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 he serves on the board of Interfaith Worker Justice.
Denise Brennan, Ph.D, Faculty Fellow
Prof. 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. 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 forthcoming). 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, D.C. that work to protect and empower sex workers.
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 (ASK), Prison Outreach, and led Alternative Spring Break trips. 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 to promote clean energy at SmartPower, a nonprofit marketing group.
Jesslyn Cheong, Program Manager
Jesslyn Cheong is a 2011 graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international politics. During college, Jesslyn worked as an intern at the International Center for Journalists and as a tutor for D.C. Reads and the D.C. Schools Project. She also worked as a student administrative assistant at the Initiative, and she provided support to the Oral History Project, compiling and editing multimedia and conducting archival research.
Vail Kohnert-Yount, Administrator
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 was a leader in the Georgetown Democrats, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and the Center for Social Justice. She previously interned at the White House, the AFL-CIO, and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Michael Paarlberg, Graduate Assistant
Michael Paarlberg is a doctoral student in the Government Department working on a dissertation examining comparative labor standards and regulatory regimes. Before entering graduate school, Mike spent several years in the research department of the Service Employees International Union, where he specialized in research on employment issues in the health care sector. Mike was co-author of the Center for American Progress report, Making Contracting Work for the United States: Government Spending Must Lead to Good Jobs. He conducts research and analysis for the Kalmanovitz Initiative.
The Kalmanovitz Initiative relies on student leaders to formulate and execute its various programs, projects and events. Click here for a full list of KI student leaders.