Offices of General Counsel

Speakers

OGC Legal Conference
Body

SPEAKERS

Trey Atchley

Kristi Godden

Ana Vieira Ayala

Lowell Keig

Cristina Blanton

Jason King

Jennifer Burnett

Matt Lamkin

Amanda Cochran-McCall

Chicora Martin

Steve Collins

Ashley Palermo

Tony Cucolo

Paul Parsons

Angela Colmenero

David Rivela

Arthur Culpepper

Leah Stewart

Bob Davis

Cynthia Tynan

Ross Fischer

Janet Walker Farrer

Erin Fonte

Royce West

Frank Garcia

Jeff Wurzburg

Melissa Garcia
Darren Gibson

 

BIOGRAPHIES

Trey Atchley, Chief Inquiry Officer
The University of Texas System

Trey Atchley serves as the Chief Inquiry Officer for the U.T. System. His responsibilities include conducting and managing investigations involving allegations of misconduct requested by the chancellor, board of regents, deputy chancellor, and chief compliance and risk officer. He also assists, conducts, and oversees investigations referred by the fourteen U.T. Institutions. He maintains contracts with external investigators and works closely with the general counsel, chief audit executive, executive officers and law enforcement. Mr. Atchley leads the U.T. System Triage Team consisting of representatives from compliance, legal, human resources, audit, and health and academic affairs.

 

Ana Vieira Ayala, Assistant General Counsel, Public Information Officer
The University of Texas System, Office of General Counsel

Ana Vieira Ayala joined the General Law Section in September 2013, and serves as an Assistant General Counsel, Public Information Coordinator.  Before joining the Office of General Counsel, she served over four years as an Assistant Attorney General in the Open Records Division of the Office of the Attorney General. 

Ms. Vieira Ayala received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center in 2008 and her B.S. in Psychology from Texas State University in 2004.  

 

Cristina Blanton, Associate Systemwide Compliance and Privacy Officer 
The University of Texas System

Cristina Blanton serves as the Associate Compliance and Privacy Officer for the U.T. System. She specializes in privacy protection laws, including HIPAA and FERPA, and serves as the designated HIPAA Privacy Officer for System. Cristina provides specialized training and legal guidance to system administration and system institutions on all matters related to privacy and data protection. Cristina has extensive experience in advising, collaborating and providing state and local government entities and officials with an understanding of complex and ever-evolving laws and regulations. Prior to joining the Systemwide Compliance Office, Cristina worked for the Texas Association of School Boards as Senior Attorney and Special Risks Consultant, advising Texas school districts on issues involving Title IX, student privacy, data security, breach response, and myriad other school-business matters.

 

Jennifer Burnett, Attorney, Public Information Coordinator
The University of Texas System, Office of General Counsel

Jennifer Burnett serves as an Attorney and Public Information Coordinator in the General Law Section. Prior to joining the Office of General Counsel in January 2015, she served over four years as an Assistant Attorney General in the Open Records Division of the Office of the Attorney General. 

Ms. Burnett received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 2008 and her B.A. in Psychology from New York University in 2004.

 

Amanda Cochran-McCall, Associate Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation

Amanda Cochran-McCall serves as the Associate Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation. In this role, she is part of the executive team responsible for managing and directing the Office of the Attorney General’s twelve civil litigation divisions. Those divisions include over 600 employees that work to deliver legal services for Texas in over 27,000 cases in state and federal courts. Before assuming this role, she served as an Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Chief in the General Litigation Division. While in that division, she was a core litigation team member defending constitutional challenges to Texas’s school finance system in the longest school finance trial in Texas history. Amanda earned her Bachelor of Journalism, with a focus in photojournalism, from The University of Texas at Austin. She earned her law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law.

On weekends, you can find Amanda with her husband, Trey, at the various soccer fields around Austin cheering on her two school-age children, while trying to discern the finer points of what it means to be offsides.

 

Steve Collins, Of Counsel
Andrews Kurth Kenyon, LLP

Steve Collins is the former Associate Vice Chancellor and Special Counsel at The University of Texas System, from which he retired effective June 1. While at U.T. System, Steve served for a period as Interim Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, as well as Interim Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations. Prior to his service at U.T. System, Steve had a career of almost 30 years at the Texas Legislature, where he retired as Chief Legislative Counsel and Executive Director at the Texas Legislative Council, and where he also served as Parliamentarian for the Texas House of Representatives. In retirement, Steve has associated in a part-time role as Of Counsel in the public law area of the law firm of Andrews Kurth Kenyon, LLP. 

The law firm has no responsibility for what he presents, what he says, or how he says it. The firm hired him without ever having seen one of his legislative updates.

Angela Colmenero, Chief of the General Litigation Division
Office of the Attorney General of Texas

Angela V. Colmenero currently serves as the Chief of the General Litigation Division at the Office of the Attorney General. The division defends state agencies, elected and appointed state officials, and state employees in civil rights litigation including employment litigation. Such suits include whistleblower claims, tenure denials, claims of discrimination, student dismissals, and First and Fourteenth Amendment constitutional claims. Ms. Colmenero previously served as an Assistant Attorney General in the General Litigation Division and as the Deputy Chief of the Special Litigation Division. Before joining the Office of the Attorney General, she was a judicial law clerk for then-Chief Judge A. Joe Fish of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas and practiced law in the litigation sections of Jones Day and Lynn, Tillotson, Pinker, and Cox in Dallas, Texas. Ms. Colmenero received her undergraduate degree in Government from The University of Texas at Austin and her law degree from Notre Dame Law School.

 

Tony Cucolo, Associate Vice Chancellor for Leadership Development and Veterans Affairs 
the University of Texas System

Tony Cucolo joined the University of Texas System in May of 2015 as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Leadership Development and Veterans Affairs. His duties include leader development of students and executive leadership as well as providing focused support for all veterans and military affiliated students and employees across the System. 

Tony served more than 35 years in the U.S. Army, retiring at the rank of Major General in September 2014. As a General Officer in the last eleven years of his military career, he led Soldiers in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, led analysis teams in combat zones and on natural disaster recovery efforts such as Hurricane Katrina, and commanded the largest Army base east of the Mississippi. Additionally, during this time period, Tony developed a $35B equipment program for the Army, served as the U.S. Army’s Chief of Public Affairs, and was Commandant of the U.S. Army War College. Tony earned a bachelor’s degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco. 

He and Ginger, his wife of more than 34 years, have three grown children, a devoted Great Dane, and recently made their 27th move to an 80 year old fixer-upper in East Austin. 

 

Arthur L. Culpepper, Executive Director and Deputy Compliance Officer
The University of Texas System

Arthur L. Culpepper, Ph.D., FACHE serves as the Executive Director and Deputy Compliance Officer for the U.T. System. His responsibilities include leadership, direction, and oversight of Systemwide Compliance, and providing relevant direction and resources to the institutional compliance offices.

Arthur has over 26 years’ experience in the healthcare industry, with leadership and operations, enterprise risk management, revenue cycle management and analysis, physician alignment and relations knowledge. His experience also includes military medicine, public health, correctional medicine, telemedicine, Indian health services, and hospital based medicine, with expertise and understanding in the area of population heath management. 

Arthur earned a B.A. in Psychology from Abilene Christian University, an M.A. in Health Services Management from Webster University, and a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico. He holds the designation of Board Certified Fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force.

 

Bob Davis, Open Records Coordinator
The University of Texas at Austin

Bob Davis has been working with Texas public information law for 9 years. Bob is currently employed as the Open Records Coordinator for The University of Texas at Austin, a position he has held since late 2015. Previously, he served as a drafting attorney in the Office of the Attorney General’s Open Records Division, as an attorney in Governor Perry’s General Counsel Division, and as open records attorney for the Texas Department of Insurance. He earned a B.S. in Mathematics from The University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and a J.D. from The University of Houston Law Center in 2008.

 

Ross Fischer
The Gober Group

Ross Fischer is a leading expert in the areas of political law, professional ethics, and public integrity matters. He counsels elected officials, candidates, trade associations, political committees, and corporations in these matters, and he is routinely retained by municipalities, public entities, and quasi-governmental organizations to advise them in these complex areas of the law. 

Ross recently served as a clinical professor at The University of Texas School of Law and as the inaugural Chairman of the Legislative and Campaign Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. 

Prior to working with the Gober Group, Ross was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Texas Ethics Commission, the agency with jurisdiction over officeholders, campaigns, political committees, and lobbyists in Texas. He served as a Commissioner from 2005 through 2010 and was elected to be the Commission’s Chairman for one year. In 2014, the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Joe Straus, appointed Ross to serve on the Select Interim Committee to Study Ethics Laws.

 

Erin Fonte, Member
Dykema Cox Smith

Erin Fonte is a Member and FinTech/payments lawyer with Dykema Cox Smith. She is head of the Financial Services Regulatory and Compliance group and the FinTech, Payments and Digital Commerce group, and Co-Head of the firm’s Privacy and Data Security group. She regularly advises financial institutions and alternative payment providers regarding mobile banking, mobile payments and mobile wallet products and services. Erin also has extensive experience in representing her client base, with regard to software as a service and cloud computing agreements for third party vendors, and has advised educational institutions regarding such services for payments and other third party products and services. Erin has experience with a broad range of matters related to financial technology, banking and financial services, digital commerce, technology/Internet products, privacy and data protection laws, and general corporate matters. She frequently writes and speaks on payments, mobile payments and privacy/data security issues.

 

Frank Garcia, Senior Legal Officer 
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Frank Garcia joined the University of Texas Medical Branch in 2012. As Senior Legal Officer (Immigration) he is responsible for representing the university in connection with immigration and visa matters as well as managing the Office of International Affairs within the Department of Legal Affairs. He provides guidance on all aspects of immigration law to UTMB’s departments and personnel, not only with respect to preparing and filing visa petitions for employees but also with respect to policy development, worksite enforcement and compliance issues. He serves as the Responsible Officer for UTMB’s J-1 Exchange Visitor Program and has been appointed to the university’s Export Control Compliance Committee and Postdoctoral Advisory Committee (ex-officio).

Prior to coming to UTMB, he practiced immigration law with Houston-based Harry Gee, Jr. & Associates, focusing heavily on employment-based visas, naturalization and appeals. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and English from Rice University, and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Texas School of Law. He is licensed to practice law in Texas.
 


Melissa Garcia, Assistant General Counsel
The University of Texas System, Office of General Counsel

Melissa Villarreal Garcia is an Assistant General Counsel in the General Law Section of The University of Texas System Office of General Counsel who provides legal counsel on a broad range of higher education legal issues, including employment, admissions, tuition and fees, student conduct, and civil rights law. Melissa received a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A & M University and a law degree from South Texas College of Law. After law school, Melissa was an associate at Jenkens & Gilchrist, P.C. in Houston, Texas. She later moved to Austin and practiced administrative law, civil litigation, and employment law at Strasburger & Price, LLP. Immediately before joining the Office of the General Counsel, Melissa worked as an attorney in the General Law Division of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, where she focused her practice on employment law and ethics.

 

Darren Gibson, Shareholder
Littler

Darren G. Gibson is a seasoned litigator with extensive experience in federal and state courts across the country. 

Darren’s practice focuses on defending private and public-sector employers and individuals in a range of employment-related disputes, including individual and class action discrimination claims, wage and hour collective actions, whistleblower suits, First Amendment retaliation, and non-compete agreements, among others. He has litigated cases before courts across Texas, including first-chair jury trials, and he has argued appeals before the Fifth and Ninth Circuits. Darren also represents employers in administrative investigations and proceedings and regularly advises his clients on compliance with federal and state employment laws. Darren is board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. 

Darren also has extensive experience defending universities, school districts and individuals in employment and Title IX litigation and conducting investigations on behalf of universities and school districts into employee misconduct and Title IX compliance. In addition, Darren serves as an independent Title IX hearing officer in university appeal hearings. 

Prior to his return to private practice, Darren served an assistant attorney general in the General Litigation Division of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, where he defended state agencies and universities in employment litigation and class actions. Before coming to Texas, Darren was a senior associate in New York City, where his practice focused on securities litigation, internal investigations, and business disputes in the accounting and financial services industries.

 

Kristi Godden, Associate Attorney
O’Hanlon, Demerath & Castillo 

After graduating from law school at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law in 2011, Kristi joined the Open Records Division at the Office of the Attorney General of Texas. As an Assistant Attorney General, Kristi’s practice focused on the confidentiality of governmental records under the Texas Public Information Act, as well as federal and state law. As an associate at O’Hanlon, Demerath & Castillo, Kristi primarily represents Texas school districts and continues to specialize in issues involving the confidentiality and maintenance of government records, including records retention; FERPA and student records; and accessibility of records as required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and their implementing regulations.

 

Lowell Keig, Director of the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division
Texas Workforce Commission

Lowell Keig has served as the Director of the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division since May of 2013. Prior to joining the Division, Lowell practiced law in employment, housing and other areas as an attorney in private law firms, as the General Counsel of a behavioral health care system, and as a Division Chief and Deputy Chief at the Office of the Attorney General. He has also served the public as a prosecutor. Lowell serves on the Board of Directors of the Austin Bar Foundation. He also participates on the Board of Kids in a New Groove, a non-profit providing mentorship to foster children through private music lessons, and is the Immediate Past Chair. Lowell is a former Board Member of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. In addition, Lowell is an alumnus of the Texas Lyceum Association, a state-wide leadership and issues discussion forum. Lowell received a law degree from The University of Texas School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Trinity University.

 

Jason King, Associate Systemwide Compliance Officer and Ethics Officer
The University of Texas System

Jason King serves as the Associate Systemwide Compliance Officer and Ethics Officer for the U.T. System. He provides guidance on a number of issues, including conflicts of interest, nepotism, gifts, honorarium, and political activity. 

Before joining the Systemwide Compliance Office, Jason worked for the U.T. System Office of General Counsel, where he was responsible for providing legal and ethical counsel, training and assistance to administrators Systemwide. Jason has also previously served as an Assistant General Counsel of the Texas Ethics Commission. 

He received his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and his law degree from Baylor University. Jason is a member of the Texas State Bar and earned Municipal Law Certification from the Texas Municipal League. 

 

Matt Lamkin, Associate Professor
University of Tulsa College of Law

Matt Lamkin is an Associate Professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law. His scholarship explores the intersection of law, medicine, and ethics, with a particular focus on how an increasingly consumer-driven medical marketplace is reshaping our understandings of disease and disability, informed consent and personal responsibility, and the role of government in regulating health care. Prior to entering academia, Matt practiced as a litigator at Latham & Watkins, served as a law clerk to a federal judge, and worked as a policy advisor to the Mayor of Indianapolis. He earned an A.B. degree in Sociology at Princeton University, a J.D. at Northwestern University Law School, and an M.A. in Bioethics at the University of Minnesota, and served as a Fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Law and the Biosciences.

 

Chicora Martin, Vice President and Dean of Students
Mills College

Dr. Chicora Martin is currently the Vice President and Dean of Students for Mills College in Oakland, CA. Before coming to Mills, Chicora was at the University of Oregon for fourteen years serving as the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Education and Support Services while also leading the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence and Bias Response Team. Chicora’s national leadership positions include past co-chair for the National Consortium of LGBT Resource Professionals, ACPA Senior Student Affairs Officer Advisory board and former member of the Standing Committee for LGBT Concerns and Region V Knowledge Community Chair for LGBT Issues for NASPA. Chicora’s research interests include the intersections of higher education policy, gender identity and ethnic identity. Past presentations have focused on gender identity, LGBTQ+ engagement and support, Title IX and policy development, multiethnic/queer identity, bystander intervention, and campus climate.

 

Ashley Palermo, Senior Attorney
The University of Texas System, Office of General Counsel

Ashley Palermo is a senior attorney in the General Law Section of the Office of General Counsel, and she specializes in employment, tort, and civil rights law.

Ashley received her BS in Genetics from Texas A&M University, and she received her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School.  Following law school, Ashley practiced employment law and complex commercial litigation at Bryan Cave LLP in Atlanta, Georgia. Immediately prior to joining the Office of General Counsel, she was the Administrative General Counsel for the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal. 

 

Paul Parsons, Attorney
Paul Parsons, PC

Paul received a B.A. in Political Science in 1973 from Oklahoma State University and a juris doctorate degree in 1977 from the University of Texas School of Law. He was appointed in 1992 by Governor Ann Richards as Chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Immigration. Paul is the first recipient of the Sam Williamson Memorial Award “for excellence in advancing the practice of immigration law.” 

Paul served as a Director on the Board of Governors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) from 1990-1996 and is the former Chairman of the Texas-Oklahoma-New Mexico Chapter. He was awarded the AILA Texas Chapter’s Service Award in 1990 “for his contributions to the practice of immigration law” and the National AILA Pro Bono Award for his efforts to provide pro bono immigration representation. 

Paul previously served as Chairman of AILA’s Committee on Consumer Protection. He served for fifteen years as the Chairman of the State Bar of Texas’ Committee on Laws Relating to Immigration (1990-2005). He previously was a member of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Immigration Law. Paul served as Chairman of the Examinations Committee on Immigration for the Texas Board of Legal Specialization from 1986-1995. He is a life fellow member of the Texas Bar Foundation. Paul also served as President of the Austin Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He has also served as an Attorney Consultant to the Government of Mexico.

Paul is fluent in Spanish and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White). He has been voted as a “Texas Super Lawyer” from 2002 to present. Paul served as President of the Austin Kiwanis from 1999-2000. He has been recognized with Martindale Hubbell’s highest “AV” rating and he has received the highest Avvo rating as a “Superb” lawyer. 
 

 

David Rivela, Senior Trial Attorney
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

David Rivela is a Senior Trial Attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission assigned to the San Antonio Field Office and has litigated employment discrimination cases for the EEOC since 2001. Before joining the EEOC, he served as a Trial Attorney with the Solicitor's Office of the United States Department of Labor from 1997 until 2002, where he litigated cases involving a number of federal laws, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Mine Safety and Health Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act. Before joining the United States Department of Labor, he was employed as a Judicial Law Clerk for the United States Immigration Court through the United States Department of Justice Honors Program. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Pennsylvania and a Juris Doctor degree from St. Mary's University School of Law. 

David is a past President of the San Antonio Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and also served on the Federal Bar Association’s Ethics Committee. He is a frequent lecturer on topics involving various aspects of labor and employment law. He is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. 

 

Leah Stewart, Associate Vice President for Legal Affairs
Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin

Leah Stewart joined The University of Texas at Austin in 2017 as the Associate Vice President for Legal Affairs for Dell Medical School. 

Leah has approximately fourteen years’ experience in healthcare and regulatory law, with an emphasis on managed care and government programs. In her healthcare practice as a shareholder with Beatty Bangle Strama PC and an associate with Vinson & Elkins LLP, she represented industry stakeholders on managed care contracting and disputes; regulation of healthcare providers and health plans; insurance and risk issues; managed Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid reimbursement, including supplemental payments; the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and state privacy issues; Texas legislative and rulemaking initiatives; federal and state fraud and abuse laws; and various other healthcare transactions. 

Leah received her bachelor of science in Genetics from Texas A&M University and her doctor of jurisprudence from the University of Virginia School of Law. She clerked for The Honorable Emilio M. Garza of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals from 2002 to 2003. 

 

Cynthia Tynan, Senior Attorney, Public Information Coordinator
The University of Texas System, Office of General Counsel

Cynthia Tynan joined the General Law Section in January 2014, and handles open records and FERPA. Before joining the Office of General Counsel, Cynthia. Tynan served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Open Records Division of the Office of the Attorney General, and as a Commission Appeals attorney for the Texas Workforce Commission. Cynthia received her J.D. from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and her M.B.A and B.A. in English from The University of Alabama. 

 

Janet Walker Farrer, General Counsel and Insurance Legal Department Chair
Ascension Care Management

Janet Walker is the current General Counsel for Ascension Care Management and the Insurance Legal Department Chair with Ascension. In this role, Janet is the main point of contact and source of legal expertise for managed care and insurance products and services. She provides leadership, legal services, advice, and assistance on legal matters in support of Ascension’s direct subsidiaries that provide managed care and insurance products and services. 

Prior to taking this role, Janet was the Senior Director of Strategy and Regulatory Affairs for Seton Insurance Services (SIS), a division within the Seton Healthcare Family. At SIS, Janet worked directly with the SIS President and Chief Executive Officer to develop and implement business and legal strategies for the division. Before joining SIS, Janet previously held a position within the Seton Healthcare Family as Senior Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, where she provided legal support and counsel for SIS. 

Before joining the Seton Healthcare Family, Janet practiced law with international law firms Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Greenberg Traurig. While in private practice, Janet primarily worked in the firms’ respective Insurance Regulatory and Governmental Affairs practice groups, but also contributed to and participated in significant commercial-litigation and corporate-law matters. Prior to working in private practice, Janet worked as in-house counsel for Scotts Miracle Gro in Marysville, Ohio. 

 

Royce West, Senator 
Texas State Senate (23rd Senatorial District - Dallas County)
Managing Partner, West and Associates, LLP

Royce West was first elected to the Texas Senate in November 1992. Since taking office, he has represented the 23rd Senatorial District on behalf of the citizens of Dallas County in the Texas Legislature. During his tenure, Senator West has been named by Texas Monthly as one of the 25 most powerful people in Texas politics, been selected for the magazine's biennial “Ten Best Legislators in Texas” list, and has twice been named as an “Honorable Mention.” Senator West has also received mention on the Associated Press' “Movers and Shakers” list, as well as the Texas Insider's "Best Legislators" list.

Senator West is Vice Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee and is a member of Senate committees on Administration, Education, and Finance. During the 83rd legislative session, the senator served on the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, and the Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Education Governance, Excellence & Transparency. 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);

- 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, Dallas' first state-supported, four-year university, a new law school in downtown Dallas, and a Pharmacy school. Financial aid and funding for the TEXAS grants programs have been priorities as well. 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.

 

Senator West passed legislation which 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. During the 2017 Session, he was able to pass legislation to make the kinship care provisions permanent. As chairman of the Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee in 2011, the senator also successfully authored a package of bills to address burdensome practices of homeowners' associations.

 

Senator West is a champion for public education, including new programs that provide curriculum choices for public schools. He has promoted school and student accountability efforts, opposed A-F implementation and fights tirelessly for more funding and educational resources for Texas school children.

 

As one of the original authors of the Top 10% Rule that provides automatic admission to state universities for Texas high school students who graduate at the top of their classes, Senator West has continued his advocacy for the program and has successfully lead efforts to oppose those who would abolish it.

 

Senator West passed legislation that placed in-car video in Texas law enforcement patrol vehicles. He followed the precedent set of providing law enforcement with up-to-date technology by passing comprehensive legislation in that established statewide policy on the use of body-worn cameras and provided funding to assist police and sheriffs' departments with the operation of a body camera program.

 

Senator West's advocacy for public safety and criminal justice reform continued during the 2017 Legislative Session with his work to pass a bill which will provide grant money to law enforcement agencies for the purchase of high-grade, bulletproof vests. SB30 will instruct citizens and officers on how they should respond during traffic stops and other interactions. Updates to the state's driver training manual will include similar information. In addition, other legislation passed by Senator West during the 85th Session will require Texas law enforcement agencies to record the interrogations of those arrested on felony charges.

 

To promote inclusiveness in the procurement practices of state agencies in working with Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs), Senator West created the Doing Business Texas Style - Spot Bid Contract Fair” and regularly sponsors procurement workshops and seminars. And with the goal of creating greater employment opportunities for Dallas County residents, in 2015 Senator West instituted the D23 Goes 2 Work Job Fair which joins employers and those seeking employment at employment fairs, all held in southern Dallas County locations.

 

In addition to his senatorial duties, Senator West is the managing partner in the law firm of West & Associates, L.L.P. He is also a caring father to his children, a grandfather and devoted husband to Carol R. West, CPA, as well as an active deacon of Good Street Baptist Church.

 

Jeff Wurzburg, Attorney
HHS Office of the General Counsel

Jeff J. Wurzburg is an attorney with the HHS Office of the General Counsel, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Division (CMSD), Program Review Group. Jeff provides advice to CMS on a variety of program review matters related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including regulations and guidance related to 1332 waivers, Affordable Insurance Exchanges, network adequacy, the premium stabilization programs, and insurance affordability programs. He assists with litigation involving the ACA such as King v. Burwell, House v. Price, and the risk adjustment and risk corridors programs. He has also advised the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation on the development and testing of innovative health care payment and service delivery models. Prior to joining HHS in 2012, he served as an Associate Deputy General Counsel in the Office of General Counsel at the Department of Defense and was an Associate at a private law firm in Alexandria, Virginia. Jeff has also worked for Senator Evan Bayh and was a legal fellow for Representative Henry Waxman. 

Jeff received his B.A. in Political Science from Indiana University and his J.D. from Drake University Law School. He has also received an LL.M. in health law and policy from American University Washington College of Law.