Governor Abbott Announces Additional Senior Staff Leadership

July 2, 2024 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott today announced several staff changes within the Office of the Governor. Robert Black, who was named Chief of Staff yesterday, will lead the Governor’s team going into the 89th Legislative Session.

“I am pleased to announce this exceptional group of talented individuals who will help tackle the challenges of the upcoming legislative session head-on,” said Governor Abbott. “Texans deserve public servants whose commitment to the state is unwavering. With this experienced team, we will be well-equipped to deliver major accomplishments for all Texans and enact policies that will help build a bigger, better Texas.”

Tabatha Vasquez has been promoted to Senior Advisor for Budget and Policy. Vasquez previously served as the Governor’s Policy Director and Deputy Budget and Policy Director. She has held various positions within the Texas Legislature, including Chief of Staff in the House, Legislative Director, and Sunset Committee Director for Senator Brian Birdwell. Prior to her state service, she consulted and managed dozens of campaigns for candidates at all levels of government, both in Texas and across the country. Vasquez is a board member of the Pink Granite Foundation and Capitol Republican Women. Vasquez attended Mars Hill University, where she majored in sociology and criminal justice, minored in business, and played Division II Women’s Soccer. Vasquez is succeeding Sarah Hicks, who will be departing the Office of the Governor later this month. The Governor also thanked Sarah Hicks for her unwavering service to the state of Texas for the past seven years. 

Robert Howden will serve as Senior Advisor and Director of Legislative Affairs beginning on September 9, 2024. Howden is an independent legislative and public affairs consultant. Prior to forming his consulting business, Howden served Governor Rick Perry as Communications Director and Senior Advisor and oversaw the Governor’s Task Force on Economic Development Growth. Additionally, Howden led the National Federation of Independent Business Texas and, prior to this role, served on Governor Bill Clements’ staff and the Texas Department of Commerce. Howden is a member of the University of Texas (UT) Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee and is Chairman of the Texas Exes Legislative Committee. He is also on the Austin Club Board and has served on the Advisory Board of the Helping Hand a home for Children and the Austin Junior League Advisory Board. Howden received a Bachelor of Science from UT at Austin. Howden is succeeding Shayne Woodard, who will be departing the Office of the Governor in September. 

Brady Franks will serve as State Budget Director beginning on August 1, 2024. Franks is the co-founder of MF Advisors. Franks previously served as a Budget and Policy Advisor to Governor Abbott and was later promoted to Deputy Budget and Policy Director. Before joining the Office of the Governor, he was the Director for Government Relations at The University of Texas (UT) at Austin. Franks has also held various roles within the Texas Legislature, including as a Budget Analyst and Subcommittee Clerk for the Appropriations Committee and as a Senior Budget and Policy Advisor to the Speaker of the House. Franks received a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Master’s in Community and Regional Planning and Public Affairs from UT at Austin.  

Michael Hull will serve as Policy Director beginning on August 1, 2024. Hull currently serves as the Chief Research Officer and Senior Advisor for the Vice Chancellor of Disaster and Emergency Services at the Texas Division of Emergency Management. He previously served as a Policy Advisor to Governor Abbott focusing on public safety and emergency management issues and was later promoted to Deputy Budget and Policy Director. Prior to his work at the Office of the Governor, Hull served in the Crime Victim Services Division at the Office of the Attorney General. Hull received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Spanish from Hardin-Simmons University, Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies from Missouri State University, and Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Political Science from Texas Tech University.