Melissa J. Schank
Executive Director
implements board policy 
• policy and business planning
• oversees association

Melissa J. Schank, Executive Director, has worked with nonprofit associations for over 20 years, and has been with TCDLA more than 13 years. She earned her Master’s of Human Resources, Business Administration, Bachelor’s of Communication and Mediation Certificate from Saint Edwards University in Austin, Texas. Her greatest strengths are overseeing the long-term planning and strategy for legal educational programs, in addition to managing the organization’s seminars, membership and communication departments.

Rick Wardroup
Curriculum Director/
Staff Attorney
provides training and resources for attorneys representing clients accused of capital crimes.

Curriculum Director/Staff Attorney Richard L. Wardroup has been a lawyer for 39 years. He holds degrees from Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech School of Law. He has been a TCDLA member for over 29 years and employed by TCDLA for more than five years. Rick has been involved in the trial of capital murder cases since 1983 and the direct appeal of convictions since 1984. Before joining TCDLA, he was active in the prosecution of both state and federal habeas petitions in death penalty cases. In the past year, Rick has served as a course director for seminars on forensic sciences, mental health/capital murder, and cross-examination. He has also been a course director at the Capital Trial College in Plano and the the South Padre Island Capital Murder Seminar. He has been a faculty member at the Indigent Defense Seminar in Dallas, the Young Lawyer Training in Dallas, and the TCDLA Trial College in Huntsville. His dedication and devotion to bringing high-quality capital defense training to Texas attorneys, and his ability to involve other experienced capital litigators to provide excellent training, are his greatest strengths.

Mari Flores
budgets and financials
grant compliance
financial analysis

Mari Flores, TCDLA’s Controller, has been with TCDLA since February of 2012. She has an MBA in accounting and a BBA in Finance from Saint Edwards University in Austin, TX. She has 15 years of nonprofit experience in accounting, financial management and auditing. Her accounting and financial nonprofit knowledge, as well as the professionalism, efficiency and dedication she brings to her position are her greatest strengths.

Craig Hattersley
Communications Dir.
Voice for the Defense magazine
graphic design

Communications Director Craig Hattersley has been with TCDLA for ten years. He graduated summa cum laude from UT with a BS in journalism, and was senior editor at 3rd Coast magazine, Texas Life magazine, and Austin Weekly, as well as writing or working for the Village Voice, Texas Monthly Publications, and the Texas Observer, among others. Additionally, before coming to TCDLA, he worked at G&S Typesetters in Austin, specializing in the production of college textbooks. A misspent youth featured tours of duty at the Fillmore East in NYC, the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, and years spent under the hood working as a mechanic in a Volkswagen dealership. His son has finished undergrad degrees in math and comp sci and a master's in statistics and probability at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Cristina Abascal
Accounts Payable

accounts payable

Cristina Abascal, TCDLA’s Accounts Payable Specialist, has been with TCDLA for ten years. She is currently attending Austin Community College pursue a BA in Accounting. She has four years of nonprofit experience in accounting and auditing. Her hard work and dedication and ability to adapt to change are her greatest strengths. When she is not studying or at work she is enjoying her four children.

Miriam Duarte 
Database Coordinator

database management
membership benefits

Miriam Duarte, Database Coordinator, has been with TCDLA for ten years. Her experience at TCDLA has allowed her to utilize her professionalism and ability to learn and master new concepts. Miriam has shown a commitment to providing unsurpassed service in the membership, seminar, and publication departments. Her attention to detail and accuracy has provided great management and upkeep of the organization's database, her greatest strength.

Amanda Rivera
Program Coordinator

• Plan and organize CLEs and events
• Travel arrangements for board and speakers
• Prepare seminar materials and marketing

Amanda Rivera, Program Coordinator, was with TCDLA from 2010-2013 and has since returned to her TCDLA family. She has more than 5 years of experience as a coordinator for continuing education events and more than 10 years in administrative duties. Her experience as a Coordinator in continuing education has allowed her to obtain skills that allow her to provide exceptional support to members, staff, officials, and the general public by using her communication, organizational, and technical skills. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Maxx Trejo
Program Coordinator

• Plan and organize CLEs and events
• Travel arrangements for board and speakers
• Prepare seminar materials and marketing

Maxx Trejo is a native Austinite who attends classes at Texas State University, studying to be an economic policy analyst. Proficient in numerous computer programs and databases, Maxx has conducted research on behalf of political campaigns, legal offices, and most recently for the Social Science Research Center of Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi.

Keri Steen
Administrative Assistant

administrative support
answers phone and directs calls
assists with board meetings

Keri Steen is a native of Wisconsin who brings a wealth of experience to the association. Besides working in a number of office environments and gaining the skills required to handle multiple accounts, Keri has done work with both the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts in a variety of positions, including training, accounting, and fundraising. She is the mother of twin teenage girls and a boy.

Amanda Mendoza
Seminar Clerk

data processing
• attendee packets 

Amanda is a native Texan. 

Beth Richter
Seminar Clerk

data processing
• attendee packets

Beth Richter is a native Texan who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in Geography and a BS in Civil Engineering. Beth has worked in the private sector and for the City of Austin as a professional engineer. She is proficient in numerous computer programs and values accuracy and efficiency in her work. In her spare time she loves to be outdoors, and one of her bucket list items is to visit every national park in the U.S.

Chelsea Jones
Seminar Clerk

data processing
• attendee packets 


Elisa Jaramillo
Seminar Clerk

data processing
• attendee packets 

Elisa Jaramillo is a native Austinite. She is a licensed cosmetologist, but wanted something more in the line of office work. She therefore transitioned into a clerical position as a childcare worker in the after-school ACE program in the Austin Independent School District. Elisa is proficient in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

Amber Guzman
Seminar Clerk

data processing
• attendee packets 

Amber Guzman is a native Texan. She is currently working on her CDCS and CEHRS certifications for Medical Office Administration. Amber has worked in an office setting for a number of years. She is proficient in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, along with various other computer programs.

legislative lobbyists

Allen Place Jr.
Head Lobbyist
chief media contact 
 chief lobbyist

Allen Place graduated from Baylor University with a BBA in 1977 and from Baylor Law School in 1979. Since that time, he has practiced law in his hometown of Gatesville. Until he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1990, Allen had a general trial practice in Central Texas and since 1991 has primarily focused on parole law. In 1993, Allen was named Chairman of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence and authored the Penal Code revision during the 73rd Texas legislative session. Texas Monthly named him one of the Ten Best Legislators for his work in 1993. Upon his retirement from the Texas House, Allen was asked to assist TCDLA's legislative program. By January of 2019 when the 86th Texas legislature convenes, Allen will have worked for TCDLA for 20 years.

Shea Elyse Place


legislative lobbyist 
 legislative listserve reports

Shea Place graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Psychology from St. Edward’s University, interning as a research assistant for State Representative Jessica Farrar in 2009. She received her JD from Baylor University, where she was a technical editor on the Baylor Law Review. In 2016 Shea joined the Place Law Office in Austin, practicing criminal defense with a focus on parole issues. She is a member of the Austin Bar Association and the Austin Young Lawyers Association. Shea joined the TCDLA team in January 2017 as a lobbyist for the legislative session. She will continue to assist in legislative efforts throughout the interim.

Austin Office

6808 Hill Meadow Drive
Austin, TX 78736
512.478.2514 phone | 512.469.9107 main fax | 512.469.0512 seminar fax

Lubbock Office

915 Texas Ave.
Lubbock, TX 79401
806.763.9900 phone |  806.769.9904 fax