Practitioner Fellows

In the course of their daily work, labor activists, advocates, and strategists develop insights into the broader challenges facing working people and think of new and creative ways to overcome them. But day-to-day responsibilities rarely allow the time or resources to transform creative ideas into action.

The goal of the Kalmanovitz Initiative’s Practitioner Fellowship is to provide practitioners the support they need to advance innovative worker organizing and bargaining strategies, particularly those projects with a focus on low-wage and excluded workers.

After their residencies at Georgetown, the practitioner fellows return to their work but retain their connection to the Kalmanovitz Initiative, constituting a growing network of activist-thinkers that support its mission.

2012 – present

Stephen Lerner

Stephen Lerner

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.

2016 – present

Dawn Carpenter

Dr. Dawn M. Carpenter is a leading authority on the theological nature of work and the responsibilities of wealth. Dr. Carpenter joined KI as a practitioner fellow during her doctoral studies at Georgetown to help create and develop the KI Labor Capital Strategies Fellowship and to create new opportunities to bring her research interests to a broad audience. At KI, Dr. Carpenter created the More than Money podcast that reached the Top 15 of the iTunes Business chart and was rated as a Top 15 Podcast that Will Inspire You to Change the World by Causeartist.com. Her new show, What Does It Profit, seeks to build on the success of More than Money and incorporate her doctoral research in contributive justice theory.

Dr. Carpenter serves on number boards of directors, as a senior advisor to the Vatican’s Economy of Francesco program, and as the North American Editor of the Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Ethics Blog in the UK. Dr. Carpenter is currently researching ethical issues related to tax compliance in the age of stakeholder capitalism as part of an EU Ethics Commission and a forthcoming book to be published by Routledge. She is also completing her forthcoming book entitled “Work, Wealth and Contributive Justice: A New Social Contract.” For her work, Dr. Carpenter has been awarded the 2020 Spirit of Georgetown Award.

2014-2015

Amy Goldstein

Amy Goldstein

Amy Goldstein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from The Washington Post, joined the Kalmanovitz Initiative in 2014-15 to work on her forthcoming bookJanesville: An American Story, which focuses on a small Wisconsin city to explore the effects of the Great Recession.

Since 1987, Goldstein has been a reporter at The Post, most recently covering national social policy issues and other high-profile national stories including health care reform, the Obama administration’s domestic agenda, and effects of the nation’s economic downturn on the social safety net. She spent two years researching Janesville, then returned to The Post as the lead reporter covering the Affordable Care Act, before resuming work on the book at the Kalmanovitz Initiative.

2013-2014

Marc Bayard

Marc Bayard

Marc Bayard joined the Kalmanovitz Initiative in 2013-14 to inaugurate a project called the Black Workers Initiative. Drawing upon years of experience in the labor movement, as Africa Regional Program Director for the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (the Solidarity Center), and as executive director of the Worker Institute at Cornell University, Marc’s project was directed toward focusing the attention of the public, policy-makers, and the labor movement on the plight of black workers.

While at Georgetown he planned and and co-hosted two conference that brought together diverse and engaged audiences: “The State of the Black Worker in America (new window)” was held Oct. 10-13, 2013, and “Organizing Black Workers and Communities in the South (new window)” was held April 28-29, 2014. Following these conferences, Marc completed his initial conceptual work on “And Still I Rise,” a research project on the role of black women in the labor movement. Since departing Georgetown, Marc has moved on to the Institute for Policy Studies where he is Associate Fellow and the director of the IPS Black Worker Initiative (new window).

2013

Hilary Klein

Hilary Klein is the Director of Strategic Campaigns at Make the Road New York, where she oversees the workers’ rights, affordable housing and leadership development programs. Hilary is originally from Washington, DC, and has been engaged in social justice and community organizing work for more than 15 years, on issues such as affordable housing, immigrants’ rights, and violence against women. Hilary also spent six years in Chiapas, Mexico, working with women’s projects in Zapatista communities, and is working on a book about women’s participation in the Zapatista movement.

While at Make the Road New York, Hilary helped to launch and coordinate the WASH NY campaign, which seeks to improve working conditions in New York City’s car wash industry. WASH NY is a joint effort between Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change and supported by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. In the past year and a half, the WASH NY campaign has won seven National Labor Relations Board elections to unionize car washes throughout New York City, saved the jobs of workers at the Soho Car Wash, won a successful strike at the Sunny Day Car Wash in the Bronx, and ratified two union contracts – at Sunny Day and Astoria Hi-Tek Car Wash & Lube. This campaign has also brought about significant change in how workers are treated, even at car washes that are not yet organized.

Hilary’s research project at the Kalmanovitz Initiative, funded in part by the Berger-Marks Foundation, sought to deepen and expand on this innovate model of low-wage worker campaigns. Hilary researched a number of key framing questions in order to build on the successful collaboration between dynamic community-based organizations and progressive labor unions in order to achieve the scope and scale necessary in these campaigns to raise wages and improve working conditions for some of this country’s most vulnerable and exploited workers. The key framing questions include researching the current landscape, organizational structure, resources and scale, strategic targets, and viable alternatives to traditional collective bargaining agreements.

Saket Soni

Saket Soni is the Executive Director of the New Orleans Workersʹ Center for Racial Justice. The Center is dedicated to organizing African American and immigrant workers for a just reconstruction of post‐Katrina New Orleans. Saket has worked as an organizer in Chicago at the Coalition of African, Asian, European, and Latino Immigrants of Illinois, a city‐wide immigrant rights coalition, and at the Organization of the North East. Saket was born and raised in New Delhi, India.

Saket joined the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice to take the first staff position in 2006. Since then he has steered the organization’s growth. Saket co-authored “And Injustice For All: Workers’ Lives In the Reconstruction,” the most comprehensive report on race in the Reconstruction of the post-Katrina Gulf Coast, and “Never Again: Lessons of the Gustav Evacuation,” an account of the treatment of African Americans in the sheltering process. Saket has testified before Congress on racial justice and labor rights issues. He has crafted strategic campaigns with direct organizing, litigation, communications, and research components to advance the human rights of guestworkers.

2012

Erik Forman

Erik Forman has been active in groundbreaking union organizing campaigns in the fast food industry as a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. He has led workshops and trainings on union organizing in more than two dozen countries. At the Kalmanovitz Initiative, Forman conducted research on union organizing and power strategies for the food service and retail sectors. You can follow him on Twitter at @_erikforman. Read Erik’s April 2013 Labor Notes article, “The ‘Organizing Model’ Goes Global.

Joe Uehlein

Joe Uehlein was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Division, and served as Director of the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Campaigns before starting the Labor Network for a Sustainable Future. Joe’s work has explored ways to bring the labor and environmental movements together, and as a Practitioner Fellow he examined the ways that labor can help build a sustainable future for the planet while addressing workers’ economic concerns.

In February 2013, Joe convened a meeting of labor and environmental leaders at Georgetown University that resulted in a joint statement on Labor-Environment Solidarity for a More Just and Sustainable Economy (new window).

Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller is the co-founder of Coworker.org (new window), a digital platform that will provide the tools to any worker, anywhere to join with fellow employees and advocate for change in the workplace. A Practitioner Fellow at the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, she is researching historical precedence for alternative organizing models, implications for the project under current labor and employment law and potential partnerships, strategy and direction for the project. She is working in partnership with Jess Kutch, a Senior Fellow at the New Organizing Institute.

For over a decade, Michelle was the Lead Cultural Organizer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In this role she integrated the creative process into organizing, political and public engagement strategy through innovative partnerships between artists and workers. Michelle oversaw the production of over 25 original art pieces for the union, trained hundreds of members in storytelling, basic digital media production and live performance, and spearheaded major public events with audiences of up to 20,000. Miller was invited to the first-ever White House Briefing on Art, Community, Social Justice, and National Recovery and is nationally recognized leader working at the intersection of art and social change. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek.com, Boing Boing, and Washington Post as well as the Guggenheim Museum and countless art shows, public spaces and conferences across the country.

Madeline Janis

Madeline Janis’ 2012 fellowship explored how national policy could better support community-based efforts to create good jobs and a healthy environment. She looked at how federal regulation could support major Los Angeles-based initiatives around key sectors of the economy. Madeline also worked with allied organizations to design initiatives that could be coordinated with groups from other US cities that want to advocate for national regulations and policies to support local campaigns.

Madeline is the founder, and, until February 2012, was the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), a non-profit agency that conducts research, education and advocacy around issues affecting low-income working families in Los Angeles. She currently serves at the National Policy Director at LAANE. She holds a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

Donald Cohen

Donald Cohen’s 2012 fellowship explored the consistent rhetoric used over the last 100 years to fight against consumer, environmental, and labor protections and built out effective counter-narratives to those attacks. His research looked at past legislative and regulatory battles around workplace safety, minimum wage, family leave, consumer and product safety, and environmental protection.

Donald has been an organizer and leader of progressive and labor organizations for nearly thirty years. He was the leader of the California universal health care movement in the early 1990s. He later developed a political program for the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and founded a labor-connected non-profit, the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI) that served as the research, policy, communications, and community alliance building arm of the labor movement. Donald is the developer and leader of the Cry Wolf Project, which creates new tools to better respond to criticisms of progressive policy. Donald is also the Chair of In the Public Interest, a resource center on privatization and responsible contracting, and is on the board of directors of Green for All, the Ballot Initiatives Strategy Center, and the Labor Project for Working Families. He also co-founded the Partnership for Working Families.

2011

Edgar Aranda-Yanoc

Edgar Aranda-Yanoc’s 2011 fellowship focused on alternative grassroots and social media strategies to enforce wage theft judgments. He researched wage theft practices in Virginia and across the region and identified a range of media and organizing strategies that could help overcome employers’ unwillingness to comply with judicial orders for wage theft claims. Edgar examined the use of transparency mechanisms—such as social media and public disclosure campaigns—as a means to educate the public on the prevalence of wage theft and shift the norms of acceptable business practices.

Edgar currently works with Virginia Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program as a Community Advocate and Educator where he promotes the employment rights of immigrant workers in Virginia. He also serves as the Chair of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO) and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). Edgar was the recipient of the 2010 Linowes Leadership Award presented by the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. He earned an LL.M. degree in 2006 from Temple University Beasely School of Law where he received the Professor Samuel Gyandoh Award for outstanding professional and personal service to the law school community. Prior to his work in the United States, he was a practicing lawyer in Peru.

Pilar Maria Weiss

Pilar spent her 2011 fellowship conducting an investigation and analysis into the potential for organizing the unemployed into a political force. Her research question came from her observation that organizing and political campaigns failed to account for the growing ranks of the unemployed. Pilar’s research included interviews with organizers who had or were trying to organize the unemployed and with historians and economists who have studied unemployed organizing during the Great Depression, in post-industrial steel towns, and other historical periods or locations with high unemployment.

Pilar is currently the Civic Engagement Director at the New Organizing Institute (NOI), where she works with organizers across the country building locally-based electoral campaigns that put the power back into the hands of voters. Pilar’s work at NOI focuses on increasing access to practice-based research and new technologies among field organizers, increasing the capacity for volunteer-based voter registration, and building long-term civic engagement capacity around issue-based campaigns. Prior to joining NOI, Pilar spent a decade running political organizing campaigns for UNITE HERE, the hospitality workers’ union. Pilar served as UNITE HERE’s National Deputy Director of Politics and Communications as well as the Political Director of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226. Pilar holds a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley.

Netsy Firestein

Netsy used her 2011 fellowship to explore what it would take to make the issue of paid family and medical leave a high priority for federal and state policy makers. Netsy researched successful national campaigns on disability rights, early childhood education, and LGBT equality to understand the innovative, key strategies that propelled them to victory. Her research resulted in presentations at the AFL-CIO and Columbia University and helped lay the foundation for new paid family and medical leave strategies at the national level.

Netsy is the founder and Director of the Labor Project for Working Families. The Labor Project is a national non-profit organization working with labor unions to negotiate and advocate for better work/family policies, including child care, paid family leave, elder care, and flexible work hours. Netsy has over 20 years of experience working with labor and work/family issues. She has worked with many local and international unions and labor/management committees on developing work/family contract language and programs. Netsy does trainings around the country on labor and work/family issues and is the co-author of numerous articles on these issues. She holds a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University.