Building power

For Black and Brown Working Class Detroiters.

Farhana Aktar

Program Manager

Farhana is a Bangladeshi American, Muslim, woman based in the Detroit area. Growing up in a culture where she was told she wasn’t good enough because of her gender, she faced tremendous challenges that impacted her education and opportunities for success. However, these obstacles strengthened her to become an advocate for her community. She is a proud social worker and program manager at Detroit Action, where she leads programs that empower Black and Brown communities and encourages people to be the change they want to see in the world. Her background and experiences have instilled in her a deep sense of empathy and compassion for others, and she strives to create positive change wherever possible.

Anthony Baber

Communications and Culture Director

Anthony is a storyteller, a concert-chaser, a lover of cats, and the Director of Communications & Culture for Detroit Action. Having grown up in Michigan, Anthony developed a strong sense of community and the importance of uplifting those without a voice. After college, he moved to Seoul, South Korea, initially to teach English as a second language, then eventually hosting a music show for a local radio station. Since returning to Michigan in 2019, Anthony turned his focus to organizing and empowering local Black & Brown communities with an emphasis on collaboration and the arts. His experiences, both at home and abroad, have informed his perspective as an organizer, centering deep relationship-building, equitable practices, and joy.

Alissa Barrett

Data Director

Bio Coming Soon!

Cynthia Bell

Community Organizer

Cynthia Bell is a mother of two girls and two boys and the second oldest of 8 sisters. She is a Leader and a very Powerful Black Woman always ready to fight for change. She lost her oldest son to a rare form of cancer called Neuroblastoma back in 1994 at the age of 20 that sent her into a deep state of depression and made a decision and turned to drugs. After struggling with addiction for many years she placed herself in a treatment center in Jan 2009. She is now 14yrs clean as of Jan 9,2023 and an organizer with Detroit Action. Here she helps people struggling with addiction with Detroit Action Drug User Union offering harm reduction, mental health services, referrals to treatment centers and words of encouragement.

Dominique Burton

Community Organizer

Dominique Burton is an organizer, neighbor, sister and a dog mom. She’s from Flint, MI but moved to Detroit to finish her college education at WSU- which she did in the summer of 2019. Following graduation she attended an abolition meeting at Detroit Action where her journey into organizing began. It was the first place she was able to reimagine a better future and then plan the steps to get there. Since then she’s worked on campaigns to defend Detroiters housing rights, elect progressive leaders and to defend democracy.

Piper Carter

Culture & Training Coordinator

Bio coming soon!

Randi Foust

Program Director

Bio coming soon!

Scott Holiday

Political Director

Bio Coming Soon!

Alejandro Navarrete

Research and Policy Director

As Data and Research Manager, Alejandro serves as a link between our array of digital organizing tools and our strong interpersonal network to best craft and target our campaigns and direct services. Alejandro is a first-generation immigrant from Mexico raised in Southwest Detroit. Growing up undocumented and working in the skilled trades, he believes that true safety, prosperity, and freedom come from collective economic and political power. To that end, he has worked with economic and community development nonprofits such as the Southwest Detroit Business Association, TechTown, SER Metro-Detroit, and the Detroit Justice Center. Alejandro is a Cass Technical High School alumnus and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Michigan.

Ja’Vay Palmer

Community Organizer

Bio coming soon!

Alejandra Roel

Field Director

Bio coming soon!

Renee Wilson

Executive Assistant

Bio coming soon!

Tenesa "Ms. Tea" Sanders

Renters and Tenant Organizer

In 2009, Tenesa Sanders was introduced to Detroit Action by a neighborhood friend that worked at the gas station. Tenesa decided to attend a meeting with the understanding that she was getting a home. When Tenesa sat at this community meeting, she realized that it was grassroots, community-based, and helps community members, one person at a time. Tenesa was very intrigued with community outreach and started off as a part-time member and then went on to volunteer on several committees, which gave her the knowledge and expertise to pursue the following positions of chapter president, executive president, and many more. Through hard work and perseverance, Tenesa is now an organizer. Tenesa would like to build a base with community members that are open to educate, relate, motivate and engage members in their community that will build power, community impact, and shared values that align city, state, federal(national) levels. Through hard work and having tenacity many Detroit citizens and Michigan residents are stepping you to fight and demand for all that is meant for themselves.Changes are coming one day at a time.

Branden Snyder

Executive Director

Born and raised on Detroit’s East Side to a working-class union family, Branden has been involved in faith, electoral and community organizing projects throughout the United States for over 15 years. Previously, Branden was the Deputy Organizing Director in charge of Youth Voting for the Hillary For Michigan 2016 presidential campaign, the Deputy Campaign Manager for the Garlin Gilchrist for Detroit City Clerk campaign, as well as the Statewide Director of Organizing for Michigan United. Branden’s commitment to democracy and racial justice is fueled, in great part, by his experiences as a Detroiter and that of other Detroiters who have endured poverty and the criminal justice system. He believes in the power of bringing our communities together and challenging leaders to go from victims to victors by engaging the systems and policies that impact our lives. Branden is a graduate of the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor with a B.A. in Political Science and Afro-American studies and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School for Public Policy. Branden also is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity Incorporated and is a die-hard Detroit sports fan (GO BLUE!) filled with a love for dogs, random trivia from “The Simpsons”, Hip-Hop and the NBA.

Joanna Velazquez

Campaign Manager

Joanna Velazquez became an organizer after experiencing the impacts of poverty, addiction, and the lack of mental health resources in her home and communities. Moving to Detroit in October of 2000, she and her family moved across the city and Downriver area making school her safe space and giving her the opportunity to graduate from Michigan State University. In 2018, Joanna found her political home with Detroit Action and organizing became a natural fit for Joanna as she found her way back home to figure out how to create the world we deserve to live in. Through her own leader development, Joanna has learned that in order for us to live in a world that allows us to thrive, we must build deep relationships with one another and center the most impacted and vulnerable communities in all of our work and policy. We must learn to see each others humanity and fight for the values that allows for the empowerment of Black and brown working class folks both here and abroad.

Vanessa Velazquez

Organizing Director

Vanessa Velazquez is a dog mom, sister, Michigan State alumna, organizer, and friend. She moved to Detroit, MI in the fall of 2000 and grew up in the Detroit and Downriver area. Vanessa’s life experiences led her to work full time at Detroit Action in 2018 and now she is the Organizing Director. Through her own leader development at Detroit Action, Vanessa learned that not only is it possible but it is crucial that Black and Brown working class people in Detroit are empowered to organize power for themselves to create the world we know we deserve to live in.

Ray Vinson

Community Organizer

Bio coming soon!

Chantel Watkins

Online to Offline Lead Organizer

Chantel Watkins is Detroit Action’s Online to Offline Organizing Lead specializing in engaging people through social media to become volunteers, organizers, and revolutionaries in real life. With over 13 years of experience in organizing Chantel has worked on issues from defunding the police, reproductive justice, LGBTQ+ inclusivity, domestic violence, and more.Motivated by the trials and tribulations her environment growing up gave her, her overall goal is to try and take some of the pain out of this world and help people find their voice and strength. Chantel also serves as a Precinct Delegate, 13th Congressional District Chairperson for the Progressive Caucus, Radio Show Host at 910 AM, Ambassador for the United State of Women, and a very happy mom of a toddler and bonus mom of a pre-teen.

Ammara Ansari

Director of Development and New Initiatives

Ammara has experience in organizing, political fundraising, learning and evaluation in philanthropy, and in non-profit to create convening spaces for local and regional governments across the country to imagine a world where racial justice was our reality. She got her political start as an organizer for the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, which motivated her to engage with and serve historically underserved communities. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Honors in Politics from the University of Virginia in 2016, and her Masters in Public Policy from the University of Michigan in 2019. In her current role, Ammara is focused on fundraising and grantmaking strategies in partnership with our members who are at the forefront of the movement for equality for black and brown lives.

BOARD MEMBERS

Art Reyes

President

Londell Thomas

Secretary

Molly Sweeney

Jamila Martin

Kortni Malone

Secretary-Treasurer

Lauren Mason

Tameka Ramsey

Ekanem Obong