Afton BrancheDetroit City Council, Community and Policy Manager
Afton is the Community and Policy Manager at the office of Detroit City Council Member Raquel Castañeda-López. She leads the office’s neighborhood infrastructure building program which builds on the capacity of grassroots leaders in underserved neighborhoods to advocate for community change. She also works on ordinances to advance the Council Member’s legislative agenda.
Previously, as the North America Program Manager at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, she managed a pro bono legal network linking innovative US social enterprises and NGOs with attorneys at top law firms around the world. At the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, Afton led DMI Scholars, a leadership development program for college activists from underrepresented communities. She began her career at DMI as Immigration Policy Analyst, speaking out against local involvement in immigration enforcement and highlighting local and federal policies to advance immigrant integration.
Afton has earned a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she focused on nonprofit management, community planning, and program evaluation. While at Michigan, she served as a Center for Social Impact Board Fellow with Nonprofit Enterprise at Work and a Senior Editor of the Michigan Journal for Public Affairs.
She is also a passionate advocate for gender equity, serving as a volunteer for an anti-street harassment collective in Brooklyn, NY and the president of Women and Gender in Public Policy while in graduate school. At the Thomson Reuters Foundation, she co-launched the Trust Women Scholars program, an initiative to ensure grassroots women’s rights leaders from the Global South have access to their annual conference in London. Throughout her experiences in the nonprofit and government sectors, Afton has focused on making connections to advance equity and access for all.