BYA2014-winner-jackson-headshot.jpgJackson Koeppel - Executive Director and co-founder

I'm a community organizer, educator, advocate, and energy democracy practitioner living in Highland Park, MI. I was born and raised in New York City, pursued the study of environmental policy and economics at Oberlin College in Ohio, and was politicized through direct action organizing work in West Virginia and Ohio dealing with the violent and extractive practices of the coal and gas industries. Since coming to Highland Park in the summer of 2012, I have dedicated nearly a decade to developing and leading Soulardarity as a vehicle for energy democracy in Highland Park and beyond. In parallel, I have fundraised and supported numerous other community initiatives in Highland Park and neighboring communities, including the Detroit Community Wealth Fund, for which I am currently board chair. In my time at the helm of Soulardarity, it has grown from an all-volunteer effort to a nearly $300,000 per year annual budget, a 5-member staff team, over 200 members, a 7-member elected governing board, and committed member/partner leadership teams for multi-year campaigns and programs that are fighting for structural changes and building community-owned clean energy on the ground.

[email protected] -- 313.349.1063


Shimekia Nichols - Deputy DirectorScreen_Shot_2017-03-22_at_5.42.42_PM.png

Shimekia Nichols was born and raised in the 48217. She is Soulardarity's leading organizer for the Work For Me, DTE! campaign -- developing community leadership and representing the campaign in the media. She has spoken out on DTE's practices on Channel 7, on the front page of the Detroit Free Press, and at Michigan Radio, outside of a public hearing on DTE's 15-year energy plan. She is dedicated to growing Black leadership in environmental justice work and ensuring that the pursuit of clean energy is just, equitable, and democratic.

Shimekia is the mother of two awesome sons and is an empathetic community activist and comrade to other activists in intersecting liberation movements.

Now, in her role as Deputy Director, Shimekia has trained and supported dozens of community members engaging in energy-focused activism and contributed greatly to gathering the 3000 public comments our campaign submitted on DTE's 2019 Integrated Resource Plan.

[email protected] -- 313.349.1063


Screen_Shot_2017-03-22_at_5.42.42_PM.pngLex Draper - Membership and Resources Coordinator

Alexis Draper, founder of Down the Rabbit Hole Productions, is a highly sought project manager for all phases of event production, strategy, and curation. She founded DTR Productions in 2012 after recognizing the need for qualified professionals with rich cultural competency to liaison between non-profit organizations and the communities they serve at the local and national level. The very intentional design of combining her masters level education in Business Administration with a driven passion for providing dreamers and doers with the necessary tools for success has afforded Alexis landmark partnerships with organizations like Allied Media Conference, Black Love Convergence, and Live6 Alliance, and Soulardarity.

When she's not caring for her family, she's tending to her plants, experimenting with make-up, trying new recipes, creating content for her weekly Live Stream show, and buying sneakers, or trying to figure out where to start her next dance party (elevators are a place she misses dancing in this pandemic world). You can often find her listening to 80s and 90s R&B or afro beats, with a cup of coffee in hand, applying a fresh coat of lipstick because you gotta stay ready.

[email protected] 


Kubwa Baraka Johnson - Highland Park Organizer

I was born in Detroit's Hutzel Hospital and raised on the eastside. My father's family is from Highland Park, so I spent a lot of time in HP growing up.

I have a pretty eclectic skillset which includes S.O.M.E of Everything; SOME is an acronym for Sales Organizing Music and Edutainment.

I enjoy lots of things, especially those connected to the arts; like music, acting, and performances in general. One of my greatest excitements is working with children.

[email protected]

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