2019 Whitehurst Public Interest Summer Fellowship Honorees
The Whitehurst Public Interest Summer Fellowships are supported by a generous multi-year gift from Stephanie Whitehurst and Bill Whitehurst, ‘70. Each summer, the Whitehursts name the fellowships for lawyers and others they admire in hopes that the recipients will be inspired by the honorees’ work in the public interest.
Summer 2019 Whitehurst Public Interest Summer Fellowship Honorees
Berry Crowley is a sole practitioner with Beryl P. Crowley, Attorney & Counselor at Law in Austin, where she has been practicing since 1974. She is a graduate of Mills College and the University of Texas School of Law. Her 47-year career has encompassed a broad and deep range of professional values and experience. She has excelled and been publicly recognized in Austin and in Texas for her leadership abilities. She is a powerful advocate and exemplar, as well as a leader where she has experience as a Partner, Shareholder, Chairman, President, Trustee, Director and Executive Director, Mentor (in addition to mother and grandmother) and knows firsthand and intimately the issues that surround such positions of leadership.
From 1972-74 Berry was an associate at a small firm in Brenham, Texas where she began her career by doing real estate matters for the firm’s title company. While in Brenham, in her first year of practice she was secretary-treasurer of the Washington County Bar Association, and in 1973-74 she became President of the Washington County Bar Association (the first woman to do so).
From 1974-1993 she was the first woman associate, and subsequently first woman partner, at the Austin firm of Small Craig & Werkenthin, predecessor to the Austin office of Jackson Walker. While there Ms. Crowley represented individuals, institutional lenders, and developers in all aspects of real estate law, including title matters, commercial lending, leasing and transactional matters. She was again active with local and state bar associations, including service as a director of the Austin Young Lawyers’ Association, then a director and officer of the Texas Young Lawyers’ Association, culminating in being elected in 1983 the first woman to serve the State Bar in a statewide election — to serve as President of the Texas Young Lawyers’ Association. Simultaneously, she served on several State Bar of Texas Committees — including being a founding member of the Women in the Law Section of the State Bar, and a founder of the first Long Range Planning Committee. She also served on several planning committees for the State Bar PDP — including developing the curricula for the first Advanced Real Estate Law Course sponsored by the SBOT (and several successor courses). She was a Founder of the Travis County Women Lawyers Association in the late 70’s. Additionally, in the early 80’s she was a founder of Austin Lawyers’ Care, the predecessor to Central Texas Volunteer Lawyers Service (VLS). She became a Trustee and subsequently Chairman of the Texas Bar Foundation in 1990-91, and was Chair of the Fellows of the Trustees 1994-95.
From 1994 to 2006, Berry served as Executive Director of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, becoming a frequent author, speaker and lecturer on their initiatives. From 2004-2007 she was a member of the Supreme Court Task Force on the revision of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. During this time, she also was a founder of the ABA Consortium of Professionalism Initiatives, and a member of the ABA/TIPS Council and Chairman of its Professionalism Committee. She was the editor and author of A Guide to the Basics of Law Practice and The Ethics Course.
Berry has been active in many community and civic organizations. She has served as Board Chair of the Texas Advocacy Project, a Texas nonprofit which furnishes legal services to victims of domestic violence and sexual attacks, and on the Board of Directors for the Girls Empowerment Network (GenAustin).
Berry has received multiple State Bar Presidential Citations, the Austin Bar Association Regina Rogoff Award for Outstanding Community Service, and the Texas Bar Foundation Lola Wright Award for Outstanding Professionalism. More recently, she has received the Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association Distinguished Career Award and the Austin Bar Association 2015 Distinguished Lawyer Award.
The Berry Crowley Public Interest Law Fellowship is awarded in hopes that the recipient will be inspired by what successful lawyers like Berry Crowley do in the public’s interest as an essential part of their career and will make a similar commitment.
Jose P. Garza is the Executive Director of the Workers Defense Project. Jose, who started at WDP in January 2016, is a native Texan who has devoted his career to lifting up people of color, working families, and immigrant families. Under Jose’s leadership, WDP has experienced tremendous growth and achieved landmark successes. In the last 2 years alone, WDP has:
- Won paid sick leave policies in Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas so that working families no longer have to choose between going to work sick and taking a pay cut;
- Won policy victories in Austin and Houston that raise standards for working people in the construction industry;
- Won significant criminal justice reform in Travis County through the passage of a “Freedom City” policy that ends arrests for low-level criminal offenses and severs the arrest-to-deportation pipeline;
- Advocated for the creation of a Public Defender Office in Travis County that will have meaningful community
Jose attended law school at Catholic University, and worked for Judge RichardW. Roberts in federal district court for the District of Columbia. He returned to Texas to work on the border as an assistant public defender in the first multi-county public defender’s office in Texas at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. While there, Jose represented clients charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses. Subsequently, Jose served as an assistant federal public defender in the Western District of Texas where he represented people accused of misdemeanor and felony crimes.
In 2010, Jose returned to Washington, D.C. to serve as the Deputy General Counsel for the House Committee on Education and Labor. He went on to work as Special Counsel to the National Labor Relations Board, and most recently he served Secretary Tom Perez as a senior policy official at the U.S. Department of Labor. His legal career has been devoted to building power with communities of color, working families, and immigrant communities across Texas.
The Jose P. Garza Public Interest Law Fellowship is awarded in hopes that the recipient will be inspired by what successful lawyers like Jose Garza do in the public’s interest as an essential part of their career and will make a similar commitment.
Trish McAllister has over 20 years experience in the access to justice field. She is currently the Executive Director of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, where she gets to work on innovative ways to reduce the barriers to our legal system for low-income people.
The Supreme Court of Texas created the Texas Access to Justice Commission in 2001 with the mandate of expanding access to justice for low- income Texans. Because there are a variety of challenges to access to justice in Texas, the Commission’s work is necessarily multi-faceted. Their primary areas of focus include promoting policies that remove barriers to our judicial system wherein the Commission works to create a framework for equitable access to justice. Through ongoing fundraising efforts and a strong partnership with the State Legislature, the Commission works to secure funding and other resources for legal aid across Texas. By educating the legal community about access to justice issues and the importance of pro bono work, and by training legal aid lawyers to effectively advocate for their clients, the Commission seeks to expand and enhance the delivery of legal aid and pro bono services across Texas.
Prior to joining the Commission, Trish served as the Executive Director of Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, a non-profit pro bono legal service provider. She also worked at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid where she was a regional team leader for the family law division handling domestic violence cases and then acting branch manager. Prior to life as an attorney, she worked in the health care field as an executive of a tertiary care hospital in South Carolina and developing a subsidiary company for a national anesthesia group in Atlanta.
Ms. McAllister obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston School of Law and holds a Masters in Business Administration from Duke University.
The Trish McAllister Public Interest Law Fellowship is awarded in hopes that the recipient will be inspired by what successful lawyers like Trish McAllister do in the public’s interest as an essential part of their career and will make a similar commitment.
Richard Pena is president and CEO of the Law Offices of Richard Pena, P.C. He was elected by his peers to serve as the President of the State Bar of Texas from 1998-1999. He served as President of the American Bar Foundation and was on the Board of Governors for the American Bar Association. He is also past president of the Travis County Bar Association, former Chair of the Texas Bar Foundation, and former Chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. He was a director to the State Bar of Texas and a State Delegate to the ABA. Richard has received three Presidential Citations from the State Bar of Texas for his meritorious service to the profession and has been selected a member of the prestigious American Inns of Court as well as receiving the Distinguished Lawyer Award presented by the Austin Bar Association in 2007. The Texas Bar Journal recognized him as 1 of 20 “trailblazers” in the February 2014 issue. He also was the recipient of the 2010 Difference Makers Award presented by the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division.
Richard has devoted much of his public life to public service and pro bono work. As an attorney he has represented thousands of clients on a pro bono basis regularly representing injured workers in order to obtain the medical treatment and benefits they are entitled to, but which have been denied. He has also served as Chair of the City of Austin Homeless Task Force where he advocated for those who could not advocate for themselves. He has also been on the Board of Directors of the Center for Battered Women, Austin Association of Retarded Citizens and Boys Club of Austin & Travis County.
Richard has been on the Advisory Board of People to People Ambassadors Program and has led Delegations of Texas and U.S. Lawyers to numerous countries including, Turkey, South Africa, China, Tibet, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Israel, and Brazil. He was also Chair of a U.S. – Russian Joint Conference on the Rule of Law in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 2006 he received the Eisenhower Achievement Award from the program for being an outstanding leader. Richard’s trip to Egypt was featured in an article in the Austin American- Statesman as well as in the Austin Business Journal. Richard continues to lead delegations abroad and has taken 18 trips with delegates to various parts of the world.
Richard graduated with Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Jurisprudence degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, where the law school faculty awarded him an honorary membership in the Order of the Coif. He is licensed to practice law in Texas, Illinois, and Colorado. Richard Pena and the Law Offices of Richard Pena are rated “AV” by the Martindale- Hubbell Law Directory, its highest rating, and he has been selected as one of Texas’ Top-Rated Lawyers.
Richard is a Vietnam veteran and left on the last day of American military involvement in that country in March 1973. He is co-author of the book, Last Plane Out of Saigon, which he wrote with award winning scholar John Hagan. Visit www.lastplaneoutofsaigon.com to learn more.
The Richard Pena Public Interest Law Fellowship is awarded in hopes that the recipient will be inspired by what successful lawyers like Richard Pena do in the public’s interest as an essential part of their career and will make a similar commitment.
Jane Rydholm is a Minneapolis-based attorney who has spent the majority of her career focusing on public interest law. Intent on fighting human trafficking and building a juvenile restorative justice program, Jane is not your garden variety attorney.
She began her legal profession in the Criminal Appeals division of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, and later served as an Assistant Attorney General guiding and regulating non-profits in the Charities division. Jane also served as a criminal law instructor for the University of Phoenix and an associate at a mid-size law firm. As her perspectives on the justice system evolved, so did her career choices. In 2005 she hung out her own shingle, specializing in helping individuals with immigration problems, aiding nonprofits and assisting with public defender appellate cases.
Recognizing that taking on pro bono cases benefits the entire community, Jane has engaged in extensive pro bono activity as well, including representing indigent clients on appeal on behalf of the State Public Defender’s Office, providing immigration support, and even traveling to the U.S./Mexico border to assist asylum seekers. For years, Jane also managed an anti-human trafficking program for a social justice organization. She has regularly taught university courses in criminal justice and has served on numerous boards of non-profits which support children, one of which for over a decade.
Jane and her husband have two daughters, one adopted from China and one from Taiwan. Adopting children internationally had been part of her plan since childhood. When a sister from South Korea joined her family, she decided she wanted to build her family that way too. Her volunteer work through the years – with Families with Children from Asia, Children’s Culture Connection and China AIDS Orphan Fund – has also been international in scope.
Jane currently serves as Director of Programs for the International Academy of Trial Lawyers where she oversees the Academy’s anti-trafficking program, restorative justice program, and multiple international initiatives which serve to improve the Rule of Law around the globe. In the Twin Cities, under Jane’s guidance, the IATL will launch a juvenile restorative justice pilot program informed by the model of Peacebuilders in Canada, which has been able to significantly reduce the rate of recidivism among youth offenders.
Jane earned her J.D. magna cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law, and graduated cum laude from St. Olaf College. She recently received the Noël Ferris Advocacy Heroes award for her social justice work.
The Jane Rydholm Public Interest Law Fellowship is awarded in hopes that the recipient will be inspired by what successful lawyers like Jane Rydholm do in the public’s interest as an essential part of their career and will make a similar commitment.
Howard Scher is a highly regarded and successful trial attorney with the Philadelphia law firm of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, PC. He has involved himself in non-profit activities throughout his legal training and his career of nearly 50 years. As a law student he worked for the New Jersey Department of Civil Rights in the creation of rules and enforcement of those rules on a class-wide basis for fair housing in white suburban multifamily apartment complexes. As a new lawyer, he volunteered to represent individuals who had been treated disparately in their employment.
For more than 40 years Howard has served on the Board and as an officer and ultimately president of JEVS Human Services, a Philadelphia non-profit helping people secure meaningful lives regardless of their status – race, religion, national origin or physical or mental challenge. Most recently, for the past 10 years, he has served as a volunteer, director, officer and president of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project which works to free wrongly convicted people, correct the justice system to avoid wrongful convictions and help those victims to a life outside prison. In the 10 years existence of the Pennsylvania project, 14 people have been exonerated.
Howard has been consistently recognized by his peers. He is a Fellow of the nation’s two most prestigious, peer-selected, invitation-only trial lawyer associations – the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, in which he serves as the secretary of international relations. As secretary of international relations, he has worked to develop collaboratives with the bars in other countries including, most recently Uganda and Mexico working to extend and strengthen the rule of law throughout the world.
Howard is fearless in the courtroom and equally fearless about speaking the truth to his clients. Chambers USA has described Howard as “[an] incredibly hard-working, aggressive attorney”; “a strong advocate, professional and extremely good in court”; and “a rock solid guy, trustworthy and will stick with his word.” He has also represented large and small businesses in a wide variety of disputes both in the trial and appellate courts. Howard is a frequent author and a pioneer in the use of electronics as an advocacy tool in discovery and at trial. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America®, Who’s Who in American Law, Chambers Partners USA and Benchmark Litigation – The Definitive Guide to the Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys. Howard has been consistently selected to the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list. He has also been selected to the Corporate Counsel Super Lawyers list. Howard is admitted to Howard is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and the courts in Pennsylvania and New York.
Howard also sponsors a scholarship at Brandeis University, his alma mater. It’s called the Howard Scher ‘67 Tikkun Olam Scholarship. Tikkun Olam is Hebrew for “repair the world.” It is a bedrock principle of Judaism that each of us is to do our part to repair the world. As long as you’re trying, you’re doing your part.
The Howard D. Scher Public Interest Law Fellowship is awarded in hopes that the recipient will be inspired by what successful lawyers like Howard Scher do in the public’s interest as an essential part of their career and will make a similar commitment.