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Get to Know Your Regional Membership Specialists

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 4/07/2021

ATPE’s eight dedicated regional membership specialists support ATPE’s members and volunteers in their local communities across Texas. Get to know these friendly faces who live and work in your area.

Regions 1 & 2

Roger Gutierrez, ATPE’s South Texas membership specialist, was an educator in Weslaco for 18 years before coming to work for ATPE. He has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Texas–Pan American and joined ATPE in 1996. He has served in various volunteer roles at the local unit, region, and state levels. Completing his seventh year as an ATPE staff member, Roger most enjoys speaking to college students at various universities across South Texas and helping grow ATPE’s membership. During Roger’s spare time, you will likely find him barbecuing, spending time with his family, or hanging out with his dog Rosie. Contact Roger at rgutierrez@atpe.org.

Regions 3 & 4 

Cynthia Villalovos is ATPE’s representative for the Houston area. Cynthia started her ATPE career in 1995 as one of the founding officers of McMurry University ATPE and began her education career in Wylie (14) ISD in 1996. She received her master’s degree in school administration from Sul Ross State University in 2003; soon after, she moved to Houston and held a position at Chavez High School. In 2005, Cynthia became the principal at the Health Academy at Lee High School, and in 2006, she became the principal of the Health Academy at Waltrip High School. Throughout that time, Cynthia held various offices within ATPE, including serving as the Houston ATPE president from 2012–2014 and the ATPE Region 4 secretary in 2013. Cynthia is also the proud mom of one daughter, who may very well be a future volunteer leader within ATPE. Cynthia is one year away from graduating with her doctorate in education. Her dissertation is focused on exploring the relationships between new educators in professional organizations and Schlossberg’s transition theory. Contact Cynthia at cvillalovos@atpe.org.

Regions 5–7

Ginger Franks is from East Texas. Before becoming an ATPE regional membership specialist, Ginger was a special education teacher for 34 years in Martinsville and Woden. She was an ATPE member for 32 years and even served as the 2013-14 ATPE state president. Ginger and her husband Carl are proud grandparents of five grandbabies and spend as much time with their families as they can. Carl Franks has been in education for 29 years, and Ginger’s two sisters both worked in education for many years. Ginger has truly dedicated herself to public education through the years and continues to do so now with ATPE. Contact Ginger at gfranks@atpe.org.

Regions 8 & 10

Joseph Cruz is ATPE’s representative for Regions 8 and 10. Joseph began working in public schools in 2012. He served as an intervention program supervisor at Lewisville ISD, where he managed an academic intervention program collaborating with campus teachers and part-time enrichment staff with backgrounds in education and social work to tackle immediate issues for at-risk students. In 2017, he switched fields and became a case manager for students in Dallas ISD. While trained in mental health first aid, Joseph promoted mental health awareness on his campuses. It is his belief that for students to be successful in the classroom, educators must understand the importance of their students’ health and wellness and how it correlates to their performance in the classroom. Contact Joseph at jcruz@atpe.org.

Regions 9 & 11

Diane Pokluda, ATPE’s representative for the North Texas/Fort Worth area, was a classroom teacher for 34 years before moving into her current position. During her career in education, Diane served in several ATPE leadership positions from the local unit to the regional level; she considers her time as ATPE’s Region 11 director to be one of the most rewarding experiences of her career. During her spare time, Diane enjoys traveling with her husband, Steve, who is also a dedicated ATPE member. They are also devoted Texas Rangers fans. Contact Diane at dpokluda@atpe.org.

Regions 12, 14, & 15

Mary Jane Waits serves Regions 12, 14, and 15. She came to ATPE with 23 years in education, both in the classroom and as an administrator. She holds a master’s in educational administration and a bachelor’s in business administration. Mary Jane has worked in Lampasas and Comanche. Most recently, she served as education principal at Bartlett State Jail. Mary Jane also raised two daughters while teaching, coaching cheerleaders, and taking her students to national Business Professionals of America contests, where she had multiple winners. Mary Jane enjoys traveling across Texas and meeting new ATPE members. Contact Mary Jane at mwaits@atpe.org.

Regions 13 & 20

Yvette Milner is ATPE’s membership specialist for the greater Austin and San Antonio areas. Yvette has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in reading and literacy from Walden University. Yvette has been an ATPE member for 25 years. She has served in various volunteer roles for ATPE, including Region 20 director. She taught middle school for a total of 29 years in Houston, Fort Bend, Bandera, and Northside ISDs. When she’s not working for ATPE, Yvette can be found reading a book, shopping at thrift stores, or searching for a new piece to add to her growing Pyrex collection. Yvette and her husband live in Bandera with their three dogs. Their son is working on his master’s degree at Texas A&M in College Station, and their daughter is currently a phlebotomist in Midland. Contact Yvette at ymilner@atpe.org.

Regions 16–19 

Jeff Vega loves serving ATPE members in West Texas. By covering Regions 16–19, Jeff can fit in his love for travel and education. Before ATPE, he spent 20 years in education and coaching. Jeff believes the members and volunteers he gets to connect with are such a blessing in his life. Jeff’s favorite part of being a regional membership specialist is visiting campuses and universities, as well as speaking wherever possible to share information about ATPE and the awesome work of public educators. While away from work, Jeff enjoys family time, grilling, travel, movies, exercising, and reading. Jeff and his wife Veronica reside in Midland, and their daughter, Joenna, attends Midland Freshman High in Midland ISD. Contact Jeff at jvega@atpe.org.

To find your region, enter your ISD name into the search bar beneath the Texas map on ATPE’s home page. 

Join ATPE now to prepare for the 2021-22 school year! Nearly 100,000 Texas educators rely on ATPE to provide the peace of mind needed to inspire student success. Learn more at atpe.org/Join-2021. Text ATPE to 38470 to receive a link to join online.