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Krishnaveni Gundu

Krish’s work as an activist began in 1999 in the communities affected by the 1984 deadly gas leak from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India when she took a sabbatical from her copywriting career and volunteered as a community heath field worker and researcher. Her interest was triggered by the fact that she was born and raised just a few hundred miles from Bhopal but had grown up learning almost nothing about the world’s worst industrial disaster and its ongoing effects. Her volunteering experience radicalized her into giving up a decade long highly successful and award winning career in advertising (Ogilvy & Mather, Bangalore) and diving deep into environmental justice work. She went on to document, publish and spoke extensively about the second generation health effects of Union Carbide’s toxic cocktail of gases.

After she moved to Houston with her partner in 2001, she was asked to serve as the US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal from 2002-2004. During her time with the campaign, she collaborated deeply with environmental justice activist/author Diane Wilson of Seadrift, TX. Krish and Diane worked closely over the years to support the Bhopal survivor groups’ fight for justice and clean water and Diane’s struggle against Union Carbide and other polluting chemical companies on the Gulf Coast. In 2005, Diane’s incarceration resulting from an environmental protest in her hometown would inspire the birth of Texas Jail Project (TJP).

Over the years, Krish organized and participated in teach-ins and direct actions across the United States to keep alive the memory of the biggest industrial disaster in history while attempting to bring Union Carbide and its new owners Dow Chemical and Dupont, to justice. As part of the campaign she also collaborated extensively with national and international grassroots coalitions engaged in environmental health and justice campaigns.

In 2006, Krish co-founded TJP along with researcher and writer Diana Claitor, Colonel Ann Wright and author-environmental activist and 2023 Goldman Award winner Diane Wilson whose incarceration in several Texas county jails resulted in the discovery of horrific shackling practices of pregnant inmates. Krish is also the co-founder and secretary of ‘tejas barrios’ – an environmental health and justice non-profit that works in and with the fence line communities bordering the Ship Channel and chemical refineries in Houston.

With nearly two decades of experience in advertising, market research, coordinating environmental health & justice campaigns and training non-profits in media and fundraising strategy, Krish replaced co-founder Diana Claitor as the executive director of TJP in 2020. Under her leadership, TJP grew from one full time employee to four full time staff, a paid intern and a contractor, in less than two years.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, her decision to open up TJP’s phone lines to receive collect calls directly from incarcerated persons in county jails led to the launch of a pathbreaking digital archive documenting jail conditions and practices. She has been published in the Washington Post and interviewed for national publications such as The New Yorker and Mother Jones. In 2021, she contributed extensively to a Texas Observer investigation into custody deaths in jails. She was invited by the Houston Chronicle to share her interpretation of “Lives, fortune & sacred honor” for its front page July 4th edition. In her spare time, Krish volunteers with Project Orange to register pretrial detainees in county jails.

Krish was awarded the 2023 Torch of Liberty award from Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association which is the largest of its kind in the country. Vice-Chair of HCCLA, Allison Mathis with Krish at the HCCLA Banquet on May 11th, 2023.

Krish is just as passionate about the sciences as she is about ending mass incarceration. She has a Bachelors Degree in Electronics with a minor in Mathematics and Physics from Osmania University in India which she applies in tutoring Math part-time at a community college in Houston. She’s also the proud mother of a teenager who is a nationally ranked Quizbowler and a violinist. You can follow Krish on Twitter @kinsngops where she often posts about her vegetable garden and Maltipoo puppy.

Essays, op-eds and expert declaration written and published by Krish in 2022:

Why Are In-Custody Deaths Surging in Houston’s Harris County Jail? – Slate

Pregnant People Are Shackled And Abused In Harris County Jail – The Appeal

Giving Birth in Texas Often Comes With Medical Neglect, Texas Jail Project Finds – Teen Vogue

If Not For Texas Bail Law, My Sister’s Nightmare At Tarrant County Jail Could Have Been Avoided (Ghost Written) – Star Telegram

Expert Declaration For Federal Court in Russel v. Harris County On Jail Conditions – Texas Jail Project

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