Texas Appleseed Staff


Executive Director
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.
Phone: 512.473.2800 x105
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Director, Fair Financial Services Program
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 transations.  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. 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.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x 104
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Staff Attorney, School-to-Prison Pipeline Project 

Morgan Craven is a staff attorney supporting 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.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x 110
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Brennan Griffin

Deputy Director
Brennan Griffin works closely with the executive director on strategic direction and project implementation, and focuses on fundraising, development, and financial management for Texas Appleseed. He has extensive experience in a variety of nonprofit advocacy and community organizing roles, having spent more than 15 years working in these arenas. He worked as a local community organizer in New York City and Fort Worth, acted as a national trainer and organizational development specialist for a national community organizing network, and led fundraising and development efforts for both local and national organizations. Prior to assuming the deputy director position, he served as development director for Texas Appleseed. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x 102
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Kelli Johnson

Communications Director
Kelli Johnson manages communications efforts for Texas Appleseed. She has 15 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. She serves on the board of The Christi Center. Kelli holds a Bachelor of Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x.103
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Pro Bono & New Projects Director
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.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x109
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Director, School - to - Prison Pipeline Project
Mary Schmid Mergler is a Staff Attorney supporting Texas Appleseed's efforts to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and reform the juvenile justice system. Prior to joining Appleseed, she served three years as Senior Counsel for the Criminal Justice Program of The Constitution Project in Washington, DC, where she advocated for ensuring competent counsel and other constitutional rights for the criminally accused. Her other criminal justice policy reform 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, DC, 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, and her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x106
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Grant Writer

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.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x114
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Development Associate

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.  Phone: 512-473-2800 x102
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Olga Almanza-Sauseda

Office Manager
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. 
Phone: 512-473-2800x107
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Madison Sloan

Director, Disaster Recovery and Fair Housing Project
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.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x 108
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Yamanda Wright

Data Scientist

Yamanda Wright compiles, validates, and analyzes data for all of Texas Appleseed's advocacy projects. Prior to joining the Texas Appleseed team, Yamanda worked as a doctoral researcher in the Gender & Racial Attitudes Lab at The University of Texas at Austin, where she investigated several social factors thought to contribute to achievement gaps in K-12 education. Most notably, she led a series of empirical studies assessing young children's perceptions of unfairness in academic settings, which won the American Psychological Association's prestigious Kenneth B. and Mamie P. Clark Award in 2013. In addition, Yamanda is passionate about program evaluation, survey design, qualitative interviewing, and statistical programming. She holds a B.A. degree in Psychology from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x 117
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