We Are Imaginal Cells

Our People

April Taylor (she/her)

April Taylor (she/her)

April Taylor is a Black queer organizer from Lexington, KY. She has served as an Economics and Governance program manager at the Highlander Research and Education Center where she developed curriculum and provided accompaniment to grassroots groups in the South doing solidarity economy work. She has been involved in grassroots organizing for more than two decades working at the intersection of racial and economic justice. She is a co-founder of the Wild Fig Books & Coffee worker cooperative, Kentucky’s only Black owned bookstore. She also helped lead the push by Lexington citizens to make unprecedented changes to local police accountability and transparency and helped lay the groundwork for Lexington to elect more Black women to local offices during the 2022 election cycle than any other point in the city’s history. She serves on the Governance Council of the Southern Movement Assembly and has supported Movement for Black Lives work to catalyze solidarity economy organizing. April consistently holds space for impacted people to exchange knowledge and resources and to collectively dream and organize to use cooperative economics to meet each other’s basic needs and move beyond the exploitative white supremacist capitalist patriarchy towards liberation for all people. When she’s not building community and working towards liberation, she enjoys spending time at the Moonbow in Cumberland Falls and connecting with nature.

Andrew Curley (he/him)

Andrew Curley (he/him)

Board Member

Andrew Curley is a member of the Navajo Nation and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He studies coal and development in the Navajo Nation. His latest publications highlight the consequence of colonial water laws on indigenous nations and the political economy of green transition within reservation economies. His current work is on extraction, energy, and notions of resource curse among tribal governments.

Casimiro Pena (they/him)

Casimiro Pena (they/him)

Board Member

Casimiro has a background as a community organizer and has spent the past twelve years mobilizing engagement cutting across racial justice, voting rights, housing, education, youth, and mutual-aid. Casimiro has worked for small but mighty organizations, as well as large complex institutions seeking to make change. Before ever knocking doors as an organizer, as a child Casimiro would sell candy on the strip between their grandparents Mexican restaurant and their mom’s nail salon in Long Beach, California. When he got a little taller, they could start helping at the register, prepping food, cleaning tables, and making drinks. He would go on to work in restaurants for over a decade, while juggling school and early organizing work. It was with workers making food where he first learned about the value of team-work, trust, community, and care. Casimiro is based on the North West side of Chicago with his partner and their four big dogs.

Dani Knoll (they/them)

Dani Knoll (they/them)

Dani comes from a mental health background, having worked for years as a practitioner in community clinic settings. Now pursuing a career in research, they are currently enrolled in the post-baccalaureate program in psychological science at the University of California, Irvine. They aspire to study psychological and medical anthropology, specifically as it pertains to social determinants of health, ritualistic behavior, and conceptualizations of pain, empathy, and healing in communal living. Dani has a BA in Political Science and Latin American Studies, as well as an MA in Clinical Psychology.

David Cobb (he/him)

David Cobb (he/him)

Board Member

David Cobb is a “people’s lawyer” who has sued corporate polluters, lobbied elected officials, run for political office himself, and been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. He believes we can– and must – provoke and win a peaceful revolution if we are to survive.

David serves as Advancement Manager for the Wiyot Tribe’s Dishgamu Community Land Trust and as Co-Coordinator of the US Solidarity Economy Network. He also serves on the Steering Committee of the Green Eco-Socialist Network, as an advisor to the California Progressive Alliance, and is a leader of the California Public Banking Alliance.

David ran for Attorney General of Texas in 2002, pledging to revoke the charters of corporations that routinely violate the law. In 2004 he was the Green Party nominee for President of the United States, and his demands for recounts in multiple states helped to launch the election integrity movement that ended the advance of electronic (black box) voting systems. In 2010 he helped to co-found Move To Amend and co-authored a proposed constitutional amendment to abolish the illegitimate court-created doctrines of corporate constitutional rights and money equals speech. In 2016 he served as campaign manager for the Jill Stein/Ajamu Baraka presidential campaign.

Emily Kawano (she/her)

Emily Kawano (she/her)

Board Member

Emily is Co-Director of the Wellspring Cooperative Corporation, which is seeking to create an engine for new, community-based job creation in Springfield, Massachusetts. Wellspring’s goal is to use anchor institution purchases to create a network of worker-owned businesses located in the inner city that will provide job training and entry-level jobs to unemployed and underemployed residents through worker-owned cooperatives. She also serves as Coordinator of the United States Solidarity Economy Network. An economist by training, Emily served as the Director of the Center for Popular Economics from 2004 to 2013. Prior to that, Emily taught economics at Smith College, worked as the National Economic Justice Representative for the American Friends Service Committee and, in Northern Ireland, founded a popular economics program with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Grace Ifeanyichukwu (she/her)

Grace Ifeanyichukwu (she/her)

Grace Ifeanyichukwu identifies as an empath, healer, large and small systems dissector, and liberation movement builder. She is a co-founding member of We Are The Ones Solidarity Cooperative which is addressing racial and economic injustice through the development of a solidarity economy ecosystem in what is now called Houston TX’s Third Ward. She is also the founder and consultant of Liberate Forward which supports the anti-racist, anti-oppressive governance and culture development of small black, indigenous, and people of color led businesses. Her background spans from education and social emotional intelligence development to business operations and public policy. In addition, she enjoys dancing, park swings and watching other earth inhabitants in their elements. All of her passions are grounded in a vision and aspiration for a liberated and sustainable humanity.

Jessica Forden (she/her)

Jessica Forden (she/her)

Director of Regional Solidarity Economy

Jess is a researcher whose work uses both quantitative and qualitative analysis to support policies and initiatives that improve outcomes for marginalized communities and push for an economy based in inclusion and collaboration. She is a research associate with the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School, where she received her MA degree in economics. Her recent work has included research on care economies and the relationship between occupational segregation of workers and employer power in labor markets. She received her BA in economics from Wellesley College.

Joe Uehlein (he/him)

Joe Uehlein (he/him)

Board Member

Founding President of the Labor Network for Sustainability, and Voices for a Sustainable Future. Joe is the former secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Union Department and former director of the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Campaigns. Joe spent over 30 years doing organizing, bargaining, and strategic campaign work in the labor movement. Joe also served as the Secretary to the North American Coordinating Committee of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, and Mine Workers unions (ICEM). Joe also served on the United Nations commission on global warming from its inception in 1988 through the Kyoto Accords in 1997 until 2003. Joe is a founding board member of Ceres (Coalition for Environmentally responsible Economies), and served on the Ceres board for 23 years. Joe is a member of the National Advisory Board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and served as a senior strategic advisor to the Blue Green Alliance for five years. Joe is a current board member of USCAN, the US Climate Action Network. In the early 1970’s he worked in an aluminum mill in Mechanicsburg, PA as a member of the United Steelworkers of America, and then on heavy and highway construction projects in Central Pennsylvania as a member of the Laborer’s International Union of North America. He also serves on the advisory board of the Future of Music Coalition. Joe is a musician, and a member of the American Federation of Musicians.

Joshua Dedmond (he/him)

Joshua Dedmond (he/him)

Board Member

A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Joshua is greatly involved in his community. He is the son of a Baptist Minister and a Registered Nurse. He considers his work as an organizer as an extension of his religious convictions and ministry and an opportunity to present an alternative of liberation to the people who are held captive by oppressive systems of exploitation.

Joshua has been a part of some the most recent fights for labor and collective power in the south.

He began his career as an organizer with the UAW’s Global Organizing Institute. He worked primarily on the campaign for Nissan’s workers organizing to have a free and fair union election at the Nissan America plant in Canton, Mississippi. He has also worked as an organizer for low wage workers in the Fight for $15 and a Union, and their Mid-South Organizing Committee.

He has worked as an Organizer for State and Municipal Employees in Mississippi, as a Local Organizer for the CWA, and during the 2016 election cycle he also served as the Central Mississippi Field Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign for President.

Jordan Packer (she/her)

Jordan Packer (she/her)

Editorial Director of Municipalism Toolkit

Jordan Packer is an educator, urban designer, and data analyst based in Brooklyn, NY. She recently received her M.S. in design and urban ecologies from Parsons School of Design, where she studied land use activism. Previously, Jordan received her B.A. in sociology and urban studies and planning from the University of California, San Diego. Jordan now teaches Information Visualization at Parsons, volunteers at Interference Archive, and conducts counter-mapping pop-up events across Brooklyn.

Kazembe Balagun (he/him)

Kazembe Balagun (he/him)

Intercommunalism Research Fellow

Kazembe Balagun is an internationally-presenting public speaker, writer, and activist originally from Harlem, New York who employs cultural history as a tool for political discourse and movement building. The youngest son of Ben and Millie, Balagun inherited and experiments with the intellectual, political, and aesthetic values shaped by 20th-century crossings of varied Blacknesses in Uptown New York that continue to shape practices of meaning-making across artistic disciplines and around the world. 

Balagun’s writings have been published in several anthologies including Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA (Harper Collins, 2014) and Finally Got the News: The Printed Legacy of the U.S. Radical Left, 1970-1979 (Common Notions, 2017). In 2006, Balagun conducted Octavia Butler’s last interview for the radical newspaper, the Indypendent, of which he is a staff writer emeritus. He has presented at institutions including the Black Archives in Amsterdam, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Maysles Documentary Center, and Metrograph Theater.

From 2008-2013, Balagun facilitated dialogue around the relationship between culture, Marxism, and the Black Radical tradition as Director of Outreach and Education at the Brecht Forum, through programs that centered performance art, LGBT history, film, and jazz. Thereafter, he served as a project manager with the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung–New York, where he focused on transatlantic racial solidarity and the right to the city until 2022. 

Kyler Chin (he/him)

Kyler Chin (he/him)

Tech Democracy Fellow

Kyler Chin is a computer scientist and programmer currently studying at UC Irvine. He currently researches public transit routing & computing, computational environmental science, and open-source systems. He previously worked at the City of Los Angeles writing data visualization software. Kyler also serves as Director of Sunrise Movement Orange County and has passed legislation such as 100% renewable power in Buena Park & Irvine. His hobbies include music production, singing, cinematography, making YouTube videos, and riding public transit.

Mariyah Jahangiri (she/her)

Mariyah Jahangiri (she/her)

Municipalism Network Weaver

Mariyah Jahangiri (she / her) is a first-generation Pakistani network and movement builder and cultural organizer that has spent the past 7 years leading campaigns for Just Transition, abolition, food sovereignty, housing justice, undocumented workers’ organizing, reproductive justice, Palestinian liberation as well as involved in mutual aid projects, across more than 15 geographies.

As a co-founder of the grassroots BIPOC youth-led collective Survival Bloc and a co-leader with the Climate Mobilization Project as well as other grassroots networks, Mariyah’s work is focused on building climate survival programs across the country rooted in learning from and building out projects for disaster collectivism and skill building around collective survival, community care and somatic transformation, and land-based struggles. Mariyah is passionate about honoring the renewal and protection of our ecological and spiritual attunement, and liberating peoples attention to ancestral wisdoms beyond our current political imaginations constrained by late-stage capitalism. She is currently working alongside dozens of local movement groups across the country to evolve their vision and strategy, and use this time of accelerating ecological crisis to build an aligned “movement of movements.”

Mason Herson-Hord (he/him)

Mason Herson-Hord (he/him)

Director of Municipalism Learning Series

Mason Herson-Hord is the program director of the Institute for Social Ecology and an organizer and writer in Bellingham, WA. He is a co-founder of the Symbiosis federation and was previously lead organizer of the Motor City Freedom Riders. His work, focusing primarily on movement-building and ecological philosophy, has been published by The Next System Project, In These Times, The Ecologist, Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, Socialist Forum, ROAR Magazine, and The Journal of World-Systems Research.

Michael Parrish (he/him)

Michael Parrish (he/him)

Tribal Food Sovereignty Researcher

Michael Parrish grew up in San Bernadino County, California and his family is from Kayenta, Arizona. His clans are Water Flows Together, Big Water, and Bitter Water. He has lived and worked in the Navajo Nation for 18 years, conducting research on various topics including Navajo land reform, informal economy, and local government reform. He was part of a working group that developed public policy for genetic research in the Navajo Nation. He has worked with several tribal colleges and public universities. His interests are foreign policy and he likes to lift, hike, and read in his free time.

Michelle Sayles (she/her)

Michelle Sayles (she/her)

Artist & Assistant Editor of Municipalism Toolkit

Michelle Sayles is a socially-engaged artist and advocate with a passion for nonfiction comics and political cartooning. She is based in Lancaster, PA with roots across New England. For over a decade she’s been organizing with movements for social and environmental justice. She was a participating artist in the graphic medicine anthology El Viaje Más Caro/ The Most Costly Journey: Stories of Migrant Farmworkers in Vermont. She holds a BA in Geography from Kutztown University and an MA in Globalization Studies from McMaster University.

Mike Strode (he/him)

Mike Strode (he/him)

Mike Strode is a writer, urban cyclist, facilitator, and solidarity economy organizer with the Kola Nut Collaborative residing in southeast Chicago. The Kola Nut Collaborative is Chicago’s only time-based service and skills exchange (otherwise known as a timebank) providing an open platform for mutual aid, community organizing, and network weaving. The Collaborative develops programming to support Chicago-based organizers in facilitating non-monetary exchange networks through practices like the Offers and Needs Market. He is a Program Manager at Open Collective Foundation and serves on the boards of the US Solidarity Economy Network, New Economy Coalition, South Deering Manor Community Association, and Dill Pickle Food Co-op.

Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou (he/him)

Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou (he/him)

Board Member

Rev. Sekou is an author, documentary filmmaker, public intellectual, organizer, pastor and theologian. A graduate of St. Louis Soldan High School, Rev. Sekou has deep ties to the region. He began his ministry at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, where Michael Brown’s funeral was held. He has been on the ground in Ferguson for months on behalf of the Fellowship of Reconciliation — the country’s oldest interfaith peace organization. Rev. Sekou was a 2014 Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Education and Research Institute at the time of Michael Brown Jr’s killing. He published a collection of writings, Gods, Gays, and Guns: Essays on Religion and the Future of Democracy (Campbell & Cannon Press, 2012). Based on his in-depth reporting on the London Riots in 2012, Rev. Sekou has a forthcoming book entitled Riot Music: British Hip Hop, Race, and the Politics of Meaning (Hamilton Books, 2015).

Ruth Wilson Gilmore (she/her)

Ruth Wilson Gilmore (she/her)

Board Member

Ruth Wilson Gilmore is professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences, and American Studies, and the director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean.

Co-founder of many grassroots organizations including the California Prison Moratorium Project, Critical Resistance, and the Central California Environmental Justice Network, Gilmore is author of the prize-winning Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (UC Press). Recent publications include “Beyond Bratton” (Policing the Planet, Camp and Heatherton, eds., Verso); “Abolition Geography and the Problem of Innocence” (Futures of Black Radicalism, Lubin and Johnson, eds., Verso); a foreword to Bobby M. Wilson’s Birmingham classic America’s Johannesburg (U Georgia Press); and a foreword to Cedric J. Robinson on Racial Capitalism, Black Internationalism, and Cultures of Resistance (HLT Quan, ed., Pluto). Forthcoming projects include Change Everything: Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition (Haymarket); Abolition Geography (Verso); plus a collection of Stuart Hall’s writing on race and difference (co-edited with Paul Gilroy, Duke UP).

Gilmore has lectured in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. In April 2019  Rachel Kushner profiled her in The New York Times Magazine. Honors include the American Studies Association Angela Y. Davis Award for Public Scholarship (2012); the Association of American Geographers Harold Rose Award for Anti-Racist Research and Practice (2014); the SUNY-Purchase College Eugene V. Grant Distinguished Scholar Prize for Social and Environmental Justice (2015-16); the American Studies Association Richard A Yarborough Mentorship Award (2017); The Association of American Geographers Lifetime Achievement Award (2020); and most recently (along with Angela Y. Davis and Mike Davis) she was named winner of 2020 Lannan Foundation Lifetime Cultural Freedom Prize.

Yvonne Yen Liu (she/her)

Yvonne Yen Liu (she/her)

Co-Founder & Director of Operations

Yvonne Yen Liu (she/her) is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Solidarity Research Center. She is a Research Fellow at the Transnational Institute. She is based in Los Angeles, California, where the sun smiles on her every day. Although a native of New York City, she and the city have broken up and went their separate ways. She is a practitioner of research justice with over 20 years of being a nerd for social movements. Yvonne serves on the boards of the US Solidarity Economy Network, Policy Advocates for Sustainable Economies, Institute for Social Ecology, and New Economy Coalition. She teaches in the gender studies department at California State University, Los Angeles. Yvonne has a BA in cultural anthropology from Columbia University and a MA in sociology from the CUNY Graduate Center, where she pursued a PhD.

Alumni

We deeply appreciate the many alumni who have worked with us over the years, contributing their brilliance and their labor.

 

Abby Scher (2016 – 2017) Joann Lo (2015 – 2016)
Alfredo Carlos (2022 – 2023) Kate Diedrick (2013 – 2017)
Ashley Ortiz (2015 – 2016) Leslie Ezeh (2019 – 2023)
Biko Koenig (2016 – 2017) Linda Quiquivix (2022 – 2023)
Britton Loftin (2015 – 2016) Marshall Trammell (2018 – 2022)
Chuck Morse (2017) Matthew Slaats (2022 – 2023)
Dena Montague (2018) Mike Elk (2016)
Diana Benitez (2017 – 2018) Parag Rajendra Khandhar (2016 – 2023)
Eleanor Finley (2022 – 2023) Rachel Savain (2015 – 2016)
Eric Dirnbach (2013 – 2017) Sally Marquez (2018 – 2019)
Gilda Haas (2015) Steve McFarland (2022 – 2023)
Haley Roeser (2022 – 2023) Tomas Madrigal (2015 – 2016)
Hnin Wai Hnin (2015 – 2016) Vlad Hector Gallegos (2015 – 2016)
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