Samantha Smoot To Step Down As Texas Freedom Network President

Samantha Smoot To Step Down As Texas Freedom Network President

Six-Year Term Sees Growth, Victories on Vouchers, Textbooks, Hate Crimes
September 22, 2004

AUSTIN Samantha Smoot will step down as president of the Texas Freedom Network at the end of this year.

“The last six years have been remarkable, largely because of the spirit and dedication of TFN’s many supporters,” Smoot said. “It has been a privilege to work shoulder to shoulder with people so deeply committed to fundamental democratic principles.”

Smoot took over as head of the Texas Freedom Network in 1998. Cecile Richards founded the organization in 1995 and served as its executive director until that time.

Terry Kenyon, chairman of the Texas Freedom Network’s Board of Directors, said a committee has already begun a search to replace Smoot.

“The Texas Freedom Network has made great strides under Sam’s leadership,” Kenyon said. “We’re all proud of what she has accomplished and are obviously very sad to see her go.”

Among the accomplishments during Smoot’s tenure:

· Membership nearly tripled while the organization’s annual budget doubled.
· TFN successfully fought repeated far-right efforts to weaken public education in Texas through measures like school vouchers and “local control” or “home rule.”
· The organization continued to spearhead the fight against censorship of public school textbooks, particularly in 2003 when far-right groups failed in their attempt to water down discussions of evolution in new biology textbooks.
· Working with other organizations, TFN helped win passage in 2001 of a strengthened hate-crimes statute in Texas.
· TFN became a key source of information on then-Gov. Bush’s troubled faith-based initiative in Texas, monitoring problems and lowered standards in areas like childcare and treatment for chemical dependency. Smoot provided testimony on the faith-based initiative before a U.S. congressional committee in 2001.

Now 19,000 supporters strong, the Texas Freedom Network is positioned well in the continuing fight for religious freedom, individual liberties and public education, Smoot said.

“While Texas continues to veer to the right politically, I believe the people of this state are committed to the values of fairness, respect and compassion,” she said. “As the Texas Freedom Network mobilizes even more mainstream, fair-minded citizens, the organization will play a critical role in steering a course back to the center, where these values thrive.”