Rutgers enhances programs to elevate women, people of color to leadership roles

The Rutgers Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, or Rutgers CIWO, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, announced on Wednesday it has expanded on a nationwide initiative to elevate more women and people of color to leadership roles.

The expansion came just in time as COVID-19 revealed many social and economic challenges that face low-wage workers and their families, the Rutgers CIWO said.

“With COVID-19 disproportionately impacting Black communities and women workers, we activated the WILL Empower network of women labor leaders,” Sheri Davis, senior program director of Rutgers CIWO and co-director of WILL Empower, said. “They not only shared policies, practices, strategies and relief language; these same leaders have been on the frontlines pushing the worker justice movement to demand racial justice at every level. With W.K. Kellogg Foundation funding, CIWO can further expand our communities of learning, providing the infrastructure needed to support bold and courageous leadership.”

The Rutgers CIWO is a research center within the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations.

The programs that will be leveled-up include Build the Bench, which works to break down barriers in the economic justice movement by convening leaders of diverse, community-based organizations; and  WILL Empower, a partnership between Rutgers CIWO and Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, which works to identify, nurture, train a new generation of women labor leaders.

The expansion also includes:

  • Hosting a national symposium focused on advancing women’s leadership in the worker justice movement;
  • Recruiting more women and people of color, with a focus on women of color to join Rutgers CIWO;
  • Creating a “coaching suite” for women who are managing directors or executive leaders of community-based organizations;
  • Engaging more professional coaches who are women of color; and
  • Launching a new research and strategy fellowship program.

“Given the extraordinary moment we are in as a country, we need transformative leadership to bring us greater racial and economic justice,” Marilyn Sneiderman, executive director of Rutgers CIWO, said. “Our Center is working to support and strengthen the collective leadership of women and particularly women of color to create the kind of impact and change we so urgently need.”