Disability Rights Texas Selects New Board Members, Officers for 2019

Posted on

November 8, 2018

Edie Surtees
Communications Director
Direct line: 512.407.2739
Email: esurtees@DRTx.org

AUSTIN – Disability Rights Texas (DRTx), the legal protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities in Texas, has elected new officers and appointed new members to its board of directors for fiscal year 2019.

New Board Officers include Tresi Weeks, Chair; Jessica Toste, Vice Chair; Brook Roberts, Secretary; and Joseph Muniz, Immediate Past Chair. New to the Board are Brandon Duke of Houston, Mary Keller Alexander of Valley View (in North Texas), Karen Hale of Austin, and Amanda Lee Storer of Tyler. Board members continuing to serve are Richard Anderson of Austin, Michael Cichowicz of Tyler, Anna Gray of San Antonio, Bola Oyeleye of Houston, Christian Salas of El Paso, Todd Whitaker of Lubbock, and Stephania Williams of Killeen.

The DRTx board of directors 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.

About Our New Board Members

Brandon Duke is an attorney with Winston & Strawn LLP in Houston. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Philosophy from Texas A&M University and his Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School. Brandon is also an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center. In recent years, Brandon has assisted DRTx as a pro bono attorney in representing students with learning disabilities. Brandon serves as a Council Member of the Texas Bar Association’s Antitrust Business Litigation, as Committee Chair for the Houston Young Lawyer’s Association, and as an Advisory Board Member for Inprint, a literary arts nonprofit in Houston. In his free time, he also supports and volunteers with a number of charitable community organizations, including Houston Volunteer Lawyers, Children’s Aid Society, Coalition for the Homeless, and Houston Food Bank.

Mary Keller Alexander of Valley View is the National Program Director of the educational nonprofit, Learning Ally. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Government and Public Relations from Texas Woman’s University. Mary focuses her advocacy efforts on accommodations, protections, and innovations for the blind and visually impaired, and is motivated by her son, who is blind and has cerebral palsy. She has served as Vice President of the Board for the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and worked with several advocacy groups, including the National Association of Parents of Children with Visual Impairments, the International Dyslexia Association, and the Alliance of and for Visually Impaired Texans.

Karen Hale lives in Austin and is committed to advocating and providing services for people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Bucknell University and her Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University, with additional graduate work in Human Services Administration at the University of Texas at Arlington. Karen has experience in public policy advocacy as former Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Tarrant County and Associate Director of the Mental Health Association of Texas. She served as the Commissioner for the Texas Department of MHMR where she was involved in the administrative, legislative, and policy development aspects of disability rights advocacy. Karen has provided services through Tarrant and Dallas Counties MHMR centers and the Fort Worth State School in early efforts to enhance access to community services. She is honored to be a recipient of the Mental Health Advisory Team Children’s Mental Health Advocacy Award.

Amanda Lee Storer of Tyler is a physical therapist at Kidscare Home Health and Assistant Adjunct Professor at Tyler Junior College. A graduate of Kilgore College’s Physical Therapy Assistant Program, Amanda has more than a decade of experience working with children with physical, developmental, and mental disabilities, particularly in underserved communities. She serves on the Disability Review Board for the City of Tyler and helps to create mobility and independence for individuals with disabilities as President of the nonprofit Tyler-Area Ambucs. Amanda is currently the Public Relations Officer for the East Texas district of the Texas Physical Therapy Association, and the Coordinator for the production of Amtryke Adapted Tricycles. Amanda also spends time building wheelchair ramps through Texas Ramps and mentoring minors through the Boys and Girls Club.

Stephania Williams of Killeen 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. She 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, Stephania 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. Stephania has helped numerous children across America with advocacy, support, services, and resources and provided training for thousands of families and professionals.

“I am honored to welcome our new board members,” said Mary Faithfull, executive director of Disability Rights Texas. “They have strong personal records of supporting and advocating for 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. Visit our website at www.DRTx.org for more information.