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
VP of State Government Relations
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.
Jessica Oney, is an Austin native and has 15 years of experience in state and local governments, including public affairs. She currently works as VP of State Government Relations at Blackridge.
Through her experiences inside and outside the State Capitol, Jessica has gained an extensive knowledge of the legislative process, developed a wide range of relationships and worked on a variety of public policy issues with a particular focus on electricity, environmental, water, tax and general business.
Prior to working at Blackridge, Jessica was Director of Government Affairs for the parent company of TXU Energy and Luminant where she spent the last 8 years. Jessica has also held the position of legislative consultant for two lobbying firms in Austin, was on the finance team for a statewide campaign and worked in the Texas House for former State Representative Tony Goolsby. She also worked for the Office of the Chief Clerk of the Texas House of Representatives.
She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Austin.
Tara Mueller has worked with Rusty Kelley since 1996 and serves as Controller and Ethics Compliance Officer. She oversees and manages all financial aspects including payables, receivables, and client contracts, as well as advising on ethics issues and completing all ethics commission reports.