Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor develops creative strategies and innovative public policy to improve workers’ lives in a changing economy. The Initiative draws on Georgetown’s distinctive identity—its commitment to intellectual excellence, grounding in the Catholic and Jesuit traditions, history of inter-religious cooperation, global reach, and prominence as an arena of policy debate in the nation’s capital—to advance prosperity, broadly-shared economic justice, and respect for the dignity of labor.
“Our times have changed, but the imperative has not. Still with us are the working poor and all those who are in need of economic justice. We are called anew to uphold the dignity of the laborer, to answer the challenge of globalization.”
– Georgetown President John J. DeGioia
Founded in 2009, the Kalmanovitz Initiative was created as a space to engage questions of workers’ rights and the future of the labor movement. Since then, the KI has taken on special projects that explore policies supporting workers’ rights, coalition building between labor and community groups, and connecting students to local advocacy and organizing opportunities.
Joseph 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 most recent 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.
Lane Windham, Ph.D., Associate Director
Lane is an experienced organizer, educator, historian and activist. She holds a doctoral degree in U.S. history and her book about union organizing in the 1970s, Knocking on Labor’s Door, will be out on Labor Day in 2017. Lane spent nearly twenty years working in the union movement, including as media outreach director and specialist for the national AFL-CIO from 1998 to 2009. She organized unions among clothing and textile workers throughout the South in the 1990s. Lane’s current research focuses on how working people can best build power within today’s shifting economy. She has published widely on issues of class, race, gender, economic justice and the future of work. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) and is on the Advisory Committee of Labor and Research Action Network (LRAN). Lane directs WILL Empower, an ambitious collaborative project with Rutgers University to promote women’s leadership in the labor movement and the struggle for economic justice.
Stephen Lerner, Bargaining for the Common Good 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.
Beverly Ortiz, Bargaining for the Common Good National Fellow / Organizing Director
Beverly A. Ortiz is a labor, immigrant, and community organizer. Throughout her 20 years in the movement, her work has focused on developing predominantly women of color leadership in their organizing efforts within private and public sector industries in CA, IL, FL, AZ, and Texas. She was a part of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, and was the Florida State Director for New American Freedom Summer dedicated to voter education and engagement in immigrant communities. She was also a labor leader in the immigration coalition work in Chicago during the 2005 and 2006 larger mobilizations. Prior to joining Kalmanovitz Initiative, she worked in SEIU Texas organizing janitorial, multi-service, fast food, and hospital workers as well as security officers to fight for economic, immigration, environmental and racial justice. She was key in leading the Fight for 15 campaigns in Houston, Austin, and Dallas. She also worked closely with key allies on post Hurricane Harvey recovery work.
Sara Myklebust, Bargaining for the Common Good Research Director
Sara Myklebust is the Research Director at KI focused on Bargaining for the Common Good. Previously, she worked for the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) as their Deputy Director for Research and Education and as a Senior Lead Researcher at the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) in the Organizing Department of the AFL CIO. Sara is originally from Tucson, Arizona and has worked with the Ironworkers as a strategic researcher organizing immigrant rebar workers across the Southwest. Sara worked as a community organizer and policy analyst at FRESC, now UNE, around the commuter and light rail expansion and development impacts. She has experience in legislative campaigns, advocacy work and community organizing, and extensive knowledge of municipal planning and procurement processes. She earned her Bachelor has a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin, where she focused on immigration policy. She loves backpacking with her partner Noah and discovering new recipes to cook at home.
Jessica Chilin-Hernández, Assistant Director & Advisor to Worker Justice DC
Prior to joining the Kalmanovitz Initiative, Jess worked at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service providing faculty, executive, and event programming support. Having worked in Muslim-Christian Relations and Worker Justice for the last four years, Jess is committed to building bridges of solidarity across individuals and communities. Originally from El Salvador, Jess is a 2012 graduate from the College of William & Mary where she majored in Modern Languages and Literatures with a specialization in French and Francophone Studies. While at W&M, Jess was actively involved in the Latino and Muslim student organizations. Jess has also worked for the US Department of Energy and George Mason University.
Alex Taliadoros, Project Coordinator
Alex is a 2014 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service where he studied International Political Economy and earned a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. During his time at Georgetown, he was an active member in the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, cofounded the Interfaith Sandwiches Program for the homeless, and served on the University’s Advisory Committee for Business Practices for three years. At KI, Alex coordinates projects such as Bargaining for the Common Good and the Just Employment Project, and oversees the Initiative’s digital communications.
Patrick Dixon, Ph.D., Research Analyst
Patrick graduated from Georgetown with a doctoral degree in History in 2015. His areas of specialization include the food and restaurant industries, agribusiness, and the nature of work in rural communities. He has also carried out research on public and private sector unionism, the tech industry, and workplace safety, and is presently focused upon new models of university procurement. He is the Managing Editor of LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History, and frequently carries out interviews on Union City Radio’s Labor History Today podcast. Prior to moving to the United States he received a bachelors degree in American Studies at the University of Sussex and a masters in Modern History at University College London.
Juan Belmán Guerrero, Program Manager
Juan graduated from The University of Texas at Austin where he received a degree in Anthropology. During his time at UT Austin he organized with the University Leadership Initiative, a student organization that focuses on supporting immigrant students and community members. Through his 5 years of community organizing he was able to foster community relationships and in recognition of his efforts he was awarded the Social Justice Award by American Gateways. Prior to joining the Kalmanovitz Initiative he was working at Workers Defense Project to build coalition among legal service providers in Central Texas.
Kathryn Wells, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Katie is a geographer whose current work focuses on the nature of contingent labor in cities, the practices of smart city governance, and the future of urban infrastructure. Her work is interdisciplinary, drawing on theories from urban studies, human geography, and sociology. She has published this work in journals such as Antipode: A Radical Geography Journal, and ACME, and discussed its real-time impacts in media stories by National Public Radio and CityLab. In May 2018, she began a 3-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Kalmanovitz Initiative, during which she is continuing her longitudinal study about the work lives of Uber drivers in the D.C. metro area. This research documents the social and economic effects of Uber’s chauffeur services on workers, on policymakers, and on public transit systems in one city over an extended period. Katie’s postdoctoral fellowship is made possible by the Urban Studies Foundation, which provides grant funding for innovative research projects that advance the frontiers of urban knowledge. Katie has a B.A. from Ohio State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Geography from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School. She formerly held positions as a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Geography at George Washington University, and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech.
Leon Fink, Ph.D., Editor of LABOR
Leon Fink is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois Chicago. He is a specialist in American labor, immigration history, and the Gilded Age/Progressive Era. The author or editor of a dozen books, Leon’s most recent work adopts a transnational and comparative view of the Gilded Age/Progressive Era as well as seeking out the roots of today’s “globalized” economic order. Leon serves the editor of LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History, which is the official journal for the Labor and Working-Class History Association, and is housed at the Kalmanovitz Initiative at Georgetown University. A subscription to LABOR is available through membership in LAWCHA.
Clayton Sinyai, Executive Director of the Catholic Labor Network
Clayton Sinyai is the Executive Director of the Catholic Labor Network, an association of Catholic union activists – clergy, religious and lay – committed to Catholic Social Teaching on labor and work, and to fostering collaboration between Church and labor organizations to advance worker justice. A former rubberworker, railroad clerk, and letter carrier, he has spent the past two decades in a variety of union staff roles as a researcher, organizer, and communications director. Clayton is a member of (Construction) Laborers’ Union Local 11 in Washington DC and Knights of Columbus Council 17056 in his home parish of St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Falls Church VA. He’s also the author of Schools of Democracy: A Political History of the American Labor Movement (Cornell, 2006).
Denise Brennan, Ph.D., Affiliated Faculty
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 and most recently completed a book on the resettlement of trafficked persons in the United States, Life Interrupted: Trafficking into Forced Labor in the United States. 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, organizations located in Washington, DC, that work to protect and empower sex workers.
Sherry Linkon, Ph.D., Affiliated Faculty
Sherry Lee Linkon is a Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program at Georgetown University. Her teaching and research involve two main areas: teaching and learning in the humanities and the interdisciplinary study of working-class culture. In working-class studies, Linkon’s work focuses on social class in higher education, deindustrialization, and contemporary working-class literature. Her edited collection Teaching Working Class (Massachusetts, 1999) was named one of the most important academic books of the 1990s by Lingua Franca magazine. With John Russo, she co-authored Steeltown USA: Work and Memory in Youngstown (Kansas, 2002) and co-edited New Working-Class Studies (Cornell, 2005). She is currently working on a new book, The Half-Life of Deindustrialization, examining early twenty first-century working-class narratives reflecting the continuing effects of economic restructuring. She was the founding President of the Working-Class Studies Association, and she edits a weekly blog, Working-Class Perspectives.
John Russo, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar
John B. Russo was a founding member and Co-Director of the Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University. Along with conducting research on working-class history, labor studies, urban studies, and deindustrialization, he helped design and taught in the first certificate program in Working-Class Studies in the United States. John brings to the KI the long-running weekly blog, Working-Class Perspectives, which he edits with Georgetown English professor Sherry Linkon. Read more about John and our other visiting scholars.
The Kalmanovitz Initiative is located in 209 Maguire Hall at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Please find directions to our office here.
209 Maguire Hall
37th and O Streets NW
Washington, DC 20057