Posts in Working It
Annie's List Names Royce Brooks Executive Director
royce brooks annies list.JPG

From the Annie's List website:

(Austin, Texas) The Board of Directors of Annie’s List is very pleased to announce today that Royce Brooks has been named as its new Executive Director. Brooks, a visionary leader who most recently served as the first Chief Equity Officer for the City of Atlanta, and whose political experience includes the campaigns of Wendy Davis and Sylvester Turner, will lead the  organization beginning in July. Brooks is a graduate of Rice University and Harvard Law School, and a sixth generation Texan.

Board Chair Heidi Gerbracht says Brooks is the perfect choice to lead Annie’s List. “We couldn’t be more thrilled about welcoming Royce back to Texas,” Gerbracht shared. “There is so much energy to elect great women candidates right now. Annie’s List began this year in a position of strength as a long-term player in changing the face of power in Texas. Royce is the right leader at the right time to not just continue the work, but to catapult us to the next level. She is a strategic, passionate leader and brings new energy and experience to Annie’s List.”

“I am excited to join the Annie’s List team to help change the face of power so all Texans can have a seat at the table,” said Brooks. “I have spent my career working to bring change to communities that need it most, and I am ready to lead that charge here in my home state. With amazing staff, community leaders and outstanding candidates, we will build a better, fairer, more compassionate Texas – one election at a time.”

Brooks has honed her leadership in a career encompassing both policy and electoral politics. Before joining Annie’s List, she worked with city leaders, researchers and community members to develop a policy agenda addressing inequality in Atlanta as the city’s first-ever Chief Equity Officer. She has worked in both houses of Congress, most recently as a legislative counsel and subcommittee staff director in the United States Senate, where she led oversight and legislative efforts related to oil spill remediation, drinking water protections and more. Her electoral political experience includes serving as the policy director for both Wendy Davis’s 2014 campaign for governor of Texas, and Sylvester Turner’s 2015 campaign for mayor of Houston.

Patsy Woods Martin, former Executive Director of Annie’s List, retired in March. Jennifer Treat has been serving as Interim Executive Director since then.


Annie’s List = Representational Democracy

Democracy works best when we all have a seat at the table. Currently, 80% of the Texas state legislature is composed of men. Annie’s List works to achieve equality and better policies by getting more pro-choice, progressive women elected to office in Texas. As lawmakers, Texas women bring a balanced perspective to our government and affect positive changes for women, men and families.

Annie’s List has raised $15+ million to support and train thousands of women to run for office. In the 2018 election cycle, 85% of the 65 women who are the Democratic nominees for the Texas legislature have been trained and/or supported by Annie’s List. Since our start in 2003, our endorsed candidates have won more than 100 races up and down the ballot and across the state.

Working ItAmy Whited
Lauren Willis, Betheland and Goldman Launch Ironclad Partners
  Lauren Willis

Lauren Willis

Lauren Willis, formerly a staffer for Comptroller Hegar, has launched a lobbying firm called Ironclad Partners alongside Danner Betheland and Adam Goldman.

According to the firm's website

Lauren Willis has nearly 20 years of public policy, campaign and communications experience. She began her career working for Texas Governor Bush’s gubernatorial campaign in 1998.

She spent three legislative sessions working in both the Texas House and Senate. She has also done work for local, national and international private public affairs agencies. Willis has helped develop and execute several grassroots public policy campaigns that included direct mail, targeted media and coordinated legislative and regulatory efforts.

Her career took her to Washington, DC, where she served the Bush administration in both the US Department of Justice and the White House.

Jessica Magee Joins GR for the OIG

Jessica Magee has joined the government relations team at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission Office of the Inspector General. Jessica brings to the OIG nearly a decade of experience working in and around the Capitol.

 Jessica Magee

Jessica Magee

Jessica joins the OIG after serving as the first policy director for the Texas House Republican Caucus. There she met daily with members of the Caucus’ Policy Committee to make voting recommendations on all legislation before the House. Prior to her work with the Caucus, she spent several sessions working for various members of the Texas House, developing legislation and strategies for legislative priorities.

Jessica grew up in Spring and attended Texas State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English. During that time she had the unique opportunity to serve as the first appointed student liaison to the San Marcos City Council. She also holds a juris doctorate from The University of Texas.

If you recall, I had the opportunity to interview her here last fall as she was leaving the Caucus to explore new opportunities. Best of luck, Jessica!

Smith and Cohen Relocate to Raise Your Hand Texas
  Dr. Michelle Smith

Dr. Michelle Smith

  Dr. Libby Cohen

Dr. Libby Cohen

From the Raise Your Hand Texas website:

Raise Your Hand Texas has announced that Dr. Michelle Smith, a lobbyist with HillCo Partners, will serve as Director of Governmental Relations, and Dr. Libby Cohen, an Oxford graduate and a dynamic community organizer, will serve as Director of Advocacy and Outreach. Smith will lead the organization’s efforts to fight for Texas public schools in the upcoming legislative session while Cohen focuses on organizing a broad base of grassroots support among civic leaders, educators, business leaders, parents and other advocacy organizations.

“Michelle and Libby make a formidable team, and will work side-by-side to enhance educational opportunities for our kids. I am confident they will successfully carry the torch for Texas public schools in what’s bound to be a tough legislative session,” said Charles Butt, Chairman and CEO of H-E-B and founder of Raise Your Hand Texas. “Making an impact at the Capitol will require a Texas-sized effort — we’ve got to rally the whole state to stand up and fight for equity, quality and a strong public education system for all children. Our future depends on it.”

Named to Capitol Inside’s Top 100 Hired Guns lobby list in 2017, Smith is known as a savvy and knowledgeable advocate for education with a deep understanding of how things work within the classroom walls as well as the Capitol halls. A former public school teacher with a doctorate in school improvement from Texas State University, Smith has combined her passion for education with a love for public policy instilled by her father, beloved former Texas legislator Jimmie Don Aycock. For the past seven years, Smith has lobbied on behalf of education-based for-profits, non-profits, advocacy organizations and superintendent-led associations. She has served as a lobbyist for Raise Your Hand Texas in the past, and as executive director of the Fast Growth School Coalition.

“Raise Your Hand Texas is a leading voice for public education in Texas, and I’m honored to join the team. The organization’s work positively impacts the lives of the 5.4 million young Texans in our public school systems,” Smith said. “I look forward to helping elevate the good work of Texas public schools, and advocating strongly and effectively on their behalf at the State Capitol. It’s imperative that our state supports, funds and advances a public education system that ensures all students are well prepared to enter the 21st century workforce.”

Libby Cohen, originally from Dallas, has served for the past several years as an organizer for Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), where she created unique voter organizing strategies and helped secure $180 million in supplemental education funding for Baltimore City Schools, 350 new community health workers positions to help residents in distressed neighborhoods, and $3 million for park renovations and facilities updates in the Irvington community. She helped to negotiate a $135 million community benefits agreement attached to Port Covington, the largest urban redevelopment project currently underway in the United States. Cohen also helped found a non-profit in Cambodia dedicated to fighting child sexual exploitation. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, a Rhodes Scholar, and holds a doctorate in economic and social history from the University of Oxford.