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.
Salina Adolph, Esq. is the Associate Director of Special Projects and Student Development. Originally a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Salina graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law with a Juris Doctor and from the Clinton School of Public Service with a master’s degree in Public Service. Prior to working at the ECI, Salina worked as a Domestic Violence Attorney at the Center for Arkansas Legal Services and later practiced federal employment law. Throughout the course of her career, Salina has also gained experience in non-profit program development and evaluation, grant writing, policy analysis, higher education, and was the Editor-in-Chief of the public service law journal at her law school. Salina’s focus and passion is to increase the access to justice for underserved communities, particularly for underrepresented Black and Brown communities in Texas.
Kelley L. Austin currently serves as the Managing Attorney for the Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy’s Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project. In this capacity, she oversees the property clinic which provides free legal services to low income Texans who are facing potential land loss by helping economically disadvantaged communities to retain and grow wealth. She earned her Juris Doctorate, Cum Laude, 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 Bachelor of Art Pre-law, from Southwest Texas State University. She has served as an adjunct professor in First Year Property and in Real Estate Transactions at Thurgood Marshall School of Law. 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 previously served on the City of Sugar Land’s Land Use Advisory Council which was responsible for the creation of the City of Sugar Land’s current land use plan. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Sugar Land Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
Elizabeth Camp, Esq. serves as the Staff Attorney for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program for the ECI. Though a native Texan, Elizabeth lived in numerous countries, including Asia and Africa, when she was growing up. Elizabeth earned her Juris Doctor from South Texas College of Law, and she has expertise in Elder Law, contested probate and guardianship, Medicaid (including appeals), estate planning, and over 15 years of experience in employment law and health law. Elizabeth also has almost 13 years of experience in higher education, working as the in-house counsel at the University of New Mexico and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Elizabeth is a zealous advocate for underrepresented clients experiencing legal hardships.
Stormy S. Clark, Esq. is the new Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project Attorney, primarily focusing on Landlord-Tenant matters. She is an exceptional legal advocate for her clients and dedicated to the fight for the underrepresented, underserved, and often forgotten about communities.
Stormy was born in Bay City, Texas and raised in Victoria, Texas. She attended Faith Academy High School, where she graduated Valedictorian. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University located in Huntsville, Texas. Before attending law school, Stormy worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and witnessed firsthand the injustices that plague our society. This experience fueled her desire to pursue her legal career. She earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence from Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and in the top 10% of her class. Prior to joining the Earl Carl Institute, Stormy was awarded the Association of Women Attorneys Foundation Pro Bono Fellowship with Tahirih Justice Center where she provided client-centered and trauma-informed representation to immigrant survivors of gender-based violence.
Stormy comes to the Earl Carl Institute family as a Staff Attorney for the Opal Mitchell Property Preservation Project with a diverse background. She is passionate about her work and committed to helping her clients resolve their legal needs.
Danielle Hodges, the ECI ERAP Paralegal, received her Paralegal Studies degree from Santa Barbara Business College in 2009. She worked as a paralegal for 9 years in private and county offices. During her career she worked for the Kern County District Attorney Office as the paralegal assigned to the Homicide and Family Violence units assisting with legal research, trial preparation, and other litigation support. In 2018, Danielle graduated the Kern County Sheriff’s Academy and became a Sheriff’s Deputy. During her time as a Deputy, Danielle spoke on the law enforcement panel for Kern High School Districts’ annual Project BEST (Black Excellence in Scholarship and Teaching) Black Student Union careers in law and Court day. Danielle also worked for Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance where she assisted the community (pro per litigants) with their fair housing rights, domestic violence orders, custody orders, and family law matters. In addition, she successfully attended and completed National Fair Housing Alliance School (HUD) held in Coral Gables, FL.
Jasmine Ivy is the ECI Assistant Director for Race, Gender & Social Justice Transformation. Originally a Chicago native, Jasmine is a recent graduate of Northern Illinois University with a B.S. in Rehabilitation Services and a M.S. in Education. Ms. Ivy has eight years of working within social justice education throughout the Chicagoland area. Her area of research, talents, and advocacy efforts are centered on mental health within communities of color, school to prison pipeline, and white fragility. In her free time, Ms. Ivy enjoys cooking, plant shopping, reading, and exploring around to find the best cuisines.
Desiree Mendoza, Juvenile Justice Project (JJP) Paralegal, is a graduate of Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Ms. Mendoza went on to get her Paralegal Certification at Center for Advanced Legal Studies in Houston, Texas. She has been a Paralegal working in the areas of Juvenile Law, Criminal Law, Family, Probate, Tax, and Guardianship. She previously worked as an after-school site leader for a- risk youth in low income communities. Her duties included working with children after school to lead a program that to help them be better assets to their communities. Ms. Mendoza joined the Earl Carl Institute, where her current duties include assisting attorneys in representing youth who are going through the juvenile justice system and creating dependable legal services for these youth no matter their socio-economic status or ability to pay.
Jodi Saxton Moon, PhD, is the Associate Director Research & Publications at ECI. In this newly developed role, she is working at the intersection of law and social science research to support and expand ECI’s written works related to the legal and social issues disproportionately impacting communities of color and other disenfranchised populations. Dr. Moon spent her early career in Washington, DC, working in marketing, before acquiring her master’s degree in Education. After teaching middle school mathematics for ten years, she earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Indiana University. She then served a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Rice University, where she worked with the Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC), a research practice partnership with the Houston Independent School District. To date, Dr. Moon’s research has focused on large-scale reforms in education, access to educational opportunities, and transparency in governance, always with a strong emphasis on presenting research that is accessible to practitioners and can be used to impact children’s life experiences through policy and practice. She is excited to support ECI’s law student interns on their own writing initiatives and elevate the voice and mission of ECI and Thurgood Law through focused writing and scholarly publication.
Lisa Nelsen joined the Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy in October 2019 as a Staff Attorney for the Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project (OMLPPP). She provides representation in estate planning, probate, and property issues. Prior to joining OMLPPP, Attorney Nelsen worked in private practice focusing on probate, estate planning, and elder law. She has a life-long passion in public service and has volunteered with Houston Volunteer Lawyers and the Houston Bar Association in pro bono and community outreach. As co-chair of the Elder Law Committee, Ms. Nelsen updated and rewrote the Elder Law Handbook. Ms. Nelsen is a native Houstonian. She has a BA Degree in English from Trinity University and a JD from Mitchell-Hamline School of Law in Minnesota. Prior to law school, Ms. Nelsen was a technical writer, but her passion was volunteering with social justice organizations. Her experience at those organizations inspired her to attend law school in order to better serve her community.
Gloria Suarez serves as Community Engagement Specialist for the Institute. Ms. Suarez’s role is to promote the Institute’s profile through public relations and community outreach. Ms. Suarez is a native Houstonian. She graduated from Channelview High School in 2004. She attended San Jacinto College Central Campus and the Center for Advanced Legal Studies where she graduated with her Associates of Applied Science and Paralegal Certificate. Ms. Suarez’s passion has always been to help others in her community. She previously worked at the NAACP Houston Branch as a legal program paralegal/coordinator. Ms. Suarez enjoys working to help communities of color and other traditionally disenfranchised populations. It is her passion to help people who need assistance with their legal problems.
Reginald “Reggie” Smith serves as the Policy and Community Relations Liaison for ECI. In this role Reggie engages with local, state and federal politicians and policy makers to promote ECI’s projects, programs and policy initiatives. Reggie earned a Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work degree from the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas, Austin. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from Huston-Tillotson University. Before coming to ECI, Reggie was a Senior Advisor for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission from 2019-2021, where he helped to launch its Peer and Recovery Unit. Reggie has also worked as a lobbyist and policy analyst for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, a Policy Fellow for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and was selected as an inaugural Commissioner for the Texas Supreme Court of Criminal Appeals, Judicial Commission on Mental Health.
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.