Alex Shames, Organizing Manager
Alex Shames (he/him) is a queer community organizer who has previously worked in both public education and grassroots organizing. After graduating college with a degree in Molecular Biology, Alex moved to Qingdao, China, where he experienced the joy of living in a city designed for pedestrians and cyclists, not cars. Alex has previously organized nationwide phonebanks with other youth activists in the Sunrise Movement to elect Green New Deal Champions like Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush to federal office. After working as a public school educator in his hometown of Newton, he became active in local politics as an organizer with Defund Newton PD, then served as Deputy Campaign Manager for Madeline Ranalli's youth driven campaign for Newton City Council while also teaching 10th grade chemistry. When he's not riding around town on a Bluebike (blasting music of course), Alex enjoys watching reality TV, making and seeking out art, and spending time with his friends and family.
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.
Grey Black, Director of Organizing
Grey is joining the BCU as a new Bostonian but a long time biker. He first fell in love with the freedom and fun of biking at age 8 and rekindled that joy during the pandemic. His organizing background is seeded in politics at the local and national level as well as in educational, gaming and art groups. His drive to join the BCU team stems from the great good biking provides for the economy, our planet and as a means to grow autonomy and community for everyone involved.
When he’s not racing down Beacon St. you can find Grey playing board games with friends, jamming in his basement or checking out the local music scene.
Malaysia Fuller-Staten, Public Policy Manager
Malaysia comes to the BCU as a Roxbury-born community organizer in Boston. She began her work as a Youth Organizer for The Center For Teen Empowerment at the age of 17 and never stopped, eventually holding roles such as Program Coordinator and Lead Organizer at a number of Boston based organizations. Though a lot of her past work has focused around criminal justice reform and youth advocacy, Malaysia recognizes how infrastructure and transportation intersect with all other societal issues. As resident of Roxbury, she is committed to making streets safe for not only cyclists and pedestrians, but for all who use them across the region, and uplifting the voices of those often left out of important conversations.
If you don't meet Malaysia on a bike or at a community meeting, you may find her spouting her own poetry, listening to 90s rap music, scribbling in a sketchpad, or doing cooking experiments (no measuring cups allowed!) with her best friends.
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.