Board of Directors
Our TLPP Board of Directors are appointed through the State Bar of Texas, where several of Board Members have served multiple terms.
Appointed January 2012
Steve Benesh is a partner in the Austin office of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, where he has practiced commercial litigation for 25 years. He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Mr. Benesh has served the legal profession in a number of capacities, including service as President of the Austin Bar Association, Chair of the Austin Bar Foundation, a Director of the State Bar of Texas, and a Director of the Texas Bar Foundation. Apart from his profession, Mr. Benesh has served as President of the Dripping Springs ISD Board of Trustees and Chair of Leadership Austin. He currently serves on the boards of directors of The Capitol Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Junior Achievement of Central Texas, and the Rogue Athletic Club.
Appointed April 2010
Appointed September 2012
Timothy D. Belton is the sole principal of Braeburn Advisors LLC and is the founder and CEO of ZeoGas LLC, a development stage project building a plant to convert natural gas to methanol as then to gasoline. He was formerly the restructuring advisor and then Chief Operating Officer of TRC Companies (NYSE: TRR), a leading environmental and civil engineering firm that led both permitting and third-party permit application review for some of the leading energy-related projects in the US and numerous remediation and other infrastructure EPC projects. Mr. Belton has also served as the CEO of both a growth-oriented financial services holding company and a private equity backed retail movie rental business. The first decade of his career was with the former Andersen Consulting Strategic Services, now Accenture, where he led major change, acquisition and growth agendas for both billion-dollar revenue companies like Pennzoil Products Company and JC Penney, as well as start-ups, where he has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to effectively hire and manage such process to successful outcomes. Mr. Belton recently completed a three-year term as a public member of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors and currently serves on the board of the Texas Legal Protection Plan Inc., RGM Energy Solutions, Western Academy and several capital campaigns for charitable organizations. Mr. Belton received his undergraduate engineering management degree from the University of Texas and a Master in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School.
Appointed June 2011
Robert Avera MS, JD earned his undergraduate and master’s degree from Colorado State University. His law degree is from Baylor University. He has practiced law in the Austin area since 2007. His practice includes Estate Planning, Business Entity Formation and Commercial Litigation. He has made over twenty presentations on the benefits of estate planning to groups throughout Central Texas including USAA, Texas Racing Commission, Texas Lottery Commission, Texas Finance Commission, Dripping Springs Rotary Club, “Federal Estate Tax Update” January 2011, and the Texas State Bar.Prior to his law career Robert worked for the US Forest Service and was a member of the elite Pike Hot shots fire fighting team. For his master’s thesis Robert produced and directed a video on saving homes from the threat of forest fires. Robert‘s commitment to public service is reflected in his diverse community volunteer service. Central Texas Lawyer Referral Board, Hays County Emergency Services Board, Dripping Youth Sports Association General Counsel and coach, board of his church. Robert co-authored an article for the State Bar of Texas related to the development of water resources. Robert has extensive experience in ranch management and he has owned and operated Helping Hand Printing, LLC, with his wife since 2004. He lives on a family ranch in Dripping springs with his wife and three boys.
Immediate Past Chair
Appointed April 2010
Albert Betts, Jr. is a partner at the law firm of Thompson Coe Cousins and Irons, LLP, and practices in their Austin office as part of the firm’s Insurance law and Governmental and Legislative Advocacy Group. Albert received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and has been a licensed attorney since 1991. Mr. Betts has extensive experience as a lawyer and public policy administrator including representing the Department of Insurance in litigation and serving as counsel for the State Office of Risk Management. Mr. Betts has advised the state risk management board, the commissioner of insurance, and political leadership on insurance and workers’ compensation matters. In 2005, Mr. Betts was appointed, by Texas Governor Rick Perry, as the first Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation for the State of Texas. Mr. Betts was reappointed in 2007 and served as Commissioner from 2005 through 2008. Prior to being appointed Commissioner, Mr. Betts served as Chief of Staff for the Texas Department of Insurance. Mr. Betts law practice focuses on representing the interest of clients before the Texas Department of Insurance and other regulatory agencies, including representing and advising insurance trade associations, insurance companies, and other clients on insurance issues and matters before the Texas legislature and other government officials. He is currently General Counsel for the Insurance Council of Texas.
Appointed September 2012
Natasha L. Brooks received her B.A. from Baylor University, and J.D. from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Ms. Brooks is an Assistant City Attorney in Midland, Texas where she practices Municipal Law. Currently, Ms. Brooks is a member of the State Bar of Texas Minimum Continuing Legal Education Committee. Ms. Brooks served as Treasurer on the 2011-2012 Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) Executive Committee, and completed two terms as a Director for TYLA. She is a three-time recipient of the TYLA President’s Award of Merit, and she also received the Joseph M. Pritchard Inn Outstanding Director Award. Ms. Brooks served as Midland County Young Lawyers Association Vice President and Treasurer.
Teri L. Danish
Appointed April 2006
Teri L. Danish received her law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1990. Ms. Danish is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law with the State Bar of Texas. Ms. Danish served as a Partner with Rodriguez, Colvin, Chaney & Saenz, LLP in Brownsville, Texas where she defended clients in civil litigation, with an emphasis on labor and employment matters at trial and before administrative agencies. Currently, Ms. Danish is of Senior Counsel in Houston, Texas at the International Law Firm of Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. Ms. Danish is an active member of the Friendship of Women, Inc. where she has served on the Board of Directors from 2000-2006 and held the positions of Secretary from 2001-2002 and President from 2002-2004. Ms. Danish was appointed to the Board of Directors of Texas Legal Protection Plan in 2006 by the State Bar of Texas.
Appointed April 2007
Patricia V. Hayes is the Principal/Owner of PVH Consulting Group, a public affairs and management consulting firm in Austin, Texas. A licensed attorney in Texas since 1994, Ms. Hayes has practiced in the areas of education, legislative policy and administrative law. Ms. Hayes has a diverse professional background, addressing legislative and public policy matters in all areas of K-12 public and higher education in Texas. In the public sector, she most recently served as the Vice Chancellor of Governmental Relations and Education Policy at Texas State University System. She has also served as the Associate Commissioner for Educator Quality and P-16 Initiatives at the Texas Education Agency, the Special Assistant for Education to Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff and as a Director for the Subcommittee on Higher Education in the Texas Senate. In the private sector, Ms. Hayes has represented the interests of private colleges and institutions in Texas as well as those of classroom teachers and school personnel in both legal and legislative matters. Active in the legal profession, she has served on several bar association boards, including the Texas Young Lawyers Association, the Austin Bar Association and the Austin Young Lawyers Association, where she served as President in 2002. An avid supporter of community service, she has served on several non-profit boards, including the Center for Child Protection, Greenlights for Nonprofit Success and Law Focused Education Inc. She graduated from the George McConnell School of Law at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.
Appointed September 2009
Bob Miller is a private practitioner in Big Spring, Texas. He received his B.S. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and his J.D. from the University of Texas in 1972. Miller served in the U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1971 and is a private pilot. He is an active member of the Cirrus Owner Pilot Association (COPA) and the Aircraft Owners Pilot Association (AOPA), as well as a board member of the National Volunteer Airport Support Network of the AOPA. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Howard County Attorney. Mr. Miller is past chair of the State Bar College, served as a State Bar Director for District 16 for 2005-2008, a former member of the State Bar Leadership Committee, and a past grievance committee member and chair. He is a Pro Bono College sustaining member, past associate director of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, and a sustaining life fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. Mr. Miller is on the board of directors for the Hanger 25 Museum. He and his wife, Mary, have four children, Azure, Claire, Paula, and Michael, and four grandchildren. They are active in the Big Spring and Marfa Episcopal churches. They also have a second home in Marfa, Texas.
Appointed June 2011
Stuart Smith is an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Texas. He is the founder of The Stuart Smith Law Firm, a law firm based in Dallas, Texas that primarily focuses on estate planning, corporate transactions, and energy. Mr. Smith received his undergraduate degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas. Stuart was licensed to practice law in Texas in 1995. During his fifteen years as a practicing attorney, Stuart has handled both transactional and litigation-related matters for numerous individual and corporate clients. As a litigator, he has worked on a variety of cases including those involving business disputes, probate, oil and gas, toxic tort, and products liability. Mr. Smith’s transactional experience has involved working on various energy-related issues, including the formation of oil and gas entities and the drafting and negotiation of oil and gas leases and agreements. Stuart also served as general counsel of a computer consulting company where he oversaw all corporate legal matters and assisted in the strategic planning of the company. Much of Mr. Smith’s current practice involves assisting clients with their estate planning needs, including preparation of wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. In addition to his membership on the TLPP Board of Directors, Mr. Smith is also a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, the Dervish Club, the Petroleum Engineer’s Club of Dallas, and the ADAM Energy Forum.