Solidarity Center Loses Tenacious Advocate Lisa McGowan

The Solidarity Center is mourning the loss of our colleague, sister and friend, Lisa McGowan, who succumbed to cancer November 24, 2018.

Lisa was a deeply passionate advocate for the marginalized, channeling boundless energy and true heart into her lifelong campaign for worker rights and the advancement of women. An economist and gender expert with more than 25 years of experience, Lisa worked to give people the tools to shape the development, labor and economic policies that affect them. And she had a profound impact on everyone around her.

“Lisa was a true union sister, colleague and friend. She inspired everyone around her to fight for a more just and equitable world. She dedicated her life to building bridges between the labor and feminist movements and creating transformative strategies that improved the lives of so many women workers. We deeply loved and respected her and will carry her passion for justice forward,” said Cathy Feingold, director, AFL-CIO International Department.

“Lisa’s commitment to equality ran deep, and it was more than just political. It was in her soul, in her enormous heart. She was a tenacious advocate for feminist transformation, and she brought creativity, wisdom, strategy and power to everything she did,” said Shawna Bader-Blau, Solidarity Center executive director. “At work she was a leader who led with her passion and her love for justice. For those of us who were lucky enough to know and love Lisa, we are forever changed and our work will always reflect what we learned from her and how she impacted us.”

In her 19 years at the Solidarity Center, Lisa served in various roles—including deputy country director for Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, and acting regional program director for the Middle East and North Africa—ultimately leading the Inclusion and Equality Department, established in 2016. At the Solidarity Center, she developed and implemented transformational education programs related to women workers’ empowerment and action in the global economy. Over the past year, she collaborated across the global labor movement and in conjunction with women’s rights groups to push for an International Labor Organization global convention against violence and harassment at the workplace. That convention will be voted on in June 2019.

Chidi King, director of the Equality Department at the International Trade Union Confederation, said in a video of support, that Lisa has been “one of the greatest champions of work around ending gender-based violence. And we wouldn’t be on the brink of a historic convention on violence and harassment in the world of work without the stellar, amazing work [that she] has been doing all these years.”

In addition, Lisa was instrumental in developing the Women’s Global Leadership Program, in conjunction with Cathy Feingold, which helps connect women trade unionists in the United States with women in the global labor movement. The program is held every year at the UN Commission on the Status of Women meeting.

Lisa also found inspiration and joy in singing about social justice and was an active member of the DC Labor Chorus.

Prior to joining the Solidarity Center, Lisa served as an economist and technical director at the International Center for Research on Women, the Development Group for Alternative Policies and 50 Years Is Enough, social movements dedicated to rights, gender equality and economic and social justice. She was on the International Planning Committee for the 2016 Forum of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), an international, feminist, membership organization committed to achieving gender equality, sustainable development and women’s human rights.

Lisa leaves behind her husband, Matt Assenmacher, and son, Eli, and extended family. She will be sorely missed by us all. Friends and colleagues wishing to leave comments for her family can do so at the website, LotsaHelpingHands.com