In the summer of 2007, I met Kim Bobo for the first time. I was a few months into my role as an organizer at an IWJ affiliated worker center, Young Workers United, in San Francisco and not entirely sure what it meant to be an organizer.
I went to a lunch meeting with the executive director of IWJ. I didn’t really know who Kim was, but I got the sense that I should. Over lunch, we talked about how I got into the work (just three months prior) and how things we’re going at YWU. A lull in the conversation caused me to ask her a question that has influenced many things for me since.
I asked her what advice she had for a new organizer. Kim paused for a moment and I knew that she wanted to give me the right advice. She started to speak slowly and said just three things:
- Work harder than everyone else in the room if you want them to respect you.
- Find a mentor, someone in your field that is where you want to be and also that you like to spend time with, and meet with them regularly.
- Write. Write all the time. Write about the work so that people know you are thinking about it and you can shape the thinking around it.
I went home that night and wrote it down in a notebook (I still keep that notebook to this day). I would have never expected that one day I would be working alongside Kim, still striving to follow her sage advice and repeating it to other new organizers interested in guidance.
My time with IWJ began long before I was the coordinator of IWJ's National Worker Center Network. The organizers and staff of the affiliates and of IWJ's national office have become a huge part of who I am as an organizer and as a person. I have grown in the challenges of this work and the experiences of the people around me. For the opportunity to learn and share with all of you, I am grateful.
As I move on to continue my work in this movement for worker justice, I am also happy to leave a space for another leader to be a part of this family that the affiliated worker centers and IWJ have become for me. I look forward to continued growth, collaboration, victories and real advances in the struggle to bring justice to workers in this country!
The affiliate network is filled with capable leaders ready to helm the national work and guide new and developing worker centers with best practices and creative ideas.
Click here if you or someone you know would be a good candidate to lead the worker center network into its next chapter! I can't wait to see what amazing things come from IWJ and the amazing worker center network in the months and years to come!