Disability Rights Texas Appoints Four New Members to Board of Directors 

Posted on

October 26, 2023 

Edie Surtees, Communications Director

Disability Rights Texas Appoints Four New Members to Board of Directors 

AUSTIN—Disability Rights Texas (DRTx), the legal protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities in Texas, has appointed the following four new members to its board of directors for fiscal year 2024 beginning October 1, 2023: Denay Hooks (Lubbock); Theresa Langley (Houston); Robert Mihara (San Antonio); and Ruby Soliz (Dallas). The Board is comprised of 16 members from across the state who reflect the diverse constituency of individuals with developmental, mental, and physical disabilities who are served by the agency. 

Board members continuing their terms of service in officer positions include Mary Keller Alexander, Chair (Valley View); Evelyn Cano, Vice Chair (Pharr); Laura Marquez, Treasurer (El Paso); Gerardo Mireles, Secretary (McAllen); and Brandon Duke, Immediate Past Chair (Houston). 

Continuing in Director positions are Karen Hale (Austin); Amanda Storer (Tyler); Jack Brown (Duncanville); Jenn Covington (Austin); Dr. Alfreddie Felder (Baytown); Amy Pierce (Round Rock); and Samantha Smith (Dallas). 

“The extensive level of knowledge, expertise and passion for disability rights that our new board members bring with them is impressive,” said Sean Jackson, executive director of Disability Rights Texas. “Each of them has an extraordinary personal record of supporting and advocating for people with disabilities. I look forward to the tremendous contributions they will make to our organization and the disability community.” 

About Our New Board Members 

Denay Hooks of Lubbock began her journey as an advocate when her daughter was diagnosed with a rare disease at only 21 months old. Through this journey she has become aware of the glaring disparities that exist in healthcare, social support and legal rights for individuals with disabilities. Denay is one of the state representatives for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation and is on the Family Empowerment and Parent Council for Rett Syndrome. 

Theresa Langley of Houston has close ties to the disability community in the area of mental health in her immediate family. As a healthcare lawyer she has always been passionate about access to services and care for the disability community. Theresa volunteers her time as a pro bono attorney at Legal Aid clinics where she counsels individuals on a variety of topics such applying for social security benefits and negotiating with healthcare providers. 

Robert Mihara of San Antonio is retired from the US Army as a Lieutenant Colonel and is committed to serving his community and country as an advocate for the disenfranchised. His experiences as a parent and co-guardian of an adult son with autism planted a desire to focus on disability issues—first as a solo practitioner and then as a staff attorney for the Estates & Disability Program at San Antonio Legal Services Association (SALSA). Before joining SALSA, he was accepted into the Texas Opportunity and Justice Incubator 2023 cohort. Robert is a 2020 Pat Tillman Scholar and member of the Texas Bar College, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and the National Association of Consumer Advocates. 

Ruby Soliz of Dallas has a bachelor’s degree in social science and minor in criminal justice. She began working in behavioral health in 2006 as an administrative clerk, eventually moving into the role of a dedicated case manager. Ruby’s compassion for people facing life’s challenges came from her own experiences and overcoming them. She has firsthand experience with family members who have disabilities. While discovering support systems for others and herself, she became passionate about serving others which turned into a career. Ruby has worked as a Patient Rights Advocate (PRA) for a county mental health plan and a Substance Abuse Counselor at a treatment facility, serving patients in the justice system. Today, Ruby works as a Housing Case Manager serving unhoused individuals.  

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Disability Rights 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.