Shawna Bader-Blau leads the Solidarity Center, the largest global worker rights organization based in the United States. Since October 2011, she has served as executive director of an organization of more than 220 staff in Washington, D.C., and some 30 field offices, implementing programs in about 60 countries. She has been with the organization for 14 years.
Shawna is an advocate and activist for safe, dignified and family-supporting livelihoods—where workers can exercise their fundamental labor rights and have a voice in shaping work conditions and public policies that impact their lives. She is a leading advocate helping link the human rights community with the labor movement’s struggle to protect worker rights. She works to ensure that worker rights issues are part of policy discussions on international development and within the women’s movement and broader civil society.
Shawna regularly testifies as an expert on worker and human rights at U.S. congressional briefings and hearings. She organizes and co-convenes discussions on the protection of worker rights in times of closing space and increased impunity, bringing together rights defenders, workers, UN agencies, governments and labor unions to find common solutions. And she represents the Solidarity Center at conferences and policy discussions around the world, promoting social justice, gender equity, decent work and more inclusive economic development and democratic societies.
Shawna has worked in the field of international development and human rights for 17 years and has lived or worked in more than 25 countries. Prior to her appointment as executive director, Shawna served as the Solidarity Center’s regional program director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). She is an Arabic speaker and a recognized expert on authoritarian regimes and civil society. She holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Shawna also is on the board of the Business and Human Rights Resource Center and on the advisory board of Foreign Policy for America, and is former vice chair of the Board of Directors of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Interviews with Shawna Bader-Blau.
Regional Program Directors
Middle East and North Africa
Hind Cherrouk is regional program director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), based in Rabat, Morocco. From 2015 to 2018, she served as Solidarity Center country programs director for the Maghreb region, covering Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. As the Morocco-based country programs director, Hind was responsible for implementing programs focused on trade union capacity building and advocacy, fostering gender equity, ending gender-based violence and advancing the rights of unprotected and marginalized workers, among them young workers, women, migrant workers and workers with disabilities. She has extensive experience managing and implementing Solidarity Center capacity-building programs with trade union partners and the broader labor movement. She also speaks at international forums on organizing women workers and moving toward gender equality, and speaks Arabic and French. Hind joined the Solidarity Center in 2005.
Hanad M. Mohamud
Hanad Mohamud is the regional program director for Africa. From 2012–2018, Hanad served as country programs director for East and Horn of Africa, based in the Solidarity Center’s Nairobi, Kenya, office, where he managed work in Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. He previously served as the Solidarity Center director of trade union strengthening, from 2005 to 2012, and as acting Africa regional director from 2011 to 2012. Prior to joining the Solidarity Center in 2002, Hanad was with the AFL-CIO’s food and allied service trades department, where he implemented strategic union campaign programs for unions affiliated to the AFL-CIO, and with the Calvert Group, which focused on socially responsible investing. He has extensive experience in training unions in organizing and bargaining and has done so in various countries in Africa. He also has conducted trainings on strategic trade union research supporting union campaigns. Hanad is a fluent French speaker.
Joell Molina, named Americas regional program director in 2017, first joined the Solidarity Center in 2007, working in the trade union strengthening (TUS) department to assist South African and Kenyan telecommunications unions develop organizing capacity. Prior to that, Joell was a TUS senior specialist for organizing and worked with unions in the Americas and other regions to develop organizing, strategic research and campaigning capacity through workshops and on-the-ground training.
He also has served as the international campaigns coordinator for AFL-CIO organizing department, where he worked on strategic campaigns for affiliates and served as a liaison with international counterparts, and as a strategic researcher/campaigner in the same department. Joell, who holds a master’s degree in international affairs and economic development, began working in the labor movement in 2001 at the Service Employees International Union. Joell also has worked with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Europe and Central Asia
Rudy Porter joined the Solidarity Center in 1995. He leads all Solidarity Center programs in Europe and Central Asia, including offices in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia and Ukraine. Rudy was previously the Solidarity Center Country Program Director in Thailand, Burma and Malaysia (2007-2011), Indonesia and Philippines (2001-2007), Serbia and Montenegro (2000-2001) and Croatia (1995-2000). He serves on the steering committee of the Cotton Campaign.
Prior to the Solidarity Center, Rudy was a field representative for the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, a state representative for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and a national organizer and local union representative for SEIU. Rudy holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University, and a master’s degree in labor economics and human resource management from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
Tim Ryan joined the Solidarity Center’s predecessor Asian institute in 1989. Since 2001, he has directed all Solidarity Center programs for Asia, including offices in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He served as the organization’s field representative in Sri Lanka (1993-97) and Indonesia (1997-2001), where he began work on migrant workers’ and anti-trafficking issues. He is chairperson of the board of the Global March against Child Labor and on the steering committee of the National Writers Union, Washington, D.C., chapter.
Kate Conradt has served as the Solidarity Center’s director of communications since 2010. She brings to the position more than two decades of international experience in journalism, advocacy and communications, for organizations that include Save the Children, the Basic Education Coalition and the Economist Intelligence Unit. Kate holds a master’s degree in Hispanic studies and a dual bachelor’s degree in Spanish and journalism. She serves on the advisory council for the Department of Modern Languages at Kansas State University and has lived and/or worked in more than 30 countries.
Molly McCoy joined the Solidarity Center in 2009 and became the Solidarity Center’s policy director in 2015. In 2015, she also temporarily transferred from the Solidarity Center to serve as director of the newly launched Democracy, Rights and Governance Initiative of the nongovernmental alliance, InterAction.
From to 2010–2015, Molly served as regional program director for the Americas, directing Solidarity Center programs throughout Central and South America, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Molly also has served as deputy to the regional program director for the Americas, supervising the Solidarity Center’s Washington and field-based programs including organizing, collective bargaining and union development. She has extensive field experience as a U.S.-based union organizer, as well as broad international trade union economic policy experience working as an economic policy research officer for the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
Molly holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University, a master’s degree in international relations from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques and is a graduate of the National Labor Leadership Institute. She has authored policy papers and articles on global labor and economic issues, campaign materials and training guides, and has held board memberships on the Executive Council of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, International Cocoa Initiative and U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project.
Program Coordination and Trade Union Strengthening
With more than 20 years of experience in the labor movement, Sarah McKenzie joined the Solidarity Center in 2012 as director of Trade Union Strengthening. Sarah oversees the Solidarity Center’s efforts in supporting organizing campaigns and educating workers about their legal right to form a union and collectively bargain. Before joining the Solidarity Center, she served as director of the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute, where she developed organizer training and recruitment programs and led campaigns supporting the U.S. labor movement.
Program Quality, Learning and Compliance
Mary Markowicz joined the Solidarity Center in 2016. She is a seasoned senior manager with extensive experience in compliance, federal regulations and award management. Most recently, she served as senior director for grants, contracts and compliance at Counterpart International, where she successfully built a team of professional grants and compliance managers, contributed to enterprise risk management efforts and the elimination of audit findings. Mary also worked for 16 years at the National Democratic Institute, where she directed the department that was the primary point of contact with donors on agreement-related matters for programs in more than 60 countries. In addition, she led efforts on behalf of several democracy organizations to jointly respond to Federal Register Notices on USAID assistance regulations and coordinated sector discussions with USAID and the Office of Management and Budget on proposed policy and regulatory changes. Previously, Mary served as an evaluation officer in the Latin America and Caribbean regional office of Family Health International. Since 2006, she has been a member of InsideNGO’s Government Relations Committee, representing members’ views on existing and proposed USAID regulations and practices.
Mary received a master of arts in international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University, and both a bachelor of science in business Administration and a bachelor of arts in Spanish from Nazareth College.
Robin R. Runge
Acting Director, Equality and Inclusion
Robin R. Runge, J.D., senior gender specialist, is acting director of the Equality and Inclusion Department, where she provides strategic programmatic and technical leadership, and technical assistance to Solidarity Center staff, partners and allies internationally, and oversees implementation of the Solidarity Center’s global campaign to end gender-based violence at work. Robin has more than 20 years experience advocating for worker rights, including developing and implementing programs, policies and laws to end gender inequality in employment by addressing sexual harassment and gender-based violence. Her career has involved the successful advancement and enforcement of legal and policy solutions to end gender- and sex-based violence and harassment as barriers to worker equality for women. As a law professor, Robin has contributed to legal scholarship on gender equality, gender-based violence and employment. She holds a law degree from The George Washington University Law School.
Rule of Law
From 2011 through 2016, Jeff was legal director of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), where he coordinated the organization’s legal advocacy before the International Labor Organization and other international institutions, advised trade unions on labor law and policy, and assisted in litigation before national and international tribunals. He has published extensively and spoken frequently on international labor law and trade and labor standards, including testimony before the legislatures of the United States, Canada and the European Union. Prior to joining the ITUC, he served as AFL-CIO deputy international department director and also was AFL-CIO global economic policy specialist. Previously, he represented domestic and foreign trade unions in litigation in U.S. state and federal courts. He is a graduate of Cornell Law School, where he earned his J.D. and L.L.M. in international and comparative law, and studied international law at University of Paris I–Sorbonne. He also holds a master’s degree in English with a focus on 20th century literary movements.
Deputy Directors, Senior Specialists and Advisers
Senior Adviser, Trade Union Strengthening
Tom joined the Solidarity Center in 2006 after 15 years in the U.S. labor movement. In 2018, he was appointed senior adviser for the trade union strengthening department, which he co-manages. He has implemented programs in more than 20 countries and is the Solidarity Center’s point person for the informal economy. Tom began his career in the U.S. labor movement in 1992 as a researcher at the AFL-CIO’s food and allied services trades department. In 1994 he was appointed assistant director at the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), where he led research in support of organizing campaigns from the Washington headquarters. In 1998, he moved to Texas for the IUOE as an international representative responsible for advising and training IUOE petrochemical local unions on organizing, collective bargaining and servicing in the south-central United States. He returned to the AFL-CIO in 2002 as senior lead researcher in the organizing department, working with affiliated unions to integrate organizing, member mobilization and corporate leverage into comprehensive organizing campaigns.
Deputy Director, Program Quality, Learning and Compliance
Erika Fagan has 20 years of international professional experience working for organizations focused on human rights and international development. Erika most recently served as the director of grants, contracts and compliance at Counterpart International, where she oversaw its award portfolio totaling more than $190 million and designed the organization’s subrecipient monitoring procedures and tools to assist program staff with monitoring responsibilities. Erika also has worked at Freedom House where, as the manager for compliance and subawards, she was key personnel for the USAID-funded RIGHTS Leader with Associates Award and, as project administrator, coordinated the reporting and administration of the RIGHTS consortium partners. Erika holds a bachelor of arts in East Asian studies, with a focus on Mandarin Chinese and economics, from George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs.
Senior Specialist, Migration and Human Trafficking
Neha Misra, J.D., joined the Solidarity Center in 1998 as the deputy country program director in Indonesia, where she managed the Solidarity Center’s counter trafficking in persons, labor migration and democracy programs. Before joining the Solidarity Center, she worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina on postwar elections and democracy, and in the United States as a senior attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. While at the Justice Department, she also served as the president of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3525. Neha serves on the executive board of the International Labor Recruitment Working Group and represents the Solidarity Center in the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST).
Development and Fundraising
Arina C. Lester
Arina C. Lester joined the Solidarity Center in 2019, bringing to the position more than a decade of professional experience in international development and social justice tied to external stakeholder relationship building, strategic organizational planning and fundraising. In past roles, she served as development director at Community Preservation and Development Corporation, on urban poverty and affordable housing, and Legacies of War, on the removal of leftover unexploded ordnance in post-war Southeast Asia. Before her focus on philanthropy, Arina worked on global supply chain management and social compliance at the Fair Labor Association and the International Labor Organization (ILO) and provided capacity-building training to indigenous people in Lao and Thai highlands for the German development agency GIZ. Arina holds a master’s degree in sustainable international development from Brandeis University and a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology from the University of Heidelberg.
Administration and Finance
Organizational Development and Leadership Director
Al Davidoff, former AFL-CIO director of governance, organizational and leadership development, joined the Solidarity Center in October 2017. While at the AFL-CIO, he co-created the National Labor Leadership Initiative with the Cornell Worker Institute, a program that has since expanded into regional and international branches. With more than 30 years in the U.S. labor movement, Al has served as AFT chief of staff, AFT director of strategy and leadership development and as SEIU 1199 vice president. As New York State AFL-CIO director, Al helped develop Cornell’s Union Leadership Institute and restructured 36 labor councils representing 2 million members. While at Cornell, where he began as a custodian and organized an 1,100-person service and maintenance bargaining unit (UAW Local 2300), he was elected UAW Local 2300 president and president of the UAW’s National Academic Council, leading five successful strikes and multiple community living wage campaigns in New York.
Michael Lawrence joined the Solidarity Center’s predecessor organization in 1992 and has been controller since 2008. As controller, Michael is responsible for the overall management of the organization’s accounting, budget reporting and cash flow management; provides staff with timely and accurate financial information; and ensures compliance with accounting requirements and government regulations. Previously, Michael served as Solidarity Center senior accountant for budgets and reporting, and as staff accountant and senior accountant for the Solidarity Center’s predecessor organization.
Quoc Nguyen has more than 23 years of experience in global nonprofit organizations with a focus on promoting democracy, women’s rights, human rights and access to health care. His extensive financial management experience in international nongovernmental organizations includes 15 years as director of Finance at Freedom House, Women for Women International, and Results for Development, Inc., organizations funded by various U.S. government agencies and international donors. At the International Republican Institute, Quoc managed U.S. and international financial operations, monitored grants to international NGOs and ensured compliance donor regulations for the U.S. government and others.
Director of Operations
Darcy Wertz supervises staff responsible for facilities and IT; works with international field representatives to create personnel policies for local staff; updates organizational policies and procedures and streamlines operations to increase efficiency. Prior to becoming Director of Operations in 2001, Darcy served as senior cost and pricing analyst, Bids and Proposals Section (1999–2000) at AED; worked as administrative manager for Africa programs (1998–1999) at Conservation International and was grants manager (1993–1998) at the Solidarity Center’s predecessor organization.