Who we are

Who We Are

Michigan United is a statewide organization of community members and institutions fighting for the dignity and potential of every person. We are committed to a participatory democracy at every level, an economy that works for the many, and a society that dismantles racism while uplifting our common humanity. To ignite the power of our communities and shift the balance of power, we cultivate the leadership of those directly affected by injustice, and build popular institutions for the future.

Our History

In 2012, the Michigan Organizing Project (MOP) and the Alliance for Immigrant Rights (AIR) merged to form a statewide organization of churches, labor, and community groups to ensure that our economy works for the many, our civil rights are protected, and our democracy is strong.  Together, along with our member institutions and individuals, we seek to affirm the fundamental dignity of working families, shape our political future, and achieve an economically and racially just society for our communities.

AIRMOPImageMOP is a faith-centered community organizing project based in West Michigan, with membership in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and smaller towns in the area.  For 20 years, MOP has fought to ensure that working families and people of color have a say in the important decisions being made about their neighborhoods and lives.  MOP has led successful campaigns to increase health and dental care access for low-income families, and eliminate employment barriers for ex-offenders.  Currently, the Kalamazoo MOP Council is working to support the civil rights of immigrants, build power with immigrant workers, to fund a Kalamazoo County homeless housing and prevention program, and to secure the votes of the Michigan Congressional delegation for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).

 AIRAIRimageAIR is a statewide coalition of 50 labor, faith, social service, civil rights and business groups working to stand up for the civil rights of immigrant workers, families and students.  AIR also conducts extensive community organizing of low-income Latino and Arab American families in Metro-Detroit.  Since its founding in 2009, AIR has won important victories, including a new, stronger national policy against immigration enforcement at schools and churches, stopping state E-Verify legislation, and earning the votes of Michigan senators and a Republican Congressman for the DREAM Act.  The AIR Coalition has recently been engaged in the fight for administrative relief, community education and implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, and securing the votes of the Michigan Congressional delegation for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).

In March of 2013, after a year long merger of the organizations, a transitional board was established and a new name as picked to represent this new union. Together, we are MICHIGAN UNITED.

Member Organizations

  • Latin Americans for Social & Economic Development
    (LA SED)-Detroit
  • ACCESS- Dearborn
  • AFSCME Council 25 – Detroit
  • American Citizens for Justice – Detroit
  • APIA-Vote Michigan
  • Boston Edison Neighborhood Association-Detroit
  • Centro Vida
  • Common Cause
  • Communications Workers 4004-Detroit
  • Communications Workers of America 4001-Detroit
  • Detroit Action Commonwealth-Detroit
  • El Nacimiento-Detroit
  • Evangelica Misionera de Kalamazoo-Kalamazoo
  • Evangelical Lutheran Synod of SE MI-Detroit
  • First United Methodist of Kalamazoo-Kalamazoo
  • Greater Mt. Tabor Missionary Baptist Church-Detroit
  • Holy Angels – Sturgis
  • Immaculate Conception Church-Hartford
  • Jesus Es El Camino-Hartford
  • La Rosita Market
  • La Vina Church-Sturgis
  • Marygrove Neighborhood Association-Detroit
  • Metro AME Zion-Detroit
  • Michigan Nurses Association
  • Michigan Unitarian Universalist Federation
  • Mid-Michigan immigration coalition
  • Portage Chapel Hill UMC – Kalamazoo
  • Pride Area Community Council
  • San Felipe de Jesus-Fennville
  • Second Grace Methodist Church-Detroit
  • SEIU-Detroit
  • SEIU Local 1
  • Senegalese Community Association
  • South Asian American Voices for Justice (SAAVI)-Troy
  • St. Catherine of Siena-Kalamazoo
  • St. Joseph Catholic Church-Kalamazoo
  • St. Thomas Aquinas Church voting Detroit
  • Supermercado La Tuna
  • UAW International -Detroit
  • UAW Local 2093 CAP Council-Three Rivers
  • UNITE – HERE Local 24-Detroit
  • United Auto Workers Local 600-Dearborn
  • United Food and Commercial Workers 876
  • United Methodist SE MI Conference Social Justice Office

Meet the Team

Ryan Bates, Executive Director
Bartosz Kumor, Movement Politics Director
Diego Bonesatti, Legal Services Director
Hank Wisner, Operations and Data Manager
Adonis Flores, Detroit Immigration Organizer
Elder Leslie Mathews, Faith Organizer
Elisheva JohnsonKalamazoo Community Justice Organizer
Erik Shelley, Communications Coordinator
Emma Lockridge, Detroit Environmental and Climate Justice Organizer
Tim Christensen, English Innovations Program Coordinator
Leticia Heusties, Grand Rapids Administrative Relief Coordinator
LaShaya Darisaw, Flint Water Justice Organizer
Oriana Powell, Universal Family Care Organizer
Laura DePalma, Universal Family Care Organizer
Rai LaNier, Care Worker Organizer
Rashad Buni, Care and Digital Organizer
Allie VanHeest, Universal Family Care Organizer
Cherie Horrigan-Happy, Media Organizer
Amanda Youseff, Women’s leadership coordinator
Caitlin Homrich-Knieling, Immigrant Family Defense Organizer
Alex Pulido, West Michigan Legal Services Coordinator
Ed Genesis, Criminal Justice Reform Organizer
Kevin Curiel-Vazquez, Immigration Advocate Coordinator

 Our Board of Directors

Rev. Paul Perez, Chair
Director, Office of Justice and Mission, Detroit Conference, United Methodist Church

Freddy Polanco, Vice Chair
Organizing Director, SEIU Michigan, Detroit

Rev. Jack Eggleston, Secretary
Assistant to the Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Southeast Michigan Synod, Detroit

Paula White, Treasurer
St. Catherine of Siena Church, Kalamazoo

Nadia Tonova
Director, National Network for Arab American Communities, ACCESS, Dearborn

Christos Michilakis
Director, United Food and Commercial Workers 876

Cindy Estrada
Vice President, United Auto Workers International Union, Detroit

Albina de Jesus
Holy Angels Church, Sturgis

Elizabeth Salazar
Pastor, Evangelical Ministry Church, Kalamazoo

Sergio Martinez
Detroit Immigrants Rights Organizing Committee

Seydi Sarr
General Secretary, Senegalese Community Association, Detroit

Deacon Charles Thomas
Evangel Ministries, Detroit

Theresa Tran
Director, APIA Vote – Michigan

Advisory Board

Marge Faville Robinson
President, SEIU State Council

Sean McCann
former State Representative

Rachid El-Abed

Glenn Winters
UAW Local 2093

Nickolas Boyd


2 thoughts on “Who we are”

  1. My brother in law was born in Mexico and came here about 11 years ago. Him and my sister met and fell in love. They are now married (2 years) and they have two children together. He has gotten his DOCA once and his lawyer has taken the money for it to be filed again. however his DOCA has already expired and he is still waiting on his paperwork, his ID is expired and he needs to get things done that requires an ID. He is the only one in my sisters household that works and he provides for his two children and my sister. I was wondering their options about naturalization so they no longer have to worry or live in fear of deportation or being financially able to deal with this every two years. My sister only has a an 9th grade education and my brother doesn’t read very well English. So I am finally looking into legal action for them because we are worried.! thank you for taking the time to read my email.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Justice & Dignity for All