Dessa grew up in the Deep South, splitting her time between New Orleans, LA and Augusta, GA. She’s been a social justice activist for as long as she can remember, starting her environmental, LGBT, and reproductive justice efforts in high school. She attended the University of Georgia, and earned bachelors degrees in International Affairs, Women’s Studies, and Anthropology. After graduation, Dessa moved to Detroit to work as the Senior Field Organizer for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Michigan. Not only does she love organizing, she loves Detroit!
In 2014, Dessa graduated with a Masters in Social Justice from Marygrove College. At that time, she was the Michigan Program Director for the Center for Progressive Leadership, training hundreds of activists, candidates, and campaign managers across the state. She then became the Executive Director of the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan, which she helped to start in collaboration with some of Detroit’s most dedicated economic and racial justice champions. In many ways, but particularly as part of Allies for Change, Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL) and Catalyst Project, Dessa has been fortunate to learn from and be mentored by trainers, authors, professors, activists, artists, and thought leaders committed to racial justice, dismantling white supremacy, and creating equity.
In 2018, Dessa started Detroit Disability Power to grow the organizing power of the disability community and to continue bridging the gap between the disability community and larger social justice movements. She has particular interest in disability focused political work that is grounded in anti-racism and economic justice.
She is currently the Twink Frey Visiting Social Activist at the Center for the Education of Women at University of Michigan and lives in Detroit with her partner.
|2013||MA||Social Justice||Marygrove College, Detroit|
|2006||BA||Anthropology, International Affairs, Women's Studies||University of Georgia, Athens, GA|
|2014||Cert||Leadership, Organizing & Action||Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education|
|2017||Cert||Certificate in Labor Studies||Wayne State University, Detroit|
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
1080 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106