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 book, Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America, examined the origins and implications of the 1981 PATCO strike of air traffic controllers and won the Richard A. Lester Award for the Outstanding Book on Industrial Relations and Labor Economics. Most recently, he is co-author with Melvyn Dubofsky of Labor in America. He is the author of more than 130 articles, chapters, and reviews in the fields of labor history and labor studies, and his writing has appeared in His current research explores the intersection of labor organization and democracy, tracing the decline and reconstruction of collective bargaining in the United States. He is a member of the board of the Catholic Labor Network, and a contributing editor to Labor: Studies in Working-Class History.
Lane Windham, Ph.D., Associate Director
Lane Windham 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: Union Organizing in the 1970s and the Roots of a New Economic Divide, was awarded the Organization of American Historians’ 2018 David Montgomery Award. Windham spent nearly twenty years working in the union movement, including as media outreach director for the national AFL-CIO and as a union organizer in the South. Windham’s current research focuses on the intersection of gender, race and class, and how working people can build power by forging a new social contract. She has published widely on issues of class, race, gender, economic justice and the future of work, and is a frequent guest commentator in the media. She is active with the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) and is on the Advisory Committee of Labor and Research Action Network (LRAN). Windham 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.
James C. Benton, Ph.D., Director of the Race and Economic Empowerment Project
James Benton is a U.S. historian who studies labor history and the ways in which organized labor has been affected by trade policy, economic change, and industrial decline from the New Deal to the present. His forthcoming book, Fraying Fabric: How Trade Policy and Industrial Decline Changed America (University of Illinois Press) explains how missteps by business, labor, and government leaders on trade policy after World War II contributed to the backlash that benefited Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Before joining the Kalmanovitz Initiative, he worked in the Office of the President at Georgetown, where he assisted university leaders in their ongoing work, with the Society of Jesus and descendants of enslaved people sold by the Jesuits, of honoring and remembering the university’s connection to slavery. He earned a Ph.D. in United States history and a master’s degree in liberal studies from Georgetown University, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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 for Research, Programming, Advocacy & Operations
Jessica Chilin serves as the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor’s Assistant Director for Research, Programming, Advocacy & Operations. At KI, Jessica works to advance respect for the dignity of labor and workers. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Latin American Studies at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. Prior to joining the Kalmanovitz Initiative, she worked for the Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University working to advance and support interfaith relations. Jessica is a proud 2012 graduate from the College of William & Mary. While at William & Mary, she was actively involved in the Latin-American Student Union and Muslims Students Association.
Alex Taliadoros, Director of Organizing
Alex Taliadors coordinates the Initiative’s community organizing efforts in the D.C. area, manages projects such as the Immigration Labor Project and the Citizenship Scholarship, and oversees the Initiative’s digital communications. Alex also sits on the Board of Many Languages One Voice, serves as an organizer for Sanctuary DMV, leads Young Adult Ministry at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, and is an active member of the Congregation Action Network. Alex is a 2014 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service where he studied International Political Economy. 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.
Patrick Dixon, Ph.D., Research Analyst
Patrick Dixon graduated from Georgetown Univesity with a doctoral degree in History in 2015. His areas of specialization and research interests include the food and restaurant industries, agribusiness, and the nature of work in rural communities. His dissertation was entitled, “The Hamlet Factory Fire and the Political Economy of Poultry in the Twentieth Century.” 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 Belmán Guerrero graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2017 where he received a Bachelor’s 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 five years of community organizing he was able to foster community relationships. In recognition of his efforts, he was awarded the Social Justice Award by American Gateways. Prior to joining the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor in Fall of 2018, he was working at Workers Defense Project to build and facilitate a coalition among legal service providers in Central Texas. At KI, Juan serves as Program Manager, coordinating KI’s research and organizing internships and working with immigrant and housing coalitions in DC.
Chad Frazier, Ph.D., Workers on the Frontlines Coordinator
Chad Frazier joined the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor as a research associate in February 2020 after completing his dissertation in United States History at Georgetown University. His research focused on the intersection of citizenship, labor, higher education, and US imperialism in Puerto Rico during the first half of the twentieth century. Chad serves primarily as the coordinator for Workers on the Front Lines, which is the inaugural undertaking of the Labor History Resource Project and will focus on the lived experiences of teachers and postal workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. While a doctoral student, Chad became a founding member of the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees, AFT Local 06440, the union that represents approximately 1,000 graduate student assistants at Georgetown.
Lily Ryan, Bargaining for the Common Good Organizer
Lily Ryan is the Bargaining for the Common Good organizer based out of KI. She started with Bargaining for the Common Good in 2019 as part of the WILL Empower apprenticeship program’s second class of apprentices and started her career with KI as part of the Research in Action internship program. Her interest in labor began as a student activist with the Georgetown Solidarity Committee where she organized locally with campus workers and campus unions and on international campaigns with the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) network. Lily earned a BA in Government from Georgetown in 2018 and is interested in work, research, and organizing at the intersection of worker justice and health equity. Lily is a proud New Orleanian and Former Jesuit Volunteer.
Kathryn Wells, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Katie Wells 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.
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.
Leon Fink, Ph.D., Editor of LABOR
Leon Fink is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois Chicago where he taught for many years as a member of the Department of History. He is a specialist and researcher 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. Currently, Leon serves the editor of the LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History, which is the official journal for the Labor and Working-Class History Association (new window). LABOR is housed and sponsored by the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor 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 (new window) (Cornell, 2006).
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 Kalmanovitz Initiative the long-running, renowned weekly blog, Working-Class Perspectives, which he edits with Georgetown English professor Sherry Linkon. In 2019, the blog published 43 posts that were read over 94,000 times by readers in 176 countries. You can read posts from the Working-Class Perspectives blog here. 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