Interfaith Worker Justice

This is what religion looks like.



Sarah Avery, Assistant to the Executive Director

773-728-8400, ext. 13

Sarah Avery is excited to be a part of the IWJ staff and to grow her knowledge about worker justice. She assists IWJ’s Executive Director and serves as a intermediary to the Board of Directors. Sarah was born and raised in Chicago and loves the city. She spent the last five years working at a faith-based non-profit focused on racial reconciliation and poverty alleviation on the South Side where she served in many capacities. She and her husband live in the Woodlawn community and enjoy spending time with the neighborhood teens. Sarah reads everything she can get her hands on, loves dancing, painting and other art forms, and she probably cares about her dog way too much. 

Janel Bailey, National Organizer

Phone: 773-391-5543

Janel works with IWJ’s network of local interfaith groups and serves as our liaison to our sibilings in the labor movement. Born and raised in Chicago, Janel is a graduate of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Before joining the team at IWJ, she worked as a labor organizer, working with public sector and healthcare workers in "right-to-work" (for less) states. Janel is an enthusiastic supporter of Jobs with Justice, and is active on their national training team. Outside the office, Janel enjoys playing Scrabble and listening to Prince.

Sung Yeon Choi-Morrow, Organizing Director

Phone: 312-513-2289

Sung Yeon leads the organizing team at IWJ and helps start new Interfaith Groups and Worker Centers across the country by connecting local religious, academia and labor communities. She also recruits students to work on labor campaigns and coordinates IWJ’s summer internship program. Sung Yeon studied Political Science and Urban Studies at Wheaton College and earned an M.Div from McCormick Theological Seminary. She is a Ruling Elder at Edgewater Presbyterian Church in Chicago. Before working at IWJ, Sung Yeon was a Community Organizer at Asian American Institute working on immigration reform, the state budget, redistricting and voting. Sung Yeon and her husband, Joseph Morrow, enjoy traveling, cooking and entertaining friends and family.

Adam DeRose, Online Organizer

Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 24

Adam is responsible for IWJ’s digital communication including its website, blog, online advocacy campaigns and social media presence. Previously, he worked as the Web Content Editor for Loyola's Ministry Department and as the department's Peace and Justice Coordinator. Adam is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago with degrees in Journalism and History. He lives in the Logan Square neighborhood and serves as an editor for a hyper-local news website. In the warmer months, he's an avid bike commuter.

Aina Gutierrez, Deputy Director of Operations

Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 11

Aina has more than 10 years experience in fundraising, financial management and office administration. Aina has assisted dozens of IWJ affiliates in building their organizational capacity and helped grow at least five new organizations. She believes that a strong back office is vital for non-profits and that we should “practice what we preach” in operations, policies (especially personnel), and leadership.
 Aina has a bachelor's degree in International Business from Augustana College and a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. When Aina is not at IWJ, she is playing with and caring for her three kids.

Nikki Howell, Individual Outreach Coordinator

Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 42

As IWJ’s Individual Outreach Coordinator, Nikki helps meet and further the organization's fundraising goals. She is responsible for donor relations and acquisition, fundraising events, and Cy Pres strategy. Born and raised in Oakland, Calif., Nikki moved to Los Angeles to study non-profit development and community organizing while earning her Master’s in Social Work at UCLA. Feeling the need to explore the world, Nikki moved to Spain before making her way to Chicago and joining the IWJ team. Between work and training for marathons, Nikki enjoys exploring bookstores, dancing off-beat, and bringing people together.

Cathy Junia, Communications Director

Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 40

Born and raised in the Philippines, Cathy moved to the U.S. in 2003 and credits her interest in worker and immigrant issues to her own immigration experience. A journalist by training and education, Cathy is responsible for developing IWJ's communication strategy and managing the communications department. Previously, Cathy served as the Individual Outreach Coordinator in IWJ's development department and a member of the cross-departmental communications team. Before coming to IWJ, she worked as editor of the Northeast Phoenix Independent in Arizona. Outside of work, she enjoys "discovering" hole-in-a-wall eateries and new music.

Rudy López, Executive Director

Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 13

Rudy developed his organizing skills in the neighborhoods of Pilsen and Little Village in Chicago working as a community organizer with the Metropolitan Alliance of Congregations. In 2013 and 2014, he focused solely on the passage of comprehensive immigration reform as a senior organizer for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) based in Washington DC. He we one of the core fasters for Fast4Families and toured the country lifting up the urgency to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He also served as the Political Director for the Center for Community Change until 2013, he worked with groups all around the country to register, educate and turn-out hundreds of thousands of voters in low-income communities and communities of color. He is a choir member at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and enjoys attending spiritual retreats and pilgrimages (see extended bio).

Julian Medrano, Legal Director

Phone: 773-391-8885

Julian runs Interfaith Worker Justice’s new wage theft clinic and is committed to providing all individuals access to the justice system. 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.

Devin Middleton, Grants Manager

Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 40

Devin writes and manages the grant proposals for IWJ. He was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Ind. and graduated from Purdue University. Before joining the team at IWJ, he was an AmeriCorps VISTA with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Devin believes that thoughtful communication is the backbone of strong leadership. He enjoys reading, going to concerts and beating opponents at Connect 4. 

Marién Casillas Pabellón, Worker Center Network Coordinator

Phone: 312-401-0131

Marién works with IWJ’s National Worker Center network. She is the former Executive Director of New Labor, a New Jersey worker center and community-based organization. Before leading New Labor, she's worked as a union representative both in Puerto Rico and in the United States before completing a Master’s in Labor Relations at Rutgers’ University. Marién grew up in Puerto Rico, the daughter of a Baptist pastor and a progressive librarian. She credits her church as the first place she learned about politics.

Thom Shellabarger, Public Policy Associate

Phone: 202-525-3055

Formerly a Policy Advisor at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Thom spent more than 40 years advocating on diverse issues from housing and community development, to minimum wage, employment and civil rights with Congress and the Administration. Thom was a founding board member of IWJ. An organizer and advocate who can move an agenda, his colleagues describe Thom as someone who can get an economist to laugh, a politician to vote right, a bureaucrat to act, and a Bishop to issue a statement —tall tasks for anyone. Thom works in IWJ’s Washington, D.C. office.

Mayumi Swanson, Database Manager

Phone: 773-728-8400, ext. 17

Mayumi has overseen the development of IWJ’s check processing systems and the complete overhaul of its database system. She holds a B.A. in Public Relations from the Federal University of Goiás in her native Brazil. She and her husband, Christopher Swanson, are the parents of a son named Koichi.

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.

Kim Bobo, Founding Director

773-728-8400, ext. 13

Kim was named one of 14 faith leaders to watch in 2014 by the Center for American Progress, and one of Utne Reader's "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World" in 2009. Kim helped coin the phrase “wage theft.” Her book Wage Theft in America helped get the issue on the national radar. Prior to founding IWJ, Kim was a trainer for the Midwest Academy and Director of Organizing for Bread for the World. She is co-author of Organizing for Social Change, the best-selling organizing manual in the country. A music lover, Kim directs the choir at her church. She also enjoys visiting with her twin sons, Eric and Benjamin, who are away at college (see extended bio).