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
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Operating Officer
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 Sachde has two decades of experience in Texas government with a focus on education, criminal justice, energy, environmental, finance, general business, tax, technology and transportation issues.
Prior to joining Blackridge, Sachde held positions at Public Strategies, the office of Senator Kip Averitt, and the office of 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.
Susan brings almost two decades of experience working in and around Texas Legislature to the Blackridge team.
Prior to joining Blackridge, Susan served as the Senior Vice President of Policy and External Affairs at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and as the Executive Director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin.
Susan worked in the Texas Capitol from 2006-2015 as a legislative advisor and general counsel to former Texas Senator and current Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, and as a policy analyst at the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission.
Susan’s legislative experience includes work on a wide range of policy topics from energy, environment, regulated industries, utilities, business and commerce, higher education, criminal justice, local government, special districts, jurisprudence, water, and natural resources.
Susan is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and The University of Texas School of Law. Susan was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2005. Prior to attending law school, Susan worked in Washington, D.C., in government affairs and political fundraising.