At the beginning of 2020, MediaJustice is entering a new and exciting phase of growth. Emerging from our 10th anniversary year, we’re thrilled to introduce our new Executive Director, Steven Renderos, who has been promoted after nearly a decade of leadership within the organization. Filling Steven’s previous position as Campaign Strategies Director is former National Field Organizer on Criminal Justice and Technology, Myaisha Hayes.
MediaJustice’s Leadership Team is made up entirely of people of color, including more than 50% who are women or gender non-conforming people of color. Our staff and Network has always been full of leaders who come from the very communities being targeted by high-tech policing, social media hate speech, and the other issues at the heart of the fight for digital freedom. As we transition from being explicitly Black and queer led, with founder Malkia Devich Cyril moving into a Senior Fellowship role, MediaJustice remains committed to centering the most impacted Black and brown voices — whether through campaigns like #ProtectBlackDissent or within our Network — in the fight for a future where we are all connected, represented, and free.
In his former position as Campaign Strategies Director, Steven played a role in every major organizing victory at MediaJustice over the past seven years, including landmark wins on issues of prison phone justice, Net Neutrality, and forcing Facebook to ban white nationalists from their platform. Steven also came to MediaJustice through the MediaJustice Network, subsequently helping to grow the network to its current size of over 100 member organizations, and is thus ideally suited to lead the organization into another decade of building grassroots power in a digital age — especially for low income communities of color.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Steven came of age in an immigrant household at the height of the mid-90s anti-immigrant fervor in California. The propaganda campaign that fueled the passage of Proposition 187 at that time motivated him to pursue work challenging media bias and democratizing communications for immigrants, people of color, and other groups who have been historically marginalized. He went on to co-found Radio Pocho, a DJ collective in Minneapolis which seeks to reclaim cultural roots through music, and also led the media justice program at Network member Main Street Project. We’re thrilled to have Steven bring this depth of experience into his new role!
Meanwhile, Myaisha Hayes, who has been shaping the #NoDigitalPrisons and #ProtectBlackDissent campaigns at MediaJustice over the past two years, joins a Leadership Team which now oversees a staff of 14 people located across the country. Myaisha was also previously an organizer on various national and local campaigns including President Obama’s re-election campaign, Fight for $15, and the CLOSErikers Campaign. As the grandchild of a political prisoner, she is deeply committed to organizing people power that leads to radical transformative change and justice.
The newest addition to Team #MediaJustice is Brandon Forester who joins us as a National Field Organizer for Internet Rights and Platform Accountability. Brandon has been an educator and organizer for over a decade working across issue areas, geographic areas, and campaign sizes from local community campaigns to nationwide days of action. He is currently a member of the Global African Worker editorial collective, creating an intersectional space for, about, and by the Black diaspora and African peoples. Brandon fills a role previously held by Erin Shields, who is taking a year to travel the world (good luck Erin – we miss you already!).
As you can tell, the end of the last decade has brought a tremendous amount of change to MediaJustice. But we’re leaning into it, rooted in the foundation laid by Malkia and all those who have helped shape this organization since that fateful 2002 convening at Highlander Center in Tennessee, where the movement for “media justice” was born. Even as we face rising white nationalism, techno-chauvinism, and high-tech state surveillance in this new decade, led by Steven, Myaisha, and our leaderful MediaJustice Network, we feel more than prepared to meet the moment. Bring it on 2020.
Please join us in congratulating Steven, Myaisha, and Brandon!