Civil Rights Group Selects New Board Members from Lubbock, San Antonio, and Houston

Posted on

February 1, 2016

Edie Surtees, Communications Director

AUSTIN – Disability Rights Texas (DRTx), the legal protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities in Texas, recently selected three new members to join its board of directors – Dr. John Delony from Lubbock, Janet Paleo from San Antonio, and Dr. Stephanie Simmons, J.D., from Houston.

Delony is Associate Dean of Student Life at the School of Law at Texas Tech University. He is also an adjunct instructor in the university’s Graduate College of Education. He has worked in K-12 and higher education for more than 15 years and spent significant time partnering with individuals and their families during moments of challenge, crisis, and transition. Delony received an M.Ed. and Ph.D in higher education administration from Texas Tech University (TTU). He is currently working on a second Ph.D. at TTU in Counselor Education and Instruction. He is deeply passionate and energized by the privilege of working alongside people of all ages in the areas of mental health and crisis support, disability access and support, and education.

Paleo is the Director of Recovery Based Services for the Texas Council of Community Centers. She started her career as an advocate for consumers and public mental health services in 1996. She served as a Peer Consumer Liaison for a Local Mental Health Authority and continues to work with the community centers in representing the consumer voice. Living with a disability herself, Paleo is a passionate advocate for others. She has served on numerous boards including the World Federation for Mental Health (currently serves as Board Treasurer), the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) of Texas, Chair of the National NAMI Consumer Council, Texas State Planning Advisory Council, and more. Paleo is a founding member of Prosumers International and has received numerous awards including the Governor’s Award for Empowering Texans with Disabilities.

Paleo was recently named chair of the DRTx Protection and Advocacy of Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Council which in turn gives her a position on the DRTx Board of Directors. She has served on the PAIMI Council for 5 years.

Simmons is an advocate of education and equality. She is the founder and principal of Simmons Legal Consultants. Having developed her expertise in the areas of corporate/transactional law, risk assessments, and organizational development, she has worked with numerous companies in the expansion and strengthening of business infrastructure, specializing in areas of law, human resources, leadership development and risk management.

Simmons earned a Bachelors of Arts from Houston Baptist University, a Juris Doctorate from Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and a Ph.D. in Organization and Management with a specialization in Executive Leadership. She has enjoyed using her skills in such positions as Chairman of the Board for the state’s Office of Risk Management, as General Counsel and VP of Human Resources for a national service company, and an organizational development and leadership coach for numerous businesses.

The Disability Rights Texas board of directors is comprised of 16 members from across Texas. Board members may serve up to two three-year terms. The Disability Rights Texas board of directors reflects the diverse constituency served by the agency, which is federally mandated to serve individuals with developmental, mental, and physical disabilities.

“I am honored to welcome these outstanding individuals to the DRTx board,” said Mary Faithfull, executive director of Disability Rights Texas. “They have strong personal records of supporting and advocating the rights of people with disabilities. I believe each brings a unique perspective and will add tremendous value to our board.”

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Disability Rights Texas (previously named Advocacy Inc.) is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Texas. Its mission is to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law, ensuring their full and equal participation in society.