New Board Members for 2020

Posted on

October 15, 2019

Edie Surtees
Communications Director

Disability Advocacy Agency Announces New Board Officers, Members

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 2020. 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.

Newly-elected Board Officers include Jessica Toste, Chair; Brook Roberts, Vice Chair; Todd Whitaker, Treasurer; and Tresi Weeks, Immediate Past Chair.

New Board Members are Raul Guajardo of Edinburg, Kathryn Lewis-Peacock of Austin, Caroline Kupstas Daley of Kingwood, and Jon Vandiver of Carollton, a former Board Chair, who is returning to the Board in his role as PAIMI Council Chair.

Board Members continuing their terms of service include Mary Keller Alexander of Valley View, Brandon Duke of Houston, Karen Hale of Austin, Bola Oyeleye of Houston, Christian Salas of El Paso, Amanda Lee Storer of Tyler, and Stephania Williams of Killeen.

About Our New Board Members

Raul Guajardo of Edinburg is an attorney who earned his Bachelor of Arts at The University of Texas – Pan American, in Edinburg, Texas, and his Doctorate of Juris Prudence from Texas Southern University Law School in Houston. He worked for the Willacy County District Attorney’s Office where he prosecuted all kinds of cases from felony and misdemeanor to child welfare cases. Raul opened his own law firm in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas in 2002 and has successfully represented hundreds of clients in a range of legal matters. He has a son with a disability and has spent many hours advocating for his rights in school. He also regularly presents at school districts about guardianship options.

Caroline Kupstas Daley of Kingwood earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Learning Development from The University of Texas at Austin and was a teacher of young children before becoming the mother of three children with disabilities including deaf-blindness, autism, Tourette’s, developmental delays, and physical disabilities. She is a passionate and experienced advocate who has spent 16 years educating herself and mentoring other families on how to successfully acquire the tools they need to be successful. Caroline served on the Board for Kingwood Mothers of Multiples for nine years and was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to be a member of the Board of Trustees at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired where she served for eleven years. She is a frequently sought out speaker for school districts, conferences and parent groups. Currently she is a subject matter expert and contributor for the National Center on Deaf-Blindness.

Kathryn Lewis-Peacock of Austin earned a Doctorate of Juris Prudence and Bachelor of Science in Art from The University of Wisconsin in Madison. She served as a civil rights lawyer before a full-time career as a mother in order to care for her son and daughter with disabilities. In addition to her current career as a strategic planning consultant for non-profits and start-ups, Kathryn has served in numerous volunteer leadership roles for disability and other agencies, including Easter Seals, Special Olympics, a juvenile shelter, a learning co-op, an animal rescue organization, and more. During law school she was a clerk at one of our sister protection and advocacy agencies – Disability Rights Wisconsin. She started volunteering to help people with disabilities when she was 14 and has other family members with significant disabilities. Disability rights are near and dear to her heart.

“I can wholeheartedly say that our new board members bring with them a great deal of passion for disability rights,” said Mary Faithfull, executive director of Disability Rights Texas. “They also have strong personal records of supporting and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. I look forward to the tremendous contributions they will make to our organization.” 

# # #

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.