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Announcing the 2021-22 Class of Texas Partners in Policymaking

Class-of-2021-22

Texas Partners in Policymaking is pleased to announce its 2021-22 class and program. Forty individuals representing regions across the state will come together to learn about important disability rights issues, grow their advocacy skills, understand the processes involved in public policy change, and to implement projects to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities (DD) in their own communities.

With more than 700 graduates, Texas Partners in Policymaking is an advanced leadership training program for self-advocates and family members of people with DD, organized and funded by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD). It is the Texas chapter of the Partners in Policymaking Program, which was developed by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities in 1987 and has since been offered nationally and internationally. During the program, participants learn the information and skills necessary to partner with policymakers and advocate for important disability issues at the local, state, and federal levels. Participants also develop projects throughout the course that will help increase accessibility and inclusion in their communities.

“Building more inclusive communities starts at the local level,” says TCDD executive director Dr. Beth Stalvey. “The advocates in this year’s Texas Partners in Policymaking class will be equipped with the tools and skills they need to help people with disabilities and their families by developing innovative projects in their hometowns. Many of our graduates also go on to influence public policy at the local, regional, and statewide levels, creating lasting change. We are thrilled to welcome new class members to the Texas Partners in Policymaking family.”

Ultimately, graduates of the program work to influence policy and change systems so that more people with DD are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

About the 2021-2022 Class

Selected for their passion and commitment to disability advocacy, Texas Partners in Policymaking class members are comprised of self-advocates (people with disabilities), family members, and professionals working in the education and public service sectors who have shown a deep interest in creating more inclusive communities. The 40 members of this year’s class come from cities and towns in nearly every region of Texas.

Below are the names and hometowns of this year’s participants:

Nilam Agrawal – Little Elm
Angel Arellano – San Antonio
Patrinia Baksmaty – Houston
Keiline Borrero – Houston
Kathryn A. Broadwater – Austin
Shontay Brown – Austin 
Rosalba Calleros – Buda
Kate Chapple – Austin
David DeAnda – Houston
Kathryn Doty – Fort Worth
Katie Fruge – Fort Worth
Shakira Gbetibouo – Frisco
Jennifer Gracia – Corpus Christi
Rebekah Gillespie – Tulia
Catherine Harwood – Houston
Marsha Kocurek – Caldwell
Alyson Landry – Houston
Marisa Mahon – Grapevine
Mary Mechum – Katy
Kelley Mindrup – Coppell
Soha Mohammed – Sugar Land
Melissa Morphis – Amarillo
Marie Marks O’Bryan – Cedar Park
Tracy Parks – Kerrville
Zelma Petty – Tomball
Travis Rand – Austin
Christine Reyes – Laredo
Daisy Reyes – Corpus Christi
Zurisaday Robbins Briz – Galveston
Annette M. Sankowski – San Benito
Caralou Smith – Houston
Kimberly Sutton – Cypress
Michelle Tate – Fort Worth
Brianna TenBrink – Rosharon
Michelle Vasquez – San Antonio
Janet Vega – Laredo
Julie C. Westerman – Austin
Suzanne Wilson – Austin

Those interested in joining a future class can look for applications to open in Spring 2022. Stay informed by subscribing to the TCDD newsletter at tcdd.texas.gov.
Learn about Partners in Policymaking alumni and the projects they’ve launched in communities across Texas at txpartners.org/graduates.

 About Texas Partners in Policymaking

Texas Partners in Policymaking is the Texas chapter of the Partners in Policymaking program, funded by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities. Since the Partners program was created in Minnesota in 1987, more than 27,000 self- advocates and parents of children with developmental disabilities have graduated nationally and internationally. They comprise a network of trained advocates and leaders, working in partnership with their elected officials to positively change the way people with disabilities live, work, and are educated; and enjoy the benefits of being actively involved in their communities.
Learn more at www.mn.gov/mnddc/pipm/.

 About the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD):

TCDD works for all Texans with developmental disabilities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives. The Council funds innovative projects across the state connecting with individuals with disabilities, caregivers, partners, and providers in the communities where they live and work. TCDD serves as a resource to state government to create responsive policies and systems, and helps communities across Texas build capacity to support and include people with developmental disabilities in all areas of life.

Learn more at tcdd.texas.gov and follow updates on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @TXCDD.

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