• 2017 Summer Conference

Education Advocacy Panel

  • Monday, June 26, 1:15-2:45 p.m.     

    Early Monday afternoon of the UT/TASA Summer Conference is devoted to those devoted to our schools: public education advocates. We’ve invited both school leaders and representatives from organizations that are out front and center in the fight to protect our public schools to participate in a panel discussion/Q&A. They’ll share their stories and strategies for powerful grassroots advocacy. Panelists include:
    Julie Cowan   Julie Cowan, volunteer and fundraiser, Texas Parent PAC
    @TXParentPAC | txparentpac.com

    Austin ISD Board Secretary Julie Cowan is a long-time contributor and one of the lead volunteers and fundraisers for the Texas Parent PAC, which is a bipartisan political action committee for parents, grandparents, parents-to-be, and anyone who supports high-quality public education. Texas Parent PAC endorses and financially supports the campaigns of public education-friendly legislators. Cowan, who was elected to the Austin ISD Board of Trustees in 2014, has served as board secretary since 2016. Prior to that, she served as PTA president at several Austin ISD campuses, on their Campus Advisory Councils, and as a vice president of the Austin Council of PTAs. She has also served on many districtwide committees. Cowan is a 2016-17 member of the Texas Association of School Boards' Legislative Advisory Council representing Region 13 and president of the Central Texas School Board Association.
    Lisa Holbrook   Lisa Holbrook, president, Texas PTA
    @txstatepta | txpta.org

    Lisa Holbrook has held many leadership roles in Texas PTA, which is the largest grassroots organization in Texas with half a million members, including parents, teachers, and others who have a special interest in children, youth, families, and schools. Currently the 2016-18 Texas PTA president, Holbrook has served in many other roles with Texas PTA on the state, regional, and local levels. She is a past PTA president of Armand Bayou Elementary, Space Center Intermediate, Clear Lake High School, and the Clear Creek Community Council. In addition to PTA she is involved with the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce as the Governmental Affairs Division Director, the Assistance League of the Bay Area, and is a member of the National Assistance League Finance Committee.
    Charles Foster Johnson   Charles Foster Johnson, Pastors for Texas Children
    @charlesfjohnson | @pastors4txkids | pastorsfortexaschildren.com

    Charles Foster Johnson founded Pastors for Texas Children in 2013 with the mission of providing wrap-around care and ministry to local schools, principals, teachers, staff and schoolchildren; advocating for children by supporting our free, public education system to promote social justice for children; and advancing legislation that enriches Texas children, families, and communities. Since that time he has been a passionate advocate for Texas public schoolchildren and, as such, an outspoken opponent of attempts to divert funds from those schoolchildren via voucher schemes as well as a proponent of adequate school funding. Johnson has even caught the attention of well-known education advocate Diane Ravitch, who recently wrote in her blog: “As the prospects for passage of voucher legislation diminish in Texas, it is time to give thanks to the tireless work of the Pastors for Texas Children.” Johnson is a frequent preacher and speaker in university, church, business, education, and nonprofit circles. He has written for numerous publications and made guest appearances on several cable network news shows.
    Cynthia Miller   Cynthia Miller, business/education consultant, formerly with Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce
    Cynthia Miller’s 40-year career includes experience in human resources, project management, public/private partnership development, charitable giving and fundraising, and community affairs. Much of her work has centered on serving in an intermediary role to stimulate collaboration between education and the business community, with the goal of aligning educational preparation and career pathways with future workforce needs. Miller served as vice president of Workforce Development and Education at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce from 2001 to 2017, positioning the chamber in an intermediary function between business, educational entities, government and community stakeholders to advocate for education as the foundation of economic development. Prior to that, she worked for Fort Worth ISD, at Bechtel Corporation Engineers and Constructors in San Francisco, and at Bank of America in California and Texas. She has served on nonprofit boards and advisory groups in California, Texas, Washington, D.C., and New York. She holds a doctorate in K-16 Educational Leadership.
    Blake Powell   Blake Powell, board member and past president, Friends of Texas Public Schools
    @blakegpowell | @FOTPStx | fotps.org

    Blake Powell is a board member and past president of Friends of Texas Public Schools, an organization focused on celebrating and promoting the achievements of and good news surrounding Texas public schools. The product of Copperas Cove High School, son of a former public school teacher and administrator, and an involved public school parent, Powell volunteers at school carnivals, concession stands, and on the football chain crew. He has been an active fundraiser for the Westlake High School Chap Club, an Eanes ISD booster organization, and has represented parents on a campus improvement committee in Taylor ISD. He also serves as the treasurer of Texas Parent PAC board of directors. He is a founding partner of Powell & Leon, LLP, a firm that serves as general or special counsel to approximately 250 public school and community college districts, regional education service centers, charter schools, and special local government districts across Texas.
    Kristin Tassin  
    Kristin Tassin, president, Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees
    Kristin Tassin is serving her second term as president of the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees. During the 2017 legislative session, she caught the attention of public education supporters across the state with her “I am not an educrat” letter to the lieutenant governor, which stated her intent to be a fierce advocate for public education. Tassin was the founding PTO president at Heritage Rose Elementary and has served in that position for three consecutive years. She also served as head of fundraising for three consecutive years, as well as on the Campus-Based Leadership Team and numerous other PTO leadership positions. She is a member of the Fort Bend ISD Parent Advisory Council, a member of the district Steering Committee for Facilities Planning, and is a Mentor Program volunteer. Tassin is currently employed as an attorney at Dry & Tassin and is co-founder/director of the charitable organization, Father's Joy. She is a member of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, Houston Young Lawyers Association, and the Exchange Club of Sugar Land.
    Theresa Trevino   Theresa Trevino, president, Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment (TAMSA)
    @mtvtrevino | @TAMSATX | tamsatx.org

    Theresa Trevino is president of the board of Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment (TAMSA), a statewide, grassroots organization of concerned parents that supports a more reasoned approach to student testing. TAMSA’s mission is to improve public education in Texas through the use of meaningful and effective student assessments that allow for more productive classroom instruction and more efficient use of public funds. Trevino has been active with PTA, the Read Naturally Program at Doss Elementary, Anderson Band Booster Association, Austin Partners in Education, and the National Charity League. In 2012, she was an organizing and founding member of TAMSA, and in 2015, she was a gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability. She is a licensed physician, specializing in psychiatry.

    Brian Woods   Brian Woods, Northside ISD superintendent, member of Go Public Steering Committee
    @briantwoods1 | @WeGoPublic | wegopublic.com

    Brian Woods, a longtime Northside ISD educator, has served as the district’s superintendent since 2012 and is a member of the Steering Committee of Go Public, a nonprofit organization like no other in the country. It was formed by 16 San Antonio-area school districts to promote the message that public education provides more choices and opportunities in preparing all students for college and career. Woods also serves on the TASA Executive Committee, as chair of the Regional Advisory Executive Committee for ESC Region 20, on the board of the P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County, and on two committees of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. He is president of the Texas Academic Decathlon board and a member of the Superintendents Advisory Board of the Principals’ Institute, the steering committee for Fast Growth School Coalition, the Commissioner’s Cabinet of Superintendents, the Superintendent’s Advisory Council for the Holdsworth Center, and a TASA representative to the State Dual Credit Task Force.
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