Disability Advocacy Agency Selects New Board Members from Austin, Fort Hood, Garland, and Lubbock

Posted on

February 24, 2017

Edie Surtees, Communications Director

AUSTIN – Disability Rights Texas (DRTx), the legal protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities in Texas, recently selected five new members to join its board of directors – Richard “Dick” Anderson (Austin), Brook Roberts (Lubbock). Deborah Rose (Garland), Dr. Jessica R. Toste (Austin), and Stephania Lynn Williams (Fort Hood).

Dick Anderson is partner and co-founder of HPI Real Estate Services and Investment and oversees the day-to-day operations. His real estate company serves Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio and provides a comprehensive set of commercial real estate assistance. HPI manages more than 16 million square feet of office space, industrial buildings, and retail properties. Anderson is originally from North Platte, Nebraska. He received his Bachelors of Science from Southern Methodist University. He also serves on the Board of Directors for The Busby Foundation, Uplogix, and Hypori. His affiliations have been with the Board of Directors for Active Power, Inc., NASDAQ (ACPW), ARC of the Capital Area,
NetBotz, Inc., Planet Cancer, Ballet Austin, and West Austin Youth Association.

Brook Roberts is the school psychology clinical coordinator in the College of Education at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He directs the field education and experiences for doctoral students in school psychology and supervises the practice of the students outside of the classroom. He has been working with children and adolescents through non-profit organizations and public schools since 1996. He earned a Masters in Social Work from The University of Texas at Arlington and a Masters of Arts in school psychology from West Texas A&M University. Roberts is currently working on a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at Texas Tech University. He has served on the Executive Board of the Texas Association of School Psychologists (TASP) for several years and is currently president. He also has held positions on the executive board of the Texas Counseling Association. Roberts cares deeply about the mental health care needs and challenges of children and families in rural settings. He is energized by his work in those communities and by his career of training practitioners to contribute to the solutions offered to individuals and systems impacted by inaccessibility to quality mental health services.

Deborah Rose is a lifetime entrepreneur and owner of The Handwriting Therapy Center and Investigative Solutions Group. She has written several books related to people with a mental health diagnosis, some of which are used as curriculum for training people to be mental health advocates. Rose is a devoted advocate for mental health rights, speaking and teaching on the subject frequently. She serves as the Executive Director of the Council of Families for Children, an agency that focuses on issues that prevent children and their families from achieving healthy, active, and productive lives. Rose became the Chair of the DRTx PAIMI (Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness) Advisory Council in December 2016, which in turn gives her a seat on the DRTx Board.

Dr. Jessica Toste is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin and affiliated with The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. She received her Ph.D. in educational psychology from McGill University. She teaches courses on reading instruction, disability law, and learning disabilities (LD). Her research interests are related to students with LD and effective reading interventions, with a particular focus on motivation as a determinant of school success. Dr. Toste was trained in reading intervention research as a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University and as a Fulbright scholar/visiting researcher at the Florida Center for Reading Research. She worked for many years as an elementary school teacher and reading specialist in Montreal, and is committed to ensuring equal educational opportunities for students with disabilities.

Stephania Williams was diagnosed with a disability at a young age and lived in what is now known as DePelchin Children’s Home of Houston. Throughout her childhood, she advocated for herself and navigated the world of foster care, and as an adult she advocated for her three children, two grandchildren, and husband, a retired soldier with a disability. Through her life experiences, she became a special education advocate and has continued to work to advance the rights of others for more than 30 years. Williams previously served as a social service representative and advocate for the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) at Fort Hood and worked with youth at the Killeen ISD Alternative Placement Program and the Texas Youth Commission. Currently, Williams works for the Department of Defense. She is on the Behavior Advisory Committee for Education Service Center Region 12 in Waco and is a volunteer for several advocacy groups. She is a nationally known speaker on the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, federal legislation that guarantees the certain rights to people with disabilities. Williams has helped numerous children across America with advocacy, support, services, and resources and provided training for thousands of families and professionals.

Disability Rights Texas board of directors is comprised of 16 members from across The 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.”

# # #

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.

Visit www.DRTx.org for more information