Board of Directors

Krishnaveni Gundu, Board President and Co-founder

Soon after moving to the United States, Ms. Gundu served as the US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal from 2002-2004, prior to which she volunteered as a community health field worker and researcher among the communities affected by the 1984 deadly gas leak from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India. Over the years, she has organized and participated in teach-ins and actions across the United States to keep alive the memory of the biggest industrial disaster in history while attempting to bring Union Carbide and its new owners Dow and Dupont, to justice. As part of the campaign she collaborated with grassroots coalitions involving environmental health and justice campaigns in the US and India. Prior to her environmental activism, she worked with Ogilvy & Mather and JWT advertising agencies as an award winning copywriter for over a decade. She received a Bachelors Degree in Electronics with a minor in Math and Physics from Osmania University in India.

She co-founded Texas Jail Project along with author, environmental activist and friend Diane Wilson whose incarceration in several Texas county jails resulted in the discovery of horrific shackling practices of pregnant inmates. She’s also the co-founder and secretary of ‘tejas barrios’ – An environmental health and justice non-profit that works in the fence line communities bordering the Ship Channel and chemical refineries in Houston. With nearly two decades of experience in advertising, market research, coordinating environmental health & justice campaigns and training non-profits in media and fundraising strategy, she currently works part-time with TJP’s executive director on FOIA requests, research for grants and answering inmates and their families in need of help. She is currently a Math and Physics tutor at the Lone Star Community College in Houston. She’s also the proud mother of a 9 year old.

Maria Anna Esparza: former president of the TJP Board 

Maria Anna Esparza has worked for 21 years as a teacher and for the past seven years as a guidance counselor near San Antonio. She has nearly three decades of experience as a teacher and counselor.  She is an active member of the National Association of Mental Illness. Her articulate and impassioned outreach helped gain the release of her own son, an ex-Marine who returned from Iraq with mental disorders, from a solitary cell in a county jail with no care, into a treatment program in a hospital. She has since been a tireless advocate for veterans incarcerated in Texas jails and state hospitals. She contributes frequently to the TJP website and helps answer email queries seeking information and advice.

Greg Hansch: Mental Health Consultant, Secretary, TJP Board
Greg Hansch currently works as Public Policy Coordinator of the Texas chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Alliance (NAMI); previously he participated in the Policy Fellowship Program of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. Greg is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and holds a Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers University. He served as Assistant Executive Director for Austin Clubhouse for nearly 2 years in the areas of development, management, administration, policy, and program operations.

Dr. Eric Tang: Associate Professor, Ph.D., New York University
Dr. Tang serves as an assistant professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and is a faculty member in the Center for Asian American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. He has a Ph.D. from New York University. His recent book Unsettled: Cambodian Refugees in the New York City Hyperghetto is based on his 10 years as a community organizer in the Bronx. He has established the Social Justice Institute at the Department of Diversity and Community Engagement Center (DDCE). As director of the institute, Tang oversees projects that engage typically underserved populations in the Austin area. Tang was instrumental in putting together a key panel as part of the 2013 Heman Marion Sweatt Symposium, “The Future of Black Life in Austin,” drawing on research he has conducted related to displaced African American communities in East Austin. This research project, entitled “East Avenue” is a collaboration between the Social Justice Institute, the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and several community-based groups.  He co-authored the report Outlier: The Case of Austin’s Declining African American Population which revealed that Austin was the only major growing city in the United States to experience an absolute numerical decline in African Americans. He is passionate about supporting the work of community based groups such as TJP. As part of that commitment, he acquired free office space for TJP at the DDCE.

Marietta Bell Noel
Ms. Noel retired in 2017 after having worked in health and human services for more than forty years with successful experience in program management, service and case management, and consumer and family relations.  She worked in the Syracuse, NY and Chicago, IL in both the public and private sectors prior to her move to Austin, TX.  Her work as planner and program evaluator involved providing process direction and coordination for agency wide strategic and annual planning while serving as planning liaison for various community entities involving organization services.

Ms. Noel has a history of working with and coordinating volunteer citizen advisory committees, as well as providing leadership to employee cultural diversity initiatives at Integral Care in Travis County, her last employer.  She served as coordinator of the national conference, Central Texas African American Family Support Conference for five years when conference attendance grew from 150 participants to more than 700.   Ms.  Noel, who graduated with honors from Lane College and attended the University of Chicago, has a B.A.  in Sociology.   She has a major interest in genealogy and she and her family have been able to trace their paternal roots back to the late 1700’s.

Alycia Welch: Criminal Justice Reform Advocate
Alycia Welch is currently the Director of Policy & Planning at the Lone Star Justice Association whose mission is to reduce the incarceration of and improve outcomes for children and young adults in the Texas criminal and juvenile justice systems. Alycia earned a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs and a Master’s of Science in Social Work Degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She received her BA Degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with concentrations in Political Science and Women’s Studies.

Alycia specializes in criminal and juvenile justice system reform at the state and local levels and has comprehensive experience managing complex, multi-partner policy research projects, facilitating cross-system collaboration with the health care and behavioral health systems. The recipient of two policy research awards from the American Society for Public Administration, Alycia has authored several reports on the need for cross-system reform in Texas and has presented her findings and recommendations to elected officials, state- and county-level agency leaders, and other key stakeholders. She has also presented her findings and recommendations at professional conferences, including the National Healthcare for the Homeless Conference, the National Association of Social Workers Texas State Chapter Conference, a local summit on the unique impact of incarceration on women, and her research on the health needs of formerly incarcerated women who are homeless was featured at the 2017 American Public Health Association Conference.

Matthew Gossage: Documentarian & Media Consultant
Matthew Gossage is a director and producer of documentaries and commercials living in Austin, Texas. Matt has worked as a director, producer, editor, cinematographer, sound mixer and as a media advisor to non-profit organizations.  In 2006, Matt produced his first documentary, entitled Hutto: America’s Family Prison, a short film on the infamous T. Don Hutto Family Immigration Detention Center.  In the past ten years, Matt has edited and produced over 100 short films, including the recent documentary series District Docs for Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District, and Breaking Down the Box on solitary confinement in prison, No Sanctuary about refugees and asylum seekers in the U.S. He also created the video on the TJP website in which Maria Anna Esparza asks people to bring their stories to Texas Jail Project.

Advisors

Matt Simpson: Advisory Board Member, Treasurer, Legislative Consultant
Mr. Simpson received an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Baylor University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, OR before becoming a Policy Strategist at the ACLU of Texas in 2008. As Policy Strategist, he lobbies the state legislature and assists with local campaigns related to youth rights and criminal justice issues such as prison and jail conditions, law enforcement information sharing, and ending the school to prison pipeline. Mr. Simpson worked alongside the TJP advocating for reforms in local practice and law in county jails during the 2009, 2011, and 2013 legislative sessions. He helps coordinate advocacy targeting the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and reforms to standards via that agency.

Fran Clark: Advisory Board Member
Fran Clark is an activist and organizer with experience as a counselor for the GI Rights hotline, as a board member for Under the Hood Cafe and Outreach Center, coordinator of CodePink Austin, and involved in the visitation program at T. Don Hutto immigrant detention center. She is a registered nurse who is employed as a bilingual (Spanish) nurse home visitor with the nonprofit organization, Any Baby Can, she visits indigent pregnant women and mothers to educate and support them.

Sarah Sloan
Ms. Sloan works as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Texas School of Social Work.  She has 13 years of experience as a licensed clinical social worker, working in agency settings focused on mental health and mental health access for LGBTQ clients. She has also worked for 12 years for Austin Habitat for Humanity and Habitat for Humanity International. She has a small mental health private practice, providing psychotherapy, supervision and consultation.  She values service and in that vein she is currently a mentor through the Seedling Foundation where she works with a third grader whose father is in prison. She also volunteers in the Austin arts and with organizations that promote social justice for all. Over the years, as she learned more about the injustices in the criminal justice system, especially mass incarceration at a higher levels for people of color, she became deeply interested in jail and prison reform.  She has also been interested in how changes can be made in the pretrial system. As one of TJP’s newest board member, she is keen to contribute her skills and experience, especially with mental health issues.