Andrea Dehlendorf Assistant Director, Making Change at Walmart
Andrea Dehlendorf is currently Assistant Director of the Making Change at Walmart campaign. She directs the campaign’s worker organizing program, building the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, which has a robust social media organizing component. She was formerly the Executive Vice President of Service Employees International Union’s United Service Workers West – the local union of janitors, security officers and airport workers where she worked for 12 years.
Saru Jayaraman Co-founder and Co-Director, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United)
Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC in New York, which has organized restaurant workers to win workplace justice campaigns, conduct research and policy work, partner with responsible restaurants, and launch cooperatively-owned restaurants. ROC now has 10000 members in 19 cities nationwide. The story of Saru and her co-founder’s work founding ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American. Ms. Jayaraman co-edited The New Urban
Immigrant Workforce, (ME Sharpe, 2005). Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times “Public Lives” section in 2005, and was named one of Crain’s “40 Under 40” in 2008, 1010 Wins’ “Newsmaker of the Year,” and one of New York Magazine’s “Influentials” of New York City. She authored Behind the Kitchen Door, forthcoming from Cornell University Press.
Joann Lo Executive Director, Food Chain Workers Alliance
Joann Lo is the Executive Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance. She graduated from Yale University with a degree in Environmental Biology and has organized with both unions and a worker center. In 2000 Joann was one of two staff who started the Garment Worker Center, and she organized with garment workers in Los Angeles who led a successful campaign against retailer Forever 21, memorialized in the Emmy-winning documentary “Made in L.A.” In 2005 Joann joined Enlace, an alliance of worker centers and unions and a year later became Co-Director. Joann is a member of the interim Coordinating Team of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, the City of Los Angeles’ Sweatfree Advisory Committee, the Good Food Procurement working group of the L.A. Food Policy Council, and the Enlace Institute Advisory Board.
Craig Merrilees Communications Director, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)
Craig Merrilees is Communications Director for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union ILWU). He oversees the union’s online content at http://www.ilwu.org and is responsible for publishing the union’s monthly newspaper, The Dispatcher. He is also assigned to do communication work on various campaigns and projects where he is responsible for messaging, media strategy including social media and producing a variety of traditional and online publications. Prior to his 5 years at the ILWU, Mr. Merrilees spent six years as the Director of AFSCME Local 3299 where he helped 16,000 members rebuild their union. During the 1990’s, he worked for the reform movement at the Teamsters Union in Washington, D.C. where he served as Communications Coordinator. Prior to working for unions, Merrilees managed a variety of social justice campaigns, including field director for the campaign that pushed for labor and environmental standards in the NAFTA, GATT and other free trade agreements. He also worked with the National Toxics Campaign where he helped grassroots groups develop their media strategy. During the 1980’s, Mr. Merrilees worked on political campaigns and wo in California’s state capitol for the Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED). He has held senior staff positions on several statewide ballot initiatives that addressed environmental, school funding, civil rights and other issues. Mr. Merrilees has produced documentaries that appeared on public television and segments that appeared on the PBS Newshour. He has worked as a television news writer and producer at several Bay Area stations and produced pieces that aired on National Public Radio and in national newspapers. He has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, appeared on NBC’s Today Show and a host of network and cable news outlets. He lives on a houseboat in the Bay Area with his wife, Diana Cohn.
Laura Saponara Former Communications Director, ACLU of Northern California
Laura Saponara, Communications Director, manages the core communications team, which maintains a fast-paced approach to communicating the principles and priorities of the ACLU-NC to the public, the media and our growing membership. Laura brings 10 years experience as a consultant, trainer and writer to non-profit organizations, labor unions and philanthropic foundations, including the SPIN Project, AFSCME, the Women’s Foundation of California, and the Ford Foundation. She holds a masters degree in media studies from the University of Texas in Austin, and has taught at UC Davis. Her thesis about the ways that religious right leaders frame issues of power and victimization and call for political
rebirth has been referenced in several books. Laura has worked on human rights projects in Mexico City, El Salvador, Puerto Rico and Peru.
Rigo Valdez UFCW 770 Director of Organizing and Vice President, The United Latinos of the UFCW National
Rigoberto Valdez come to Local 770 from UFCW International where he served as National Field Director the Change to Win Cure CVS Campaign. While at UFCW IU, He also served as the National Field Director for the UFCW’s Justice @ Smithfield Campaign. In this capacity, he brought together local unions, those in the civil rights, immigrant rights, and faith communities, and consumers to build a national network of support for the 5,500 employees of Smithfield Packing in Tar Heel, N.C. who in 2008 gained a a voice on the job. For more than 15 years, Rigo has dedicated his life and career to organizing workers. He began his work in the labor movement as an organizer for SEIU in San Francisco, Calif where he worked on a Justice for Janitors campaign. There, he became co-chair of the San Francisco chapter of Pride at Work, and served on the Executive Board of the SF Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA). Later, as a National Field Representative for the AFL-CIO, Rigo organized airline workers, educational workers, health care workers, nurses, and immigrant workers.
His most exciting achievement was building a successful coalition of organizations to support the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride 2003 bus ride from San Francisco to New York City to call attention to the plight of immigrants working in the shadows, He is proud to say he rode the bus all the way. A immigrant from Mexico, Rigo had the honor of becoming a U.S. Citizen in 2005. He gained the right to vote, and a new enthusiasm and appreciation for his years of dedicated political activism on behalf of workers, immigrants, and the GLBT community.
Currently, Rigo serves as the UFCW 770 Director of Organizing and Vice President, The United Latinos of the UFCW National Executive Board, The Food Chain Workers Alliance National Board of Directors, and is a delegate to the L.A. County Federation of Labor.