WE THE PEOPLE - MI TEAM
Art Reyes III – Executive Director
Art is the founding Executive Director of We The People. He was born and raised in Flint, MI and hails from three generations of proud UAW members. Before WTP, Art was the training director at the Center for Popular Democracy, where he led national training programs for organizers, lead staff, and executive directors. He spent much of 2016 working in Flint responding the water crisis and helped launch Flint Rising. Previously he led Michigan Voice, a statewide civic engagement organization. He has a BA from Michigan and MPP from Harvard where he taught a community organizing class with Marshall Ganz. He’s filled with random facts about the state of Michigan and has a gigantic puppy named Kona the Coney Dog.
Gabriela Santiago-Romero - Detroit Organizer
Gabriela Santiago-Romero is a regional organizer with We The People based in Detroit. She’s an immigrant from Mexico and Southwest Detroit native. She is pursuing a master of social work studying Social Policy and Evaluation with a focus on Community and Social Systems from the University of Michigan. She’s a community activist and organizer who has extensive experience working for Detroit nonprofits and local government. Love and food fuel her work.
Megan Collier - Northern Michigan Organizer
Megan is a regional organizer with We The People based in Marquette, MI, as well as a volunteer community organizer nested in rural America and a former journalist. With an educational background in literature, she’s deeply interested in personal stories and storytelling, and how narrative can empower and disempower. Megan is also a member of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, a mother, and an environmentalist and pulls a chair to the table for Native rights, intersectional feminism and environmental justice. Megan balances her work life with chocolate, yoga, and time on Lake Superior.
Maria Ibarra-Frayre - Southeast Michigan Organizer
Maria is the Southeast Michigan regional organizer for We the People Michigan. She immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico when she was nine years old and grew up Southwest Detroit and Dearborn. Maria has been fighting for immigrant justice for almost a decade, including grassroots organizing and political advocacy. She works closely with grassroots organizations to create alternative systems of immigrant-centered support and working to put people of color and women in positions of leadership. Maria graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy with a degree in English, and then went on to get a Masters of Social Work at the University of Michigan. On her free time Maria likes going for hikes, drinking expensive tea, and trying to publish her poetry.
Nelly Fuentes - West Michigan Organizer
Nelly is a regional organizer with We The People in Southwest Michigan. She is a native woman of Mesoamerica who migrated to the Michigan region at the beginning of the century, landing in Kalamazoo in 2006. She believes in the human right to free migration within Turtle Island and is passionate about migrant liberation efforts. Anti-colonial practices and healing are at the center of her organizing vision. As part of her healing practices, she invokes the guidance and wisdom of her ancestors through the art of tortilla making.
Shannon Sykes-Nehring - West Michigan Organizer
Shannon is a regional organizer with We The People based in Southwest MI, and a sitting Kalamazoo City Commissioner. She has spent most of her life in MI, living in various regions of the state. Her passion has always been social justice as she has extensive experience organizing around issues such as police brutality, reproductive justice, housing rights, racial justice, LGBTQ+ equality, and environmental justice. She believes that this work requires an intentional focus on relationship building, trust, and healing, and as such, is a trained facilitator and healing practitioner. In addition to this work, Shannon has experience as a political field director, a public speaker, and a youth development professional. Her wide variety of experiences all come together to inform her daily work. She recharges by spending time laughing with her husband and four children. Her two therapy dogs, therapy cat, and therapy lizard also help.