Native Houstonian | Mother | Advocate
Tarsha was born and raised in Acres Homes, Greenspoint and North Forest in Houston, Texas. She raised her children here, went to school here, and has been fighting for the people of District B since the early 2000s.
After graduating from high school and working as a mortgage lender while raising a young family, Tarsha’s life changed when her oldest 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 to three-and-half years in jail for a low-level misdemeanor. 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.
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 helped elect Kim Ogg as Harris County District Attorney in 2016, on a platform of criminal justice reform. 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.
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 teams of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. Tarsha is currently completing her BA in Political Science at Texas Southern University. She lives in Greenspoint.
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