Here's how we've been beating the heat this summer:
TFDP is growing!
Over the past few months, TFDP has made several additions to our team. Here are our new colleagues helping us fulfill our mission:
Yvonne London (she/her) - Yvonne M. London’s work includes providing direct representation and pro se assistance with clearing criminal records. Yvonne also is working with the Clean Slate Texas Coalition to advocate for policy changes that would increase access to criminal record clearing services in Texas. Yvonne earned her Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Rutgers University and her Doctor of Jurisprudence from Wayne State University.
Hans Maverick (he/him) - Hans is a long-time Texas resident and a recent graduate of Austin Community College with an Associate degree in Paralegal Studies. He joined TFDP in April 2022 as a Pro Bono Program Legal Assistant. In that role, he is helping expand TFDP's capacity to provide direct criminal legal services, including record clearing and driver’s license reinstatement, to low-income Texans.
Lulu Portillo (she/her) - Lulu Portillo is the Systems Navigator at TFDP. She joined the TFDP team in May 2022 to assist the Client Services team in providing additional advocacy and support to our clients with their non-legal issues. Previously, Lulu served 5.5 years as the Foster Youth Specialist of the Texas Foster Youth Justice Project. Before that, she was a Bilingual Survivor Advocate at the SAFE Alliance, working with survivors of domestic violence and abuse. Lulu is an alumnus of Saint Edward's University in Austin, Texas.
Sandra Organ Solís (she/her) - Sandra Organ, Houston Ballet's first Black ballerina, comes to TFDP with her background in non profit arts administration, as founding Artistic Executive Director of Earthen Vessels, a 501(c)3 dance ensemble that diversified audiences in Houston Tx. She has a B.A. in Human Services Administration from Antioch College, and lives in Hays County, as a Precinct chair for the Democratic Party, and a social movement activist.
Thanks to very generous support from Rebecca Webber and Shahin Amini, TFDP is proud to host several amazing interns this summer. Their work is integral to several of our current license recovery, record restoration, accountability, probation, and defense efforts.
Our Recent Impact:
PCs for People: Since starting, Systems Navigator Lulu Portillo has been identifying and connecting with former record clearing clients and helping them apply for a free laptop through the PCs for People program. To date, 20 of our clients have applied for a new PC through this program. In addition to getting a free computer, Lulu will also help them set up Indeed.com accounts so that they can begin job searching with their newly cleared records.
Probation Services: Over the past few months, Equal Justice Works Fellow Harjeen Zibari successfully waived an additional $8,907 in fines, fees, and restitution--for a total of $55,877.69 since the program’s launch in September 2020. She had 2 additional early termination requests granted, and has 8 more pending. In order to provide assistance to those outside of her service area, Harjeen is also compiling a self-help packet to guide individuals to request assistance with probation fees pro se.
Furthermore, Harjeen was elected to serve as a committee member for the State Bar of Texas’s Legal Services for the Poor in Criminal Matters (LSP) Committee. This will allow her to use her firsthand knowledge of client experiences to inform statewide indigent defense policies.
Criminal Record Clearing: Our new staff attorney, Yvonne London, has hit the ground running with criminal records and driver licenses cases. Yvonne is working alongside Pro Bono Director Sarah Mae Jennings with 63 clients on their record-clearing cases.
Indigent Defense: Staff Attorney Nathan Fennell is leading our indigent defense work and has participated in the Texas Indigent Defense Commission’s legislative working group to advocate for policies that improve indigent defense systems throughout the state of Texas.
Client Advocacy Fellowship: Our new cohort of Advocacy Fellows have successfully completed orientation, a local advocacy training, and participated in a statewide conversation around our Justice Reinvestment legislation. In the next few weeks, we will be hosting a training on letter-writing and correspondence with elected officials, and engaging fellows in our legislative planning conversations. (Here's how you can support our client advocacy work!)