Hungry for Justice is a broad and diverse statewide coalition of organizations and members with various areas of expertise and experiences -- organizations working to advance criminal justice reform, disability advocates, and others have joined in solidarity to ensure equal access to food for all who call Michigan home.
Dessa Cosma is the founding director of Detroit Disability Power. Originally from New Orleans, she's known from birth the significance of delicious local food! She is a long-time social justice organizer, fortunate to spend her career working for reproductive, racial, LGBTQ, economic and disability justice. She is committed to bridging the gap between disability inclusion work and other social justice efforts in order to build big, powerful movements that dismantle interlocking systems of oppression. In addition to organizing, Dessa also enjoys facilitating trainings, gardening, cooking and reading. She lives in Detroit with her partner and their amazing cat.
Natasha Abner, PhD
Natasha is a faculty member at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where her teaching and research focus on sign languages and disability studies. She is a Head Start graduate and first generation college student whose body and mind were nourished by food assistance programs. She thinks pesto is overrated and could eat collard greens all day, every day.
Jaime Junior is a dedicated Disability Rights advocate. She is dedicated to greater Community access, Social, and Economic Justice for all people; but she has a special passion for those that like herself that are within the Disability Community and that face systemic ableism.
It is these passions that lead her to be actively involved in community organizing efforts that center equity and serve on several boards to give voice to people with disabilities and other marginalized identities throughout the State. In 2018, Jaime was appointed to the Michigan Developmental Disability Council
Currently, Jaime works as the Chief Operating Officer of Warriors on Wheels of Metropolitan Detroit, an organization that has fought for the rights of people with disabilities in southeastern MI for 15+ years.
Jaime is also the Executive Director of Blaqgirlrollin, a Certified Peer Mentor within the Detroit Wayne Mental Health System, Financial Coach and Facilitator with the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition.
Catherine Hadley is a mother of two toddlers living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Catherine is a survivor of obstetric violence, a maternal health advocate, and activist. She owns and operates BirthSafe.org, a maternal health review website. She currently studies Political Science at the University Of Michigan and interns with the Michigan Women’s Commission. She is passionate about birth equity and justice, maternal health policy, and maternal health advocacy. Currently, her favorite food to prepare with her kids is Sushi, inspired by the great sushi at the Dr.Sushi popups in Detroit, Michigan.
Julie Cassidy is a senior policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy, a statewide research and advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure economic security, racial equity, health and well-being for all people in Michigan. Julie focuses on the social determinants of health, such as food security, affordable energy and safe, affordable housing. Having lived with Crohn’s disease for over a decade and witnessing the failures of our healthcare system in the treatment of diet-linked conditions, she believes healthy food is a fundamental human right. Julie is a mother and sweet potato aficionado.
Gina Thompson (she/they) is a second-year graduate assistant in the Master of Public Policy program at Michigan State University. Their policy interests include healthcare and education. Within that, they examine the intersection of politics and policy on low-income, minority-majority communities. Gina is also an intern with the Michigan League for Public Policy and serves as President of the Public Policy Student Association at MSU. They are passionate about creative writing, affordable housing, LGBTQIA+ rights, disability justice, and HBCU retention. Originally from Durham, North Carolina, Gina's favorite food is anything from their grandmother's Southern kitchen.
Ashley Blake has spent the last 15 years working to support, develop and manage progressive programming within the criminal legal reform, and housing and homelessness sectors. With stints in Portland, Philadelphia and Ann Arbor, Ashley is now based in Detroit, MI where she serves as the Midwest Regional Director for the Center for Employment Opportunities, managing the performance, partnerships and growth of CEO’s evidence-based employment services and social enterprises that support the career capital and financial stability of returning citizens. She has a BSW from Eastern Michigan University and an MSW from the University of Pennsylvania.Black Lives Matter.
Imani Webb-Smith joined the Center for Employment Opportunities as a Policy Analyst in September 2019. Imani has worked on a variety of public policy issues over the course of her career to reduce harms stemming from criminal legal involvement through relationship and coalition-building, grassroots and legislative advocacy, electoral efforts and strategic communications. Imani believes in centering the experiences and voices of directly impacted people to dismantle racist and oppressive systems and structures. Imani holds a JD from American University Washington College of Law as well as a BA in English Literature from the University of San Francisco. Her favorite food is all of them.
Ramiro Alvarez is an aspiring public speaker, artist, and healer from Durango, Mexico currently living in Southwest Detroit. With dance, comedy, history, and the power of group dialogue as his tools, Ramiro hopes to be of service to the communities that helped him grow and change. Ramiro imagines a world where movements are more connected--a world where environmental issues, HIV/AIDS stigma, disability, and racism are not seen as separate systems of injustice, but as one interwoven tapestry of inaccessibility and violence. Ramiro strives to center youth voices and power at every chance they get, believing firmly that intergenerational movements are the most liberating and sustainable.