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Statewide Coordinating Committee

Applicant packet
Next week, we will be voting to elect our statewide coordinating committee, who will be responsible
for representing membership and coordinating our organizing across DD in support of us building
statewide power in Florida. Through the Coordinating Committee, we want members to collectively
lead the organization through shared practice, principled debate, learning and reflection.

This includes:
Serving as a communications clearinghouse to share and coordinate the work that all of the
SquaDDs are doing in support of Dream Defenders strategy across the state
Organizing Congress and other statewide convenings
Overseeing organizational culture and how we embed DD principles/code in our organization
Rapid response communications and decisions

THE PROCESS:
All members were invited to apply by responding to several application questions. Candidates were
also asked to make a short video. Membership will have the opportunity to vote for up to 5 people
who they believe could represent the membership in this leadership position. Those 5 people will be
elected to the Coordinating Council. Staff (in future years, the outgoing Coordinating Council) will
select the additional 5 people who will serve on the Coordinating Committee to ensure we have
balance in the group (geography, race, gender, skills, perspective, etc.) We dont want a leadership
council comprised of all one type of group. With elections, we cannot predict this. This process was
inspired by LeftRoots process for shaping their strategy council.

YOU CAN VOTE HERE: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FWCV2ZT Voting will open May 30 and
close June 5. Please view all the materials prior to voting in order to give every candidate a fair
chance.

LIST OF CANDIDATES CITY


1. Adejare Hollywood
2. Brittany King Goddsville
3. Devan Cheaves St. Pete
4. Elizabeth Taveras Miami
5. Felton Pierre Miami
6. Jabari Mickles Sunrise
7. Jamaica Reddick St. Pete
8. Jamecia Gray Davie
9. Jayson James St. Pete
10. Kayla Coleman Goddsville
11. Levell Strong Hallendale
12. Saint James Valsain Hollywood
13. Vivian Azaelia Miami
ADEJARE
Age: 27
Dream Defender since 2014
Member of the Broward SquaDD, trained RJ facilitator and
mental health professional supporting DDs RJ spaces

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What


do you hope to get out of the experience?
Gaining membership on the Coordinating Council will allow me to
be and remain engaged in social justice work with Dream Defenders. Operating and existing within
our organization in this capacity - or those like this - will hopefully and potentially allow me to share
experiences with like and unlike folks, while providing a space for me to continue to grow as an
individual, and to contribute in an increasingly meaningful way to the goal(s) and objectives of this
organization.

Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream Defender? What do you value
most about being a part of this organization?
I have been in Dream Defenders for a little while now, and while there are many, one of my favorite
memories is oddly one that was captured in a photo. At a community event at the Megaphone, in
Sistrunk, there was a short but important conversation I shared with a young boy. I was overseeing
water distribution and Ms. Ruby's grandson came over because he wanted to help me. Asking what I
was doing and taking a seat on the cooler next to me, we talked about the event. We talked whether
he was having fun or not, how hot it was, and why it was important that we made sure everyone got
one water at a time when they came over and asked for one. He listened to everything I had to say -
offering his own commentary in between, too. It seemed mundane... Talking about passing out
water on a hot day... but he wanted to be included. We had a good time - even if only for a short time
- shoving our hands into the icy coolers, snatching bottles out for folks as they came up. He smiled a
lot. He felt important even if only for a little while. Jasmen took a picture of us, talking. I'm glad she
did because that's probably my favorite picture of me ever wearing DD merchandise... That's one of
my favorite moments being in DD.

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
I definitely think our strengths lie in our ability to harness power, in our ability to create narrative(s)
for ourselves without allowing those narratives to be compromised by outside parties, to influence
thought (and as a result at times - behavior)... We have been great at persuasion and the building of
campaigns. I think our growing edges have laid in recruiting (i.e. - not having enough latinx folks,
IMO), but also in not making invisible harms/trials/and struggles enough of a focus... Things like
mental illness, abuse of various types, and generational traumas that impact culture and behavior.
Collective practices like Restorative Justice, which gladly is being integrated into DD culture more
and more are practices I use and feel should become common. Thanks to DD, I was chosen to be
trained in RJ practices and have since been trained to train others to hold circles, similarly. I believe
celebrating accomplishments in ways outside of just drinking and smoking and partying together are
invaluable and should become more common as well. I feel that [people] underestimate the weight
and importance of creating memories. I believe collectivity and respect for personhood across the
board via storytelling, workshopping, and engaging in substantive discourse among one another will
help us work through our growing edges.

What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?


I think my skillset as a healer, helper, and trained mental health professional will bring a unique
perspective to the Coordinating Council. Although I don't pride myself on having all of the answers, I
do my best to always seek understanding and knowledge around situations I may find myself
involved in. I believe that my involvement with human behavior allows me now and will continue in
the future to contribute ideas that are different. I also feel that my creativity and work as an artist
affords me a lens on life and various situations that others may not have, which could be helpful.

What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
As a leader, I believe that my strengths lie in my ability to give of myself. I don't think that there is
anything I am unwilling to do in reference to projects or other things I've shown to be committed to.
I will work alone to find success if need be. I am not afraid of allowing people to shine, so if I am not
as proficient as someone else is I don't have an issue with following towards achievement. My
growing edges are definitely seen in my ability to accept defeat. I hate to lose, although I am fully
aware that winning isn't everything and that loses along the way are inevitable. I also show a
growing edge in being assertive. Sometimes I am too assertive and as a result will resort to working
alone in order to see something through to fruition, for the sake of completion. But I have learned
over the last year, and am learning that completion isn't everything. Sometimes the reward is in the
experience.

What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
Accountability is a high priority for me. It has to be. I have gotten to a point in my life where I am
responsible for the wellbeing of other people... Holding myself accountable to the governing bodies
that will certify and license me are extremely important. Even more important than that is holding
myself to my own standards of what is just. If I can't do that, how could I think highly enough of
myself to do my work? I don't know that I could... I keep myself accountable by mantra, by reminding
myself that I am human and bound to imperfection, but not bound to complacency. I keep myself
accountable by consciously making the choice - daily - to get up and do what I know to be right for
the sake of those who wish someone would take that stance for them, and for those who don't
believe that someone ever will. I keep others accountable by holding them to their word, by
choosing to be honest with them about what I see, feel, and believe. People will lie to you in ease...
never think twice about it... never consider telling you the truth later. Not me. I will risk losing
friendships, partnerships, and other types of relationships if it means that at the end of my days you
can say "he was honest with me. I didn't always like it and we didn't always agree - but he meant
what he said when he spoke to me." If that isn't appreciated, I'm not sure there's much I can do to
change that...

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
The idea that I would be apart of the planning process for lasting experiences for folks is exciting.
Having the ability to influence the hearts and minds of folks who, at least in some semblances, agree
fundamentally with me in terms of values and morals would be an honor. The possibility of sharing
stories with folks, embracing people in whichever form they arrive in, and truly hearing people is
important to me. Apprehension for me lies in my own personal inclination to please people... to not
have folks I care about disappointed in me... to do a good job and pour myself into how ever much or
little work I am able to contribute. I am made most nervous about my ability to contribute. Being in
the place in life I am currently [transitioning from student to full professional, situating myself,
figuring out the balance between family values, personal values, relationships, and how justice takes
shape] I am often uncertain about where or what my "full capacity" is.

BRITTANY KING
Age: 28
Dream Defender since 2014
Member of the Goddsville SquaDD, working with There is a Field to
foster Black/Palestinian solidarity in our movement

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What do


you hope to get out of the experience?
I want to join the Council to help cultivate ties between staff and
membership and also to help membership get used to the culture and vibe of DD.

Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream Defender? What do you value
most about being a part of this organization?
My favorite memory was being able to fellowship with Rebecca, Tim, and Kristian after my first
Wildfire Conference. That was the first time in my life where I felt that I was around people who
were open to knowing who I was and wanted to value who I wanted to be. When I first came upon
DD I felt loved, accepted, and valued. I'm a Dream Defender because I recognize what cultivating
community can do to completely transform a person's life and worldview; I'm a Dream Defender
because I truly believe in the phrase 'We Shall Win by Love'; it was love from a community of people
who believed in transformation from the inside out, that made me want to be part of and grow
through this and with this community of people who were dedicated to transform our world into
one that didn't leave anyone to chance or circumstance. I value our dedication to transformation
through radical education, and direct action. I value our dedication to our youth, learning from them,
and with them, and teaching to envision a world that values who they want to be and what they
want to create in it.

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
I think we are the strongest when we are building and cultivating community. We have a way of
inviting folks to discover the light within themselves and flourish. One growing edge I think we
should work on is the decolonization of our internalized and interpersonal oppression. We have
started that with the Womxn's Faction, and that's a beautiful start, I feel that we can challenge
ourselves to go deeper. One way we can start that, is by redefining the way we think about Art. Not
only by utilizing art as a vessel to explore political transformation, but by also using it as a way to
rehearse and reimagine liberation. I think by doing this, it will activate our radical imagination and
allow us to see ourselves and each other differently.
What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?
I would bring a unique freshness creativity. All of us are creative in our own ways and I think having
different iterations of what that looks like will make us powerful.

What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
I think I'm really great at bringing folks together, I can cultivate community and create loving,
engaging, and collaborative spaces. I need to work on being more detail oriented, I'm usually great
with framing the big picture but I lack skill in ensuring that small details are taken care of. Example, I
can plan an entire program from start to finish, but won't factor in that folks would need to eat and
drink sometime during that day, and that someone should be assigned that role. In that example it
would either get done super last minute, or during the actual run of the program itself; neither of
which is ideal.

What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
Accountability to me means keeping your word and committing to transparency in communication. I
keep myself accountable by doing just that; if I commit to a task, project, or role; I stay true to what
was asked of me and what I committed myself to doing. IF I can't, I make sure to communicate
exactly why I didn't or couldn't and offer solutions to move forward. I hold others accountable by
setting the standard of how I want to be treated and how I want to work. If I am making sure to
check-in with my team on a project, task, or role; I expect whoever I'm working with to do the same,
I communicate before, during, and after to avoid any miscommunication. When it comes to
accountability, I think about how I would want to be treated in a collaborative environment, and act
according to that standard.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
I'm both excited and nervous about facing the challenges of coordinating events/projects for a
statewide organization, I've gotten a taste of what that looks like on a micro scale. I'm nervous
about what our process for addressing concerns looks like and how we as a Council will have to
maneuver through them.

DEVAN CHEAVES
Age: 27
Dream Defender since 2014
Member of the St Pete SquaDD, previously served as Communications
Coordinator

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What do you
hope to get out of the experience?
Interested in representing squaDD, giving input that will shift our
organization forward, and supporting the general flourish. I hope to grow
more as a leader and as a comrade in the struggle.
Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream Defender? What do you value
most about being a part of this organization?
One of my favorite DD memories is the Free BBQ we had in Childs Park. I'm a Dream Defender
because it is a collective of other dope folx who are committed to liberation for all, same as me. I
value the fact that it's an organization that is constantly evolving.

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
Strengths: a "be who you are" culture; social capital; openness to critique and willingness to change

Growth edges: structure, follow through, team building + development (outside of socials)

What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?


Organizing skills, DIY skills, etc

What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
Strengths: empowering others/leadership development; logistics; group builder

Growth edges: time management, communication

What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
Accountability means structure, constructive criticism, and team work. I hold myself and others
accountable through assessment and praxis.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
Excited to collaborate and have input over all the above things. Excited to build. No nervousness.

ELIZABETH TAVAREZ
Age: 27
Dream Defender since 2012
Member of the Miami SquaDD, former Communications Fellow
for DD

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What


do you hope to get out of the experience?
I hope to center our folks, SquaDD, and community in coordinating
our strategy to end the prison state/apparatus and end youth
incarcerations. I'm interested in joining the coordinating council
because I believe that we can accomplish the goals we set out for our communities in struggle.
Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream Defender? What do you value
most about being a part of this organization?
Dream Defenders has included me and my personal narrative since the very begining. DD is
responsible for so much of my growth in and outside of the movement. Since day one DD has been fam
and has shown me unconditional love. Although there are many cherished moments to share about my
experiences with squadd and DD as a whole, the two times that I felt the most seen by the organization
was when I was asked to introduce Angela Davis at the fundraising event and when I was offered a
position to work on a communications team through the Kairos Fellowship program. There are so many
other moments that I will keep in my heart forever but these two experiences are my favorite.

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
Definitely a strength would be that our strategy, as far as what we hope to accomplish in the next five
years, is clear. I am optimistic in that I believe that our growing edges is that we have focused on so
much leadership development amongst squadd, we now have an opportunity to involve membership
and bring them to the table to help think about fresh ways to organize tactics around our goals. Some
collective practices we can bring is to uplift members with spotlights on folks that have gone through
leadership development trainings, hold circles where we build trust and work through team building
exercises, also to create more visibility around the work and members of squadds.

What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?


An expertise in strategic communications, an awareness in trust and team building practices.

What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
Accountability means that I love my comrades enough to show up as my best and whole true self.
That essentially means that I am accountable to the love and respect that I have for my squadd and
for the organization. I hold others accountable by maintaining trust and opening up a way to have a
conversation. I keep myself accountable by checking myself and remembering the intention behind
why I do this work.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
Yaass, super excited for this!!

FELTON PIERRE
Age: 25
Dream Defender since 2016
Member of the Miami SquaDD

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What


do you hope to get out of the experience?
Having been a member of Dream Defenders for at least a year now,
particularly as a member of the Miami Squad, I feel as if I have
volunteered for and attended meetings enough such that I believe I
have the necessary experience to take a greater role in the
organization beyond simply as a general member. I've also attended two-three of the organizer
trainings developed by Dream Defenders which I feel has provided me experience as well. In terms
of what I hope to gain by being a member of the Coordinating Council, I wish to gain even more
experience as a community organizer and political activist and to grow more within the organization
as a whole.

Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream Defender? What do you value
most about being a part of this organization?
One of my favorite memories as a Dream Defender in particular was when I attended the convening
held by the organization last summer at a retreat in Orlando. I had attended DD events before but
this was the first instance where I had the opportunity to meet other members from the different
chapters across Florida. It also gave me the chance to learn more about political strategy, how to
better canvass in my local neighborhood for example, strategy not merely of Dream Defenders but
that of past social justice and civil rights organizations like the Black Panthers. The reason I chose to
become a Dream Defender is that I had already been affiliated with similar groups here in Miami,
mainly Power U and New Florida Majority and had always had an interest in politics and community
organizing. When I attended a cypher put on by Dream Defenders at the ARC center in Opa-Locka
where the organization invited local community members and was first told about the annual
convening Dream Defenders holds, I knew it was a chance to learn more about their work and how
they operate. What I most value about being a member of Dream Defenders is that I've been able to
meet similar-minded individuals who have a genuine interest in helping their community as well as in
local politics who I can build with when it comes to organizing work.

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
I think that some of Dream Defenders' strengths as an organization include a good knowledge of
politics, especially the history of prior civil rights movements, and of the process of community
organizing as well as a genuine desire to want to build in their local communities whether that
involve developing and hosting events in the community or partaking in that particular community's
culture i.e music or art scenes. I think an area where Dream Defenders might need to grow as an
organization is simply in terms of tightening their organizational culture, but I don't believe that will
be too difficult for the organization since they already do such good work in the community. What I
would want to bring to DD when it comes to collective practices to celebrate the organization's
strengths and help it grow through its growing edge would be my previous experience working with
similar political and social justice groups, for instance working with United Here back during the 2016
presidential election and helping to do voter registration or with Vote Mob, working primarily with
college students who had an interest in local politics to put on different events to galvanize the
community to get out and vote, such as an event we held at Florida Memorial University, a concert
called "Young Get it Done" where a few major hip-hop artists like T.I, Jay Electronica and Pusha-T
performed and also spoke to the students on campus to encourage them to go out and vote.

What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?


What I would bring to the Coordinating Council as a member would be a genuine desire in local
organizing, a solid knowledge of politics and history as well as technical skills including knowledge of
computer programs that could help towards DD's social media outreach

What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
My strengths as a leader include an ability to speak to different people from all sorts of backgrounds,
good political knowledge and solid writing and analytical skills. My only growing edge I believe is
learning how to balance my social and work schedules so as to be able to better commit to Dream
Defenders as an organization.

What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
Accountability is the willingness to take responsibility for one's own actions, either towards one's
self or towards others. How I keep myself accountable is by keeping track of both the work I do as a
Dream Defender and of what I do in my personal life and if I feel as if I've negatively impacted
someone I take time aside to speak with that individual and see what I can do to remedy the
situation. How I hold others accountable is by similarly calling out others on any negative or harmful
actions on their part.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
What makes me excited about coordinating across the organization, overseeing Dream Defenders'
strategy, upholding their principles and code of conduct as well as overseeing their statewide
projects like Congress is the genuine opportunity to be involved in a political organization such as the
Dream Defenders. I'm not particularly nervous about being a member of the Coordinating Council
however.


JABARI MICKLES
Age: 24
Dream Defender since 2012
Member of the Broward SquaDD, Member of the Arts and Culture
Committee and Lead curator for the DD Zine

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What do


you hope to get out of the experience?
I've been with DD for 5 years, and I think I can really contribute to the
vision of the future of our membership.

Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream


Defender? What do you value most about being a part of this
organization?
My Capitol experience will be my favorite probably forever. That was a moment, even though we
didn't win anything, I saw the power of people fighting for something together. DD shifted this
nation, no matter how big or small, I had never done anything that important before.

I value the intention most. Before DD I had no intention in my life. I was just floating. Now I am able
to be intentional about my life. My ability to understand myself, what I want, and who I have to be is
clearer than ever before. And I truly value that.

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
We are amazing at culture shift. We really need to be better at getting folks to understand
organizing and the commitment they would need to make to be a part of this core. That includes
fighting patriarchy, capitalism, etc.

I want to bring the idea of execution to our members. I think we have a lot of doers but more
idealists. I would love to see us get in the habit our accomplishing some of our dreams.

What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?


I have art skills, more so project building and art work planning skills. I have experience with
business, and executing these ideas.

What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
I'm a tactician. I don't come up with back up plans, just alternative strategies. I can be a lot better at
communication and person-to-person interacting. I can come off as asshole-ish when I mean no
harm.

What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
Holding people to their word. I try to be accountable by being honest about where I am in the
process and checking in and having reminders.

I haven't had the best experience with holding people accountable. I think I haven't been in an
environment that wasn't a job where that was structured in a way we could all be holding each other
accountable.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
I am excited about getting this work right. I have been around for long enough to see some of the
really bad days of DD. So I'm excited to see us all being intentional to getting this right and taking
care of our people.

I'm nervous about what folks will do. How some folks might leave or how folks might be against the
plans.

JAMAICA REDDICK
Age: 25
Dream Defender since 2014
Member of the St Pete SquaDD

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What do


you hope to get out of the experience?
I truly believe that if we are to be successful as a liberatory
organization, that we have to model the kind of horizontal leadership
that we talk about. To be truly revolutionary we can't model power in
the way that non-profits, or other hierarchical organizations make decisions.

By being apart of the coordinating council I hope to help make decisions in collaboration with staff
and membership like myself, that serves the best interests of the entire body as a whole. I want to
engage in horizontal power, checks, and balances in a way that will serve our organization and make
it stronger. Im excited and nervous at the idea of being able to directly engage in brain-storming and
decision-making processes, and to do so as democratically as possible.

I would like to gain more skills in how to come to make decisions that are not only democratically-
decided upon, but how to engage in debate and challenge each other in a way thats productive. Id
like to learn more from what individual squadds are doing, and implement what works across the
squadds state-wide. I want to hear staffs perspectives and understanding on how we can most
effectively reach our goals/problem-solve. I'd like to really engage radically lovingly, and honestly
with staff and membership in a way, that will help our organization grow and truly model this type of
leadership/power so we can develop and serve our organization for years to come. I dont like
transactional relationships, and feel a part of radical honesty engaging with one another. Learning to
directly challenge one another, and engage in a dialectical process is essential to our survival as an
organization, and it's a process we can only get improve on with time and practice. Essentially I want
to learn how to both distribute and challenge power in a way that serves the collective - a skill that
will undoubtedly serve all of us in both our professional, and personal lives.
Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream Defender? What do you value
most about being a part of this organization?
My favorite Dream Defenders memory was the 2nd protest the Bay Area Dream Defenders organized
in support of Levonia Daddyman Riggins. We organized the protest with his brother PeWe who has
since become a true friend of mine. It was one of the first times that I really felt I not only was able to
connect with a community in Tampa and it's residents in a genuine way, but it was really beautiful to
see members of the Claire-Mel community show out in the streets for their fallen son. I saw an
immediate shift in PeWe, and in folks who made the decision to march with us.

Daddyman was known because of his playful spirit. PeWe has told me stories of how children would
literally follow along with him in groups because he was so loved, and had a parental spirit about
him. And to see the same community of children, friends, relatives, and parents who loved
Daddyman come out in the street, protest holding signs, using their bodies and vehicles and block
off an intersection for a roughly 45 minutes with us was a testament to that love. Most of those folks
had never been apart of a formal protest, but seeing all that energy directed right towards the state
in an organized fashion gave us hope that day.

I'm a Dream Defender because this type of rapid response, direct-action was what first scooped me
up into the movement with Trayvons murder, and then Mike Brown's. It turned my pain and
resentment into hope; and lit a spark inside of me that made me believe things in my city could get
better. I attended Congress in 2014 and felt a palpable magic - a feeling I'd only ever felt in church
when I was a kid, but this time in an authentic way with the people who have since become my
squadd. I still believe in and see this magic when we combine our forces. What I value most about
Dream Defenders is that we create spaces for people to be their authentic selves, and really place an
emphasis on whatever that person's self-interest is. I value Dream Defenders because we not only
are a youth-centered organization, but because we recognize the unique qualities everyone has to
offer, and recognize those things, but then say "Hey -- this is what makes you special, and you should
bring it into the work we're doing". I love us, simply because we allow one another to be us, and use
that in the service of the work we do. The cultural element of the work we do - the music, the way
we hold it down in direct action, the art - are all apart of what I think sustains us, and ultimately I
believe a combination of grass-roots organizing, that uses a combination of cultural and artistic tools
specific to our communities is how well get there.

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
Strengths:
Social media, strong branding - our aesthetic and uniformity isn't quite iconic yet, but definitely is
recognizable. People are attracted to our organization from the strength of our branding alone, Ive
noticed. (Example: Tabling at UCF and wearing my Rebel Threads t-shirt out and about - people are
drawn toward it, and if they have any political inclination, they tend to readily embrace it. We have an
appeal that draws people in based off the strength of our aesthetic alone, that I think differentiates
us from other organizations. Obviously it's not about being "Cool". But I feel the same appeal that
the BPP had was not only because they had a militant coolness about them - all black, leather jackets,
berets, and sunglasses - but they functioned like a militia.

I think we've been really intentional about taking a step back from being the state's rapid response
task force, and trying to grow roots in our communities, and well as figure out our place in helping
Florida get free. I see squadds around the state engaging in base-building with our communities, and
organizing, and I think this is absolutely a step in the right direction. We also have a live spirit - other
actions I've attended by other organizations shocked me, because not only was there no room for
play. For the youth, or for other folks to contribute in the very cultural, spiritual act of chanting,
taking up space, and directly organizing our bodies to challenge the state. But we do so with a sense
of freedom and joy that is so rare. I'm so looking forward to the freezones we create.

Growing Edges:
How do we use our branding, our aesthetic to more effectively let folks know we are more than an
aesthetic, but function as a collective on one accord? Our look and branding should be synonymous
with a level of discipline and militancy, that we're all striving for and are in the process of achieving. I
know this discipline and militancy is something I personally need to strengthen, and feel we all can --
so that people know we're just as serious as we appear, and are more than just talking about
grassroots organizing, but we're about it. Are we employing tried and true organizing tactics, and
using them as we embark on the campaigns were crafting? How do we make sure that as a
individual squadds, we're turning the community organizing and base-building, into campaigns that
are facilitated by us, but are also ultimately giving our communities the tools they need to get free?

Teaching security culture, working to build power in ways that we'll actually be able to use it when
the time comes - with community leaders and organizations. If we are not operating as an
organization, across the state on one accord, not only are we splintered, but ultimately the work we
do is not as powerful, and we are (and appear) weaker. Our goals are ambitious, but achievable, but I
dont see how well be able to call upon community partners, organizations, etc., across the state
when the times comes if we arent collectively organizing around the same goal. Beginning and
finishing a campaign from beginning to end - less is more in this way, and I think by focusing on one
thing at a time we'll be more powerful. We must also be clear with our objectives - setting a goal of
ending youth arrests and incarceration is very defined, but we need to stick to that, and move slowly,
and intentionally towards that it, or it won't happen. These are huge goals we're talking about, and
with the state breathing down our necks now more than ever, we can't approach this casually. I fear
if we move too quickly that we will flounder, and stay a dope youth-oriented organization, rather
than the liberatory, powerhouse of Florida (eventually the Blackbelt?) that we can be.

What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?


Ive been with Dream Defenders for two years now, and have seen changes happen with
membership and staff. Ive been involved in the divestment campaign at UCF, and in the efforts of
trying to build a squadd at Orlando. I was a part of Womxns Faction Through my experience in the
past year at SEIU, I can offer an understanding of how to have a not only a basic organizing
conversation, but I have a decent sense of what a successful campaign looks like, as well it's twists
and turns. How to assess folks, and write a rap. I was taught a lot of technical skills, that lacked soul.
But I know combining these technical skills will help make us stronger as an organization. I would
contribute my perspective as a queer black woman, whose formative experiences were shaped by
growing up and attending the shitty schools, and seeing first-hand the school-to-prison pipeline, as
well as seeing how gentrification and mass incarceration work up-close.

What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
I'm great at meeting new folks, building genuine relationships, scooping them up into the
organization, and from there helping them realize their self-interest, and finding ways to plug them
in to the organization. I'm a visionary leader with big ideas, and hypotheses of how to get there. Give
me a task, that I understand - Im on it and ready to jump into action. Im good at delegating tasks,
and taking constructive criticism. As well as moving into action in moments of rapid response, or
during events if shit just needs to get done.

I'm a natural motivator with a way with words - I'm great at getting people on-board with the vision,
as well as helping folks figure out what their vision is and how it compliments ours. (This is if I
understand and support it.) And I'm a lover - I'm definitely here to hold folks down, hype them up,
listen to them and give them the push they need to keep going, and continue to cultivate that
relationship over time. Or at the very least offer emotional support to avert/solve a crisis, and keep it
moving.

My growing edges would have definitely be following-through, planning, and time-management. I'm
a busy person who enjoys having a lot of balls in the air, but in my excitement, I often take on tasks
anticipating I'll be able to meet the work demands, and realize later that I played myself, and took on
wayyy too much. I am ambitious but at times unrealistic. I must grow in my ability to create a
realistic, detailed workplan, and follow-that workplan through til completion at the specified
deadlines.

What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
Accountability means that when you say you're responsible for a task, that regardless of extenuating
factors, you are willing to be honest and upfront about the outcome of the project, ways in which it
was successful/unsuccessful, and also honest in identifying why the project was successful.
Accountability means being accountable to yourself, your organization, and the community.

Accountability to me means looking the people in the eye who you're responsible to, and more than
just saying "Hey, this is why X came out like Y", but making a plan to fix it and execute it, and if
necessary doing this before it gets down to the write. Taking full accountability of why a task isn't
finished or satisfactory, and regardless of why, figuring out what needs to be done to get it there.

Accountability to me means checking in, and being honest about your ability to complete given
tasks, and asking for help honestly. Being transparent about your limitations as well as your
strengths with all parties involved, but most especially yourself.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
I'm excited about this project because I've witnessed the ways in which our organization has grown
over time, and think the most valuable thing we can do as an organization is learn from one another,
as well as what other organizations have done/are doing. Thinking about how we've evolved from
Congress 2014 to 2016, and how we've downsized for the better. I thought it was dope how we
focused more intentionally on our membership, making sure folks all had received the same political
education, and also understood clearly what our new community standards definitely helped solidify
folks in the membership to Dream Defenders. I'm excited because I see the great things we've done
and our doing in terms of political education programs (ex: Racism 101 in St.Pete), connecting with
movement elders via our advisory board, as well as in supporting other organizations and creating
synergy across them.
I am nervous at times because I don't know if we spend our resources and time most effectively. I
believe if we downsize the funds we spend on larger events like Congress, and pour that money
more intentionally into daily organizing were doing on the ground that we can have more of an
impact. How can we put this money directly into the communities we struggle with in solidarity? Into
sustaining programs like Books and Breakfast, or even expanding them? I know a lot of things
already in the works, so that excites me, but I think membership needs to have more insight in how
funds are allocated for the betterment of our organization similarly to a union. Or programs that
further meet the needs of our communities. How can our funding go towards creating sustainable
living situations for organizers to work the most effectively? Like assistance with living and food for
folks in our squadd like Jayson, and Chris - folks who would flourish by having a stable living
situation. (Ex: Like the DD house were figuring out in St.Pete - you can live here but in exchange put
in work for the community. There are definitely ethical questions that)

I am nervous about how we tend towards a celebrity/social media culture. It's great that we are able
to meet our movement elders and engage with them so personally and directly. It's a privilege and
something to enjoyed, but when I was in women's faction last year, I think it would've been cool if
we'd spent more time with Angela as a DD community. If shed had the ability to, maybe speaking
specifically with the womxns faction, or (at the time) the mens faction. It made time for everyone
to be able to enjoy her wisdom, while also ensuring she enjoys herself. I dont know if this occurred,
but it wouldve been dope for her to see some of the work we were doing in the community literally
as we do it.

JAMECIA GREY
Age: 24
Dream Defender since 2016
Member of the Broward SquaDD

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What do


you hope to get out of the experience?
I Want to get more involved and develop more relationships outside of
our squadd

Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream Defender? What do you value
most about being a part of this organization?
I value the like kindness of the squadd and varying backgrounds and opinions but also being in a
space where people are really trying to do the work.

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
Our strongest aspect in my opinion is our reputation and how we have name recognition...
implementation of data and to target better and help get out the events better if that makes sense

What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?


Me and all my organizing knowledge
What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
Being able to pull from different successful leadership styles and implement those. Not being afraid
to hold people accountable is an area where I can grow .... due to my agar and nature of my work I
deal with older people who don't like to really listen to someone younger

What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
I make sure to not chew off more than I can handle. And making sure to do everything I say I will....
visual aids to help hold people accountable is my number one topic.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
Im super excited and think that with my network of people across the state it would be great to put
it to work and expand DDs reach.



JAYSON JAMES
Age: 33
Dream Defender since 2015
Member of the BADD SquaDD

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What


do you hope to get out of the experience?
To continue moving our work forward.

Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream


Defender? What do you value most about being a part of this organization?
SquaDD 2016 is one of my favorites. To help my people embrace our power and get us free. The
liberatory camaraderie.

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
Rapid response / call to action. Becoming community and member derived and lead. Dedication.

What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?


My eye for detail.

What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
Active listening / critical thinking. I can get lost in the weeds.

What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
Doing what you said you would do. Not well.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
Being able to grow my leadership skills and keep DD on track.

KAYLA COLEMAN
Age: 27
Dream Defender since 2014
Member of the Goddsville SquaDD, Project Manager for Rebel
Threads

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What do


you hope to get out of the experience?
I believe membership involvement in DD processes is incredibly
important. I hope to bring representation to general membership and
be sure that their desires are reflected within the general decision making.
Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream Defender? What do you value
most about being a part of this organization?
My favorite moment (which if I'm being honest is more DD adjacent than anything) was hosting
Dream Defenders from South Florida at my house the weekend of Jabari's first art show. I most
value Dream Defenders ability to inform the growth and flourishing of its members and how,
through collective love, we gather from all around the state to support one another to make
amazing things happen.

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
Dream Defenders strengths are our confidence, our swagger, our ability to relate honestly and
candidly to the people. Our "growing edges" rte that our level of organizational communication,
transparency, and dutifullness leave a lot to be desired. I would love to do some work around radical
honesty, not that I will leave it is the best practice generally for an outward-facing organization but
some experience with being honest with each other without the counterweight of fear would be
helpful.

What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?


As Project Manager of Rebel Threads I can bring membership into the fold of the co-op and make
sure that the participation and communication between the two greatly increase.

What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
My strengths are that I have a goof head for critical analysis, political and social jargon, and know
how to move a sympathetic group to action. My growing edges are that I can be cynical, anxious,
and overly idealistic, which gets in the way of forward progress.
What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
Accountability means check-ins, honesty, and the ability to firmly say no and yes at the right times.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
I'm excited that we will finally have an avenue of communication and resolution that is not a game of
telephone. I'm not really nervous.

LEVELL STRONG
Age: 25
Dream Defender since 2016
Member of the Broward SquaDD

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What do


you hope to get out of the experience?
I am interested in joining the coordinating in council to play a part of
the greater whole of the organization. I hope to become a better
organizer and mobilizer of people.

Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream Defender? What do you value
most about being a part of this organization?
The convening and it's lit

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
Dream Defenders does a good job of keeping members engaged and involved. We cultivate a warm
and welcoming environment.

What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
Passion and ambition. Growth edge is time management.

What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
Doing what you said you would do and showing up to put in work. I hold people accountable by
building them up and calling it when they slack.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
I'm excited to get to coordinate our strategies as the organization grows.
SAINT JAMES VALSAINT
Age: 33
Dream Defender since 2014
Member of the Arts and Culture Committee, Lead on the DD
Mixtape

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What do


you hope to get out of the experience?
It'd be nice to have some say in the direction of this organization. I
would hope to see some sort of concrete advancement in our stated
goals- an end to the trap, prison industrial complex, patriarchy, and capitalism

Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream Defender? What do you value
most about being a part of this organization?
There's too many to pick just one. So, probably the first trip I ever took with squaDD members up to
St. Pete for a Fight for $15 city take over which started at 5 in the morning and lasted all day. Also,
that last trip we took to San Fran. That feeling of going out into unfamiliar territory with familiar
faces builds a lasting bond. Especially when you're fighting the good fight. That would answer the
last two questions. I'm a Dream Defender because this seems to be the only organization with
principles that align with my own. I fight the good fight and that is what I value most. We are always
fighting the good fight. We sit on the right side of history. We fight for the most disenfranchised
from Florida to Palestine. We just need to get to a point where we're actually living and breathing
these principles of love, integrity, and revolutionary spirit that we speak so highly of.

What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
Our resilience will always be our greatest strength. No matter what, we gotta keep going and we
have to continue getting better. A growing edge or a place where we can focus on getting better
would be the decision making process. Do better. Also, discipline. That's definitely an edge that
needs some sharpening. Discipline can only be gained by disciples and disciples are defined by their
fervent belief. They must have something to believe in or they will never be able to fully dedicate
themselves to said discipline.

What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?


Me... and everything that makes me unique. An essence of love as my core and a seriousness gained
from first hand experience at the issues we're dealing with. Also, as an artist my creativity will always
shine through

What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
My biggest strength as a leader would be my passion. When controlled and properly directed my
passion can inspire and move people. A place that could use some improvement would probably be
my patience and tolerance. A good leader must be even tempered but I do have a tendency to snap
due to my low tolerance for bullshit
What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
Accountability means being as close to impeccable with your word as possible. It means being
responsible for what you do and say. I hold myself responsible through constant reminder and
vigilance. I basically get pretty hard on myself about things like integrity. The only way to hold others
accountable is through proper management. Being on top of people so that they follow through
with what they said they would do. If they fall short, then we talk to figure out how and why this
happened, and adjust the work load as to better accommodate the individual in question. Basically
taking away certain responsibilities.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
What excites me the most is an opportunity to spend more of my creative energy towards
something I'm quite passionate about. What worries me is the outcome of it all.

VIVIAN AZAELIA
Age: 24
Dream Defender since 2013
Member of the Miami SquaDD and the Arts and Culture Committee

Why are you interested in joining the Coordinating Council? What do you
hope to get out of the experience?
I'm interested in joining the council because when I first joined there was
a certain tone and flow, somethings didn't work but overall there was a
feeling and base for knowledge that was shared and given; there was an explicit way in which we
treated each other. The principles have been lost a bit and I feel a responsibility to restore it because
everyone so far that I've met in Dream Defenders has this eagerness for greatness as individuals and
as a collective. Thus being the most important thing I would get out of this experience, a feeling.

Share a favorite Dream Defender memory. Why are you a Dream Defender? What do you value
most about being a part of this organization?
One of my favorite memories in Dream Defenders (and there's plenty) is sitting up on balcony in the
middle of nowhere Tennessee at a place called The Highlander. I was sitting with Asa (formerly
known as Jeremy) we shared stories about our lives and it was that first time I shared stories about
my first arrest, and it's when I learned to be vulnerable, to listen, and we need human interaction. I
am Dream Defender because this organization helped me when I had nothing, I had just lost a friend
to police brutality and my first reaction was to leave Miami, but as soon as I got back Dream
Defenders taught me, loved me and showed me what I needed to do for my friend. I've stayed with
the organization for so many years because of what they did for me and in hopes I could do it for
someone else.
What do you think Dream Defenders strengths are as an organization? What do you think are our
growing edges? What collective practices would you want to bring to DD to celebrate our strengths
and work through our growing edge?
Our strength currently is our membership, the diverse talent and folks that make up our organization
and spread the work we are doing. Our tone that lingers from our verbage to apparel is also a
standout attribute that we carry from Miami to Tallahassee very recognizable.

What unique contributions would you bring to the Coordinating Council?


The biggest contribution I can think of is the time period I've been in Dream Defenders and just
giving perspective, however trying tactics for organizational growth wouldn't be dismissed.

What are your strengths as a leader? What are your growing edges?
The most important thing I strive is making people feel valued, whether at work or with my students.
I've always disliked the phrase "meet people where they are", I prefer "let people sit at the table".
The first one exemplifying there is already a preconceived idea of knowledge and understanding this
person has, rather than giving them an opportunity and letting them explain things from themselves.

What does accountability mean to you? How do you keep yourself accountable? How do you hold
others accountable?
The definition of accountability for me has been simply "say what you want from people, and do
what you say". In both aspects of interpersonal relationships, and as far as the work you are
committed to doing. Keeping myself accountable is hard I try to ask folks what they think of verbage
I use a lot, also try to mentally check myself throughout the day, for example asking myself have I
been using gender neutral pronouns with my students, have I checked in with Miami Squad today
etc. With others depending on scenario holding folks accountable can differ between a quick
conversation with one person, or calling for an accountability to air out grievances and push forward.

The Coordinating Council will be responsible for coordinating across the organization and
overseeing our strategy, upholding DDs principles and code of conduct, overseeing statewide
projects (ie/Congress) and addressing concerns and issues in the organization. What makes you
excited about this? Is there anything youre nervous about?
It's exciting to see an organization grow so much and take a dozen left turns and still keep pushing
through it so I know with squads and members we have it'll be motivating to discuss and uphold our
principles. I don't really feel nervous because so far most of the Dream Defenders I've met have been
accepting of being talked to about any issue, so as long as we can handle things in a constructive way
the tone that I discussed earlier should be attained quickly.