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 since March 2011. 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 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 eleven 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 eleven 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 twelve 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 is a native South Texan. He started with TCDLA part time, but has since been promoted to full time as a program coordinator. He strongly believes in TCDLA’s mission, and considers himself an integral part contributing to the success of that mission. Growing up in Corpus Christi, Maxx was exposed very early on to the injustice that plagues the American justice system. His empirical insight into this injustice has motivated him to strive for empowering criminal defense attorneys in their pursuit of justice. His greatest strengths are his research skills—skills carefully tailored through his numerous research positions in the past and meticulously crafted for the benefit of TCDLA. In his free time Maxx enjoys waking up early on the weekends and driving his beloved Subaru Impreza WRX. It’s on these morning drives, when he is in sync with machine and in tune with his environment, that he says his most potent ideas for TCDLA come to fruition.

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 (Mandy) Mendoza was born and raised in Austin. She is attending school, majoring in communication. She most loves to spend time with her kids, Jason, 4, and Emilyn, 2. Mandy aspires to visit all 50 states.

Chelsea Jones
Seminar Clerk

data processing
• attendee packets 

Chelsea Jones is a born and raised Texan. She has attended Texas State University and ACC and is now working to get back into school for forensics and criminology. Chelsea has experience with volunteer work for nonprofit organizations such as Grassroots, Austin Humane Society, and Planned Parenthood. She also spends her free time as a digital artist hired for commission.

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.

Victoria Moore
Seminar Clerk

data processing
• attendee packets 

Victoria Moore was born in San Antonio and has lived in Texas her whole life. She is currently in school, majoring in cultural anthropology and linguistics. She has worked in many law firms for a number of years, spending her most recent time bartending in Austin. She is an art fanatic, traveling often and always staying active in local activities and events for Austin.

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