Sarah R. Guidry, Executive Director, is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Ms. Guidry has worked in the public interest arena most of her career. She has served as an adjunct professor in Trial Simulation and Appellate Litigation. She was previously the East Texas Regional Managing Attorney for Disability Rights Texas where she represented disabled persons in various discrimination matters. In her position there she also provided representation to persons denied health care in the Harris County Jail, TYC facilities, and other facilities housing persons with mental disabilities. Ms. Guidry previously held positions with the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). At DFPS, Ms. Guidry was the supervising attorney of the statewide Special Litigation Unit which handled the most complex cases in the agency, both in jury trials and on appeal. She was also a Special Projects Attorney and in that role created statewide standardized training and best practice materials for social workers, prosecutors and judges, as well as providing legislative analysis to bills that would potentially impact agency litigation. Ms. Guidry began her work in the public interest arena as a legal aid staff attorney and subsequently Supervising Attorney at Coastal Bend Legal Services. She has authored numerous CLE articles as well as authored several chapters for SBOT Family Law Expert Witness Manual.
Lucinda R. Daniels, Associate Director, Student Development, Special Projects and Publications, is a graduate of Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Ms. Daniels has served as District Director and Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives, Ninth Congressional District of Texas where she was responsible for the direction and oversight of the Congressional Member’s district based congressional offices. Her duties included: planning and implementing community projects and events of local and national significance to constituents residing in the ninth congressional district, oversight of constituent casework and identification of local issues to be addressed through legislative action. Ms. Daniels previously served TMSL in the capacity of Director of Career Services. Ms. Daniels joined the Earl Carl Institute in 2009, where her current duties include directing the Thurgood Marshall School of Law Street Law Program, managing the ECI Interdisciplinary Journal for Legal & Social Policy, providing oversight on student assignments and student assessments, and coordinating the Institute’s special projects and publications.
Jeanetta Taylor Washington, Sr. Administrative Assistant, is the newest member of the Earl Carl Institute family. In this capacity she is the Institute’s first point of contact for internal and external constituencies and plays a key role in its daily operations. Prior to joining ECI, Ms. Washington served as Senior Administrator for the Thurgood Marshall School of Law Office of Career Services where she assisted in maintaining resource materials, performed duties related to the On-Campus Interview and Reciprocity programs, and oversaw the details of numerous off-campus career events. A native Houstonian, Ms. Washington developed her professional skills, in part through completion of courses at Massey Business College and Houston Community College.
Zahra Buck Whitfield currently serves as the Associate Director for the Earl Carl Institute’s Center for Government Law. In this role, Whitfield oversees the Institute’s policy and legislative outreach efforts targeted to improve outcomes for people of color. In particular, Mrs. Whitfield serves as ECI’s liaison with elected officials, agencies, and like-minded organizations. Mrs. Whitfield possesses over 13 years of experience in the federal government affairs and public policy arenas as a former congressional staffer, lawyer, campaign staffer, and lobbyist. She also served on Capitol Hill as a professional staffer on the United States House Homeland Security Committee and as a legislative staffer for United States Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS). In recent years, Mrs. Whitfield was the founder and CEO of Buck Group Government Strategies, a government relations firm in Washington, DC. Mrs. Whitfield holds a Psychology degree from Jackson State University and a Juris Doctorate from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. She has written numerous articles related to legislative and governmental policies.
Kelley L. Austin joined the Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy’s Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project to provide bankruptcy and foreclosure defense representation. Prior to joining the Earl Carl Institute, she worked in private practice where she practiced mainly bankruptcy and civil litigation. She has worked extensively in matters involving toxic torts, product liability, property disputes, bankruptcy and debt reorganization, and various other areas of civil litigation. She has served as court appointed counsel for the Harris County Tax and Probate courts, Fort Bend County Criminal Courts and Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. She earned her J.D., Cum Laude, in 2003 from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University where she was a member of the James Douglas Board of Advocates and Phi Alpha Delta National Law Fraternity. She earned her B.A., in 1992 from Southwest Texas State University. She was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in December 2003 and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in May 2004. She currently serves on the City of Sugar Land’s Land Use Advisory Council. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Sugar Land Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
Jasline Y. Hardiman, a native Houstonian, joined the Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy, Inc. as a Staff Attorney for the Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project (OMLPPP) in February 2017. Prior to joining ECI, Jasline worked for a solo practitioner developing her skills in estate planning, probate, and the formation of small businesses. Her main focus as a Staff Attorney for OMLPPP is to provide counsel and advice to clients with probate and property issues. Jasline earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sam Houston State University in 2011 and her Doctor of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law in 2016. During her time at South Texas College of Law, Jasline was on the board of several organizations, received various scholarships, and was admitted to the State Bar of Texas Pro Bono College for her dedication to volunteer work. Jasline is a member of the State Bar of Texas.
Ashley Vignaud Marshall Hawkins, OMLPPP Staff Attorney, is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from University of Houston and a Juris Doctor from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Ashley is a member of the Texas State Bar. She is the intake specialist / attorney for the Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy, Inc. under the Center for Civil Advocacy (CCA) division, Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project. From September 2010 through April 2012, Ashley served clients and intakes of the Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy as a student attorney for the Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project and as a research student for “Our Story,” “The State of Black Houston Now” publication/town hall meeting, and Congressional Black Caucus 2011: U.S. Congressman Al Green.
Victoria Erfesoglou, Associate Director, Center for Criminal Justice is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the State Bar of California. She was a graduate of the class of 2013 with “Gideon’s Promise,” a national organization who trains lawyers in criminal defense, with a focus on public defenders. She was also one of the first lawyer in Harris County selected by the Harris County Public Defender’s Office to participate in the Future Appointed Counsel Training Program, a local mentorship training program for criminal defense attorney representing the indigent. She is a member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association and she helps produce the HCCLA television show, “Reasonable Doubt.” She started her criminal defense work as an intern at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, and then continued in private practice in Harris and contiguous counties, with a focus on criminal defense and family law. She serves as the Assistant Director for the Texas DNA Mixture Review Project, which reviews post-conviction cases from across the state. She has authored articles for the HCCLA’s magazine, including an article on DNA evidence which was picked up by the Texas Bar Journal. Victoria joined the Earl Carl Institute in 2018, where her current duties include, supervising the Juvenile Justice Program and the Innocence Project.
Vonnie Dones III joined the Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy, Inc. as a Staff Attorney for the Juvenile Justice Project (JJP) to provide legal representation to children who are in multiple systems including the criminal justice system, disparate educational systems, the mental health system and foster care system. He is the founder and principal attorney of a multi-state law firm based in Manhattan, New York and Houston, Texas where he has practiced civil litigation, criminal defense law, consumer law, entertainment law, expungement/record sealing law, and personal injury. He was a general education and special education teacher in high school public education for 14 years. He also served as educator and case manager at Dallas County Juvenile Justice Department facilitating ARD committee meetings and counseled attendees on federal and state regulatory laws, parental rights under IDEA, and procedural due process in special education. He earned a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in English from the University of Houston. He went on to earn a Doctorate in Jurisprudence from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a legal assistant for the Director of the City of Cleveland’s Office of Fair Housing & Consumer Affairs (FHCA) and represented Clevelanders in fighting against consumer scams, fraudulent business practices, and unfair and unequal treatment in housing. He is the author of Legal Cleanup For New Jerseyans: How to Expunge Your Criminal or Juvenile Record in New Jersey. He is licensed to practice law in the state courts of Texas, New York, District of Columbia and the federal and state courts of New Jersey.
Vonnie Dones III
Morgan Owens is the Earl Carl Institute Assistant Director of Youth Initiatives, tackling our policy and advocacy work involving the school-to-prison pipeline. Morgan received her undergraduate degree in Sociology from Columbia University, where she took a special interest in the institutions that shape the lives of minority adolescents: public schools and the criminal justice system. She went on to teach Special Education on the rural coast of West Oahu in Hawai’i, where she simultaneously completed her Master’s of Science degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University. She moved to Houston in 2016 to work for Teach For America as a leadership development coach, and has managed teachers on over 50 campuses across HISD, Spring Branch ISD, KIPP, YES, and Baker Ripley.
Tatiana Campos, Thurgood Marshall School of Law Innocence Project Legal Assistant, is the newest member of the Earl Carl Institute family. In this capacity she is the Institute’s first point of contact for the Innocence Project and plays a key role in its daily operations. Prior to joining ECI, Ms. Campos previously served as Senior Administrative Assistant for the Thurgood Marshall School of Legal Clinic where she assisted in the ongoing activities of the Immigration, Probate, and Criminal law, and Family law clinics. A California native, Ms. Campos has developed her professional skills, through an Associate’s Degree from Platt College in Paralegal Studies, BS in Business Management from Grand Canyon University, a MA in Psychology from Ashford University and is currently fulfilling her Masters of Science of Law from the University of Southern California in Legal Studies.