Executive Director

Leah Pinney is a graduate of St. Edward’s University, where she earned a B.A. in Political Science with honors. Leah has worked with the TCJC team for several years and in various capacities, but she officially joined the organization in 2007. Leah brings work experience from both corporate and nonprofit sectors, including work involving project research for a national civil rights organization. On joining TCJC, Leah supported our youth project, where, through research efforts, she helped to advocate for increased safety and accountability within the Texas Youth Commission. Leah later shifted her focus to pretrial and defense, where she worked with key partners to promote best practices and policies that ensure opportunities for indigent defendants to receive timely and well-qualified counsel. Leah has most recently served TCJC as its Finance and Operations Director ensuring accurate financial reports and organizational records, as well as providing human resource functions for staff, work-study students, interns, and volunteers.  Leah was nominated by TCJC’s longstanding leader and champion, Dr. Ana Yáñez-Correa, and appointed by TCJC’s Board of Directors to become the Executive Director effective October 1, 2015.  Leah has expanded her administration role to include organizational development, project guidance, and relationship building that will sustain TCJC’s viability and effectiveness in reducing Texas’ historical overreliance on incarceration.


Deputy Director

Molly Totman graduated with honors from the University of Texas in 2000, where she earned a B.A. in English. In 2003, she graduated from the University of Texas School of Law with a concentration in racial studies. She passed the Texas Bar Exam later that year and began an internship with TCJC in November 2003, during which time she also worked as a Researcher for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Austin. Molly was hired by TCJC in March 2004 and went on to become TCJC’s Public Safety Project Director, where she served as the sole statewide repository and analyst of required, annual racial profiling reports from Texas law enforcement agencies from 2004 to 2008.  She also assisted agencies in understanding their data, streamlining their reporting practices, and improving the way they protect the public through the implementation and institutionalization of needed policy changes. Ultimately, Molly was the chief contributor to the production of four comprehensive racial profiling reports on behalf of TCJC. Most recently, Molly served as TCJC’s Senior Editor and Grants Manager; in addition to drafting grant proposals and reports, she contributed heavily both as a researcher and an editor during the production stages of various TCJC policy guides, manuals, and educational materials published by all of TCJC’s projects.  Molly, as the most senior staff member of TCJC, has been instrumental in ensuring the continuity of TCJC’s reputation for quality and integrity.  Effective October 1, 2015, Molly became TCJC’s Deputy Director.  In building upon her years of experience and as part of TCJC’s management team, she continues to support TCJC in partnership with the Executive Director to further the impact of TCJC’s mission in Texas.


Policy Director

Shakira Pumphrey graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology; she later received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and a Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge.  She has served as a Civil Rights Investigator to the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission, as well as a consultant to various nonprofit groups, including an Arkansas nonprofit organization for children left behind due to parental incarceration.  She was instrumental in framing the organization and driving national conversations regarding evidence-based programs for families impacted by incarceration.  More recently, Shakira served as Senior Policy Advisor to Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Joe Straus.  In that role, she advised the Speaker and his executive staff on policy issues related to corrections, criminal jurisprudence, juvenile justice, defense, veterans, and county affairs.  She also served as the primary liaison to legislators, legislative staff, constituents, advocates, agencies, and correlating legislative committees.  Shakira joins TCJC as the organization’s first-ever Policy Director, where she has strategic and operational responsibility for guiding and coordinating TCJC’s research and policy work.


Policy Attorney

Elizabeth A. Henneke is the third generation in her family to demonstrate a commitment to Texas criminal justice issues; she follows in the footsteps of her grandfather and father, both of whom retired from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and her grandmother who was a Walker County Sheriff’s Deputy.  Elizabeth graduated from Yale University where she earned a B.A. in History with a concentration on race relations in the South.  After completing a Fulbright Fellowship in South Korea and a year as a paralegal for Mayer Brown, where she helped prepare several death penalty appeals, she returned to the University of Texas School of Law.  During law school, Elizabeth worked with the Texas Defender Service investigating and preparing federal habeas petitions for individuals on Texas’ death row.  Elizabeth graduated from UT Law with honors and received the University Co-op Public Interest Award honoring her commitment to public service.  She then represented Guantanamo detainees as a clinical instructor for the University of Texas' National Security and Human Rights Clinic.  She received the 2007 Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award for her work there.  Elizabeth also worked as a law clerk for the South Africa Constitutional Court and for Judge Edward C. Prado on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, and she was a litigation associate at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C.  Most recently, Elizabeth was the inaugural Audrey Irmas Clinical Teaching Fellow at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.  There, Elizabeth supervised students in the Post-Conviction Justice Project, the Immigration Clinic, and the International Human Rights Clinic, successfully receiving legal status for over 35 individuals and obtaining new sentencing hearings for three (and counting) individuals facing life without parole sentences for crimes they committed while juveniles.  She also taught first-year criminal law and a seminar on the death penalty. Elizabeth joins TCJC as a Policy Attorney with the Solutions for Youth Justice project, where she bolsters TCJC's efforts to create a more humane, safe, and transparent juvenile justice system in Texas.


Harris County Project Attorney

Jay Jenkins graduated from Wake Forest University in 2005, earning a B.A. in Biology and Classical Languages. He received his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, graduating magna cum laude in 2009. While at Northwestern, he worked at the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Children and Family Justice Center, focusing on a number of juvenile justice issues. In his third year, Jay was the lone law student at the newly formed Juvenile Post-Dispositional Clinic, where he promoted policy reform throughout Chicago while also advocating on behalf of juvenile clients.  After graduating in 2009, Jay was admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois and worked as a civil litigator in the private sector for three years. Most recently, Jay worked in Washington, D.C., for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, assisting the United States Department of Justice in its evaluation of claims and implementation of legislation passed in 2010.  Jay serves as TCJC's Project Attorney in Harris County (Houston), where he continues TCJC's efforts to support the work of the local Public Defender’s Office while assisting TCJC in promoting broader criminal justice reforms throughout that county.


Policy Associate

Lindsey Linder is a third-year law student at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2013.  Lindsey has been continually active in community service and volunteerism.  In 2011, she was awarded first place in a national fundraising campaign, which resulted in an opportunity for her to visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and it was this experience that sparked her passion for legal advocacy.  Now, as President of Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, Lindsey utilizes her positions of leadership to organize local fundraising, community service, and advocacy efforts.  During summer 2014, Lindsey interned with UNICEF in Tel Aviv, Israel, drafting a report on Israel’s implementation of the UN treaty Convention on the Rights of the Child to be submitted to the New York and Geneva United Nations headquarters for review.  Through Senator Rodney Ellis’ Texas Legislative Internship Program, Lindsey spent the 84th Legislative Session as a Policy Associate with TCJC, and she continues to assist TCJC with policy research and outreach efforts.  Upon graduation from law school, Lindsey will fully join TCJC’s policy team in Austin, continuing to effect positive change through policy work and advocacy.


Policy Analyst

Douglas Smith graduated magna cum laude from St. Edward’s University in 1994 with a B.A. in Psychology. He trained peer counselors at a crisis hotline in Austin and served as a Program Director for a homeless-service organization. In 2000, he earned his M.S.S.W. from the University of Texas at Austin with a concentration in macro-level practice. He served as a Policy Analyst in the Texas House of Representatives’ Committee on Human Services, as well as a Legislative Director for a member of the House. He helped to develop policies for the state related to workforce development, public assistance, and poverty alleviation. He also served as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, teaching courses on Public Policy Analysis, Poverty and Public Policy, and the Dynamics of Organizations and Communities. Doug brings a unique perspective to criminal justice issues. In addition to his policy and social work experience, he also served nearly six years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for crimes committed as a direct outcome of addiction. While incarcerated, he was a Peer Educator, helping to change the culture of violence inside prison. Doug’s voice is critical to the discussion of strategies to address substance abuse to avoid incarceration, conditions of confinement, and reentry issues for formerly incarcerated individuals.


Finance and Operations Manager

Jenny Schurk graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2007, where she earned a B.A. in English. As an undergraduate in Minneapolis, she volunteered with Communities United Against Police Brutality and was exposed to the challenges and opportunities for improvement within the criminal justice system. Jenny has worked as a nonprofit professional for over seven years in the areas of fundraising, marketing, and communications. In 2014, she graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she earned an M.S. in Urban Studies.  Jenny joined the TCJC team in 2015 to develop an individual giving program and manage donor relations.  Combining her previous nonprofit experience with her knowledge of TCJC’s projects and activities, Jenny became TCJC’s Finance and Operations Manager effective October 1, 2015, and she continues to support TCJC’s existing fundraising efforts.


Inmate Correspondence Coordinator

Mark Weimer received both his B.A. in history and M.S.W. from the University of Iowa.  He worked as an adult probation and pretrial release counselor in one of the first such programs in the State of Iowa.  Mark has worked in group homes for juveniles, as a clinical social worker/therapist with emotionally disturbed adolescent males in residential placement, and at home as a full-time parent.  Following retirement, he worked as a substitute teacher then began volunteering with TCJC.  Mark has since joined TCJC part-time as an Inmate Correspondence Coordinator.  He is passionate about bringing change to the criminal justice system that will end racial disparity, the targeting of the poor, and the use of the death penalty.