National Black Worker Center Project Hires First Executive Director to Develop Increased Leverage
New Director is Seasoned Organizer with Movement and Strategic Experience
Oakland, Calif.—August 9, 2016—Following an extensive national search, and in the midst of a deep unrest that has manifested itself in the presidential race over widening gaps in income and opportunities, the National Black Worker Center Project announces that Tanya Wallace-Gobern has been named its first executive director.
Wallace-Gobern is a seasoned labor and community organizer with more than 20 years of movement-based, strategic and operational experience, particularly important as service models of building influence for black workers have not broken through stubbornly high levels of racism, unemployment and low wages.
“Strategies to address the job crisis must focus on building power among black workers to address the imbalance that is at the root of the crisis in black employment,” says Wallace-Gobern. The balance between organizing strategies to radically shift underlying political power, and servicing strategies geared to enable groups and individuals to take advantage of existing resources, must shift toward more organizing.
Wallace’s commitment to mobilizing for justice began when she was a student activist at Loyola University of Chicago. Upon graduation, she was recruited to join the Organizing Institute, AFL-CIO, and hired by the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, which is now part of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She moved to the Southeast to organize workers of color, which broadened her skills and commitment to empowering people of color. Aggravated by the low number of African Americans among staff and union leadership, she created the AFL-CIO’s Historical Black College Recruitment program. Wallace-Gobern also oversaw the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions field operation for almost 10 years. She managed an $11.4 million budget for the program, which spans seven states and engages more than 100,000 frontline health care providers in a unique labor management partnership.
“With more than 20 plus years in the labor movement, and significant experience in program management, administration and executive planning, Tanya is sure to provide our network with remarkable guidance and success,” says Steven C. Pitts, president of the NBWCP Board of Directors, the associate chair of the University of California at Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, and co-author of the study, “#BlackWorkersMatter.”
“We are confident that in Tanya Wallace-Gobern, we have found the right leader to help us all write the next chapter in our important work,” he said.
The National Black Worker Center Project was founded in this decade to build power for black workers who continue to face multi-dimensional obstacles in building equity through their work. Based in at least eight communities throughout the country, including Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Baltimore, Chicago, Boston, Raleigh-Durham, Washington, D.C. and, Greenville MS, the network functions through independent regional local groups that organize across various sectors. Their membership is comprised of the employed and unemployed, and unionized and non-union workers.
Wallace-Gobern holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University of Chicago and completed Harvard Business Schools’ Executive Leadership program.
Tanya Wallace-Gobern, Executive Director, National Black Worker Centers Project