Who We Are

To our community,

Building Wings grew out of my experiences of having loved ones in prison and the connections I developed with other women in similar circumstances—together feeling stronger and not alone through sharing in our experiences.

We’ve been there for each other to lean on, to cry and laugh with, to learn from, to be inspired with reminders that the love we hold burns brightly against the cold walls of jails and prisons. The beauty that emerged from this community became a comforting light in the dark, and the inspiration for Building Wings.

I want all of us to be there for each other so that our love, care, and community can be more powerful than the walls we face—for each other, and for our loved ones. That is the heart of Building Wings, and we welcome you here.

In our work, we are dedicated to

  • providing support, resources, care, and community for the loved ones of people in jails and prisons, as well as to prisoners themselves.
  • advocating against the prison industry through stories, analysis, and campaigns that challenge the narrative of the status quo.  

With love,

Amanda Schemkes
Executive Director
Building Wings

The vast majority of prisoners are men, which often means leaving women with the burden of supporting their loved ones as they also navigate their own lives. Additionally, the prison industrial complex is built on racism and classism, and it targets people of color and poor people and places that burden on their families and communities.

Amanda Schemkes

Amanda Schemkes

Executive Director

Amanda is a grassroots organizer and lawyer who lives in Seattle. She's been an organizer in the animal liberation movement for several years, which led her to do legal trainings and provide on-the-ground support for activists and frontline communities. In addition to campaign organizing, she speaks and writes about issues related to resistance movements and the legal system. She does direct support work for political prisoners and has loved ones in prison, which deeply impacts her views of the prison system as she keeps them in her heart.

Bina Ahmad

Bina Ahmad

Board Member

Bina Ahmad is a social justice attorney, working in the fields of international human rights, animal rights, and criminal defense. She serves on the Steering Committee of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, the advisory committee for the Food Empowerment Project, and gives Know Your Rights trainings to state-targeted communities. Currently, she is a public defender in New York.

Nyxx McCaughran

Nyxx McCaughran

Board Member

Nyxx McCaughran is a genderqueer computer science student in Portland, OR. They have been involved in animal and human rights activism for several years. When their understanding of the prison industrial complex developed alongside their activism, they felt compelled to become more involved in prisoner support. They live with a cat and four rats, and enjoy reading sci-fi, hiking, and running.

M. Koala! Largess

M. Koala! Largess

Board Member

M. Koala! Largess hails from Baltimore, MD. Co works as an industrial seamstress, teaches queer self-defense, and does work for frontline communities through direct action training and support. Koala! is a founder of the Baltimore Jail Support and Baltimore Prison Books & Letters programs. Through personal experience of short term periods in jail, co believes that social programs of autonomy and abolition are the best ways to serve individuals and communities.

Maryam Khajavi

Maryam Khajavi

Board Member

Maryam Khajavi is a criminal defense attorney in the Bay Area who is committed to addressing racial, economic, and gender inequalities in her practice of law. She represents political activists within her work as a member of the National Lawyers Guild in addition to her own political work, which includes long standing prisoner support.

Rochelle

Rochelle

Board Member

Rochelle lives in Denver and is an organizer, mother, and partner of a political prisoner. She is involved in various political and social prisoner support. Locally she has been organizing with the mothers, sisters, and daughters of prisoners and coordinating ride-shares for the two hour trip between FCI Florence and Denver -- breaking through the racial segregation in the prison, as well as beginning to connect folks with loved ones captured by the State to help break the stigma and silence about the trauma that comes in the aftermath.

Contact Us!

Building Wings grew out of connections that developed between women who have loved ones in prison—connections based in helping us all to feel stronger and not alone.