DRTx Appoints New Board Members

Posted on

October 30, 2020

Edie Surtees
Communications Director

AUSTIN—Disability Rights Texas (DRTx), the legal protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities in Texas, has appointed four new members to its board of directors for fiscal year 2021. 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.

The new Board Members are Evelyn Cano of Pharr, Laura Marquez of El Paso, Dr. Gerardo Mireles of McAllen, and Destiny Richardson of Houston who is joining the Board in her role as Chair of the DRTx Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental illness (PAIMI) Council Chair.

Board Members continuing their terms of service include Board Chair Jessica R. Toste from Austin, Vice-Chair Brooks Roberts of Lubbock, Treasurer Mary Keller Alexander of Valley View, Stephania Williams of Killeen, Omobola Oyeleye from Houston, Brandon Duke of Houston, Karen Hale of Austin, Amanda Storer from Tyler, Raul Guajardo of Edinburg, Kathryn Lewis-Peacock from Austin, and Caroline Kupstas Daley from Kingwood.

About Our New Board Members

Evelyn Cano of Pharr began her journey as an advocate when her child was diagnosed with autism, and she has become a long-time passionate advocate for people with disabilities in her community. Ms. Cano is also a member of the Texas Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities. Along with two other women, Evelyn recently helped form the Disability Chamber of Commerce of the Rio Grande Valley. She has also served as Interim Executive Director of Capable Kids Foundation and helped create and direct the South Texas Special Needs Conference.

Laura Marquez from El Paso earned both a Bachelor and Master of Social Work from the University of Texas at El Paso. She has 15 years of experience and a wide range of knowledge from working either directly or indirectly with people with disabilities. Ms. Marquez is a Developmental Disabilities (DD) Policy Fellow with the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities. Her work as a DD fellow focuses on issues, policy and advocacy for people with developmental disabilities living in El Paso and other areas along the Texas-Mexico border.

Gerardo Mireles, Ph.D., of McAllen earned a Bachelor and Master in Psychology from the University of Texas Pan American and a Ph.D. in School Psychology with an emphasis in Child-Clinical Psychology and Cultural/Linguistic Factors from Texas A&M University. Dr. Mireles has advanced training and expertise in child and adolescent psychology. His practice provides services to hundreds of families per month in the Rio Grande Valley. This fall he will take over the President’s role for the South Texas Psychological Association.

Destiny Richardson of Houston has lived experience with mental illness and often advocates for her family members with disabilities. She is the Chair of the PAIMI Council and is dedicated to increasing awareness of mental illness. While pursuing her degree, she served on the advisory committee of the NAACP at Texas Southern University. She is excited about bringing a younger perspective to the board.

“I am thrilled with the extensive level of knowledge, expertise and passion for disability rights that our new board members bring with them,” said Mary Faithfull, executive director of Disability Rights Texas. “They each have impressive personal records 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.” 

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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.