Karmahn Leach, Break the Pipeline Organizer

May 16, 2023
Emmaline Giles

“I organize because I found the support my family needed from organizers.”


Karmahn first became involved with MCU by receiving support from MCU's #BTP Campaign for her family as an impacted parent. She quickly grew into a leader with congregation-based voter engagement work on the Sacred Votes Campaign in 2020. As her leadership grew, she was hired on as the Parent Organizer for the Family Partners Campaign, an extension of the Break the Pipeline Campaign.   

Karmahn has always been known for being persistent and resourceful and it was through her experience as a formally impact mother that she has become not only committed to the mission, but intentional in her work. 

Karmahn leads the Tuesday night Participatory Defense team meeting drawing in other impacted families. This work includes changing the narrative on court involved youth and redistributing power back where it belongs: with the families in the communities that are being directly impacted by the Juvenile Courts. 

2022 In Review

In 2022, BTP and the Participatory Defense, has elevated our conversation around the plight of young people caught up in the system. We understand it to be a necessary validation that we continue to push for critical changes in not only their communities, but in their schools as well to launch new ways of thinking about how we incorporate families and humanize all who are affected by the system. 

In our efforts to do so, we have vastly increased our engagement with youth in the Juvenile System with our continued Know your Rights program with both youth in the city and county detention center along with those who we have supported to go home. We started our virtual cooking classes with our youth earlier this year and implemented our Family Engagement Night, for our impacted families in October 2022. We have strengthened our relationship with the National Juvenile Justice Network, and received continued support from Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.

We have Cultivated a relationship with the Juvenile court Judges, the Chief Juvenile Officer {Rick Gaines}, the Chief Deputy Juvenile Officer of Special Services Department, {Christine Fahy} the Director of Delinquency Services, {Tymesha Buckner}, and the Deputy Public Defender {Sarah Johnson}. Through those relationships, we are now receiving more referrals of Delinquent youth from the County Juvenile Office, and will now be sitting on the Juvenile Judicial Docket in order to receive direct referrals.

In 2022, we supported a total of {9} nine impacted families, {6} six of which are currently home, {2} two we are still supporting through the system and {1} one who has received short term incarceration, instead of being certified. That brings our time saved to more than 10 years of youth being home with their families and not locked away in cages, and have moved {4} four parents from case to campaign.

We hope for a continued financial investment in our work, to allow us to deepen our engagement with the start of our Youth Organizing Youth program that we will be implementing this year along with issue work that will be led by our Education Taskforce in the school districts. We are here to disrupt the school to prison pipeline and we can not do it without you. 

To learn more and get involved, contact Karmahn at Karmahn@mcustl.com

MCU puts faith into action by developing leaders who move their congregations, organizations and communities to change public policy for the common good.
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