Meet the League's Advisory Committee, followed by our regular Board of Directors. Our statewide coordinator, Linda Curtis, does not serve on either board, but we list her at the end out of appreciation for her efforts as our best volunteer and advisor.
LIV ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The League is honored to have Calvin Tillman on our Advisory Board. He is one of a kind. Calvin is the former town commissioner and mayor of the small town DISH, Texas. He was elected to the Aubrey City Council in 2015. DISH is at the crossroads of many natural gas pipelines. Tillman was active in pursuing state legislation regarding the routing of natural gas pipelines as well as efforts to curb the powers that the pipeline companies have been given over property owners. A resolution to curb these powers was passed by the town of DISH and was passed by forty other towns with well over a million people represented.
Mayor Tillman has served on work groups with the members of the state legislature and the natural gas industry, regarding pipeline routing and regulation of the industry. He has traveled around the United States speaking on responsible drilling. Mayor Tillman was recognized for his contributions by the Texas Progressive Alliance with the Gold Star Texan award. A veteran of the United States Air Force, he has degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, and Concordia University of Texas.
Tillman was featured in the award winning, Oscar nominated documentary Gasland and Gasland Part 2; and also Detroit PBS documentary Beyond the Light Switch.
Tillman now focuses on private property rights at the state level. He is very active in championing legislation that enhances and protects private property rights for Texans. A lifelong Republican, he now calls himself a committed independent. Mr. Tillman lives in Cook County.
Michele Gangnes, Esq., is co-founder of LIV and a long-time resident of the Blue community in Lee County, a rural county 40 miles east of Austin. Michele is a native Texan, and graduated from Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law. She is a member of the Washington State Bar and the State Bar of Texas.
Before retiring in 2019, Michele practiced banking and public finance law for over 4 decades, first as a partner in two Pacific Northwest law firms before returning to her native Texas as a sole practitioner. Michele is nationally recognized as a peer-reviewed attorney in the highest categories of legal ability and ethics, and her legal opinions are accepted in the U.S. capital markets.
Michele is a premier "water rights activist" and, as such, was a founding board member of Neighbors for Neighbors (NFN), a Central Texas 501(c)(3) organization, and more recently as a founder of the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund, also a 501(c)(3), which advocates for aquifer protection and private property rights in groundwater.
She recently authored an extensive analysis of Proposition 6, the Water Amendment that passed in November 2013. See news release here.
Michele has donated thousands of hours, totally pro bono, to protect the aquifers of Texas for generations to come. She has also never been a member of any organized political party, having considered herself an “independent” voter for fifty years.
Dr. Mark Miller enjoyed a long and varied career in the oil and gas industry – petroleum engineer, University of Texas faculty member, worldwide consultant, and small business owner. In 2014 and 2016, he was the Libertarian Party nominee for Texas Railroad Commissioner, a position that regulates the state’s oil and gas industry. In 2016, Mark received all of the endorsements of Texas’ major newspapers and managed to garner the 5% of the vote required to retain ballot access for the Libertarian Party. He is currently semiretired, does occasional consulting, and remains politically active. Watch for his op-eds in major newspapers and read his four part series on our LIV News blog, "The Quest to End Two-Party Rule." Miller lives in Hays County.
James Murphy, Esq., with over 25 years experience in law and executive management; planning, funding and implementation of regional water supply projects, LIV is very lucky to have Jim's stellar volunteer advice. Check out Mr. Murphy's impressive resume. You can also visit our news section as Mr. Murphy is beginning to speak for LIV around the state. Mr. Murphy lives in Alamo Heights, in Bexar County.
LIV BOARD MEMBERS
Note: All Board Members are interim until an election is held by their local chapters. You can reach your local interim board member through our contact section.
Ellen Berky is a transplanted midwesterner who came to San Antonio, Texas in the 70s. She began her architectural career as a VISTA volunteer in a community design center recruiting volunteer architects and engineers to advocate for clients who normally would not have the means to retain professionals. Berky interned with a San Antonio firm and became a Texas registered architect in 1979.
Berky has specialized in preparing contract documents for building construction. Her most notable project involvement was the Preservation of the Texas Capitol, for which Berky prepared the construction specifications. Completed in 1992, the Texas Capitol Preservation and Extension is the largest public building project in Texas history.
From 1992 - 2004 Berky served on the American Institute of Architects contract documents committee, leading task groups responsible for drafting prototype contracts including revisions to the AIA General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, a standard of the industry since the early 1900s. Self employed since 2012, Berky continues to consult with previous clients and employers, recently assisting with preparation of a successful request for design build proposal for a federal courthouse.
Berky became acquainted with the League of Independent Voters in 2014 while advocating for groundwater reform on behalf of the Green Party. Mobilizing the Bexar County Greens to present a resolution to city council excoriating the environmental and political travesty embodied in the Vista Ridge water transfer project, led to an association with ongoing political work of LIV. This resulted in an invitation to join the LIV board, and Berky is now the primary point of contact for the League in Bexar and surrounding counties. Ms. Berky lives in San Antonio. Bexar County.
Arlan Foster was born in Pasadena and settled in Liberty County in 1994. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran. Though having lost his dear wife, Carolyn, a few years ago who also supported the work of the independent movement, Arlan has an extended family he looks out for in a myriad of ways.
After the military, Arlan became a Deputy Constable with the Harris County Constable’s office. He worked in law enforcement for over 19 years and was an officer with the Department of Criminal Justice for 12 years. Arlan also worked construction out of Ironworkers Local 84, Pipefitters Local 211 and “turnarounds” as a boilermaker/pipe fitter for Austin Industrial, AJ Mundy Company, Brown & Root and other contractors after the decline of the building trade unions during the Reagan years.
In 2006, Alran won his union (he served as President) – AFSCME, Council 7 -- over to endorsing Carole Keeton Strayhorn when she ran against Rick Perry as an independent for Governor. He says today, “I never regretted that endorsement, despite that Carole lost. With Carole’s help, we Texans united across party lines to defeat Perry’s Trans-Texas Corridor land grab and a blight on the blackland prairie – some of the richest farm soil in the world.”
Arlan ran for State Representative of House District 18 in 2008. He said then, “I know the struggles of the people of East Texas; I live them,” says Foster. “I’m a working man.” Arlan ran as a Democrat in that race and saw how straight ticket voting harms those running in “down ballot” races. He fully supports the League of Independent Voters’ commitment to open and competitive elections, including ending straight ticket voting, independent non-partisan redistricting reform and the full right of Texans to petition for a public vote – aka Initiative, Referendum and Recall. Mr. Foster lives in Dayton, in Liberty County.
The League has our very own resident federal budget nerd, Jeff Harper, of Ft. Worth. Jeff is the author of Uncle Sam’s Checkbook. It is a reference booklet on federal spending the size of a checkbook. Harper does speaking engagements that allow citizens to quickly see what is actually spent where and to propose their own budget and revenue plan.
In 1998, Jeff served as team leader of the Budget Committee in Ross Perot’s Reform Party. Harper was also the State Issues Director in the Reform Party of Texas, until its demise in 2000.
In 2001, Jeff was a founder of Independent Texans, a citizens PAC. On behalf of Independent Texans, Jeff personally contacted editors of all 88 Texas daily newspapers, during the 2003 Texas legislative special session on redistricting. He asked editors if they would support an independent non-partisan redistricting system similar to those used in Arizona and Iowa. Not surprisingly, the response was overwhelmingly positive. All major newspapers wrote editorials or stated their clear support for a citizens redistricting commission.
Harper drafted the 36 non-gerrymandered districts for the League's board. Click here for more on that subject. Mr. Harper lives in Bastrop County.
David Jones grew up in Ohio and is a US Air Force Veteran and came to Austin in the early 90s. David is an experienced, accomplished, and dynamic Health and Wellness Advocate with over 20 years of experience. He has a master’s degree in business management. He previously worked as a Code Enforcement Assistant, Licensed Insurance Agent, and HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention Specialist. He has volunteered for a number of organizations in Austin focused on teant's rights. David is also an experienced speaker who remains active in Toastmasters in Austin. David helped create and design the LIV website. Mr. Jones lives in Austin.
LIV Volunteer Coordinator -- Linda Curtis. Linda has no vote on our board, but we respect and listen to her advice -- and, sometimes, even follow it! Seriously, we thank her for her tireless efforts working her heart out for LIV -- as a volunteer! Linda has a 40 year history advocating for non-aligned independent voters here in Texas since 1992 and across the US, prior to, as the saying goes "getting here as quick as she could."