Samantha SmootInterim Executive Director • EmailSamantha brings 20 years of experience leading citizen advocacy campaigns to the Equality Texas organization. She has served as Political Director of both the Planned Parenthood Federation for America and the Human Rights Campaign, as well as Executive Director for Texas Freedom Network. More recently, she has fought to support citizen groups and political leaders as they build more inclusive democracies through her work in the Middle East and North Africa, West Africa, and Eurasia with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
Javier OsorioController • EmailAs a first generation immigrant from Peru, Finance and Administrative Coordinator 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 SalcidoStatewide Field Coordinator • EmailRobert is committed to civic engagement and is active in various capacities in the LGBT community. He’s been involved with Pride Center San Antonio since 2011 and was elected as the board chair in May 2015. He is a founding member and current president of Orgullo de San Antonio LGBT League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 22198, where he works to build bridges between the LGBT & Latino communities. Robert was awarded the statewide 2016 Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers of Texas. Raised in Amarillo, San Antonio has been his home since 2001.
Lou WeaverTransgender Programs Coordinator • EmailLou is a queer transgender man and a leader in Houston’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. Lou works on elevating the voices of transgender Texans, including the Texas TransVisible Project public education campaign. Trans healthcare is a key component of his advocacy portfolio, as is providing guidance to local law enforcement offices. He shares his home a mouthy 13-year-old cat Cosmo.
Rachel HillGovernment Relations Manager • EmailRachel Hill is a public policy professional committed to increasing understanding of and access to the advocacy process. She previously spent 3 years at the Dallas Regional Chamber providing in-depth research and advocacy for business issues, including the economic impact of anti-LGBTQ policies, as well as economic development, infrastructure, and quality of life. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a double major in Government and Middle Eastern Studies, and is excited to focus her experience on LGBTQ equality
Sarah Lynn ChavezDevelopment Manager • EmailSarah’s development background began in environmental law firms on the West Coast, but Texas kept calling her home. If you’re in Austin, she’s probably poured you a beer or fixed your flat bicycle tire, but is now very proud to serve you, her fellow Texans, with her enthusiastic fundraising skills. Being an ally to the LGBTQ community brings her great personal joy and tremendous value to her work. She’s a seventh-generation Texan from Bexar County, and lives in Austin since there are more swimming holes.
Debi JacksonDigital Communications Coordinator • EmailDebi 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. She was awarded the 2016 NEA GLBT Caucus Role Model Award for her contributions to education about the LGBTQ+ community. She will lead digital communications for Equality Texas.