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Straight Talk: February 28, 2022, 12 PM

PTAs in Texas work tirelessly to ensure the health and happiness of all students. Texas students increasingly face mental health challenges. Texas PTA recognizes the urgency to address this critical situation well before the start of the 88th Legislative Session next year. 

On February 28, beginning at 12 p.m., Texas PTA is hosting Straight Talk at the Capitol: Dare to Self-Care. Two panels will give students, parents, policy makers, and medical experts an opportunity to share their stories and discuss what can be done – at home, in school, and at the state level. 

We invite PTAs, families, schools, and all advocates to watch the event LIVE on the Texas PTA Facebook page. Questions will also be taken in advance and addressed as time allows. (Submit your question for the panelists here.) 

This special event will be used as a springboard to enact change. Together, we can reach lawmakers and end the stigma around student mental illness. Please join us.

In collaboration with Texas Pediatric Society.

Moderated by: 

Texas PTA President Suzi Kennon

Texas PTA President-Elect Marisol Alcalá Randle


Ainsley Hinton, Cassidy Joined for Hope

Ainsley Hinton is a junior at College Park High School in The Woodlands. Ainsley is actively involved in school and service activities including student council, Legacy League Inc., and Cavs Joined for Hope, a student-led subgroup of Cassidy Joined for Hope. Through Cavs Joined for Hope, Ainsley is able to shed light on teen suicide prevention and awareness, as well as share her own mental health journey with peers and countless others. Ainsley’s openness and vulnerability about the topic of mental health has allowed others to realize that they’re not alone and it’s okay to not be okay. Ainsley’s passion is to provide hope for those in the dark by sharing her battles with anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

Andrew Kim, Superintendent, Comal ISD

Andrew Kim serves as the Superintendent of the Comal ISD, a fast-growth school district serving more than 25,000 students within its 589 square miles. Prior to joining Comal ISD in 2012, Kim served as the Superintendent of Schools in Manor ISD. Kim has a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in medieval studies and classical civilization from Fordham University. He believes in changing teaching practices in order to meet the needs of 21st Century learners who embrace technology as an invisible tool. Kim is a proponent of civic and community engagement and serves on several state and local boards. He serves as the chair of the Policy Committee on Public Education Information (PCPEI) and was recently appointed as a member of the State Board for Educator Certification. He has also recently served as chair of the Texas State University’s School Safety Center and the Chair of the Next Generation of Accountability System for the State of Texas.

Angela Hollingsworth, Student and Family Support, Leander ISD

Angela Hollingsworth serves on the Leander ISD Student and Family Support team. She provides school-based therapy, case management, and crisis intervention services to students and families. She has worked in Leander ISD for 18 years to provide mental health services to students and families.

Celia Neavel, MD, FSAHM, FAAFP, People’s Community Clinic, Texas Pediatric Society

Dr. Celia Neavel founded and serves as Director of the Center for Adolescent Health and GOALS, a youth behavioral or developmental health program, at People’s Community Clinic. She supervises an interdisciplinary team, as well as a school-based health center in Manor ISD and the SAFE Children’s Shelter. Clinically, Dr. Neavel focuses on primary holistic care for often challenging at-risk youth. Areas of interest and experience include integrated behavioral health, reproductive health, youth engagement, and preventive and wellness care. The Center for Adolescent Health sponsors a youth advisory council with over 30 adolescents and young adults participating. The GOALS Program sponsors a GOALS Advisory Council of other nonprofits and schools meeting since 2005. 

Chrissy Hejny, Teacher, Austin ISD

Chrissy Hejny teaches American Literature and AP Language and Composition at Bowie High School in Austin. She is the American Literature PLC team lead and a sponsor of Bowie’s Multicultural Awareness Club. She also sponsors a cohort of Students Organized for Anti-racism. She is working on the final micro-credential in Austin ISD’s Cultural Proficiency and Inclusiveness Leadership Pathway. Chrissy began her teaching career while working on a Master’s degree in 2007. Her first four years were spent teaching high school English and Social Studies at a residential treatment facility where she taught students who were designated “Emotionally Disturbed” in special education and whose service levels were designated “Intense” and “Intense Plus” by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. In August of 2012, Chrissy began teaching Special Education inclusion and modified English I & III at Bowie High School.

Courtney Davis, Teacher, Comal ISD

Courtney Davis is a fifth-grade teacher at Clear Spring Elementary. She teaches ELA/Social Studies and is a campus team leader, UIL spelling coach, and member of the district and campus COVID-19 safety and security task force committees. She has been teaching for five years, four with Comal ISD. She worked as a sports information director and sports broadcaster for eight years before becoming a teacher. Courtney is the recipient of the Comal ISD 2021 Elementary District Teacher of the Year and the Comal ISD 2021 KENS 5 Excel awards.

Greg Hansch, Executive Director, NAMI Texas

Greg Hansch serves as the Executive Director of NAMI Texas. He joined NAMI Texas in 2012, and he has served in the roles of Public Policy Director and Policy Coordinator. In his current role, he is responsible for providing direction and leadership toward the achievement of NAMI Texas’ mission. He is a licensed masters-level social worker and a family member of a person with serious mental illness.

Maurine Molak, Founder, David’s Legacy Foundation

Maurine Molak, along with her husband Matt and their two oldest sons Cliff and Chris, founded David’s Legacy Foundation after experiencing the tragedy that no family should ever have to experience. In January of 2016, their 16-year-old son, and brother, David, died by suicide after experiencing months of relentless cyberbullying. After David’s death, Maurine, and her family, made it their mission to prevent this from happening to another family by working with Texas legislators to pass a bill that would provide public schools, parents, and law enforcement the necessary tools to address cyberbullying. This significant bill, known as “David’s Law”, with its overwhelming popularity and support, was signed by Governor Greg Abbott and went into effect September 1, 2017. 

Trina Ita, Associate Commissioner, Texas Health & Human Services Commission

Trina Ita is Associate Commissioner of Behavioral Health Services at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. She leads and provides direction to the behavioral health services areas of the commission. Her team is responsible for adult and youth behavioral health programs focused on prevention, intervention, and treatment services.  

Panel One

Panel Two

For Council PTAs 

All council PTAs are encouraged to host a February 28 watch party, inviting local PTAs, families, and schools to attend. Consider also inviting members from the larger community including pediatricians. Use the watch party form to tell Texas PTA about your plans. We will keep a list on this webpage as a resource for volunteers. 

Straight Talk Toolkit

Access our online toolkit to promote the event.  

Sign the Pledge 

The Texas PTA Dare to Self-Care pledge is our effort to end the stigma around mental illness through intentional student support. We are dedicated to protecting and supporting young people in achieving consistent mental wellness.

Sign the pledge and add your voice in support of Texas students!

Watch Parties

Click here to see a listing of council watch parties. 

Media Alert

Click here to see the media alert.