TexasAppleseed.net



REBECCA LIGHTSEY

Executive Director
Rebecca Lightsey, an attorney experienced in public policy and nonprofit management, is Texas Appleseed’s Executive Director. Lightsey has served in state government as Texas Commissioner of Insurance, Executive Director of the Texas Insurance Purchasing Alliance, and as Assistant General Counsel to Governor Ann Richards. Her positions with nonprofits include Executive Director of SafePlace, the domestic violence and sexual assault center in Austin; Colonia Director for the Community Resource Group, working on the Texas-Mexico border; and she was the first Executive Director of the Texas Consumer Association. Lightsey received her law degree from The University of Texas School of Law.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x 111
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Rebecca Lightsey



DEBORAH FOWLER

Deputy Director
Deborah Fowler oversees Texas Appleseed’s legal team, coordinating legal efforts on juvenile justice, the school-to-prison pipeline, and other Texas Appleseed project areas.  She 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 the 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.  Prior to assuming the Deputy Director's position, Deborah served as Texas Appleseed's Legal Director for five years.  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 x 105
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Deborah Fowler



ANN BADDOUR

Senior Policy Analyst
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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Ann Baddour

Brennan Griffin

Development Director
Brennan Griffin coordinates fundraising and development for Texas Appleseed.  He has extensive experience, having spent more than 10 years writing and managing grants, fund raising, and cultivating individual donors for non-profit advocacy and community organizing groups on both the national and local levels.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x 102
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Brennan Griffin



BRETT MERFISH

Staff Attorney
Brett Merfish provides legal support for Texas Appleseed's foster care project.  Brett received a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law, a Masters of Public Policy from the Terry Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College.  Her previous experience includes working as a legislative aide for a Texas congressman on Capitol Hill and as a field organizer for several political campaigns.  Before joining Texas Appleseed, Brett worked for a year as an associate at Patton Boggs, LLP in Washington, D.C. 
Phone: 512-473-2800 x.109
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Brett Merfish



Mary Schmid Mergler

Staff Attorney
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 x107
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Jacques Ntonme

Legal Fellow
Jacques Ntonme provides legal support for Texas Appleseed's Mental Health Code Update project and is currently a fellow of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. His previous experience includes representing involuntarily-committed individuals challenging their detention, addressing habitation issues for persons with intellectual disabilities in Santa Clara County, California, and securing workplace accommodations under Americans with Disabilities Act. Jacques received a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School and a Bachelor of Arts from Yale College.
Phone: 512-473-2800 x114
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Olga 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

Staff Attorney
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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Madison Sloan


Karla Vargas

Staff Attorney
Karla M. Vargas provides legal support for Texas Appleseed’s School-to-Prison Pipeline project.  Karla received a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law, a Masters of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas. Before joining Texas Appleseed, Karla worked as a staff attorney with a legal services provider, and also previously worked with undocumented immigrant youth in immigration detention.

Phone: 512-473-2800 x110
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