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Tarsha Jackson was born and raised in Houston. She spent her formative years in Acres Homes, Greenspoint and North Forest. She raised her children here, went to school here, and has been fighting for the people of District B since the early 2000s.

 

While raising two young boys and working as a mortgage lender, Tarsha’s life changed when her oldest special-needs son Marquieth was arrested at his elementary school for a classroom disruption. Just ten years old at the time of his arrest, Marquieth was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for an offense that should’ve been resolved with detention. 

 

Tarsha and her family lived the painful injustices of a system that criminalizes children instead of helping and supporting them. She became a parent-advocate and community leader, organizing other parents to fight for - and win - juvenile detention reform. In 2004, she co-founded Texas Families of Incarcerated Youth with two other mothers. And in 2007, Tarsha’s testimony and advocacy helped win passage of Texas Senate Bill 103, which bans the criminal justice system from jailing children for minor misdemeanors, preventing the injustice that happened to her son from happening to others. 

 

In 2013, Tarsha joined the Harris County office of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), Texas’ leading organization for building political power in communities of color. As Harris County Director for TOP, Tarsha launched TOP’s first criminal justice campaign after the death of Sandra Bland, which TOP now runs in the three counties it serves - Harris, Dallas and Bexar. Tarsha’s advocacy has expanded over the years to work on issues like ending ICE and police collaboration in immigration enforcement, fighting for affordable housing and equitable recovery after Hurricanes Ike and Harvey, and economic justice for Houston’s often-forgotten communities.

 

As Houston council member, Tarsha is focusing on tackling long-standing problems in her district, including flooding, illegal dumping, poor infrastructure, lack of economic development and poverty. She’s also the co-founder and Executive Director of the Urban Community Network, a nonprofit that helps families of at-risk and system-involved youth find the help they need to thrive. 

 

Tarsha’s organizing and advocacy work have been recognized locally and nationally. She is the recipient of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Natalie S. Bimel Award, the Soros Justice Fellowship, the Texas Observer’s Tyrant’s Foe award, the American Leadership Criminal Justice Fellowship, and  the Bill of Rights Defense Commission Patriot Award for her years-long campaign to raise families’ voices in advancing juvenile justice reform. In 2017, Tarsha served on the transition team of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. In May 2023 she graduated cume laude with her BA in Political Science at Texas Southern University, and lives in Fifth Ward. 

AWARDS

Annie E. Casey Foundation | Natalie S. Bimel Award

The Community Justice Network for Youth, Southern Regional | Esperanza Award

Texas Observer   |  2010 Tyrant's Foe

Texas Youth Commission | Essential Piece Award

Texan Together | Leadership Award

Bill of Rights Defense | Commission Patriot Award

Open Society Foundation | Soros Justice Fellowship

American Leadership Forum | Harris County Criminal Justice Fellowship

KEW Learning Accademy | Mc Peters Ambassadors Award

GE Capital Mortgage | Committed to Excellence Award

GE Capital  | Management Award

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner | Transition Team Member

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg | Transition Team Member

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