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For Immediate Release: Equality Texas Announces New Board Members and Officers
Posted on June 3, 2019 at 9:45 am

Susan Risdon, Equality Texas, 214-226-6741,

Equality Texas Announces New Board Members, Officers

Austin, Texas – June 3, 2019 – Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ Texans, announced new members of the Equality Texas Foundation and Equality Texas Boards of Directors as well as new Equality Texas board officers.

“Equality Texas is proud to welcome these passionate, committed leaders.  Their board participation will strengthen our mission to ensure every Texan is treated with equality, dignity and safety,” said Samantha Smoot, Interim Executive Director of Equality Texas. “We are pleased to have experienced leaders from across the state join us on the board of directors to bring their experience and passion to fight for full and lived equality for all LGBTQ Texans.”

The new Equality Texas Foundation Board Members are Jonas Leon Rios of Amarillo and Susan Hays and Jo Ivester of Austin. Jonas Leon Rios is an Ethics Specialist at CNS Pantex in Amarillo. Susan Hays is President of the Law Office of Susan Hays, P.C., Dallas & Austin. Jo Ivester is a writer, award-winning book author, and equal rights advocate. The Equality Texas Foundation board officers remain Chair—Elizabeth Myers of Austin; Vice Chair—Steve Atkinson of Dallas, and Secretary—Nicole DeLeon of Austin.

Newly-elected officers of the Equality Texas Board of Directors are Chair— Holt Lackey of Austin, Vice-Chair—Karen Wilkerson of Tyler; and Secretary—Awais Azhar of Austin. 

New members of the Equality Texas Board of Directors are: Danielle Skidmore of Austin; Kim Biffle of San Antonio; Mitra Woody of Houston; and Jonathan Nelson of Dallas. Jonathan Nelson is a community leader and attorney. Plano attorney and former plaintiff in the Texas marriage equality case, Mark Phariss, is also returning to the Equality Texas Board after his campaign for Texas Senate.

“I have come to appreciate Equality Texas as the keystone in fighting for what is right and fair. I recognize that, even in 2018, being visibly trans is still seen as a revolutionary act by too many. I am happy to use my lived experience and share my story, but even more importantly, to elevate other people’s stories to build the kind of meaningful connections that will bring all of Texas on to the side of equality,” said Danielle Skidmore, President and Owner of Danielle Skidmore Consulting and former candidate for Austin City Council.     

“I want to be part of the change. I want to join an amazing group of individuals, who believe, like me, that equality is an essential human right,” said Kim Biffle, Chief of Engagement at the Witte Museum in San Antonio.

“As an ally, I strive to raise awareness and combat ignorance that persists in our communities and be supportive of my friends. Over the years I have found that many people are not aware that it is still legal in Texas to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The work done by Equality Texas to raise awareness and change the laws of Texas to protect all citizens, is important work that I would like to be a part of,” said new board member Mitra Woody, a stay-at-home mom, Houston community leader and attorney.

Click here for a link to photos of the new EQTX Board Members.


Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans through political action. The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.