Taking on 2018 with Fierce Optimism

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Something special is in the air, and it’s not just cedar fever.

It’s optimism.

2017 was a devastating year for many Texans. Hurricane Harvey killed at least 90 people, caused over $100 billion in damage, flooded hundreds of thousands of homes and displaced tens of thousands of people.

A largely misguided Texas legislative session and special session put ideology over the concerns of hard-working Texans, which led to missed opportunities and some dangerous new laws.

Congressional leaders attacked the Affordable Care Act, a valuable law that has led to dramatic reductions in the uninsured rate in Texas.

Immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ Americans and others were unfairly targeted, and remain vulnerable to political and personal attacks as the new year begins.

But I am fiercely optimistic about what we can accomplish in 2018.

I’m inspired by the powerful voices of women telling their stories of harassment and abuse through the #MeToo and TimesUp campaigns, and demanding accountability.

I’m inspired by the bravery of DACA recipients, young immigrants who are contributing so much to our state and country and who refuse to give up on their dreams.

I’m inspired to see so many newcomers across the political spectrum engaged in our democracy and running for office.

And I’m inspired by all the conversations I’ve had with Texans of all backgrounds who are revved up and ready for real change.

I don’t want to sugarcoat the challenges ahead of us in Texas. But as we saw after Hurricane Harvey, we will harness the power, compassion and resilience of the Texas spirit to demand a more just and prosperous Texas.

Image: “Sunrise Over PM”, BFS Man, Flickr Creative Commons, License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode

A renowned social justice lawyer, former philanthropy executive, and frequent public speaker and writer, Ann Beeson joined the Center in 2013. She was previously the Executive Director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations, where she promoted human rights, justice, and accountability nationwide. Beeson was the national Associate Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she worked from 1995-2007. She argued twice before the U.S. Supreme Court, litigated numerous cases around the country, and launched groundbreaking programs to stop the erosion of civil liberties in the name of national security and to protect free speech and privacy on the Internet. Beeson has been recognized as one of the nation’s top lawyers by American Lawyer Magazine and the National Law Journal. A proud Texan, Beeson has embraced a wide range of innovative strategies to advance social change. Before joining the Center, she launched a new non-profit to involve the creative sector in social change. In 2012-13, she was a Senior Fellow and Lecturer at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas, where she co-produced a public media series to inspire more people to get engaged in their communities. She grew up in Dallas, Texas, and received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Texas. Beeson obtained her law degree from Emory University School of Law, and served as law clerk to the Honorable Barefoot Sanders, then chief judge of the Northern District of Texas.

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