ACU Faculty Member Named Chair of State Board of Examiners
ACU News Release
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Abilene Christian University faculty member Dr. Lisa Merchant as chair of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists on Oct. 20. The board licenses and regulates marriage and family therapists in Texas.
Merchant is assistant professor and chair of marriage and family studies, and director of the marriage and family therapy program. She also facilitates domestic violence intervention classes at the Ministry of Counseling and is a founding member of the Taylor County Alliance to End Domestic Violence.
Merchant received a bachelor of science in psychology from Sam Houston State University, a master of marriage and family therapy from ACU (2004), and a doctor of philosophy in marriage and family therapy from Texas Tech University.
Abbott has also named several ACU alumni to various board and councils this year:
- Floyd County judge Marty Lucke was appointed to the 17-member Governor’s Broadband Development Council. Lucke is president of the South Plains Rural Transit Board and vice chair of the South Plains Rural Planning Organization. He earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from ACU in 1985. His term on the council ends in August 2024.
- Charles Gaines of Round Rock was appointed to the nine-member Texas Commission on the Arts. The commission fosters the development of a receptive climate for the arts that will culturally enrich and benefit state citizens in their daily lives and attract outstanding artists to become state residents. Gaines is director of government relations for Raise Your Hand Texas and serves as a board member of the Round Rock (Texas) Chamber of Commerce and the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center. He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology (2010) and an MBA in healthcare administration from ACU.
- Fred Hernandez Jr. of San Angelo was named to the Upper Colorado River Authority Board of Directors. He is the manager for distribution systems at AEP Texas, vice chair of the San Angelo Area Foundation, and executive board member of West Texas Rehabilitation Center. Hernandez earned a bachelor’s degree in management from ACU in 1990.
- Craig Bessent of Abilene was named to the Texas School Safety Center Board. Bessent is assistant superintendent of Wylie ISD and oversees its school operations, safety and security. He is a Texas School Marshal and a member of the Texas Association of School Administrators, Texas Association of Pupil Transportation, and Combined Law Enforcement of Texas. Additionally, he volunteers as a board member of Abilene Crime Stoppers, View Caps Water District, and Abilene Emergency Operations. Bessent has a school superintendent certification from ACU.
- Lindsay Kinzie, J.D., was appointed to the Texas Crime Victims’ Institute Advisory Council. Kinzie is legal program director with The Gatehouse – Grapevine. She earned a B.B.A. from ACU in 2005 and a juris doctor degree from Texas Tech University School of Law.
- Dr. Amy Offutt was appointed to the Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome Advisory Council. Offutt is medical director and owner of Heart and Soul Integrative Health and Yoga in Marble Falls, Texas. She earned a B.S. in biology from ACU in 1990, a Doctor of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and a M.A. in integrative medicine at George Washington University.
- Lauren Day of Austin was reappointed to the Texas Crime Stoppers Council. The council advises the governor on crime stoppers programs in Texas and certifies local crime stoppers programs. Day is founder and president of GoodBuzz Solutions, a marketing consulting firm. She is a member of Women Communicators of Austin and the Board for the Esther Council. Day received a Bachelor of Science in integrated marketing communications from ACU in 2007 and a Master of Arts in international relations and a Master of Science in public relations from Syracuse University.
Abilene Christian is the highest-ranking university in Texas in a 2021 U.S. News & World Report assessment of institutions highly regarded for their commitment to student success. Nationally, ACU achieved Top 10 status in three and Top 50 in another of eight high-impact categories among 1,500 universities evaluated for the annual “America’s Best Colleges” edition. No other Texas university was named in the top 10 of any category. Learn more at acu.edu.