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.
Kelley L. Austin currently serves as the Associate Director of the Center for Civil Advocacy at the Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy. In this capacity, Mrs. Austin supervises the Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project 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 and to ensure housing stability. She earned a Bachelor of Art from Southwest Texas State University where she majored in Political Science/Pre-Law with a minor in Spanish and then went on to graduate, Cum Laude, from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. Mrs. Austin has served as an Adjunct Professor in First Year Property, Real Estate Transactions, Property Preservation and Lawyering Process. Prior to joining ECI, Mrs. Austin worked extensively on 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. Mrs. Austin was a member of 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.
Cheri A. Buggs currently serves as the Associate Director for Special Projects & Student Development at the Earl Carl Institute for Legal & Social Policy, Inc. In this capacity, she oversees the recruitment of law students, other volunteers, and interns as well as other special projects of the Earl Carl Institute. She earned her Juris Doctorate from The University of Texas School of Law where she was a member and officer of the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society, and the Texas Journal of Women and the Law. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin, and she also earned a Master of Arts in Communications with emphasis in Education from Grand Canyon University. Buggs’ legal career began in the area of family law and public interest law. She has worked for the Legal Aid Society of Lubbock as well as several nonprofits where she served as a Staff Attorney for the Family Violence Project in New York City, and Executive Director of a Children’s Advocacy Center in Arkansas. Immediately prior to joining the Earl Carl Institute, Buggs was a high school teacher, and adjunct professor in the areas of Government and Communications.
Brian Ehrenberg is the Associate Director of the Center for Criminal Justice at the Earl Carl Institute. He and his wife, Mariana Ehrenberg, also manage Valdes Ehrenberg, Pllc, an immigration law firm with offices in Dallas, Kerrville, and Houston. He is member of the Crimmigration Committee for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Most importantly he is the father of two.
Andreience Fields serves as the Division Business Administrator. Andreience is from the small town of Brazoria, Texas who received a degree in paralegal studies in 2002. Since then, she has worked as an administrative professional for over 20 years in the legal field. Her tenure at Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, started in 2009 as a contract paralegal working with staff attorneys in the Opal Mitchell Lee Property Preservation Project. Later, she became the admin for the entire Earl Carl Institute department. Andreience managed the offices of the Urban Research and Resource Center, a policy-based research department created by Professor Marcia Johnson in partnership with the School of Public Affairs. In March of 2019, Andreience began working with the Office of Admission at the law school and became the Interim Assistant Director in 2020. During her time as assistant director, she spoke on many recruiting panels and worked with the other five HBCU law schools to create a collective called HBCUs which helped educate African American and other minority students on how to navigate the application process and properly prepare for law school.
Outside of assisting with legal files and documents, Andreience used her proofreading and editing knowledge to help produce law school textbooks for two law school courses, articles, publications, training manuals, and employee procedure booklets for other Houston area organizations.
The law school’s motto of “Protect it… Improve it… Pass it on” is more than just words to her; they are words to live by.
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.