Desirée Shelley Flores
Accelerating a land and water protectors initiative within Indigenous communities in Virginia.
Roanoke Area, Virginia
Affiliations & Roles
Regional Organizing Manager, Sierra Club
Board Member, Southwest Virginia Agrarian Commons
Member, Alliance of Native Seed Keepers
Desirée Shelley Flores (Monacan), originally from Baltimore, MD, moved to the Roanoke area in 2017. Prior to being a Regional Organizing Manager at Sierra Club, she worked as a climate justice organizer with Mothers Out Front. Desiree has a degree in Natural Resource Management from the University of Maryland. 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.
Desirée 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 seed-keeping rare heirloom corn and beans that were originally cultivated by Eastern Siouan (Yesá) Indigenous groups. After moving to the Roanoke area, Desirée 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.
Desirée is accelerating a Land and Water Protectors initiative within Virginia's Indigenous communities as part of a collaborative partnership with AoNSK and through grassroots organizing work. Through this work, she is focusing 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.