The Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan is an alliance of grassroots organizations committed to building power in low-wage and working class communities to advance economic justice and racial equity in our state and local cities. These partner organizations work together to develop economic justice advocacy and policy campaigns to improve the economic conditions for the people they serve and others.
Dr. Alicia Renee Farris, ROC-MI State Director
Dr. Alicia Renee Farris is the state director of Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan where she gives leadership to a statewide movement to achieve social and economic justice for restaurant workers. Farris, a lifelong resident of Detroit, is passionate about justice and equality. She has worked in local and state government and in nonprofit settings such as New Detroit, Inc., Michigan Institute for Nonviolence Education, Michigan Neighborhood Partnership and Doing Development Differently in Metropolitan Detroit. Farris has served on numerous local and national nonprofit boards and as adjunct professor for the University of Detroit Mercy’s College of Liberal Arts and Education.
Jessica Hernandez, The Ezekiel Project Executive Director
Jessica Hernandez serves as executive director and lead community organizer at The Ezekiel Project, a faith-based community nonprofit organization in Saginaw that takes action on issues of social, racial and environmental justice. A native of the Great Lakes Bay Region, she graduated with a bachelor of science with a focus in community development from Central Michigan University.
Hernandez’s background is in nonprofit management in the health, housing, and education sectors. She has skills in program development and oversight and has juggled compliance of multiple contracts from local, state and federal sources. Her professional experiences bring a unique and diverse growth opportunity to The Ezekiel Project and the partnership with Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan.
Ponsella Hardaway, MOSES Executive Director
Ponsella Hardaway is a native Detroiter. Since 1996, Ponsella has been an organizer with MOSES; she is also a national trainer with the Gamaliel Foundation. In addition to training leaders across Detroit, the State of Michigan, and the country, she has trained congregation members in South Africa, Swaziland and the United Kingdom. Hardaway has also traveled to Brazil and Mali to study NGO’s work on political and social issues.
In her first year of organizing, Hardaway organized 22 Detroit congregations to conduct neighborhood listening campaigns and do safe zones actions (small public meetings of 200–600 people) to address abandoned buildings, drug houses, recreation, dumping, street lighting and gangs. She is most proud of organizing a 40-minute meeting with MOSES leadership and United States President Bill Clinton, who agreed to work with the organization by opening doors in Washington D.C. needed to leverage the resources for the MOSES vision for improved youth programs.
In 2008, Hardaway organized a public meeting to address hospital closures, access to grocery stores, immigration reform and public transportation. She was successful in turning out 3,000 people and public officials, even though President Obama’s rally was an hour before and five miles down the road from the MOSES rally.
Danielle Atkinson, Mothering Justice Founding Director
Danielle Atkinson is the founding director of Mothering Justice, a statewide organization working to improve the lives of Michigan families by equipping the next generation of mother activists. Atkinson has extensive experience as a church-based, electoral, and community organizer. She has worked with such organizations as America Votes, State Voices, Population Connection and ACORN.
In 2012, Atkinson founded Mothering Justice, a leadership development and advocacy organization. To date, Mothering Justice has trained more than 300 women, reached more than 50,000 mothers in voter engagement efforts, led Mama Conversations around Michigan, and drafted the Mamas’ Agenda, a policy priority plan addressing financial stability issues of mothers in Michigan. Atkinson help lead organizing efforts to raise the minimum wage in both Florida and most recently Michigan. Her work organizing mothers won her the 2013 Michigan Organizer of the Year Award.
Atkinson received bachelor’s degrees in political science and sociology from Pfeiffer University and lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, with her husband Frank and their four children.
Linda Campbell, Building Movement Project- Detroit People’s Platform Founding Team Member
Linda Campbell is a founding member of the Building Movement Project and currently leads activities in Detroit, including work on social service and social change and the Detroit People’s Platform. Linda’s background is both nonprofit and grassroots organizational development. Linda holds a master’s degree in public health.
Randy Block, Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network Founding Director
Randy Block has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in social work, specializing in community organizing. For over 30 years, he worked as a manager of services for older persons, but in 2011 he “retired” to devote more time to working as a community activist. During the Vietnam War, Block was a conscientious objector. He has been a long-time leader of Gray Panthers of Metro Detroit and serves as president of a new National Council of Gray Panthers Networks. He serves as the outreach governor and coordinates justice activities for the Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church in Southfield.
In 2002, Block founded and has since directed the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN).
Autumn Butler, Pontiac Policy Council Founding Director
Autumn Butler is the founding director of Pontiac Policy Council. She has spent her professional career in a variety of aspects of community development and empowerment, including working as a neighborhood planner developing revitalization plans for communities of color throughout the United States. For the last ten years, Butler has worked extensively in the City of Pontiac as a community outreach coordinator, among other roles, focused exclusively on low-moderate communities of color. She has empowered city residents, particularly women of color, to take control of their finances and helped many ultimately become homeowners and maintain their homeownership status in the Pontiac community.
Butler has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida A&M University, a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from Florida State University, a master’s degree in public administration from Florida State, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in political science at Wayne State University. She is a longtime resident of Oakland County and is mother of two children.
Jamie Forbes, Community Volunteer
Jamie Forbes has worked on a variety of political and issue campaigns locally and around the state, and is a graduate of the Great Lakes Political Academy. She is former executive director of the Ezekiel Project and is on the advisory board of The Henry Marsh Institute of Public Policy through SVSU. In 2016, Forbes’ work organizing earned her the honor of Saginawian of the Year by The Saginaw News.
Though a native of the Great Lakes Bay Region, she graduated with a bachelor of business administration degree from Belmont University in Nashville.