Our Mission

Our name—Texas After Violence Project—looks to our state’s past while simultaneously imagining a less violent, more just future. The American South consistently produces the highest annual murder rates while also regionally leading the nation in executions. Texas, a Southern and Western state, has a markedly violent past reflected in the expulsion of Native Americans, slavery, and public lynchings of African Americans and Mexicans. Today, in addition to having one of the largest prison systems in the country, Texas always leads the nation—and often places in the range of the top ten nations of the world—in annual executions.

Our work centers on our belief that violence—violent crime, murder, mass incarceration, and the death penalty—must be addressed as a serious public health issue. The global community has recognized that violence is a major public health problem for which there are actionable solutions. From this perspective, TAVP works to document the ways Texas’ retributive responses to violence traumatize individuals and communities, likely contributing to the reenactment of violence through “trauma organized” systems occurring on individual, family, generational, and societal levels throughout the state.

Mainstream accounts of crime and punishment do not give a responsibly proportionate voice to those actually left in the wake of violence. Going beyond the interview methods common in criminal justice and investigative journalism, oral history honors the powers of communication, memory, language, silence, and deep listening to create understanding and community. We are particularly interested in “trauma oral history,” a genre of narrative research that supports meaning making in post-traumatic contexts.

Recognizing the importance of community-based documentation projects to both supplement the historical record and counter “official” narratives of violence, TAVP is committed to responsibly archiving personal narratives that help us better understand the effects of violence on individuals, families, and communities. We hope our archive of stories helps promote dialogue about the ways our past and present criminal justice policies and practices may perpetuate violence and trauma throughout our communities and across generations. We also hope our work serves as a resource for community dialogue and public policy about how to respond to and prevent violence in nonviolent ways.

Gabriel Solis

Executive Director

Prior to returning to the Texas After Violence Project in 2016, where he previously served as Project Coordinator and Associate Director, Gabriel Daniel Solis worked as a post-conviction mitigation investigator for the Texas Office of Capital and Forensic Writs. Gabriel was also a researcher at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and coordinator of the Rule of Law Oral History Project at Columbia University. He has conducted research on policing, mass incarceration, the death penalty, and the effects of violence and trauma on families and communities. He received a B.A. in Philosophy and M.A. in Mexican American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jane Field

Project Coordinator

Jane Field is a recent graduate of the School of Information at the University of Texas, Austin. While there, she worked with collections such as the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s Jessie Daniel Ames/Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching Papers, and became interested in combining archival work with human rights and social justice. Before receiving her MSIS, Jane received a BA in literature from Bard College.

Mark Menjivar

Artist-in-Residence

Mark Menjivar is an artist and Assistant Professor at Texas State University whose projects explore diverse subjects through photography, archives, oral history and objects. His work has been exhibited at venues including Blue Star Contemporary, The Houston Center for Photography, The San Antonio Museum of Art, Threewalls in Chicago, and the Krannert Art Museum. Mark’s work has been featured by various organizations including National Geographic, Artforum, TED, NPR, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Gastronomica, and Orion Magazine.

Spring 2017 Interns 

Nicolette Khan, Bethany Lacy, Joanna Pienkowska, and Amie Q. Tran.

Mark Sampson

Board President

Mark A. Sampson is an attorney practicing in Austin, Texas. His primary areas of work are Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Civil Rights.  Mark grew up in Morgan Hill, California.  He attended Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, where he obtained a B.A. in Political Science. He continued his educational pursuit by graduating from the University of Texas School of Law. Mark has served on the Board of Directors of the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and as Vice-Chairman of the Travis County Bar Association-Criminal Section.

Jim Kuhn

Board Vice President

Jim Kuhn is Associate Director and Hobby Foundation Librarian at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin. Jim’s positions prior to his work at UT include serving as Assistant Dean for Special Collections and Preservation at the University of Rochester River Campus Libraries, and in various administrative capacities at the Folger Shakespeare Libary in Washington, D.C. Jim has over twenty-five years experience in academic, rare books, and special collections librarianship, including work in administration, grant writing, digital preservation, metadata management and cataloging, and support for oral history projects. He has Masters Degrees in Library Science and Philosophy, and has been active for many years in anti-censorship, civil liberties, and anti-nuclear advocacy.

Cynthia L. Hampton

Board Secretary

Cynthia L. Hampton, an attorney practicing appellate law in Austin, Texas, received her BA from the University of Texas at Austin and her JD from St. Mary’s University School of Law.  She has been board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1994, and was recertified in 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. After law school, she served as a briefing attorney to the Honorable Sam Houston Clinton, Senior Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals during the Court’s 1988-89 term. For six more years she worked as a Staff Attorney for the Court, and in 1995, left to work as a law clerk for the Honorable Homer Thornberry of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. After Judge Thornberry’s death in 1996, she entered private practice in Austin with her husband Keith S. Hampton. From 1998 until 2010, Cynthia was the Significant Decisions Editor for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA).  Cynthia had a number of other roles with TCDLA, including Assistant Executive Director and General Counsel. Cynthia received TCDLA President’s Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. In November 2010, she left TCDLA to return to private practice.

Glenna Balch

Board Treasurer

Glenna Balch serves as a spiritual adviser for Texas death row prisoners as approved by the Friends Meeting of Austin. She also is a facilitator in the Alternatives to Violence Project, through which she has been involved in conflict resolution workshops held in and out of prisons. For ten years she volunteered in the chaplaincy program at the Federal Correctional Institution in Bastrop, Texas.

In addition to prison ministry, she has strong interests in Quaker decision-making and community building. She is the Director of Financial Aid at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and holds a B.S. degree in Secondary Education from Texas Technological College, now Texas Tech University.

Charlotte Nunes

Board Member

Charlotte Nunes (nunesc@lafayette.edu) is co-Director of Digital Scholarship Services in the Skillman Library at Lafayette College in Easton, PA.  Prior to this position, she held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Digital Scholarship at Southwestern University.  She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013.  Since 2014, she has supervised a number of student collaborations with the TAVP.  As part of their coursework for Charlotte’s spring 2015 English class at Southwestern titled “Freedom and Imprisonment in the American Literary Tradition,” students completed digital archiving tasks to make TAVP oral histories available through the Human Rights Documentation Initiative.  Charlotte is interested in the role academic libraries can play facilitating undergraduate research opportunities that center on oral history collections and community partnerships.

Jane Peddicord

Board Member and Past President

Jane Peddicord is currently a Senior Attorney with the Texas Advocacy Project in Austin, Texas where she provides free legal services to victims of domestic violence and coordinates the project’s Emergency Protection Order Program. Jane previously worked under the auspices of American Gateways to provide pro bono legal services to undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers.   While taking a hiatus from legal practice to raise a family, Jane wrote and published several children’s books and continues to present programs to Austin area schools sponsored by the Writers’ League of Texas.

Betty Gilmore

Board Member

Betty Gilmore, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist, is the Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management at Southern Methodist University where she teaches graduate courses in mediation, communication, the psychology of conflict, and neuroscience. She also teaches in the Werner Institute for Negotiation at the Creighton School of Law and the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine School of Law.

Prior to her work at SMU, Betty worked as a program director for the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at the University of Texas School of Law. She provided a wide range of ADR services including multi-party mediation to governmental agencies, policymakers and others involved in public disputes. Through her work at CPPDR, she served as a visiting faculty member at Hiroshima University.  Betty is co-author of a recent book, “The Darkest Hour: Shedding Light on the Impact of Isolation and Death Row in Texas prisons.”

Walter C. Long

Founder & Board Member

Walter C. Long, an attorney practicing appellate law in Austin, Texas, founded the Texas After Violence Project in 2007 hoping it might help foster dialogue between Texans on all sides of the death penalty debate about the human needs revealed in the stories collected by the project, so that Texans might move beyond polarized discussions and seek together a less violent future. With strong interests in human rights and restorative justice, Walter has found that his most rewarding work as an attorney has been past years of litigation on the juvenile death penalty issue and more recent law/psychology public policy advocacy for recognition of the death penalty as a trauma-inducing system and a public health concern. In addition to continuing to conduct litigation, Walter completed a master’s degree in 2014 in counseling psychology. He also has degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in history, literature, and law, and an MA in religion from a Presbyterian seminary. He has published articles on ethics, psychology, religion, literature, refugee policy, and capital punishment.

Rebecca Lorins

Advisory Board Member and Former Director

Rebecca Lorins is an educator who is committed to bridging community initiatives and higher education. Currently, she is an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Juba, South Sudan. Rebecca earned her PhD in comparative literature in 2007 from the University of Texas at Austin with an interdisciplinary dissertation on a (South) Sudanese cultural center that used theatre as a vehicle for peacebuilding, cultural revival and social change.  Rebecca earned a BA from Oberlin College. She was a 2011 fellow at Columbia University’s Center for Oral History Summer Institute, and a 2013 fellow at Eastern Mennonite University’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute.

Rebecca previously served in various capacities at the Texas After Violence Project for over five years, as volunteer, board member, program director, acting director and now, in an advisory role. She credits TAVP with helping her see Texas anew–activating a deeper sense of belonging–and deepening her interest in oral history as a research methodology that can uncover otherwise buried connections between people, places, and moments in time, mediating conflict and transforming individuals and communities.

Louis Akin

Advisory Board Member and Past President

Louis L. Akin is a Crime Scene Reconstruction expert and Licensed Private Investigator with twenty-five years of experience. He has worked on more than 200 homicide cases in twelve states. He is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the Homicide Research Working Group, and the National Defense Investigators Association. He is the former Crime Scene Consultant for the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office, former member of the Austin City College Criminal Justice Board, former Regional Director of the Texas Association of Licensed Investigators, and current President of the Texas After Violence Project. He was Chairman of the West Texas ACLU from 1985 to 1989 and is a former police officer and firefighter. He received a B.A. in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Connie Habern

Advisory Board Member

Connie Habern holds an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction and worked as an Educational Diagnostician in public schools, where she chaired the Admission, Review and Dismissal Committees (ARD/IEP), which included administrators, teachers and parents. She loved collaborating with others to create educational plans so every child could succeed. Since her retirement, she has worked for over twenty years with the Walker County Democrats, where she coordinates fundraising events to support the local headquarters and candidates. She has also recently worked with Habitat for Humanity in Huntsville, Texas, to help fundraise and manage building sites and volunteers. She lives in Houston with her husband, Bill Habern, an attorney specializing in post-conviction law.

A special thank you to all of our former staff, board members, volunteers, and interns that have helped build TAVP over the years.

Kimberly Ambrosini, Maurice Chammah, Tony Cherian, Samantha Frederickson, Carlos Garcia, Virginia Garrard-Burnett, Celeste Henery, Sabina Hinz-Foley, Rebecca Lorins, Steve McKee, Gary Moore, Lydia Crafts Putnam, Antonio Renaud, Virginia Raymond, Christen Smith, Ellen Sweets, and Erin Walter.

Fall 2016:

Alisa Fayne, Ashley Jimenez, and Ilana Smirin.

Spring 2016:

Jane Field, Ilana Smirin, Alexandra Craig, Marcy Marbut, Anahita Pardiwalla, Bertha Faudoa, and Charis Russell.

Spring 2014:

Sharla Biefeld, Lillie Leone, Tu-Uyen Ngoc Nguyen, Blair Robbins, Jessica Rubio and Jordan Weber.

Summer 2013 and Fall 2013:

Simi Aliu, Edgar Arrellano, Bridget Carter, Shane Cruz, Taylor Johnson, Shannon Kintner, Alina Odom, Joanna Vaughn, and Jason Wolcott.

Spring 2013:

Katelyn Allen, Edgar Arrellano, Louis Keller, Shannon Kintner, Anne Kuhnen, Lysette Martinez, Erika Mittag, Courtney Payne, Greg Thomas, and Joanna Vaughn.

Fall 2012:

Anat Benzvi, Maurice Chammah, Shannon Kintner, Sara Malowanczyk, Lysette Martinez, Lizz Melville, Courtney Payne, Adrienne Tramel, and Jason Wolcott.

Summer 2012:

Jacqueline Artis and Aisha Sharif.