- Governor Appointed
- Disability Rights Texas
- Texas Center Disability Studies
- Center Disability and Development
- Texas Education Agency — Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
- Texas Health and Human Services Commission — Title XIX Medicaid
- Texas Health and Human Services Commission — Older Americans Act
- Texas Workforce Commission — Vocational Rehabilitation Program (formally DARS)
- Texas Health and Human Services Commission — Title V Maternal/Child Heath Texas (formally DSHS)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
El Paso, Texas
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.
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.
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
Dr. Nina Zuna 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. 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.
Texas Education Agency — Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
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 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 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Support.
Texas Health and Human Services Commission — 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 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 — 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.