Council Membership

Quadrant TCDD February 2023 Council Meeting Recap Capitol Building

Table of Contents

TCDD helps Texans with developmental disabilities (DD) live their own lives and make decisions to achieve independence, productivity, and full participation in community life. We’re led by a 27-member Council that includes people with DD, family members of people with DD, and agency representatives. Council members serve staggered six-year terms, which means we regularly have open spots to be filled. If you’re a person with DD or a family member of a person with DD, this is where we need you.

Joining the Council is an opportunity to work with passionate people who strive to improve the lives of Texans with DD through innovative programs, partnerships, and collaborations. We need your ideas and your experiences to help us achieve our mission of creating change so all people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives. 

“Council members come together to help provide a more accessible, accepting Texas by helping to advocate for those with DD who would benefit from better policies and programs to support them and educate and support their caregivers, guardians, and families. Our quarterly Council meetings give council members an opportunity to discuss future policies to help protect and support the DD community along with creating and implementing programs.”

— Jamie Thomas, Council member from Abilene     

What do Council members do?

Council members are advocates for people with DD. 

The Council meets every three months to make decisions on grant programs and policy work; discuss emerging disability issues; share personal and professional connections; and talk about their own experiences and the experiences of people with DD in their communities. The goal is to find gaps in the system and fund projects that address those gaps so people with disabilities are included in all aspects of daily life — like making friends, attending college, going to work, and being healthy.

Council members are also leaders of new ideas.

The Council engages in advocacy and planning activities to support projects that serve as models for future programs. Council members foster public awareness and community acceptance through education and seek public involvement in Council activities.

Additional Council member responsibilities include:

As part of the Council, members serve on either the Project Development Committee or the Public Policy Committee. Council members may also serve on special committees or task forces and represent TCDD at other meetings or conferences.

“We talk about policies that need to be talked about, what’s going on around Texas, dealing with provider issues and all types of problems in the state, [and] other issues that need to be addressed.”

— Eric Shahid, Council member from Somerville

Who’s on the Council?

The 27-member Council includes the following individuals:

  • People with DD
  • Parents, guardians, and family members of people with DD
  • Representatives from state agencies that provide DD services and support
  • Representatives from the university centers for excellence in developmental disabilities: the Texas Center for Disability Studies at The University of Texas at Austin and the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University
  • Representative from Disability Rights Texas
  • Representative for local, non-government organizations  

At least 60% of Council members must be people with DD or family members. At least one Council member must be someone who has lived in an institutional facility or a family member of a person who has lived in an institutional facility.

The Texas governor appoints Council members per the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act). The governor also designates a Council member to serve as chair. Council members serve six-year staggered terms and may serve no more than two consecutive six-year terms.

Council members serve without salary, but members can be reimbursed for expenses such as travel as allowed by state law.

Debbie Carlisle Council Member

“I applied to be a [Council] member because I wanted to be involved with a collective of individuals with a like-mindedness to make changes in policy and develop avenues for people with developmental disabilities, and intellectual disabilities specifically, and have a voice and a vote to move the needle toward a better, brighter future for them.”

— Debbie Carlisle, Council member from San Antonio

Why is it important to be a Council member?

The Council elevates diverse voices with firsthand experience in navigating service systems, finding meaningful support to work or go to school, and supporting other important aspects of having a high quality of life. Creating changes that last cannot be done without the representation and active participation of people who know exactly what it’s like to live with a disability in Texas.

You are the expert of your own experience. That experience is vital for the Council to educate decision-makers and effectively support self-advocates and families to become community leaders and influential policy advocates.

Angie Panzica, Council Member

“[DD councils] are important because they are made of unique individuals from diverse backgrounds who consistently strive to improve and use their knowledge and expertise in order to ‘move the needle’ by funding programs and supporting public policies, which seek to educate, empower, and improve the lives of people with disabilities.”

— Angie Panzica, Council member from Houston

How do you apply to join the Council?

The process to become a Council member includes two parts: the application and the appointment.

If you’d like to apply, you’ll complete the process through the Texas Governor’s Office. See the Application Process to learn more about how to apply. 

Appointments happen when there is a vacant position on the Council. During the appointment process, the governor’s office will gather additional information about applicants. Once appointments are made, appointees are contacted to prepare for their next steps. The length of the appointment process varies, but it usually takes a few months.

New Council members attend an orientation. They also attend presentations, receive advocacy training, and meet with other Council members and TCDD staff during meetings. 

If you have other questions about becoming a Council member, please email Koren Vogel or call her at 512-948-2035.

Maverck Crawford Council member

“The Council does a lot for people with developmental disabilities such as advocacy, education, policies, and projects used to create change and opportunities with state elected officials to protect and improve the overall quality of life for those living with a developmental disability.”

— Maverick Crawford, Council member from San Antonio

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes an effective Council member?
An effective Council member is passionate about improving the lives of people with disabilities. Also, it helps to be a good listener, have ideas, and enjoy being part of a team.

What can I contribute if I’m not an expert and I don’t have a degree?
You are the expert in your own life and have your own personal experiences and talents to share. TCDD values all viewpoints from diverse groups.

What if I need accommodations to apply or to participate in meetings
TCDD is happy to coordinate any accommodations Council members might need, including interpretation or translation services.

What is the time commitment needed to serve as a Council Member?
Council members participate in quarterly Council meetings. These usually last three days and include five separate meetings, although every Council member may not participate in every meeting. Council members are also expected to review meeting materials ahead of time.

As a Council member, would I have access to information that I couldn’t share with the public?
No, all Council meetings are open to the public and subject to the Open Meetings Act.

Is the Council political or partisan?
No, the Council is not political or partisan. Our mission is established by the federal DD Act. Our Council is responsible for educating decision-makers, like elected officials in the Texas Legislature, on how policies may impact individuals with developmental disabilities.

What’s the difference between a Council member and a TCDD staff member?
Council members are appointed by the governor and serve as a board of directors for TCDD. Staff members are full-time paid employees.

Does TCDD report to any other agencies?
Yes, the Administration for Community Living is the federal agency that sets the goals for all 56 state DD councils, including TCDD. The Texas Education Agency provides TCDD with administrative support.

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