Executive Director, ACLU of Texas
Executive director of the ACLU of Texas since January 2008, Terri Burke has led the organization through a four-year strategic focus on criminal law reform, youth rights, religious liberty, and immigrant rights. Under her leadership, the ACLU of Texas expanded to include three offices across Texas, including one near the Mexico border. The organizationâ€™s legislative staff recently led significant legislative reform of the stateâ€™s prison system and worked successfully to stem the criminalization of school children. During the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature, Burke led the affiliateâ€™s work with coalition partners to attempt the blockage of a package of odious anti-abortion rights bills. In addition, she initiated and worked for the passage of a sweeping Public Information Act amendment that brings third-party vendors under the statute.
Prior to joining the ACLU of Texas, Burke had a 32-year career as a journalist, first as a reporter at Texas newspapers and later as a political and investigative reporter at the Hartford Courant. Her career included stints as a senior editor at The Dallas Morning News, the Austin American-Statesman and Albuquerque Tribune before becoming editor in chief of the Abilene Reporter-News in Texas. During that time, her journalistic staffs won numerous state awards, two National Headliners Awards, and two Pulitzer Prizes, including one for a series examining violence against women across the world.
She is a past board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and past president and board member of the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors association. She was an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Texas, a member of the visiting faculty at the American Press Institute and at the Florida-based Poynter Institute for Journalism. She also served on the board of Planned Parenthood of West Texas and was a board member and past president of the Nonprofit Management Center of Abilene
Paralegal, ACLU of Texas
A Miami native, Christopher Clay joined the ACLU of Texas as paralegal in May 2013. He previously worked for the Fort Bend County District Attorneyâ€™s Office in both the Felony and Misdemeanor Divisions where he learned the inner workings of the criminal justice system. While there, he became the youngest head of legal support services for the Juvenile Division in the Fort Bend County District Attorneyâ€™s Office, specializing in juvenile felonious offenses and working closely with the chief of his division to prosecute juvenile offenders for murder, arson, and various sex crimes. He also worked directly with Child Advocates of Fort Bend and the Victim Witness Division of the Fort Bend County District Attorneyâ€™s Office, assisting with victim services and emotional support for victims from arrest through trial.
Christopher is currently pursuing the highly regarded Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, in addition to the Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential.
Statewide Advocacy Manager, ACLU of Texas
Victor Cornell serves as statewide advocacy manager, a position created in 2013 to grow recruitment of volunteers and community organizers across the state. Vic joined the ACLU of Texas in 2005 as a work-study in the administration/finance department while attending University of Texas at Austin, where he holds an undergraduate degree in religious studies. He also holds a philosophy degree from Austin Community College.
Since becoming a full-time staff member in 2007, Vic has served in a variety of roles at the ACLU of Texas, including administrative assistant, office manager, religious freedom campaign coordinator, Austin regional coordinator, and legislative liaison. Vic is the proud single father of a teenage daughter, Shanti. Currently, he is working on a graduate degree in religious education at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.
Advocacy Coordinator, ACLU of Texas
Astrid Dominguez joined the ACLU of Texas in May 2012 as a Border Rights Fellow. After seven months of coordinating the U.S.-Mexico Binational Abuse Documentation Project at the Texas border, she was promoted to advocacy coordinator for the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Astrid has focused her work in the Rio Grande Valley on outreach and education of civil and human rights issues.
Prior to joining the ACLU of Texas, Astrid worked for the Mexican Foreign Ministry at the Consulates of Brownsville, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona. During her time at the Mexican Foreign Ministry, Astrid worked on civil rightsâ€™ violations issues at the border and in detention centers; she worked closely with the Mexican Communities Abroad. Astrid also participated in the negotiations of a local Memorandum of Understanding on the Safe, Orderly, Dignified and Human Repatriation of Mexican Nationals between the U.S. and Mexico.
Online Media Coordinator, ACLU of Texas
Dione Friends is the Online Media Coordinator for the ACLU of Texas, where she specializes in graphic design, web development, brand and communications-campaign strategy, and online marketing. She has experience in many areas of communications including brand marketing, public relations, event marketing, political communications, and advertising.
Prior to ACLU of Texas, Dione was a Communications Specialist at the Houston organization of Public Employees, where she increased brand awareness through innovative public relations and advertising campaigns. She received her Bachelorâ€™s degree in Political Science with a Minor in Art History from the University of Missouri Kansas City. In addition to her work at the ACLU of Texas, Dione does communications consulting for diverse clientele.
Director of Communications, ACLU of Texas
Tom joined the ACLU of Texas in May 2013. He has extensive experience in non-profit communications, ranging from public radio, to social services, to higher education.
A native Midwesterner, Tom moved to the Houston area in 2010 from Chicago, where he directed marketing and communications for the fundraising and alumni-relations arm of Northwestern University. He much prefers Texas winters.
Tomâ€™s roots in the Midwest originate in a rural area of Southern Indiana, where he spent his formative years on the banks of the Ohio River, rollicking in the water and working in tobacco fields. After graduating from Indiana University, he stuck around his Breaking Away-college town to serve in a variety of roles, including as director of promotions and marketing at an NPR member station and as development director at a Big Brothers Big Sisters agency.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Tom worked at Texas A&M University as an assistant vice president for communications and public relations, leading PR and awareness-building campaigns for the institution’s research enterprise, especially geared toward legislators and industry. View his LinkedIn profile.
Development Associate, ACLU of Texas
Cheryl Lovelady joined the ACLU of Texas as a Legal Fellow in September 2011, before joining the Development Department in 2013. As our Development Associate, her regular duties include grant research and writing, annual fund mailing coordination, special events, database management, member services and direct mail.
Born and raised in Texas, Cheryl holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, and Bachelors of Science and Arts through the Plan II Honors program at the University of Texas at Austin. She became a member of the State Bar of Texas in 2012. Her background is in nonprofit work spanning the arts, special education, immigration, and LGBT rights. Outside of her experience with the ACLU, she has pursued projects related to the Violence Against Women Act, LGBT immigration and asylum, unaccompanied juveniles in the immigration detention system, and education/autonomy rights for minors and adults with disabilities. She loves cats, kickboxing, and Broadway musicals.
Director of Development, ACLU of Texas
Cheryl Newcomb has been in the development field for 15 years, and has served as the Director of Development for the ACLU of Texas since June 2010. Since joining the ACLU, Cheryl has focused on soliciting major gifts and cultivating potential major gift donors, as well as identifying strategic grant opportunities.
Prior to joining the ACLU of Texas, Cheryl was the Director of Development for Capital IDEA, a local non-profit providing career education and training for low-income adults. During her tenure, Capital IDEAâ€™s fund raising revenues nearly doubled through outreach and solicitation of individual gifts to supplement the organizationâ€™s strong grant-writing program.
Before moving to Austin in 2006, Cheryl served as the Director of Major Gifts for Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, the flagship institution of the Advocate Health Care Network in Chicago. Cheryl and her team were responsible for an annual fund raising goal of $8 million, the majority of which was secured through major and planned giving initiatives.
Cheryl has also served as Assistant Director of Development for the University of Illinois School of Music, Development Manager for an AmeriCorps project in Houston, and began her career in development at the Childrenâ€™s Museum of Houston.
Communications Coordinator, ACLU of Texas
Anna NĂşĂ±ez joined the ACLU of Texas in 2014 after serving in the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, Southern California. A native Houstonian, Anna is passionate about helping her community and has provided over 20 years of service as a community relations, communications/media, and public affairs professional for non-profits, corporations, and city, county, and federal government agencies in Texas.
Empowering community voices through voter registration has always been extremely important to Anna, especially while serving as Community Outreach Manager for the Harris County Voter Registration Department and Houston Coordinator for Texas LULAC, and volunteering with NALEO for citizenship workshops. Anna previously served as Director of Communications for NCLR affiliate Democracia USA and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition; and Director of Community Affairs for El Dorado Communications. Her media experience includes serving as host and producer of â€śLatino Voicesâ€ť for KPFT Pacifica Radio and as a Deputy Producer for NPRâ€™s â€śLatino USA.â€ť
â€śGiving backâ€ť through grassroots volunteer service has been Annaâ€™s most rewarding work, especially while serving on the Coalition for Higher Education for Immigrant Students, instrumental in passage of TX HB 1403 which allowed undocumented immigrant students access to Texas colleges and universities; serving on Mayor Brownâ€™s Advisory Board, helping create the Mayorâ€™s Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs in Houston; Advisory Board for Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center; and recipient of the â€śOutstanding Work in the Field of Civil and Political Rights Awardâ€ť by Amnesty International Group 23. View her LinkedIn profile.
Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU of Texas
Adriana PiĂ±on joined the ACLU of Texas in 2012 as a senior staff attorney where she focuses her work on a variety of constitutional issues. Prior to working at the ACLU of Texas, Adriana was a staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she litigated cases concerning violations of equal protection, the fourth amendment, free speech, due process, and other constitutional matters. Her cases included a class action challenging false arrests and excessive use of force by police in New York City public middle and high schools and a challenge to an anti-solicitation ordinance aimed at driving day laborers off the town sidewalks.
Adriana has also assisted the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San JosĂ©, Costa Rica, with cases regarding political participation, disappearances, and freedom of expression, as well as the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City with its human rights litigation. In addition, she worked on institutional reform issues with the Centro por Estudios Legales y Sociales in Buenos Aires, Argentina, while studying abroad at the Universidad de Buenos Aires during law school. Adriana graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1998 with an A.B. in history and science, and received her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law in 2007 with special recognition for her work in international law.
Legal and Policy Director, ACLU of Texas
As the Legal & Policy Director of the ACLU of Texas, Rebecca L. Robertson leads the ACLUâ€™s legal, legislative, and field teams in Texas. Rebecca defends the liberty of ACLU clients in high impact litigation in state and federal courts around Texas. Representative matters include:
- Challenging an unconstitutional body cavity search perpetrated by border agents and a county hospital against a woman lawfully crossing the border
- Defending doctors and clinics against the imposition of extreme new state restrictions on access to abortion care
- Working with MALDEF and ACLUâ€™s Immigrant Rights Project to overturn discriminatory anti-immigrant ordinance enacted by City of Farmers Branch
- Championing the right of middle school student to engage in controversial political speech at school
- Halting implementation of Texasâ€™s 2011 photo voter ID law
- Defending the right of Native American kindergartner in Lubbock to wear long hair as expression of his religious beliefs
- Advocating before the Texas Attorney General for equal treatment of LGBT government employees
- Protecting the right of a pregnant woman against coerced cesarean
- Filing an amicus brief in Kountze cheerleader case defending Establishment Clause requirement that government-run schools stay out of the business of proselytizing
Rebecca also advocates on behalf of the ACLUâ€™s thousands of members at all levels of government for policies that protect and promote civil liberties and regularly testifies as a constitutional expert before policymaking bodies. Rebecca is frequently asked to speak around the state on topics including voting rights, privacy and technology, religious liberty, marriage equality, reproductive justice, immigrant and border rights, and mass incarceration.
Rebecca joined the ACLU after a 15-year career as a commercial litigator. Rebecca was a partner at Baker Botts, LLP, where she served as co-chair of the firmâ€™s securities litigation practice group. While at Baker Botts, Rebecca led the amicus team working on the landmark civil rights case challenging the Texas sodomy law, Texas v. Lawrence. Rebecca has been recognized by both the Houston Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas for her pro bono service. Rebecca is a graduate of the Harvard Law School, where she served as Executive Editor of the Harvard Law Review, and Rice University, where she received her B.A. magna cum laude.
Executive Assistant, ACLU of Texas
As executive assistant, Erica Sanchez provides administrative support for the leadership team at the ACLU of Texas, serves as staff liaison with the Board of Directors, assists with special events and mailings, helps process donations, manages the office, and generally keeps everyone in line. She joined the ACLU in April 2013 after serving for 13 years as administrative assistant to eight faculty clinicians at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. A native Houstonian, Erica has plans to return to school and work toward a dual degree in social work and business administration.
Policy Strategist, ACLU of Texas
Matt Simpson has served as a policy strategist at the ACLU of Texas since 2008. He advocates for civil rights and civil liberties at the state legislature and assists with local campaigns related to criminal justice reform, such as prison and jail policy, law enforcement information sharing, and ending the school-to-prison pipeline. Matt holds a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon and a B.A. in political science from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
During Texasâ€™ 83rd Legislature in 2013, Matt worked with legislators and coalition partners to end the ticketing of students for minor misbehavior, to increase accountability for police officers stationed in schools, and to push for smart-on-crime reforms that increase rehabilitative services and reduce the need to incarcerate individuals for long periods of time. In particular, the ACLU of Texas along with key partners helped pass a review of the use of the psychologically damaging and recidivism-inducing practice of housing individuals in solitary confinement.
Through his work in the Texas legislature, Matt has helped stop the passage of Arizona-style, anti-immigrant legislation; helped outlaw the dangerous and unnecessary practice of shackling incarcerated women during delivery and childbirth; and helped ensure the continuation of smart criminal justice policies. Outside his in-session advocacy, Matt has worked with local activists and the Austin City Council to develop city policies regulating the newly created Austin Regional Information Center, a law enforcement intelligence-sharing hub; those policies have provided a model statewide.
Staff Attorney, ACLU of Texas
Satinder Singh joined the ACLU of Texas in October 2013 as a staff attorney. Prior to working at the ACLU of Texas, Satinder served as a staff attorney at the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, an organization whose mission is to ensure equal housing opportunities throughout central Alabama.
Satinder earned a B.A. in philosophy and history from the University of Texas at Austin and his J.D. from Fordham.
Community Organizer, ACLU of Texas
Joe Swanson joined the ACLU of Texas in 2014 to serve as a Community Organizer in the Dallas area. Prior to his work with the ACLU, Joe studied history, music, and Spanish at Wake Forest University. Outside of his studies, Joe was highly involved in policy and local community engagement through various roles in the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, the first student-run, student-driven national think tank. As a proud and native Texan, after graduating from Wake Forest with a bachelor of arts Joe returned home to the Dallas area to continue his grassroots activism and work to catalyze progressive change.