Si Kahn founded the national organization Grassroots Leadership in 1980. Coming into the organizing field as a folk singer-songwriter and community activist, he found his roots in the civil rights movement and worked to build a progressive movement in the southern U.S.. The organization’s legacy work includes being an Open Society grantee for their work in the abolition of for-profit prisons and immigrant family detention as well as halting prison expansion and the 287(g) program. In 2009, Grassroots Leadership won a major national victory in its Campaign to End Immigrant Family Detention, when the Federal government removed 150 children from the notorious for-profit private T. Don Hutto “family residential center.”
While Kahn is now retired after 30 years of leadership, he has been actively involved as a passionate volunteer in the international campaign to stop the proposed Pebble Mine and to protect permanently the people, jobs, communities, Native languages, cultures, traditions, and wild sockeye salmon of Alaska’s Bristol Bay, one of the great remaining wild places in the world. Committed to this work, he also became one of the three co-founders of Musicians United to Protect Bristol Bay.