Amelia Casas joined the Texas Fair Defense Project as Policy Analyst in 2021. In her role, Amelia supports TFDP’s advocacy strategy to pass impactful legislation and the development of TFDP’s pilot Client Advocacy Program, empowering former clients and directly impacted community members to lead criminal legal reform policies in Texas. Prior to her time at TFDP, Amelia served as the Policy Coordinator for the Workers Defense Project, where she advocated for workers’ rights and fair employment practices in Dallas, TX. Previously, Amelia finished her graduate final field practice with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, advocating for basic human rights and services in prisons. Amelia is a Licensed Master Social Worker and graduate of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas, where she also received her BSW.
Managing Attorney, Client Services
Karly Jo Dixon is the Managing Attorney of Client Services at Texas Fair Defense Project. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas School of Law. Karly Jo came to Texas Fair Defense Project as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in 2016, working on TFDP’s Criminal Justice Debt Initiative. Using direct representation, community education, advocacy, and volunteer legal clinics Karly Jo works to stop courts from incarcerating people who cannot afford to pay their Class C tickets and related fees, and helps people facing this unaffordable debt avoid warrants, arrest, jail time, and driver’s license suspensions. Under her leadership, in 2021 TFDP will continue to expand our client services and reach underserved jurisdictions throughout Texas.
Equal Justice Works Fellow
Nathan Fennell is a 2019-2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Thomson Reuters and Shearman & Sterling. His project focuses on improving representation for Texans who get arrested and cannot afford a lawyer. His work includes advocacy, litigation development, and helping defendants navigate the court appointment process. Before moving to Texas, Nathan coordinated intake, appointment of counsel, and post-sentencing services at the Orleans Public Defenders. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas - Austin, and the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. He is admitted to practice in Texas, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Emily Gerrick is the Policy Director at Texas Fair Defense Project. She joined TFDP in 2014 as a Liman Fellow and helped to develop TFDP’s Criminal Debt Initiative and Freedom to Drive Initiative. Emily leads TFDP’s legislative and policy work. She has helped to pass legislation to combat modern-day debtors’ prisons, establish the right to ability-to-pay hearings, expand access to debt waivers, and restore hundreds of thousands of driver licenses that had been suspended for inability to pay fines, fees, and surcharges. Emily is a strong believer in community-based advocacy and works in coalitions to implement reforms, including local campaigns to decriminalize homelessness, end unconstitutional bail practices, and stop prosecutions for marijuana possession. Emily also works on TFDP’s impact litigation and is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Emily earned her B.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles and her J.D. from Yale Law School.
Sarah Mae Jennings joined the Texas Fair Defense Project as a Staff Attorney in 2020. In her role, Sarah Mae identifies and pursues opportunities to provide Texans with greater access to TFDP's direct legal services. As a law student, Sarah Mae managed the UT Law Expunction and Driver's License Recovery pro bono clinics. After graduating, Sarah Mae worked as a trial attorney at the Orleans Public Defenders office in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sarah Mae received her B.A. from the University of Georgia and her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. She is admitted to practice law in the State of Louisiana.
Pro Bono Program Director
Jessica Johnson is the Pro Bono Program Director at TFDP. She joined the TFDP team in 2020 to continue and expand her work with underserved populations through building a statewide pro bono network. Previously, Jessica practiced family law, privacy law, and nonprofit law at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and practiced criminal law through a Justice Center fellowship at SAFE Alliance. Jessica earned her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law and her B.A. from the College of William and Mary. She is admitted to practice law in the State of Texas.
Katie Kis-Norton is the Operations Manager at Texas Fair Defense Project. She joined TFDP in 2020 to help build internal systems and processes, as well as to support new and existing programs. Prior to joining TFDP she managed an Austin-area AmeriCorps program. She received a B.S. and a graduate certificate from the University of Oregon in 2013.
Ana Prado is the Legal Assistant at Texas Fair Defense Project. She joined in 2021 to help support direct services and complete intakes for new potential clients. Prior to joining TFDP, she was a Litigation Clerk at Cleveland | Terrazas PLLC, intern at Grassroots Leadership, a field research assistant for PROJECT SEED at UT, and a research assistant for Dr. William Kelly at UT. She received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in Philosophy.
Development & Communications Associate
Keegan Shepherd is the Development & Communications Associate at Texas Fair Defense Project. They joined TFDP in 2021 to help grow the organization’s development bandwidth and public-facing communications. Prior to joining TFDP, they were (among other things) Policy Coordinator for the Texas Pension Coalition. They received a PhD in history from the University of South Florida in 2017.
Amanda Woog joined Texas Fair Defense Project as Executive Director in September 2018. During her tenure, TFDP has expanded their legal services to serve hundreds of Texans each year, helped to pass legislation that provided relief to over 1 million Texans living in poverty, and worked with partners to settle historic bail litigation in Harris County. She regularly works in coalition with community partners, and was part of the community-led group that advocated to start the Travis County Public Defender Office. Previously, Amanda held research fellowships at the Quattrone Center at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the University of Texas at Austin, was a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and served as Policy Director for the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence and briefing attorney to the Honorable Cheryl Johnson of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. She is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and Trinity College. Amanda is co-author of the forthcoming essay Courts and the Abolition Movement in the California Law Review
Equal Justice Works Fellow
Harjeen Zibari is a 2020-2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Lisa Foster and Alan Bersin. Her project focuses on reforming probation in Texas, primarily by advocating for clients’ early release from probation and its related fines and fees. Additionally, she works to empower and educate others on their rights during the probation period, and to equip pro bono attorneys to provide similar services. Prior to joining TFDP, Harjeen worked at the Forensic Project, the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs, and the ACLU of Texas. She is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law and the University of Texas at Dallas.