Milena Velis

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Milena Velis

Milena Velis trains and supports MMP movement media makers, and coordinates the production of MMP news reports, documentary projects, and other media telling the untold stories of everyday people building a movement for our human rights. Milena has worked as a local news reporter for Al Día, a Philadelphia-based Spanish-language weekly newspaper. She has also worked with the Prometheus Radio Project to build community radio stations around the US. Milena has also taught multimedia journalism at Temple University and worked as a Spanish-English interpreter in courtroom, community, and healthcare settings. Originally from Chile, Milena calls Philadelphia home. Milena holds a B.A. in History from Swarthmore College.[1]

Partner of Bryan Mercer.

Election 2020

LeftRoots, a social­ist orga­ni­za­tion, doesn’t nor­mal­ly get involved in cam­paigns.

This year is dif­fer­ent. In the wake of a cat­a­stroph­ic Trump pres­i­den­cy, LeftRoots took a step back to review the whole pic­ture. Sev­er­al times a week the orga­ni­za­tion mobi­lizes its mem­bers and net­works to can­vass, phone bank and text bank for Biden through Seed the Vote, a vol­un­teer-based coali­tion work­ing with already-exist­ing groups pro­vid­ing grass­roots efforts to get out the vote.

“In this moment, defeat­ing not just Trump, but also the forces that he rep­re­sents, is our num­ber one task,” says Milena Velis, LeftRoots’ train­ing direc­tor. ​“That’s because of the real dan­ger this white suprema­cist author­i­tar­i­an minor­i­ty that’s vying to take con­trol of the coun­try right now pos­es for our com­mu­ni­ties and for our orga­niz­ing going forward.”

Cam­paign­ing for Biden has not been an easy deci­sion. The estab­lish­ment Demo­c­rat, who vot­ed for the 2003 inva­sion of Iraq and rejects key left demands like Medicare for All, doesn’t reflect the social­ist val­ues that LeftRoots holds. ​“Biden is not a left-wing can­di­date,” Velis explains. ​“It requires us to both be hon­est and to not lose sight of our vision. We have to be talk­ing about much big­ger change than Biden’s plat­form policy.”

In its recent­ly released sit­u­a­tion­al objec­tive doc­u­ment, Left­Roots says that left forces work­ing to oust Trump should not ​“hide our pol­i­tics,” nor become sub­sumed with­in the Democratic Party. Rather, the group says it ​“sees the defeat of Trump not as an end­ing, but as the launch­ing point for new strug­gle.” The orga­ni­za­tion argues that ​“when­ev­er pos­si­ble we should be open social­ists against Trump, vot­ing for Biden, defend­ing democracy.”

So far, the call to action appears to be work­ing. The enthu­si­asm from the LeftRoots com­mu­ni­ty around get­ting out the vote has been strong, despite the many oth­er issues staff and vol­un­teers jug­gle. ​“Many folks who are on the front­lines of com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions, who are real­ly engaged in fights against evic­tions, or try­ing to fight for labor pro­tec­tions for work­ers, at the end of the long day are get­ting on the phones for two hours to call some­one in a swing state,” Velis says.[2]

MST connection

Media Mobilizing Project October 26, 2011:


Today members of Media Mobilizing Project, Poverty Initiative and Juntos met with Janaina Stronzake, a member of the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST) to hear about how our brothers and sisters in Brazil organized the largest social movement in our hemisphere. — with Tanya Jackson, Crystal Hall, Desi Burnette, Milena Velis, Bryan Mercer, Dawn Plummer, Mica Root, Christopher Willis, Erika Almiron Niz, Miguel Esteban Andrade, John Wessel-Mccoy, Meghna Chandra and Kristin Campbell.

People's Convention for Human Rights

Media Mobilizing Project August 31, 2012:


Our delegation to the People's Convention for Human Rights! Safe Travels! — with Bek Phil, Daniel Feder, Nijmie Dzurinko, Martin Lautz, Sokhom Touchazi, Maria Serna, Milena Velis, Desi Burnette, Miguel Esteban Andrade and Joe Hanzsum.

MMP Host Committee

Media Mobilizing Project April 23, 2014:


MMP is thrilled to announce our powerhouse-of-a-host-committee for our 5th Annual Sustainer Celebration and Launch Party for The Spark: Stories that Change Our Times.

Our hosts are movement-builders, media-makers, organizers, strategists, and everyday people fighting to win our human rights!

Alex Wiles * Alix Mariko Webb * Allison Budschalow & Jonathan Barnes * Amber Felton * Amendu Evans * Amy Miller, Melissa Beatriz, Jonathan Barnes, Gary Broderick, Desi Burnette, Wende Elizabeth Marshall, Anna Grant, Zoraida Cecilia, Melissa Robbins, Bryan Mercer, Audra Traynham, Mica Root, Kati Sipp, Bek Phil, Antoine Haywood, Jay Graber, Renee McBride Williams, Todd Wolfson, Sunanda Ghosh, Molly McLidz, Sheila Quintana, Nomi M-b, Alex Wiles, Fred Pinguel, Milena Velis, Ron Blount, Jeff Rousset, Katya Rosa Botwinick, Harvey Finkle, Brendon Jobs, Patricia Eakin, Willie Colon, Kristin Campbell, Amendu Evans, Allison Budschalow, Ociele Hawkins, Tc Owens, Rugiatu Conteh and Ron Whitehorne.

MMP Staff

Media Mobilizing Project Board, as of April 6, 2018;[3]

2015 comrades

Media Mobilizing Project February 25, 2015:


With Ron Blount, Hannah Jane Sassaman, Bryan Mercer, Alix Mariko Webb, Pep Marie, Phil, Jeff Rousset, Helyx Chase, Paul N. Marano, Lawrence Jones, Milena Velis, Kristin Campbell and Andrew Phillips at 4534 Baltimore Ave. Philadelphia, PA.


Media Mobilizing Project April 7, 2017:


With Tc Owens, Amy Miller, Di Luong, Milena Velis, Bryan Mercer, Helyx Chase, Pep Marie and Hannah Jane Sassaman.

Strategy team

LeftRoots strategy team, October 2017.

LeftRoots Strategy Lab Advance Team

LeftRoots Strategy Lab Advance Team, 2019.


Out to Win!


Editors of Issue 1 of Out to Win! included:

Ying-sun Ho, N'Tanya Lee, Mike Leyba, Wende Marshall, Milena Velis, Steve Williams

Spanish translation:

Yahaira Carrillo Rosales, Alex Deane, Rubi Hurta, Luis Lopez, Florencia Manovil, Alejandra Marroquin, Marisol Ocampo, Graciela Viturro

Design: Josh Warren-White.