2023 Good Apple Dinner Honorees


The Texas Appleseed Board of Directors is proud to honor Melanie Gray and Mark Wawro with the 2023 J. Chrys Dougherty Good Apple Award. Melanie and Mark are accomplished lawyers whose philanthropic contributions have expanded opportunities to ensure justice and improved the legal profession.

Melanie GrayMelanie is lauded for her considerable community service efforts and contributions to the arts, education, health care, and advancement of women and girls. As a Founder and Executive Committee member of The Center for Women in Law, she leads the charge in creating a lasting legacy for future generations of women lawyers. Syracuse University College of Law honored her as a Distinguished Alumna for her service to the college, her community, and the practice of law. Melanie was a Partner at Winston & Strawn LLP and Chair of its Bankruptcy Litigation Practice before retiring in 2020. Her accolades include being named one of the “Top 250 Women in Litigation” by Benchmark Litigation and one of “Texas’ Most Powerful Women” by the Texas Diversity Council. 

Mark WawroMark served on the board of Texas Appleseed for over 20 years and has been a key partner in helping the organization grow and thrive. He has also brought his leadership and expertise to organizations that advance the literary arts, fine art and cinema, as well as other charitable endeavors in Houston and beyond. His impressive pro bono record includes a case with the Innocence Project that led to overturning a wrongful conviction and helping Texas Appleseed rein in predatory payday and auto title lenders. Mark is a Partner at Susman Godfrey LLP, specializing in commercial litigation. His groundbreaking work and trial victories have been widely recognized throughout his 40-year career, including by The American Lawyer and Texas Lawyer.

Mark and Melanie are recipients of the Joseph Jaworski Leadership Award from the American Leadership Forum and the Anti-Defamation League Southwest Region Karen H. Susman Jurisprudence Award. They also are fellows of the prestigious Litigation Counsel of America. 

For their inspiring leadership, commitment to justice, and extensive community service, Texas Appleseed is proud to honor Melanie Gray and Mark Wawro with the 2023 J. Chrys Dougherty Good Apple Award on November 15.

Pro Bono Leadership Award Recipients


Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Akin is currently representing Texas Appleseed in our intervention in the public information lawsuit between the Government Land Office and the Texas Attorney General. The firm’s support strengthens our efforts to obtain critical public information that will ensure disaster recovery programs are administered in a non-discriminatory and equitable way. Akin’s representation has been integral in our work towards government transparency and helping all Texans recover from a disaster. Additionally, the firm is supporting Texas Appleseed, Appleseed México, and National Appleseed by helping to draft, research, and edit the updated Children at the Border report.

DLA Piper LLP (US)

DLA Piper LLP (US)

DLA Piper has supported Texas Appleseed in a broad range of projects, including our work to ensure Texans in prisons have accessible, high-quality options to pursue postsecondary education; simplify the student aid process for students experiencing homelessness; and update two reports, a report on disaster relief and a forthcoming jointly published report entitled Children at the Border, which evaluates the experiences and treatment of Mexican unaccompanied children. Our Elder Justice project has benefitted from the firm’s research into the long-term care industry and how it was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. DLA Piper also is determining the impacts of several bills passed by the Texas Legislature, which will impact every aspect of Texas Appleseed’s advocacy work.

Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells has worked tirelessly to support Texas Appleseed’s advocacy toward ending youth homelessness. Specifically, this has focused on our work to empower minors to sign leases and enter into housing contracts. This research is indispensable to Texas Appleseed and to vulnerable youth who have nowhere else to turn. Hogan Lovells also collaborated with Appleseed Mexico, National Appleseed, four other law firms, and Mexican non-profit Rebozo to update the groundbreaking Children at the Border report, which will strengthen our advocacy efforts for improved conditions for children emigrating from Mexico.