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Joseph A. McCartin, Ph.D., Executive Director

Joseph A. McCartin is a historian of the U.S. labor movement and 20th century U.S. social and political history. He is a Professor of History at Georgetown University, where he has taught since 1999. His research focuses on the intersection of labor organization, politics, and public policy. His first book, Labor’s Great War: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy and the Origins of Modern American Labor Relations, won the 1999 Philip Taft Labor History Book Award. His new book, Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America, examines the origins and implications of the 1981 PATCO strike of air traffic controllers. It won the Richard A. Lester Award for the Outstanding Book on Industrial Relations and Labor Economics published in 2011. His current research explores the impact of public sector labor organization on politics, government, and private sector labor relations. He is a member of the steering committee of Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice, the editorial committee of Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, and the board of Interfaith Worker Justice.

Denise Brennan, Ph.D., Faculty Fellow

Denise Brennan is an anthropologist who writes about migration, trafficking into forced labor, and women’s labor. She is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at Georgetown University. She is the author of What’s Love Got to Do with It? Transnational Desires and Sex Tourism in the Dominican Republic (Duke University Press) and just completed a book on the resettlement of trafficked persons in the United States, Life Interrupted: Trafficking into Forced Labor in the United States (Duke University Press ). She is currently conducting field research for a book on how families cope with detention and deportation, Shattered Families: Detention, Deportation and the Assault on Immigrants in the United States. She has been a board member of Different Avenues, Project Hope International, and HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive), organizations located in Washington, DC, that work to protect and empower sex workers.

Stephen Lerner, Fellow

Stephen Lerner is a labor and community organizer and architect of the groundbreaking Justice for Janitors campaign. Over the past three decades Lerner has organized hundreds of thousands of janitors, farm workers, garment workers, and other low-wage workers into unions, resulting in increased wages, first-time health benefits, paid sick days, and other improvements on the job. A leading critic of Wall Street bankers and the increased financialization of the U.S. economy, Lerner argues the growing power and influence of the finance industry has led to record income inequality and served as the primary driving force behind the creation of overwhelming debt obligations seen at the state and local level. He advocates for the use of non-violent civil disobedience as a tactic to challenge the influence of Wall Street and corporations. Lerner is a frequent contributor on national television and radio programs and has published numerous articles charting a path for a 21st century labor movement focused on growth and meeting the challenges of a global economy.

Nick Wertsch, Program Coordinator

Nick Wertsch is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he majored in Government and minored in English. While at Georgetown, he was an active member of the After School Kids Program, Prison Outreach, and Alternative Spring Break. During his senior year, Nick took a leave of absence to work as a field organizer on the Obama campaign in his home state of Missouri. After graduating, he moved to India to work with an Indian NGO providing media and legal advocacy on land rights issues. Later Nick returned on a Fulbright-Nehru Research grant to study energy politics and democracy in India. He has also interned at the White House and worked at SmartPower, a nonprofit marketing group that promotes clean energy.

Vail Kohnert-Yount, Program Manager

Vail Kohnert-Yount is a native Texan and a 2013 graduate of Georgetown University, where she majored in Science, Technology, and International Affairs with a certificate in Justice and Peace Studies. At Georgetown, she served as the student body vice president and president of the Georgetown Democrats, and she was a leader in the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, the Center for Social Justice, and the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. She previously interned at the White House, the AFL-CIO, and the U.S. House of Representatives.



Jessica Chilin, Administrator

Jessica Chilin is from San Salvador, El Salvador. She graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages and Literatures with a specialization in French and Francophone Studies. After graduating, she worked with Interfaith Dialogue initiatives at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Walsh School of Foreign Service. While at William & Mary, Jessica was actively involved with the Muslim Student Association and the Latin American Student Union. She served as a Multicultural Recruitment Intern at the Office of Undergraduate Admission and worked for the Earl Greg Swem Library in the Reference Department assisting in faculty and student research.