Governor Abbott Names Chair, Appoints Six To Texas Council For Developmental Disabilities
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~ Governor Greg Abbott has recently announced the appointment of six individuals to the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD). Lisa Marenco, Roni Jo Frazier, Shana Halvorsen, and Beatrice Degree have been appointed, while Robert Schier III has been reappointed. Additionally, Barbara Knighton has been appointed for a term set to expire in 2027 and Andrew Crim has been named as the new chair of the committee.

The TCDD is responsible for recommending changes in disability policies and programs, supporting a network of committees on people with disabilities, issuing awards to promote greater awareness, and promoting compliance with disability-related laws. The newly appointed members will serve on the council until February 1st, 2029.

Lisa Marenco of El Paso brings a wealth of experience to the council. She is a single parent of two special needs children and also has a disability herself. Marenco is actively involved in volunteering with several agencies including Education Service Center Region 19, Children's Disabilities Information Coalition, Autism HOPE El Paso Inc., Beautiful Minds MALI, and the Ysleta Independent School District. She holds an Associate in Applied Science in Computer Information Systems from Daley College and has attended El Paso Community College.

Roni Jo Frazier from Porter is the chief executive officer of Bloom Consulting. She is also a board member and conference planner for the Texas Association of People Supporting Employment and a member of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Frazier holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Education from American InterContinental University. She also has an autism specialist certificate from The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards and an executive leadership certificate from Cornell University.

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Shana Halvorsen from Houston is the founder and CEO of Empower Education LLC. She is also a co-founder of the Houston Special Education Parent Association and serves as a parent liaison for the Houston Independent School District's Office of Special Education Services. Halvorsen is a board member of the Family Literacy Network and a member of Steel Magnolia Moms, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, and the Texas Organization of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Psychology from Tufts University, a Juris Doctor from Northeastern School of Law, and an advanced advocacy certificate from the TCDD Texas Partners in Policymaking Program.

Beatrice Degree from Missouri City is a distinguished community educator with the University of Texas (UT) Health Houston. She has previously served as a fellow for Lone Star Leadership Education in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and volunteered with the UT Chosen Transition Clinic. Degree received basic vocational training from Houston Community College VAST Academy.

Robert Schier III from Elgin is the residential program manager at Down Home Ranch. He has also founded and managed a weekend respite camp that served over 300 individuals between 2016 to 2022. Schier is an editorial board member of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, Solomon Masonic Lodge #484, and Thorndale Masonic Lodge #978. He attended UT San Antonio and McLennan Community College.

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Barbara Knighton from Spring is an advocate for students with disabilities and has been involved in family engagement for many years. She currently serves as a school safety committee member for the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) and as a family leader for TSBVI Family Lynx, the Texas Education Action Committee, and the Alliance for Visually Impaired Texans. Knighton holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Houston and a certificate in real estate from Champions Houston School of Real Estate.

Andrew Crim from Fort Worth has been named as the new chair of TCDD. He currently serves as the director of education and professional development for the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Crim is also a board member for the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions and a member of the American Society of Association Executives. He holds a Bachelor of Political Science from UT Tyler and a Master of Education from the University of North Texas.

The newly appointed members bring a diverse range of experiences and expertise to the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities. Their contributions will be crucial in promoting greater awareness and advocating for individuals with disabilities in the state.

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