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Ayers was born and raised in Detroit and lives in North Rosedale Park. Coming from a family of educators and role models including her mother, a Detroit Public Schools teacher for over 30 years, taught Ayers from a young age the value of education and the impact education has on determining our children’s futures. When her father was convicted of a felony and incarcerated, Ayers saw firsthand how the vicious cycle of drug abuse and recidivism can disrupt lives. Her upbringing inspired her to ensure that every Detroiter's potential is realized, regardless of socioeconomic barriers.
With the support and encouragement of her family, Ayers graduated from Renaissance High School and went on to secure a full academic scholarship and earned a degree in Political Science/Public Policy from Bowling Green State University. There she was a member of the Dean’s List and served as a Project Excellence Mentor, Student Government Representative, a member of the NAACP and the Black Student Union.
After college and during the summers, Ayers returned home to Detroit. She began her career as a City of Detroit employee in the Department of Recreation. Beginning in 1999, she served as an activities coordinator, responsible for the activities of more than 100 Detroit children ages 5-12. Her passion for Detroit’s youth fueled her ability to perform her duties and provide a high level of service to deserving young people, despite the challenges of a city bureaucracy. This experience taught Ayers how City Departments could work more effectively.
Like many Detroiters, Ayers was forced to work multiple jobs in order to make ends meet, especially after her mother fell ill. In 2005, Ayers’ second job was as a teacher and tutor at Detroit’s Millennium High School for alternative education. Working with youth deemed “at-risk” who were failed by the traditional public school system, Ayers found ways to excite her students about learning, resulting in 100 percent of her students graduating and advancing to college. To give them the extra assistance they needed, Ayers also taught standardized test preparation to ensure that college-bound students realized their dream of a higher education.
Ayers was the youngest officer of the bargaining team of UNITE HERE! As the elected recording secretary, executive board member, political director and shop steward, she was responsible for negotiating contracts with some of the largest businesses in Detroit on behalf of 6,000 employees. Since 2007, in this role, Ayers gained a vast knowledge of issues most pressing to Detroit’s city government, including pensions, healthcare, wages, work conditions, grievances and contractual or workplace disputes. Also in this capacity, Ayers earned the respect of business executives throughout Detroit as a no-nonsense negotiator, focused on the greater good for businesses and their employees.
Widely recognized for her leadership, Ayers became the youngest Vice President of the Detroit Metro AFL-CIO in 2013, elected by more than 24 union affiliates, including AFSCME Council 25, the City’s largest union.
Ayers is a leader of Detroit’s labor community who maintains a passion for working people, with a keen appreciation and understanding of Detroit’s business community. Her experience in contract negotiation offers a great resource to the Detroit City Council. As a former City of Detroit employee, Ayers understands how City departments function, and should function. And as an educator in Detroit, her focus will always remain on preparing Detroit’s youth to be successful in the 21st century economy
In only one year after joining Council, Ayers has hit the ground running. In her first term, she was the only Councilperson to sit on four standing committees: Internal Operations, Budget, Audit & Finance, Rules and Public Health & Safety and was Vice Chair of both Budget, Audit & Finance and Public Health & Safety committees.
Inspired by her father’s struggles as a felon, she established the Returning Citizens Task Force to help reintegrate formerly incarcerated Detroiters and reduce recidivism rates. Ayers tackled blight by getting an amendment to the ordinance passed so that violators can no longer receive new building permits if they have other properties blighting our city. She has several other ordinances in progress that address issues such as making public places like parking lots and gas stations safer, senior discounts on property taxes, and giving returning citizens a fair chance at housing.
Member Ayers currently serves as the Chair of the Budget, Audit & Finance Standing Committee and the Vice Chair of the Public Health & Safety Standing Committee in addition to facilitating the Returning Citizens Task Force. The combination of her personal hardships as a lifelong Detroiter and her experience as a labor union leader at the bargaining table and as a former City department employee has taught her valuable skills that she brings to the table every week as Budget Chair.
You can stay up to date with Council Member Janee Ayers by liking her on Facebook or watching her in committee on Channel 10.