STAFF & BOARD

Meet The Amazing Team at Detroit Action!

Farhana Aktar in a Detroit Action Hoodie and Red Headwear

Farhana Aktar

Service & Mutual Aid Program Associate

Farhana is our Service and Mutual Aid Program Associate. She is responsible for supporting the implementation of activities of various projects. This includes but is not limited to co-directing the service series, community engagement, volunteer management, and providing direct service to our clients. She obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work from Wayne State University. As someone who has experienced tremendous difficulties in life that have impacted her education and opportunities for success, she felt that social work is a noble and important profession to further her interest and passion for advocating and creating change at a macro level. As a social justice advocate, working with Detroit Action provides Farhana the opportunities to serve and advocate for the Black and Brown communities that she is passionate about.

Michael Beasley

Digital Manager

Bio coming soon!

Cynthia Bell

Detroit Action Ambassador

A Detroit Action Ambassador, Cynthia Bell has a passion for working with homeless citizens. Years prior, in a state of homelessness, Cynthia stumbled across the Capuchin Soup Kitchen from a treatment center, looking for help with her ID because she hadn’t had one for many years due to her addiction. While there, she noticed a multitude of people in the same predicament as her and she realized that she wanted to help those people. With this new urge to help others, she noticed that it helped her deal with her addiction to eventually recover. Cynthia joined Detroit Action Commonwealth in February 2012 where she became the secretary and eventually climbed the ranks to become President of the organization. Today, she’s been clean for 9 years and still has that passion for helping citizens who are homeless, low-income, senior and those who are returning from prison. 

Jennifer Disla

Co-Executive Director

Jennifer Disla joined the Detroit Action team in March 2020. She has over 10 years in Labor Organizing experience. She has organized in Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and Indiana. She brought home victories in Michigan during the 2015 Justice for Janitors Campaign. Additionally, she brings a wealth of knowledge on building with community partners. She is ready to continue to cultivate power in Detroit. She is a strategic thinker and implementer in the organization. She shares Detroit Actions values on centering the most impacted. She currently helps think through staff and membership organizing and political development. Jennifer started organizing in 2008 in the midst of a life changing diagnosis. She has and will continue to champion affordable, equitable, and quality access to healthcare for all. She believes in Black Liberation and continues to fight white supremacy practices within the non-profit complex and beyond. Her favorite quote is “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Audre Lorde. Jennifer urges all of us to go past our fears in remembrance of ancestors and for the next Generation’s hopes and dreams.

Michael Gholston

Cultural Organizer

Michael Gholston (Duane) is a life-long Detroiter who has made a name for himself locally as a musician and performance artist. He is a graduate of the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts where he majored in visual arts. Duane’s life as an organizer began in 2018 as a canvasser representing organizations such as the ACLU and Doctors Without Borders. He was a devoted supporter of the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign and has volunteered for Detroit’s Democratic Socialists of America chapter. For over a year Duane has worked as a member of Detroit Action’s field team, eventually becoming one of the field managers. Since the fall of 2020 Duane has been working as the cultural organizer where he connects local pop culture, music, and art to the various campaigns at Detroit Action.

Taylor Harrell in black Detroit action hoodie

Taylor Harrell

Civic Engagement Manager

Bio coming soon!

Roshaun Harris

Economic Justice Organizer

Bio coming soon!

Nicholas Kim in Black Hoodie

Nicholas Kim

Youth Organizer

As the Youth Organizer, Nicholas Kim (Nick) works to progress Detroit Action’s mission by empowering and supporting young Detroiters through leadership and professional development, as well as helping coordinate issue-focused, political engagement. Having a passion for education and politics, in addition to advocating for quality, public education for all students and racial justice, he seeks to foster and mobilize the young leaders of the next generations. Prior to Detroit Action, Nick worked as an organizer for the Biden and Harris campaign and a bartender. Nick graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Sociology with a focus in law, justice, and social change, in addition to a minor in History. He is from a family of Korean immigrants, a naturalized citizen, a pet owner, home chef, saxophone player, NBA fan, video gamer, and lover of nature.

Remeta Hicks-Montgomery in Detroit Action hoodie

Remeta Hicks-Montgomery, MSW

Service & Mutual Aid Director

Remeta Hicks-Montgomery is Detroit Action’s Service & Mutual Aid Director, overseeing and managing our suite of direct community services, including ID/birth record access, mutual aid, the virtual service series, street outreach court, and our upcoming drug users union and employment workshops. She is native to and currently resides in the city of Detroit and brings an unwavering passion for supporting those in need while contributing to lasting change within her community. Remeta holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Eastern Michigan University and a Master’s of Social Work from The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. When she’s not working, she enjoys cooking good food for her six children and husband and traveling around the world.  Remeta is also the owner-director of First Rate HBCU Tours, L.L.C., an organization that uses travel experiences to educate, empower, and expose metro Detroit students to Black excellence and life-changing opportunities. 

Alejandro Navarrete

Data Manager

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.

Kudaja Navarrete

Operations Director

At Detroit Action, ensuring that staff and members have the tools and systems they need, we have our Operations Manager, Kudaja Navarrete. Kudaja has been a member of the Detroit Community for almost 20 years. For Kudaja, Detroit is Home. Coming in from roles of management and customer service, Kudaja has worked within Detroit all her life and understands the needs of the community. Using the skills that she acquired over the years, she is not hesitant to step up and help the community.

Kelsey Rodriguez

Digital Organizer

Kelsey is a Digital Organizer for Detroit Action. As a Digital Organizer, Kelsey is responsible for building a community of supporters online, this includes: assisting in the management of Detroit Action’s social media accounts, finding supporters online, and using digital tools to connect with people. She is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan and a native of Flint, MI. One of the things that Kelsey loves most about working for Detroit Action is the dedication to radical love and tenderness.

Tenesa Sanders

Housing 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.

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 10 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 groundbreaking 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.

Twitter: @bsneezy313

TyJuan Thirdgill in grey hoodie with Detroit Action logo

TyJuan Thirdgill

Economic Justice Organizer

TyJuan Thirdgill is a dedicated community activist and organizer. He grew up in Englewood, a neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago; he sought to emulate his mother, a tireless advocate for her community. TyJuan has worked in politics and organizing since he was a senior in high school. He fell in love with organizing after volunteering and attending events hosted by the Nurses Union and the SEIU. After this, he worked for State Rep Terry Sabo, State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, and Gretchen Whitmer. In 2020 TyJuan ran for office, where he became not only the youngest person to serve on the Delhi Township Board of Trustees but the first African American as well.  His favorite quote is by Frederick Douglas, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.” He uses this quote to drive his work and be fearless in his demands of the people that represent our communities.

Joanna Velazquez

Campaigns Manager

Moving to Detroit at 5 years old, Joanna has been involved in electoral politics and community organizing from her high school years up to the present. As a canvasser and community organizer, Joanna has been passionate about people seeing and hearing themselves, their values, and their issues in politics. Prior to joining the Detroit Action family, Joanna was a Field Organizer in Isabella County with the One Campaign for Michigan 2018 Midterm Elections, and has past experience canvassing as a volunteer on campaigns starting with the Obama 2012 Campaign. Joanna’s experience growing up in both Southwest Detroit and the Downriver community has solidified the need for racial and economic justice reflected in policy. The disparities within education, housing, job opportunities and much more were abundantly clear to her as a child and not much, if anything, has changed for the communities she’s accountable to. She believes that when black and brown folks, poor folks, the most impacted folks are truly brought into the conversation in meaningful ways, real power and change can be built. Joanna is an alumna from Michigan State University- with a degree in World Politics and History with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Vanessa Velazquez

Field Director

Vanessa Velazquez is our Field Director at Detroit Action. She is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada and grew up in the Detroit and Downriver area. Vanessa comes from a proud Puerto Rican household which influenced her passion for politics at an early age; there was constant conversation centered around experiences of poverty and that does not have to be the status quo. Vanessa came to Detroit Action when we were formerly known as Good Jobs Now as a recent graduate from Michigan State University. She received a B.A. in World Politics and a minor in Peace & Justice. Vanessa came in as a canvasser and moved up through the team’s leadership to become our Canvass Director in May of 2019. Vanessa’s role was to develop and manage a team of canvassers that builds membership and activates the community on a daily basis. Her team uses a deeper canvassing model to develop captivating relationships between canvasser and community leader. As Field Director, Vanessa’s new goals with our field work is to make sure that every conversation a canvasser has, holds a lasting impact on that community; ensuring they remember Detroit Action not just three weeks from now but also, 10 months down the road.  

Kenny Williams Jr., MA

Communications Director

Kenny Williams Jr. joined Detroit Action in February 2020 as the communications manager. Kenny received his Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with a minor in leadership and integrated learning from Michigan State University and went on to obtain his Master of Arts degree in public relations with a specialization in nonprofit fundraising as well. In addition to his role at Detroit Action, Kenny is a pop culture staff writer for Blavity News. Kenny is a proud East sider, and a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

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  • 1600 E Grand Blvd #305,
    Detroit, MI 48211
  • (313) 451-4419
  • info@detroitaction.org