Health Services — Title V Maternal & Child Health

Katlyn Le

Katlyn Le 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 a Manager in the Newborn Screening Program at DSHS, managing a team of Registered Nurses and Public Health Prevention Specialists responsible for care coordination of newborns with abnormal genetic screening. Prior to that, Le worked as a Program Manager for the City of Austin Public Health Women, Infant, and Children Program. She’s a graduate of The University of Texas at Arlington with a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Le is also a Registered Dietitian with a Bachelor of Science degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Ivy Goldstein
Alternate

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.