The TCJC Team

Leah Pinney

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 previously 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 currently serves as the Executive Director and will continue to support TCJC through administrative leadership in organizational development, resource management, project guidance, and relationship building that will sustain TCJC’s viability and effectiveness in reducing Texas’ historical overreliance on incarceration.

Molly Totman, J.D.

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. Molly has 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 will continue to support TCJC, in partnership with the Executive Director to further the impact of TCJC’s mission in Texas.

Shakira Pumphrey, J.D.

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.

Jay Jenkins, J.D.

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.

Lindsey Linder, J.D.

Policy Attorney

Lindsey Linder received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2013, and she went on to receive her Juris Doctorate with honors from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2016.  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.  Lindsey utilized her position of leadership as President of Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity 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 later supported TCJC through contract work.  Upon graduation from law school, Lindsey officially joined the TCJC team to support our policy research and outreach efforts, and she continues to create positive change through policy work and advocacy.

Kathy Mitchell

Grassroots Sentencing Campaign Coordinator

Kathy Mitchell has been an organizer and policy advocate in a variety of local and national movements for social change for almost 30 years.  While at the Texas Office of Public Insurance Counsel, she conducted research and wrote policy reports on access to insurance, claims payment, and insurance pricing models.  Following that, she lobbied the Texas Legislature and managed policy research for Consumers Union’s Texas office.  In that role, Kathy authored more than a dozen major reports on Texas public policy, and she supervised research on a dozen more.  She conducted primary data research on mortgage lending in Texas, policy research on access to government information, legal research on chattel lending, and fieldwork on confined animal feeding operations, among other topics.  Over the past decade, Kathy led Consumer Reports’ national digital campaigns, where she built a 1.5 million-person email list and helped policy advocates win countless battles around the country.  Now, Kathy comes back to Texas focusing on her passion for criminal justice reform.  As TCJC’s Grassroots Sentencing Campaign Coordinator, she is bolstering the organization’s efforts to reduce incarcerated populations, including through local advocacy and base-building.  Kathy is also a founding member of the Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition, on the Board of EFF-Austin, and a Math Pentathlon Coach at a local elementary school.

Trey Owens, M.P.A.

Policy Analyst

Trey Owens graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a minor in Political Science. In 2015, he earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. Trey first engaged in public policy interning for State Representative Terri Hodge of Dallas in 2007. In 2009, while attending Sam Houston State University, he was selected to participate in Senator Ellis’ Texas Legislative Internship Program; Trey spent the 81st Legislative Session working on criminal justice policy for then-Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, Senator Kel Seliger. After graduating from Sam Houston State, Trey began working for the City of Huntsville in the Office of the City Manager as an Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator. In 2012, Trey joined the staff of Senator John Whitmire, Chair of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice and Dean of the Texas Senate. Trey currently serves as a Criminal Justice Policy Analyst for TCJC, bringing a decade of criminal justice policy experience to the organization.

Douglas Smith, M.S.S.W.

Policy Analyst

Doug Smith is a Criminal Justice Policy Analyst with TCJC, where he develops policies to reduce Texas’ over-reliance on incarceration and improve conditions of confinement and reentry for people leaving prison. Doug graduated magna cum laude from St. Edward’s University in 1994 and earned his M.S.S.W. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000. He previously 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 was also an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, teaching courses on Public Policy Analysis. Doug’s passion for criminal justice reform stems from his own experience in the criminal justice system, where he served six years in prison for crimes committed as a direct outcome of addiction. In addition to his state-level advocacy work with TCJC, Doug serves on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Reentry Taskforce, the Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable, and the Reentry Advocacy Project. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the Austin Sobriety Center and the Texas Research Society on Alcoholism and Addiction.

Jenny Schurk, M.S.

Finance and Operations Manager

Jenny Weber 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 eight 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 currently serves as TCJC’s Finance and Operations Manager and continues to support TCJC’s existing development efforts.

Mark Weimer, M.S.W.

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.