The TCJC Team

Jemima Abalogu

Youth Justice Ambassador

jabalogu@TexasCJC.org

Jemima Abalogu is a senior at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. She serves her community as a founder and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 72 in Scouts BSA (the first all-female troop in the Westlake and Bee Cave areas). In 2017, she was awarded first place in the Equal Justice Initiative’s Racial and Economic Injustice essay contest for her original work, “We Cannot Forget: A Continuation of Police Brutality Against Black Youth.” Additionally, Jemima was one of 52 students selected nationally to attend the Telluride Association’s Sophomore Seminar at Cornell University, studying the concept and role that race plays in our society. Most recently, she was one of 10 young people across the country selected to join the "Power Table" of the Visionary Freedom Fund; she and other members will partner with funders to allocate $1 million in grants to the youth justice field. Jemima hopes to study political science and social policy in college and ultimately earn her Juris Doctor. As a Policy Associate at TCJC, Jemima is researching the ill effects of zero-tolerance policies in schools and the benefits of implementing restorative justice programs.

Alycia Castillo

Youth Justice Policy Analyst

acastillo@TexasCJC.org

Alycia Castillo is the Youth Justice Policy Analyst for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. She joined TCJC as a Policy Associate during the state’s 86th Legislative Session in 2019, and she continued to support TCJC through the remainder of that year as a Policy Consultant. Alycia received her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work at Texas State University, where she conducted research to find evidence-based solutions to problems facing marginalized populations. Alycia uses her social work background to provide trauma-informed perspectives to existing environments. Her background in teaching and education management also provide her a holistic view of the intersecting factors that lead to system involvement.

Grace Coleman

Harris County Project Intern

Grace Coleman is a senior at Rice University and, following graduation in May, she will be attending Columbia Law School. As a Harris County Project Intern at TCJC, she has focused on a project investigating the use of lethal self-defense in cases of domestic violence. She is currently working on a legislative history of Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” law, which centers on how this law has excluded women and people of color from its protections.

 

 

 

Elaine Hennig

Harris County Project Associate

ehennig@TexasCJC.org

Elaine Hennig is the Harris County Project Associate at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. She first joined TCJC as an undergraduate student, engaging in research projects on school policing and the cash bail system in Harris County. In her hometown of Dallas, Texas, Elaine was trained in the arts as a director, stage manager, and playwright at an arts magnet high school. Paired with her community service engagement, her interest in storytelling led her to develop a passion for analyzing society, advocating for social justice, and elevating marginalized voices. Elaine received her Bachelor of Arts from Rice University, where she studied Sociology with a minor in Politics, Law, and Social Thought and took a particular academic interest in the social impact of the justice system.

Jay Jenkins, J.D.

Harris County Project Attorney

jjenkins@TexasCJC.org

Jay Jenkins is the Harris County Project Attorney at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. Since joining TCJC in 2014, he has promoted broad youth and adult justice reforms in Houston and the surrounding areas. Jay received his Juris Doctor from Northwestern University School of Law, graduating magna cum laude in 2009. While at Northwestern, he worked at the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Children and Family Justice Center, focusing on a number of youth justice issues. In his third year, Jay was the lone law student at the newly formed Juvenile Post-Dispositional Clinic, where he promoted policy reform throughout Chicago while also advocating on behalf of juvenile clients. Jay was admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois and worked as a civil litigator in the private sector for three years. At TCJC, Jay has researched and pursued reforms related to over-policing and prosecution, while also reimagining the local bail system and supporting indigent defense, and he was instrumental in the development of a first-of-its-kind data dashboard that visualizes more than one million criminal case outcomes in Harris, Dallas, and Bexar Counties. Jay additionally serves as co-founder and Vice President of the Convict Leasing and Labor Project, which launched in 2018 to expose the history of the convict leasing system and its connection to modern prison slavery.

Madison Kaigh

Communications Manager

mkaigh@TexasCJC.org

Madison Kaigh is Communications Manager at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, having joined the organization in spring 2019. A Texas transplant by way of Washington, D.C., and Alaska, she brings experience from EMILY’s List, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the U.S. House of Representatives, and more to her communications and digital work at TCJC. She most recently served as Communications Director on a Central Texas congressional campaign, where she spearheaded written communications, press outreach, and social media. Madison’s family history of justice system involvement and justice-related work have informed her passion for elevating unique voices and representing underserved communities. She hopes to use storytelling to help TCJC and allies defeat stigmas and positively impact the narrative around system involvement. Madison received her Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University, where she studied Government and English.

Lindsey Linder, J.D.

Senior Policy Attorney

llinder@TexasCJC.org

Lindsey Linder is Senior Policy Attorney for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. Since joining TCJC in 2015, she has focused primarily on youth and women’s justice. Lindsey co-founded the Texas Women’s Justice Coalition, a statewide group of more than 60 system-impacted women and advocates calling for women’s justice, and she is a 2020 finalist for the Austin Under 40 Awards for her policy work and advocacy. Lindsey has long been active in community service and volunteerism. In 2011, she was awarded first place in a national fundraising campaign, which resulted in an opportunity for her to visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and it was this experience that sparked her passion for legal advocacy. Lindsey utilized her position of leadership as President of Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity to organize local fundraising, community service, and advocacy efforts. During summer 2014, she interned with UNICEF in Tel Aviv, Israel, drafting a report on Israel’s implementation of the UN treaty Convention on the Rights of the Child to be submitted to the New York and Geneva United Nations headquarters for review. Lindsey joined TCJC as a member of Senator Rodney Ellis’ Texas Legislative Internship Program, and she continued to support TCJC while completing law school, receiving her Juris Doctor with honors from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2016.

Maggie Luna

Peer Policy Fellow

mluna@TexasCJC.org

Maggie Luna is the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Peer Policy Fellow for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, having joined the organization in early 2020. In her role, she is focused on creating advocacy opportunities for system-impacted Texans. Maggie’s passion for justice policy is fueled by her own lived experience with system involvement and substance use, including incarceration at state and county levels in Texas. Just one year after her release from prison, Maggie began advocating for a host of women’s dignity bills and, throughout Texas’s 2019 legislative session, she encouraged lawmakers to support reforms including conditions of confinement. A graduate of the Smart Justice Speakers Bureau at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Maggie helps to coordinate the Statewide Leadership Council, which TCJC launched to elevate the voices of system-impacted people in local and state policy reform.

Justin Martinez

Bexar County Justice Project Advocate

jmartinez@TexasCJC.org

Justin Martinez is the Bexar County Justice Project Advocate at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, having joined the organization in early 2020. He previously served as a Policy Associate at TCJC, where he focused on addressing the devastating impacts of de facto life sentences on youth. Justin is pursuing his Master of Arts in Legal Studies, with a Paralegal Certification, at Texas State University. During his time in the educational field, he advocated for the arts and their importance in the overall approach to a child’s education. As the Bexar County Justice Project Advocate, Justin will work with local partners to reform practices that lead to justice system involvement and overly harsh punishments for kids and adults.

Leah Pinney

Executive Director

lpinney@TexasCJC.org

Leah Pinney is Executive Director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. She joined TCJC in 2007 as a youth justice researcher to push for stronger oversight at the Texas Youth Commission. With her help, TCJC advocated for the implementation of agency programs and procedures that would reduce staff use of force, including the indiscriminate use of pepper spray against kids in facilities. Leah later worked to advance the rights of indigent defendants, especially the right to counsel, through increased state funding and the expansion of model programs, including the Harris County Public Defender's Office. From 2008 to 2015, Leah was in charge of TCJC’s operations, overseeing its organizational development and resource management. Prior to TCJC, Leah worked with the ACLU of Texas, where she drafted a report about the problems related to the use of confidential informants, particularly by racially biased drug task forces across Texas. She graduated summa cum laude from St. Edward’s University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science. As Executive Director, Leah spearheads strategic planning based on the organizational vision and mission, and develops the parameters for achieving multi-year goals, while ensuring a process and structure to achieve success.

Cynthia Simons

Grant Me The Wisdom Foundation Women’s Fellow

csimons@TexasCJC.org

Cynthia Simons is the Grant Me The Wisdom Foundation (GMTW) Women's Fellow for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. Her passion for civil rights and justice reform stems back to the age of 16, when she graduated from high school and attended the University of Texas at San Antonio. That passion has since been fueled by a firsthand view of the justice system: As a formerly incarcerated woman, Cynthia hopes to protect women’s rights and ensure that women have access to resources and rehabilitative services before, during, and after interactions with the justice system. This includes the critical need for strategies that promote family connection and reunification. At TCJC, Cynthia works to end mass incarceration and support women and families who have been impacted by the justice system; she collaborates with the Texas Women’s Justice Coalition in support of trauma-informed programming and gender-responsive reforms.

Douglas Smith, M.S.S.W.

Senior Policy Analyst

dsmith@TexasCJC.org

Doug Smith is the Senior Policy Analyst with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. Since joining TCJC in 2015, he has been working to end mass incarceration and expand opportunity for people upon release from jail and prison. He is the founding member of the Statewide Leadership Council, which includes leaders from across Texas who have been impacted by the criminal legal system. Doug is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Policy at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, and he trains advocates nationally on effective legislative strategy. Additionally, Doug serves on the Board of the Austin Sobering Center. He graduated magna cum laude from St. Edward’s University in 1994 and earned his M.S.S.W. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000.

Jasmine Smith

Harris County Project Intern

Jasmine Smith is a sophomore at Rice University; she plans to graduate with a degree in Psychology and attend medical school. Her interest in justice system reform comes from a desire to inspire difficult but necessary conversations about the system’s impact on society and to spark change. As a Harris County Project Intern at TCJC, Jasmine works on the Convict Leasing and Labor Project involving the Sugar Land 95, and she hopes to continue researching the history and legacy of convict leasing, including its beneficiaries.

 

Leon Theodore, M.S.W.

Dallas County Justice Project Advocate

ltheodore@TexasCJC.org

Leon Theodore is the Dallas County Justice Project Advocate at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, having joined the organization in fall 2019. He has been active in the reentry field since 2006, and he has done extensive volunteer work in Orlando, Florida, where he established his own nonprofit organization after recognizing the lack of services for people struggling with sexual addiction. Leon's passion for reentry, as well as social and employment development, stems from his own experience with the justice system and the stigma attached to people returning from incarceration. He is a proponent of youth diversion programs, especially as it relates to minorities and the education system. Leon earned a Master of Social Work from Texas A&M-Commerce in 2019, and, in the future, he plans to pursue a Doctorate of Social Work, focusing specifically on students of color and the intersection of self-esteem and perceived potential. 

Molly Totman, J.D.

Deputy Director

mtotman@TexasCJC.org

Molly Totman is Deputy Director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. Molly has spent the bulk of her career at TCJC, which she joined in 2003, immediately after receiving her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Molly's first position at TCJC was as Public Safety Director. In that role, she built the sole state repository on racial profiling by Texas’ law enforcement agencies. The four reports on racial profiling that she produced for TCJC between 2004 and 2008 shed light on discriminatory law enforcement policies and resulted in changes in the state’s collection of data regarding the prevalence of traffic stops and searches. As Deputy Director, Molly remains TCJC’s senior editor and researcher, while leading its foundation fundraising.

Gabe Tugendstein

Harris County Project Intern

Gabe Tugendstein is a senior at Rice University and ultimately hopes to earn his Doctor of Philosophy. His work at TCJC began through the Law Practicum at Rice, where he researched the Sugar Land 95, including laws and cases relevant to the treatment of the remains by Fort Bend County and its school district. Gabe hopes to continue combatting injustice in a community-based setting in Houston and gain more experience in nonprofit and legal spaces.

 

 

Joey Villarreal

Finance and Operations Manager

jvillarreal@texascjc.org

Joey Villarreal is the Finance and Operations Manager at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, having joined the organization in late 2019. Joey previously worked at the Legal Center for People with Disabilities and Older People in Denver, Colorado, where he started as an Administrative Assistant before moving into a bilingual support role within the special education division. More recently, Joey served for 12 years as the Vice President of Operations for a Los Angeles-based entertainment production company, where he managed finance operations, vendor relations, and client contracts. An extensive traveler abroad, Joey has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and volunteered at a nearby orphanage in Moshi; he cites that volunteer work and his experiences visiting local schools as changing his perspective about how others live. Joey holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration.