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 17 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).
Al Davidoff, Organizational and Leadership Development Director
Al came to the Solidarity Center in 2017 from the AFL-CIO, where he served as director of governance, organizational and leadership development. In this position he co-created the National Labor Leadership Initiative with the Cornell Worker Institute, a program that has since expanded into regional and international branches. During more than 30 years in the U.S. labor movement, Al served as American Federation of Teachers (AFT) chief of staff, AFT director of strategy and leadership development and 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. 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 community living wage campaigns in New York. [LinkedIn]
Sarah McKenzie, Program Coordination Director
Sarah coordinates programs at the Solidarity Center. With more than 20 years of experience in the labor movement, she joined the Solidarity Center in 2012 as director of Trade Union Strengthening. Before joining the Solidarity Center, she successfully organized more than 100,000 working people into local labor unions from public- and private-sector industries throughout the country. Prior to her Solidarity Center tenure, Sarah served as director of the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute, where she developed organizer training and recruitment programs and led a staff who trained thousands of organizers and affiliate members to build strong unions across the United States and around the world. Earlier in her career, Sarah led successful organizing drives for the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County Municipal Employees. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. [LinkedIn]
Mary Markowicz, Program Quality, Learning and Compliance Director
Mary joined the Solidarity Center in 2016 with extensive experience in compliance, federal regulations and award management. At Counterpart International, she built a team of professional grants and compliance managers and contributed to risk-management efforts and elimination of audit findings. During her 16 years at the National Democratic Institute, Mary directed the department responsible for interacting with donors on agreement-related matters for programs in more than 60 countries. Previously, Mary served as an evaluation officer for Family Health International. Since 2006, she has been a member of InsideNGO’s Government Relations Committee, where she represents members’ views on existing and proposed USAID regulations and practices. Mary earned a master’s degree in international relations from Syracuse University and, from Nazareth College, a bachelor of science degree in business administration and a bachelor of arts in Spanish. [LinkedIn]
Quoc Nguyen, Finance Director
Quoc 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. [LinkedIn]
Fred Azcarate, Regional Program Director, Asia
Fred joins the Solidarity Center with a 30-year track record of success in building power for workers, unions, and communities, through his leadership at the AFL-CIO and across the U.S. labor and social justice movements. Most recently, Fred supported the national work of the Poor People’s Campaign under the leadership of Reverend William Barber, working to organize in communities and online to address systemic racism, poverty and inequality, ecological devastation and the war economy and militarism. At the AFL-CIO, Fred served as director of America Wants to Work, deputy director of the Strategic Campaign Center, and director of Voice@Work/assistant director of organizing. He also served as founding executive director at Jobs with Justice and at USAction and USAction Education Fund. He is the chairman of the board of the New World Foundation and the founder of Grassroots Global Justice. He is a graduate of the State University of New York. [LinkedIn]
Hind Cherrouk, Regional Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
From 2015 to 2018, Hind served as Solidarity Center country programs director for the Maghreb region, covering Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. Based in Morocco, 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 youth, women, migrants 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 is a regular speaker at international forums on organizing women workers and moving toward gender equality, and speaks Arabic and French. Hind joined the Solidarity Center in 2005. [LinkedIn]
Kate Conradt, Communications Director
Kate 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. As lead manager for communications regarding rapid-onset and ongoing-crisis countries and first responder to global emergencies and disasters with Save the Children, she was regularly quoted in or appeared on national and international news outlets including CNN, Associated Press, New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the International Herald Tribune. 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 35 countries. [LinkedIn]
Tom Egan, Strategic Research and Campaigns Development Director
During his tenure at the Solidarity Center, starting in 2006, Tom has implemented programs in more than 20 countries. Prior to his current position, Tom served as co-manager of Solidarity Center’s Trade Union Strengthening department. Before joining the Solidarity Center, Tom served as senior lead researcher in the AFL-CIO’s organizing department, where he helped affiliated unions integrate organizing, member mobilization and corporate leverage into comprehensive organizing campaigns. As assistant director at the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), starting in 1994, Tom led organizing campaign research from IUOE’s Washington headquarters. While with the IUOE, he also led a field program for south-central petrochemical unions that provided research support and training in organizing, collective bargaining and servicing. 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. [LinkedIn]
Christopher Johnson, Regional Program Director, Africa
Prior to his 2020 appointment to Africa regional program director, Christopher led a staff of 37 in Bangladesh implementing Solidarity Center programs, including garment worker fire and building safety. As director of West and Southern Africa programs before that, Christopher led trade union capacity-building programs on anti-trafficking, gender equality, organizing, collective bargaining, leadership development, strategic research and conflict resolution. Before employment with the Solidarity Center, Christopher worked for the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Christopher holds a doctorate in African-American studies from Temple University in Philadelphia, a master’s degrees in international development from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom and a master’s degree in African and African-American studies from the University at Albany, the State University of New York. [LinkedIn]
Arina C. Lester, Global Lead, Development
Arina 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. Previously 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 the Lao and Thai highlands for 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. [LinkedIn]
Molly McCoy, Policy Director
Molly joined the Solidarity Center in 2009. Prior to serving as policy director, she led Solidarity Center programs in Central and South America, the Dominican Republic and Haiti as Americas regional program director. Molly has field experience in U.S. union organizing and international trade union economic policy experience developed while conducting economic policy research at the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). In 2015, she served as director of InterAction’s Democracy, Rights and Governance Initiative. Molly holds master’s degrees in international affairs and international relations from Columbia University and the Institut d’Etudes Politique and is a graduate of the National Labor Leadership Institute. She has authored policy papers and articles on global labor and economic issues and held board memberships on the Executive Council of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, the International Cocoa Initiative and the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project. [LinkedIn]
Neha Misra, Global Lead, Migration and Human Trafficking
Neha 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 Migration that Works and represents the Solidarity Center in the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST). [LinkedIn]
Sonia Mistry, Global Lead, Climate Change and Just Transition
Sonia Mistry is global lead for climate change and just transition, a position to which she was appointed in February 2021. She most recently she served as a senior program officer (2007–2021) in the Solidarity Center Asia department, supporting worker rights and union building programs throughout South Asia, including Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Prior to working in the Asia department, she supported Solidarity Center programs throughout sub-Saharan Africa. For the past two years, Sonia also served as co-chair of the organization’s Climate and Labor Justice Working Group. Before joining the Solidarity Center, Sonia was an organizer with the Service Employees International Union. Sonia holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College with a major in anthropology. [LinkedIn]
Hanad Mohamud, Program Coordination and Leadership Associate Director
Hanad is most recently the regional program director for Africa. From 2012–2018, he served as Nairobi-based Solidarity Center director for East and Horn of Africa programs, where he managed work in Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Hanad previously served as the Solidarity Center director of trade union strengthening, from 2005 to 2012, and as acting Africa regional director before that. Prior to joining the Solidarity Center in 2002, Hanad worked for the AFL-CIO’s Food and Allied Services 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 conducting trainings and campaigns in many African countries in union organizing and bargaining as well as in strategic trade union research in support of trade union campaigns. Hanad is a fluent French speaker.
Joell Molina, Trade Union Strengthening Director
Joell, who has more than 15 years of experience fighting for worker rights in the United States and around the world, was named regional program director of the Trade Union Strengthening (TUS) department in 2019. Before that, Joell served as regional program director for the Solidarity Center’s Americas programs and senior specialist for organizing in the Solidarity Center’s Trade Union Strengthening department. Joell has worked with unions in a variety of sectors in Africa, the Americas and other regions to develop organizing, strategic research and campaigning capacity through workshops and on-the-ground training. 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 and has worked with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. [LinkedIn]
Catherine Pajic, Organizational Development for Recruitment and Hiring Systems Deputy Director
Catherine came on board in 2020 to develop the Solidarity Center’s recruitment and hiring systems, drawing on 25 years of experience in nonprofit programming and management. Most recently, she was the sole international recruiter for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. This followed her six-year tenure as the first full-time global recruiter for the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Prior to that, she served for nearly a decade as NDI’s Deputy Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe. She has also worked as a professional fundraiser and technical writer, and designed exchange programs for Freedom House that are still being implemented. Catherine has a master’s degree in Russian area studies from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Boston University. [LinkedIn]
Robert Pajkovski, Deputy Regional Program Director, Asia
Robert is a lifelong trade unionist who has worked at the Solidarity Center since 2001. Robert was appointed deputy regional program director for Asia in 2020 following 18 years of field experience as a country program director in Europe and Asia. He has extensive experience and expertise in developing and implementing organizing and collective bargaining, strategic planning, trade union leadership and safe migration programs, as well as promoting international labor standards and enforcement mechanisms. Robert also served as the unit chair of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild representing Solidarity Center field staff members. Prior to joining the Solidarity Center, he held senior positions at the UAW International Union and the UFCW International Union, including assistant to the international vice president for collective bargaining. Robert has a master’s degree in business administration, a master of arts in labor relations and bachelor of arts in journalism.
Rudy Porter, Regional Program Director, Europe and Central Asia
Rudy 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. [LinkedIn]
Robin R. Runge, Equality and Inclusion Co-Director
As the Solidarity Center’s senior gender specialist and co-director of the Equality and Inclusion Department, Robin 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 of 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. 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. [LinkedIn]
Lauren Stewart, Regional Program Director, Americas
Following 12 years in growing leadership roles within the Americas department and wider organization, Lauren was appointed regional program director in 2020 to oversee the implementation and funding of worker rights programs across 12 countries. She leads an international team of 50 staff based in headquarters and nine field offices, advancing programs to build and balance worker power through union organizing, collective bargaining, and legal and advocacy strategies. Lauren possesses regional, labor and grant management expertise, and represents the organization with external stakeholders to increase the visibility of regional worker rights issues, including at the intersections of equality and inclusion, migration and climate change. Lauren testified before Congress in 2020 on labor rights enforcement within Haiti’s garment industry in the context of trade preference programs. She speaks Spanish and conversational Haitian Creole. Lauren holds a master’s degree in international service with a concentration in conflict resolution from American University and a bachelor’s degree in international politics from Pennsylvania State University. [LinkedIn]
Jeff Vogt, Rule of Law Director
Prior to his Solidarity Center tenure, as ITUC legal director (2011–2016), Jeff 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 and spoken frequently on international labor law and trade and labor standards, providing testimony before legislatures of the United States, Canada and the European Union. Prior to joining the ITUC, Jeff served as AFL-CIO deputy international department director and was AFL-CIO global economic policy specialist. Previously, he represented domestic and foreign trade unions in litigation in U.S. state and federal courts. Jeff earned a J.D. and L.L.M. in international and comparative law at Cornell Law School and studied international law at University of Paris I–Sorbonne. He also holds a master’s degree in English. [LinkedIn]
ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE
Erika has 20 years of international professional experience working for organizations focused on human rights and international development. She 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. [LinkedIn]
Michael Lawrence, Controller
Michael 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.
Johannes W. Schaefer, Senior Adviser Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning
Johannes leads monitoring, evaluation and learning within the Program Quality, Learning and Compliance department, where he draws from more than 20 years of experience in research and evaluation in Africa, Europe and the United States. Before joining the Solidarity Center and in East Africa Johannes expanded his monitoring and evaluation expertise as monitoring, evaluation and learning director for a research firm with clients that included Danish Refugee Council, Handicap International, Mercy Corps, UNICEF and other UN organizations, including the World Food Program, and as third-party team lead of evaluation programs for the Civil Society Facility—a multi-year project funded by the Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish governments. After receiving a doctorate, Johannes began his career evaluating projects, initiatives and new laws and regulations for a research company serving the federal German government, universities and other clients. [LinkedIn]
Stoniek Staniszweski, Senior Adviser for Information Technology
Stoniek dedicated most of his professional life to international nonprofit organizations, including International Youth Foundation, Eurasia Foundation and Lutheran World Relief where he built information technology departments from the ground up. He grew up under communist rule in Poland, where he studied computer science at the Warsaw University of Technology until forced to flee after his prominent role in opposing harsh martial law and organizing a successful wage strike was met with state repression. [LinkedIn]
Darcy Wertz, Director of Operations
Darcy supervises staff responsible for facilities and information technology; 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 Africa institute. [LinkedIn]