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Speakers

Becca Aaronson (mod.)

Reporter, The Texas Tribune

Aaronson, an Austin native, was hired by The Texas Tribune after an internship in fall 2010. She reports on health care and develops data interactives. Aaronson graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., with a bachelor's degree in cultural theory and has previously interned for the Houston Chronicle.

Greg Abbott

Texas Attorney General; 2014 Candidate for Texas Governor

Abbott was first elected attorney general of Texas in 2002, and he is currently serving his third term. He served from 1995 to 2001 on the Texas Supreme Court, to which he was appointed by then-Gov. George W. Bush. Abbott announced his candidacy for governor in July.

Julián Aguilar (mod.)

Bureau Chief, The Texas Tribune

Aguilar covered the 81st legislative session for the Rio Grande Guardian. Previously, he reported from the border for the Laredo Morning Times. A native of El Paso, where he now heads the Tribune’s border bureau, Aguilar has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin and a master's degree in journalism from the University of North Texas.

Jose Aliseda

Bee County District Attorney; Former State Representative

Aliseda has served as district attorney, county attorney, and county judge in Bee County and as a state representative for District 35. He has served on the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and the Environmental Regulations Committee. Gov. Rick Perry appointed Aliseda to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in 2003.

Ramón Alvarez

Senior Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund

Alvarez is a senior scientist in the Texas office of the Environmental Defense Fund. He works to reduce air pollution, with an emphasis on emissions from natural gas and oil production. Alvarez led the organization’s campaign to establish the successful Texas Clean School Bus Program.

Rafael Anchia

State Representative; Chairman of the Trade and Intergovernmental Relations Committee

Anchia, D-Dallas, has represented District 103 in the Texas House since 2005. He serves as chairman of the House International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee and was a member of the Sunset Advisory Commission. In 2011, President Obama appointed him to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Dick Armey

Former U.S. House Majority Leader

Armey represented Congressional District 26 in the U.S. House for 18 years and served as the U.S. House majority leader from 1995 to 2003. In his final term, he chaired the Committee on Homeland Security. Since his retirement from Congress, he has worked as a senior policy adviser and chairman of FreedomWorks.

Kip Averitt

Former State Senator; Former Chair, Senate Natural Resources Committee

Averitt is a certified public accountant and a state and local tax consultant for Ryan & Company. Averitt was elected to represent SD-22 in 2002. He previously served in the Texas House of Representatives for nearly 10 years. Averitt is the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and also served on the Senate Business and Commerce, Education, Finance and Higher Education committees. 

Brad Bailey

Co-founder and CEO of The Texas Immigration Solution

Bailey, a Nassau Bay native, is the co-founder and CEO of The Texas Immigration Solution, a conservative nonprofit organization working toward market-oriented immigration reform. In 2012, he co-authored the immigration plank of the Texas Republican Party platform. Bailey is also serving his third term on the Nassau Bay City Council.

Tom Banning

CEO, Texas Academy of Family Physicians

Banning is chief executive officer and executive vice president of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, the state's largest medical specialty society. His duties include directing strategy, political action and continuing education. Banning is an Austin native and University of Texas graduate.

Aman Batheja (mod.)

Reporter, The Texas Tribune

Before joining The Texas Tribune, Batheja worked for eight years at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where he covered state and local politics. He has an undergraduate degree in journalism and psychology from New York University and a master's degree in economics from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Elisa Villanueva Beard

Co-CEO, Teach For America

Villanueva Beard's began working with Teach For America in 1998 as a corps member. She joined Teach For America's staff in 2001 as executive director in the Rio Grande Valley, and four years later, she stepped into the role of chief operating officer. In this role, she led Teach For America’s dramatic growth from 22 regions to 46. In 2013, Villanueva Beard was named co-CEO.

Doyle Beneby

President and CEO, CPS Energy

Beneby leads CPS Energy, which serves the greater San Antonio area, and is the largest municipal electric and gas utility in the nation. He serves on the board of directors for several corporate and industry organizations, including Capital Power Corporation, Keystone Energy, the American Gas Association, the Texas Public Power Association and the American Public Power Association.

Yasmin Bhatia

CEO, Uplift Education

Bhatia joined Uplift Education, which operates 28 charter schools and serves 10,000 students, in 2009. She had previously been a consultant at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, for nine years. She received her MBA from Stanford University. She is currently a fellow in the Broad Superintendent’s Academy.

Jeremy Bird

Senior Adviser, Battleground Texas

Bird is the senior adviser and a founding partner of Battleground Texas, an organization working to register and mobilize Democratic voters in the state. He previously served as the national field director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and as deputy director of Organizing for America.

Brian Birdwell

State Senator; Vice Chairman of the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee

Birdwell, R-Granbury, was has represented District 22 in the Texas Senate in 2010. He serves as vice chairman of the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee and sits on the Higher Education, Government Organization and Economic Development committees, as well as the Sunset Advisory Commission. Birdwell is a U.S. Army veteran.

Adryana Boyne

2014 Candidate for Texas House of Representatives

Boyne serves as the national director of VOCES Action, a nonprofit conservative Latino advocacy organization. She is the former director of development of VOTO Honesto, the Hispanic initiative of True the Vote. Boyne is a candidate for the District 102 seat in the Texas House.

Malachi Boyuls

2014 Candidate for Texas Railroad Commissioner

Boyuls, a Fredericksburg native, is running for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission. He is currently a partner at St. Augustine Capital Partners, an energy-focused investment firm. He practiced law at the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher where he specialized in regulatory law.

Harry Bradley

Superintendent, Texas State Cemetery

Bradley serves as superintendent of the Texas State Cemetery, where former legislators, governors, judges and other state officials are buried. Previously, he served as the chief demographer for the city of Austin and as the economic adviser for the Texas Water Development Board. Bradley is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

Dan Branch

State Representative; 2014 Candidate for Attorney General

Branch, R-Dallas, who is running for attorney general, has represented District 108 in the Texas House since 2003. He serves as the chairman of the Higher Education Committee and sits on the Calendars and Pensions committees. Branch is a graduate of the Southern Methodist University School of Law.

George Bristol

Chairman, State Parks Advisory Committee, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Bristol serves as chairman of the Texas State Parks Advisory Committee. In 1994, he was appointed to the National Park Foundation Board of Directors. After completing his term, he formed the Texas Coalition for Conservation to advocate for better funding for state parks. Bristol also served on the board of directors of the Glacier National Park Fund.

Mose Buchele (mod.)

Reporter, KUT News

Buchele is the Austin-based broadcast reporter for StateImpact Texas and has worked at KUT News in Austin since 2009 covering state issues. He has also worked as a politics blogger and an education reporter at his hometown paper in Massachusetts. He holds master’s degrees in Latin American studies and journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Michael Burgess

U.S. Representative

Burgess, R-Lewisville, was first elected to represent Congressional District 26 in 2002. He founded and serves as co-chairman of the Congressional Health Care Caucus, and he is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Rules Committee. Burgess received his M.D. from the University of Texas Medical School in Houston.

Fred Burton

Vice President for Intelligence, Stratfor

Burton is a vice president at Stratfor, an Austin-based geopolitical intelligence firm, where he guides the company's extensive coverage of the security environment in Mexico. Previously, he was a counterterrorism agent with the U.S. State Department for 14 years. Burton recently wrote Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi.

Donna Campbell

State Senator; Vice Chairwoman of the Nominations Committee

Campbell, R-New Braunfels, is serving her first term representing District 25 in the Texas Senate. She is the vice chairwoman of the Nominations Committee and sits on the Education, Jurisprudence, Transportation, and Veteran Affairs and Military Installations committees. Campbell is board certified in emergency medicine and practices at several emergency centers in San Antonio, Austin and beyond.

J Allen Carnes

Mayor of Uvalde; 2014 Candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner

Carnes was elected mayor of Uvalde in 2012 after serving on the Uvalde City Council. He has served as president of the Texas Vegetable Association, as a board member and director for the Texas Produce Association and as a member of the Texas Rural Health and Economic Development Advisory Council.

Stefani Carter

State Representative; 2014 Candidate for Railroad Commissioner

Carter, R-Dallas, is running for the Texas Railroad Commission and has represented District 102 in the Texas House since 2011. She serves as the vice chairwoman of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and sits on the Appropriations and Criminal Procedure Reform committees. In 2011, she was appointed to the Crime Victims’ Institute Advisory Council.

Pia Carusone

Executive Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions

Carusone serves as the executive director for Americans for Responsible Solutions, a nonprofit organization that advocates for solutions to prevent gun violence. Previously, she served as U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ chief of staff when Giffords was injured in 2011. She also served as assistant secretary for public affairs with the Department of Homeland Security.

Phil Castille

President, University of Houston-Victoria

Castille became the president of the University of Houston-Victoria in 2011. He expanded the school from an upper-division commuter university to a residential university with lower-division courses. Previously, Castille was vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Hawaii-Hilo and founding dean of the College of Arts, Letters and Education at Eastern Washington University.

Joaquin Castro

U.S. Representative

Castro, D-San Antonio, is serving his first term representing District 20 in the U.S. House. He sits on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees. Castro previously served five terms in the Texas House, where he served as vice chairman of the Higher Education Committee.

Julián Castro

Mayor of San Antonio

Castro has served as mayor of San Antonio since 2009. Under his leadership, the city has created Café College, which provides guidance for college admissions and financial aid, and Pre-K 4 SA, which will fund full-day prekindergarten education. Castro delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Garnet Coleman

State Representative; Chairman of the County Affairs Committee

Coleman, D-Houston, was first elected to represent District 147 in the Texas House in 1992. He now serves as the chairman of the County Affairs Committee and sits on the Public Health Committee. Coleman is the president and CEO of Apartments for America, a nonprofit affordable housing corporation.

Chris Connealy

Texas State Fire Marshal

Connealy was appointed state fire marshal in 2012 after serving the Cedar Park Fire Department for eight years and the Houston Fire Department for 26 years. He directs the Fire Marshal's Office's fire investigations, inspections and other safety services. In 2009, Gov. Rick Perry appointed him presiding officer on the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.

Jody Conradt

Former Women's Basketball Coach, The University of Texas at Austin

Conradt became the first coach of The University of Texas women’s basketball team in 1976. She coached at UT until 2007. Previously, she coached teams at The University of Texas-Arlington and Sam Houston State University. In 1998, Conradt was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Christi Craddick

Texas Railroad Commissioner

Craddick was elected in 2012 to serve a six-year term on the Texas Railroad Commission. She is an attorney specializing in oil and gas, water, electric deregulation and environmental policy. From 2002 to 2011, she served as the chief political and legal adviser to the speaker of the Texas House.

Elena Craft

Health Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund

Craft is a health scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, where she works to design and initiate comprehensive clean air measures. She has been appointed to serve a two-year term on the Environmental Justice Technical Review Panel of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board.

Myra Crownover

State Representative; Vice Chairwoman of the Energy Resources Committee

Crownover, R-Denton, was elected to her 7th full term of office from House District 64. Crownover serves as vice chairwoman of the Energy Resources Committee, chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Budget, Transparency, and Reform, and a member of the Calendars Committee. A former public school teacher, Representative Crownover is currently involved in the banking and energy industries.

Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator

Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012. He sits on the Judiciary; Rules and Administration; and Commerce, Science and Transportation committees, as well as the Special Committee on Aging. He also serves as vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Previously, Cruz served as chief appellate lawyer of Texas.

Drew Darby

State Representative; Chairman of the Redistricting Committee

Darby, R-San Angelo, was first elected to represent District 72 in the Texas House in 2006. He serves as the chairman of the Redistricting Committee and sits on the Appropriations and Higher Education committees. Darby is the founder of W. Drew Darby and Associates Law Firm.

John Davidson

Health Care Policy Analyst, Texas Public Policy Foundation

Davidson is a health care policy analyst with the Center for Health Care Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Prior to joining the foundation, he was executive editor for Issue Media Group, where he oversaw 19 weekly publications in the U.S. and Canada covering the creative economy, business innovation, and urban growth and design.

Sarah Davis

State Representative

Davis, R-West University Place, has represented District 134 in the Texas House since 2011. She serves as a member of the Appropriations, Public Health and Calendars committees. Davis is a Houston-based attorney who defends individuals, local businesses and Fortune 500 companies against personal injury lawsuits.

Wendy Davis

State Senator; Vice Chairwoman of the Open Government Committee

Davis, D-Fort Worth, has represented District 10 in the Texas Senate since 2009. She is vice chairwoman of the Open Government Committee and a member of the Economic Development, Transportation, and Veteran Affairs and Military Installations committees. Previously, Davis served on the Fort Worth City Council for nearly nine years.

Deirdre Delisi

Former Chairwoman, Texas Transportation Commission

Delisi was appointed chairwoman of the Texas Transportation Commission in 2008. She currently is a partner at Delisi Communications, a public relations, government and political consulting business. Previously, she has served as Gov. Rick Perry’s chief of staff and campaign manager. Delisi received her M.A. in international policy studies from Stanford.

David Dewhurst

Lieutenant Governor

Dewhurst, who is running for re-election in 2014, was first elected lieutenant governor of Texas in 2002. As lieutenant governor, he guides the legislative process and has the power to appoint Senate committee chairs. In 1998 he was elected Texas land commissioner. Dewhurst is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

Libby Doggett

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy and Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education

Doggett was named deputy assistant secretary of policy and early learning at the U.S. Department of Education in August. Previously, she was the director of the Pew home visiting campaign to promote effective state policies and investments in programs for new and expectant families. Doggett received her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dorit Donoviel

Deputy Chief Scientist, National Space Biomedical Institute

Donoviel oversees a diverse portfolio of science and technology research and development projects at the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. She is also an assistant professor in the Center for Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Donoviel received her doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of Washington.

Robert Eckels

President, Texas Central High-Speed Railway; Former Harris County Judge

Eckels is president of Texas Central Railway, a private enterprise seeking to build a high-speed rail system linking the Dallas-Fort Worth area to Houston. Previously, he served as county judge of Harris County and chairman of the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

Rodney Ellis

State Senator; Chairman of the Open Government Committee

Ellis, D-Houston, was elected in 1990 to represent District 13 in the Texas Senate. He serves as the chairman of the Open Government Committee and sits on the Natural Resources, State Affairs and Transportation committees. Before his election to the Senate, Ellis served three terms on the Houston City Council.

John Fainter

President and CEO, Association of Electric Companies of Texas; Former Texas Secretary of State

Fainter became president and CEO of the Association of Electric Companies of Texas, a trade organization of electric companies, in 1998. Previously, Fainter served as first assistant attorney general of Texas, secretary of state and chief of staff for Gov. Ann Richards. He received his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Blake Farenthold

U.S. Representative

Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, has represented the 27th Congressional District in the U.S. House since 2011. He is a member of the Oversight and Government Reform, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Judiciary committees. Prior to his public service, Farenthold was a radio contributor, owned his own computer consulting business and practiced law.

Jessica Farrar

State Representative; Vice Chairwoman of the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee

Farrar, D-Houston, has represented District 148 in the Texas House since 1995. She serves as vice chairwoman of the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee and sits on the State Affairs Committee. Farrar previously served as the leader of the House Democratic Caucus and as vice chairwoman of the Women’s Health Caucus.

Mike Feinberg

Co-Founder of KIPP

Feinberg co-founded the Knowledge Is Power Program in 1994, which now includes 141 public charter schools in 20 states and D.C., with over 30 of those schools in Texas. Feinberg received his master’s of Education from National Louis University and an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Yale University.

Gregory Fenves (mod.)

Provost, University of Texas at Austin

Fenves was appointed provost of The University of Texas at Austin in August while he was serving as dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. He received his doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where he later served as chairman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Gary Fickes

Tarrant County Commissioner; President, Texas High-Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation

Fickes was first elected Tarrant County commissioner in 2006. He is also the president of the Texas High-Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation. He is a member of the North Central Texas Council of Government Regional Transportation Council and vice chairman of the Transportation Committee for the National Association of Counties. Previously, he has served as the mayor of Southlake.

JoAnn Fleming

Executive Director, Grassroots America

Fleming serves as the executive director of Grassroots America, a nonprofit conservative organization that advocates for limited government and individual freedom. She served as chairwoman of the TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee for the 82nd and 83rd sessions of the Texas Legislature. Fleming is a statewide political public speaker.

Bill Flores

U.S. Representative

Flores, R-Bryan, has represented District 17 in the U.S. House since 2011. He sits on the Budget, Natural Resources and Veterans’ Affairs committees. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Houston Baptist University. Previously, Flores was president and CEO of Phoenix Exploration Company, an oil and gas business.

Daryl Fowler

DeWitt County Judge

Fowler was elected to serve as DeWitt County Judge in 2010. He is also a member of the Eagle Ford Shale Task Force, a group of officials lobbying lawmakers to address rural South Texas roads. Fowler previously served as chairman of the DeWitt County Republican Party.

Deborah Fowler

Deputy Director, Texas Appleseed

Fowler assists in overseeing Texas Appleseed’s legal and policy team and coordinating efforts on juvenile justice, the school-to-prison pipeline and foster care. She has authored three major reports on the school-to-prison pipeline in Texas. Fowler received her law degree from Lewis & Clark College’s Northwestern School of Law.

Peter Fox-Penner

Principal and Chairman, The Brattle Group

Fox-Penner serves as principal and chairman of the Brattle Group, a 20-year-old economic consulting firm. Previously, he served as a senior official in the U.S. Department of Energy and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Fox-Penner serves on the board of The Solar Foundation and has served on the boards of Enviance and Gridpoint.

Kate Galbraith (mod.)

Author, The Great Texas Wind Rush

Galbraith covered energy and environment for The Texas Tribune from 2010 to 2013. Previously she reported on clean energy for The New York Times from 2008 to 2009, serving as the lead writer for the Times' Green blog. She is the co-author of The Great Texas Wind Rush, a book about how the oil and gas state won wind power race.

Pete Gallego

U.S. Representative

Gallego, D-Alpine, was elected in 2012 to represent Congressional District 23, which spans 800 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. He serves on the House Armed Services and Agriculture committees. Before his election to Congress, he served for 22 years in the Texas House.

George Georgiou

Cockrell Family Regents Chair in Engineering and Professor of Genetics and Biology, The University of Texas at Austin

Georgiou holds an M.S. and Ph.D in chemical engineering from Cornell University. He leads the Georgiou Lab at The University of Texas at Austin, where current projects include studies on antibody engineering and response. Throughout his career, Georgiou has been studying problems related to physiology and genetics while carrying out the development of technologies for the discovery of protein therapeutics.

Dana Gibson

President of Sam Houston State University

Gibson was appointed president of Sam Houston State University in 2010. She had previously served as president of National University and as vice president for business and finance at Southern Methodist University. She holds a doctorate in accounting from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Tom Gilligan (mod.)

Dean, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin

Gilligan is the 10th dean of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. Before his appointment at the McCombs School of Business, Gilligan held several key administrative roles at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, including interim dean, vice dean of undergraduate education, director of the Ph.D. program and chairman of the Finance and Business Economics Department.

Larry Gonzales

State Representative

Gonzales, R-Round Rock, has represented District 52 in the Texas House since 2011. He sits on the Appropriations; Redistricting; Local and Consent Calendars; and Technology, Economic Development and Workforce committees. Previously, he served as an aide to Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and as an assistant vice chancellor for government relations for the Texas State University System.

Gene Green

U.S. Representative

Green, D-Houston, has served District 29 in Congress for 20 years. He has been a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee since 1996 and sits on the subcommittees on Health, Energy and Power, Environment and Economy, and Oversight and Investigations.

Sherri Greenberg (mod.)

Director, Center for Politics and Governance, LBJ School of Public Affairs

Greenberg is the director of the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. She served for 10 years as a member of the Texas House. Greenberg received a master’s degree in public administration and public policy from the London School of Economics.

Erica Grieder (mod.)

Senior Editor, Texas Monthly

Grieder is a senior editor at Texas Monthly. Previously, she was the southwest correspondent for The Economist. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New York Sun, The Spectator (UK) and More Intelligent Life. She authored Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas.

Mike Griffiths

Executive Director, Texas Juvenile Justice Department

Griffiths has been the executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department since 2012. Previously, he served as the juvenile services director for Dallas County from 1995 to 2010. He is also an adjunct professor at Sam Houston State University. Griffiths received his master of public administration degree from Texas Christian University.

Brandi Grissom (mod.)

Managing Editor, The Texas Tribune

Grissom is The Texas Tribune's managing editor and joined the staff when the publication launched in 2009. In addition to editing duties, she leads the Tribune's coverage of criminal justice issues. Grissom joined the Tribune after four years at the El Paso Times, where she acted as a one-woman Capitol bureau.

Spencer Hall (mod.)

Contributor, SB Nation

Hall is the editor of college football blog Every Day Should Be Saturday and an editorial director for SB Nation. He writes about college football and participatory pieces involving trying new sports. 

Wallace Hall

Regent, University of Texas System

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Hall in 2011 to a six-year term on the University of Texas System Board of Regents. Hall serves as a member of the Academic Affairs; Audit, Compliance and Management Review; Finance and Planning; and Health Affairs committees. He has previously served as chairman of the Task Force on Blended and Online Learning.

Reeve Hamilton (mod.)

Reporter, The Texas Tribune

Hamilton covers higher education and politics for The Texas Tribune and hosts the Tribune's weekly podcast. His writing has also appeared in Texas Monthly and The Texas Observer. Hamilton received his bachelor’s degree in English from Vanderbilt University.

Kent Hance

Chancellor, Texas Tech University System

Hance has served as the chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, which includes Texas Tech University, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and Angelo State University, since 2006. Previously, he had represented District 19 in the U.S. House for six years.

Glenn Hegar

State Senator; Chairman of the Nominations Committee; 2014 Candidate for Texas Comptroller

Hegar, R-Katy, has represented District 18 in the Texas Senate since 2007. He serves as the chairman of the Nominations Committee and sits on the Finance; Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security; and Natural Resources committees. Previously, he represented District 28 in the Texas House for two terms.

James Henson (mod.)

Director, Texas Politics Project

Henson directs the Texas Politics Project and is associate director of the College of Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services at the University of Texas at Austin. He co-directs the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, the only open-source statewide survey of public opinion in Texas. Henson received a Ph.D. from UT-Austin.

Frank Hernandez

Dean, College of Education, University of Texas-Permian Basin

Hernandez serves as dean of the University of Texas-Permian Basin College of Education. He previously served as associate dean at Hamline University School of Education and executive director for the Center for Excellence in Urban Teaching. He is currently working on a book about Latinos and school leadership.

Tim Herrman

State Chemist of Texas

Herrman serves as the state chemist and director of the Office of the Texas State Chemist, which directs the regulation of the Texas feed and fertilizer industry. He is also a professor in the Texas A&M University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. Herrman received his Ph.D. from the University of Idaho.

Sarah Hidalgo-Cook

Vice President for Rural Transportation, Texas Transit Association

Hidalgo-Cook is manager of the Southwest Area Regional Transit District. Previously, she served for 23 years as transit director for Community Council of South West Texas. Hidalgo-Cook has been a board member of the Texas Transit Association for more than eight years and is the vice president of rural transportation for TTA.

Harvey Hilderbran

State Representative; 2014 Candidate for Texas Comptroller

Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, was first elected in 1988 to represent District 53 in the Texas House. He serves as the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and sits on the State Affairs committee. Previously, Hilderbran has chaired the Culture, Recreation and Tourism and Human Services committees.

Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa

State Senator; Chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee

Hinojosa, D-McAllen, has represented District 20 in the Texas Senate since 2003. He serves as chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee and as vice chairman of the Finance Committee. He sits on the Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security, Criminal Justice and Natural Resources committees. Previously, Hinojosa served in the Texas House for eight terms.

Patrick Hruby

Writer, Sports on Earth

Hruby is a writer for Sports on Earth and a contributing writer for The Atlantic online and Washingtonian magazine. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. His article “Did Football Kill Austin Trenum?” was selected for The Best American Sports Writing 2013 collection. Hruby received his master’s degree from Northwestern University.

Dan Huberty

State Representative

Huberty, R-Houston, was elected in 2010 to represent District 127 in the Texas House. He is a member on the Public Education and State Affairs committees. He also serves as the secretary of the House Republican Caucus. Previously, he sat on the Board of Trustees for Humble Independent School District.

Laura Huffman

Urban Strategies Lead and Texas State Director, The Nature Conservancy

Huffman currently serves as Texas state director for The Nature Conservancy and head of the Conservancy’s U.S. Urban Conservation program. She speaks regularly on freshwater protection, conservation and other environmental issues. She previously worked as an assistant city manager for the city of Austin. Huffman received her MPA from The University of Texas at Austin.

Ali James

Curator of the Capitol at the State Preservation Board

In 1991, James was hired as curatorial assistant at the State Preservation Board (SPB), the agency responsible for the Texas Capitol, the Capitol Extension and the 1857 General Land Office Building. She became curator of the Capitol in 2001. In 2006 James also assumed responsibility for the visitor experience at the Capitol by overseeing the Capitol Information and Tour Guide Service and the Capitol Visitors Center.

Kyle Janek

Executive Commissioner, Texas Health and Human Services

Janek has served as the executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services since 2012. He oversees five Health and Human Services agencies statewide. Previously, Janek served as a legislator in the Texas House for eight years and in the Texas Senate for five years.

Wallace Jefferson

Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Jefferson chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 2004. In 2010, Jefferson served one term as president of the Conference of Chief Justices. Previously, as a partner in the appellate-specialty firm Crofts, Callaway & Jefferson, he successfully argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kyle Kacal

State Representative

Kacal is serving his first term in the Texas House after winning a primary runoff and general election in 2012. Kacal lives and works on his 2,400-acre ranch in Brazos County, where he serves on various business and community boards, including Texas AgriLife Beef Extension, the Brazos Valley Farm Bureau and the Allen Academy School Board.

Sarah Kerrigan

Vice Chairwoman, Texas Forensic Science Commission

Kerrigan is chairwoman of the Forensic Science Department at Sam Houston State University. She received her initial training in forensic toxicology twenty-three years ago at the Scotland Yard Forensic Science Laboratory in London, England. Between 2009 and 2012 she served as the Laboratory Director of the SHSU Regional Crime Laboratory, an independent, accredited forensic laboratory in The Woodlands, TX.

Renu Khator

President, University of Houston; Chancellor, University of Houston System

Khator has held the dual titles of chancellor of the University of Houston System and president of the University of Houston since January 2008. She has also been on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas since January 2011. She received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Purdue University.

Deborah Kimberly

Vice President for Distributed Energy Services, Austin Energy

Kimberly joined Austin Energy in 2013 as vice president of distributed energy services. She has worked in the utility industry for over 30 years, with more than 22 years at Salt River Project, one of Arizona’s largest utilities, where she had responsibility for energy-efficiency product design and implementation, measurement and evaluation, and market research.

Tracy King

State Representative; Chairman of the Agriculture and Livestock Committee

King, D-Batesville, has represented District 80 in the Texas House since 1995. He serves as chairman of the Agriculture and Livestock Committee. Prior to joining the Texas Legislature, he was a hearing aid specialist and owner of the Beltone Hearing Aid Center. King received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Texas A&M University.

Becky Klein

Former Chairwoman, Public Utility Commission of Texas

Klein served on the Public Utility Commission of Texas from 2001 to 2004. Currently she is principal of Klein Energy, an energy consulting company based in Austin. Previously, she served as chairwoman of the Lower Colorado River Authority. Klein is the founder and chairwoman of Power Across Texas.

Shelley Kofler (mod.)

Managing Editor and Senior Reporter, KERA News

Kofler is an award-winning reporter and television producer who has served as KERA’s news director, the Austin bureau chief and a legislative reporter. In addition to her work in journalism, she founded and operated her own communications firm, Kofler Communications, in Dallas and Austin.

Matt Krause

State Representative

Krause, R-Fort Worth, was elected in 2012 to represent District 93 in the Texas House. He sits on the Special Purpose Districts and County Affairs committees. Krause is the president of the Northwest Tarrant Republican Club. He previously served as litigation counsel for Liberty Counsel.
 

Lyle Larson

State Representative; Vice Chairman of the Local and Consent Calendars Committee

Larson, R-San Antonio, has represented District 122 in the Texas House since 2011. He serves as vice chairman of the Local and Consent Calendars Committee and sits on the Culture, Recreation and Tourism, Natural Resources, and Transparency in State Agency Operations committees. Larson has owned and operated a small business for 27 years.

Peter LeCody

President, Texas Rail Advocates

LeCody is the president of Texas Rail Advocates, a nonprofit organization working toward providing information and education on freight and passenger rail issues in Texas. He serves on the TxDOT I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee, the TxDOT Rail Division Steering Committee and the National Association of Railroad Passengers.

Eddie Lucio Jr.

State Senator; Vice Chairman of the Education Committee

Lucio, D-Brownsville, was first elected in 1990 to represent District 27 in the Texas Senate. He is vice chairman of the Education Committee and sits on the Business and Commerce, Finance, State Affairs and Redistricting committees. Lucio also represents Texas on several Committees of the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Southern Legislative Conference.

Ana Hernandez Luna

State Representative

Hernandez Luna, D-Houston, was elected in 2005 to represent District 143 in the Texas House. She serves on the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence and County Affairs committees. Previously, she served as chief of staff to state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston. Hernandez Luna received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.

Corrie MacLaggan (mod.)

Reporter, The Texas Tribune

MacLaggan is the Tribune’s demographics reporter. She previously worked as a national correspondent for Reuters, writing and editing stories about Texas and nearby states. Before joining Reuters, she covered Texas government and politics for the Austin American-Statesman. She has also worked in Mexico City, where she wrote for publications including the Miami Herald's Mexico edition, Latin Trade magazine and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Jim Malewitz

Reporter, The Texas Tribune

Malewitz covers energy for the Tribune. Before arriving, he spent two years covering energy and environmental issues for Stateline, a nonprofit news service in Washington, D.C. A native of Michigan, Jim has an undergraduate degree from Grinnell College in Iowa. He also holds a master’s from the University of Iowa, where he helped launch the nonprofit Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism.

Marisa Márquez

State Representative; Environmental Regulation Committee Vice Chairwoman

Márquez, D-El Paso, has represented District 77 in the Texas House since 2009. She serves as vice chairwoman of the Environmental Regulations Committee and sits on the Appropriations and House Administration committees. Márquez received her master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Ray Martinez

Chancellor, WGU Texas

Martinez became chancellor of WGU Texas in 2013. Previously, he served in senior government relations roles at Texas A&M International University and Rice University. He has also served as the director of the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee. Martinez received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.

John McBeth

President, Texas Association for Community Transit; CEO, Brazos Transit District

McBeth is CEO and president of Brazos Transit District, the largest rural transit district in Texas. He also serves as the president of the Texas Association for Community Transit, a statewide organization that advocates for rural and small urban public transit providers in Texas.

Julie McCarty

President, NE Tarrant Tea Party

McCarty in 2009 co-founded and became president of the NE Tarrant Tea Party, which has since grown to include more than 2,000 members. During the 2012 election season, she volunteered for the election campaigns of several conservative state representatives. In 2012, she served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention.

Michael McCaul

U.S. Representative; Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee

McCaul, R-Austin, has represented District 10 in Congress since 2005. He chairs the Homeland Security Committee and sits on the Foreign Affairs and Science, Space and Technology committees. Previously, McCaul served as the chief of counterterrorism and national security in the U.S. attorney’s office in Texas.

Suzi McClellan

Former Public Counsel, Office of Public Utility Counsel

McClellan served in the Office of Public Utility Counsel for more than 12 years. As public counsel, she represented residential and small commercial customers in a variety of rulemakings and contested cases. She is now the state affairs director for Good Company Associates, an energy-centric business development consulting firm.

Debra Medina

Executive Director, We Texans

Medina, who is running for state comptroller, serves as the executive director of We Texans, a nonprofit organization working to support conservative public policy. In 2010, she ran for the Republican nomination for governor. Previously, Medina served as the Wharton County Republican chairwoman.

Doris Meissner

Former Commissioner, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service

Meissner is a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to the study of migration and immigrant integration policies. She served as director of MPI's Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future. Previously, she served in the Clinton administration as commissioner of the INS.

Richard Middleton

Regional Vice President, College Board

Middleton serves as the southwestern regional vice president for the College Board, a nonprofit organization that connects students to college resources. Previously, he served as superintendent of North East Independent School District for more than two decades. Middleton received his Ed.D. and Ph.D. in education from The University of Texas at Austin.

Steve Mielke

Associate Director for Cataloging Services, Harry Ransom Center

Mielke joined the Harry Ransom Center in 1997. Previously, he served as an archivist at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies. Among the collections Mielke has processed at the Ransom Center are the Anthony Burgess papers, the Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein Watergate papers and the Norman Mailer papers.

Joe Moody

State Representative

Moody, D-El Paso, was first elected in 2008 to represent District 78 in the Texas House. He sits on the Defense and Veterans’ Affairs, Local and Consent Calendars, Criminal Jurisprudence and Select Criminal Procedure Reform committees. He received his law degree from Texas Tech University.

Michael Morris

Director of Transportation, North Central Texas Council of Governments

Morris has served in the transportation department of the North Central Texas Council of Governments since 1979.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental design and planning and a master’s degree in civil engineering, both from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Morris has served on several National Research Council committees, including those to review emission regulation and air quality standards.

Steve Murdock

Former State Demographer; Former Director of the U.S. Census Bureau

Murdock served as the director of the U. S. Census Bureau under President George W. Bush and as the state demographer of Texas. Murdock is currently the Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology and the Director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University.

Tommy Muska

Mayor of West

Muska is serving his first term as mayor of the city of West and has overseen the city’s recovery after this year’s fertilizer plant explosion. He served on the West City Council from 2008 to 2011. Muska studied business at McLennan Community College and is the president of Muska Insurance Services.  

Dan Neil

Former Professional and College Football player

After playing football at The University of Texas at Austin on an athletic scholarship, Neil was drafted in 1997 and spent eight years as an offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos, during which time he played two Super Bowl championship games. Neil also ran for office in 2010 as the Republican nominee for District 48 in the Texas House.

Robert Nelsen

President, University of Texas-Pan American

Nelsen was appointed president of The University of Texas-Pan American in 2010. Previously, he was an associate vice president for academic affairs at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He also served as a distinguished faculty member at The University of Texas at Dallas for almost two decades.

Donna Nelson

Chairwoman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas

Nelson was appointed to the Public Utility Commission in 2008 and named chairwoman in 2011. She serves on the board of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and is a member of the Southwest Power Pool Regional State Committee. Previously, Nelson was a special assistant and adviser to Gov. Rick Perry on energy and telecommunications issues.

Alfonso "Poncho" Nevárez

State Representative

Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, was elected in 2012 to represent District 74 in the Texas House. He serves on the Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs; Culture, Recreation and Tourism; and Rules and Resolutions committees. Previously, he served for four years as a trustee on the Eagle Pass Independent School District Board.

Robert Nichols

State Senator; Chairman of the Transportation Committee

Nichols, R-Jacksonville, was first elected in 2006 to represent District 3 in the Texas Senate. He serves as chairman of the Transportation Committee, as vice chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee and as a member of the State Affairs, Health and Human Services and Natural Resources committees. Previously, Nichols was a transportation commissioner.

Beto O'Rourke

U.S. Representative

O’Rourke, D-El Paso, is serving his first term in Congress as a representative of District 16. He sits on the Homeland Security and Veterans’ Affairs committees. Previously, he served on the El Paso City Council for six years. O’Rourke is a co-founder of Stanton Street Technology.

Rod Paige

Former U.S. Secretary of Education

Paige served as the U.S. secretary of education from 2001 to 2005. Now he sits on the boards of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and the New England College of Finance and Business. Previously, he served as dean of the College of Education at Texas Southern University.

Raymund Paredes

Texas Higher Education Commissioner

Appointed Texas commissioner of higher education in 2004, Paredes oversees the operations of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. He also serves on the Education Commission of the States and on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Paredes also previously served as the vice chancellor for academic development at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dan Patrick

State Senator; Chairman of the Public Education Committee; 2014 Candidate for Lieutenant Governor

Patrick, R-Houston, is running for lieutenant governor and has represented District 7 in the Texas Senate since 2006. He serves as chairman of the Education Committee and sits on the Higher Education, Transportation, Criminal Justice, Finance and Redistricting committees. His proudest legislative accomplishments include reforming high school graduation plans and expanding school choice through charter schools.

Diane Patrick

State Representative; Vice Chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee

Patrick, R-Arlington, was first elected in 2006 to represent District 94 in the Texas House. She serves as the vice chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee and sits on the Appropriations and Rules and Resolutions committees. Previously, Patrick served on the Arlington Independent School District Board of Trustees for 11 years.

Jerry Patterson

Texas Land Commissioner; 2014 Candidate for Lieutenant Governor

Patterson, who is running for lieutenant governor, has served as land commissioner since 2003. He previously represented District 11 for two terms in the Texas Senate, where he served as chairman of the Veteran Affairs Committee. Patterson is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Tom Pauken

Former Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission; 2014 Candidate for Governor

Pauken, who is running for governor, was appointed chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission in 2008. During his four-year tenure, he supervised the development of the Texas Veterans Leadership Program. Pauken previously served as the chairman of the Texas Republican Party and an agency head in the Reagan administration.

Ken Paxton

State Senator; 2014 Candidate for Attorney General

Paxton, R-McKinney, was elected to represent District 8 in the Texas Senate in 2012 after serving five terms in the Texas House. Paxton, who is now running for attorney general, serves as vice chairman of the Transportation Committee and sits on the Education, Government Organization, Intergovernmental Relations and Jurisprudence committees.

Aaron Peña

Former State Representative

Peña represented District 40 in the Texas House from 2003 to 2013, serving as chairman of two House committees. In 2011, Peña founded and chaired the Hispanic Republican Conference. Peña is now a senior vice president with Crosswind Media & Public Relations, headquartered in Austin.

Nina Perales

Vice President of Litigation, Mexican American Legal Defense Fund

Perales supervises the legal staff and litigation docket in the offices of MALDEF throughout the U.S. She is best known for her work in voting rights, including redistricting and vote dilution cases. Perales successfully argued LULAC v. Perry, a challenge to Texas’ congressional redistricting. She also specializes in immigrants' rights litigation.

Anita Perry

First Lady of Texas

Perry became the first lady of Texas in 2000 when Rick Perry became governor. She has served on the board of trustees for Baylor, Scott & White, on the board of the Haskell Independent School District, as director of client services for consulting firm the Perryman Group and as the national chairwoman for childhood immunizations for March of Dimes.

Marjorie McColl Petty

Regional Director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Petty serves as the Department of Health and Human Services’ director of Region IV, which includes Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Previously, she served as a Kansas state senator and as director of public affairs and consumer protection for the Kansas Corporation Commission.

Larry Phillips

State Representative; Chairman of the Transportation Committee

Phillips, R-Sherman, has represented District 62 in the Texas House since 2003. Currently, he is chairman of the Transportation Committee and a member of the General Investigating and Ethics Committee and the Investments and Financial Services Committee. Phillips received his law degree from the University of Houston.

Ben Philpott

Host, Agenda Texas, KUT-FM

Ben Philpott hosts Agenda Texas for KUT-FM. He has been covering state politics and dozens of other topics for the station since 2002. He's been recognized for outstanding radio journalism by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and twice by the Houston Press Club as Radio Journalist of the Year.

Joe Pickett

State Representative; Chairman of the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee

Pickett, D-El Paso, has represented District 79 in the Texas House since 1995. He serves as chairman of the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee and is a member of the Transportation and Redistricting committees. Pickett also sits on the board of of the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Bill Powers

President, The University of Texas at Austin

Powers has served as the president of The University of Texas at Austin since 2006. Before taking office, he was the dean of the University of Texas School of Law. In 1997, the university named him to its Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Robert Puente

President and CEO, San Antonio Water System

Puente was appointed president and CEO of the San Antonio Water System in 2008. He previously served in the Texas House, where he was first elected in 1991. In 2003 he was appointed chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which develops water policy for the state.

Ross Ramsey (mod.)

Executive Editor, The Texas Tribune

Ramsey is the executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune and editor of Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter on government and politics in Texas. Previously, he served as associate deputy comptroller for policy and director of communications at the state comptroller’s office. Ramsey has reported for the Houston Chronicle and for the Dallas Times Herald.

Emily Ramshaw (mod.)

Editor, The Texas Tribune

Ramshaw oversees The Texas Tribune’s editorial operations, from daily coverage to major projects. Previously, she spent six years reporting for The Dallas Morning News, first in Dallas, then in Austin. In April 2009 she was named Star Reporter of the Year by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Headliners Foundation of Texas.

Mike Rawlings

Mayor of Dallas

Rawlings was elected mayor of Dallas in 2011. As mayor, he has launched GrowSouth, an economic development plan for southern Dallas. He is also the chairman of the Work and Opportunity Task Force of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Previously, Rawlings served as CEO of Pizza Hut.

Vikrant Reddy

Policy Analyst, Center for Effective Justice, Texas Public Policy Foundation

Reddy is a policy analyst in the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, where he coordinates the Right on Crime campaign. He has worked as a research assistant at the Cato Institute and as an attorney. He received his law degree from the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.

Cyrus Reed

Conservation Director, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club

Reed serves as the conservation director for the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, an environmental organization focused on conservation and outdoor recreation. Previously, he was the Sierra Club's lobbyist on energy and air quality issues and directed the Texas Center for Policy Studies. Reed received his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Texas at Austin.

Ana Reyes

City Council Member, Farmer's Branch

Reyes in May became the first Latino elected to the Farmer’s Branch City Council. Previously, she served as the district manager for state Rep. Rafael Anchia. Reyes ran for the District 1 council seat after a federal judge ordered single-member district balloting to rectify violations of the Voting Rights Act.

Alana Rocha (mod.)

Reporter, The Texas Tribune

Rocha joined the Texas Tribune staff as the multimedia reporter after working eight years in television and radio news. She has covered politics for stations in Florida, Kansas and most recently in Austin as YNN's lead political reporter. Rocha received bachelor's degrees in journalism and Spanish from the University of Florida.

José Rodríguez

State Senator; Vice Chairman of the Jurisprudence Committee

Rodríguez, D-El Paso, has represented District 29 in the Texas Senate since 2011. In addition to serving as vice chairman of the Jurisprudence Committee, he sits on the Criminal Justice, Government Organization, and Veteran Affairs and Military Installations committees. Before his election to the Texas Senate, Rodríguez served as the El Paso County Attorney for 17 years.

Jay Root (mod.)

Reporter, The Texas Tribune

Root served as Austin bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a dozen years and covered politics and the Legislature for The Associated Press before joining the staff of the Tribune. Root is the author of “Oops! A Diary From The 2012 Campaign Trail,” an insider’s account of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s dramatic collapse in the 2012 presidential race.

Lauren Rose

Juvenile Justice Policy Associate, Texans Care for Children

Rose serves as a juvenile justice policy associate for Texans Care for Children, a nonprofit organization working to improve the health and well-being of Texas children. She also convenes the Texas Juvenile Justice Roundtable, a monthly forum for stakeholders dedicated to helping troubled youth.

Carlos Rubinstein

Chairman, Texas Water Development Board

Previous to his role as chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, Rubinstein was appointed in 2009 by Gov. Rick Perry to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Rubinstein is an executive committee member of the Western States Water Council and serves on the Environmental Council of States, the Border Governors Sustainable Development Worktable and the Environmental Flows Advisory Group.

Nicolas Rubio

President, Cintra US

Rubio is president of Cintra US, a private company that develops and manages transportation infrastructure. Cintra US formed the SH 130 Concession Company to oversee the building of segments 5 and 6 of SH 130. In 2010, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association named Rubio “Private Sector Entrepreneur of the Year.”

David Sassoon

Founder and Publisher, InsideClimate News

Sassoon is an environmental journalist who founded InsideClimate News, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization, in 2007. The publication won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting for “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of.” Sassoon has been a writer, editor and publisher for 25 years.

Neena Satija (mod.)

Reporter, The Texas Tribune

Satija covers the environment for The Texas Tribune. Previously, she worked for a number of East Coast news outlets, including the New Haven Independent, the Connecticut Mirror and WNPR/Connecticut Public Radio. She has also been a regular contributor to National Public Radio. Satija received her bachelor’s degree from Yale University.

Barry Scheck

Co-Founder, The Innocence Project

Scheck co-founded the Innocence Project, a nonprofit dedicated to criminal justice reform and to exonerating wrongly convicted people, in 1992. The Innocence Project has helped exonerate 311 men and women through DNA testing. Scheck is also a professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

David Schenck

Former Deputy Attorney General; Partner, Dykema Law Firm

Schenck became deputy attorney general of Texas in 2010, serving as chief legal counsel to Attorney General Greg Abbott. Currently, Schenck is a member in the litigation department of the Dykema law firm’s Dallas office. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School.

Kel Seliger

State Senator; Chairman of the Higher Education Committee

Seliger, R-Amarillo, was first elected to represent District 31 in the Texas Senate in a 2004 special election. He serves as the chairman of both the Higher Education Committee and the Redistricting Committee. He also sits on the Open Government, Education, Finance and Natural Resources committees. Seliger is co-owner of Lake Steel.

Eva Sevick

Director, Center for Molecular Imaging, University of Texas Health Science Center

Sevick is professor and Cullen Chair in Molecular Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center's Institute of Molecular Medicine, where she directs the Center for Molecular Imaging. At the institute, she leads the National Cancer Institute Center for Translational Research, which focuses on the development and validation of new imaging instrumentation, algorithms, and imaging agents and their clinical translation.  

Carol Shattuck

President and CEO, Collaborative for Children

Shattuck has served as president and CEO of Collaborative for Children, a nonprofit organization working to create educational foundations for young children, since 1998. Previously, she directed a women’s health care collaboration for low-income women. Shattuck received her master’s degree from Rice University’s Jones School of Administration.

Bryan Shaw

Chairman, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Shaw was appointed chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2009. He has also served as chairman of the Texas Advisory Panel on Federal Environmental Regulations. As an associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M University, Shaw conducts research on air pollution abatement.

Ben Shepperd

President, Permian Basin Petroleum Association

Shepperd has served as president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association since 2006. He represents oil and gas interests before legislative and regulatory bodies in Texas, New Mexico and Washington, D.C. He has more than 20 years of experience working on state legislative and regulatory issues. 

Carter Smith

Executive Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Smith has served as executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department since 2008. The agency is dedicated to the management and conservation of the natural and cultural resources of Texas. Smith is a native Texan who has worked on a wide variety of conservation, natural resources and outdoor recreation issues throughout his career.

Evan Smith (mod.)

Editor-in-chief and CEO, The Texas Tribune

Smith is the CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune. Before co-founding the Tribune, Smith spent nearly 18 years at Texas Monthly, including eight years as editor and a year as president and editor-in-chief. Smith currently hosts Overheard with Evan Smith, airing on PBS stations nationally.

Lamar Smith

U.S. Representative

Smith, R-San Antonio, has represented District 21 in Congress since 1987. He serves as chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee and sits on the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees. He is a former chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Smith received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law.

Morgan Smith (mod.)

Reporter, The Texas Tribune

Smith reports on politics and education for The Texas Tribune. She writes about the effects of the state budget, school finance reform, accountability and testing in Texas public schools. In 2013, she received a National Education Writers Association award for "Death of a District," a series on school closures.

Barry Smitherman

Chairman, Texas Railroad Commission; 2014 Candidate for Attorney General

Smitherman, who is running for Texas attorney general, was elected in November 2012 to a two-year term on the Railroad Commission, to which he was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011. Smitherman has served as chairman of the Public Utility Commission and as a prosecutor in the Harris County district attorney’s office.

Laura Spanjian

Sustainability Director, City of Houston

In 2010, Spanjian joined the city of Houston as sustainability director, where she is responsible for projects and initiatives that improve air, land and water quality, and support and expand renewable energy and efficiency. She previously served in roles at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Todd Staples

Texas Agriculture Commissioner; 2014 Candidate for Lieutenant Governor

Staples, who is running for lieutenant governor, was first elected commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture in 2007. Previously, he served as a member of both the Texas House and Senate and on his hometown city council. Staples is a business owner, realtor and rancher.

Jonathan Stickland

State Representative

Stickland, R-Bedford, is serving his first term representing District 92 in the Texas House. He sits on the County Affairs and Special Purpose Districts committees. Stickland owns an oil and gas consulting business. He previously worked as a pest control technician.

Bill Stockton

Executive Associate Director and Chief Research Officer, Texas A&M Transportation Institute

Stockton oversees the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and serves as the designated liaison to the Texas A&M vice chancellor for research. He also serves as the Institute's principal liaison with the Texas Department of Transportation. Stockton received his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Texas A&M University.

Joe Straus

Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives

Straus, R-San Antonio, was elected in 2005 to represent District 121 in the Texas House, and he is currently serving his third term as Speaker. He is joint chairman of the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislative Audit Committee and the Texas Legislative Council. Previously, Straus served on numerous campaigns for federal, state and local candidates.

Brian Sweany (mod.)

Senior Executive Editor, Texas Monthly

Sweany is a senior executive editor at Texas Monthly, where he began his career in journalism as an intern in 1996. He has also worked as an assistant professor in the journalism department at Ithaca College and as a senior editor at D Magazine. He is writing a biography of Charles Goodnight called The Kingdom of the Saddle.

Sylvester Turner

State Representative; Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee

Turner, D-Houston, has represented District 139 in the Texas House since 1989. He is the vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee and sits on the State Affairs Committee and the Legislative Budget Board. Turner also serves as chairman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and chairman of the Greater Houston Area Legislative Delegation.

Fred Underwood

Texas Transportation Commissioner

Underwood was appointed to the Texas Transportation Commission in 2007. He previously served as chairman of the Lubbock International Airport Board and as a board member of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. Underwood is president of the Trinity Company, a cotton bale storage facility. 

Mark Updegrove

Director, LBJ Presidential Library

Updegrove is an author and historian and director of the LBJ Presidential Library. He also serves as an analyst for ABC News on matters relating to the presidency. Previously, he spent much of his career in magazine publishing with Time and Newsweek. Updegrove has authored Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency.

Carlos Uresti

State Senator; Vice Chairman of the Select Redistricting Committee

Uresti, D-San Antonio, was elected in 2006 to represent District 19 in the Texas Senate. He serves as vice chairman of the Redistricting, Administration and Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security committees. Previously, he was a representative in the Texas House for four terms. Uresti is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.

Leticia Van de Putte

State Senator; Chairwoman of the Veterans Affairs and Military Installations Committee

Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, has represented District 26 in the Texas Senate since 1999. She chairs the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee and sits on the Business and Commerce, Education, and State Affairs committees. Before her election to the Senate, Van de Putte served as a state representative.

Joe Vega

Mayor of Port Isabel; Deputy Director, Cameron County Parks

Vega is the mayor of Port Isabel, Texas, and the deputy director of the Cameron County Parks and Recreation Department. He is a lifelong resident of Port Isabel, and he has served as a member of the advisory committee for Texas A&M University’s Texas Sea Grant project.

Jason Villalba

State Representative

Villalba, R-Dallas, represents District 114 in the Texas House. He sits on the Redistricting, Environmental Regulation, and Business & Industry committees. In his first term, Villalba passed The Protection of Texas Children Act providing additional security options for Texas schools. He also serves on the boards of the Dallas Zoo and Dallas Children’s Trust.

Mike Villarreal

State Representative; Chairman of the Investments and Financial Services Committee

Villarreal, D-San Antonio, has represented District 123 in the Texas House since 2000. He is the chairman of the Investments and Financial Services Committee and sits on the Public Education Committee. He is currently earning his Ph.D. in public policy at The University of Texas at Austin.

Hans von Spakovsky

Senior Fellow, Heritage Foundation; Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative

Von Spakovsky is an authority on a range of issues including civil rights, civil justice and immigration as a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation's Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Before joining the foundation, he served for two years as a member of the Federal Election Commission.

Pat Wasley

CEO, Teaching Channel

Wasley is CEO of Teaching Channel, an internet- and television-based professional development service for teachers. Previously, she served as dean of the College of Education at the University of Washington. She has also worked as a teacher, public school administrator, researcher and professor. Wasley has authored numerous articles and books on school reform.

Kirk Watson

State Senator; Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Committee

Watson, D-Austin, has represented District 14 in the Texas Senate since 2007. He is the vice chairman of the Higher Education Committee and sits on the Nominations, Business and Commerce, Transportation and Economic Development committees. He is currently chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Watson has previously served as the mayor of Austin.

Michael Webber (mod.)

Josey Centennial Fellow in Energy Resources, Cockrell School of Engineering, University of Texas at Austin

Webber is the deputy director of the Energy Institute, co-director of the Clean Energy Incubator and the Josey Centennial Fellow in Energy Resources at the University of Texas at Austin. He also serves on the board of advisers for Scientific American and hosts the TV special Energy at the Movies.

Royce West

State Senator; Jurisprudence Committee Chairman

West, D-Dallas, was first elected in 1992 to represent District 23 in the Texas Senate. He serves as chairman of the Jurisprudence Committee and sits on the Higher Education, Education, Finance and Health and Human Services committees. West wrote legislation that created the Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center at Prairie View A&M University.

Bill White

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy; Former Houston Mayor; 2010 Democratic Nominee for Texas Governor

White served as Houston's mayor from January 2004 until January 2010 and was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010. He previously served as the U.S. deputy secretary of energy under President Bill Clinton. He is current chairman of Lazard Houston and has sat on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards.

Kathleen Hartnett White

Former Chairwoman, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

White served a six-year term as chairwoman and commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality starting in 2001. Currently, she is distinguished senior fellow and director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment. She has served as an officer and director of the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Michael Williams

Commissioner, Texas Education Agency

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Williams in 2012 to head the Texas Education Agency. Williams serves as the governor’s appointee to the Southern Regional Education Board, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children and the Education Commission of the States. He previously served as a Texas railroad commissioner.

Roger Williams

U.S. Representative

Williams, R-Austin, was elected in 2012 to represent District 25 in the U.S. House. He sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and on the Budget Committee. Williams previously served as Texas secretary of state and as chairman of the Base Realignment and Closure Response Strike Force.

Tommy Williams

State Senator; Chairman of the Finance Committee

Williams, R-The Woodlands, has represented District 4 in the Texas Senate since 2003. He serves as the chairman of the Finance Committee and sits on the Open Government, Administration, State Affairs and Legislative Audit committees. Williams is president of Woodforest Financial Services.

Phil Wilson

Executive Director, Texas Department of Transportation

Wilson has served as the executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation since 2011. He had previously served as secretary of state under Gov. Rick Perry and senior vice president of public affairs for Luminant. Wilson received his Masters of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.

George Wright

President of Prairie View A&M University

Wright has served as president of Prairie View A&M University, the second-oldest public institution of higher education in Texas, since 2003. Previously, he was provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington. Wright earned his doctoral degree in history from Duke University.

John Zerwas

State Representative; Chairman of the General Investigating and Ethics Committee

Zerwas, R-Richmond, has represented District 28 in the Texas House since 2007. He serves as chairman of the General Investigating and Ethics Committee, chairman of the Appropriations Article II subcommittee, and a member of the Appropriations and Human Services committees. Zerwas is a physician and a co-founder of U.S. Anesthesia Partners.

Jiajie Zhang

Dean, School of Biomedical Informatics, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Zhang is dean of The University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics at Houston, where he also holds the Dr. Doris L. Ross professorship. He also serves as director of the National Center for Cognitive Informatics and Decision Making in Healthcare. Zhang received his doctoral degree from the University of California, San Diego.

 

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