Laura Barrett, Executive Director
Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 43
Before taking on the role of Executive Director at Interfaith Worker Justice, Laura served as Executive Director at Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) where she organized alongside local groups to fight corporate polluters and bureaucratic red tape. At Gamaliel, she worked on cutting-edge community organizing campaigns, including worker justice, affordable housing, education equity, voter engagement, and the civil rights of immigrants. Laura and her husband live in St. Louis and have two grown children. (see extended bio)
Ben Levenson, Development Associate
Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 20
Ben comes to IWJ with a passion for community organizing and grassroots politics. He has been a leader with The People’s Lobby for 2 years with a particular focus on political education and creating a just global society. He also has experience in direct service as a case manager at the North Lawndale Employment Network and an Instructor with New York City Outward Bound Schools. He studied American history at Princeton University and when he’s not reaching out to supporters, he’s probably riding his bike through Chicago or reading about politics.
Julian Medrano, Director of Public Policy
Julian manages IWJ's public policy. Originally from Argentina, Julian grew up in Toronto, Canada, and has spent the last five years in Chicago. After graduating from the Chicago-Kent College of Law and passing the Illinois Bar exam, Julian has spent time working for law firms and legal aid organizations in Chicago practicing civil rights and employment law. He has also spent time working in South East Asia as a legal consultant for the International Labour Organization. Julian also has degrees in Finance and International Business from Iowa State University. When not working, he is an avid traveler and music lover.
Martha Ojeda, Senior National Field Organizer
Martha Ojeda worked for 20 years in the maquiladora industry (sweatshops), in the industrialization program of Mexico that became NAFTA. In April of 1994, Martha led the Sony Workers’ movement to improve their working conditions. The workers were beaten and brutally repressed by police forces. The Sony workers’ case was the first case brought against the government of Mexico under the Side Agreements for Labor Cooperation of NAFTA. Martha has a Law degree from The University of Saltillo, Coahuila and the Centre for University Studies in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico and joins IWJ from Fe y Justicia, a worker center based in Houston.
Jeremy Orr, Director of Organizing
Jeremy is a Detroit, MI native who possesses over 10 years of social justice organizing and advocacy experience. Just prior to joining IWJ, Jeremy worked as the environmental justice coordinator for the Transnational Environmental Law Clinic in Detroit while also serving as the statewide coordinator for the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. Jeremy got his start in grassroots organizing with ISAAC -a Gamaliel Foundation affiliate located in Kalamazoo, MI. Jeremy is a former college football player and track & field athlete who earned his bachelors, masters, and law degrees all from Michigan State University. Jeremy has a legal background in civil rights law and environmental law and is licensed to practice law in Michigan State Courts and the U.S. District Court (E.D. Mich.).
Ian Pajer-Rogers, Communications and Political Director
Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 24
Ian manages Interfaith Worker Justice's communication and political departments. Before joining the IWJ team, Ian was most recently the digital director for the campaign to elect Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for Mayor of Chicago and the digital communications strategist for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Ian was inspired to work on social justice from a young age after attending the progressive and inclusive First United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh, PA.
Mayumi Swanson, Database Manager
Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 17
Mayumi is an accidental techie. She has over 13 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Currently, she oversees IWJ’s gift processing and CRM systems, including the complete overhaul of both systems. As a key member of the organization’s development and communications teams, Mayumi is responsible for creating processes to ensure data quality and for preparing reports to support IWJ’s strategies. She holds a B.A. in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from the Federal University of Goiás in her native Brazil. When she is not working, she likes to spend time with her family and enjoys learning new things.
María Torres, National Field Organizer
Phone: 773-728-8400 ext. 30
María G. Torres was born and raised in Cd. Juarez, Mexico; she moved to the United States at age 15 and since then, has been interested in social justice issues affecting the Latino community. She has personally witnessed the plight of undocumented immigrants and has been involved in immigrant rights advocacy. María joins IWJ from Community Renewal Society, where she organized congregations around issues of race and economic justice. She is a Northern Illinois University alumna and majored in Community Leadership and Civic Engagement. When she is not participating in or helping organize a protest, she likes to dance or binge watch suspense and drama TV shows and movies.
Jana Winch, Graphic Designer
Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 10
Jana has been with IWJ since 1999. She is the creative force responsible for the design of most of IWJ's publications. Prior to IWJ, Jana worked for two design/advertising studios in downtown Chicago. She received her B.A. in Art from Luther College. When she is not working, or caring for her two young girls, Jana sleeps.
Allison Zidek, Accounting and HR Manager
Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 22
Allison had a 16-year career as Accounting Manager and IT Director for a retail organization in Chicago before coming to IWJ. She has a BA in accounting and an MBA from DePaul University. Allison has responsibility for a variety of financial and human relations functions at IWJ including accounting, payroll and personnel benefits. Allison was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago and continues to live in Skokie with her daughter. Outside of IWJ, she spends time volunteering on the school PTA and with the Girl Scouts.