Alison Smith

Alison Smith is the current President of TAPVI for the July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020 fiscal year.  Alison has served on the TAPVI board for many years in different capacities, and on the NAPVI Board for 8 years as Board Member at Large. She founded the Texas Gulf Coast Early Childhood PTA and co-founded the Texas Commission for the Blind Parent Network that became HAPVI (Houston Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments).  She served for many years on a wide variety of local, state-wide and national committees and organizations relevant to special education and parenting.

Alison is the mother of three children and lives in Clear Lake, just south of Houston, Texas.  Alison’s eldest daughter has fully supported Alison’s involvement in special education organizations and advocacy and has served with her on the TAPVI board.  Alison’s middle daughter Madison was born with Joubert Syndrome which caused her to have a retinal dystrophy as well as some physical disability and health impairment.  Alison donated a kidney to Madison in 2003 and later cared for her during her battle with Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disease, which is similar to lymphoma.  After some very difficult times, Madison was able to fully recover from her cancer.  Alison’s youngest child, Benjamin, was also born with Joubert Sydrome, but had a much more difficult time of it.  He was deaf-blind, severely physically disabled, used a wheelchair full-time, and had severe allergies to just about everything.  He died April 4, 2000, at the age of just over 3 years old.

Learn more about Joubert Syndrome at:  Learn more about the Joubert Syndrome and Related Disorders Foundation at:

Because of her family’s situation, Alison over years has had to learn not only about parenting, raising children with special needs, therapies, special education instructions and adaptations and all the stuff related to that, but also about medical care of chronically ill and disabled children, including wound care, IV medication administration, home peritoneal dialysis, and collaborating with medical doctors to make life and death decisions.  Along the way, Alison also learned some things about disability advocacy, family law, and probate/guardianship law.  Few of us start out in life wanting to experience all that, but we do what we must to be the best parents we can for our children.

Alison has served on many boards and committees over the years at the local, state-wide and national level and has attended over 50 conferences/seminars/workshops over 13 year period: TAER, TSBVI, TCB, NAEYC, ECI, JLTLI, Parent To Parent, Inclusion Works, Partners in Policymaking, etc.  She graduated from Partners in Policy-making training in 2000, and was the TAER (Texas Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments) Parent of the Year in 1997.

Formal Education:

Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering
Texas A&M University June 1986 

Master of Science in Physical Sciences with a focus in Astronomy and Space Sciences
University of Houston at Clear Lake 1990

incomplete: all courses taken toward a Master of Science in Psychology at the University of Houston at Clear Lake – life got in the way and the masters thesis was never completed.

NASA Johnson Space Center Career:
September 1986 – January 2013

Alison served as a:

  • Front room flight controller in Mission Operations for the Shuttle Program as Payload Deploy Specialist
  • Lead Flight Data File Coordinator in Mission Operations
  • Lead Book Manager for Deployable Payloads
  • Manager for ODF Standards
  • Project Manager for FDF and ODF Commonality Standards
  • Payload Safety Engineer
  • Author of the Deploy Procedures Handbook and other related documents
  • Documentation Task Lead for approximately 30 non-FDF books produced in MOD, including the CPMP and the Section Operations Handbook
  • Project Lead for the Get Away Special Memoradum of Agreement between JSC and GSFC – received the NASA Group Achievement Award
  • Point of Contact for JSC Lunar/Mars Exploration efforts in the MOD Advanced Projects group
  • Contract Monitor and Technical Assistant for the Minority University Research & Education Program in the Public Affairs Department
  • MOD Research Technology Operations & Procedures Manager
  • Co-Project Manager for the MOD Electronic Document Project
  • Launch Site Support Representative
  • Lead KSC FDF Representative and Trainer

Other Experience:

Alison has served on the board of directors for Crime Watch, North Fork Community Association and the North Fork Elementary School PTA.  Alison was an active member of Space Family Education Initiative (SFEI), North Pointe PTA, Clear Lake Intermediate School PTA, and Clear Lake High School Band Boosters for many years.


Alison enjoys working with others on projects, cycling events and running races, walking with friends, spending time with loved ones, traveling the world, and reading (mostly via Audible).  Her interest in genealogy is on hold for now, and she suffers through gardening and working out at the gym with the help of Audible books!

Below is a list of a small subset of the conferences that Alison has attended, and she has presented at some of these.

TAER 04/20-04/22 1995 Austin
TSVBI Conference: Through Your Child’s Eyes Sept 1995 Houston
Exceptional Parent Forum 10/17-10/20 1996 Anaheim, CA
NAEYC 10/20-10/23 1996 Dallas
Family Matters III: Negotiating the School Maze* 10/03-10/05 1996 Houston
Inclusion Works! Conference 02/08-02/10 1996 Houston
International Parent-to-Parent Conference 03/29-04/01 1996 Alburquerque
TAER 04/11-04/13 1996 San Antonio
ECI Conference 04/29-05/01 1996 Austin
TSVBI Conference: Through Your Child’s Eyes 03/01-03/02 1997 Houston
TAER 04/03-04/04 1997 El Paso
ECI Conference 04/09-04/12 1997 Austin
PTA District 4 Leadership Course 26-Apr
Texas School for the Deaf – Family Weekend Retreat) 07/18-07/20 1997 Austin
Discovery 97 – Low Vision Conference 10/16-10/18 1997 Chicago
TSVBI – 1998 Symposium on Blindness 02/13-02/14 1998 Austin
Joubert Syndrome Foundation Biennial Conference 06/24-06/28 1998 Salt Lake City
NTAC & NFADB Conference 07/30-08/1 1998 St Louis
Texas Focus 06/16-06/18 1999 Corpus Christi
JLTLI 03/03-03/05 2000 Dallas
TSVBI Parent Summit 04/08-04/09 2000
International Parent-to-Parent Conference 05/05-05/07 2000 Reno
Texas Focus 06/14-06/16 2000 El Paso
Joubert Syndrome Foundation Biennial Conference 07/12-07/15 2000 Baltimore
TSVBI – Future Horizons 09/22-09/24 2000 Galveston
CCISD School Board meeting 5/22/2008 2001
Inclusion Task Force 8-Oct 2001 CCISD
Texas Focus 06/13-06/15 2001 Fort Worth
ACB – 40th Annual National Convention 06/30-070/7 2001 Des Moines
TSVBI Summit – Texas Deaf-Blind Project 10/17/2008 2002
Texas Focus 6/13-6/14 2002 Houston
Joubert Syndrome Foundation Biennial Conference 6/26-6/29 2002 New Orleans
TAER 4/24-4/26 2003 Austin
Texas Focus 6/11-6/13 2003 San Antonio
TAER 4/15-4/16 2004 San Antonio
Texas Focus 6/10-6/12 2004 Dallas
NAPVI 7/15-7/16 2004 Orlando
TAER 4/7-4/9 2005 Houston
Texas Focus 6/9-6/11 2005 Austin
Joubert Syndrome Foundation Biennial Conference 7/5-7/9 2005 Irving
NAPVI 8/12-8/14 2005 Louisville KY
DARS – Department of Assistive & Rehabilitative Services 8/4-8/7 2005 Corpus Christi
TAER 4/6-4/8 2006 Corpus Chrisi
Texas Focus 6/8-6/10 2006 Dallas
TAER 3/26-3/31 2007 Austin
Texas Focus 6/16-6/18 2008 Austin
Super Sci-Tech Saturday 2/12/2008 2005 UHCLC
Special Education Parent Communication Council – past two years
Board memberships
JLTLI – Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute – Professionals involved in working with VI people of all ages; parents attend too
TAER – Texas Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Visually Impaired
NTAC (National Technical Assistance Consortium for Children & Young Adults who are Deaf-Blind) & NFADB (National Family Association for the Deaf-Blind)
Partners in Policy-Making – Monthly trips to Austin to learn IDEA/advocacy
ECI – Early Childhood Intervention
NAPVI – National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
NAEYC – National Association for the Education of Young Children (not a disability org)
ACB – American Council for the Blind
Texas Focus – Parents and professional conference for people interested in needs of students with visual impairments
*sponsored by TCB & TSVBI & Texas Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities –