Education Co-Sponsor: Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin
Connect. Learn. Exchange.
Come to Austin Aug. 28-30 for TAC's 2013 Legislative Conference. Join your colleagues in learning what the Texas Legislature did and didn't do this session and how it affects county officials, county government and county taxpayers.
Don’t miss hearing in-the-know speakers – including legislators, key staff, your TAC legislative staff and a range of other subject matter experts – who will explain the practical impact of the 83rd Legislative Session.
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Mr. Sonny Brasfield is executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, which represents Alabama’s 67 counties with one voice by providing a variety of services and programs to assist counties in serving the residents of Alabama. He became executive director in March 2009 but has been employed with the association since 1988. He is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Alabama and holds a masters degree in communication management. Brasfield is a former state political writer and his public relations and communication work have received numerous state and regional awards. Today, he oversees the association’s staff and works directly with elected officials and employees as well as within state and federal government to promote counties and to improve the delivery of services within Alabama. He also leads the association’s boards, trustees, committees and affiliate organizations and is administrator of its self-funded insurance programs. He is a frequent speaker on county government, leadership, management, communication, motivation, media relations and other related topics.
Rep. Larry Gonzales is the Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives for House District 52, serving his second term in office. HD 52 is contained completely within Williamson County and includes Round Rock, Hutto, Taylor, and parts of Georgetown. Gonzales is a strong conservative; his extensive legislative experience and knowledge of the issues facing our state make him an effective leader for the citizens of Williamson County. Rep. Gonzales is a 17-year resident of HD 52 and a seasoned veteran of the Texas Legislature, having worked nine regular legislative sessions before election to the Texas House, including senior staff appointments for members of the House, the Lt. Governor and Attorney General. Most recently Rep. Gonzales served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations for the Texas State University System (TSUS). In addition, Rep. Gonzales is the owner of a graphic design and communications company which offers a wide range of services including creative design and mediation. Rep. Gonzales is a 1993 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Government and is working towards his Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) at Texas State University. Rep. Gonzales is active in the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce and is a certified mediator.
Mr. Morgan Holkesvik is the network and systems manager at the Texas Association of Counties and specializes in information technology security. He has worked at TAC for 10 years and is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional, a Vmware Certified Professional and a Microsoft Certified IT Professional with emphasis on security. Holkesvik has delivered numerous presentations and authored several articles on security-related topics during the past six years. He has a Bachelor of Public Administration degree with a minor in history from Texas State University.
Mr. Harvey Kronberg has been the editor of the Quorum Report since 1989. He is a well-known political commentator and speaks frequently on the subject of Texas politics. He wrote a regular column for the Austin American-Statesman and provides political ananlysis for News 8 Austin. Kronberg graduated from the University of Texas in 1972 with an honors degree in Plan II history.
Former Speaker of the House James E. "Pete" Laney graduated from Hale Center High School in 1961 and earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics at Texas Tech University. He became a successful cotton farmer and first won election to the Texas House of Representatives in 1972. Named to serve on the key Committee on Administration as chairman, he held that post for four terms and then became chair of the Committee on State Affairs for a decade. His peers unanimously elected him House speaker in 1993, a post that he held for a decade. In 1995, Laney established a close, collaborative relationship with new Republican Gov. George W. Bush while maintaining his longstanding relationship with Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock. House members widely considered Laney a "member's speaker," lauding him for his efforts to ensure that House authors of legislation got full credit for their work.
Mr. Ross Ramsey is the executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune and continues as editor of Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter on government and politics in the Lone Star State, a role he's had since September 1998. Before joining Texas Weekly, Ramsey was associate deputy comptroller for policy with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, also working as the agency's director of communications. Prior to that 28-month stint in government, Ramsey spent 17 years in journalism, reporting for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as the paper's Austin bureau chief. Prior to that, as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, he wrote for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ramsey got his start in journalism in broadcasting, working for almost seven years covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.
Mr. Cary Roberts has more than 20 years of experience in public affairs, state government relations and strategic communications. He is a managing director for the Washington, D.C.-based Herald Group and a partner in Casteel & Roberts. Cary has worked on diverse policy issues in Texas and southeastern states, including business liability and legal reform, education, energy, local government, natural resources and public safety. He has served as a legislative consultant for the Texas Association of Counties since 2007, and also represents business, nonprofit, and utility clients at the State Capitol with Carter Casteel, a former Comal County judge and state representative. As managing director of The Herald Group’s Texas office, Cary is responsible for building the firm’s presence in the South and strengthening its corporate and litigation communication portfolio, including digital and social media strategy.
Ms. Rachel Smolkin is a native Texan who is deputy managing editor for Politico and former White House editor also for Politico. During her time on the White House team, first as deputy editor and then as editor, she oversaw coverage of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations, the Supreme Court decision upholding President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, Obama’s successful re-election campaign and the 2012 fiscal cliff fight. Smolkin came to Politico from USA TODAY, where she supervised the White House and legal affairs team. Coverage areas included Obama and his administration, the Supreme Court, terror threats and national law enforcement trends. During her three-and-a-half years at the paper, she also edited health policy coverage and national news stories on topics ranging from natural disasters to holiday travel. Before that, she served as managing editor of American Journalism Review, where she wrote and edited for the national magazine that covers print, television, radio and online media. Rachel will speak right after breakfast at 9 a. m., Friday, Aug. 30. This is an informal session with an opportunity to ask questions to get the inside scoop on topics of interest.
Join TAC’s knowledgeable Legislative and Communications staff in the Connection Corner at this year’s Legislative Conference in Austin. While you give your phone a boost at our charging kiosk, TAC’s experts can answer your questions on how to get the most out of TAC’s social media and online presence.
Connect with TAC online to learn, exchange, and keep up with your peers and colleagues across the state! Knowledgeable staff will be showing off the @TexasCounties Twitter feed, Facebook page and YouTube channel at our Connection Corner during the Legislative Conference. Social networking has become an important and valuable means of communicating in the new era of the “Digital Legislature,” and legislators are increasingly reliant upon social media as a means for vetting issues. Charge your phone up at our free charging kiosk while talking to TAC staff about how social media monitoring and communications can benefit you back home and during the next legislative session.
Follow TAC on Twitter, on Facebook, and view our YouTube channel. Use these resources to receive and communicate first-hand information on issues that are important to county government before, during and after the legislative session.