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Veronica Martinez is the Communications Director for the Michigan AFL-CIO and Michigan AFL-CIO Workforce Development Institute. Originally from the Rio Grande Valley in deep South Texas, Veronica graduated from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and immediately began working on Congressional, state, and local campaigns.
Veronica has nearly a decade of experience working in electoral, political, and labor communications and was most recently the Communications & Field Director for the Arizona AFL-CIO. Veronica is a member of the National Writers Union.
Carly is the External Organizing Specialist at the Michigan AFL-CIO. Carly has worked in community and political organizing since 2017, when she first began environmental justice work around the Flint water crisis. In 2018 she worked with NextGen Michigan to lead youth organizing in the Saginaw region. Carly has also worked on state and local level campaigns.
Carly is a fifth generation Saginaw Bay area resident. She recently graduated from Oakland University with her Bachelor of Arts in History.
Ryan is Director of Government Affairs at the Michigan AFL-CIO. Ryan has more than a decade of legislative experience working for both the Michigan State House and Senate, including as Senior Communications Advisor for the Senate Democratic Caucus under the leadership of Gretchen Whitmer. Ryan has also worked on state and local level campaigns and currently serves as an Ingham County Commissioner.
A lifelong Michigan resident, Ryan was born in Lansing and is a graduate of Albion College. He lives in Lansing’s Westside Neighborhood with his husband, Cody. He has worked on the board of local non-profit organizations focused on LGBTQ rights including Michigan Pride and Suits in the City.
Conner Wood is the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Michigan AFL-CIO. Conner most recently served as our Campaigns Director, prior to which he served as Field Coordinator for the Huron Valley ALF and Monroe-Lenawee CLC. A fifth-generation Michigander, Conner was born and raised in Isabella County. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Electoral College.
In addition to his work in the labor movement, Conner currently serves as Board Secretary for the United Way of South Central Michigan, and as Chair of the City of Jackson Planning Commission. He and his wife Kelsey live in Jackson and are a proud CWA household.
Derek Dobies is the Chief of Staff of the Michigan AFL-CIO, the largest federation of trade unions in Michigan. He also serves as Secretary-Treasurer to its three subsidiary nonprofit organizations, including the Michigan AFL-CIO Workforce Development Institute where he has been instrumental in securing over $12 million dollars in state funding to support apprenticeship readiness training.
Dobies is the former mayor of the City of Jackson, birthplace of the Republican Party, serving from 2017 through 2021. Prior to his election he served six years as a City Councilman and four years as the city’s Vice Mayor. He’s been a strong advocate for the policies, programs and projects necessary to support working families and advance a pro-labor agenda. In 2021, while leading the city through the pandemic, he created Workers Memorial Park as a tribute to frontline heroes and others who have lost their lives to workplace hazards.
In 2017, Dobies earned the Changemaker of the Year award from Equality Michigan, the state’s leading LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, for his work in spearheading the adoption of the city’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance, providing protections from discrimination in housing, public accommodations and employment to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. In 2021, he earned the Legislator of the Year award from the Michigan AFL-CIO for his work on several policies that supported working families, including a Responsible Contractor Ordinance and a Living Wage Ordinance.
Dobies previously served as Campaigns Director of the Michigan AFL-CIO and as District Administrator for Congressman John D. Dingell. He has held positions working for both Democrats and Republicans in the Michigan State Senate and Michigan State House of Representatives, respectively.
Derek is an Eagle Scout, and a Partner with the Truman National Security Project. He earned a degree in Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy from James Madison College at Michigan State University.
Derek is a proud union member of LiUNA Local 499.
Gwen Jordan is the Human Resources Director for the AFL-CIO and the WDI.
Gwen has spent 20 years working to align Human Resources and Human Capital, driving the work of connecting an individual’s capabilities and what the role in an organization those capabilities can solve for. Gwen focuses on empowering employees who want to help grow the organization and evolve to achieve the organization’s and employees’ professional goals.
When they are not supporting the AFL-CIO and WDI in their director capacity, Gwen provides training for multiple organizations focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion in a series of presentations called “The Art of Communication.”
Gwen is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin- Oshkosh, holding a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees. With a passion for music, they lend their voice to several ensembles and community choirs around the country.
Payton is our Digital Director at Michigan AFL-CIO. Vastly self-taught, he has been working in the e-commerce realm for ten years. Born and raised in Jackson, Michigan, he went to Jackson College to get his Associates and Certificate in Graphic Design.
While going to college, Payton worked on the Alaskan Railroad as the Lead Chef of the Wilderness Express for two years. He enjoys hiking, learning new skills, and anything that involves tech.
Derek Dobies is the current Mayor of the City of Jackson. Prior to his election he served six years as a City Councilman and four years as the city’s Vice Mayor. He’s been a strong advocate for the policies, programs and projects necessary to transform our urban cores into vibrant places where people and businesses want to locate.
As a city leader, he has spearheaded numerous policies that have worked to make Jackson a more tolerant, inclusive place that views diversity as a strength. By partnering with local anchor businesses, the city is currently undergoing unprecedented investment and growth. Dobies has worked to ensure that this growth is equitable – and that traditionally underserved populations are able to participate in new opportunities in the city.
While a smaller city, Dobies has helped to make sure that Jackson punches above its weight class: working to lead on issues of discrimination, poverty, fair housing, and criminal justice reform. He aims to have the city lead in adaptive policies to confront climate change by working with area industry to make Jackson the Clean Energy Capital of Michigan.
MyKale (Kelly) L. Garrett currently serves as Mayor of Lathrup Village; the first African American to hold this role. Prior to her ascension to Mayor, Ms. Garrett was Mayor Pro Tem from 2013 to 2017. Along with her work as a public servant, Ms. Garrett is passionate about serving the community through charitable service. She presently serves on the Board of the national non-profit Mothering Justice (positions held: Board President and Board Secretary) and Subsidiary Advisory Board Member for Community Health at St. John/Ascension Hospital. Recently, she was appointed by Governor Whitmer to the Michigan State Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity.
Throughout her political career, Ms. Garrett has received numerous awards. The awards include the 2021 SIStars Leadership Award from the National BLack Women’s Roundtable, the WONder Woman Award from the Women Officials Network, the 2014 Michigan Chronicle Woman of Excellence Award and the National Congress of Black Women – Oakland County Chapter, the Woman Pioneer of Distinction Award and honored by the Women’s Campaign School of Yale University for leadership.
Ms. Garrett currently lives in Lathrup Village with her husband and sons. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management from Rochester College and a Master of Information Systems from University of Phoenix.
Angela Rogensues is the President of Ignition Media Group, a Detroit-based full-service brand and marketing agency that specializes in strategic matchmaking, experiential marketing, public relations and event production.
Dedicated to philanthropy, Angela feels strongly that giving back to the community is one of the most imperative and rewarding aspects of being a leader in the city. Angela is an advocate for working class and low-income families, animal welfare, civic engagement, and arts and culture and works alongside nonprofits and other organizations that have similar goals. Currently, Angela participates in the following: Board Member and President of the Detroit Institute of Arts Founder’s Junior Council; State of Michigan Chair; National Board Member and National Labor Council Chair of the Democratic Municipal Officials; Board Member at Large for 4Paws1Heart; elected City Council member in Warren, Michigan.
In addition, Angela is an active member on many City of Warren’s commissions and committees including the Animal Welfare and Historical Commissions, Housing Commission, and the Environmental Action Committee, and most notably as a trustee on the General Employee Retirements System ensuring the wise investment of nearly $200MM in pension and health trust funds. In February 2021, Angela was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer as Chair of the board and executive committee of the Michigan Municipal Services Authority.
Steven Rzeppa was elected to Trenton City Council in 2013 at age 21, and was re-elected in 2017 as top vote-getter and Mayor Pro-Tem. He was officially sworn in as Mayor in December 2019. Steven is employed as the Political and Communications Director for AFSCME Council 25. He is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor with a B.A. in Public Policy. He is the Vice Chair, and former Chair, of the 12th Congressional District Democratic Party.
As a lifelong Trenton resident and product of the Trenton Public School system, he has been involved in many community projects and organizations. He has been recognized for his service to the community by being named the 2012 Trenton Man of the Year, 2010 VFW Outstanding Voice for Freedom, and the 2009 Outstanding Trenton Youth.
Zinnia is Deputy Chief of Staff at the Michigan AFL-CIO. Zinnia is a seasoned political professional having worked for the Hon. John D. Dingell for 14 years. She has significant experience in fundraising, communications, event planning and grassroots. Zinnia started working for Congressman Dingell while she was still completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, and served as the Administrator of Mr. Dingell’s year round political operations until his retirement.
Zinnia is a proud first generation Chaldean American and lifelong Michigander. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, and a master’s degree from Central Michigan University. Zinnia is a member of UAW Local 1981. She enjoys traveling and the Detroit Tigers.
Micheal is Organizing Director at the Michigan AFL-CIO. Born and raised in Lansing, Micheal’s work in the labor movement, progressive issues and education reform has kept him active across the state.
After graduating from the University of Michigan, he served 2 years as an AmeriCorps VISTA working to address students’ achievement issues in Ann Arbor Public high schools. Since then, Micheal has been very active in nonpartisan campaigns, organizing students on college campuses nationwide, local community building and sustainability drives, and a host of other exciting work! Micheal is excited to contribute to a dedicated team and help engage activists and workers in support of Michigan’s working families. Micheal is a member of UAW Local 1981.
Daryl Newman is a skilled political organizer and grassroots activist and the youngest person ever elected to the Office of Secretary-Treasurer of the Michigan State AFL-CIO.
Immediately prior, he served as Member Mobilizer for the American Federation of Teachers, Michigan. At a time when classroom teachers and all educational employees are under attack from forces that would gut our public educational system, Daryl worked to make sure their voices were heard in Lansing.
The son of a union postal worker and a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools, Daryl learned the value of trade unionism early on.
Upon his graduation from Michigan State University, Daryl found a talent for political organizing. He went to work for candidates and campaigns that shared his values, and rose quickly to positions of responsibility. As state political director of the Michigan Democratic Party, Daryl mobilized for key victories even in highly competitive races. Since 2000, he has been involved in every coordinated presidential campaign and has helped ensure that Michigan voters elected a labor-endorsed candidate. His career at the Michigan Democratic Party is notable as he was the youngest political director of a state Democratic Party organization in the country during his tenure. Daryl is a member of AFT Michigan.
Ron Bieber is President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. Ron has dedicated his entire career to fighting for working families. Ron is a third-generation UAW member, and the son of former UAW President Owen Bieber. Prior to his election as President of the Michigan AFL-CIO, he served as Director of the UAW’s Community Action Program, and before that, as Assistant Director of the UAW’s General Motors Department.
Bieber joined UAW Local 730 at age 18, after hiring into General Motors Metal Fabricating plant in Wyoming, Michigan. He currently lives in Grand Blanc with his wife, Patti. Ron is a member of UAW Local 659.
Stephanie Glidden is an experienced, resourceful, and effective political and legislative staffer who has worked for multiple political candidates throughout Michigan and spent time in both the House and Senate.
Most recently she was a senior staffer and regional field director for Gretchen Driskell for Congress. She is a graduate from Central Michigan University – Fire Up! – and the daughter of a union carpenter. Stephanie is also a proud member of UAW Local 1981.
Patty is Secretary to the Health and Safety Director. Patty was hired into the Michigan AFL-CIO in 1969 by then President August (Gus) Scholle.
She has held the following positions: Jr. Bookkeeper, Legislative Secretary, Staff Secretary, Secretary to Secretary-Treasurer Walter Oliver and Secretary to Presidents William C. Marshall, Frank D. Garrison and Mark Gaffney.
She is currently the Recording Secretary for Union Label and Service Trades Department and the Secretary to Health and Safety Director Derrick Quinney.
Stephanie is Controller at the Michigan AFL-CIO. Stephanie was raised to be union. It was her mother, Judy Pike, a longtime OPEIU member and employee of the Michigan State AFL-CIO, that instilled her with union values like social justice, collective bargaining, and solidarity. Employed with the Michigan State AFL-CIO since 2008 as the Executive Secretary to the Secretary-Treasurer, Stephanie is proud to be carrying on the union tradition as a member of OPEIU Local 459.
Meg is the Executive Secretary, and has worked at the MI AFL-CIO for over 5 years.
She is a proud member of OPEIU Local 459 for over 9 years, working at both the MI AFL-CIO and Lansing Auto Makers Credit Union. Meg has two wonderful children, and plans to continue her career with the MI AFL-CIO, and help people understand that so-called Right to Work is wrong for working families.