As many of friends of the Kalmanovitz Initiative already know, we said good-bye this week to our longest-serving staff member, Nick Wertsch, holding a send-off in his honor at Georgetown on May 2. Nick joined the KI in August of 2012 as a program officer. Over time he developed such a wide-ranging portfolio—which included supervising all of our many talented interns, developing new internship programs such as our Research in Action and Labor Capital fellowships, building relationships with community allies, and mentoring students—that we had to come up with a new job title for him: Organizing Director. In truth, that title barely suggested all that he contributed to KI, its students, and its allies on and off campus.
What’s more remarkable is that Nick did all of this while also attending law school in the evening. He will graduate from Georgetown University Law Center on May 20. After graduation he’ll be moving to Texas, where he will become the attorney in the Houston office of one of the most exciting and impactful worker centers in the country, the Worker Defense Project. We cannot imagine a more perfect match of dynamic young organizer/attorney with dynamic young worker rights organization. We look forward to following his work in the years ahead. He’s going to make a difference.
While Nick is moving on, he leaves behind a legacy that will continue to thrive. As an organizer with unsurpassed empathy and inclusivity, a mentor of great patience and wisdom, and a person of profound ethical convictions and a deeply democratic sensibility, he made his KI colleagues, his student mentees, and his community allies better for having known and worked beside him.
We have now commenced our search to fill his old position, but we know we will not replace Nick. With great gratitude for all he has given to KI, we wish him well as he moves on to the important new work that beckons him.
You can relive Nick’s years at the KI through a slideshow video that we created in his honor.