The Advocacy Support Council is comprised of a bipartisan group of highly respected state legislators representing Dallas county, along with school board members from partner districts and experts in advocacy work. The Advocacy Support Council has three key functions (i) to convene local advocacy groups to share knowledge of priorities, so that where there is consensus, we can mobilize around that consensus to advocate with a stronger, more effective voice for policies that will improve educational outcomes, (ii) to serve the Commit! action networks by advocating for (or against) policies at the local, state, or federal level that have been identified by such action networks as a critical component (or roadblock) to moving the academic indicators targeted by the action network, and (iii) to arm elected officials and advocates in the community with data so that they may more effectively advocate for public education priorities.
Rep. Rafael Anchia
Rep. Dan Branch
Sen. John Carona
Rep. Eric Johnson
Rep. Bennett Ratliff
Sen. Florence Shapiro
Rep. Jason Villalba
Sen. Royce West
His high school marks earned him a scholarship to Southern Methodist University, allowing him to triple-major in Latin American Studies, Spanish and Anthropology and graduate with Honors. During college, he attended the Centro Estudiantil Internacional in Madrid, studying Spain’s, art, literature, politics and history and their influence in the Americas. A generous scholarship drew Representative Anchia to Tulane University in New Orleans for his law studies where he concentrated on international and public law.
Representative Anchia began his public service at the local level where he was twice elected to the Board of Trustees of the Dallas Independent School District – the nation’s 12th largest. During his tenure as a Trustee, he helped lead the successful effort of the Dallas ISD to win public approval of a $1.37 billion school bond package.
Representative Anchia is an attorney with the law firm of Haynes & Boone, LLP. He specializes in public and corporate finance. In addition to his legal work, Representative Anchia has distinguished himself in pro bono service and contributions to his community, earning his prior firm’s 2000 Pro Bono Associate of the Year award. In 2003, Representative Anchia also received the “Rising Star” award from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas for contributions made to improving the lives of young people in his community. And in 2005, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) honored Representative Anchia as its national “Man of the Year” at its annual conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.In November 2006, Anchia won unanimous re-election to the Board of Directors, and was chosen Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund for a three-year term.
Anchia also is a member of various professional, civic and charitable organizations, including: the Leadership Dallas Alumni Association, the Dallas Assembly, the SMU Clements Center on Southwest Studies and the Oak Cliff Lions Club.
Chairman, House Committee on Higher Education, Texas House of Representatives
Last session, Chairman Branch led the successful efforts to develop more Tier One universities in Texas, reform the Top 10% college admissions law, and provide more interactive technology in public school classrooms. The Council of State Governments designated his classroom technology bill as model national legislation, and 8 states have adopted or are considering similar bills. His legislative efforts have earned him high marks from many sources, including The Dallas Morning News and Austin American-Statesman; both Texas Monthly and Capitol Inside listed him among their “best” of the 2009 and 2011 sessions of the Texas Legislature.
In addition to his service in the legislature, Branch is a corporate lawyer and shareholder of Winstead PC. He is a former judicial clerk to Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jack Pope and a former aide to the late U.S. Senator John Tower. Branch is a member of the bars of Texas, New York and the District of Columbia.
Beyond his professional service, Branch chairs the board of SMU’s John Tower Center for Political Studies and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a former president of The Dallas Assembly and a former Chairman of the Texas Public Finance Authority, appointed by Governor George W. Bush. In 2009, Branch was elected to serve on the board of the Texas Education Reform Foundation and was appointed to serve on the Southern Regional Education Board’s Legislative Advisory Committee by Governor Rick Perry. In addition, he is an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow and a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas.
Branch is a graduate of the SMU School of Law, an alumnus of the Institute on Comparative Political & Economic Systems at Georgetown University and holds two undergraduate degrees from Oklahoma Christian University. Dan and his wife, Stacey, are the parents of five children.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Business and Commerce, Texas Senate
Through the years, Senator Carona has been honored by a variety of organizations for leadership in the Texas Legislature. With recognitions from business associations, animal advocates, child advocates, to teacher groups, and law enforcement – John Carona has been named a “Hero,” three times a “Crime Fighter of the Year” a “Trailblazer,” the “Most Valuable Player – Texas Senate,” a “Maverick Who Mattered” and two times one of the “Ten Best Legislators,” just to name a few.
Senator Carona has been a resident of Dallas since early childhood. Raised in East Dallas, he graduated from Bryan Adams High School and then, in 1978, went on to earn Bachelors of Business Administration degrees in insurance and real estate from The University of Texas at Austin. He currently serves as president and CEO of a successful international realty management firm employing over 8,000 people. Senator Carona is married, a proud father of five children and grandfather to five – so far.
School Board Trustee at Richardson ISD, Director of Public Policy & Education at the Dallas Regional Chamber
In addition, she serves as an elder at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church. She is a 1999 graduate of Leadership Richardson. Mrs. Greenhaw earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Oklahoma State University and has worked as a newspaper reporter, and has extensive experience in the areas of public and media relations.
In 2011, Representative Johnson was selected to participate in the Emerging Leaders Program by the State Legislative Leaders Foundation. He was also awarded the 2011 Achievement Award by the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program. In September 2011, the Texas Junior Chamber of Commerce named Representative Johnson one of its “Five Outstanding Young Texans” and in October 2011, the Dallas Regional Chamber bestowed upon him its first ever “Courage in Public Service Award” for his work in higher education.
In 2012, Representative Johnson was named to the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) and joined an ACYPL delegation that visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories, meeting with current and emerging leaders in the region. In December 2012, Representative Johnson was the only member of the Texas Legislature to participate in President Obama’s first ever meeting with a delegation of African American state legislators.
Representative Johnson serves as ex officio member of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce and a board member of both the Dallas Arboretum and the West Dallas based Voice of Hope Ministry. On the national stage he serves on the Executive Committee of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
Recently, Representative Johnson helped form the Young Texans Legislative Caucus (YTLC), to highlight and address the needs of younger Texans, particularly speaking to the state’s long-term investments in education, infrastructure, and the management of our natural resources. He has been elected to serve as chair during the current 83rd Legislative Session.
Representative Johnson is a graduate of Harvard University, where he graduated cum laude with a degree in History. He then went on to earn a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and master’s degree in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Trustee, Dallas Independent School District
With a belief system that continually calls him to serve others, Morath has participated in numerous volunteer activities, locally and internationally. He has volunteered in our schools and juvenile justice facilities and as a mentor Big Brother. He helped organize a trip to orphanages in southern India to set up clean running water systems, and he volunteered at an eye clinic in rural Mexico, where he was lucky enough to meet another volunteer, Dr. Laura Vondra, who is now his fiancé.
Never one to shrink from a challenge, Morath has hiked Mount Rainier in Washington and climbed mountains near Mount Everest in Nepal.
He received a BBA, summa cum laude, from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in two and a half years, thanks primarily to the International Baccalaureate curriculum offered at his public school alma mater, Garland High School.
The youngest member of the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees, Morath also is the only trustee who has never drawn an opponent.
- Bennett is a 50-year old Civil Engineer
- Graduate of University of Texas (B.S. Civil Engineering)
- Bennett’s wife, Beccy, is a former public school teacher
- Bennett & Beccy have been married 27 years with 3 grown children
- All children are graduates of local public schools
- 17 year homeowner in Coppell
- Elected School Board Member & Community Volunteer
- Former School Board Vice-President
- District 115 Republican State Representative-Elect
- Bennett’s Father (Bill Ratliff) is former Republican Lt. Governor of Texas
In addition to public policy, Eric served as the General Counsel and Director of Public Affairs for SchoolDude.com, the nations largest provider of online facility management software tools for schools. Eric’s interest in SchoolDude is directly related to school infrastructure needs and issues associated with safe, healthy, education work conditions in school facilities. Eric also advises and consults with government oriented technology companies on a range of issues. Eric’s nonprofit focus relates to innovative educational programs and projects designed to improve student outcomes by increasing opportunities for those that need it the most.
Eric received his undergraduate degrees from Duke University and his law degree from Wake Forest University. He serves on the following Boards: SMU School of Education; UNT-D Foundation; NAPE-Equity Business; Perot Education; Commit! Human Capital.
Eric seeks to utilize his business, legal, public service and non-profit experience for the benefit of our community.
Senator Shapiro’s issues while serving in the Senate have been many. A champion of children, she passed landmark legislation to protect against sexual predators. Her series of bills known as Ashley’s Laws, protects against, adjudicates, and punishes sex offenders whose victims are children. These laws, which went into effect in 1995, were national benchmarks, and Senator Shapiro continues to dedicate herself to improving the safety and security of our children.
In 1999, Senator Shapiro became chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee and committed herself to the issue of transportation, creating the first fund for Texas mobility. In 2003, the Senator became chair of the Senate Education Committee, where she passed legislation to overhaul the state’s school finance system. Her landmark legislation, House Bill 1, significantly lowers property taxes, provides more money for schools, along with a teacher pay raise and the first-ever incentive pay program, educational reforms at the high school level to promote college readiness and curb dropouts, and more meaningful accountability for schools.
Her consistent leadership over the years has earned the Senator many honors. Senator Shapiro was recently honored by Dallas Can! Academy with its Lifetime Achievement Award. The Academy, a non-profit organization giving young Texans a second chance through relationship-based education, presented the award to the Senator at the Academy’s 17th Annual Motherhood Luncheon. Senator Shapiro was recognized for her outstanding contributions to education and her work to improve the lives of children across Texas while also showing great dedication to her family and community. Prior to this recognition, she was named to the Legislative Honor Roll by the Texas Association of Realtors, was awarded Inside Collin County Business’s Celebration of Enterprise Award for the public official business partner of the year, the Government Technology Conference’s Bob Bullock Award for Public Stewardship, Girl Scouts of the USA Tejas Council’s Real Women Award, and the Outstanding Service Award from Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas.
Today, the Senator serves as Texas representative to The Council of State Governments (CSG) Education Policy Task Force. She also serves on the Southern Regional Education Board and the Education Commission of the States, coalitions of elected officials and education leaders that address issues such as long-range planning, policy proposals, and the advancement of education among the states. Senator Shapiro is also an appointee to the Governor’s Criminal Justice Advisory Council, Co-Chair of the Study Commission on Region C Water Supply, and a member of the Standing Committee on Education for the National Conference of State Legislators.
A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Senator Shapiro holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. In addition to chairing the Senate Education Committee, she currently serves on the Senate Committees on Finance; Transportation and Homeland and Security; and Administration. She and her husband, Howard, live in Plano. They have three children and nine grandchildren.
As a former financial analyst and as a partner at one of Dallas’ most respected law firms, Jason has hands-on experience working with and advising growing businesses and start-ups and dealing with complex financial and corporate transactions. As our State Representative, Jason will put his diverse business and financial experience to work to grow our economy, create high-wage jobs, cut wasteful spending and keep our taxes at current or lower rates.
As the product of Texas public schools and father of two young girls who will soon attend elementary school in the Dallas ISD, the quality of our public schools is not just a campaign issue to Jason – it’s personal. That’s why as our State Representative, Jason will work tirelessly for meaningful public education reform that broadens charter schools, includes intra-district school choice for our parents and requires more accountability from our administrators and teachers. Like you, Jason believes that improving our schools will strengthen our communities, our economy and our future.
An active member of our community for more than a decade, Jason currently serves on the development committee of the Dallas Zoo and is an active member of the Dallas Children’s Trust. Jason has served on the Board of the Dallas Housing Finance Corporation, as the appointee of City Councilmember Ann Margolin, and he has served as a member of the Dallas County Citizens Election Advisory Committee, as the appointee of County Commissioner Maurine Dickey.
Jason is the immediate past Vice-Chair of the Dallas County Republican Party and the current Chairman of the Dallas Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. In 2006 and 2010, Jason was named as a delegate to the Republican Party of Texas State Convention. As our State Representative, Jason will strive for conservative, bold, results-driven solutions that keep Texas great and that make life better for all of our families and citizens.
On April 17, 2006, Senator West was sworn in by his fellow state senators to serve as President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate until January 2007. As President Pro Tempore, Senator West was second in the line of succession to be Governor of Texas, and assumed the top leadership position whenever Governor Rick Perry and Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst were out of the state.
Senator West is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Jurisprudence and is a member of Senate committees on Education, Finance, Health and Human Services, Higher Education and Intergovernmental Relations. He has recently been appointed to the Medicaid Reform Waiver Legislative Oversight Committee as well as the Joint Interim Committee to Study the Public School Finance System. Senator West also serves on the following national and regional organizations:
- Education Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC)
- Standing committee on Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce of the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL)
- Standing committee on Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce of the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL)
- Education Commission of the States
- Intergovernmental Affairs Committee of the Council of State Governments; and the Southern Regional Education Board Legislative Advisory Council
Senator West’s key initiatives include the creation of college admission opportunities for all students, including the establishment of the University of North Texas at Dallas and a new law school in downtown Dallas. His legislation created the Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center at Prairie View A&M University; increased funding for at-risk youth programs, awarded greater compensation to victims of violent crime, established new standards for child care, enhanced enforcement of protective orders and instituted more efficient uses of criminal justice resources through legislation that created a system of progressive sanctions. During the 2009 Legislative Session, Senator West passed legislation that created a kinship care program whereby qualified relatives can receive state support to help raise children who could otherwise become part of the foster care system.
Since 1993, Senator West has sponsored the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program. The program has provided college students from Senatorial District 23 with paid employment in their respective fields of study. In 1996, Senator West established a Student Advisory Committee (SAC) to obtain the perspectives of junior high and high school students on legislative and community issues and to expose them to volunteer opportunities in the community.