B.A. in Psychology from UMSL
J.D. from SLU LAW
Santa Clarita, California
August 2019. Having been an intern at ACD for a year, I knew that my personal values aligned with the mission of ACD.
In law school, I interned for ArchCity Defenders during my 3L year.
I am a Staff Attorney.
Dedicated, passionate, and zealous.
Fun/personal fact you want to share.
I like camping, hiking, and seeing live music.
Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Toronto
J.D., Harvard Law School
Sima is from Montreal, Canada and started at ACD in September 2017. She joined because of ACD’s commitment to the radical dismantling and revisioning of oppressive legal systems and supporting those within these systems. Sima currently works on civil rights cases and represents clients in municipal and immigration courts. Before starting at ACD, Sima worked with public interest organizations in New York, Boston, Miami, New Orleans, and Burma.
I love sunsets, community dinners, and spontaneous dance parties.
Legal Studies, St. Louis Community College
BA, Webster University
Shannon was born and raised in St. Louis, and after interning at ACD in the summer of 2017 she knew she wanted to work there full time. Shannon started as a paralegal in March 2018. She admires ACD’s holistic approach to helping clients. Before ACD, Shannon was the Assistant Manager of Rise Coffee and worked in other service industry jobs.
B.A., Pomona College
M.P.P., Stanford University
J.D., Stanford Law School
Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, John got his start at ACD as a law school intern in 2016. Prior to returning in 2019 as a Skadden Fellow and Staff Attorney, John worked at the Prison Law Office, where he traveled to prisons across California to help people in prison challenge inhumane prison conditions and access medical and mental health care. During law school, John represented clients as part of Stanford’s Three Strikes Project and Stanford’s Criminal Defense Clinic. In addition to interning at ACD, he also worked at the Community Justice Project, the Southern Center for Human Rights, and Silicon Valley De-Bug. As part of his Skadden Fellowship, John’s focus is helping community members secure or maintain housing while challenging local policies that criminalize homelessness.
Fun/personal fact you want to share.
I currently live on the same street where my great-grandparents lived.
Communications and Journalism, Washington University in St. Louis
Sergio was born in St. Louis and started at ACD in May 2019. Sergio joined ACD because it gave him the opportunity to grow and explore a new career path. ACD allows him to commit his time ending systems that target poor and working-class people of color. Before ACD Sergio was worked in multidisciplinary professions — from youth development to teaching comprehensive sex education, retail, and teaching yoga.
I love random, pop culture references, especially movie and TV quotes. Very few people ever get them when I say them and I’m okay with that.
St Louis, USA.
July 2019. I joined ACD because I believe in the advocacy work that is done here. Over the last 10 years, I’ve watched the tireless work ACD does for those most in need of it and it inspired me to want to do more.
My background is in healthcare, I’ve worked as an LPN for 12 years and spent the last year volunteering my time as an Organizer for the Close the Workhouse campaign.
My role is Manager of Community Collaborations. I work with our partner organizations, advocacy groups, organizers, and activist to build relationships that allow us to reach our common goals of community well being.
I have so many words to describe ACD, they ones that jump to the forefront are: Determined, Focused and Tireless
My favorite client memory is of me and all of the times ACD has helped me when I needed it. When I was going through the hardest period of my life, ACD was there to offer advice, resources, and support and I don’t know where I would be today if not for those things.
I’m kinda obsessed with the Zombie Apocalypse. I’m absolutely prepared and know exactly what to do if it happens. I’m a nurse and the nurse never dies in zombie movies, so stick with me!
Marketing Management, University of Arkansas
JD, St. Louis University, School of Law
Lee is from Ashland City, TN. He joined ACD in 2017 as a Direct Services Attorney focusing on civil-consumer law, landlord-tenant law, and municipal law. Prior to ACD, he worked at the Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. Prior to ACD, he worked as a Staff Attorney at the Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.
Missouri Lawyers Media Legal Champion 2019
I’m as anti-onion as they come.
Alisha is from St. Louis and has lived in north county for more than 20 years. Alisha joined ACD as an Executive Assistant in July 2016. While living in north county, she has witnessed how the police have targeted black people and the impact that has had on their ability to work, drive and provide for their families and this drew her to ACD.
I love karaoke and cooking.
Bachelor’s Degree, Webster University
Ira was born in Georgia and started at ACD as an intern in the spring of 2017. He quickly moved on to a part-time position and is now a full-time paralegal and civil advocate. Ira currently assists with impact litigation at ArchCity, which varies from providing emotional support to drafting documents for lawyers. Before joining ACD, Ira worked at a variety of retail and restaurant positions.
I still watch cartoons and play video games.
American Studies and Social Work, Saint Louis University
MSW, Saint Louis University
Z is from Cincinnati and started at ACD in August 2016 because they believe in ACD’s commitment to challenging state violence, racial injustice and criminalization of poor people. As the Communications Director, Z helps people get to know about ACD through social media, news media and alternative media (podcasts, films, etc). Before ACD, they were involved in community organizing, development and media advocacy work.
I used to read the dictionary and study words for fun. Also used to study/speak Arabic, Spanish, and Haitian Creole.
Political Theory, College of Wooster
JD, Saint Louis University School of Law
Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Maureen came to Missouri for a job in 2008 and later worked at College Bound before going to SLU Law school. Prior to joining ACD as a Staff Attorney, she clerked for a judge on the Missouri Supreme Court. As a Staff Attorney with ACD’s Civil Litigation, Maureen is focused on several cases that span from jail conditions, police brutality and beyond.
I enjoy evangelizing about how everyone should adopt senior rescue dogs.
Criminal Justice, Saint Louis University
J.D., Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, Sam returned to work at ArchCity Defenders in 2019 as our Justice Catalyst Senior Litigator. In this role, he balances working in the Civil Litigation department with some direct services work. Prior to holding this position, Sam worked as a Litigation Associate at Thompson Coburn LLP, and previously was a Staff Attorney with ACD mainly focused on direct legal services.
I went skydiving and enjoyed it. I am also a twin.
Criminal Justice & Criminology, University of Missouri-Kansas City
J.D., Saint Louis University School of Law
Martin was born and raised in St. Louis, MO, and first worked at ACD as an intern. Following his graduation from law school, he was hired as a Racial Justice Fellow in August 2019. Before working at ACD, Martin clerked at a small law firm, and he also worked for LexisNexis, where he helped train law students to learn and better navigate the company’s research database. As a Racial Justice Fellow, Martin focuses his time on the direct services side of ACD’s holistic legal advocacy.
Fun/ personal fact:
I love my PS4 almost as much as I love baking and thrift shopping.
Political Science, University of California at Davis
Masters in Social Work, JD, Washington University in St. Louis
Jacqueline was born in New York and was raised in San Diego. She joined ACD in January 2019 as the Managing Attorney for Civil Rights and Systemic Litigation. Prior to working at ACD, Jacqueline taught legal writing and criminal procedure as a professor at Saint Louis University School of Law. Jacqueline began her legal career at the Youth Advocacy Unit of the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office, and went on to become the Managing Attorney for the Children’s Legal Alliance at the Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.
2016 Women’s Justice Award Legal Scholar Honoree
I’ve been a certified Zumba instructor for over 11 years.
BA Political Science, BA Religious Studies, and BJ Journalism (News Editorial Sequence), University of Missouri-Columbia
JD, University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law
Jacki joined ArchCity Defenders as its Director of Advocacy in January 2017. In that role, she supervises the organization’s legal staff and works to identify and pursue advocacy strategies via direct representation, systemic litigation, media and policy advocacy, and through community collaborations.
Previously, Jacki served as a staff attorney in Legal Services of Eastern Missouri’s Housing Law Program since 2006 where she represented low-income tenants in state and federal court; worked with individuals experiencing homelessness to provide legal assistance to remove barriers to housing and employment; advocated for the rights of utility customers; and spoke extensively on landlord-tenant law, fair housing, and the housing rights of domestic violence survivors. There she also provided legal assistance in municipal, housing, consumer, and family matters through the organization’s youth and family advocacy program to families and youth under 21 in St. Louis County and she served as the organization’s Ferguson-North St. Louis County Stabilization Initiative Project Coordinator
She has received the 2013 Missouri Lawyers’ Media Women’s Justice Rising Star Award and the 2017 Missouri Lawyers’ Media Up & Coming Lawyer Award.
I’m a certified yoga teacher.
B.A. in Sociology from Eastern Illinois University
J.D. from Southern Illinois University
Where are you from?
I consider myself a true midwesterner; I spent some of my childhood in St. Louis and then moved to Naperville, IL. I went to undergraduate in Charleston, IL, and law school at SIU in Carbondale, IL, eventually returning to St. Louis.
When did you join ACD? Why?
I joined ACD in November 2019. I was drawn to the zealous and fearless representation ACD provided to marginalized people and communities and ACD’s willingness to challenge discriminatory institutions and systems.
What is your background?
Prior to joining ACD, I worked at Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services, the state-designated, federally-funded agency designated to provide legal representation to Missourians with disabilities. I focused on issues surrounding voting, guardianship and supported decision making, conditional/unconditional release, employment discrimination, nursing home evictions, special education and equal access to goods and services.
What words would you use to describe ACD?
Client-focused, dedicated, creative.
Fun/ personal fact you want to share?
I have two Siberian huskies, Atticus and Scout, who I love more than almost anything.
Business and Administration, Fontbonne University
Sharon was born and raised in St. Louis and joined ACD in April of 2019 because she wanted to work for an organization that provides direct services for African Americans in need. Sharon currently processes phone calls and intake applications for services. Before ACD, she spent 11 years working for the federal government and 14 years working for a mental health nonprofit.
I have good personal memories of Florida beaches. I spent many summers in Florida as a kid and my son got married 13 years ago on a Florida beach.
Certificate in Secretarial Studies
Theresa was born in St. Louis and was inspired by the passion of the founders of ACD, and joined in 2012. She received her certificate in secretarial studies in 1987 and began her career in the legal field in 1997. She is currently a paralegal for three attorneys.
I collect anything “Lucy”.
Latin American Studies, University of California-Berkeley
MSW, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
Mykael is from Northern California and joined ACD in July 2017 because her beliefs aligned with ACD’s holistic work. Mykael’s background is in mental health, financial coaching, immigration and somatic healing practices. As ACD’s Grants and Program Associate, Mykael leads the Social Work program, assisting clients with getting basic services and resources such as housing, employment, and education.
Ask me sometime.
International Relations, Pomona College
Madison is from Nashville, TN and joined ArchCity Defenders as an Episcopal Service Corps Fellow, working in Community Collaborations. After moving to St. Louis in August 2018 to participate in a service year program through the Episcopal Service Corps, she got very involved with grassroots organizations like the Close the Workhouse campaign, and was introduced to ACD and partner groups. Madison is passionate about supporting ACD’s mission through her day to day work.
Fun/ personal fact:
I am an avid hockey fan and have seen my favorite team, the Nashville Predators, playing in four different cities.
Marketing, Washington University in St. Louis
Symone is from St. Louis and joined ACD in April 2019 as a Digital Media Associate. Symone believes that ACD’s holistic approach has strengthened the voices of folks that have been historically silenced and oppressed. The role as Digital Media Associate allows Symone to fight against the corrupt legal system, right in her hometown. She creates visual content and supportive materials for communications through print, web, and social media. Outside of ACD, Symone runs her own freelance business, Designs By Monie.
I tend to keep myself busy with learning new things. Right now, I’m teaching myself how to DJ with my new controller and I’m also learning how to code with the intent to apply my skills to web development and design.
International Economics and Spanish, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville
JD, Harvard Law School
Blake Strode is the Executive Director of ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit civil rights law firm in St. Louis, Missouri providing holistic legal advocacy and combating the criminalization of poverty and state violence against poor people and people of color. Blake is a native of the St. Louis region and joined ArchCity as a Skadden Fellow and Staff Attorney following his graduation from Harvard Law School in 2015. Blake attended the University of Arkansas and majored in International Economics and Spanish.
Blake helped to establish the Civil Rights Litigation unit at ArchCity, which has brought challenges to a variety of unlawful and predatory practices including debtors’ prisons, police misconduct, and inhumane jail conditions, among others. In the past few years, Blake and his colleagues have filed more than 50 civil rights cases in state and federal court, impacting upwards of 40,000 people in the St. Louis region. Blake also played a significant role in the class-action debtors’ prison case against the City of Jennings, Missouri that reached final settlement in December 2016. The landmark case provides a blueprint for permanent legal reform in the region’s courts and afforded monetary relief to hundreds of individuals who were jailed because of their inability to pay court debts.
As Executive Director, Blake manages ACD’s growing and talented staff; explores new opportunities for advocacy and systemic litigation; communicates the work and mission of ACD to students, supporters, fellow advocates, and media; and works with the Board and leadership to set the strategic direction for the organization. He is responsible for making sure that the dedicated team at ACD has everything it needs to provide the best holistic advocacy possible for our clients.
Blake regularly speaks at conferences and panels throughout the country and has authored columns and essays for publication on issues of race, policing, and criminal justice. He and Kayla Reed (Director of Action St. Louis) co-host a podcast called “Under the Arch,” which discusses the issues impacting community and the people working to change them. Blake’s leadership has garnered several accolades including the 2020 Missouri Lawyers Media Legal Champion, Harvard Law School’s Bellow-Charn Championship of Justice Emerging Leader Award in 2019 as well as the “Emerging Leaders Award by Focus St. Louis’s What’s Right with the Region.”
I’m a Cubs fan in Cardinals land. I know more about the Golden Girls than you do.
Master’s in Public Policy Administration and Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management & Leadership, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Erika was born in Pevely, MO and was drawn to ACD because of its believe that justice and equity are rights afforded to everyone. Erika joined in April 2018 as Operations Lead. In this role, she manages the financial books and records and handles HR administrative functions. Before starting at ACD, she worked in commercial insurance building and managing databases and providing training and job support across the country and has spent over a decade supporting nonprofits throughout St. Louis.
I have three spoiled dogs, Little Bit, Dude, and Sierra. They can do exactly as they please because they know who’s in charge.
Art History, Criticism and Conversation, Fordham University
J.D., Saint Louis University School of Law
Jack is from Omaha,NE and works as a Staff Attorney in the Civil Litigation department. Jack credits volunteering at ACD as inspiring him to go to law school so he could do the work. After graduating from law school in 2017, Jack started in the Civil Litigation department at ACD, with a focus on combatting systemic abuses ranging from police misconduct to debtors’ prison claims. Between college and ACD, Jack worked as a case manager at The Center for Community Alternatives, as a math teacher in New Orleans, and as an English teacher in St. Louis.
I was the intramural ping pong champion of my high school.
Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison
MSW, Washington University in St. Louis
J.D., Washington University in St. Louis School of Law
William is from Milwaukee and joined ACD in Spring 2015. He joined because he wanted to practice holistic criminal defense in the context of movement lawyering and impact litigation. As a Senior Staff Attorney, he directly represents clients, primarily in criminal and municipal contexts. Prior to ACD, William was an Assistant Public Defender in the St. Louis City Trial Office.
Qiana Williams is a long-time resident of the Midwest. She began working at ArchCity Defenders in 2016 as a Civil Advocate and paralegal. She has an extensive background in education and is a civil advocacy powerhouse. Qiana has been invited to speak about the injustices of debtors’ prisons on 30+ various platforms including the White House. She has inspired many to come forward and challenge the practices of the region’s municipal courts and jails.
I am unapologetically insistent on fulfilling my unique duty of having an ultimate human experience.
Philosophy and Psychology, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Cognitive Science, Washington University in St. Louis
JD, St. Louis University School of Law
Erich has lived in St. Louis his whole life and works as co-counsel with ACD on several class action cases. He assists with litigation by helping to strategize, drafting filings, researching and working to serve as a resource for the various attorneys on staff. Erich is a Professor at St. Louis University School of Law and an Adjunct Professor at Bahcesehir University, Istanbul, Turkey.
I have two wonderful daughters, aged 18 and 20. I have long worked as a musician and still do this occasionally. I am an exhibiting photographer – my favorite types of photos are portraits and Urban Exploration.
Photography and Art History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Masters in Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
J.D., Saint Louis University School of Law
Michael-John Voss is the Co-Founder and Director of Operations at ACD. He is the co-author of the White Paper on St. Louis County’s municipal court system, a paper that brought context to underlying factors in the protests following the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson. His work has been featured in the Washington Post, National Public Radio, Democracy Now, MSNBC, CBS, Business Week, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He was recently awarded Trial Lawyer of the Year, along with a team of attorneys, by Public Justice Institute in Washington D.C. He has also been awarded the Spirit of Justice Award in 2012, the Atticus Finch Award in 2013, and the New Leaders in Advocacy Defender Award in 2014.
Father of twins who are as old as this organization!