Center for Public Policy Priorities
Meet Our Staff
For high resolution, print-quality headshots please contact Oliver Bernstein.
Executive Team
Ann Beeson  Chief Executive Officer
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.

Email | Twitter | View My Work
Frances Deviney, Ph.D.  Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Frances Deviney joined the Center in 2005 as the Director of the Texas KIDS COUNT Project. As she developed both her research and organizational leadership skills, her roles evolved to Program Director for the Research and Planning Team, Associate Director, and now Chief Operating Officer. As COO, she oversees the Research and Planning Team and the grants portfolio in the Development Team. She also leads the Center’s internal work to set biennial work plans, define and track organizational outcome metrics, and implement the 2018-2021 strategic plan. Deviney is a graduate of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Leadership Institute for State-based Advocates. She is a skilled, impassioned presenter with approximately 200 speaking engagements under her belt, including dozens of keynotes. Prior to the Center, she conducted education research at the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, was Legislative Director for a Texas State Representative from the Rio Grande Valley, and conducted primary prevention research with elementary school kids for the Families and Schools Together (FAST Track) Project at Vanderbilt University. She earned her BA in Psychology from Vanderbilt and Doctorate in Developmental Psychology from The University of Utah.
Email | Twitter | View My Work

Anne Dunkelberg  |  Associate Director, Program Director - Health and Wellness Team
Anne Dunkelberg oversees health care policy for CPPP. She focuses on policy and budget issues related to health care access and immigrants’ access to public benefits. She joined the Center in 1994 from the State Medicaid Director’s Office at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Anne is a founding member of the statewide Children’s Health Coverage Coalition (formerly the Texas CHIP Coalition) and the Cover Texas Now Coalition. She has been recognized by Families USA as an outstanding Consumer Health Advocate and by the LBJ School of Public Affairs Alumni Association as a Distinguished Public Servant. She was the primary author of the first edition of Texas Medicaid in Perspective (“the Pink Book”) and serves on the Texas Medicaid Managed Care Statewide advisory committee and the Texas Healthcare Transformation Waiver Executive Waiver Committee. Anne is a native Texan, and received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, and her M.P.A. from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Email | Twitter | View My Work
Legislative and Policy Team
Mia Ibarra  |  Deputy Legislative and Policy Director
Mia Ibarra helps develop and coordinate advocacy and engagement strategies across all of CPPP’s policy areas. She joined the Center in 2012 as an Outreach Associate and coordinator of Texas Forward, a state-wide revenue coalition, and has since focused on a variety of issue areas including immigration and family-friendly workplace policies like paid sick days. Mia holds a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Arts in political economy from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

Email | Twitter | View My Work

Economic Opportunity Team

Chandra Kring Villanueva  |  Program Director, Economic Opportunity Team 
Chandra Villanueva oversees the Center's work on education, workforce development and job quality. She joined CPPP in 2010 and focused on school finance and education policy ranging from early education to higher education access and success. Prior to joining the Center, Chandra was the manager of Advocacy and Public Policy with the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) in New York City. At WPA, she educated formerly incarcerated women on the legislative process and researched options for pregnant women in the criminal justice system. Chandra has also served as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center with placements in Tucson, Arizona and Washington, DC. Chandra earned a Master of Public Administration from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

Email | Twitter | View My Work
Danielle Zaragoza, Economic Opportunity Intern, M.Ed. candidate at the University of Texas at Austin studying Educational Leadership and Policy.
Chloe Latham Sikes, M.A., Southern Education Leadership Initiative Fellow- Economic Opportunity Team, doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin in Educational Leadership and Policy.

Invest in Texas Team

Eva DeLuna Castro  |  Program Director, Invest In Texas Team
Eva DeLuna Castro oversees the Center's work on fiscal and budget policy. She joined the Center in 1998 and focuses primarily on the state budget. 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.

Email | Twitter | View My Work
Dick Lavine  |  Senior Fiscal Analyst, Invest in Texas Team
Dick Lavine focuses on building state and local revenue systems that meet Texans' needs. 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 and served for many years as a member and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Travis Central Appraisal District. He is also 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.

Email | Twitter | View My Work

Health and Wellness Team

Anne Dunkelberg  |  Associate Director, Program Director - Health and Wellness Team
Anne Dunkelberg oversees health care policy for CPPP. She focuses on policy and budget issues related to health care access and immigrants’ access to public benefits. She joined the Center in 1994 from the State Medicaid Director’s Office at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Anne is a founding member of the statewide Children’s Health Coverage Coalition (formerly the Texas CHIP Coalition) and the Cover Texas Now Coalition. She has been recognized by Families USA as an outstanding Consumer Health Advocate and by the LBJ School of Public Affairs Alumni Association as a Distinguished Public Servant. She was the primary author of the first edition of Texas Medicaid in Perspective (“the Pink Book”) and serves on the Texas Medicaid Managed Care Statewide advisory committee and the Texas Healthcare Transformation Waiver Executive Waiver Committee. Anne is a native Texan, and received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, and her M.P.A. from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Email | Twitter | View My Work
Rachel Cooper  |  Senior Policy Analyst, Health and Wellness Team
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. Cooper 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. Cooper received her Masters in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University.

Email | View My Work
Melissa McChesney  |  Policy Analyst, Health and Wellness Team
Melissa joined the Center in 2015 and works remotely from Houston. She focuses on policy and practice related to outreach and enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance Marketplace, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), including access to coverage for immigrants. Melissa has provided policy analysis, training, and troubleshooting guidance to health care enrollment assisters across Texas. Prior to joining the Center she worked as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission on the team that implemented eligibility changes to the Medicaid and CHIP programs required by the ACA. Melissa earned a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from the University of Central Arkansas.

Email
Stacey Pogue  |  Senior Policy Analyst, Health and Wellness Team
Stacey Pogue joined the Center in 2008. She focuses on health policy issues. Before coming to the Center, she did health policy research 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.

Email | View My Work
Monica Villarreal  |  Hogg Foundation Mental Health Policy Fellow, Health and Wellness Team
Monica Villarreal joined the Center in 2016 as a Hogg Mental Health Policy Fellow. She has previously worked on advocacy for disability issues and has policy experience from working at Disability Rights Texas and the American institutes for Research. Villarreal is a native of Monterrey Mexico and moved to Austin in 2010 to attend school at the University of Texas at Austin where she received a bachelor’s degree in Government and Latin American Studies and a Master’s of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Email | View My Work
Arinda Rodriguez, Health and Wellness Intern, M.A. candidate at The University of Texas at Austin in Education Policy and Planning.
Communications Team
Oliver Bernstein  |  Communications Director
Oliver Bernstein joined the Center as Communications Director in 2014. He uses communications strategies to advance CPPP's vision of a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated and financially secure. He previously worked as National Communications Strategist for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, which aims to replace coal with clean energy. He 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. Oliver completed a one-year fellowship in Mexico City, where he used communications and outreach strategies to raise attention on air quality and public health. He has worked on several political campaigns and has extensive crisis communications experience.

Email | Twitter
Gina Chavez  |  Communications Associate
Gina Chavez joined the Center in 2010. She works on all publications, marketing and social media 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 an award-winning musician. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism with a concentration in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Email | Twitter
Drew Stanley  |  Communications Associate
Drew Stanley joined the Center in 2016. A Montana native, he holds a BA in Radio / TV Production from the University of Montana School of Journalism. Stanley's previous work in Texas included being the Digital Communications Manager for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas in Austin, overseeing digital communications including live-tweeting legislative hearings, writing blogs, managing videography, photography, and updating the website. Before that, Stanley was Social Media Manager at Whole Woman's Health, where his social media work was instrumental in putting a spotlight on Wendy Davis' historic filibuster. He also previously interned at the Austin Chronicle.

Email | Twitter
Jovahana Avila, Communications Intern, B.A. candidate at St. Edward's University in political science and English writing and rhetoric with a concentration in journalism and digital media.
Finance and Administration Team
Kelly D. Josh  |  Director of Finance and Administration

Kelly Josh spent 10 years as the Director of Finance and Administration with the Texas Defender Service. Prior to that, she worked in Central America for 12 years monitoring the construction of civilian police forces and efforts to reform national judicial systems. From 2000 to 2005 in Central America she was the Deputy Chief of Party for a USAID project focusing on democratic development, transparency in governance and civil society strengthening. Josh received a Bachelor of Arts in government from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs in 2012.


Email
Valerie L. Davidson  |  Manager of 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.

Email
Research and Planning
Kristie Lea Tingle  |  Research Analyst 
Kristie Tingle joined the Center as a Research Analyst in 2016. She works on data-based advocacy projects at the Center, including the Texas KIDS COUNT project. She has previously researched unemployment insurance policy at the Ray Marshall Center. Kristie received her Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2015 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television, and Film from Auburn University.

Email
Amy Zhang, Research and Planning Intern, Ph.D. student in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Development

Amanda Posson  |  Major Gifts Manager

Amanda is honored to support systematic change for Texan families through her role as CPPP’s Major Gifts Manager.   Previously, Amanda served as the Vice President of Programs at Refugee Services of Texas (RST), where she worked for nine years in a variety of roles observing firsthand how policy impacts the lives of refugees, immigrants, and survivors of trafficking.  Her passion for displaced families’ well-being developed into aptitudes for fundraising, program management and evaluation.  She played a key role in adapting RST’s strategy and revenue model following the state of Texas’s withdrawal from the US refugee resettlement public-private partnership in 2017. Before that, Amanda initiated the creation of RST’s first development department, which in just three years increased their donations from $50K to $500K per year and also increased their grant support by $500K per year. Previously, she served as Area Director of the RST Austin office. Amanda received a Masters of Arts in Latin American Studies with a focus on migration from the University of Texas in 2009, and is a fluent Spanish speaker. 


Email
Cecilia Weber  |  Grants Manager

Cecilia Weber joined the Center in 2017. She is responsible for overseeing all foundation grants. Born and raised in Washington state, she received her Bachelor of Strategic Communications and Creative Writing from Seattle University where she graduated magna cum laude. While attending university she worked at Morningside Academy, an elementary school for children with cognitive disabilities. Upon graduation, she worked as a project manager and bookkeeper for a general contracting company. Prior to moving to Texas she was working with The Mockingbird Society, a nonprofit dedicated to improving foster care and ending youth homelessness.


Email
Get our Email Alerts!! Find us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Read our Blog