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Blake Strode Named New Executive Director of ArchCity Defenders; Thomas Harvey Recruited to Join The Bail Project

November 2, 2017

Thomas Harvey has been recruited to join The Bail Project as its National Director of Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy and is leaving ArchCity Defenders in January of 2018.  The Bail Project seeks to establish 40 community bail funds across the country, bail out 150,000 people over the next 5 years in collaboration with organizers and activists, and find ways to supplement ongoing campaigns in the criminal reform movement.

Blake Strode, a Harvard Law School graduate and St. Louis native, will succeed Harvey as ArchCity’s Executive Director.  Michael-John Voss, Harvey’s Co-Founder and COO, will spearhead ArchCity’s litigation as Senior Litigator & Special Projects Director.  Jacki Langum will continue to provide key leadership to staff and lead ArchCity’s advocacy work in her role as Director of Advocacy.  Strode, Langum, and Voss will form ArchCity’s Executive Committee to support the transition.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead ArchCity Defenders’ ongoing efforts to challenge the systemic abuses that routinely devalue, target, and criminalize our clients throughout the region,” said Blake Strode.  “I am proud and eager to build on ArchCity’s legacy as a community-centered organization committed to fearless, holistic legal advocacy. I believe we are at a critical inflection point in St. Louis. I am excited to build on the work that Thomas has done with ArchCity over the past eight years as we expand into new areas of advocacy for our clients, their families, and communities.”

Strode arrived at ArchCity Defenders as a Staff Attorney and Skadden Fellow in 2015 and quickly demonstrated his leadership by heading up the firm’s impact litigation efforts. He has been instrumental in expanding the organization’s civil rights litigation, which challenges such practices as debtors’ prison, cash bail, and police misconduct, and has impacted thousands of people in the St. Louis region. Beyond litigation, Strode has supported the organization’s media and policy advocacy and collaborated with local partners on a series of community education and engagement events. Strode is also the co-author of Debtors’ Prison in 21st Century America,which was featured in The Atlantic in February 2016.

As Executive Director, Harvey has grown ArchCity Defenders from an all-volunteer organization to a full-time staff of 20 employees serving the poor and communities of color in the region.  Harvey has established a national model for combining holistic legal advocacy, impact litigation, and media and policy advocacy with a focus on combatting the criminalization of poverty and state violence against people of color.

“While I am looking forward to my next chapter, it is exceedingly difficult to leave the family and community we’ve built here at ArchCity Defenders,” said Thomas Harvey. “I love the work that Michael-John and I have done here, the relationships we have developed, and the milestones we have accomplished.  MJ and I, along with ArchCity’s staff, board, and key partners, have the utmost confidence in Blake’s leadership and ability to guide the organization.”


Media Contact:
Z. Gorley, Communications Director at ArchCity Defenders