Jonathan M. Saenz, President

Follow Jonathan: @jonathansaenzTX

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Jonathan M. Saenz, Esq., is the President of Texas Values, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving and advancing a culture of family values in the state of Texas. Jonathan’s work on these issues spans two decades.

Prior to leading Texas Values (2012), Jonathan headed the First Liberty Institute offices at the Texas Capitol in Austin where he served as Director of Legislative Affairs and Attorney for First Liberty Institute (2007-2012). He frequently presents research,  analysis, and testimony before the Texas Legislature, State Board of Education, and other government entities on various issues affecting faith, family, and freedom.

Jonathan believes in religious liberty, sanctity of human life, family values, and constitutional rights and has been involved in numerous court cases, including cases before the Texas Supreme Court and the United State Supreme Court. Jonathan is the leading voice in Texas on marriage between one man and one woman and he was instrumental in the passage of Texas laws to protect religious liberty (“Under God” in the Texas pledge, the “One State Under God” license plate, the “Merry Christmas law”, the “Pastor Protection Law,” Freedom to Serve Children Act, and The First Amendment Defense Act/”Save Chick-fil-A” Law), pro-life laws such as the “Choose Life” license plate, the Sonogram law, HB 2 and many others. Jonathan served as a lawyer for Gianna Jessen, a courageous woman who survived a late-term abortion attempt when she was in the womb and is now a famous pro-life advocate.

Jonathan was also part of the winning legal team that successfully defended the religious freedom and free speech rights of nonprofit pregnancy care centers for women in Austin. Since 2005, Jonathan has worked to protect marriage between one man and one woman and policies that support this principle, and he has helped defeat threatening legislation on these matters in every legislative session since 2007. In 2015, Jonathan was the leading statewide voice in Texas that helped defeat the dangerous LGBT Houston “bathroom” ordinance, that would have allowed men into women’s bathrooms and would have restricted the religious freedom on businesses and nonprofit organizations. Jonathan also helped lead the State Board of Education victories to prevent censorship in the Science classroom and protect strong Social Studies & History teaching.

Jonathan hosts the weekly radio show “The Texas Values Report,” and has been featured in local, national, and international media such as Fox News, CNN, USA Radio, Austin-American Statesman, Dallas Morning News, and Houston Chronicle among many others, and is a sought-after speaker for important events. Mr. Saenz received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center where he was the leader of the Pro-Life Cougars group that successfully defended its free speech rights in a landmark court case against the university. Jonathan received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied family policy issues. Jonathan is a 5th-generation Texan with strong family ties to Central and South Texas. He and his family live in Central Texas and are members of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.

Photo of Jeremy PickensJeremy Pickens, Director of Operations

After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Economics from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, Jeremy began working as a stockbroker. He later became a licensed Investment Advisor helping clients manage over $12 million in assets. He then transitioned to a dual role as an investment and banking officer with a large national bank.

Seeing the importance of helping others, he was successfully accepted to medical school. While attending medical school, Jeremy quickly realized his true calling was working in the community helping others. For over five years, he worked with Joyce Meyer Ministries at the St. Louis Dream Center overseeing inner-city feeding programs designed to help the less fortunate.

Under his leadership, the feeding programs grew from 101,000 meals in 2010 to over 1 million meals in 2015, while reducing costs dramatically during the same period. His commitment to excellence and team development in high growth, rapid change environments led to local, regional, and national recognition by individuals, organizations such as Feeding America, and by Under Secretary Kevin Concannon of the USDA.

Sensing a need to reach children and adults battling chronic extreme poverty, he helped create the 501(c)(3) public charity organization Nehemiah Fund, Inc. in early 2015. Working alongside his wife Robin and their three-year-old son Elijah, they created a program that is impacting the lives of at-risk children.

He returned to Mexico in 2021 to launch Baja First Alert, a medical alert business helping the nearly 10,000 ex-pats living in Baja Califonia. His family returned to the US after Robin became pregnant with their second child.

He is happy to be serving with an organization truly making a difference in Texas for faith and family values. He and his wife recently celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary and have two children.

Jonathan Covey, Director of Policy

Follow Jonathan Covey on Twitter: @jonathan_covey

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Jonathan Covey is the Director of Policy for Texas Values, a nonprofit group dedicated to fighting for faith, family, and freedom in the state of Texas. Before joining Texas Values, Jonathan worked for a member of the U.S. Congress and then spent over 5 years working in the Texas Capitol Building. He first served as Chief of Staff for a State Representative, and afterward as Senior Policy Analyst for a State Senator. In his Senate position, Jonathan helped manage the policy team and was lead staffer for the Senate State Affairs committee, staffing many public hearings during pro-life and pro-family legislative measures.

Jonathan graduated with a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Thomas Edison State University and obtained his first law degree from Oak Brook College of Law. During law school, he clerked part-time for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. He is currently working on his second law degree from Mitchell Hamline School of Law, specializing in dispute resolution and mediation. He currently lives with his wife, Sarah, and their baby in the Cedar Park area.

Mary Elizabeth Castle, Director of Government Relations

Follow Mary Elizabeth: @MECastlePolicy1 

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Mary Elizabeth Castle is the Director of Government Relations for Texas Values and Texas Values Action, the largest statewide policy organization focusing on faith, family, and freedom in the State of Texas. As the Director of Government Relations, she works daily with the Texas Values team, legislators, and their staff at the Texas Capitol to ensure pro-family values are protected.

Mary Elizabeth has been published in the Daily Signal for her work on protecting children and is a contributor to the prolife publication Society of St. Sabastian where she has been awarded the honor of ‘Fellow.’ Mary Elizabeth has been invited to speak at venues across the state of Texas and the United States including the Texas GOP Convention and the national Pro-life Women’s Conference (PLWC).

Before joining the Texas Values team, Ms. Castle worked under the General Counsel at Midwestern State University, focusing on education policy. She also worked at First Liberty, where she conducted research and performed outreach for attorneys.

In law school, Mary Elizabeth interned for the Honorable Robert Junell in the federal district court of West Texas and the Honorable Vikki Miles-LaGrange in the federal district court of Oklahoma. She was also president of Texas Tech’s chapter of the Federalist Society.

Mary Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Southern Methodist University and received her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Texas Tech School of Law. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Austin-based pro-life organization, Embrace Life Initiative.

Photo of Alex Woodby, Development AssociateAlex Woodby, Development Associate

Alex Woodby is the Development Associate with Texas Values, a nonprofit group dedicated to fighting for faith, family, and freedom in the state of Texas. Before joining Texas Values, Alex worked for LegalZoom in their sales department. Prior to that, Alex worked in various other roles utilizing his skills in sales, marketing, and event coordinating. Alex graduated from Baylor University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Corporate Communications. While attending Baylor University, Alex was very involved in church missions locally and abroad. He was also involved in a campus nonprofit group that benefited Mission Waco.

Currently Alex is actively involved with a church plant in the Hutto area. He has also been blessed with the opportunity to serve on the leadership team for a community-wide young adult ministry. Alex currently lives with his wife, Tiffany, in the Georgetown area.

GJacquesGeorgina Jacques, Executive Assistant

Georgina Jacques received her Bachelor’s Degree in Art from Texas State University in San Marcos, with a minor in Mass Communications. After a career in retail sales, Mrs. Jacques decided on a new career path after the birth of her daughter.

A devout Catholic, Georgina grew up doing mission work with her family. She has been involved in the prolife movement for a number of years, as a Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) prayer volunteer and sidewalk advocate, and also through her parish in Kyle. In her spare time, Georgina enjoys creating art, and spending time with her husband and toddler daughter.

Board of Directors

Brian Russell, Esq. – Board Chairman

Brian is a registered patent attorney and managing partner of Russell Ng PLLC.  Brian advises his clients regarding intellectual property issues and secures their intellectual property rights by preparing and filing patent and trademark applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Brian has been a board member of Texas Values and Texas Values Action since 2012.  Brian served on the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) of the Republican Party of Texas from 2004-2010 and was a candidate for the State Board of Education.

Brian and his wife Julia have been married for 27 years and have seven children.  They are members of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Austin.

Kelly Shackelford

Kelly J. Shackelford, Esq. is President and Chief Executive Officer of First Liberty Institute. Mr. Shackelford is a constitutional scholar who has argued before the United States Supreme Court, testified before the U.S. House & Senate, and has won numerous landmark First Amendment and religious liberty cases, including the landmark religious liberty victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, American Legion v. America Humanist Association.

Mr. Shackelford was named one of the 25 Greatest Texas Lawyers of the past quarter century by Texas Lawyer and is the recipient of the prestigious William Bentley Ball Award for Life and Religious Freedom Defense for his leadership and pioneering work protecting religious freedom.

Mr. Shackelford is on the Board of Trustees of the United States Supreme Court Historical Society. He has been featured in the National Law Journal, Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Times, The L.A. Times, and many others.

He was an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Texas Law School and graduated cum laude from Baylor University (1985) and graduated from Baylor Law School (1988) with the highest unadjusted GPA in his graduating class.

Susan Taylor

Susan is a  3rd generation Texan. She attended Texas A&M on a scholarship but moved to West Texas with her husband, Ben, and finished a Business Management degree at UTPB in Odessa, in 1982.

After working a few years in personnel management and oil & gas accounting, she chose to stay home and raise their children. Susan served in many volunteer positions in her community, including the board of Safe Place of the Permian Basin (covering 15 counties), a domestic violence center, for over 15 years. For a portion of that time, Susan served in the capacity of President and helped to raise $22 million for a new housing and counseling facility. Susan took on the accounting duties for her husband’s business when her children were in school.

Currently, Susan teaches an adult Sunday school class at North Side Baptist in Weatherford, as well as volunteering in the Home Ministry and serving as President of the local Ladies’ Golf group. With all of Susan’s children married, she is a proud grandmother to 9 beautiful children.

Vince Puente

Vince Puente is a proud native and resident of North Texas. He is a small business owner, who understands the balance of creating value for his clients, teammates and the community. He understands the importance of making payrolls, timely payments to his vendors and a respectable bottom-line to invest in the future. More importantly he believes the Lord and family come first and foremost.

Mr. Puente received his formal education via the local school district and the University of Texas at Arlington. Early in his career, Mr. Puente immersed himself in education related to his skill set and industry field. It soon became apparent that this pursuit of education would be one of his ongoing, lifetime passions. As he took on additional responsibilities within SOS, he pursued personal education in each area. One prime example is that of marketing and advertising. With no formal education in these areas, it is safe to say Mr. Puente has built the SOS “brand”, resulting in SOS being one of the most recognizable companies in North Texas. In addition, SOS has received national recognition within its industry and the business community.

Mr. Puente is one who believes in active participation within his community. Currently he serves on four (4) boards and advisory councils. Those include the Finance Commission of Texas (Governor Abbott appointee), YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, Texas Values and Congresswoman Kay Granger’s Hispanic Advisory Council. Mr. Puente has been previously named as Businessman of the Year for the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce, an Aflac Civic Leader, an Honoree for The Father of the Year Awards and State of Texas Small Business Champion.

When asked what accomplishments he feels represent his vision for excellence, one he will cite is SOS Plaza. This is the home of his companies, Southwest Office Systems, Inc. and Puente Brothers Investments. It is a 39,000 sq. ft., Class A facility on 2.5 acres across from the American Airlines World HQ. The document technology industry considers SOS Plaza to be one of the best in the nation. But what is truly amazing is that his companies and SOS Plaza are entirely debt-free.

However, Vince is not all business. He will tell you it is his wife, Mona, and his children, Vincent, Jr. and Lindsay, of which he is most proud. His family is far more important to him than any business accomplishment he could ever desire. Vince and Mona are active members of Christ Chapel Bible Church.