Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities

About MOPD

The mission of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) is to serve as the primary advocate for the rights and needs of citizens with disabilities. The Office also serves as a liaison between the mayor, city council, city departments and other public and private entities on matters pertaining to people with disabilities in Houston. MOPD's vision is a city where everyone understands the importance of equal participation and full inclusion of all citizens, including citizens with disabilities.

We accomplish this mission by providing and participating in programs and services which address the needs and rights of citizens with disabilities, including:

  • Facilitating delivery of services - including city services
  • Acting as liaison to Houston Commission on Disabilities (HCoD), City Council and other City Departments
  • Making recommendations to public and private entities regarding the development of policy and legislation
  • Establishing fundamental local, state and national partnerships to promote community awareness
  • Administering, developing new, and participating in programs and services according to our mission


Gabe CazaresGabe Cazares - Director
Gabe Cazares is a proud Texan, a queer, disabled Latinx, and a self-described policy wonk. Gabe currently serves as the Director of the Mayor’s office for People with Disabilities for the City of Houston, Texas. In this capacity, Gabe works under the direction of Mayor Sylvester Turner, and collaborates with the Houston City Council, Houston’s disability community, city agencies, and other stakeholders to build a more accessible and inclusive city for all Houstonians.

Prior to his appointment, Gabe served as the Manager of Government Affairs at the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland. He was responsible for monitoring, drafting, and shepherding legislation and regulations that impact blind Americans through the federal legislative and rule-making process. In addition, Gabe provided supervisory support to the government affairs staff and coordinated their policy portfolios. Gabe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Spanish minor from Texas State University.

Gabe and his partner, Derin, enjoy craft beer, tracking politics, and spoiling their 4-year-old rescue dog Sam.

Angel PonceAngel Ponce - Senior Community Engagement Liaison
Angel Ponce is a native of Chihuahua, Mexico and has lived in Houston, Texas since the age of 2. In 2004, Ponce suffered a spinal cord injury resulting from a crash. As a result, he is now a wheelchair user.

From 2008 to 2014, Ponce worked for the City of Houston Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office as an Administrative Assistant and Case Aide. Currently, Ponce serves as the Senior Community Engagement Liaison at the City of Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. In this role, he serves as the Sidewalk Accessibility Coordinator and often works on special projects such as the annual disability emergency readiness “Extreme Weather Ready Expo” workshop, the Annual Reel Abilities Art and Film Festival at which he has served as Master of Ceremonies, disability awareness workshops for employers, and disability etiquette and educational presentations for youth and professionals. Ponce also serves as Chair for the United Way of Greater Houston - Interagency Information & Referral Network.

Ponce is currently pursuing his B.A. in Communication Studies at the University of Houston. In his free time, he is an avid adaptive weightlifter, who enjoys reading science books and self-improvement.

Nick ArcosNick Arcos  - Senior Communications Specialist
Nick is a lifelong Houstonian in charge of creating and directing the flow of information of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. With a Bachelors of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University, he lends his visual eye and narrative mind into creating the graphics and posts for our various social media channels. Nick is an avid reader, music critic, and photographer in his free time.

Amanda BoydAmanda Boyd - Customer Service Representative
Amanda Boyd is a resident of Houston Texas. She is currently the Office Clerk for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. She is working towards finishing her Associates and ultimately plans to graduate with a bachelor degree in Business Administration.

Luis MorenoLuis Moreno - Community Engagement Liaison
Luis Moreno is the current community engagement liaison for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Luis is a recent graduate from the University of Houston as well as a former Hire Houston youth Intern. Born and raised in Houston, Luis has a deep love for the city and an understanding of the different needs of the community.  Luis has a deep passion for advocating for people's rights especially for members of his immigrant community. In his free time Luis enjoys going to the gym, watching and playing sports, and playing his accordion.

Alex ChauAlex Chau - Administrative Associate
Alex is currently working as an Administrative Associate with the City of Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities after interning with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities for nearly 2 years.  Alex’s role at the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities is to gather and conduct research items for the office, assist with coordinating planning events, and perform other administrative office tasks.  Alex previously applied his many talents to internships at Houston’s Shriners Hospital for Children and Siemens in Atlanta, GA.  Alex loves to engage with everyone who comes by the office so if you are at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center come say hi!

Alex is a graduate of Houston Community College VAST Academy where he held the position of Vice President of the Eagles Club and won the Diversity Champion Award.  Alex was born in Massachusetts, and attended elementary schools and middle school in New York, and high school in Georgia.   In Alex's free time he loves to listen to podcasts and watch his favorite detective shows.

Alex was the first-ever ReelDancer at the ReelMusic event as part of the ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival.  Alex was also part of one of the speakers of the for ReelEducation as part of the ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival.  Alex enjoys attending events in the Disability community like the Disability Unity and Pride Celebration, White Cane Safety Day, and Metal & Muscle Expo.  Alex loves to be in Houston and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Local and Area Resources


Area Agency on Aging --

Harris Health System --

The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD --

Child Protective Services in Harris County --


Department of Health and Human Services --

Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities --

Houston Commission on Disabilities --

Mayor's Assistance Office --

3-1-1 --

Metropolitan Multi-Service Center --

Human Resources Department -- and/or

Solid Waste Department --

Office of International Communities (OIC) --


BakerRipley --

American Red Cross --

Houston Area Parkinson Society --

Houston Council of the Blind --

The River Performing & Visual Arts Center --

Down Syndrome Association of Houston --

ARC of Greater Houston --

Easter Seals Greater Houston --

Sight Into Sound (formerly "Taping For The Blind") --

Additional Resources

Houston Commision on Disabilities


In recognition of the fact that the needs and rights of people with disabilities are of vital concern to the City of Houston, the Houston Commission on Disabilities was created in 1993. The 12 members of the Commission are appointed by the Mayor and subject to City Council confirmation. The Director of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities and the City's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator are designated by the Mayor to be non-voting ex-officio members.


The Houston Commission on Disabilities meets every second Thursday of the month from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., unless otherwise noted, at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray, and Houston, TX 77019. The 2021 meeting dates are: January 14, February 11, March 11, April 8, May 13, June 10, July 8, August 12, September 9, October 14, November 18, December 9.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, all HCOD meetings will be held virtually using the Zoom platform. You can register to attend the virtual meeting and give public comment (up to 3 minutes) at

1475 West Gray

Houston Commission on Disabilities Logo

HCoD Monthly Agendas

If you have an accommodations request to participate fully in the meeting proceedings, please contact the MOPD offices either via phone 832.394.0814, or email to make the request. This needs to be completed 72 hours prior to the start of the posted meeting time.

HCOD Meetings Minutes


The Commission is responsible for advising and making recommendations to the mayor, City Council, department directors and the individual designated by the mayor to head the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities.


Ismael Garcia Cantú- Position 1

Mr. Ismael García was born in Monterrey, NL, Mexico; he migrated to the U.S. in 2003. After suffering a stroke in the year 2015 he joined Living Hope Wheelchair Association where he has been a volunteer working passionately to promote and advance the rights and visibility of people with disabilities with particular emphasis on the barriers faced by immigrants with disabilities. Mr. García is part of the team that coordinated Living Hope response to hurricane Harvey and evolved into a program for equity and justice in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. He represents the organization at meetings and events with service providers and institutions relevant to people with disabilities including METRO, MOPD, Harris County Judge office as well as several non- profit organizations in the Houston area. Mr. García also helps coordinate the work of Living Hope organizing its membership to visit hospitals in the Houston area to reach out to immigrants with disabilities in order to provide moral support, life skills to enhance their quality of life and let them know of services available to them with different institutions such as Harris Health System, METROLift and nonprofit organizations.

Mr. Garcia attends the church MCC RESURECTION and lives in Houston, he uses METRO and MetroLift to move around the city and enjoys attending cultural events

Mr. García is committed to work for equity and inclusion for all people with disabilities in Houston while calling attention to the particular challenges faced by immigrants and refugees with disabilities living in our city and promoting solutions that advance all rights for all people.

Ricky Don Harris- Position 2

Ricky Harris came to Houston from Amarillo, Texas in 2016.  He became more actively involved with the Houston Deaf Community.  Ricky Harris has been working as a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Access Specialist, state-contracted with the Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services under Health and Human Services Commission for 4 years and counting.  In this role, he promotes equal access and equal opportunity for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.  He advocates for the rights and needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people and serves as a liaison and consultant between government agencies, service providers, employers, and private entities on matters pertaining to people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Houston and neighboring towns.  His most recent work has focused on Hurricane Harvey response and recovery for people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Ricky has been providing diversity and sensitivity training workshops to law enforcement agencies, healthcare service providers, and private entities.  He enjoys volunteering at Deaf and Hard of Hearing events, especially at the Space Center Houston and the ReelAbilities events.  Fun fact, Ricky has been Deaf all his life, and he hardly reads lips.  He is a seasoned actor, poet, and standup comedian. His talent and ability to express himself on stage and in character in ASL transcends language barriers and brings people together.  

Ann M. Bacon- Position 3

In 2006, at 48, less than 7 months after completing her first marathon, Annie suffered a massive carotid artery stroke that nearly killed her and left her left side essentially paralyzed. After two rounds of brain surgery, several months in and out of intensive care, and several more months of intensive rehab, Annie was told by her legions of doctors that she would never get out of bed or be able to walk again, much less work; she immediately and successfully set out to prove them wrong on all fronts and she hasn’t stopped moving forward since.

Annie’s passion is helping others in the disabled community, She’s tried to pay forward the inspiration, encouragement and support she got from others who had beaten the odds and put their lives back together under challenging circumstances. She kept a blog for over ten years, in which she chronicled her long journey back.

Annie has been supported, often quite literally, by the strong arms and stronger heart of her husband of 36 years, Bobby, a Houston artist, iconoclast, and East End fixture who has never let Annie down, and will never let her give up.

Prior to her stroke, Annie had worked extensively in the tech industry, including 13 years as an executive at Compaq Computers. Since her recovery, Annie’s focus has been on volunteer work, primarily in the disability community. Annie often says she’s gotten more than she’s given from those efforts.

Annie’s had a whole lot of help and her friends and family would all say, however, that, more than anything else, what got Annie out of bed, walking, and working again, was her positive attitude and absolute refusal to let her stroke define her life.

Tobias A. Cole- Position 4

Toby Cole is a partner at The Cole Law Firm. His primary practice is personal injury trial law and he also focuses on employment discrimination and medical malpractice. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law. Toby earned his law degree from the University of Houston in 1998 and his MBA that same year. He graduated with honors from the University of Houston in 1995. In 1990, Toby was injured in a diving accident that left him completely paralyzed from the neck down. He is on the Board of Directors of TIRR Foundation, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association Houston and the Living Hope Wheelchair Association.

Raul A. Gallegos – Position 5

Raul Gallegos is a proud father of three and a guide dog user. Originally from Denver Colorado, he now resides with his wife Stacie, in Houston Texas, where they own and operate RGA Tech Solutions, a small business whose primary purpose is to provide blind and low-vision customers with individualized assistive technology training. Along with teaching individuals, Raul also conducts group trainings for sighted individuals who serve members of the blind and visually impaired communities. Raul holds several certifications, showing he is knowledgeable with Windows and Mac operating systems, iOS and Android devices, and various book reading and notetaking devices.
Raul has been an active member of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), since 1992 when he still lived in Colorado. He currently serves as Vice President of The National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) and Vice President of the Houston chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas.

In his spare time, Raul likes to travel to new places, read science fiction and fantasy books, and watch action and adventure movies. At heart, he is a very dedicated Star Trek fan.

Richard E. Petty- Position 6

Richard Petty is Director of the National Center for Aging and Disability (NCAD) at TIRR (The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research) and Co-Director of ILRU at TIRR. NCAD is a newly formed center that addresses the concerns of persons with disabilities who are aging and of those who acquire disabilities as they age. Petty has served as the Executive Director of the National Resource Center for Participant Directed Services and as Research Professor in the School of Social Work at Boston College. Petty serves as Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation in the McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). He has also directed several other national programs that foster organizational capacity to support community-based living, including the ILRU New Community Opportunities Center; the IL-NET training and technical assistance program; the ILRU Community Living Partnership; and the Real Choice Systems Change initiative. Petty holds an MBA degree from the C. T. Bauer School of Business at the University of Houston. He writes and presents on disability and aging, nonprofit management, nonprofit financial management, organizational innovation and change, and program evaluation. Petty and his wife Karen Petty live in the Vermont Commons area in District C of Houston and he works in the Texas Medical Center in Houston’s District D.

Tina Williams- Position 7

Commissioner Tina Williams is a mother of five and grandmother of eight. Her view of the world is from a seated position, which will definitely alter your perspective of things, if you're not careful. Ms. Williams' philosophy on life is, "Your present position doesn't determine your future." If you ask her how she's doing, she will respond, "still winning". That's her mentality when she wakes up in the morning.

Commissioner Williams is a member of New Light Christian Center Church. She volunteers there weekly, as well as participates in every activity that her busy schedule permits. On a daily basis Ms. Williams can be found hanging out and encouraging the children of her community that positive actions bring about positive reactions.

Ms. Williams worked as a council aide for Council Member Stephen Costello, At-Large Position 1. Among her accomplishments, Tina is a board member of Barbara Jordan Endeavors Corporation, member of National Hispanic Professional Organization, Fiel Houston and a life coach for Cool Beans University. She is a graduate of the Hilliard Vocational Bible Institute's Ministry Development Curriculum.
Ms. Williams is also Ms. Wheelchair Texas' Ms. Congeniality 2011. And in 2012 she was 1st runner up for Ms. Wheelchair Texas. Ms. Williams' role model is the Bible's Enoch, simply because he pleased God, and she wants God to be pleased with her actions.

Emmanual Arizona Eziashi- Position 8

Emmanuel is a resident of Houston Harris County and retired from Airline Service since 2011 for 29 years as a Ramp Agent Supervisor. He has served in activities in various with the Deaf Communities up to this day. Plan to lead people with disabilities to better access.

Sara Freeman Smith – Position 9

Sara is a seasoned HR professional with more than 25 years of Recruiting leadership experience. She is self-employed as a Career Coach, Recruiting Advocate for people with disabilities & Contract Senior Recruiter. She received her credentials certification as a Job Coach/Job Placement Specialist for individuals with disabilities from the University of North Texas. She has worked for major corporations such as BP, First Data and GE Oil & Gas. Sara has been legally blind for the past 14 years & understands the challenges working with a disability from both perspectives –as an employer & employee. She is a native Houstonian and honor graduate of the University of Southern California & University of Phoenix. She is active in the disability community as a member of VIA (Visually Impaired Advocates), Houston Council for the Blind, iBUG (IOS Blind Users Group –Apple & Android Products), board member of National Women with Disabilities Empowerment Forum and most recently selected to serve on the board of the Texas Rehabilitation Association. Sara volunteers as a motivational speaker to a variety of community groups & churches on job search skills and career planning.

A wise man once said, “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life!” Well, I love what I do, helping people find their career path and achieve their goals especially as a recruiting advocate for people with disabilities.

Benigno Aceves, Jr.-Position 10

Independent Living & Vocational Rehabilitation Teacher Coordinator (Houston Region), Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Workforce Solutions, Vocational Rehabilitation Services.

Benigno Aceves has over 16 years of experience in working with individuals of all ages & disabilities. Benigno is currently the Independent Living Coordinator for the Houston Region within the Texas Workforce Commission.  Benigno provides support to two programs, the Vocational Rehabilitation Teacher & Independent Living Program. 

Benigno has chaired city wide events and fundraisers in order to bring awareness & support to those who are disabled, in particular, vision loss.  Benigno has conducted countless blind awareness presentations/trainings throughout the city of Houston, as well as statewide.  Audiences include various colleges/universities, numerous businesses, Goodwill, Providence Place, Boeing Company at NASA, the 2012 Chinese Delegation, the Texas RehabACTion Network Conference, Texas Chapter – International Association of Workforce Professionals Conference & the 2015 Annual Texas Workforce Conference.  In addition, Benigno works in partnership with staff & employers in order to break down barriers in order to develop job opportunities for persons with disabilities.  Benigno does this by providing accessible job environments and by helping giving back the confidence to those who are disabled through implementing regional & state-wide trainings. 

Prior to the role of Independent Living Coordinator, Benigno worked within DARS as a Vocational Rehabilitation Teacher. Benigno also worked at Lone Star Community College in the Assistive Technology Lab & for Houston Aldine Independent School District working with children with severe to minor intellectual disorders.

Benigno holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from University of Houston-Downtown and a Teacher Certification from Lone Star College.  Benigno was also provided with two certificates for learning Uncontracted & Contracted Braille.  In 2012 & 2014, Houston’s Mayor Annise D. Parker presented Benigno the official proclamation for his leadership in chairing the Houston’s White Cane Safety Day event.  In 2012 Benigno was awarded and recognized by DARS as having the highest blind/visually impaired client closure/employed per VR Teacher caseload throughout the State of Texas.  Lastly, Benigno was fortunate enough to win the 2015 Mayor's disability Advocate of the Year Award.

Benigno not only possesses the knowledge in working with persons who are blind, but the passion in starting innovative and quality programs that will enrich the lives of those who are disabled.  Benigno does this by not focusing on disabilities, but by acknowledging one’s ABILITIES in accomplishing their goals.

Eileen Edmonds -Position 11

Eileen Edmonds is a concerned citizen, parent, and professional passionate about making a positive impact in the lives of individuals with disabilities. In 2010 she participated in the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities’ Disability Leadership Network of Houston and she continues to serve the board of Family to Family Network.  Her career is and always has been working for non-profit organizations serving the underserved through the arts. Eileen worked for 16 years with The Boys’ Club of New York as the Cultural Arts Director before joining The River Performing and Visual Arts Center providing arts engagement opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Her personal and professional experiences have shaped the advocate she is today.

Mark Potts -Position 12

Mark Potts was first introduced to disability on October 30, 2006 when his son Rees was born at 23 weeks premature and left Rees deaf and blind with an intellectual disability. Rees’ multiple disabilities lead Mark to become an advocate for people with disabilities and with the partnership of others established a program that provides access to education and therapeutic tools for parents, therapists and teachers. Additionally, Mark has chaired benefits to raise funds for special projects, managed the West University Challenger baseball league for children with a variety of disabilities, coached the Poe Elementary Special Olympics team and has established a support group of fathers of children with disability needs each month.

Asha Dhuka - Alternate 1

Dr. Asha Dhuka is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physician practicing in the Clear Lake area. As a long-time Houston resident, Dr. Dhuka graduated from Houston Baptist University before going on to complete her medical residency in PM&R at Baylor College of Medicine in 2016.  As a practicing physiatrist, she works to treat individuals with disabilities resulting from brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and sports injuries, as well as disabilities resulting from damage to nerves, joints, and muscles. She has served in various capacities as a volunteer for the Aga Khan Ismaili Community, and as a physician volunteer with Rehabilitation Services Volunteer Project (R.S.V.P).  Dr. Dhuka and her husband are proud residents of the city of Houston.

Vacant - Alternate 2

Vacant - Alternate 3

Khafilat Oyindamola Adesokan- Alternate 4

Khafilat Oyindamola Adesokan has spent 15 years of her personal and professional career empowering, advocating and dealing with issues that affect individuals with disabilities. She previously worked as a Director with Goodwill Industries Houston for many years where she demonstrated the ability and spirit demanded of in working with individuals in every walk of life. She currently supports a staff that work with at-risk youth primarily in the Southwest side of Houston where the program is making a difference in their lives by exposing them to career options, and placing them in employment.

HCOD Agendas

List Of HCOD Committees

Emergency Preparedness - Advises and makes recommendations to Greater Houston area leaders on emergency preparedness, response and recovery policies and procedures for people with disabilities

Employment - Promotes employment for people with disabilities through collaboration with employers and government agencies

Community and Transit Access – Works with city officials to develop and support policies and procedures that will improve access to public transportation and parking in the City of Houston

Public Awareness– Develops branding and marketing to ensure public awareness of HCOD programs, services and activities in a variety of formats, including by print and electronic means

Education - Advocates for students with disabilities in area schools and works in conjunction with the local education agencies to improve the quality of education for individuals with disabilities. Increases awareness of recreational and educational activities in the COH for students with disabilities.

Housing and Tenancy

Strategic Planning and Commission Membership

Disability Unity and Pride Celebration

Sidewalk Safety & Parking Permits

Parking Permits

City of Houston Volunteer Parking Enforcement and Accessible Parking Information

Disabled Parking, Placards, and Plates

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles

Harris County Tax Office

Survey & Speaker Request Form

We Want To Hear From You

Please answer the following questions to the best of your ability.  Although we may share your comments and suggestions, all names and email addresses are confidential.

Speaker Request Form

Gabe Cazares, Director
Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, TX 77251

PLEASE NOTE ... Requests must be made 15 days in advance and will only be confirmed by the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities.

ADA and You

City of Houston

ADA Coordinator --

ADA Policy --

ADA Grievance Procedure --

Web Accessibility Statement --


Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) --

Department of Justice --