Blake Strode

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.”

Fun/personal fact:
I’m a Cubs fan in Cardinals land. I know more about the Golden Girls than you do.