December 2008 Mid-Winter Conference

Back to Past Mid-Winter Conferences


About the Speakers

John Barton

John Barton has been on the staff of the Texas Legislative Budget Board (LBB) since 1984 and is currently the manager of the LBB’s Public Information and Report Production team. In that capacity, he serves as the LBB’s Public Information Officer and is responsible for the preparation of numerous budget and performance-related publications and analyses for the Texas Legislature. Barton has also been principally involved in the ongoing development and implementation of statewide strategic planning, performance budgeting, and performance monitoring since 1992.

Back to Top

Shirley Beaulieu

Shirley Beaulieu graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1981 with an accounting degree and began working for the State Auditor’s Office in 1982. She passed the CPA exam that same year and became certified in 1984. She worked for the Accounting Division of the Department of Insurance from 1984 until 1991, when she transferred to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to become Assistant Budget Director. Since then, she has served TEA as the Project Manager for implementation of ISAS, Budget Director and Fiscal Director. She is now the Associate Commissioner for Finance and Chief Financial Officer, overseeing the accounting, budget, purchasing, contracts and school finance areas.

Back to Top

Bill Briggs

Bill Briggs, a CPA and PMP, has been an independent consultant and partner with the firm Total Project Management for Government (TPMG) since 1997. He also served four years as a government systems project manager for KPMG Peat Marwick and 20 years as a Texas state government employee, including service as the CFO of six major state agencies. While a Texas state employee, Briggs served as a TSABAA officer.

He has managed and participated in the implementation of over 20 major ERP systems projects for state governments. He was project manager for the largest administrative systems implementation project in Texas state government history—the Health and Human Services Administrative System, which included 11 agencies, 48,000 employees and $30 billion budget. Currently, he is the project manager for the statewide ERP project for the Comptroller’s office.

Back to Top

Don Green

Don Green, one of three elected members to the Employees Retirement System (ERS) Board of Trustees, is responsible for investment decisions for the $25 billion retirement fund as well as implementation of the state employee health insurance program with $2 billion worth of annual expenditures. He is currently the Director of Budget and Policy for the Texas House of Representatives and serves as Speaker Tom Craddick’s representative on the Bond Review Board and the Council on Competitive Government.

His 29 years in state government include 15 at the Legislative Budget Board as a Budget Analyst and Special Assistant to the Director. He’s also held the Chief Financial Officer slot at the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and at the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). At HHSC, he managed a biennial budget of more than $16 billion and oversaw other health and human service agency budgets with a combined biennial budget of about $35 billion and a staff of more than 50,000.

A native of Riverdale, Georgia, Green attended Clayton Junior College, Georgia Tech and Shorter College in Georgia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and accounting. In 1977, he was named a Harry S. Truman Foundation National Scholar. Green subsequently earned a master’s degree in public affairs and another in business administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

Back to Top

Billy C. Hamilton

Billy Hamilton is a consultant in tax, fiscal policy and related issues. He also writes a regular column on state tax issues for the national publication State Tax Notes and is an adjunct professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs of the University of Texas at Austin. Hamilton worked for many years at the Comptroller of Public Accounts, serving as Deputy Comptroller under Carole Keeton Strayhorn and John Sharp. He retired from state service in late 2006. Hamilton served as Co-Executive Director of the California Performance Review for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Director of State and Local Services for the Policy Economics Group of KPMG Peat Marwick in Washington, D.C. and Executive Director of the Select Committee on Tax Equity. He also worked for the Texas Association of Taxpayers.

Hamilton is Past President of the national Federation of Tax Administrators and the National Tax Association. He has served on the board of directors of the Federation of Tax Administrators, the Multistate Tax Commission and the National Tax Association. He has served as a member of the board of directors of Quality Texas and as a board member of the national Electronic Benefits Council. He was the first recipient (1998) of the Bullock Bullock Award for Public Stewardship. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

Hamilton is a graduate of UT Austin and the LBJ School. He was the first recipient of the LBJ School’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1987.

Back to Top

Geoffrey Hood

Geoffrey Hood works in the Fiscal Management Division at the Comptroller’s office. He provides information and training to state agencies and universities on state travel and purchase rules and guidelines. He came to the Comptroller’s office after 10 years of working in the Texas child support system. The first eight years were with the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the last two were with Affiliated Computer Services, the company that runs the Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit. Hood has held not only trainer roles, but also those of analyst and manager. He received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1997.

Back to Top

Machelle Pharr

Machelle Pharr is the Chief Financial Officer for the Department of State Health Services. In this role, she has assisted the agency in transforming from four legacy agencies into a new agency responsible for public health, mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment. DSHS has an annual budget of approximately $2.7 billion and approximately 12,000 employees.

Pharr’s career with the state has been one of change management. Prior to her current position, she served as the CFO for the Texas Department of Health (TDH), which she joined in February 2002, to implement business recommendations from an outside consultant review. Pharr came to TDH from the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) where she had served as the CFO for more than three years. She joined the Texas Water Commission in March 1993 as the Financial Reporting/General Ledger Manager to assist in the transformation of the Texas Water Commission, Texas Air Control Board and certain programs from TDH to form the TNRCC. She progressed to Financial Administration Director, then Budget Director at the TNRCC before taking the role of CFO in June 1998.

Before joining the Texas Water Commission, she served at the Comptroller’s office. During her five-year tenure, she had the opportunity to work on the first statewide Annual GAAP Report and played a lead role in the implementation of the Uniform Statewide Accounting System. She began her service with the state at the General Land Office as its first Internal Auditor.

Pharr graduated from the University of Texas with a BBA in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Governmental Financial Manager.

Ross Ramsey

Ross Ramsey is the editor of Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter on government and politics in the Lone Star State. He has been a journalist for nearly three decades, a spree interrupted only by a 28-month gap when he worked for the Comptroller of Public Accounts. He’s been a staff reporter at the Houston Chronicle and the Dallas Times Herald, a freelance writer for a number of regional and national publications, and a reporter and newscaster at radio stations in Denton and Dallas. He became editor of Texas Weekly in 1998. Ross was born in Amarillo, reared (mostly) in El Paso, and educated at (but not graduated from) the University of Texas at El Paso and the University of North Texas in Denton.

Back to Top

Monica Scamardo

Dr. Monica Scamardo is the founder and president of Variate, a consulting company specializing in organizational and people development. Monica holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology with specializations in organizational systems. Her area of expertise is applying research-based behavioral and psychological principles to workplace challenges.

She works with individual clients, teams and organizations. Dr. Scamardo consults with and coaches leaders on organizational challenges, team development, change management and leadership development. She also facilitates team discussions and retreats focused on improving communication, addressing the impact of organizational change, dealing with conflict and building trust.

Some of her past clients include Samsung, the Houston Chronicle, Texas Lottery Commission, Cisco, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and National Association of Development Organizations.

Back to Top

Dr. W.E. “Bill” Thorn

Dr. W. E. “Bill” Thorn is widely known and used across America. He has a unique ability to use his ready wit not only to entertain but also to drive home truths that sustain and challenge. At 83 he is still active, doing 200 engagements a year. He has delivered over seven thousand banquet orations and authored over 23 books.

He has served as a pastor for over forty years. He served as President of Dallas Baptist University and as a lecturer in several universities. He also has had numerous honorary degrees bestowed on him by various universities.

Dr. Thorn was featured on the NBC documentary “New Pioneers” and was recognized as America’s Banquet Speaker. He is a member of the International Platform Association and a member of the Texas Writer’s Association.

He plans to dance as long as the music plays.

Back to Top

Suzy Whittenton

Suzy Whittenton is the Director of Fiscal Management Division for the Comptroller of Public Accounts. She has served in that position since January 1, 2007. The Fiscal Management Division serves as the state’s chief accountant, a primary duty of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The division also disburses funds and pays claims that process through the state’s accounting and payroll/personnel systems. For four years prior to her appointment as Director, she served as the division’s Assistant Director.

She has also served as an agency CFO in large, mid-sized and small agencies. She started her state career at the Governor’s Office and then moved to the Texas Racing Commission to serve as CFO for nearly eight years. She then took a position at the Texas Animal Health Commission as the Deputy Executive Director for Administration and CFO. She followed that with three years as CFO at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission. Whittenton has a BBA in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Back to Top