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Board of Directors

Texans for Economic Progress Board Members

Robert Howden, Chairman, Texans for Economic Progress

Robert Howden is a former senior adviser to Governor Rick Perry and a government relations veteran. In his role as senior adviser to Perry, Howden assisted the governor on a variety of issues, including economic development, and served as the governor’s liaison to the Governor’s Task Force on Economic Growth, chaired by Ross Perot, Jr. Howden was the governor’s official representative to hundreds of events throughout the state, which earned him the unofficial title, “Mayor of Texas.”

Before serving as senior adviser to Perry, Howden was communications director for the governor.
Prior to joining Perry’s staff, Howden was the Executive Director of the National Federation of Independent Business/Texas (NFIB/Texas), a position held for more than 10 years. In that position he was political and legislative leader for more than 40,000 small business members. At NFIB/Texas, Howden worked on numerous legislative issues such as the small business franchise tax exemption.

An Austin native, Robert holds a BA in Advertising from the University of Texas.  Currently he in on the Helping Hand Home for Children Community Advisory Board and is on the Advisory Board of the Junior League of Austin.  He was formally served on the UT Athletic Foundation and on the board of his alma mater’s alumni association (Texas Exes).  He and his wife Jana have three children who attend Austin public schools.  A community volunteer, Jana was a PTA President and a past Governor Perry appointee to the Texas Motor Vehicle Board.

Chelsea McCullough, Executive Director, Texans for Economic Progress

Chelsea brings more than 13 years of experience working with organizations that deliver innovation through technology. She has built strategic partnerships with stakeholders in both the public and private sector from early-stage start-ups to technology incubators to state government and elected leadership. Chelsea has participated in the launch of several entrepreneurial companies including NewsTaco, an online news site for Latinos; FlashValet, a mobile/web application that combines convenience with valet parking; and Vidamerica, an innovative retail company that delivers community-based services.

Chelsea is the former Marketing Director for MPOWER Labs, a double bottom-line research/development incubator and business accelerator whose mission is to empower the world’s underserved. While at MPOWER, she also served as founding Program Director for RISE – an annual conference series dedicated to connecting and inspiring entrepreneurs.

Chelsea has also served in the public sector as a staff member for the Texas Governor’s Office in Economic Development where she participated in the launch of TexasOne, the creation Wide Open for Business brand and the formation of the Texas Enterprise Fund.

Chelsea has masters and bachelor degrees in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a graduate of the 2010 Essentials Class of Leadership Austin, serves on the Board of DiscoverHope and is a Leadership Austin Emerge Committee member. She has also served on the LifeWorks Executives and Professionals (LEAP) Steering Committee, Seton Cove Board and was a founding member of the Japan-America Society of Greater Austin (JASGA).

Sandra Haverlah, President, Texas Consumer Association

Sandra Haverlah is a founding Board member of Texans for Economic Progress and has been working on consumer pocketbook issues with the Texas Consumer Association (TCA) since 1988. She has served as President of TCA for the last decade. She currently serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations representing individuals on environmental, consumer rights, civil justice and utility issues. Her career has included representing consumers on Board of the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan and as a funded consumer representative at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Bachelor of Science in Business and Master of Public Administration.

Oscar Garcia, Silver Haired Legislators

Oscar Garcia is a native of Laredo, Texas and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He and his wife, Muriel, have five children and six grandchildren. Oscar retired from the insurance industry after 27 years and is currently serving his third term in the Texas Silver Haired Legislature.

Current volunteer activities include:

  • Delegate to 2005 White House Conference on Aging
  • Member National Silver Haired Congress
  • Chairman Texas Delegation to NSHC
  • TSHL Chairman Technology Committee.
  • TSHL Member Executive Committee
  • TSHL Member Legislative Action Committee

Current Community Service

  • Tarrant County AAA Advisory Council
  • Public Policy Committee of the United Way of Tarrant County
  • Senior Impact Council of the United Way of Tarrant County
  • Board of Directors Senior Citizens Services
  • North East Tarrant County Leadership Forum
  • Congressman Joe Barton’s Hispanic Advisory
  • Medicare-Carrier Advisory Committee
  • Precinct Chairman Pct. # 1437
  • Election Judge