Elder Leslie Mathews has been a minister of the gospel for over twenty years. “Justice is the blood that runs through my veins,” she explains. “Serving and fighting for the rights of others is what I live for.” A long-time resident of Detroit, Elder Leslie is the former President of The African American Arts and Cultural Society (AAACS) where she developed a creative writing partnership between the University of Michigan Musical Society and the Winans Academy of Performing Arts students. Under her leadership, the AAACS became an ambassador for the Arts to various Academic Institutions.
Elder Leslie serves as Director of Outreach for Triumphant Life Christian Church in Highland Park, Michigan and is a member of the Board of Directors for Hope for the City-Detroit, part of a network of faith-based urban outreach programs founded in 1992 in the South Bronx to empower and equip the most marginalized communities.
Today, Elder Leslie is an organizer with Michigan United, a statewide organization of community members and organizations fighting for the dignity and potential of every person. One of her organizing focuses is criminal justice reform. A major recent victory was the restoration of the powers of Detroit’s Board of Police Commissioners – a civilian oversight body originally established in 1974 to deal with police abuse and corruption. The Board’s powers were stripped away in 2013 when the city was under emergency management. After months of organizing by Michigan United, the Detroit City Council voted unanimously to restore the Board’s powers. Elder Leslie’s current campaign is the passage by the City Council of a city-wide Fair Chance ordinance to help returning citizens find employment after incarceration.