2023-2024 Board of Directors


  • Mary Keller Alexander, Chair (Valley View)
  • Evelyn Cano, Vice Chair (Pharr)
  • Laura Marquez, Treasurer (El Paso)
  • Dr. Gerardo Mireles, Secretary (McAllen)
  • Brandon Duke, Immediate Past Chair (Houston)


  • Jack Brown (Duncanville)
  • Jennifer Covington (Austin)
  • Alfreddie Felder (Baytown)
  • Karen Hale (Austin)
  • Denay Hooks (Lubbock)
  • Theresa Langley (Houston)
  • Robert Mihara (San Antonio)
  • Amy Pierce (Round Rock)
  • Ruby Soliz (Dallas)
  • Amanda Storer (Tyler)

See our DRTx Appoints Four New Members to Board of Directors press release for more about the newest members of our Board.

For more information including meeting dates, frequently asked questions, and the Board of Directors Application, visit the Board of Directors page.

Executive Staff

Image of Patty Anderson

Patty Anderson
Deputy Director

Before joining Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) in 2002, Patty served as Executive Director for United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Texas for more than 16 years. Her efforts were instrumental in establishing the Medicaid waiver, CLASS, for people with related conditions such as cerebral palsy. Her work in disability-related policy and legislation, development of new services, such as first-time homeownership for people with disabilities, and weekend camps for kids with and without disabilities was unprecedented. Under her leadership, UCP of Texas was awarded the National UCPA Legislative Advocacy Award.

In 2005, Patty led DRTx’s response to assist persons with disabilities who were displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, implementing a two-year project to provide long-term case management services. She has served on numerous legislative and state agency task forces, including serving as the first chairperson of Texas’ Promoting Independence Council to comply with the Supreme Court Olmstead decision. Patty received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1976. She was an original incorporator of the Austin Center for Battered Women (now SAFE), the first family violence shelter in Texas, and Every Child, Inc., providing alternative families for children leaving institutions.


Brian Hayes

Brian Hayes
Human Resources Director

Brian Hayes joined DRTx in January 2019 and brings more than 23 years of human resources management experience in both for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications/Public Relations from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and holds professional certifications from the Human Resource Certification Institute as a Senior Professional in Human Resources and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as a Senior Certified Professional.

After spending most of his HR career working with manufacturing, oil and gas, and petrochemical companies as well as other organizations, Brian had the unique opportunity to lead a premier long-term supported care program in Galveston for residents with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.

Brian’s volunteer work is extensive, serving on the Board of Directors for the State of Texas’ official state conference, The HRSouthwest Conference, for five years, and as a volunteer for the conference for seven years. Before moving to Austin, he served as the Chapter President for Texas Bay Area SHRM for four years. Brian served as Chapter President for Austin SHRM in 2021, and is currently serving as a District Director for Texas SHRM (Texas State HR Council).


Sean Jackson

Sean Jackson
Executive Director

Sean earned a Bachelor’s Degree at the University of New Orleans and a Juris Doctor at Louisiana State University Law Center. He started his career as an Assistant Public Defender in Baton Rouge at the 19th Judicial District Court and the City Court and went on to become an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Louisiana. He was also Managing Partner of his own law firm for nine years.

Sean also served in Workers Compensation and Medicaid Judgeships for the State of Louisiana for five years prior to joining DRTx. While at DRTx, he served as a regional attorney and a regional managing attorney before spending 12 years as the supervising attorney for the Community Integration and Healthcare Team. Sean was named Executive Director in 2022. In this role, he oversees a staff of more than 120 people in seven offices located across Texas.


Image of Richard LaVallo

Richard LaVallo
Legal Director

Richard has been practicing law as a public interest attorney since 1983. He has extensive experience representing persons with disabilities throughout Texas. He received a BA Degree with Honors from the University of New Mexico in 1973, an MSSW from UT in 1979, and a JD from the UT School of Law in 1983.

After graduating from law school, Richard began practicing family law, specializing in defending suits for termination of parental rights as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Central Texas from 1983 to 1989. Richard has worked for DRTx for almost 30 years. He has represented persons with disabilities in a wide range of individual and systemic cases. He has worked on numerous legislative and public policy issues dealing with education, mental health, foster care, guardianship and juvenile justice.


Image of Karen Rucker

Karen Rucker
Finance Director

Karen has more than 20 years of experience as a financial professional, with many of those years serving in the nonprofit sector. For more than five years she was an auditor of both nonprofit and governmental organizations, and the remainder of her experience was as Chief of Budget for the US Air Force. Karen is a CPA and holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Applications from the University of Texas at San Antonio and both a Masters in Business Administration and Masters of Science in Accounting from Northeastern University in Boston. She has a strong working knowledge of our MIP Fund Accounting software and many years of experience in management, accounting, auditing, budgeting, financial analysis and modeling, internal controls, government grants, and knowledge of GAAP, Government Accounting Standards, and OMB Circulars A-133, A-110 and A-122.


Edie Surtees

Edie Surtees
Communications Director

Edie joined DRTx in 2012 as the agency’s first Communications Director. She has more than 35 years of marketing communications experience, with a majority of her career spent in the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining DRTx, Edie held a variety of communications leadership roles, working for two advertising agencies, a chemical dependency and psychiatric rehab hospital, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the American Heart Association where she was part of the nationwide launch of Go Red for Women. She also ran her own public relations consulting company serving a variety of clients in the nonprofit, education, and banking sectors. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from The University of Texas at Austin top-ranked McCombs School of Business.

In her 10 plus years at DRTx, Edie has worked to ensure communications efforts are strategic and focused with the ultimate goal of supporting legal advocacy strategies that successfully protect and advance the rights of Texans with disabilities. She led the effort to create a new website, elevated digital accessibility standards, developed the agency’s first communications policies and procedures manual, and oversaw the development and implementation of the agency’s first digital fundraising plan. She has also worked closely with DRTx’s expert staff spokespeople to successfully earn thousands of local, state and national media placements each year promoting the agency’s priority disability rights issues. Edie has also partnered with National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) on several national projects and presented at the NDRN Annual Conference.