Ari Belathar, Executive Director
Ari (they/them) comes to the BCU with over 15 years of experience as a social justice strategist working with culturally diverse communities. They have worked for organizations such as Amnesty International Canada, The 519 Community Center, Planned Parenthood of Toronto, Black & Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Resource Generation.
Ari’s commitment to social justice and equity stems from their lived experience as a queer person of colour and a refugee. Their leadership capabilities have been cultivated on the frontlines of movements led by people of colour, feminists, people living in poverty, queer and trans people, and migrant and refugee communities.
Originally from Mexico City, Ari grew up multilingual in an intercultural and biracial household. They are an avid cyclist and have been involved in cycling advocacy since they made the informed decision of using their bicycle as their main form of transportation as a teenager. Ari never learned how to drive and has joined mobility justice organizations in all the cities in which they have lived including Bicitekas (Mexico City), Cycle Toronto, Bicas (Tucson), and Active Transportation Alliance (Chicago). Additionally, Ari is an accomplished scholar, poet, and translator.
When they are not cycling about town or bike touring around the world, you can find Ari hiking, backpacking, fighting fascism, reading, or attending a play or a film festival.
Mandy Wilkens, Events and Communications Manager
Mandy (they/them) started at the BCU coming from years of organizing in dozens of grassroots community campaigns across the Boston area. From their home neighborhood of Allston to Roxbury, they’ve helped organize struggles around a huge variety of issues, from reproductive justice to police brutality. In 2019, Mandy lead the organizing effort to plan and facilitate the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event, which highlights the lives of those lost in the intersection of transphobia and racism across the world. Mandy has also been a frequent volunteer at the Boston Liberation Center in Roxbury since their opening in 2021.
If you haven’t run into Mandy doing outreach, at a rally, or at the BLC, it’s pretty likely you’ve seen them darting around on their bike. In the rare moments when Mandy isn’t organizing they’re either at band practice, working on project bikes or at a local metal or punk show.