IWJ's presence in the national policy arena is about to see dramatic growth. As of October, IWJ now has a new DC office headed up by two veterans of religion and justice work. The Rev. Paul Sherry is Director of IWJ's DC Public Policy Office and Thom Shellabarger is IWJ's Public Policy Associate.
A longtime advocate for economic justice and civil rights, Rev. Sherry is a former President of the United Church of Christ and former Executive Director of the Community Renewal Society. He came out of retirement to be the Campaign Coordinator for the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, the national anti-poverty mobilization effort sponsored by the National Council of Churches and many other faith-based and community-based organizations. He is co-author of A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future and the editor of The Riverside Preachers. He holds a doctorate in theology from Union Theological Seminary.
"I'm very eager to begin this new role and help IWJ strengthen its presence in Washington, DC," says Rev. Sherry. "With the unemployment crisis growing ever more severe, it's critical that IWJ's message be heard on Capitol Hill and that the struggles of the unemployed and of low-wage workers in these precarious times not be ignored in the corridors of power."
"No one in the country is more qualified to lead a faith and jobs initiative than Paul," says IWJ executive director Kim Bobo. "He has the right mix of history, relationships, and passion to drive this program." Ted Smukler, IWJ's public policy director, concurs. "Paul is a marvelous leader, a keen strategist with complete integrity. Just as important, Paul makes everybody feel like they're the most important person in the room, and it's genuine."
Thom Shellabarger is the former Policy Advisor for Urban and Economic Issues in the Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the public policy and social action agency of the Roman Catholic bishops in the United States. This work entailed assisting the U.S. bishops in formulating policy on housing, community development, employment and low-wage workers, civil rights, and federal budget issues consistent with the social teachings of the Church, and advocating on these issues with the Congress and the Administration.
"I am pleased to be joining the creative and dedicated staff of Interfaith Worker Justice as we work with people of faith to engage our communities in the struggle for worker rights," says Shellabarger. "I look forward to renewing and strengthening IWJ's presence in Washington, D.C."
"Thom brings 20 years of experience representing the faith community on Capitol Hill," says Bobo. "Like Paul, Thom was a founding board member of IWJ, and like Paul, he brings enormous wisdom and passion to the fight for economic justice." "Thom has been a leader and a soldier for economic justice for decades in his work for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops," says Smukler. "He's a man of deep faith and conviction. Thom's also an organizer and advocate who can move an agenda. He 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."
Rev. Sherry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thom Shellabarger can be reached at email@example.com.