Our People

Addie Donley
Community Organizer

Addie is a community organizer and she does this work because she wants people to see that they have the power to make a difference in their own lives and in their communities.

An organizer or movement that has inspired you and your work?

What inspires me is the determination and resilience of Black people and also the passion we have to overcome obstacles and make a difference.

Alisha Lauchié

Alisha currently serves as one of UCC Director’s with her work primarily focusing on UCC’s Community of Practice model that encompasses our membership organizations, the incubation and practicing of new models and frameworks, and testing out new and different approaches to operations and how we center that in our values. 

A book or piece of literature that inspires you and your work? Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey

Betsaida Valdivia
Youth Education Organizer

Grand Rapids local, Betsaida values joy, self-expression, being intentional, fueling radical imaginations, and building ‘community power infused with love’. She honors her mother Leticia’s journey to the U.S. and abundant care in supporting her social and community engagement. Beginning in middle school Betsaida became deeply engaged with her community through youth-focused programs and with the support of close mentors. Since then she has deepened community relations and organizing - appreciating its intersection with art and music. They are energized to support youth and community voice and power and implement new visions - everything that has been human-made can be changed by humans. 

When resting - Betsaida spends time in nature, roller skating, enjoying diy music + art, and spending time with loved ones.

An organizer or movement that has inspired you and your work? Audre Lorde & Toni Morrison

Beca Velázquez-Publes
Emerging Leaders Strategist

Beca Velázquez-Publes walks alongside and coaches organizations, private and public sector institutions, systems and grassroots leaders on their diversity, racial equity and inclusion journeys. Her 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience in the fields of workforce development, healthcare, social justice and racial equity, provide her the expertise to strategically address systemic inequities in order to advance racial equity. Her life's calling is to be a thought partner and change agent in organizations as they transform their work by leading with a racial equity lens and reimagining their workplaces. She believes that by centering our humanity we can transform the places we work into equitable ecosystems for change. 

An organizer or movement that has inspired you and your work?
adrienne maree brown

A book or piece of literature that inspires you and your work?
Emergent Strategies, Page 41, Principles of Emergent Strategies 

Erica Bouldin
Climate Justice Organizer

Erica is a Climate Justice Organizer at the Urban Core Collective with a background in passion. Using her lived experience, she aims to help create the lens we use to review the social issues and the environment in the city of Grand Rapids.

Erica is honored to advocate for her neighbors and the land we reside on. She strives to better understand how she can find a way to help others utilize their passions to help create stronger communities. She hopes to use the voice of the community to bring land preservation, food sovereignty and nature-based education to our city. 

“I love to give open space for others to be themselves and attempt to amplify what makes them shine so we can all enjoy each other's light.” —me

Erika VanDyke
Education Justice Coordinator

Erika VanDyke (she/ella) was born in Bogotá, Colombia and has lived in Grand Rapids for most of her life.  She has worked in nonprofit, philanthropic, and education spaces including the Kent School Services Network and Grand Rapids Community Foundation before coming to UCC to support the Transformational Leadership Program and education justice team. 

In 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Erika worked with eight community partners to spearhead La Lucha Fund, which provided direct cash assistance to undocumented families in Kent County. Outside of work, she regularly participates in the Latina Network of West Michigan, serves on the board of the Latino Community Coalition, and volunteers on a variety of community advisory committees. 

Erika holds bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Women and Gender Studies from Grand Valley State University, and a master's degree in Community Psychology from Michigan State University.

Fredericka Brown
Parent Organizer

Fredericka uses her love for educating and empowering parents to use their voice to make  change as her fuel to do what she does. She knows what it is like to have to advocate for her own child and if she can help parents advocate for their child(ren) she has not only helped uplift parents' voices, but also the voice of the community.

An organizer or movement that has inspired you and your work:
I am reading and studying the works of a local icon Helen Claytor. Her work inspires me to strive for more.I am learning not to limit myself or the work that I do as an organizer and lean more into how I can grow so that my lasting legacy can help shift our social justice movement here in Grand Rapids.

A book or piece of literature that inspires you and your work:
A City Within a City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan
by Todd E. Robinson

Jessa Challa
Communications Strategist

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Jessa Challa is the Communications Strategist at Urban Core Collective. With experience in software development, web development, and GIS across nonprofit, for-profit, and government sectors, she creates digital tools that connect and empower the community.

Jessa was awarded "DEI Champion of the Year" at the 2021 EPIC Awards for her work mapping essential resources and BIPOC-owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. She speaks on panels about diversity in technology believing, in the right hands, technology can drive meaningful change. Jessa’s passion for equity, justice, and human connection guides her work in promoting positive social impact.

Beyond her technical work, Jessa is also an artist, playing the piano and ukulele and creating vibrant paintings. Her creative outlets keep her grounded and inspired.

kyle lim
Education Justice Strategist

kyle is deeply passionate about supporting communities of color organizing for social change. He has experience in building organizational coalitions to support grassroots movements against gentrification, police violence and for education justice.
He strongly believes in the power of radical imaginations that allow communities and organizations to find solutions to problems outside of dominant ways of thinking and doing.
A native Singaporean, kyle has spent the last fifteen years living in Grand Rapids MI and Oakland CA. 

An organizer or movement that has inspired you and your work?
Sara Ahmed - feminist killjoys 

A book or piece of literature that inspires you and your work?
Christina Sharpe - In the Wake

Nancy Morales
Climate Justice Organizer
Octavia Mingerink
Creative Designer | Communications

Octavia is a creative designer at Urban Core Collective with a graphic design background and illustration. She aims to tell visual stories of communities around her while utilizing radical imagination to envision a better future.  

An organizer or movement that has inspired you and your work?
Emory Douglas' work for the Black Panther Movement and Keith Haring's work for social justice

A book or piece of literature that inspires you and your work?
Art on My Mind: Visual Politics - bell hooks

Raven Odom

Daughter of two Flintstones (David and Nakia), Raven Odom is dedicated to interrogating systems and practices to uncover pathways to more communal care and interdependence. Her path to racial justice was catalyzed by personal experiences witnessing inequities as a student attending public schools and living on the southside of Lansing as well as learning about the roots and impermanence of current conditions.
She’s fueled by her commitment to work towards creating more ease for Black people in this lifetime. Raven is nourished by deep-rooted relationships with loved ones, good conversation over soul food and dessert, intense game nights (you don’t want to be on her opposing team in Catchphrase lol), new outdoor adventures and deep inquiry about the world around us.

A book or piece of literature that inspires you and your work? “Where life is precious, life is precious” - On Being podcast episode featuring Ruth Wilson Gilmore &America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made it One by Nikole Hannah-Jones

Sergio Cira-Reyes
Climate Justice Catalyst

Sergio Cira-Reyes is the lead strategist for the Environmental Justice Team  to support the work of the Climate Justice Organizers.  Sergio also represents UCC in various local and statewide coalitions focusing on energy justice, utility reform and environmental justice policy. 

An organizer or movement that has inspired you and your work: Movimiento Cosecha, An immigrant-led movement seeking dignity, respect and permanent protection for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US.   

A book or piece of literature that inspires you and your work: Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower. 

Umi Morales
UCC Ambassador

Umi is a young Shiba Inu with a passion for social justice, chew toys, belly rubs, and snowy days. She started her career as an ambassador for The Urban Core Collective, playing supportive roles for her teammates by offering encouragement, puppy therapy, and comic relief. Outside of work and the various meetings that occupy her time, Umi enjoys walks in the park, chasing geese, and puzzle toys.

Umi is inspired by Laika, the first dog to visit space. Laika’s sacrifice and her work to advance humanity’s advancements and by pushing the boundaries of canine occupations is something Umi will always admire, but never actually attempt because space is pretty scary.

Umi’s favorite literature is old, used board books. The simple language is pup-friendly, and she finds them to be very soothing to chew on once they have served their purpose.