I became the director of a justice organization in my late twenties. Without much experience or many mentors to guide me, I learned a lot of lessons the hard way: trial and error. That's a hard, slow, and infuriating way to learn, especially when so much is at stake.
A lot of executives in social change fields face this same challenge. Our training may be in political campaigns, social work, or organizing. We've excelled in our fields because we're experts at policy or can inspire others to make change. However, no one ever really taught us how to do all the invisible work that allows organizations to grow successfully: effective management, fundraising, budgeting, how financial and human resources systems work, which labor laws matter, or how to develop a strategic plan. That sounds suspiciously like business.
The truth is that the skills you need to manage and grow a social change organization into a sustainable institution are very different than the skills you used to become a succesful organizer, advocate, or leader. It's no wonder that so many new directors struggle and burn out. No one has given them the tools they need to succeed.
Within the progressive non-profit sector, we have to do a lot better. We have so much on the line-- whether it's the fate of the climate, public health, or economic and racial justice. We need stronger organizations, and that means we need stronger organizational leaders.
I'm passionate about using my two decades of organizing and management experience to help justice organizations grow and thrive. Skip the part where you learn by making painful mistakes and go straight to the good stuff: making the biggest impact you can for and with the people you care about.
Michigan United & Michigan People’s Campaign
September 2010 – April 2021. Founder & Executive Director. Currently serving as Senior Advisor.
-Merged Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Michigan Organizing Project into statewide organizing program with 100 member institutions and offices in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Flint. Increased budget from $50,000 to $5 million.
-Coordinated major voter registration and GOTV efforts over 6 election cycles, culminating in a 2020 program that made nearly 5 million voter contact attempts and acquired 650,000 voter issue and candidate IDs.
-Supervised 30 staff and board of 20. Staff periodically increased to 100+ for projects.
-Developed ESL, immigration law clinic, and community health navigator service programs that serve 2000+ people annually.
-Organization annually produced 200+ media hits, holds 70-100 events, holds 100+ meetings with public officials and candidates, and trains 1500-2000 leaders.
-The organization has won or played a leadership role in major victories for low-income families and communities of color during this time, including:
-Raised the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.40.
-Strengthened ICE's national guidelines to protect against immigration raids at churches and schools.
-Restored the democratically elected Detroit Police Commission.
-Played major role in Mayor Duggan’s support for Municipal ID’s in Detroit and developed implementation plan.
-Developed statewide network of Sanctuary churches to support to immigrants facing deportation.
-Along with allies, won reform to Medicaid that provides free COVID-19 treatment and testing to the uninsured and
-Won concessions from state's insurance companies to provide COVID-19 treatment and testing without co-pays and deductibles.
-Won 5 extensions of the state COVID-19 eviction moratorium, which protected renters until eviction prevention
programs were operational.
-Won $6 million in state funding for home health care programs for low-income seniors.
-Won $2 million in state funding for eviction diversion programs.
-Won $5 million from Marathon Petroleum for home buyout program in neighborhood poisoned by refinery emissions
-Won local campaigns to increase access to housing and employment for returning citizens.
Reform Immigration FOR America
June 2009 – August 2010. Midwest Regional Manager
-Oversaw campaigns to win comprehensive immigration reform legislation and the DREAM Act in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Managed total staff of eleven.
-Oversaw more than a hundred earned media events, including Midwest-wide press roll-outs with simultaneous events in 8 media markets. Largest event was delegation of 2300 to Washington DC March FOR America.
Michigan House Democrats & House Democratic Fund
May 2006 to June 2009. Regional Campaign Organizer
-Developed and implemented campaign plans for 5 successful competitive state house races in Macomb, Washtenaw and Jackson counties. Knocked 200,000 doors and raised $480,000.
-Supervised campaign staff, field plans, budgets, fundraising, scheduling, mail, GOTV, opposition research, town hall meetings, press conferences, canvasses, phone banks and service events.
Michigan Raise the Wage Coalition
May 2005 - March 2006. Assistant Canvass Director
Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES)
June 2004 - November 2004. Electoral Director
May 2003 - August 2003. Field Manager
- University of Michigan, Residential College, Honors, 2006. Social Science BA, focus in Community Organizing
-Conversational speaker of German and Spanish
Affiliations & Leadership
Executive Committee, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, 2010-2019
Board of Directors, National Partnership for New Americans, 2016-2021
What does "Breakaway" mean?
Every consultancy needs a catchy, yet vague, name -- right?
In politics, a breakaway republic might form in opposition to the corrupt old regime. When people are tired, fed up, and ready to strike out on their own, they form a breakaway.
In cycling, a breakaway occurs when a small group of riders decides to charge ahead at the beginning of a race, and then tries to hold off the rest of their competition for hours.
In each case, a breakaway requires the confidence in your strength and vision to move forward, sometimes alone. It upsets the established order and can set the stage for dynamic change.
We're here to support leaders and organizations that are ready stage their own breakaway.