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.
Partner of Bryan Mercer.
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.
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.
- Bryan Mercer – Executive Director
- Di Luong – Research and Policy Organizer
- Hannah Jane Sassaman – Policy Director
- Helyx Chase Scearce Horwitz – Tech Manager
- Milena Velis – Media Production Director
- Pep Marie – PhillySUN Program Coordinator
- T.C. Owens – Production and Partnerships Coordinator
- Zakia Royster-Morris – Philly SUN School Organizer
- Zoraida Ossa – Office Manager
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:
LeftRoots strategy team, October 2017.
LeftRoots Strategy Lab Advance Team
LeftRoots Strategy Lab Advance Team, 2019.
- “The Germinator”
- M “Iron Chef”
- Merle “The Marxist Personal Trainer” Ratner
- Milena “The Architect” Velis
- Rapheal “The Warrior Heart” Randall
- Steve “The Bard” and “The Mechanic” Meacham
- S “The Bat with the Bad Knees”
- Steve “Lighter of Paths” Williams
- Toussaint “The Revolutionary Excavator” Losier
Out to Win!
Editors of Issue 1 of Out to Win! included:
Design: Josh Warren-White.