WEA Women in Action
Desiree Shelley Flores
Accelerating a land and water protectors initiative within Indigenous communities in Virginia.
Roanoke Area, Virginia
Affiliations & Roles
Climate Justice Organizer, Mothers Out Front
Board Member, Southwest Virginia Agrarian Commons
Member, Alliance of Native Seedkeepers
Member, The Harvest Collective
Desiree Shelley Flores (Monacan), originally from Baltimore, MD, moved to the Roanoke area in 2017, where she now works as a climate justice organizer with Mothers Out Front. She has worked in the fields of environmental education, natural resource management, community greening and environmental restoration in Baltimore City. Through her work in the non-profit sector and city government, she helped design and implement conservation education and service-learning programs for city schools as well as trained and supported community volunteers with their restoration projects in local city parks.
Desiree began her leadership in climate, food justice, and cultural revival through her involvement with Urban Indigenous centers in Baltimore and the Alliance of Native SeedKeepers (AoNSK). She and her family have been growing and seedkeeping rare heirloom corn and beans that were originally cultivated by Eastern Siouan (Yesá) Indigenous groups. After moving to the Roanoke area, Desiree became increasingly concerned with the devastating social and environmental impacts of fossil fuel development in her community, particularly fracked gas pipelines that threatened Indigenous sacred sites in the Southeast. This led to her involvement with Indigenous land and water protector movements as well as the Mountain Valley Pipeline resistance.
Desiree will accelerate a Land and Water Protectors initiative within Virginia's Indigenous communities as part of a collaborative partnership with AoNSK and through grassroots organizing work with Mothers Out Front. Through this work, she will focus on the intersectional issues of climate justice that relate to the protection of sacred sites, access to natural resources, and cultural revival. The long-term vision of the Water and Land Protectors initiative is to address both issues of food sovereignty and justice as well as preservation of traditional knowledge and culture as they connect to land and sacred spaces through education, advocacy, and community unification.