We stand for economic and social opportunity for all Texans. Because Texans believe in opportunity.
Ann Beeson, Executive Director - A renowned social justice lawyer, former philanthropy executive, and frequent public speaker and writer, Ann Beeson joined the Center in 2013. She was previously the Executive Director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations, where she promoted human rights, justice, and accountability nationwide. Beeson was the national Associate Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she worked from 1995-2007. She argued twice before the U.S. Supreme Court, litigated numerous cases around the country, and launched groundbreaking programs to stop the erosion of civil liberties in the name of national security and to protect free speech and privacy on the Internet. Beeson has been recognized as one of the nation’s top lawyers by American Lawyer Magazine and the National Law Journal. A proud Texan, Beeson has embraced a wide range of innovative strategies to advance social change. Before joining the Center, she launched a new non-profit to involve the creative sector in social change. In 2012-13, she was a Senior Fellow and Lecturer at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas, where she co-produced a public media series to inspire more people to get engaged in their communities. She grew up in Dallas, Texas, and received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Texas. Beeson obtained her law degree from Emory University School of Law, and served as law clerk to the Honorable Barefoot Sanders, then chief judge of the Northern District of Texas.
Valerie L. Davidson, Manager of Finance and Administration - Valerie L. Davidson joined the Center in 2002. She is responsible for accounts payable, payroll, and other business. Before coming to the center, Davidson was an administrator in the Office of the District Judges of Travis County. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Southwest Texas State University in 1997.
Eva DeLuna Castro, Senior Budget Analyst - Eva DeLuna Castro joined the Center in 1998 and focuses on state budget issues. Before coming to the Center, she was an Analyst for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, researching various policy issues related to state revenue and spending. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and Literature, cum laude, from Harvard University in 1988 and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin in 1997.
Dick Lavine, Senior Fiscal Analyst -
Dick Lavine focuses on state and local revenue
issues. Before coming to the Center in 1994, he was a Senior Researcher
at the House Research Organization of the Texas House of Representatives for
ten years. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst, Chairman of the Board of
Directors of the Travis Central Appraisal District, and a member of the
Executive Board of AFSCME Texas Retirees, the statewide union local of retired
public employees. The Equity Center named him the 2011 Champion for Equity for
his work to reform our tax system to ensure it can adequately support public
education and other public services. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics,
magna cum laude, from Harvard College in 1969, and a Doctor of
Jurisprudence, cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975.
Chandra Kring Villanueva, Policy Analyst - Chandra Kring Villanueva joined the Center in 2010 as a fellow through the Center on Budget and Policies Priorities’ State Fiscal Analysis Initiative. She focuses on state pensions and public education finance and policy. She also serves on the Customer Satisfaction Advisory Board for Capital Metro and is an advisory board member for the Center on Children and Families at the Columbia University School of Nursing. Villanueva was the manager of Advocacy and Public Policy with the Women’s Prison Association in New York City. Prior to graduate school, she served as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center in Arizona and Washington, D.C. Villanueva earned a Master of Public Administration from the New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service in 2007, and a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington in 2003.
Frances Deviney, Ph.D., Texas KIDS COUNT Director - Frances Deviney joined the Center in 2005. As KIDS COUNT Director, she
tracks the status of child well-being in Texas by collecting and
analyzing state and county-level data. She also helps coordinate the
center's family economic security work. Before coming to the center, she
was a Research Specialist at the Southwest Educational Development
Laboratory, a Legislative Director in the Texas House of
Representatives, and a Research Analyst at the Families and Schools
Together (FAST Track) Project. Deviney earned a Bachelor of Arts in
Psychology from Vanderbilt University in 1993 and a Doctorate in
Developmental Psychology from The University of Utah in 2002.
Jennifer Lee, Research Associate - Jennifer Lee joined the Center in 2013. Before coming
to the Center, she was an Education Pioneers Fellow with TNTP and Houston ISD.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Wellesley College in 2007 and a
Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of
Texas at Austin in 2013. Before returning to graduate school, Lee was the
Associate Editor at the educational publisher Eye On Education.
Intern: Anthony Vincent LeClair, M. Ed., Education Policy Doctoral program at the University of Texas School of Education
COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH
Oliver Bernstein, Communications Director - Oliver Bernstein joined the Center in 2014. A fluent Spanish speaker who has lived and worked along the Texas-Mexico border and nationally, Bernstein brings more than nine years of communications experience to the Center. He most recently directed a grassroots communications strategy for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, which aims to replace coal with clean energy. Bernstein also directed the Sierra Club’s national diversity media program from 2006 to 2009, serving as a bilingual on-the-record spokesman and developing Hispanic media outreach plans. As a former board member and board president of American Gateways, which works to ensure that immigrants and refugees have equal access to justice in Texas, Bernstein led a successful re-branding effort and spearheaded plans for their first annual benefit gala.
Alexa Garcia-Ditta, Communications Associate - Alexa Garcia-Ditta joined the Center in 2012. As a member of the
Communications team, she works with Communications Director Oliver Bernstein and Communications Associate Gina Chavez on media relations,
social media and marketing for the center. She holds a Bachelor of Arts
in journalism and Spanish from the University of Texas at Arlington and a
Master of Arts in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.
She is a native Houstonian and has written for various metropolitan
newspapers and statewide publications including the Texas Tribune and Texas Observer.
Gina Chavez, Communications Associate - Gina Chavez joined the Center in 2010. She works with Communications
Director Brian Stephens and Communications Associate Alexa Garcia-Ditta
on all marketing, social media, and media relations for the center. She
was the Communications Coordinator at Texas Pharmacy Association for six
years before leaving the country to volunteer for eight months in El
Salvador. Chavez is also a native Austinite and a singer songwriter. She
holds a Bachelor of Journalism with a concentration in Latin American
Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.
Mia Ibarra, Outreach Associate - Mia Ibarra joined the Center in 2012 as an Outreach Associate.
Her primary responsibility is coordinating Texas Forward, a state-wide revenue
coalition, along with other outreach and civic engagement activities. Before
relocating to Austin, Mia managed the nationally-competitive Udall Scholarship
program for four years at The Udall Foundation. Before that, she conducted
legislative research and oversaw other research and voter education programs as
the Tucson Office Director for Project Vote Smart. She graduated with a
Bachelor of Arts in political economy from The Evergreen State College in
Deirdre Anderson, CFRE, Development Director - Deirdre Anderson joined the Center as Development Director in 2012 and oversees development activities for the organization,including the annual Legacy Luncheon fundraising event. Beginning her career in fundraising in 1998, she has worked for both local and statewide organizations serving low-income families, individuals with disabilities, at-risk youth and those providing health care services, most recently Planned Parenthood in Austin. She is past president of the Greater Austin Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and received her professional fundraising certification, CFRE, in 2010. She was honored in 2011 as Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year at the Annual Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon. Deirdre is also a member of Leadership Austin's Class of 2012. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Austin.
Don Baylor, Jr., Senior Policy Analyst, Economic Opportunity - An eighth-generation Texan, Don Baylor joined the center in 2004 and focuses on asset building, postsecondary success, and labor markets to expand economic opportunity and mobility in Texas. He directs OpportunityTexas a statewide campaign to increase financial stability, create pathways to good jobs, and promote savings. Before coming to the center, he crafted and advocated for living wage, anti-predatory lending, and affordable housing legislation before the New York City Council and New York State Legislature. Before that role, he was a senior consultant at KPMG who co-led strategic planning and performance audit contracts for several public entities in California, Oregon, and Hawaii. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University in 1994 and a Master of Arts in African American and Southern History with honors from The University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997. He was recently appointed to the new Consumer Advisory Board of the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and also serves on the Board of Directors of CFED, RAISE Texas, Texas Match the Promise Foundation, and United Way for Greater Austin. He serves in an advisory role for the Asset Funders Network, National Community Tax Coalition, and the Texas Association of Community Development Corporations.
Leslie Helmcamp, Policy Analyst - Leslie Helmcamp joined the center in 2009. She focuses on employment and postsecondary education access and succes. Her work is part of OpportunityTexas, a project to move more Texas families toward greater economic opportunity through academic and financial education and savings. Helmcamp earned a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin in 2009. Before pursuing graduate work, Helmcamp served as the director of the Immigration Legal Services program of Catholic Charities of Central Texas where she provided direct services to immigrant families.
Laura Rosen, OpportunityTexas Project Coordinator - Laura Rosen joined the center in July 2010. She is the Project Coordinator for OpportunityTexas, a joint initiative of CPPP and RAISE Texas to move more Texas families toward greater economic opportunity through academic and financial education and savings. Rosen completed her Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan in 2010 and received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004. Before returning to graduate school, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Peru where she researched microfinance.
Interns: Alejandra Cerna Rios, Master of Public Affairs and Master of Social Work dual degree candidate at the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the University of Texas School of Social Work
AmeriCorp VISTA: Scott Zienty, Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology and Hispanic Studies from the University of Texas
Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director - Anne Dunkelberg joined the center in 1994. She is one of the state's
leading experts in policy and budget issues relating to health care
access. In 2007, she was named Consumer Advocate of the Year by Families
USA in Washington, D.C. Before coming to the center, she served as
Program Director for Acute Care in the Texas Medicaid Director's Office
and spent six years with the Texas Research League, where she authored
numerous reports on Texas health and human services issues and tracked
state health and human services budget issues. She earned dual degrees
from The University of Texas at Austin—a Bachelor of Arts (Plan II),
magna cum laude, in 1979 and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ
School of Public Affairs in 1988.
Stacey Pogue, Senior Policy Analyst - Stacey Pogue joined the center in 2008. She focuses on health policy
issues. Before coming to the center, she did health policy and research
work with the Medicaid and CHIP Division of the Health and Human
Services Commission and the Texas Department of Insurance. In 2010 and
2011, she was selected to serve as a funded Consumer Representative to
the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Pogue earned
a Bachelor of Science in Geography, summa cum laude, from Texas A&M
University in 1997 and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School
of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin in 2005.
Katharine Ligon, Policy Analyst - Katharine Ligon joined the center in 2012 with a focus on mental
health policy. Prior to joining the center she was a Hogg Foundation
Mental Health Policy Fellow with Mental Health America of Houston. Ligon
earned a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Advocacy,
Leadership, and Administration from the Graduate College of Social Work
at the University of Houston in 2010, and a Bachelor of Psychology in
2003. Prior to graduate school, Ligon interned with the Legislative
Study Group during the 2009 Legislature and worked at DePelchin
Children’s Center. She also spent nearly two years at Nuestras Pequenas
Rosas: Home for Abandoned and Abused Girls in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Interns: Megan Randall, Master of Public Affairs and Master of
Community and Regional Planning dual degree candidate at the University of
Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the University of Texas
School of Architecture.
Rachel Cooper, Senior Policy Analyst - Rachel joined the center in 2012 with a focus on food and nutrition programs as well as obesity. Before joining the center, she worked for the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) where she was in charge of research and data analysis and authored reports such as the School Breakfast Scorecard, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, and State of the States. Rachel also worked for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), in their New York office, where she focused on helping families gain access to programs that provide work supports, such as tax credits, Medicaid, SCHIP, and food stamps. Rachel received her Masters in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University.