Staff

Deborah Fowler

Executive Director

Deborah Fowler

Executive Director

512.473.2800 ×105 | dfowler@texasappleseed.net

Deborah Fowler oversees all of Texas Appleseed’s efforts as its executive director. An attorney experienced in public policy, Deborah is a nationally recognized expert in school discipline and juvenile justice issues, having authored three major reports on the school-to-prison pipeline in Texas. She also authored a first-of-its-kind handbook for attorneys representing defendants who have an intellectual disability. She received the 2011 Excellence in Public Interest Award for her contributions to public interest law. She also received the 2011 Ma’at Justice Award for the State Bar Women and the Law Section — given to individuals who actively address the needs and issues affecting women in the legal profession and in the community. Prior to assuming the executive director’s position, Deborah served as Texas Appleseed’s deputy director. She also has extensive experience working with the judiciary, both as a judicial clerk and supervising attorney. Deborah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University and a Juris Doctor from Lewis & Clark College’s Northwestern School of Law.

Ask Me About: children’s law and policy, marathons, horror movies, and theme music for '70s sitcoms

Brennan Griffin

Deputy Director

Brennan Griffin

Deputy Director

512.473.2800 ×102 | bgriffin@texasappleseed.net

Brennan Griffin coordinates fundraising and development for Texas Appleseed. He has extensive experience, having spent more than 10 years writing and managing grants, fundraising, and cultivating individual donors for nonprofit advocacy and community organizing groups on both the national and local levels. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College.

Ask Me About: urbanism, running the trails of Austin, and Excel formulas

 

Deborah Alemu

Development Associate

Deborah Alemu

Development Associate

| dalemu@texasappleseed.net

Deborah Alemu helps with fundraising and development for Texas Appleseed's Development team. Having had a long held love for community and advocacy, she has co-founded the UndocuBlack Network where she does outreach to Black immigrants, connecting them to resources on a national level. She is also a leader in an Austin-based initiative to bring resources to East Austin residents through building gardens and utilizing other cooperative economics. She holds a B.S. in Biology from The University of Texas at Austin.

Ask Me About: (Im)migration, being Black, ice cream, and growing up in the South

Ann Baddour

Director, Fair Financial Services Project

Ann Baddour

Director, Fair Financial Services Project

512.473.2800 ×104 | abaddour@texasappleseed.net

Ann Baddour is the state director of Appleseed projects aimed at bringing low-income and immigrant consumers into the financial mainstream. She is actively involved in reform of regulations governing payday and auto title lending in Texas to build greater consumer protection into these transactions. Her work in the areas of immigrant financial education and improving consumer disclosure and protection in remittance transactions has been presented at economic conferences in Benin, Africa; Mexico; and the European Union. Ann also oversees Texas Appleseed’s project on protecting the rights of immigrants with mental disabilities in the immigration court and detention system. She is a member of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board, serving a three-year term ending in 2017. Ann is a Fulbright Scholar with a Master of Public Affairs Degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a Masters Degree in Middle Eastern Studies from The University of Texas at Austin.

Morgan Craven

Director, School-to-Prison Pipeline Project

Morgan Craven

Director, School-to-Prison Pipeline Project

512.473.2800 ×110 | mcraven@texasappleseed.net

Morgan Craven is an attorney leading Texas Appleseed's School-to-Prison Pipeline Project. Prior to joining Texas Appleseed, Morgan worked at the Third Court of Appeals in Austin and served as a briefing attorney for Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson at the Supreme Court of Texas. Previously, she represented youth in ticketing, school discipline, and special education cases, as well as indigent individuals and families in housing and public benefits cases, as an attorney for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. Morgan received her B.A. from Stanford University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Ask Me About: growing up in Atlanta, my favorite podcasts, Jon Snow theories (GoT generally)

Kelli Johnson

Communications Director

Kelli Johnson

Communications Director

512.473.2800 ×103 | kjohnson@texasappleseed.net

Kelli Johnson manages communications efforts for Texas Appleseed. She has 16 years of experience in public and community relations, as well as marketing communications. Kelli has executed PR plans and campaigns locally and nationwide. She writes media materials, coordinates interviews, and assists journalists and bloggers with stories. Kelli previously worked at a PR-advertising agency, where she led media relations efforts for municipal, state and for-profit clients. She also has experience in the nonprofit sector. Her work has garnered 19 Texas Public Relations Association awards and a national PRWeek award for Community Relations Campaign of the Year. Kelli holds a Bachelor of Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.

Ask Me About: Evernote, the East Austin Studio Tour, website launches, the AP Stylebook, and my quest to find the best biscuits in Austin

Gabriella C. McDonald

Pro Bono & New Projects Director

Gabriella C. McDonald

Pro Bono & New Projects Director

512.473.2800 ×109 | gmcdonald@texasappleseed.net

Gabriella C. McDonald connects private law firms, practitioners, and other interested community members to Texas Appleseed’s new and ongoing projects, allowing these entities and individuals to fully engage in Texas Appleseed’s mission of promoting social and economic justice for all Texans. Gabriella first joined Texas Appleseed in 2009 as a yearlong community service fellow, where she conducted research, developed reports, and participated in statewide think tanks. At the conclusion of her fellowship, she spent four years in private practice in Los Angeles, first at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, and then at Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae LLP, where she engaged in general civil and business litigation, representing an array of clients regarding various practice areas, including real estate, entertainment, title insurance, business organization, and labor and employment litigation. Gabriella received her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 2009, where she served as an executive editor of the Michigan Journal of Race & Law. She simultaneously earned a Masters in Sports Management from the University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School. She received her undergraduate degrees in psychology and government from The University of Texas at Austin.

Ask Me About: college football, yoga/spin/weightlifting, Suits or The Voice, and volunteering/the importance of pro bono

Brett M. Merfish

Staff Attorney

Brett M. Merfish

Staff Attorney

512.473.2800 ×111 | bmerfish@texasappleseed.net

Brett M. Merfish works on Texas Appleseed’s Fair Financial Services Project and provides support for other projects. Brett first joined Texas Appleseed in 2012 working on foster care and fair financial services. She also has experience working as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill, as an associate at Patton Boggs LLP, and as the Political Director for a worker center. Brett received a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia Law School, where she was a member of the Virginia Law Review editorial board and founded the Feminist Legal Forum. She received a Master of Public Policy from the Sanford School at Duke University and her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College.

Mary Schmid Mergler

Director, Criminal Justice Project

Mary Schmid Mergler

Director, Criminal Justice Project

512.473.2800 ×106 | mmergler@texasappleseed.net

Mary Schmid Mergler is an attorney leading Texas Appleseed's efforts on criminal justice reform, including ending the use of debtors’ prisons and ensuring fair criminal discovery practices. Prior to joining Appleseed, she served three years as Senior Counsel for the Criminal Justice Program of The Constitution Project in Washington, D.C., where she advocated for ensuring competent counsel and other constitutional rights for the criminally accused. Her other criminal justice policy experience includes two years as National Affairs Assistant for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Mary also spent two years in private practice at the Washington, D.C., office of Baker Botts, LLP. She received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was a member of the Virginia Law Review editorial board and co-chaired the Virginia Innocence Project Student Group. She received her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University.

Maile Molin

Grant Writer

Maile Molin

Grant Writer

512-473-2800 x114 | mmolin@texasappleseed.net

Maile Molin supports Texas Appleseed's mission through grant writing and other development support. Maile has been involved in social justice for over 15 years, most recently as the founder and executive director of ENGLISH @ WORK, a program that provides customized English classes for immigrants at the workplace. She is a recipient of Toyota's 2014 Mother of Invention Award and Bank of America's Local Hero Award. Maile is a graduate of the LBJ School of Public Affairs where her research focused on adult language acquisition and immigrant rights. She also draws on the education she received as a food service and factory employee in her work supporting Texas’ low-income and immigrant communities.

Ask Me About: urban coyotes, Langston Hughes, and writing for social justice

Jamie Tegeler-Sauer

Development Manager

Jamie Tegeler-Sauer

Development Manager

| jsauer@texasappleseed.net

Jamie Tegeler-Sauer assists with fundraising and development for Texas Appleseed. She is an experienced project manager and marketing coordinator having spent more than nine years managing business development initiatives in the consumer products industry. She has also served as a Design and Marketing Assistant for the University of Northern Iowa Marketing and Public Relations Department and the Hearst Center for the Arts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Northern Iowa.

Ask Me About: parenting kids close in age, infographics, small-town Iowa, event planning, and baking macarons

Olga Sauseda

Operations Manager

Olga Sauseda

Operations Manager

512.473.2800 ×107 | osauseda@texasappleseed.net

Olga Sauseda oversees all of Texas Appleseed’s operations and administration. She is an accomplished manager with over 10 years of managerial experience. Prior to joining Appleseed, she was Manager of Customer Operations for Verizon Communications, where she oversaw a team of nearly 100 employees serving more than 200,000 customers. Among her many accomplishments at Verizon was overseeing the first application of fiber to the home in Keller, Texas and the restoration of phone service to more than 80,000 customers in only two weeks after Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf Coast. Olga is also a dedicated CASA volunteer in Williamson County, where she helps foster children find permanent, loving homes. She is a native of Bryan, Texas.

Ask Me About: management, process improvement, budgets, bike trails, refinishing furniture, and Jesus

 

Madison Sloan

Director, Disaster Recovery and Fair Housing Project

Madison Sloan

Director, Disaster Recovery and Fair Housing Project

512.473.2800 ×108 | msloan@texasappleseed.net

Madison Sloan manages Texas Appleseed’s disaster relief and fair housing projects. For her work to ensure that low-income communities share in federally funded rebuilding after natural disasters, Madison received the 2011 Impact Award in Poverty Law from the State Bar of Texas Poverty Law Section. She first joined Texas Appleseed as an Equal Justice Works Legal Fellow working on systemic issues related to Hurricane Katrina. Sloan received a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas. Her previous experience includes over five years as a legal services attorney.

Ask Me About: ketchup chips, cookbook accumulation, consent theory, and teen movies of the '90s

Ellen Stone

Director of Research

Ellen Stone

Director of Research

512.473.2800 x117 | estone@texasappleseed.net

Ellen Stone gathers, verifies, and analyzes data for all of Texas Appleseed’s projects. Prior to joining Texas Appleseed, Ellen worked as a doctoral researcher in the Social Inequality in Development Research Group at The University of Kentucky, focusing on both qualitative and quantitative research designs across development. In addition, Ellen has taught a course on research methods and, as such, is passionate about communicating statistics to broad groups of people and data-driven policy decision-making. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from The University of Kentucky. 

Ask Me About: crocheting, special effects makeup, developmental research on stereotype formation, and inferential statistics

Rocío Villalobos

Community Outreach Coordinator

Rocío Villalobos

Community Outreach Coordinator

512.473.2800 x100 | rvillalobos@texasappleseed.net

Rocío Villalobos is a native Austinite and recently joined the staff of Texas Appleseed as the Community Outreach Coordinator. Prior to Texas Appleseed, Rocío spent four years working at the UT Austin Multicultural Engagement Center as an advisor and as the center's Social Justice Education Coordinator. She obtained a B.S. in Applied Learning & Development from The University of Texas at Austin in 2006 and graduated with an M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction with a specialization in Cultural Studies in Education from UT Austin in 2011. Rocío has over 10 years of experience in community-based education and social justice efforts.

Ask Me About: social justice, camping in Texas state parks, community outreach, the best coffeeshops in Austin, and tattoos

Archie

Assistant to the Executive Director

Archie

Assistant to the Executive Director

555-555-WOOF | (not really my office number)

Archie comes from a long line of feisty bearded warriors for social justice. At Texas Appleseed, his main areas of focus are the microwave and securing the hallway. Outside of the office, he enjoys short walks, baby carrots, and toys with squeakers. In his spare time, he volunteers as the mascot for a local youth soccer team and donates his time guarding a low window in the front of his home.

Ask Me About: beards before they were cool, squirrels, and managing up