Who We Are
This results-oriented team uses experience and diligence to successfully interact with the state legislature and relevant Texas agencies.
Russell T. Kelley
Russell T. Kelley
Rusty Kelley has represented the business interests of Fortune 500 companies, various associations and other organizations before state legislators, regulators, or other elected officials for more than 30 years. He is regarded as a leader and an innovator in his field, and has been noted in publications such as Texas Monthly, San-Antonio-Express-News, and Capitol Inside for his dedication, intelligence, and character.
In addition to receiving several awards, Kelley was featured in Practicing Texas Politics, a text book that outlines government in the state. In this text, Kelley is highlighted for his “hard work,” “charm and congeniality,” and for presenting the facts in a “straightforward, honest manner.” More recently, Texas Monthly named Kelley one of “The 25 Most Influential People in the State of Texas.”
Kelley is a highly effective player in state politics. He is consistently sought after to be involved in all major pieces of legislation during each legislative session.
Kelley has worked in politics since he was 20 years old, and has seen the power change party hands numerous times. Throughout the years he has employed the use of effective technology and has developed numerous legislative strategies that allow him to consistently produce desired results.
Prior to lobbying, he served as Chief of Staff of the Office of the Speaker of the House, and served as Chief Sergeant at Arms in the Texas House of Representatives.
Carol McGarah has worked with Rusty Kelley in Austin, Texas since 2001. She represents several Fortune 500 companies and is well-known and regarded for her experience and knowledge of various topics including: education, energy, environmental issues, financial institutions, IT, and transportation.
Previously, McGarah served as the Committee Director of the powerful Senate Natural Resources Committee. During her 10 years with this committee she established solid relationships with key members of the legislature and various environmental agencies, and developed a thorough knowledge of Texas’ air, water, and waste issues.
McGarah dedicated countless hours to the preparation and passage of groundbreaking pieces of legislation, including Senate Bill 1 in 1997 and Senate Bill 2 in 2001. Both of these bills dealt with state water management measures and greatly impacted the state.
McGarah was also instrumental in the development and passage of SB 5 in the 75th Legislature, which created the Texas Emissions Reduction Program. This program has served as a model for numerous other states across the country, and has been a vital component in assisting Texas meet the Federal Air Quality Standards.
Sara Kemptner Sachde, a native Texan, has more than a decade of experience in Texas politics. She currently works as Legislative Consultant and Communications Manager at Blackridge. She has experience in every arena of public policy, but works most often on education, criminal justice, energy, environmental, finance, general business, tax, and transportation issues.
In addition to lobbying, Sachde also manages Blackridge’s outreach. This includes managing legislative campaigns from concept to execution, creating and implementing Blackridge’s marketing materials, web presence, and social media.
Prior to working at Blackridge, Sachde worked as a Research Assistant and Communications Specialist in the Government Relations Department at Public Strategies, as a legislative aide for former Senator Kip Averitt, and as a legislative intern for Representative Larry Phillips.
She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin.
Micah Rodriguez first began his political career in 2003 as a Gregory Luna Memorial Legislative Scholar and currently works at Blackridge as Legislative Consultant and Legal Counsel. Throughout his tenure working in and around Texas politics, Micah has obtained extensive experience in numerous public policy topics ranging from finance to education and immigration to jurisprudence, with the heaviest emphasis on health and human services. In addition to subject matter expertise, through his work in the Texas Legislature, Micah has cultivated an expansive professional network in all areas of state government.
Before starting with Blackridge, Micah first worked as a legislative aide for Senator John Whitmire and later as the Senior Policy Analyst covering the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services for Senator Carlos I. Uresti.
Born and raised in Texas, Micah earned his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin where he also minored in Economics and Mexican American Studies. He later went on to obtain his Juris Doctor from The University of Texas School of Law and is currently a licensed attorney in the state of Texas.
Austin Holder is a fifth generation Texan with more than a decade of experience in the public sector working on both public policy and state budget issues. He most recently served as a budget analyst in the Senate Finance Committee with a focus on natural resources, economic & business development, regulatory agencies, and disaster funding — which primarily makes up Articles VI, VII, and VIII of Texas’ $217 billion budget. In this role, he collaborated with the state leadership, legislators, agencies, and staff to develop fiscal policy and 38 different state budgets.
Prior to Senate Finance, he served as senior policy analyst for Senator Jane Nelson. Austin has executive branch experience working for two governors including, Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
He holds a masters degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas and a political science degree from Louisiana State University.
Victor Mendoza is an accomplished public policy analyst and licensed attorney. In addition to providing research and briefing on nearly all areas of state and local policy, he currently advises Blackridge on general legal issues as well as legislative and administrative procedure. Most recently, Mendoza served as Deputy General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, primarily advising the Speaker and House leadership on policy and legal issues relating to campaign finance & ethics, economic development, labor & employment, licensing & industry regulations, government transparency, and public land management. Prior to joining the Speaker's Office, he provided legal counsel to campaigns and political consultants. Mendoza previously practiced in medical malpractice defense and general insurance litigation and earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas.
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