January 2018 Mid-Winter Conference

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About the Speakers

Dione Albert Download Presentation

Dione Albert worked for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for the past 25 years with experience as a Director of Administration, a transportation planner, letting manager, legislative/policy analyst, budget analyst, and as a human resources specialist.

Dione Albert currently serves as the Business Operations Project Manager within the Transportation Planning and Programming Division. She leads the development of the Annual Portfolio Achievement Report (APAR) which focuses on the evaluation of statewide performance and she oversees improvements and maintenance efforts to TxDOT’s Project Tracker, a web reporting tool. Dione also assists in the Quarterly Review Process (QRP), a four stage process to monitor the agency’s planning, budgeting and programming performance within a 10 year window.

She has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville.

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Amy Barrett

Amy Barrett,CIA, CISA, CPA, Chief Audit Executive, coordinates audit services for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) under the direction of the TRS Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees since 2008. Her previous audit experience includes Assistant Director, System Audit Office of the University of Texas System; and, Senior Manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she led higher education, corporate retirement plan, and not-forprofit financial audits. Amy received a Master in Professional Accounting degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She currently holds the office of Secretary for the Association of Public Pension Fund Auditors (APPFA).

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Carol Buchanan Download Presentation

Carol Buchanan is the Director of Contract Oversight and Support at the Health and Human Services Commission. In her current role, she oversees policy development, training, reporting, quality assurance and technical support associated with agency contracting efforts.

Buchanan has over ten years of service with the State of Texas and has worked in various areas during her tenure, including fraud and investigation, policy and innovation, quality improvement and eligibility services.

Ms. Buchanan holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Arts in Human Services and Healthcare Management from St. Edward’s University and a Master of Science in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University. In addition, she is a certified project management professional (PMP) with over 15 years of project management experience. In her leisure time, Ms. Buchanan loves to watch sports and visit museums.

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Jessica Butler

Jessica Butler currently serves as the Unified Transportation Program director within TxDOT’s Transportation Planning and Programming Division, leading the development of the Unified Transportation Program, which is a comprehensive 10-year statewide plan that guides the development of Texas’ transportation projects and authorizes construction, development and planning activities. She also leads the Annual Portfolio Achievement Report team, which addresses statewide performance reporting and improvements to the Project Tracker website. She previously worked in TxDOT’s Design Division, where she coordinated the development of transportation projects from concept to final design. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Human Services from St. Edwards University. She is a licensed professional engineer, a mediator and a yoga instructor.

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Sami Chadli

Sami Chadli is the Director of Administrative Services at the Texas Department of Banking. In this capacity, he oversees the accounting, purchasing and risk management functions of the Department. During his twenty plus years in State government, Sami accumulated vast experience in Legislative Appropriation Request and Operating Budget preparation and analysis, Strategic Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting, and Risk Management.

Sami holds an MBA in Business Administration, a B.B.A. in Finance from Texas State University, and is a Certified Government Financial Manager. He is also a 2016 Governor’s Executive Development Program and 2010 Texas Fiscal Officers’ Academy (TFOA) graduate.

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Amanda Crawford

Amanda Crawford is the Deputy Attorney General for Administration and General Counsel for the Office of the Attorney General of Texas. Her duties include overseeing the office’s administrative divisions – Accounting, Budget, Contracts and Asset Management, Human Resources, Procurement, Information Governance and Logistical Operations – as well as the legal counsel divisions – Open Records, Public Finance and General Counsel. She has held her current position since June 2016. Prior to assuming her latest role, Mandy served as Associate Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel and General Counsel for the OAG and assisted in overseeing the office’s legal counsel divisions, including the Opinion Committee. Additionally, since joining the Office of the Attorney General in 1999, she has served as the Chief of the Open Records Division, the Deputy Division Chief of the Open Records Division, a drafting attorney in the Open Records Division and the Public Information Coordinator. She earned her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and her law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.

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Maggie Freeman Download Presentation

Maggie Freeman currently serves as the Director of Human Resources and as the Ethics Advisor for the Office of the Governor and has developed a depth of experience working with state agencies in the past. She oversees and coordinates the efforts of the Human Resources staff within the arenas of risk management, classification, talent management, leave administration, compensation and benefits administration and employment compliance matters. She is also responsible for the statewide EEO report that is due every two years and serves as the EEO Officer and the ADA Coordinator. In January 2015, she oversaw the transition of administrations for the Governor’s office.

Prior to joining the Governor’s office, Maggie was in the private sector where she served at the corporate level for a healthcare company. In that capacity, she oversaw the development and execution of an HR infrastructure for the fast growing multi-state company to maintain compliance with state and federal regulations. Maggie worked with the corporate general counsel to develop a compliance program and also conducted due diligence efforts in connection with acquisitions by the company.

Maggie is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University and obtained a J.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin. She is a member of the Texas State Bar and a life fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. She and her husband live in Austin with their pups, who insist on going to the park way too early in the morning!

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Don Green

Don Green has been the Chief Financial Officer/Chief Administrative Officer for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) since January of 2012.

TRS delivers retirement and related benefits authorized by the Texas Legislature, and manages a trust fund of approximately $145 billion established to finance member benefits. More than 1.5 million public education and higher education employees and retirees participate in the system. Mr. Green was named Administrator of the Year for 2015 by the Texas State Agency Business Administrators Association (TSABAA).

Don began his 38-year career in state government with the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) in 1980. He has served as the Chief Financial Officer for two of the largest agencies in state government; the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation from 1995 to 1999, and the Health and Human Services Commission from 1999 to 2003.

From 2003 to 2009, he served as the Director of Budget and Policy for Speaker of the House, Tom Craddick. The 2003 legislative session was particularly challenging in light of a $10 billion budget shortfall in available state funds.

From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Green served as the Senior Financial Advisor to Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst working mainly on economic development and appropriations related issues. He also served as the Lieutenant Governor’s representative on the Bond Review Board and the Council on Competitive Government.

Mr. Green was elected by state employees to the Board of Trustees for the Employees Retirement System, a trust fund of approximately $28 billion dollars. During his tenure from 2001 to 2009, he served as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Board and Chair of the Audit Subcommittee. Mr. Green has a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Economics and Accounting, a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA), and a Master’s degree in Public Affairs (MPA) from the University of Texas at Austin. He was named a Harry S. Truman National Scholar in 1977.

When not working, Mr. Green enjoys Texas Longhorns football, basketball and baseball, as well as listening and dancing to country and western music at the Broken Spoke. Don is the proud parent of a 13-year old daughter, Jacqueline Alexis Green. She attends public school in beautiful South Austin, Texas.

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Jo Dale Guzman

Jo Dale Guzman is the Professional Development Manager at the State Auditor’s Office. In her current role, she oversees training events for both the State Auditor’s Office staff and open enrollment training attended by state and local auditors. In addition to training, Guzman is also on the hiring and onboarding team for incoming auditors.

Prior to her current role, Guzman was a program manager for the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center, where she coordinated bailiff and warrant officer training and a statewide court clerk certification program. She was also an adjunct faculty member at Texas State University-San Marcos for five years.

Mrs. Guzman holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from St. Edward’s University and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Texas State University-San Marcos. She has authored articles for various state and national publications; her areas of instruction include Franklin Covey’s Leadership, The 5 Choices and Project Management. She is an avid reader and has a passion for dress code.

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Yolanda Hall

Yolanda Hall is the Deputy Budget Director for the Attorney General’s Office. She is a graduate from the University of Texas and received her MBA from St. Edward’s University. She has 22 years of state experience in the areas of Finance, Payroll, Contract Management and Budgeting. She is also a graduate from the Texas Fiscal Officer’s Academy (TFOA) and a member of State Agency Council (SAC). Yolanda enjoys traveling, shopping and running. She loves entertaining and party planning and one day hopes to own her event planning business.

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Jet Hays

Jet Hays is the Deputy Director of Recovery for the Community Development and Revitalization of the Texas General Land Office. He oversees the operations for the Short Term Housing effort, including the Manufactured Home Unit Program, Direct Assistance Housing Limited Repair (DAHLR) Program, Partial Repair and Essential Power for Sheltering (PREPS) Program and logistics with FEMA.

Mr. Hays served 33 years with the Texas National Guard, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He was assigned to Disaster Recovery Planning and Operations, where he developed and refined hazards plans for events such as hurricane response, floods, severe winter weather, special security and catastrophic events. He had other assignments including training armored units, securing sensitive sites, Information Operations and Weapons of Mass Destruction Identification and Response. He also served in overseas assignments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Djibouti and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Mr. Hays received numerous awards and decorations during his military service to include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star 2nd award and the Texas Superior Service Medal.

Mr. Hays is a fifth-generation native Texan on both his mother and father’s side. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M in 1984, a Master of Arts in Anthropology from Texas Tech in 1998 and a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security from the George Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University in 2012.

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Sarah Hicks

Sarah Hicks recently became the Budget Director for Governor Greg Abbott. Her team supports the Governor in his role as the state’s Chief Budget Officer. She advises the Governor on state fiscal matters, works with agencies on their budget issues and prepares the Governor’s state biennial budget.

Previously, Sarah was the Assistant Vice Chancellor & Director for State Relations for the Texas A&M University System (2014-2017). In this role, she coordinated the efforts of State Relations representatives from the System’s eleven universities, seven state agencies and a comprehensive health science center as they communicated the needs and directives of the executive and legislative offices to the System, as well as the diverse activities, needs and successes of the System to the executive and legislative offices.

Prior to joining the A&M System, Sarah worked as the Committee Director for the Senate Finance Committee (2004-2014), where she served under Chairman Steve Ogden and Chairman Tommy Williams. As committee director, she shepherded five state budgets, a school finance bill, and tax bills through the complexities of the legislative process, giving her invaluable insights into the budget and the behind the scenes decision making processes.

Sarah is twice an Aggie. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance and then a Master’s degree in Public Service Administration from the George Bush School of Public Service.

Sarah and her husband Matt live in the Austin area with their two sons (eight and three).

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Suzi Hilliard

Suzi Hilliard, CISSP is Texas Department of Information Resources’ (DIR) Statewide Security Services Manager. She has over 15 years of experience in the IT world, over ten of those working in cybersecurity with the state of Texas. With a focus on security management, policies and user awareness, Suzi strives to continuously improve security programs in state government. Known for her thorough research into the latest security trends and best practices, Suzi is considered an authority on security issues by her peers. Before joining DIR, Suzi worked as a security analyst for both the Texas Attorney General’s Office in the Child Support Division, and for the Department of State Health Services. An avid traveler, Suzi has explored a good portion of North America visiting 40 of the 50 United States, with a few trips to Canada and Mexico. Suzi has a BA in Communications from St. Edward’s University, and holds a CISSP certification.

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Anthony Infantini

Anthony Infantini is the Budget Director for the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). He has held this position since 2012 and began working at TDI in 2010. Prior to his state service, Anthony worked for over 10 years in the insurance industry and as an actuarial consultant in both New York and Texas and earned the Fellow of the Society of Actuaries designation (FSA). He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Sciences with a dual major in Economics from Johns Hopkins University where he graduated with honors. He was a 2014 graduate of the Texas Fiscal Officer’s Academy (TFOA) and is a Certified Government Financial Manager.

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Ursula Parks

Ursula Parks is the Director of the Texas Legislative Budget Board (LBB). She has been with LBB since 1993. During her tenure at LBB, Parks has worked in various capacities including a budget analyst, a budget team manager, an assistant director and the agency’s deputy director. Parks has been directly involved in the development of budget and policy recommendations for numerous state agencies and institutions within all state government functions; for much of her tenure she was involved specifically in the area of public education finance. She is an expert not only in big-picture state fiscal policy, but also in the details of developing state appropriations. Parks is a life-long Austinite, and holds a bachelor’s degree from American University.

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Will Patton

Will Patton serves as the Emergency Plans Section Coordinator for Texas Division of Emergency Management’s (TDEM) State Operations Center. As a member of the State Management Team (SMT) Plans Section, he collects and provides information about the event or emergency while in the SOC. When not dealing with an emergency, Will refines their documents and standards and helps to organize the SMT and its staff. Will has served various positions at TDEM over the past six years, including State and Federal Plans Unit Supervisor, Continuity of Operations Planner, and Technical Operations Officer.

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Tanya Rollins Download Presentation

Tanya Rollins, MSW is employed in the fields of child welfare and higher education. She has worked in the Texas child welfare system for 26 years in roles as an investigator, intake specialist, intake supervisor, training specialist and training manager. She is currently the Child Protective Services Disproportionality Manager for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. In this role, she is charged with examining the racial and ethnic disparities in the child welfare system while working with internal and external partners to eliminate the disparities. She has been instrumental in the implementation of the Knowing Who You Are project in Texas. She is one of six Knowing Who You Are coaches in the United States. She has had the pleasure of providing consulting services to other states interested in implementing Knowing Who You Are. She recently participated in Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s Taskforce on Institutional Racism. She is an adjunct faculty member at Texas State University-San Marcos in the School of Social Work. She has taught courses in cultural diversity, team work, communication, popular culture, minority relations, policy, and youth culture at several universities. She has presented at numerous national, regional, and state conferences on these subjects.

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Bruce Simons

Bruce Simons is a Senior Response Officer at the Texas General Land Office (GLO), in the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Division. Bruce has served at the agency for nine years and brings 17 years of expertise to the department. Prior to this, Bruce worked as a Marine Science Technician 2nd Class Reservist for the United States Coast Guard. He has served as a first responder during various events, ranging from oil spills to natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.

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Dr. Ben Welch

Dr. Ben Welch is the Assistant Dean for Executive Education and Clinical Professor for the Department of Management in Mays Business School. He received his B.B.A. from the University of Dayton, his MS from Houston Baptist University, and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. Dr. Welch has previously served as the Director of the Department of Student Activities for Texas A&M University, Director of Mays College of Business Fellows and Honors Programs and as the Associate Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Texas A&M University. Dr. Welch has held various supervisory and managerial positions with the Harris County Commissioner’s Court, the Fourteenth Supreme Judicial Court of Appeals, and several retail affiliates. He has had two Fish Camps (1991 and 2011) and a T-Camp (1995) named after him. Dr. Welch was selected as Professor of the Year for 1995-96 and 1991-92 by student members of the Management Society, as well as the College of Business Honors Professor of the Year for 1991. He served as Academic Advisor for Squadron 17 with the Corps of Cadets for seven years. During this time he served on the Commandant’s Advisory Council and was the 1991-92 Corps-wide recipient of the Outstanding Academic Advisor. Dr. Welch was the 1992-93 recipient of two University-wide awards including the John J. Koldus III Faculty/Staff Achievement Award and the Ed Guthrie Advisor of the Year Award. Dr. Welch was the 1993 recipient of the College-level Association of Former Students Award for College Teaching. He was named as Teacher of the Year for 1993-94 by Texas A&M University Student Government. He was named Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year for 1993-94 by Alpha Kappa Psi and Professor of the Year for 1994–95 by Delta Delta Delta. Dr. Welch was the 1994 recipient of the coveted University-wide Association of Former Students Award for Student Relations. He was the 1999 University recipient of the Mentor of the Year. Dr. Welch was a 2003 nominee for the first Texas A&M Presidential Professor of Teaching Excellence Award. Dr. Welch was the 2005 recipient of the coveted University-wide Association of Former Students Award for Teaching. He was the 2009 University recipient of the Student-Led Award for Teaching Excellence (SLATE) sponsored by the University Chancellor. Dr. Welch is proud to be faculty advisor to the Aggie Men’s Club (AMC). Dr. Welch and his wife, Sherri, have been married for 25 years and have three children, Rachel who is 22, Ryan who is 19, and Graham who is 16.

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Liza C. Willmore

Liza C. Willmore, as part of the Leadership Team, leads technology innovation projects across the organization and continually seeks ways of providing operational excellence and continuous improvements. As the previous Executive Management Analyst and Hiring Manager of RRC, her firsthand experience in operation improvement plans and organization development structures adds the unique perspective to identify and integrate the ideal technology solutions.

In her career, Ms. Willmore has led digital transformation initiatives such as the Texas Legislative Council’s Digital Archiving Project, Application Conversion and Enhancement (ACE) Project, and Executive Women in Texas Government’s interactive learning platform launch.

Ms. Willmore is the Chair of the State Agency Council Executive Board and has served on various boards across Texas in the roles of President, Public Relations Director, and Communications Director. In 2006, Ms. Willmore was awarded the Outstanding Woman in Texas Government award by the Governor’s Commission for Women for her service in improving the lives of other women. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from UT Austin and a MS in Technology Commercialization from UT’s McCombs School of Business.

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Jamie L. Zerwas

Jamie L. Zerwas, SCPM is a Program Manager for Global Strategic Initiatives in Visa’s Merchant Sales and Solutions organization. Currently, she is accountable for maintaining, aligning and developing rules, processes and programs to improve cardholder experience and expand merchant acceptance globally. In addition to this role, Ms. Zerwas serves as Chair of Visa Austin’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee where she works across employee resource groups to promote Visa as an employer of choice where everyone feels accepted, everywhere.

Prior to Visa, Ms. Zerwas spent 11 years in Management Consulting supporting global clients across industries including Energy and Utilities, Media and Entertainment, Life Sciences, and Federal, State, and Local Government. She has managed multi-million dollar programs by leading client workshops on process improvement and road-map development, gathering requirements, performing gap analysis assessments, conducting client trainings, championing change management, managing software implementations and providing full end-user support.

Ms. Zerwas is an active member of the Junior League of Austin and supports Rodeo Austin as a member of the Ambassadors Committee. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Communication Studies from Texas State University–San Marcos and has the credential of Stanford Certified Project Manager from the Stanford Center for Professional Development.

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