TMLI PreConference Speaker March 1, 2023
Joe Serio, Ph.D., President, Government Leadership Training
Dr. Joe Serio is an international speaker, trainer, and author who holds a Ph.D. in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University (SHSU), with a specialization in leadership and organizational behavior, and worked for the CIA for five years.
During that time, he gained access to KGB files, top Soviet and Russian government officials, and was the only American to work in the Organized Crime Control Department of the Soviet National Police. He doesn’t drink martinis, shaken or stirred, but saved the day from time to time.
TML Midyear Conference Speakers March 2-3, 2023
Melinda Marcus, MA, CSP, Influence Advisers
Melinda Marcus is an expert in the Science of Influence and author of Read The Zoom.  She is one of only five body language experts globally who have attained the Master-level Instructor Certification from the former Special Agent who trained the FBI.
Marcus’ approach goes beyond body language by integrating proven strategies in persuasive psychology and strategic messaging. She has built a solid track record helping professional services clients from national investment and financial corporations to global technology companies, consulting firms and law firms. Marcus earned her B.S. with Honors in Psychology from Northwestern University and her M.A. in Mass Communications from Southern Methodist University. Her psychology research on first impressions is published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.
    Glenn Hegar, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Glenn Hegar was elected as Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in November 2014. A sixth-generation Texan who grew up farming land that has been in his family since the mid-1800s, Hegar is a 1993 graduate of Texas A&M University and earned his law degree at St. Mary’s University. Hegar has served in the Texas Legislature, where he worked on issues including public education, transportation, tax reform, government transparency, Second Amendment rights, water issues and tort reform. As comptroller, Hegar is chief finance officer for the world’s ninth-largest economy. He has emerged as a passionate advocate for conservative financial management and government transparency who has focused on creating a more efficient and customer-oriented agency.  He founded the state’s Transparency Stars program, pushed for smarter ways of investing our rainy-day fund to protect it for future generations, and guided the formation of the nation’s first ever state-administered precious metals depository. His upbringing taught him the core values of hard work, honesty and integrity — the same values he and his wife Dara work to instill in their three young children, Claire, Julia, and Jonah. Hegar’s most important title throughout his years of service is the one closest to home: Dad!
George B. Peyton V, Board Member, Texas Water Development Board
George Peyton was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott as a Board member of the Texas Water Development Board on July 11, 2022, for a term set to expire February 1, 2027. Peyton is president of River Valley Holdings, Inc., an investment holding company. He has a background in financial analysis and investment management, including direct investing experience in public equities, energy, real estate, and credit. Previously, he led financing and strategic decisions as the president of two oil and gas exploration companies and was the founder and former managing director of Fifth Well Investment Management, LLC, where he directed manager selection and asset allocation decisions. He began his career in the finance and capital markets department at XTO Energy, Inc. Peyton received a bachelor of science in astrophysics and a bachelor of business administration in entrepreneurial management from Texas Christian University with a distinction of magna cum laude. He earned a master of business administration from Stanford University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Bill Fulton, William Fulton Group
Bill Fulton is one of America’s most established thought leaders in the field of urban planning. Hs currently serves as a Senior Advisor to PFM Management and Budget Consulting and a Fellow at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley. From 2014 to 2022, he served as the director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research. He is a former Mayor of Ventura, California, and Director of Planning and Economic Development for the city of San Diego. His previous books include Guide to California Planning, the standard urban planning textbook in California, The Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles, which was an L.A. Times best-seller, and The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl (with Peter Calthorpe). Fulton holds master’s degrees in mass communication from The American University and urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Nicole Katsikides, Ph.D., TTI Research Scientist, Mobility Analysis, Texas A&M Transportation Institute

Nicole Katsikides is a research scientist for TTI.  She has twenty two years of public sector experience in transportation planning and policy analysis, logistics, economic development and land use/real estate planning with specific expertise in freight mobility and operations. 

Prior to TTI, Dr. Katsikides served as the Deputy Director of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) State Highway Administration (SHA) Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering (OPPE) where she led strategic planning and implementation efforts for connected and automated vehicle programs, mobility analysis, performance based planning, freight and asset management.  Prior to that, she served as the Freight Performance Program Manager for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Freight Management and designed the freight formula program presented in the GROW AMERICA surface transportation proposal that formed the basis for the freight program in the FAST Act.  She also helped work with TTI and others to advance the data and analytics needed to evaluate multimodal freight analysis throughout the nation or Freight Fluidity.  

Before joining FHWA, Dr. Katsikides was MDOT’s Director of Freight and Multimodalism providing freight performance, mobility, policy and planning leadership, as well as oversight of the state’s short line railroad and project development for both freight and passenger rail. She has held positions in community planning and economic development with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, logistics management with the United States Air Force, and got her career start as a legislative aide for the Maryland House of Delegates (state legislature) handling constituent cases and legislative research for delegates representing Baltimore County. 


Suzannah Jones, Deputy Chief, Texas Department of Emergency Management

Suzannah Jones is a Deputy Chief at the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) with responsibility for Recovery and Mitigation. Suzannah has been with TDEM since 2011.

While with TDEM, Suzannah has been actively involved in the state’s response to 16 presidentially declared major disasters including Hurricane Harvey, the COVID-19 pandemic and the severe winter weather in 2021. As Deputy Chief, her team manages over $18 billion in federal funds. Suzannah came to TDEM from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) where she worked in two different divisions:  the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center and Disaster Preparedness and Response/Texas Task Force 1. She was involved in planning, training and exercises and managed large projects in both Texas and across the U.S.

Prior to her tenure at TEEX, Suzannah worked for the U.S. Department of State as a member of the Foreign Service, serving at several U.S. embassies in Madrid, Moscow and The Hague.

Suzannah obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology at Southern Methodist University, a master’s in business administration from Schiller International University in London, England, and a master’s in public service and administration from Texas A&M University. Suzannah is also a Certified Emergency Manager® (CEM®) through the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM).


Warren “Country” Weidler, Deputy Chief, Texas Department of Emergency Management

Country Weidler is a Deputy Chief at the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) with responsibility for Preparedness and Response. Country has been with TDEM since 2021.

Prior to joining TDEM, Country served as the Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinator for the state of Texas through the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service. Chief Weidler is a veteran of the Austin Fire Department where he served for over 30 years, promoting through the ranks to Special Operations battalion chief.

Chief Weidler is a founding member of Texas Task Force 1 (TX- TF1). He responded to the World Trade Center disaster in September of 2001, the Space Shuttle Columbia incident, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, the Moore, Oklahoma tornado and the West fertilizer plant explosion among many others. During Hurricane Ike, Chief Weidler led the statewide search and rescue effort.

During Hurricane Harvey, the largest hurricane response in Texas history, he coordinated statewide search and rescue, consisting of local, state and federal resources. Weidler served as an integral member of the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas. In August of 2018, Weidler served as the state’s representative to Texas’ historic response to catastrophic wildfires in California.

During the COVID-19 pandemic and in the spirit of “other duties as assigned,” Weidler assisted the state of Texas, leading the “Pony Express” and managing testing logistics. His 30 years as a first responder and subject matter expertise as a leader during all major disasters since 2014, made him an integral part of the state’s response to the pandemic.

Joe Straus III, Former Texas House Speaker and TML Legislative Hall of Honor Inductee

The Honorable Joe Straus III served as Speaker of the 150-member Texas House of Representatives from 2009 to 2019, making him the longest-serving Republican Speaker in state history.

Under the leadership of Speaker Straus, the Texas House of Representatives focused on improving public schools and workforce readiness, funding the state’s water plan, directing additional funding to mental health care and the protection of children, and balancing the biennial Texas budget amid both prosperous and challenging economic conditions. In 2019, Speaker Straus launched the Texas Forever Forward political action committee to promote principled leadership and causes that are focused on Texas’ future.

Nationally recognized for his commitment to public service, Speaker Straus serves on the Brookings Institution Board of Trustees, and he is a member of the Class of 2009 of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership. He also serves as a member of the Honorary Board of Directors at the SMU John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies and serves on the Texas Biomedical Research Institute Board of Trustees.

Speaker Straus is a Principal with La Cima Partners, LLC, a strategic consulting business, and a Partner in Bennett & Straus, LLC, a San Antonio-based insurance, investments and executive benefits firm.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Speaker Straus and his wife, Julie, have two adult daughters.

Jesse Ancira, Founder, Ancira Strategic Partners
Jesse Ancira is the founder of Ancira Strategic Partners (Ancira), a legislative advocacy firm that represents municipal, public education and fortune 500 clients  before the Texas legislature. Ancira is a former mayor (Taylor, Texas) and is a past president of the Taylor ISD Board of Trustees.  He has over 25 years of experience in Texas state government and the Texas legislative process, including service with the Speaker’s Office, Comptroller’s Office, the Texas State Auditor’s Office and as a legislative staffer.  As chief of staff , he advised the Speaker on policy development, legislative strategy, and legislator relations. He served as the Speaker’s liaison with the Office of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor’s Office, Legislative Budget Board, Legislative Council, State Auditor’s Office, and Sunset Commission. Prior to appointment as chief of staff, he served Speaker Straus as general counsel and senior policy advisor on tax policy, economic development, open records, and ethics matters. During his tenure at the Comptroller’s Office, Ancira served as associate deputy comptroller, general counsel, director of tax administration, and legislative director. In these roles, he advised the Comptroller and the executive team on fiscal policy, legal, tax administration, legislative, and open records issues. Ancira also managed the Comptroller’s Criminal Investigations Division and served as the agency’s ethics advisor. Ancira is a former special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He also served as tax counsel for DuCharme, McMillen & Associates, where he advised clients on tax and economic development issues.
Snapper Carr, Partner and General Counsel, Focused Advocacy
Carr joined Focused Advocacy in 2010 to establish the firm’s lobby practice and local government advocacy group. His primary focus is representing the needs of local governments before the Texas Legislature.  From 2006 to 2010, Carr founded and managed a local government practice for HillCo Partners, representing dozens of cities before the Legislature.   Previously, Carr served as the legislative counsel and associate for the Texas Municipal League (TML) from 1998 to 2006, representing municipal interests before state and federal legislative, administrative and judicial bodies. At TML, Carr earned a reputation as an expert in the fields of land usage, utilities, military and water issues.  From 1994 to 1998, Carr served as the committee clerk for two Texas House committees — the Committee on State Affairs and the Committee on Land and Resource Management. Carr is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Government and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the UT School of Law.
  Bennett Sandlin, Executive Director, Texas Municipal League

Since October 1 of 2010, Bennett Sandlin is Executive Director of the Texas Municipal League.  Prior to that, he was General Counsel of the League, where he helped cities primarily in the fields of tax, economic development, budget, and finance issues, including the municipal hotel occupancy tax and the economic development sales tax.  Bennett authored the Revenue Manual for Texas Cities, and was an instructor in Public Funds Investment Training.  Bennett is a 1993 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and has previously worked at the Municipal Affairs Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Michael Martin, Legislative Counsel, Texas Municipal League

Michael Martin is Legislative Counsel for TML, where he provides guidance on legal and legislative issues for the 1,178 member cities.  Before joining TML, Michael served as the chief of staff for a New Orleans City Council member, in-house counsel for the City of New Orleans, and assistant city attorney for several Texas cities.  Michael graduated from Marymount University with a degree in political science.  In 2012, Michael received his law degree from Tulane University School of Law. 

Monty Wynn, Director, Grassroots and Legislative Services, Texas Municipal League
Monty Wynn is the Director of Grassroots and Legislative Services for the Texas Municipal League where he coordinates and implements the legislative policy program for the 1,178 member cities.  He has been with TML for 16 years.  Prior to his work at TML, Wynn worked for two state comptrollers, was the committee director for the House Public Education Committee, and served as the chief of staff to two senators.
Wynn is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in economics and political science.   He and his wife, Rosemary, have two sons, Aiden, 16, and Owen, 15.
JJ Rocha, Grassroots and Legislative Services Manager, Texas Municipal League
JJ Rocha is the Grassroots and Legislative Services Manager at the Texas Municipal League where she coordinates the legislative policy program for the 1,178 member cities. Before joining TML in 2010, she interned at the Texas House of Representatives. Rocha is a graduate from St. Edward’s University with a degree in political science. In 2014, she received her master’s from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin.