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Board of Directors - Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy

Anne Sapp, Past President

Anne Sapp is the retired Director of Special Projects at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). HHSC administers nearly three dozen state and federal programs for low-income Texans, including food stamps, nutrition programs for hungry children and adults, health care coverage for low-income households through the Medicaid program, access to community-based programs for the elderly and people with disabilities, and regulation of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. 

Prior to joining HHSC in 1992, Ms. Sapp served in the Mississippi Governor’s Office in several positions. As Special Assistant for Health and Human Services, Ms. Sapp advised the Governor on emerging health and human services issues and served as the Governor’s liaison for state and non-governmental health and human services organizations. In the position of Director of Policy Management, Ms. Sapp was the liaison for the state legislature, minority groups and agency heads, and managed issues research and development. Ms. Sapp served as Chair of the Welfare Reform Inter-Agency Council, which included state agency heads, and representatives of private and non-profit service agencies, and had oversight of the state’s welfare reform plan.

Ms. Sapp’s previous positions have included Elementary School Teacher and Community Coordinator in the Office of Community Affairs, Boston Public Schools, and Director of Development at Mississippi Industrial College. Ms. Sapp received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Brandeis University, completed graduate study in urban education at the University of Massachusetts, and studied education administration at Tufts University.

Joel Martinez

Bishop Joel N. Martínez, an ordained elder of The United Methodist Church and a member of the Rio Texas Annual Conference, served for 32 years as a pastor, district superintendent, and missions executive before being elected to the Episcopacy in 1992 while serving as pastor of Emanu-El United Methodist Church in Dallas. He served as bishop in Nebraska for eight years and returned to serve as resident bishop of the San Antonio Episcopal Area from 2000–2008. He chaired the National Plan for Hispanic Ministry of the United Methodist Church from 1992–2000. He served as President of the General Board of Global Ministries for two quadrennia, 2000–2008. Since retiring in 2008, he organized and directs the Oral History Project on Hispanic/Latino United Methodism which is an affiliate of the General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church, He serves on the Board of Trustees of Lydia Patterson Institute, The Hispanic Cultural Center in San Antonio, the National Board of the Industrial Areas Foundation, and the Advisory Committee of Encounter with Christ, a Permanent Fund for mission in Latin America and the Caribbean. In retirement, he served as Interim General Secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries from September, 2009 – March, 2010.

Randy Smith, Treasurer

The Reverend Dr. T. Randall Smith is Past President of the Board of Directors of Texas Impact, and has served on the board in two different decades.  Dr. Smith is also a Past President of the Texas Conference of Churches.  His service to the communities in which he has resided has included board membership on social service and non-profit organizations including Child Protective Services, local housing authorities, and regional faith-based service providers. Dr. Smith has served the Texas Annual Conference in many capacities during his career, but the major focus of his service has been in the areas of ecumenism, social justice, and worship.  He has previously served as Conference Chairperson of Worship, Conference Chairperson of Peace with Justice and Peace and World Order, and Conference Chairperson of Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.  He presently is Chairperson of the Conference Social Principles Implementation Ministries work group, which includes ecumenical and social justice ministries.

Whit Bodman, Secretary

The Reverend Dr. Whitney Bodman is a faculty member at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where he teaches Comparative Religions. A 1977 M.Div. graduate of Duke Divinity School, Dr. Bodman was ordained in the United Church of Christ. He pastored churches in Massachusetts for twelve years, before returning to academia, receiving the Th.D. in Comparative Religion and Islamic Studies from Harvard Divinity School. During his ministry and schooling he has been involved in various interfaith organizations including the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches and the Massachusetts Conference of Churches’ Jewish-Christian and Muslim-Christian dialogues. His current research focuses on the Qur’an, modern Islam in the Middle East, and political theology. He is past president of Texas Impact and on the board of the related Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy. He was a board member of the Texas Conference of Churches until its demise in 2013. He is currently active in Interfaith Action (iACT) and Austin Interfaith and the NCC Jewish-Christian Dialogue and Local and Regional Ecumenism Committee. 

Dan Brinks

Dr. Daniel Brinks is Associate Professor of Government, in the fields of Comparative Politics and Public Law. Dan's research focuses on the role of the law and courts in supporting or extending human rights and many of the basic rights associated with democracy, with a primary regional interest in Latin America. He is currently at work on a project that examines constitutional change in Latin America since about 1975, focusing especially on judicial institutions and constitutional review. Other recent projects address the use of courts and law to enforce social and economic rights in the developing world, the development of the rule of law in Latin America, the judicial response to police violence in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, judicial independence, and the role of informal norms in the legal order. He is also interested in the study of democracy more generally, and has written on the classification of regimes in Latin America, and on the global diffusion of democracy. 

Beaman Floyd, President

Beaman Floyd is a consultant and lobbyist with more than 20 years of experience in public affairs. He owns his own lobby firm, and has worked on behalf of a variety of clients, among them property and casualty insurance companies and trade associations, public education associations, parents’ rights groups, local government subdivisions, higher education groups, and religious groups. His activities include legislative strategy and direct lobbying, media relations, grass roots strategy, and academic research. Mr. Floyd has been highly involved in several major policy issues in Texas, including property and casualty insurance reform, catastrophe policy, workers’ compensation reform, healthcare, public school finance, and higher education policy. He frequently represents clients in both the print and electronic media, both in Texas and nationally. He is also a regular guest lecturer to college faculty groups, in college classrooms, policy forums, and other political and educational settings. Prior to working in Texas, Mr. Floyd served on the legislative staff of the Louisiana House of Representatives with the Legal Division, which included the Civil Law, Criminal Justice, and Judiciary committees. He also worked with Louisiana Public Television. Floyd is a veteran of the United States Army where he served as an infantryman. 

John Pitts

John R. Pitts is the founder and managing principal of the Texas Star Alliance. He has nearly 25 years of experience working around the Texas Capitol. John served as general counsel to former Lt. Governor Bob Bullock and also served as chaplain to the Texas Senate. He has held leadership roles in several multi-national law firms and his expertise as an attorney and lobbyist is well-respected among policy makers across the country.

John has had the opportunity to develop and steward vital legislation on both state and national levels. While serving the lieutenant governor, John directed the effort to draft and pass the historic water legislation, SB 1. He has successfully represented clients from a broad range of industries including numerous Fortune 500 companies, major trade associations and national nonprofits.  His clients represent a cross section of legislative issues including: transportation, water, health, education (public and higher), technology, finance, tax, agriculture, affordable housing, appropriations, pensions, criminal justice, juvenile justice, ethics, insurance, gaming, and alternative energy.

John is a graduate of Southern Methodist University where he earned a BBA, MBA and a J.D. In addition, John has received a Master of Divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary. He has two sons and he and his wife, Bain, call both Houston and Austin home. He has been recognized as the 6th most influential lobbyist in Austin by the online publication, Capitol Inside.  He has been recognized as one of Texas’ Top Rated Lawyers in 2014 by Martindale-Hubbell and, selected by his peers, as one of the Best Lawyers in the United States in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and as a Top Lawyer in Austin and San Antonio in 2017. Big Brothers Big Sisters selected him as Board member of the year in 2010.

Deirdre Walsh, Vice President

Deirdre Walsh is Director of Marketing and Communications for Silicon Labs. From hackathons to IPOs, Deridre has spent the last 16 years building award-winning marketing programs at technology companies, including Silicon Labs, Jive Software, and National Instruments. Her passion for communications, equality and education earned her a spot as a White House LGBTQ Tech & Innovation Fellow under President Obama. Deirdre has been published in several outlets, including the Harvard Business Review and Wall Street Journal, and a speaker at events like SXSW and The Federal Reserve Annual Conference. Deirdre is a proud graduate of The University of Texas, wife to her partner of 11 years, and mom to a goofy labradoodle. Her superpower is finding the perfect .gif for any situation. 

Steve Scheibal

Steve Scheibal is a Principal at Influence Opinions, where he specializes in media and messaging strategy, crisis communications, and alignment of a wide variety of tools and tactics to help clients achieve their goals. Before coming to Influence Opinions, Steve served as the Director of Media Relations and Community Engagement for the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin where he directed media and community relations for the first new medical school in decades to be built on a Tier 1 research university campus. There, he served as a primary conduit between the medical school and the public, working with journalists, industry experts, and community leaders to raise awareness of the school, increase understanding of its mission, and execute communications and public relations strategies designed to help make Austin a model healthy city. Before joining inaugural Dean Clay Johnston’s staff, Steve was Policy and Communications Director for Texas State Senator Kirk Watson. There he managed external communications for the Senate Democratic Caucus leader, oversaw crisis communications, and coordinated strategy and messaging with other groups and partners. He also managed communications efforts for the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus and served (in a volunteer capacity) as communications director for the campaign to pass Proposition 1, a wide-ranging — and successful — 2012 ballot initiative to support a UT Austin medical school and other health care initiatives in Travis County. 

Thomas Ratliff

Thomas Ratliff began his work as a legislative consultant as Director of External Affairs for AT&T Wireless Services. In 1998, he opened Ratliff Company and began consulting for many top industries in Texas. Clients have included Fortune 500 companies and trade associations in telecommunications, Internet and software technology, electric utility, insurance, nursing, and other industries such as economic and business development. In 2010, he was elected to the State Board of Education and was re-elected in 2012 to a term that ends in 2016. In 2013, he worked with Michael Morton to pass the "The Michael Morton Act" which was the first major criminal justice reform in Texas in many years.

Matthew Dowd

Matthew DowdA renowned entrepreneur and strategist, Matthew Dowd is widely viewed as one of the most independent and creative thought leaders in America today.  As a bestselling author interpreting change in America and the globe, Dowd is out with a groundbreaking book on leadership in this disruptive and crucial moment titled A New Way: Embracing the Paradox as We Lead and Serve.  Serving as chief political analyst for ABC News, Dowd regularly brings his insights on cultural, economic and spiritual trends to Good Morning America, Nightline, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos providing a common sense perspective.  Dowd has worked both sides of the aisle serving Presidents, Governors, and Senators, but now considers himself a vehement independent.  This included serving as strategist for President George W. Bush, Lt. Governor Bob Bullock, and US Senator Lloyd Bentsen.  For his innovative political work, he was awarded Strategist of the Year by the bipartisan American Association of Political Consultants.  His plea for our politics today is for leaders put Country over Party which he started an online community to encourage this approach. Dowd’s most recent startup is a venture firm, Paradox Capital, investing in early stage locally driven for profit, for good businesses. His desire is to bridge capitalism and social consciousness to help bring solutions to our communities. Over the years Dowd has given advice to Bono and the One campaign, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the NBA.  He is currently a senior fellow at the University of Southern California Annenberg Center on Communication and has taught seminars at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, University of Chicago, and The University of Texas at Austin. Dowd lives in Wimberley, Texas and is the proud father of three sons and a beautiful daughter.