Thomas Palladino has served as the Executive Director of the Texas Veterans Commission since 2010. In this position he is responsible for directing the overall administration of the agency and provides leadership for all stakeholders within the State of Texas to accomplish its mission which is to advocate for and provide superior service that will significantly improve the quality of life for all Texas Veterans, their Families, and their survivors. Additionally, Tom Palladino is a Past President of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs.
He retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Army in September 2009 after 27 years of service (1982- 2009). During this time Tom Palladino served in both the active U.S. Army and the Texas Army National Guard as an Active Guard Reserve officer.
As an Armored Cavalry Officer during the Cold War, he served in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (Blackhorse) and patrolled the East-West Germany border in the Fulda Gap. He also served as an Armored Cavalry Troop Commander in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (Brave Rifles) at Ft. Bliss, Texas.
In the Texas Army National Guard, Tom Palladino served under the Adjutant General where he provided needed support and assistance to Texas National Guard Soldiers, Airmen, and military family members. He coordinated a state-wide collaborative partnership among all federal, state, and local organizations to enhance benefits and services for all military veterans and their families in the State of Texas.
He also served as an Associate Professor of Military Science (Army ROTC) at the University of Texas at Austin and an Associate Professor in Government at Austin Community College. As a Texas Public School Social Studies teacher, he taught High School and Middle School students in the Austin and Pflugerville Independent School Districts.
Tom Palladino’s education includes a BA in Political Science from Providence College and a MA in Political Science from Texas State University, Texas. Additionally, he possesses a Texas Secondary Education Teaching Certificate and Texas Public School Principal’s Certification.
His father, Victor, was a World War II Army Veteran who served in the Italian Campaign with the 5th US Army and both grandfathers were World War I Army Veterans who served with the 26th Infantry Division in France.
DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Shawn Deabay was selected as the Deputy Executive Director for the Texas Veterans Commission in June 2019. In this position, he assists with the overall strategic vision and administration of the agency. He also develops policies, procedures, and guidelines establishing priorities to meet agency goals. Shawn directly oversees Communications & Outreach, the Women Veterans Program, Government Relations, and Information Resources.
He has been serving veterans for the State of Texas with both the Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas Veterans Commission for over 23 years. Shawn began his career with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) as a Veterans Career Advisor in East Texas on May 15, 2000. Shortly after, he became a Veterans Employer Liaison in 2003. In March 2006, he transitioned to the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) where he has held multiple positions.
At TVC, Shawn started as the Veterans Employment District Manager for East Texas. He served as a policy writer and performance analyst before moving up to Operations Manager and then onto Employment Services Director. From there he moved up to Division Director for Program Operations over multiple programs before being selected for his current position.
Shawn earned a National Employment Services Award from the Disabled American Veterans for his service to disabled veterans as well as receiving State Employment Awards from the Disabled American Veterans and American Legion.
Shawn earned his Master of Public Administration from the University of Texas at Permian Basin, his Bachelor of Science in Management from Park University, and Associate of Science in General Business from Angelina College. He is a graduate of the Governor’s Executive Deployment Program and the Texas Fiscal Officer’s Academy. He served with the Maine National Guard from 1990 to 1992 and is a veteran of the United States Army from 1992 to 1998 before being medically discharged.
Kathleen (“Kathy”) Cordova joined the Texas Veterans Commission on June 2023 as General Counsel. Over the course of the past 30 years, Kathy has served as General Counsel for a quasi-governmental agency and as Assistant General Counsel for numerous Texas state agencies. Before that, she worked as a District Aide for a U.S. Congressional representative from Little Rock, Arkansas, where she served as the liaison to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Kathy hails from San Antonio, Texas. She graduated from George Washington University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law. She is a Leadership Texas alum and co-founded Las Comadres, a nationally known Latina organization empowering women to be actively engaged in the growing Latino/Hispanic communities through online and face-to-face networks.
Kathy has started legal internship programs at many of the state agencies she has served. She finds it rewarding and still keeps in contact with many of her interns.
When away from the office, Kathy enjoys cheering on her Spurs, the LSU Tigers, and the New Orleans Saints. She also enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to live music.
Kathy’s father was a Marine veteran who served during the Korean era and as an officer for the American Legion. She knows he would be proud she is now serving our veterans.
COMMUNICATIONS & VETERAN OUTREACH DIRECTOR
Angela Woellner is the Communications and Outreach Director at the Texas Veterans Commission. The TVC Communications Department works with media, fellow agencies, community partners, and the public to raise awareness of the wide array of services available to veterans, their family, and survivors.
Angela earned a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Montana. Her career in communications began as a TV news anchor and reporter for nearly 13 years at stations in Montana, Kansas, and California. Angela’s stories included everything from breaking news coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, to local, county, and state government topics. In 2018, she started her government communications career at the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Most recently, Angela worked as press officer at the Texas Workforce Commission.
Angela comes from a long family line of veterans dating back to the Revolutionary War. Her brother, Charles, served several tours to Iraq in the Marine Corps. Angela is grateful to be able to share the stories of Texas veterans and provide outreach to raise awareness of the benefits they earned by serving our country. At home, Angela and her husband, Jeremy, have twin daughters, and enjoy exploring places close to home and afar.
DR. KRYSTLE MATTHEWS
WOMEN VETERANS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Dr. Krystle Matthews, U.S. Army veteran, is the Women Veterans Program Director at Texas Veterans Commission. Dr. Matthews educates women veterans on the benefits and services they earned through their military service; assist women veterans with accessing those benefits and services; and collaborates with federal, state, and local partners to provide existing services and create new services to meet unmet needs. Previously, Dr. Matthews worked in Veterans Employment Services where she served as a Veterans Career Advisor, District Outreach Coordinator, and State Women Veterans Employment Coordinator.
As a Veterans Career Advisor, Dr. Matthews worked one-on-one with veterans to help them overcome barriers to obtaining suitable and long-term employment. As the Gulf Coast District Outreach Coordinator, Dr. Matthews provided support services to internal staff and external partners. She created and cultivated relationships that essentially provided wraparound services for veterans seeking employment as well as other assistance (i.e., clothing, financial, housing, etc.). As the State Women Veterans Employment Coordinator, Dr. Matthews advocated on behalf of women veterans in employment and training opportunities. She worked to educate employers on the benefits of hiring women veterans to fill open positions as well as the benefits available to employers for hiring Texas veterans. She also educated women veterans on the benefits and services available to them through employer programs.
Dr. Matthews holds a bachelor’s degree in Technical Management, a master’s degree in Human Resource Development, and a doctorate in Education. She is active in several veteran service organizations and empowers college students to lead and succeed by serving as an advisor for a nationally recognized leadership honor society. She recently received the Outstanding Women in Texas Government Community Involvement Award. When Dr. Matthews has free time, she spends it with her family and volunteering in local communities. She is very passionate about helping others and advocating on behalf of veterans.
INFORMATION RESOURCES DIRECTOR
Swapna Jain is the Director of Information Resources for Texas Veterans Commission. She is an impact-driven and seasoned solution-oriented product and program management professional. She has several years of experience in the development and implementation of innovative business solutions to achieve strategic goals, delivering medium to large scale enterprise IT projects from conception to delivery.
She has extensive professional experience in business, system analysis, project management, and change and release management to serve various service groups in government agencies and corporate organizations.
Swapna earned her bachelor’s degree in computer applications in 2002. She enjoys hiking, yoga, and other fitness routines, alongside spending time with her family. Swapna is grateful for the opportunity to serve Veterans in the great state of Texas.
GOVERNMENT RELATIONS DIRECTOR
James Crabtree leads the Government Relations Section at the Texas Veterans Commission and serves as the agency’s primary point of contact for lawmakers, their staff, and external stakeholders, such as the Office of the Governor and the Legislative Budget Board. He also leads the development of the agency’s strategic plan and legislative appropriations request.
Crabtree is a United States Marine who completed basic training in 1997. He served for three years as an 81 mm mortarman and was commissioned in 2000 after graduating from OCS and the University of Texas. He deployed to Al-Anbar, Iraq in 2004-2005 with a Marine infantry battalion. He now serves in the Marine Corps Reserve and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 2019. He is a graduate of the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Warfare School and the Command and Staff College.
Prior to joining the Texas Veterans Commission, Crabtree was the director of the Veteran Affairs & Border Security Committee in the Texas Senate from 2016 to 2021. Before that he worked for 12 years in a variety of roles with the Texas Veterans Land Board. Crabtree is married and he and his wife Meredith (whom he met as a pen-pal while deployed to Iraq) reside in the Liberty Hill, Texas area and have four children and a rescue lab. His hobbies and interests consist of baseball, politics, history, reading, running, and the Indianapolis 500.
RESOURCE MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR
Charlie C. Osborne, Jr. (Chip) is the Director of Resource Management at the Texas Veterans Commission with responsibility for Human Resources, Financial Management, Training & Event Management, Fund for Veterans’ Assistance, Veterans Mental Health, and Veterans Entrepreneur Program.
He retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Army in September 2012 after 25 years of service (1987-2012). During this time, Chip served in both the active U.S. Army, Tennessee, and the Texas Army National Guard as an Active Guard Reserve officer.
In the Texas Army National Guard, he served under the Adjutant General as the Comptroller at the United States Property & Fiscal Office. He also served with the 36th Infantry Division as the G8 (Comptroller), where he provided financial management and assistance to Texas National Guard Soldiers. In addition, he deployed with the 36th Infantry Division to Basra, Iraq, USD-South from 2010 – 2011 for Operation New Dawn.
He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Human Services from Carson-Newman University, Jefferson City, Tennessee, and a Master of Science in Human Resources and Development from National-Louis University, Chicago, Illinois.
Chip is also the partner/owner for Slab BBQ & Beer with two restaurants in Austin and they recently, added a third location in Cedar Park. Chip is a life member of the American Legion Kerlin-Lyerly #154, National Guard Association of Texas, and National Guard Bureau Association.
HUMAN RESOURCES & TRAINING DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR
Tina Marberry is the Director of the Human Resources and Training and Event Management Department for Texas Veterans Commission. She served in the United States Army as a Human Resource Specialist for 23 years and retired on August 31, 2015 as a Master Sergeant. During her service she deployed twice to combat areas and received the Bronze Star Medal and Legion of Merit. Tina finished her military career as a Department of the Army Inspector General.
Tina joined Texas Veterans Commission on July 1, 2015 as the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director. After two years in the position she was appointed as the Operations Manager for the Veterans Education Department where she provided overall program management, direction and supervision of the State Approving Agency (SAA) and Hazlewood Department. After two years in the position, Tina transitioned to become the Director of Human Resources and Training and Event Management Department on October 1, 2020.
Tina received her Bachelor of Science in Business Management in February 2014 and is a member of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP).
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
Kenneth Biddle is the Chief Financial Officer at the Texas Veterans Commission with responsibility for Financial Management, Reporting, and Procurement. Kenneth filled several financial positions in state agencies and has served as the Chief Financial Officer for the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, the Texas Historical Commission and the Commission on State Emergency Communications. He has extensive experience in budget, having been a budget analyst for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Kenneth served in the United States Navy as a Supply Corps Officer from 2001 – 2008, and in the Naval Reserves from 2009 – 2013. Kenneth is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a B.B.A. in Business
Management and a graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler with an M.B.A. He received his Certified Public Accountant License in 2016 and has been a Certified Texas Purchasing Manager / Contract
Developer since 2017. Kenneth is a graduate of the Texas Fiscal Officers’ Academy.
DR. BLAKE HARRIS
VETERANS MENTAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR
Dr. Blake Harris is a licensed clinical forensic psychologist and the Director of the Veterans Mental Health Department (VMHD) for the Texas Veterans Commission. In this position he is responsible for the VMHD as it strives to connect service members, veterans, and their families (SMVF) with local, competent, and relevant mental health resources. VMHD meets this charge by providing trainings on mental health topics relevant to the SMVF, by providing certification standards and guidance to the Military Veteran Peer Network, by advocating for justice-involved veterans across Texas, and by coordinating with other agencies and community partners.
Prior to joining TVC, Dr. Harris has been responsible for program development and implementation in both secured-residential and community-based settings while providing oversight and leadership to diverse professional teams including clinicians, case managers, program coordinators, family partners, and direct care staff. Additionally, he has participated in mental health specialty courts and provided training and clinical supervision to predoctoral interns and postdoctoral clinicians. He has also worked with adults, adolescents, and families of underserved populations in various residential and outpatient settings and instructed graduate courses in forensic mental health risk assessment. He obtained his PhD in Clinical Forensic Psychology from Alliant International University and his Master of Arts in Psychology from Stephen F. Austin State University. Dr. Harris is a proud Texan and is grateful for the opportunity the serve the SMVF across the Lone Star State.
ELAINE M. ZAVALA
FUND FOR VETERANS’ ASSISTANCE DIRECTOR
Elaine Zavala is the Fund for Veterans’ Assistance Director at the Texas Veterans Commission.
Governor Greg Abbott appointed Ms. Zavala to the State Employee Charitable Campaign Advisory Committee in 2017. The committee advises the comptroller and the state policy committee in adopting rules and establishing procedures for the campaign.
Elaine is a member of the Texas State Set-Aside Committee for the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program. The committee allocates federal FEMA funds for food and shelter. She also serves as President of the American Society of Public Administration’s Central Texas Chapter. The chapter is dedicated to advancing the teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.
Ms. Zavala is a member of the State Agency Council, which provides support to the Governor’s Commission for Women and offers professional development training to its members. She also serves as a board member of the Young Catholic Professionals Austin Chapter, which connects young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s to grow in their Catholic faith. Elaine earned a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Public Administration from Texas State University.
VETERANS ENTREPRENEUR PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Megan Tamez is the Director of the Veterans Entrepreneur Program (VEP). The Entrepreneur Program assists veterans, their family members, and survivors through the process of opening a business from the first ideation through closure. Megan has served the veterans of Texas since September 2014, first as a Veterans Service Officer for the Claims Department. She moved to the Health Care Department in 2016 as the Operations Manager and became the VEP Director in May 2022.
Megan is a proud Army veteran and military spouse who served in the US Army from 2001 to 2006, with one deployment to Iraq from 2004 to 2005. She holds an MBA in Health Care Management from Columbia Southern University. Upon her husband, JT’s, retirement from the US Army in 2017, they moved to Boerne. Away from the office, you can find her reading or on one of the many Texas rivers, lakes, or coastlines, spending time with one or all of her six kids, two daughters-in-law, and three grandkids, kayaking, tubing, or fishing.
PROGRAM OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
As the Division Director for Program Operations, Mr. Catoe is responsible for the agency’s departments that serve Texas veterans by filing disability claims, assisting with employment or transitioning from the military, approving education and training programs for GI Bill® use, administering the Hazlewood state education benefit and providing healthcare advocacy at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical facilities. Mr. Catoe assumed his current role as the Division Director of Program Operations in June of 2019. Mr. Catoe has been with TVC since October 2014 and held various positions in Veterans Education and the Fund for Veterans’ Assistance.
Mr. Catoe is 27-year retired Air Force veteran. While serving in the Air Force, Colonel Catoe was a Command Pilot with more than 4,200 total flying hours (300 in combat) and held command positions at the squadron and group levels. Mr. Catoe holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy, two master’s degrees from Air University, and one master’s degree from Embry-Riddle University. He also holds a graduate certification in Grants Management. He has been married to his wife, Georgia, for 36 years and together they raised 3 wonderful children who have in-turn blest them with 2 grandchildren.
VETERANS EDUCATION DIRECTOR
David Salgado is the Veterans Education Department Director at the Texas Veterans Commission. David is new to the Texas Veterans Commission, starting on May 16, 2022, but has been working in Veterans Education since 2015.
David served 10 years in the U.S. Marine Corps with deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is grateful for the opportunity to work with Veterans, service members, and their families here in the great state of Texas.
CLAIMS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Salvador J. Castillo is an U.S. Air Force Veteran. He was assigned to the 43 SFS Squadron in Pope Airfield, Ft. Bragg, NC in support of the 82nd Airborne Division from 1998-2002 as Security Forces Member where he was deployed in 2000 in support of Operation Southern Watch and later deployed in late 2001 as a response to the 9/11 attacks under Operation Noble Eagle later to become Operation Enduring Freedom. In July of 2006-2008, he joined the U.S. Army National Guard.
Salvador J. Castillo after returning to civilian life, was employed with Child Protective Services as an Investigator. In 2010, he was hired as the Assistant Veterans Service Officer for Cameron County and a year later would be appointed to be the Director for the Veterans Service Officer to present. During his time as a Veterans County Service Officer, he was able to duplicate the amount of staff, obtain a new building, secure a TVC grant for supportive services in the amount of $300,000 and increase the productivity of the office without compromising accuracy as claims submitted through my department have a 98% approval rating. In addition, he was instrumental in the development and establishment of the Cameron County Veteran’s Court. Throughout his 10 years as a VCSO, he has been involved in various intergovernmental projects at all levels of government.
He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies 8 -12 grade from The University of Texas at Brownsville, and later his Master Degree in Public Administration from the University of Texas Pan American.
“It is my passion to empower veterans to be as productive and esteemed in civilian life as they were while service men and women. While oversees I served my country and always felt that I wanted to do more, working with veterans provides me the opportunity to fulfill this desire as I am serving those who have serve and their families.”
I am proud to be a part of the Texas Veterans Commission and Veterans County Service Officers team as we fulfill our mission to advocate for veterans and their families through the attainment of benefits.
VETERAN EMPLOYMENT SERVICES DIRECTOR
Anna Baker is the Director of Veterans Employment Services (VES) where she administers the Jobs for Veterans State Grant, leading a team of career advisors who provide individualized career services to veterans with significant barriers to employment and employer liaisons who assist veterans with finding long-term and meaningful employment by conducting job matching services for employers. Prior to assuming the Director of VES position, Anna was the Program Manager for the TVC Entrepreneur Program and the Women Veterans Program.
Anna is an Air Force veteran, serving from 1980 – 1984 as a Korean and Spanish linguist. Anna later pursued her education receiving a Bachelor’ s degree in Accounting from Schreiner University where she was inducted as a Hatton W. Sumners Scholar. Since 2005, Anna has held a Project Management Professional Certification and in 2012 she received an MBA from Baylor University. Anna loves to cook, read, and travel. She and her husband, also a Navy veteran, currently live in Cibolo, Texas where they share their home with their two cats Buttercup and Ginger.
HEALTH CARE ADVOCACY DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR
Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) Health Care Advocacy Department (HCAD) Director Gary Lee hails from Louisiana. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1984, and retired February 2008 after various deployments to Iraq, Japan, Europe, the Mediterranean, and other Far East locations. During his 23.5 years of service, he served in various leadership positions, including Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor Trainer, and 3rd Marine Air Wing (3d MAW) Inspector General Sergeant Major (as a Master Sergeant).
Gary joined the TVC staff in August 2008 as a Claims Counselor at the Audie L. Murphy VAMC office in San Antonio, TX. After two (2) years, he was promoted to that office’s Supervisor position, assisting the veterans of this great state, and also VA, city, county, and local organizations. In early 2012, he was recognized by the San Antonio Bar Association for his contributions of teaching young lawyers about veteran benefits and VA processes. After just over two (2) years of managing the second-most productive Claims office in Texas, he was promoted to the Training Coordinator for the Claims, Representation, and Counseling Department, and was responsible for the training, testing, and certification of state, out-of-state, county (and occasionally federal) personnel. A notable accomplishment was assisting the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) implement Texas House Bill 634. He visited state penitentiaries and taught their Reintegration Staff personnel to efficiently submit various claims on behalf of incarcerated veterans in advance of their imminent release. This facilitated benefit receipt far more quickly upon re-entry into the civilian populace, to potentially reduce recidivism.
In 2015, he helped establish what was then the TVC Health Care Advocacy Program (HCAP). He instituted the program’s training curriculum and SOP. In April 2018, he was promoted to HCAP Manager (to date, singularly unique in the country). In 2020, he was promoted to HCAD Director. His vision, research, and planning were vital in 2021, when the Legislative proposal for additional funding and personnel was approved, doubling the size and effectiveness of the HCAD. Gary leads a team of twenty-six (26) outstanding individuals located throughout the state that help veterans and their loved ones resolve VA health care issues.
Away from work, he can often be found in pursuit of music and copious quantities of northern Italian cuisine, watching New Orleans Saints and LSU football, and enjoying the liberating escape of his motorcycle.