Task Force Members

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In order to receive CJA funding, each state is required to establish and maintain a multidisciplinary Task Force on children’s justice. Texas received its first CJA grant in 1990, and since that time has maintained a multidisciplinary Task Force responsible for overseeing grant activities. The Task Force adopted bylaws in September 2007.

Click here to see CJA Task Force Bylaws.

Click here for agendas and minutes from recent Task Force meetings.

Current Members

Dan Powers Stephanie Stephens
Aurora Martinez Jones
Isidro Alaniz Tymothy Belseth Tony Bradley
Meredith Chacon Irene Clements Dr. Jayme Coffman
Jon Evans Jesse Gonzales, Jr. Denise Hyde
Ann Johnson Gabriel Martinez, Jr.
Lindsey Mullins
Julie Prudhome
Joy Rauls
Monica Reyes
Jeff Rich Beth Senger Craig Spinn
Vicki Spriggs
Jim Sylvester Nhung Tran
Hon. Angela Tucker Laura Wolf  

 

DAN POWERS, Task Force Chair

Senior Vice President and Clinical Director for Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County, Plano

Dan Powers, LCSW is a clinical social worker and currently serves as Senior Vice President and Clinical Director for Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County in Plano, Texas. He supervises a staff of 22 therapists and clinical interns providing no cost services to victims of child abuse and family violence as well as their non-offending family members. As Senior VP, Dan is responsible for clinical operations and program development as well as directing the Advocacy Center’s clinical internship and training program. He has over 25 years of experience working within the field of child abuse, sex offenders and family violence. Dan frequently testifies as an expert witness in state and federal courts. He has also testified on several occasions before Texas legislative committees. Dan has made numerous presentations at major national and regional conferences on the sexual victimization of children, sex offenders, and the multidisciplinary response to child abuse. He is best known for his spirited presentations on wellness and survival for child abuse and family violence professionals.

STEPHANIE STEPHENS, Vice Chair

Assistant County Attorney, Nacogdoches County Attorney’s Office, Nacogdoches

Stephanie Stephens obtained a BBA from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, before earning her J.D. from the University of Houston. She prosecuted for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Waller County Criminal District Attorney’s Office before returning to her hometown as an Assistant District Attorney for Nacogdoches County. After serving as the Nacogdoches County District Attorney, Stephanie went into private practice and began representing children as an ad litem in cases involving Children’s Protective Services. She discovered an enthusiasm for being part of the process of protecting children, which led to her accepting a position with the Nacogdoches County Attorney’s Office, where her primary responsibilities are representing CPS. In addition to her work with CPS, Stephanie has prosecuted numerous criminal cases involving child abuse or child victims. She has served on the State Bar Crime Victims’ Committee, where she assisted in creating a continuing legal education module informing attorneys of their ethical obligations to crime victims, and presented the class multiple times. Additionally Stephanie has taught many law enforcement classes on report writing, asset forfeitures, and search and seizure laws.

AURORA MARTINEZ JONES, Chair-Elect

Associate Judge, Travis County Civil District Courts, Austin

Aurora Martinez Jones has been appointed as an Associate Judge in Travis County and was sworn in on January 2, 2015. She is from La Porte, Texas, a suburb of Houston, and attended college at The University of Texas at Austin where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and a minor in Spanish. She then attended law school at The University of Texas School of Law and upon receiving her law license; she started her own law firm, The Martinez Jones Law Firm, PLLC. As an attorney, Aurora practiced primarily in child welfare law, personal injury, probate, real estate, family law, and civil litigation. She is a Child Welfare Law Specialist, Certified by the National Association of Counsel for Children and has extensive experience working with parents suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Currently, her judicial position is dedicated to the child welfare dockets in Travis County including the Family Drug Treatment Court and Permanent Managing Conservatorship docket (consisting of the cases with foster children in the permanent care of CPS, seeking adoptive placements). Aurora is the past President of the Austin Black Lawyers Association and is the former Chair of the Court Appointed Family Advocates (CAFA). She is active in both the local Austin Bar Association and Texas State Bar through her service on various committees and chairing programs. Aurora is also a Texas Bar Foundation Fellow and a member of the Robert W. Calvert American Inn of Court. She and her husband, Mitchell Jones, have been married for 8 years and are the proud parents of a 4 year old daughter.

ISIDRO ALANIZ

District Attorney, Webb County District Attorney's Office, Laredo

Isidro R. "Chilo" Alaniz is the District Attorney for the 49th Judicial District of Texas. He was elected in 2008 and began his tenure in 2009. Isidro is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He has experience as both a defense attorney and a prosecutor. Isidro has worked for Texas Rural Legal Aid, Laredo City Attorney's office, Webb County District Attorney's office, and the U.S. Public Defenders' Office. He is board certified in Criminal Law.

TYMOTHY BELSETH

Education & Training Voucher Program Specialist/Youth Specialist, Department of Family and Protective Services, Austin, Texas

Tymothy Belseth is employed with DFPS as the Education & Training Voucher Program Specialist and Youth Specialist. As a former foster youth, his primary goal is to bridge the gap in understanding between child welfare professionals and the children and youth they serve. He facilitates the Statewide Youth Leadership Council, which is comprised of foster youth throughout Texas, and serves as a liaison to regional Youth Specialists. Tymothy has empowered youth to find their voice and make changes at the legislative level and continues to drive conversations towards improving the foster care system. He graduated summa cum laude from Texas A&M University-Kingsville in 2012 and is currently working towards a masters in political science at Texas State University.

TONY BRADLEY

Lieutenant (Retired), Professional Standards Section, Collin County Sheriff's Office, Plano

Lieutenant Tony Bradley has been in law enforcement since 1986 and with the Collin County Sheriff’s Office since 1990. He recently retired as the Lieutenant over the Professional Standards Section. Previously he was the Lieutenant over Collin County Child Abuse Task Force, Patrol, and prior to that, a child abuse investigator for eight years, Tony was responsible for the investigation of over 2400 child physical & sexual abuse cases in rural Collin County and the 13 municipalities who are members of the task force. While an investigator he was named Collin County Child Advocate of the Year and CAC of Texas Law Enforcement of the year. Previous assignments include; Patrol, Crime Prevention and Narcotics including a two year assignment to a D.E.A. Task Force. Tony served on the C.C.S.O. Tactical Team for twenty years and served as team leader. He serves on numerous committees including; The Texas Criminal Justice Act Committee, Collin County Council on Family Violence, Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County Training Institute, Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County Emergency Management Team and Collin County Child Fatality Review Team. Tony is an Advanced Sexual Assault and Family Violence (SAFVIC) Instructor, TMPA Advanced Child Abuse Instructor, Firearms Instructor and TCLEOSE Instructor. He conducts training on a local, state and national level on the topic of sexual assault, child abuse, multi-disciplinary teams and developing a Rural Task Force.

MEREDITH CHACON

Assistant District Attorney, Bexar County

Meredith has been prosecuting CPS and criminal cases in Bexar County for 12 years. She was recently appointed by the Bexar County District Attorney to a new position where her sole focus is to be a liaison between law enforcement and CPS. Part of her position will be training both groups on what is important to ensure child safety and obtain a successful prosecution.


IRENE CLEMENTS

Public Policy Committee Chair, Texas Foster Families Association, Round Rock

Irene and her husband were foster parents for twenty-seven years and during that time fostered over 125 children with a wide variety of special needs. During that time they also adopted four children and are now enjoying seventeen incredible grandchildren and one great grandchild. Irene currently serves as the executive director of the National Foster Parent Association and public policy committee chair of the Texas Foster Family Association. She serves as the Chair of the EveryChild, Inc. Board of Directors and brings her knowledge of parenting children with disabilities to the organization as they work to bring children who have been institutionalized due to their disabilities home to families. Irene also serves on the Texas Children’s Justice Act Task Force and on the Collaborative Council to the Texas Supreme Court’s Permanent Commission on Children and Families. She also serves as a Board member of the SAFE Coalition for Human Rights, a national non-profit organization supporting sex-trafficking awareness, freedom, and empowerment domestically and internationally. Irene is well known for her unwavering advocacy work within the foster care arena and is often asked to provide testimony to the Texas Legislature on issues related to foster care and adoption. She is excited to provide foster care consultation services across the country.

DR. JAYME COFFMAN

Medical Director of the C.A.R.E. Team, Cook Children’s Medical Center, Fort Worth

Jamye Coffman, M.D. is the Medical Director of the C.A.R.E. Team at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.  Dr. Coffman completed medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and her residency in Pediatrics at Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Lubbock, Texas. She is board certified in general pediatrics and child abuse pediatrics as well as a Fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics.  She has been a pediatrician since 1990 and has specialized in child abuse since 1996.  She currently serves on the Tarrant County Child Fatality Review Team, Tarrant County Drug Endangered Children, and on the child abuse committee for the Texas Pediatric Society.  She frequently lectures on sexual and physical abuse across the state.

JON EVANS

Attorney, Lusk and Evans, Austin, Texas

Jon Evans is a criminal defense attorney practicing in Travis County, as well as the surrounding Central Texas counties. He has been representing both juveniles and adults facing misdemeanor and felony criminal charges in State and Federal Courts since 1993. Jon has extensive criminal trial experience in Austin, and in jurisdictions throughout Texas, and has represented people in some of the most notorious cases in Texas over the past 20 years. His representation runs the gamut, from people charged with DWI all the way to the those facing the death penalty. Jon has been board certified in criminal law for well over 10 years, and has been recognized as a member of the Texas Monthly "Super Lawyers" since its inception. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and received his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law. Jon is so dedicated to justice it hurts.

JESSE GONZALES

Attorney, Fort Stockton, Texas

Jesse Gonzales is an attorney in private practice, primarily representing adult and juvenile offenders in state and federal courts. After beginning his career in law enforcement, he decided to pursue his law degree at Texas Tech University. Jesse worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the 83rd Judicial District for a year before exploring private practice. He was elected Pecos County Attorney in 2000. He served eight years before being elected as the 83rd District Attorney, covering Pecos, Brewster, Presidio, and Jeff Davis counties. Jesse returned to private practice in 2013. He currently serves on the Pecos County Memorial Hospital Board of Managers. Jesse also served on the State Bar District 15D1 Grievance Committee, the Texas District and County Attorneys Association Board of Directors, the Texas Border Prosecution Unit, and the Fort Stockton Recreation Board. On Friday nights in the fall, he may be found anywhere from Alpine to Odessa, officiating high school football.

DENISE HYDE

Attorney at law, Law Office of Denise Hyde, Austin

Denise Hyde is a family law attorney at the Law Office of Denise Hyde. She is a member of the Family Law Sections of both the Austin Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas, and a founding member of the Austin Bar Foundation and the Court Appointed Family Attorneys of Travis County. She has presented numerous adoption trainings throughout the state and has received many awards for outstanding service to children and families, including the Travis County Women Lawyer’s Association’s Pro Bono Award and the Award of Appreciation in Recognition of Distinguished and Dedicated Service to Children and Families by the State Bar of Texas. She was recognized as a CASA Champion for Children in 2004. Ms. Hyde is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas School of Law.

ANN JOHNSON

Attorney at Law, Johnson Martinez LLC

Ann earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas and her law degree from South Texas College of Law. After graduation, she worked as a briefing attorney for the Honorable Leslie Brock Yates, then a Justice on the Fourteenth Court of Appeals. Afterward, Ann became a prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. In 2005, she left the District Attorney’s Office and entered private practice, where she represented citizens with civil, criminal and juvenile matters. Ann’s docket included the representation of many child victims of prostitution, and she was a founding member of the GIRLS Court, a special court dedicated to assisting children lawfully brought to the juvenile justice system who may also be victims of human trafficking. Ann also pursued an active appellate practice, litigating cases in the First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court. One of her most significant cases was In re B.W., in which the Texas Supreme Court reversed the Harris County District Attorney’s prosecution of a 13-year-old child for prostitution and created a framework for protecting child victims of exploitation and human trafficking. Ann is also an adjunct professor of law at South Texas College of Law. She teaches courses on voir dire and jury communication, trial skills, and mock trial litigation. Ann is a member of the American Leadership Forum’s Criminal Justice Fellows Program, a program designed to join and strengthen leaders involved in the criminal justice community.


GABRIEL  MARTINEZ, JR.
Captain, City of Laredo Police Department, Laredo

Gabriel Martinez has 29 years of law-enforcement experience in municipal policing. He currently manages Special Projects for the Laredo Police Department and serves as a member of the Webb County Advocacy Center Advisory Board. Gabriel also serves as a member of the South Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Executive Board.

LINDSAY MULLINS

Executive Director, State Government Affairs, BNSF Railway Company, Austin

Lindsay Mullins is a native of Austin, Texas who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in Government. She also received her law degree from Tulane Law School in New Orleans. Beginning in 1999, Lindsay worked for 3 members of the Texas House of Representatives and 2 members of the Texas Senate heavily focusing on criminal justice and child protection policy issues. She currently resides in Austin, Texas and is the Executive Director for State Government Affairs for BNSF Railway. Lindsay and her husband, Christian, enjoy travel, entertaining friends and New Orleans Saints football.

JULIE PRUDHOME

Clinical Director, Garth House Mickey Mehaffy Children's Advocacy Program, Inc., Beaumont

Julie Prudhome has served as a Counselor, Lead Counselor and now Clinical Director at the Garth House Mickey Mehaffy Children’s Advocacy Program, Inc. in Beaumont, Texas since 1997. Julie trains and supervises practicum students from Lamar University as well as a clinical staff of Licensed Professional Counselors and LPC Interns. She led the Garth House to shift to a Evidence-based Practice model for providing mental health services to abused children through participation in the Southern Regional CAC Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) Learning Collaborative beginning in May 2010. Julie and three other staff counselors from Garth House have completed a year-long training via telemedicine on Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) through the University of California-Davis. She has trained CASA volunteers in Southeast Texas since 1998 on the dynamics, effects and treatment of child sexual abuse. Julie has also provides training for CAC multidisciplinary teams on ethical issues specific to MDTs. A native of Pampa, Texas, she graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Julie also attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas where she earned a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling.

JOY RAULS

Executive Director, Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, Inc., Austin

Joy Rauls is the Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, Inc, the largest statewide association of children’s advocacy centers in the nation. Joy began her work with CACTX in 2007 as the Director of Community Relations. In this capacity she was responsible for the public policy and marketing initiatives for the association. Most recently, she has served as organization’s Associate Director. Prior to joining CACTX, Joy worked as the General Counsel and Chief of Staff to State Senator Florence Shapiro where she managed the day to day activities of the Senator’s offices and developed and directed the legislative agenda for the 80th Regular Session. While working in the Senate, Joy specialized in a variety of policy issues including child protective services, healthcare, criminal justice, and the state budget. Joy holds a BA in Government from the University of Texas at Austin and a Juris Doctorate from Southern Methodist University School of Law.

MONICA REYES

Parent Liaison, The Children's Partnership, Travis County Health and Human Services, Austin

Monica Reyes has worked with children living with mental illness and their families using the Wrap Around process and Systems of Care philosophy for nine years.  As a Parent Liaison at Travis County Office of Children services, she provides advocacy, crisis support, mental health education, community resource linkage and parent to parent support.  Monica, mother of two sons, utilizes her personal experience as a parent of two children living with mental health challenges to help families and community partners create a family driven plan for success. Monica has been a trainer of both Systems of Care and the Wrap Around process. Ms. Reyes received her Bachelor of Science degree in Family Studies at the University of New Mexico in 2003. Currently Monica Reyes is a board member of NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness and was on the board for Foundation Communities for three years. She also volunteers for Meals on Wheels and is involved at her church, Greater Mount Zion.


JEFF RICH

Detective, Plano Police Department

Detective Jeff Rich has been assigned to the Plano Police Department’s Family Violence Unit which is housed at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, as a child abuse and violent crimes investigator, since 2000. As a member of the multidisciplinary team, Jeff has investigated more than 4.500 child abuse and child exploitation cases. Additionally, Jeff investigates internet crimes against children and conducts online child exploitation investigations as a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal assigned to the FBI’s Violent Crime Against Children (VCAC) Task Force. In this capacity, Detective Rich also serves on the Technical Development Team of the FBI’s VCAC and the ICAC to aid in the development and implementation of the tools used worldwide to investigate these offenses. Detective Rich has received the Child Advocate of the Year award from the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, was awarded the U.S. Department of Justice Eagle Award and was awarded the U.S. Department of Justice William French Smith award for his work in online child exploitation investigations.


BETH SENGER

Chief Executive Officer, El Paso Center for Children

Elizabeth has been the CEO of the El Paso Center for Children from 2016 to the present. The El Paso Center for Children provides emergency shelter and counseling services. She led regional efforts to end youth homelessness, spearheading a committee to conduct a needs assessment. Prior to the El Paso Center for Children, she worked for the Big Brother and Sisters of El Paso around training, recruiting, and program development. She has her MSW from New Mexico State University and she graduated Summa cum Laude from Park College with her B.S. in Psychology.


CRAIG SPINN

Superintendent of Schools (Retired), Thorndale

Dr. Craig Spinn served as the Superintendent of Schools for Thorndale ISD. He previously served as the principal of Burnet High School in Burnet CISD. Before beginning his work in school administration, Craig served as a teacher and coach in Austin ISD and Ballinger ISD. A lifelong educator and advocate for children, he graduated from Angelo State University, received his Masters from Texas State University. Craig earned his Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Texas Tech University.

VICKI SPRIGGS

CEO, Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates, Austin

Vicki Spriggs is CEO of Austin-based Texas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), the statewide association of 71 local CASA programs that recruit and train volunteers to advocate for children in the child protection system. In 2014, 8,066 well-trained volunteers served 24,742 children in 207 of the 254 Texas counties. Texas CASA supports the local CASA programs by providing funding, training and technical assistance to program staff, board and volunteers. Additionally, Texas CASA works with other stakeholders in the child protection community to advocate for public policy designed to improve the child protection system. Vicki was executive director of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC) from August 1995 to January 2012. She began her career in juvenile justice as a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While working on her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in juvenile justice, Vicki was at different times a house parent in a group home for juvenile delinquents, a foster parent, and a juvenile program caseworker. She also served as an instructor for the University of Massachusetts Amherst and directed the university’s undergraduate academic juvenile justice program. Vicki left Massachusetts to join the faculty at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, serving as the human relations/student discipline specialist and ultimately as assistant director for a federal grant designed to study discipline problems in Norfolk’s secondary school system. Since arriving in Texas in 1981, she has worked as a University of Texas at Austin admissions counselor and for Travis County Juvenile Court as the director of the Informal Adjustment Unit. The majority of her time has been with TJPC, as a resource specialist and later as director of training/human resources and intergovernmental relations. Vicki became the executive director of TJPC in 1995. She is a member of the National CASA board of directors and an advisory council member of the PACE Youth Programs, Inc., a Houston-based program serving challenged adolescent youth and their families.

JIM SYLVESTER

Associate Commissioner for Investigations Divisions, DFPS

Jim Sylvester was appointed as DFPS Associate Commissioner for the Investigations Division in 2017. The Investigations Division oversees Child Protective Investigations, Child Care Licensing Investigations, Special Investigations, and assists with the Governor’s Human Sex Trafficking Prevention Program. Before this appointment, Jim served as Director of Special Investigations with DFPS. Prior to coming to DFPS, Jim spent 32 years in law enforcement, including his role as Chief Deputy for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office for 11 years. Jim received his undergraduate education from Texas State University and is also a distinguished graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Governor’s Executive Development Program, and a graduate of the FBI - Law Enforcement Executive Development Association.


NHUNG TRAN

Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician, Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, Temple

Dr. Nhung Tran is a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician with the Baylor Scott & White Healthcare system in Temple and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. Her subspecialty patient care emphasis is the diagnosis and management of children with developmental and/or behavioral disabilities, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, and in utero drug exposures. In 2012 Dr. Tran was named S.A. Scene Best Physician and received the Presidential Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Texas Pediatric Society, and the Society for Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics.

ANGELA TUCKER

Judge, 199th Judicial District Court, McKinney

Angela Tucker received her undergraduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin and attended law school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She currently is the presiding Judge of the 199th District Court in Collin County which is a general jurisdiction court hearing civil, criminal, and family law cases. Judge Tucker has vast legal knowledge and experience in the area of Child Protective Services cases. She is currently one of four District Court Judges that hear cases involving the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Tucker was in private practice for 16 years. During that time she represented children and parents in CPS cases. As a former prosecutor, she has also represented the State of Texas in CPS cases. Judge Tucker has also participated in CASA Training for many years. Judge Tucker also serves as a member of the Judicial Advisory Council, and numerous professional, political, and civic organizations.  She is a member of Friendship Baptist Church, currently serving on the Board of the Divine Daughters (Girls Mentoring Group), the Usher/Greeter Ministry, and the Bylaws Committee. Most of Judge Tucker’s free time is spent being a devoted wife and mother.

LAURA WOLF

Executive Director, CASA of Travis County, Austin

Laura Wolf has been the Executive Director at CASA of Travis County since September 2007. In this role, she runs a $3.7 million non-profit organization with 50 professional staff and over 600 volunteers serving more than 1,600 abused and neglected children each year. Laura serves as a member of the Executive Committee for the Travis County Model Court for Children, Youth and Families. Previously, she held leadership positions at the Texas Council on Family Violence and at SafePlace in Austin. Before entering the non-profit human services field, Laura was an attorney with the law firm of Brown McCarroll. Additionally, she has served as President and as Treasurer of The Junior League of Austin, and has received awards for her community service from SafePlace, the Dispute Resolution Center, The Junior League of Austin, the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, and Austin Under Forty. Laura received her B.A. from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, and her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, Austin, Texas.