Board Members

Helen Gym (Co-Chair)

Philadelphia, PA

Helen Gym is a longtime community organizer and the first Asian American woman elected to Philadelphia’s City Council. Prior to Council, she was a leading voice for immigrant rights, helping establish Philadelphia as a Sanctuary City, and a parent organizer for public schools. Seated in 2016, Helen leads a human rights agenda rooted in housing, education, and racial and economic justice. In her time on Council, she ended a 17-year state takeover of the Philadelphia schools and restored nurses, counselors, music programs and safe drinking water to every public school; established a legal defense fund and mandatory pre-filing diversion for renters facing eviction; and expanded labor rights by establishing a permanent Office of Labor and passing groundbreaking legislation such as advance scheduling and right to return laws. As Chair of the Committee on Children and Youth, she has led an aggressive agenda to reform juvenile justice systems and youth residential facilities, including shutting down three of Pennsylvania’s largest providers due to abuse of children in their care. She is a second-generation Korean American and mom to three children, all current students or graduates of Philadelphia’s public schools. 

Jillian Johnson (Co-Chair)

Durham, NC

Jillian Johnson is a Durham City Councilmember, a long-time grassroots organizer and activist, and a mother of two. Elected in 2015, she was the first openly LGBTQ person to serve on the council and was unanimously chosen to serve as Mayor Pro Tempore from 2017-2021. She championed Durham’s first participatory budgeting initiative, is a strong advocate for affordable housing and helped secure the city’s $95 million affordable housing bond, and continues to push forward work to reimagine public safety. Jillian is a co-founder of Durham for All, serves on the board of Southern Vision Alliance and is the North Carolina State Advisor for Movement Voter Project.

Dorcey Applyrs

Albany, NY

The Hon. Dr. Dorcey Applyrs has built a personal and professional life in the City of Albany devoted to improving the quality of life for residents. Dr. Applyrs currently serves as Albany’s Chief City Auditor. After being appointed to this position January 1, 2020, she was elected to serve in this capacity in the historic 2020 election.  Prior to serving as Chief City Auditor, Applyrs served on the Albany Common Council representing the City’s First Ward. She was elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017. During her second term, she served as Chair of the Public Safety Committee.

Kristerfer Burnett

Baltimore, MD

Kristerfer Burnett, a lifelong Baltimorean, represents District 8 on the Baltimore City Council and lives in the Edmondson Village community where he and his wife, Vanessa, are third-generation homeowners. He was educated through both the Baltimore City and County public school systems. He holds degrees from the University of Maryland-College Park and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Kristerfer is a longtime community organizer, a journey that began at a young age as he watched as his grandmother organize her neighbors in an effort to save their neighborhood from the expansion of Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore. He has been a community organizer with SEIU 1199, founded Neighbors Without Borders of Greater Southwest Baltimore, and worked to create the Community Roots Leadership Development Academy as well as the Edmondson Village Farmers’ Market. Kristerfer truly believes that the most fulfilling aspects of his life have been giving back to those who need it and empowering the residents of Baltimore to be change makers.

Andrew Friedman

Center for Popular Democracy

Andrew came to CPD after 15 years building Make the Road New York into the leading democratically-run, immigrant-led community organization in New York State. Since co-founding Make the Road in 1997, Andrew helped grow the organization from a small, volunteer-run effort to an $8 million organization with over 11,000 members, 100 staff, and four community-based centers in New York City and Long Island. Andrew helped oversee all aspects of Make the Road’s work, including the organizing, legal services, adult literacy, workforce development, operations and finance departments.

Andrew has worked with the Latino Workers’ Center, the Neighborhood DefenderService of Harlem, the Center for Urban Community Services, the Government Benefits Unit at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, and MFY Legal Services Mental Health Law Project. Andrew has been awarded the Union Square Award of the Fund for the City of New York, the Cornerstone Award of the Jewish Fundsfor Justice, and the Community Health Leaders Award of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for his work at MRNY.

Tefere Gebre

AFL-CIO

Tefere Gebre is the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO. Tefere has had the unique experience of working at all levels of the labor movement. Tefere has continued to demonstrate leadership by example. He has focused his attention on building strong partnerships between labor and community groups, immigrant rights advocates and civil rights organizations. He has placed particular emphasis on building the labor movement in the South, where conditions are most oppressive for millions of workers.

Based on his own experience as a child refugee, Tefere has brought a passionate and personal perspective to bear in the labor movement’s fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrant workers and their families. In the end, it is Tefere’s experience as an immigrant labor activist and local labor council leader that makes him a great complement to President Trumka, of the Mine Workers, and Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, of the Electrical Workers, to lead the AFL-CIO.

Megan Ellyia Green

St. Louis, MO

Megan Ellyia Green was elected to represent the 15th ward of St. Louis in 2014. Since assuming office, Alderwoman Green has become the progressive champion of St. Louis, fighting for a $15 minimum wage, civilian oversight of our police department, reproductive rights for women, and responsible development with community benefits. She has been an outspoken supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement to address racial disparities that exist within the St. Louis Community, and nation. She also currently sits on the Continuum of Care to end homelessness in the St. Louis Region. After being a surrogate for Bernie Sanders’s Campaign for President, in 2016, Alderwoman Green was elected to represent Missouri as a Member of the Democratic National Committee for the next four years and also sits on the Executive Committee for the Missouri Democratic Party. In such roles, Alderwoman Green ensures that the needs of St Louis are heard at both the State and National levels.

Kelly Kent

Culver City, CA

In November of 2020, Kelly Kent was elected to her second term on the Culver City Unified School District Governing Board and since joining the board has successfully fought to get strategic arts and equity plans adopted, an environmental sustainability coordinator funded, a commitment to fully inclusive special education instruction Kindergarten through 12th grades, and a coalition formed with the City of Culver City working on supporting Boys and Young Men of Color through My Brother’s Keeper, along with many other equity-focused initiatives. 

Since she completed her PhD in neuroscience and Postdoctoral work in autism at The University of Southern California, Kelly has been taking her experience and expertise garnered at higher educational institutions and applying them to the real world around her through her organizational and educational consulting company, adaptED Consultants. Dr. Kent also teaches psychotherapy graduate students at Antioch University Los Angeles. 

Robin Kniech

Denver, CO

First elected to Denver City Council in 2011, Robin Kniech serves At-Large. The Councilwoman has a record of bold accomplishments on expanding access to affordable housing, including creation of a $300 million dedicated affordable housing fund, promoting pathways out of homelessness including a pending dedicated tax for housing and emergency services, and helping those with a home remain housed through policies such as prohibiting source of income discrimination. In 2019 she led passage of a citywide minimum wage that will deliver raises to 90,000 workers. Other accomplishments include strengthening independent police oversight, one of the strongest immigrant protection ordinances in the nation, and gender neutral restrooms. Councilwoman Kniech was the first out member of the LGBTQ community to serve on Denver’s Council. She serves on the board of Local Progress and as a trainer for the Progressive Governance Academy. And she’s a proud mama.

Bob Master

CWA

Bob Master is Assistant to the Vice President for Legislative, Political and Mobilization Activities for District One of the Communications Workers of America, which represents 145,000 workers in New York, New Jersey and New England. He joined the staff of CWA in 1986, and oversees all aspects of legislative and political action for the union in the northeast, as well as directing membership mobilization activities during contract campaigns and strikes at employers like Verizon. Bob played a central role in convening the coalition of unions, community organizations, and progressive activists that founded the New York State Working Families Party in 1998. In New Jersey, he helped to found the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, that state’s affiliate to the national Working Families network. In the last several months, he was one of the lead organizers of the We the People 2018 forum in Washington, D.C., which brought together 1200 grassroots activists and union members from over a dozen organizations to press for a progressive agenda with five key Democratic leaders from the US Senate. Bob’s articles about labor and politics have appeared in The New Labor Forum, Working USA and The Nation. Bob is married to Nancy Goldhill, Director of Legal Services of Staten Island, and they have two children–Ben, aged 29 and Ilana, aged 26—and lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Stephanie Morales

Portsmouth, VA

Stephanie Morales was the first woman to be elected Commonwealth’s Attorney in her city in 2015. A month after taking office, she created sustainable programming aimed at reforming the criminal justice system. She has engaged over 150 youth which she calls “Junior Commonwealth’s Attorneys” under her “Future Leaders Initiative” program and has formed the “Social Media by the Statutes” program where her team enters the public schools to keep students on the right track.

Under her “Ctrl+Alt+Del Program” she has held dialogue and taught effective re-entry strategies in seminars held in the community and inside state prisons and has helped reduce recidivism by working with formerly incarcerated citizens to restore their voting rights and help them become productive community members. Three months into Morales’ first term an officer in her city killed an unarmed teen. Morales secured an indictment and led the prosecution at jury trial, leading to a voluntary manslaughter conviction of the officer, and resulting in police accountability in her city. She is a fierce advocate for justice and a wife and mother of four children.

Marcelia Nicholson

Milwaukee, WI

Marcelia Nicholson is an award-winning activist, and first Chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, representing District 5. Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, she works to provide opportunities that were given to her as a young woman growing up in one of the nation’s poorest and most incarcerated zip-codes. She is a proud product of Milwaukee Public Schools and an honors graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to her election, she taught 4th grade at Pierce Elementary School and served in various capacities. Supervisor Nicholson is a champion for working people, public education, economic development, and community empowerment. Her past work as a union activist, community organizer, and educator, helps to inform her policy and community work. She has sponsored over 40 pieces of legislation, including a $15 living wage ordinance, eviction reduction program, an anti-discrimination resolution, and funding for woman of color seeking entrepreneurship.

Arti Walker-Peddakotla

Oak Park, IL

Arti Walker-Peddakotla is an Oak Park Village Trustee, Director of Engineering for a non-profit tech company, a first generation Indian American, U.S. Army veteran, community organizer, law student, and microbiologist. Arti advocates for racial justice and reimagining community safety with Freedom to Thrive Oak Park and Vets for the People, a project of the Working Families Party. In addition to co-founding Freedom to Thrive Oak Park, Arti is the co-founder of Activate Oak Park, a PAC with a mission to elect progressive candidates to local office in Oak Park, IL.

Becky Wasserman

SEIU

Becky Wasserman is the Deputy Director of Government Relations at SEIU, the nation’s fastest-growing union, representing 2 million workers in healthcare, public and property services. Becky has been designing advocacy strategy and developing grassroots campaigns for over a dozen years. Formerly, she was Director of Campaigns and Organizing for American Jewish World Service (AJWS), launching a new organizing department at this $50+ million human rights non-profit.

Before joining AJWS, Becky was the Deputy Director of Government Affairs at J Street working on Middle East peace, she coordinated a multi-year campaign for national labor law reform as Government Relations Manager at American Rights at Work (ARAW) and was President of the United States Student Association (USSA). Becky has been trained by the Rockwood Leadership program, Wellstone Action and the Midwest Academy. Originally from Swampscott, MA, she is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, Becky lives in Silver Spring, MD.