Meet the League's Advisory Committee, followed by our Board of Directors.
LIV ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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.
Michele 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-- pro bono (free!) -- 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.
Mark is currently semiretired, does occasional consulting, and remains politically active. He IS LIV's "doctor of democracy." He has made it his business to understand what must be done in Texas to represent the 8 million (more or less) voters who do not identify with any political party and call themselves "independent" -- notice the small i.
Watch for Mark's 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.
Calvin Tillman 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 -- north Texas.
Linda Curtis is a co-founder of LIV and longtime political independent. We respect and listen to her advice -- and, sometimes even follow it! 🙂 Fact is, she is usually going in the opposite direction, as pictured here crossing the Rio Grande for Mexico (presumably legally), with her friend in the background. She got to Texas, as the saying goes, "as soon as I could" -- 1992.
Seriously, Linda has a 40 year history advocating for non-aligned independent voters. It all started for her with the history-making presidential campaign of Lenora Fulani, the first woman and African American to get on the ballot for President in 50 states (1988). In 1992, Fulani, a progressive, joined forces with some of the leading "militant moderates" in the Ross Perot movement convincing Perot to lead the formation the National Reform Party in 1994. Linda said:
"We all wanted to see Perot's 19% of the vote turned into a viable third party not just a pressure group."
Linda became the Texas Reform Party state organizer serving under State Chair, Paul Truax of Dallas (now deceased). In 2000, the Reform Party collapsed. This is a long story that cannot be cut short. Linda threatens to write a book about it someday stating,
"I never regretted this experience -- it was fun, frustrating and made me yearn even more to get out from under two-party rule in America."
In 2001, Linda helped form a PAC, Independent Texans (IndyTexans.org). IndyTexans now dormant, remains a registered PAC for a reason -- we all know independent (non-aligned) voters continue to rise. See the latest Gallup poll in January 2021 -- our numbers (50%!) have never been higher.
Linda is a ballot access expert for new parties, independent candidates and citizen's petitions in Texas. She is leading LIV's effort to bring together the tools to share with those doing citizen's petitions we call, "Homegrown Petitions."
In 2013, Linda helped form the non-profit, non-partisan, League of Independent Voters of Texas, along with Michele Gangnes, who now serves on LIV's Advisory Board.
Arlan Foster was born in Pasadena and settled in Liberty County in 1994. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran and a "Texas working man".
Though having lost his dear wife, Carolyn, a few years ago who also supported our work at LIV, 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, Serving as President of AFSME, Council 7, Arlan won the union 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. 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 tenant'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.