Mel King Community Fellows Class of 2013

Biographies

Pablo Alvarado

Pablo Alvarado
Executive Director, National Day Laborers Organizing Network

Since his arrival in the U.S. following political and economic turmoil in his home country of El Salvador, Pablo Alvarado has become one of the most prominent, respected and visionary leaders of the immigrant rights movement. He has been referred to as the “Cesar Chavez” of jornaleros, day laborers seeking temporary employment — usually involving hard physical labor — to support their families.

As co-founder of the Institute of Popular Education for Southern California (IDEPSCA) Pablo created a movement of organizing day laborers in Pasadena, CA. As Lead Organizer for CHIRLA’s Day Laborer Program, Pablo transformed the City of Los Angeles Day Laborer Program into a worker center model that would be replicated in major cities throughout the country.

For the past 11 years, Pablo has served as the executive director of NDLON, currently a collaboration of 42 community-based day laborer organizations. Under his guidance, NDLON has worked with local governments to establish safe worker centers, provide information to workers to help them handle exploitation, improve skills and gain access to essential services, strengthen local worker groups, and build immigrant leadership.

Pablo holds a B.A. in Social Sciences from the National University of El Salvador and lives with his wife and two children in Pasadena, California.

Laphonza Butler

Laphonza Butler
President, SEIU/ULTCW

Laphonza Butler is the President of SEIU ULTCW – the United Long Term Care Workers’ Union, which represents 180,000 in-home caregivers and nursing home workers across California.

Butler’s passion for advocating and leading on behalf of workers and those they serve is grounded in her own personal journey. Growing up in a household where her mom had multiple jobs as a security guard, a home care provider, and mother of three providing for her family on multiple low wage jobs, she experienced first-hand the challenges faced by workers and their families who did not have a voice on the job or the power of a union to improve their conditions. Early on, Butler sought a path that would ensure she contributed to bringing back the values of dignity and respect for workers and to be an architect of the changes needed to promote social and economic justice for all workers.

Over the years, Butler has served in numerous leadership roles on behalf of workers whether organizing thousands of healthcare workers at John’s Hopkins Hospital in Maryland; organizing multi-national corporations and collective bargaining agreements for tens of thousands of security officers and janitors as SEIU’s Property Services division director or uniting 25,000 foodservice workers in her role as Secretary Treasurer of Service Workers United. Most recently, she has been elected to serve as a Vice President of the SEIU international executive board.

A proud native of the south, Butler is a graduate of Jackson State University, in Jackson, MS.

Denise G. Fairchild

Denise G. Fairchild, Ph.D.
President & CEO, Emerald Cities Collaborative

Denise Fairchild is the inaugural President of Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC), a national non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. with affiliates in major urban centers across the United States. Dr. Fairchild was recruited in 2010 to launch ECC, a coalition of labor, business and community-based organizations organized to accelerate the growth and distributive benefits of the emerging green economy.

Dr. Fairchild has dedicated over 30 years to strengthening housing, jobs, businesses and economic opportunities for low-income residents and communities of color domestically and internationally. In 1995 she founded and directed the Community and Economic Development (CED) Department at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, as well as an affiliated non-profit community development research and technical assistance organization, CDTech. She helped launch the Regional Economic Development Institute (REDI), an initiative of Los Angeles Trade-Technical College to provide inner city residents with career and technical education for high growth/high demand jobs in the L.A. region, with a focus on the green economy. From 1989-1994, Dr. Fairchild directed the L.A. office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and is credited with raising over $100 million in equity, grants, and loans for community-based housing and commercial development projects and, generally, with building the non-profit housing and community development industry in the L.A. region.

Her civic and political appointments have included the California Commission on Regionalism, the California Economic Strategy Panel, the California Local Economic Development Association, the Urban Land Institute National Inner City Advisor, the Coalition for Women's Economic Development and the Los Angeles Environmental Quality Board. She also served as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's special advisor for South L.A. Investments.

George Goehl

George Goehl
Executive Director, National People’s Action

George Goehl has been a community organizer, strategist and trainer for nearly 20 years. His efforts have helped to craft city, state, and federal campaigns on issues that range from outlawing predatory lending, advancing immigration reform and preventing foreclosures. Since 2007, he has been the Executive Director of National People’s Action, a network of metropolitan and statewide membership organizations dedicated to advancing economic and racial justice in all aspects of society. The organization was founded nearly 40 years ago, and its work has helped to gain equity in work, housing, health, education, finance, and other systems central to the well-being of less advantaged American citizens.

Goehl began his career as the founding president of the Coalition of Low-Income and Homeless Citizens. In 1996, he began working with the National People’s Action, and designed a national campaign to pressure HUD to address fraud and abuse within the FHA home loan program. As a result of three years of work on the issue, the Credit Watch Program was established to hold lenders accountable for excessive defaults on FHA-insured mortgages. Goehl then became an organizing director and supervised an effort that forced statewide anti-predatory lending regulations and legislation in Illinois. Goehl began working as a strategist and field organizer with the Center for Community Change in 2004. His work there included the launch of a national summit of immigrant and allied organizations from more than 30 states, and resulted in establishing the national “Stop the Raids” movement, in response to a wave of immigration raids that separated young children from their parents.

Sarita Gupta

Sarita Gupta
Executive Director, Jobs with Justice

Sarita Gupta is the Executive Director of Jobs with Justice (JwJ), a national network of 46 local coalitions in 24 states that bring together more than 1,300 labor unions, faith groups, community organizations, and student activists to fight for working people. JwJ educates working people about the connection between workers’ rights and strong communities, and explores innovative community-based organizing for economic justice. Much of her work has focused on defending and expanding the right to organize and collectively bargain; develop a movement building approach to Jobs with Justice; and innovate new initiatives that speak to the mission of Jobs with Justice at the global, national, and local levels.

Sarita is also the co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign – a campaign dedicated to changing the way we care in this nation. The campaign brings together millions of care workers, people with disabilities, older adults, and their families with the goals of improving the quality and accessibility of care for everyone, by creating new, quality jobs in home care; expanding workplace protections; ensuring affordable, quality care and support for individuals; and stabilizing the workforce.

Sarita currently serves on the following boards: International Labor Rights Forum, American Rights at Work, the National Planning Committee of the U.S. Social Forum, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, the Inter-Alliance Dialogue/UNITY, Other Worlds is Possible Giving Circle, the Institute for Policy Studies, and The Discount Foundation Board of Trustees.

Gerald Hudson

Gerald Hudson
International Executive Vice President, SEIU

Gerry Hudson has served as Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union since June 2004, leads the union's political program--ensuring that SEIU members and all workers have a strong voice to hold politicians accountable and elect candidates at all levels who stand with working families. His outstanding commitment to labor, confronting the realities of long term care, and environmental justice spans decades. Recently honored by Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations for his extraordinary leadership, Hudson continues to have wide-ranging impact on the fight to improve the lives of working families and their communities.

Gerry’s dedication to addressing urban sprawl and the disproportionate impacts of environmental degradation on low-income and minority communities informed his participation in the first-ever U.S. labor delegation to the United Nations' climate change meeting in Bali in 2007. He has served on the advisory board of the Apollo Alliance, a labor-based organization that advocates for high-quality job creation in a clean energy economy. He's also served on the board for Redefining Progress, the nation's leading public policy think tank dedicated to developing innovative public policies that balance economic well-being, environmental preservation, and social justice.

Elected as executive vice president for the former-District 1199 in 1989, Hudson coordinated the merger of the 30,000-member Local 144 into SEIU/1199. He also founded the 1199 School for Social Change - a former alternative school in the Bronx - and served as a trustee of the Local 1199 Training and Upgrading Fund, Home Care Workers Benefit Fund, and Michelson Education Fund.

Vilma Linares –Vaughn

Vilma Linares –Vaughn
Chief of Staff, SEIU Local 1199 Healthcare Workers East

Vilma Linares Vaughn is currently the Chief of Staff at 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. Before joining 1199SEIU, she was the National Director of the Office of Audits and Affiliate Support at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Washington, DC.  She was at SEIU from 2005 to 2012 and held various positions within that organization.  Prior to that, Vilma held the position of Operations Manager for Retec, Inc., a national environmental engineering consulting firm and a subsidiary of Thermo Scientific.  She was responsible for directing and managing four (4) offices, two in Texas, one in Louisiana, and one in Kansas.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication from the University of Wisconsin, completed Graduate work at Southwest Texas University in Accounting, and has completed all coursework to sit for the CPA exam. She has over 30 years of experience in organizational and operations management.

Vilma has served on various non-profit boards of directors in various capacities. Currently, in addition to serving on the board of directors of My Family Votes/Mi Familia Vota, she is on the Southwest School of Arts Fiesta Art Fair Volunteers Committee and is a member of Las Comadres Para Las America.  Vilma is originally from the Dominican Republic, arrived in the United States at the age of eight and grew up in New York City.  She has lived in Texas for the last 15 years, and now resides in New York City.  Her hobbies include the visual and performing arts, hiking and camping, reading and cooking. She is married to Ronald Vaughn, and between them have two daughters and three grandchildren.

Fekkak Mamdouh

Fekkak Mamdouh
Co-Director, ROC-United

An immigrant from Morocco with more than 17 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Mamdouh worked at some of New York’s finest restaurants, and was finally lead Shop Steward for H.E.R.E. Local 100 at Windows on the World. After September 11th, he worked with five other displaced workers to create the Immigrant Workers’ Assistance Alliance (IWAA), a Rockefeller Foundation-funded project to provide support to displaced workers and families of victims.

In order to provide ongoing services to the hundreds of displaced workers and the families of the victims, Mamdouh formed ROC-NY in 2002. In 2008, he co-founded ROC-United, the country’s first national restaurant worker organization.

A Columbia Revson Fellow, Mamdouh co-authored a book about his life, The Accidental American, together with the Executive Director of the Applied Research Center, Rinku Sen. A movie is now being made about the book.

Ai-Jen Poo

Ai-Jen Poo
Executive Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

Ai-jen Poo is the Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), the leading organization working to build power, respect, and fair labor standards for the 2.5 million nannies, housekeepers and elderly caregivers in the U.S. She began organizing immigrant women workers in 1996 as the Women Workers Project organizer at CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities in New York City. In 2000, she co-founded Domestic Workers United (DWU), a city-wide, multiracial organization of domestic workers. DWU led the way to the passage of the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010, historic legislation that extends basic labor protections to over 200,000 domestic workers in New York state. DWU helped to organize the first national meeting of domestic worker organizations at the US Social Forum in 2007, which resulted in the formation of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She has been NDWA’s director since April 2010. Ai-jen serves on the Board of Directors of Social Justice Leadership, the Seasons Fund for Social Transformation, the Labor Advisory Board at Cornell ILR School, Momsrising, National Jobs with Justice, Working America, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, and the National Council on Aging.

Claudio Martinez

Claudio Martinez
Executive Director, Hyde Square Task Force

Claudio has served as the Executive Director of The Hyde Square Task Force, an organization that builds the skills of inner-city youth through innovative arts and cultural, leadership, lifelong learning, economic development and community organizing initiatives. Under his leadership, the Hyde Square Task Force has received considerable recognition, including the Coming Up Taller award, the nation's highest honor for out of school arts and humanities programs given by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the Best Practice Award in Teen Programming for Youth Leadership and Achievement by Boston’s After School for All Partnership and the Innovations in Education City Excellence Award. Claudio has over 20 years of managerial experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors and has served as advisor to several governmental, non-profit and transnational initiatives including Boston Housing Authority’s Monitoring Committee, Boston University Institute of Nonprofit Management and Leadership and the Boston-Haifa NGO Learning Exchange. As a community organizer, neighborhood activist and parent, Claudio has been involved in Boston school reform efforts for the last 20 years. He served for many years as co-chair of the Boston Parent Organizing Network and a board member of the Latino After School Initiative and the Boston Schoolyard Initiative. He also sits on the Board of Directors of The Boston Foundation, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and Boston After School and Beyond. He is a member of the inaugural class of the Barr Foundation Fellows Program. In 2008, he was appointed by Mayor Menino to the Boston School Committee.

Javier Morillo-Alicea

Javier Morillo-Alicea
President, SEIU Local 26

Javier Morillo-Alicea is the president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26, which unites more than 5,000 property service workers in the Twin Cities metro area. As president, he leads the organizing, legislative and political activities of the local union representing Minnesota’s union janitors and private security guards.

Since Morillo was elected president, SEIU Local 26 has grown by roughly 1,200 members, including over 700 private security officers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Local 26 is focused on negotiating member contracts, uniting new members, and developing new leaders. In the past two years, as a result of two public contract campaigns, Local 26 won affordable healthcare for janitors and security officers, along with dramatic wage increases. In addition, the local has participated in national campaigns, including traveling to Houston to support 5,000 newly united janitors. In Houston, Morillo was arrested with SEIU members and leaders and spent 37 hours in jail after engaging in an act of civil disobedience that the Houston police met with violence but which ultimately led to a first janitorial contract in Houston.

SEIU Local 26 has also led on legislative and political action on the issues of quality, affordable health care and immigration reform. As a leader in the immigrant rights movement, Morillo has stood up to Republican attacks on immigrants in the state, publishing an Opinion Page editorial in the statewide newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, criticizing Senator Norm Coleman’s failure to support comprehensive immigration reform and another exposing the Minutemen extremists surrounding the congressional campaign of Republican candidate State Senator Dick Day.

Morillo was previously a historian and anthropologist, teaching courses in Latin American History, Comparative Colonial Cultures, and Globalization at Carleton and Macalester College. He is a Fulbright Scholar and has a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Yale University. He lives on the West Side of St. Paul with his partner of thirteen years

Laine Romero Alston

Laine Romero Alston
Program Officer, Promoting the Next Generation Workforce Strategies
Ford Foundation

Laine Romero-Alston manages the Promoting the Next Generation Workforce Strategies portfolio, an initiative of the Quality Employment unit. She focused on building the capacity of worker centers to provide leadership, education and training opportunities for the substantially low-wage and immigrant workforce, primarily in four specific sectors: healthcare, day labor and construction, restaurant work, and domestic work.

Before joining the foundation in 2011, Laine was the Economic Justice program officer at the Solidago Foundation, where she supported efforts to help marginalized, particularly low-wage immigrants and workers of color, actively engage in strategies that foster their own economic well-being and to promote broader systemic economic and social change. In addition, Laine oversaw a Media Justice and Strategic Communications program for the Frances Fund to develop and integrate strategic communications into economic and social justice movement efforts.

Monica Russo

Monica Russo
Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU

Monica Russo is executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East – the largest local union in the country representing more than 350,000 healthcare workers in five states and more than 23,000 healthcare workers in Florida. She led the most successful private sector healthcare union organizing campaign in the southeastern United States, beginning with a small group of nursing home workers and ultimately launching an organizing campaign that founded the Florida branch of 1199SEIU UHE. Under her leadership, 1199SEIU Florida has grown to represent more than 30,000 healthcare workers and retirees in more than 100 hospitals and nursing homes across the state - becoming the largest union of healthcare workers in Florida and the southern United States.

Monica also serves as international vice president of the Service Employees International Union and as president of the SEIU Florida State Council, where she politically unites more than 55,000 active and retired SEIU members from bus drivers and janitors to healthcare workers.

She serves on the South Florida Workforce Investment Board, Florida International University’s Research Institute for Social and Economic Policy, Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz’s Healthcare Working Group, Progress Florida and founded Konbit for Haiti (earthquake relief).

Saket Soni

Saket Soni
Executive Director, New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice

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.

Veronica Turner

Veronica Turner
Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU

In June 2010, Veronica Turner was elected to the top leadership position of 1199SEIU in Massachusetts. Turner is the first African-American woman to head a major labor union in Massachusetts. A resident of Brockton, MA, Turner was born in Dorchester and began her career at Boston Medical Center in the dietary department. Turner emerged as a natural leader of her peers during the historic merger of Boston City Hospital and Boston University Medical Center in the nineties – a time fraught with uncertainty for caregivers at both hospitals. Turner seeks to make her election the start of a more balanced representation for women and people of color amongst labor’s top leaders in the Bay State. Turner hopes to continue the track record of success that 1199SEIU has established since its inception in 2005.

Kent Wong

Kent Wong
Director, Center for Labor Research and Education
University of California, Los Angeles

Kent Wong is director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at UCLA, where he teaches Labor Studies and Ethnic Studies.

Kent was previously staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union, representing Los Angeles County Workers, and the first staff attorney for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. His beginnings with the labor movement were as a boycott organizer for the United Farm Workers of America. Kent served as the founding president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, and has also served as the national president of the United Association for Labor Education, and the University and College Labor Education Association. He is a vice president of the California Federation of Teachers, a co-chair of the California Speaker’s Commission on Labor Education, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Labor College.