Ricardo Martinez (he/him)
Ricardo joined Equality Texas as its CEO in December of 2019 following a national search. Ricardo is a first generation immigrant from Mexico who grew up in Brooklyn, New York and attended public schools through high school. He was the second person of his immediate family to graduate high school and the first to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. Ricardo was called to a career as an advocate for equity and inclusion after participating in a program called Council for Unity in junior high school. Council for Unity focused on leadership development, self-expression, mediation, conflict resolution, mindfulness and advocacy. Ricardo credits his participation with helping him to uncover his passion and life purpose for mission-based work.
After post-secondary education, Ricardo amassed seventeen years of nonprofit fundraising, organizing, advocacy, and leadership experience with organizations like PENCIL, Summer Search, GLSEN, and Stand for Children. Most recently at Stand for Children, Ricardo lead a national organizing and constituent engagement effort for five years. Immediately prior to his tenure at Stand for Children, he spent several years with GLSEN; initially as Senior Manager of Field Services on the national team in NYC and later as the President of the Phoenix Chapter. Under Ricardo’s leadership, GLSEN Phoenix was an instrumental coalition partner in overturning Arizona’s “no promo homo” law, which prohibited K-12 schools from including LGBTQ representation, content, and history in their curriculum.
Ricardo has an undergraduate degree from Stony Brook University, and a master’s degree in nonprofit management from The New School in New York City. He was honored by the Obama Administration as an emerging LGBTQ Leader in 2012 and recently awarded the Stony Brook University’s 40 Under 40 award for the impact he has had in Civil Service and Activism since graduating from the university.
Caden Campbell (they/them)
Caden is Equality Texas’ Development Associate. They came to Austin three years ago by way of Eureka Springs, Arkansas where they lived in a log cabin and served as the Stewardship Writer for a non-profit big cat rescue and sanctuary.
With a degree in English Language and Literature from Sweet Briar College, Caden’s research interests have included the historical “outsider” in largely cis-heteronormative societies. Their thesis, “A Witch, Who is Not? Gender Instability and the Renaissance Witch,” explored witchcraft as not a religious crime, but the crime of transcending gender in binary England. Their most recent publication was a co-authored chapter in Genny Beeman’s Trans People in Higher Ed (SUNY Press, 2019), which explored the personal experiences of a queer librarian and a trans student in a Southern women’s college, calling for more inclusive policies regarding the admittance and retention of trans students.
Today, they live in Austin with their wife, Jennifer and animal companions, Gumbo, Rigatoni, and Agatha Christie.
Sarah Lynn Chavez (she/her)
Sarah is Equality Texas’ Development Director and uses she/her pronouns. Her development background began at environmental law firms on the West Coast, but Texas kept calling her home. Sarah joined Equality Texas in 2019, melding her activism with her skillset. She has loved meeting community members, learning more about the legislative process, and dancing her heart out at Equality Texas’ first and second annual galas. She’s a seventh-generation Texan from Bexar County, has lived in nearly every town on I-35, and currently resides in Fort Worth with her spouse, Matty.
Angela Hale (she/her)
Angela is a Dallas native, a former Emmy Award-winning TV reporter and veteran journalist at CBS KTVT Channel 11 in Dallas Fort Worth. She is the managing partner of Red Media Group, a strategic communications and public affairs company. She led communications efforts for the legalization of gay marriage for the Akin Gump Law Firm and the Texas plaintiffs and has been leading lobby and communications strategy at Equality Texas since 2015.
Angela has also served in executive leadership for Speaker of the House and for the Office of the Attorney General. She led communications and lobby strategy during the 2017 legislative session for Equality Texas, and the business coalition against LGBTQ discrimination defeated the bathroom bill twice. During the 2019 legislative session, she spearheaded Equality Texas communication and lobby efforts and led the Texas Welcomes All Business Coalition that included Texas Competes, Texas Welcomes All, Tech Net and the North Texas Commission defeating dozens of discriminatory bills. Angela also served as the Equality Texas Interim CEO in the summer and fall of 2019.
Rachel Hill (she/her)
Rachel is the Community Outreach and Engagement Manager (North) for Equality Texas. She’s advocated for Texans for five years, over two Texas legislative sessions, and is committed to increasing understanding of and access to the advocacy process. Prior to joining Equality Texas, she worked with the Dallas Regional Chamber to increase quality of life and opportunity for the Dallas region. She’s a lifelong Texan and when the legislature is not in session, she lives in Dallas where you can usually find her (in non-pandemic times) at a coffee shop laughing with friends.
Debi Jackson (she/her)
Debi has a degree in Journalism and spent 20 years working in corporate communications, advertising, and marketing. She became an advocate for transgender rights in 2014 when her speech about her daughter's transition at the age of 4 went viral. She has been interviewed by media across the US, the UK, France, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa, Colombia and Brazil about trans youth and the importance of family support. She was awarded the 2016 NEA GLBT Caucus Role Model Award for her contributions to education about the LGBTQ+ community. She leads digital communications for Equality Texas.
Javier Osorio (he/him)
As a first generation immigrant from Peru, Controller Javier Osorio earned a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in Accounting from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He joined the Equality Texas staff in August 2017, after the 85th Special Legislative Session ended. As a talented financial accountant specializing in financial planning, reporting and analysis, Javier is excited to also provide a positive, can-do attitude to the team.
Robert Salcido (he/him)
Robert Salcido is the Community Outreach and Engagement Manager with Equality Texas and also serves as the Executive Director at Pride Center San Antonio. Salcido is committed to civic engagement and social justice of underrepresented individuals. He is active in various community roles and has extensive experience working with issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, LGBTQ+ education, and discrimination. He is a fellow with the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program supported by the University of Minnesota where he is a principal investigator studying LGBTQ+ health and resilience in South Texas. Robert was named Most Influential by Out In SA Magazine and 20 Most Captivating by the San Antonio Current in 2015. He was awarded the statewide 2016 Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers of Texas, honored for his leadership by the National Diversity Council in 2018 and most recently listed on The Honor 41 List of Latinx Role Models. Salcido was raised in Amarillo, Texas and San Antonio has been his home since 2001. Robert and his husband, Mike, enjoy traveling and have one fur-baby, a PitBull/Catahoula mix named Cyxx.
Nickoli Benkert (he/him)
Nickoli Benkert is a Field Intern with Equality Texas and currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political communication studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Nickoli is passionate about civic engagement and advocating for the rights of marginalized communities in Texas and beyond. Nickoli also serves as the chair of the Texas Youth Advisory Board for Young Invincibles, leading a cohort of young adults to promote Medicare expansion, workforce development, and student loan relief. Nickoli is from Sacramento, California, and has now lived in Austin, Texas since 2014.
Earl Gilbert (he/him)
Earl is a recent graduate from the University of Texas with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric. He began organizing events and fundraisers for local LGBTQ+ groups while enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. For his volunteer organizing and flood recovery efforts he was awarded a Team Meritorious Commendation by the Department of Homeland Security. Upon returning to Austin, he continued supporting the LGBTQ+ community through political fundraising. Earl is currently applying to law schools where he hopes to focus on LGBT issues and advocacy.
Jason Guidangen (he/they)
Jason lives in Austin, working as a Legislative Intern for Equality Texas. He recently graduated from UT Austin with an honors BA in Government and certificate in Security Studies. When he's not researching bills or reading the news, you can find him working on creative passion projects, brewing specialty coffee, and simply enjoying a good time where possible.
Hypatia Sorunke (she/they)
Hypatia is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a Plan II Honors and African and African Diaspora Studies dual degree and minors in Government and Creative Writing, she is interested in understanding the ways that identity, culture, and citizenship intersect. In her undergraduate thesis “Brownscale,” she focused on understanding and shaping the implications of intersectionality for Queer Black people through critique and creative narrative.
Hypatia is a writer and multimedia image maker from San Antonio, Texas, who has traveled to South Africa and England to help develop marketing strategies for companies. Her digital works centering Queer People of Color have been featured in the Museum of Human Achievement and the George Washington Carver Museum. Her advocacy interests include education, international relations, and human rights, so for her second time in the Texas Legislative session, she joins Equality Texas in their fight for equality for all.
Olivia Stankus (she/her)
Olivia Stankus is a Field Intern for Equality Texas, born and raised in Paris, Texas. She is a recent summa cum laude graduate of Southwestern University, with a BA in Political Science and History. During her time at Southwestern, she led student programming centered on civic engagement, civil rights advocacy, and civil discourse. Her previous experience includes internships with Let America Vote, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Library of Congress.