Meet Our Team

Leigh Owens | Executive Director

Leigh Owens is the Executive Director of PENNfranchise. A Philadelphia native, Leigh has been an organizer and communications professional for over 15 years. While a student at Drexel University, Leigh was forced out of college to spend a year on Rikers Island and was ultimately stained with a felony conviction that had a negative impact on his early attempts at seeking employment and a career path, until he found organizing. Beginning on a part-time basis Leigh sought petitions for judicial candidates and then in 2008 accepted a job as Field Organizer for Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign. Now a seasoned, and dedicated organizer and advocate, Leigh founded The PENNfranchise Project so that others like him could learn from the mistakes and victories of Leigh’s 20 year journey from Rikers Island to the lobbying in the state capitol. Believing that it shouldn’t have to take 20 years to reach your career goals, PENNfranchise is dedicated to identifying and training leaders in the impacted communities to advocate and organize around the issues that affect them most. In order to shift the electorate you must be present in the community all year round, not just during election time and you must send trusted members of the community to deliver the right message. 

Jenna Henry | Organizing Director

Jenna Henry is a formerly incarcerated activist and Organizing Director for the PENNfranchise Project.  In 2017, she “accidentally” started working in politics when she volunteered on the DA’s race in Centre County (State College) helping to oust an overzealous prosecutor. Everyone she met there encouraged her to continue working in politics. She spent the next 3 years working on a wide variety of electoral campaigns from State House and State Senate to Statewide Judicial campaigns before moving into the non-profit space in 2020.

While working with Free the Ballot she continued electoral organizing, leading large field operations that helped lead to President Biden’s win in 2020 and in 2021 the re-election of Larry Krasner for District Attorney, along with a slate of 7 progressive Common Pleas Judges in Philadelphia. For the same primary in 2021, she also acted as elections coordinator for Central PA United helping to lead a successful campaign to elect a slate of three progressives to the Borough council in her hometown of State College. 

After the 2021 primary she accepted the position of Deputy Director with BetterPA where she continued the advocacy work she started at Free the Ballot to end prison gerrymandering through the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC). Working hand in hand, the two organizations built a broad coalition of supporters and using the voices of people impacted by the criminal justice system were ultimately successful in their advocacy when the LRC voted 3-2 in favor of ending the practice of counting incarcerated people in legislative districts where they are being held. 

She is excited to be bringing her knowledge and experience to The PENNfranchise Project and for the opportunity to train other people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system the art of organizing to build power.

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