Emily E. LB. Twarog, PhD – Co-Director, Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference
Emily E. LB. Twarog is an associate professor of history and labor studies at the University of Illinois’ School of Labor and Employment Relations – Labor Education Program and Director of the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference. She earned her doctorate in American History at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a master’s in Labor Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Labor Resource and Research Center. Her book Politics in the Pantry: Housewives, Food, and Consumer Protest in 20th Century America (Oxford University Press, 2017) examines the ways in which housewives in America used food protests as political tools to gain political influence both locally and nationally. She is also the author of several articles and book chapters related to the evolution of working-class women’s leadership development as well as gender violence in the workplace.
Beginning Fall 2019, she will be an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellow in residence at the Newberry Library (Chicago) working on a new book project that focuses on the history of resistance to workplace gender violence in the American service sector. “Hands Off: The History of Sexual Harassment Resistance in the US Service Sector, 1935-2018” is a book length project that will examine how women workers have resisted sexual harassment in service industry jobs: work that is gendered female, union and non-union, typically low-waged, and often requires some form of intimate labor between the worker and the recipient.
Emily is sits on several boards including the Labor and Working Class History Association, Mother Jones Heritage Project, and the Working Women’s History Project. She is also the Innovations Editor at the Labor Studies Journal and an Editorial Board Member of LaborOnline, the online journal of LAWCHA.
Emily grew up in New England and after moving around the country settled in the Chicago area in 1999. She spent 15 years in the food service industry as a line cook, drive-thru cashier, assistant pastry chef, bread baker, scone entrepreneur, and server. She was the president of GEO/UAW Local 2322 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a community organizer with the Campaign for Labor Rights and Jobs with Justice, and a member of UNITE HERE Local 1 and a union steward in a downtown Chicago hotel where she worked as a server. She currently lives in Skokie with her husband who organizes workers, two marvelously curious boys who are growing up on the picket line, and one very fluffy dog named Roxi. In 2017, she was elected to the Skokie School District 73.5 for a four year term.
Stephanie Fortado, PhD – Co-Director, Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference
Stephanie Fortado is a Lecturer at the University of Illinois Labor Education Program, providing workshops and extension programming for unions and the general public on the Champaign-Urbana campus and throughout Illinois. As part of her job, Stephanie is the Co-Director of the annual Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference. Before joining the University, Stephanie served as the Executive Director of the Illinois Labor History Society (ILHS), the oldest state-wide labor history not-for-profit in the United States. She is currently a board member for ILHS, as well as for the Mother Jones Heritage Project.
Stephanie is a social and cultural historian of the modern United States, with a focus on African American working class and social movement history. She is especially interested in Civil Rights and Black Power history, and in labor history, especially as it relates to women’s history, environmental history and urban history.
She has been a proud union member for nearly a decade, serving as a delegate to her local labor council and in a range of leadership roles. She is currently the treasurer of her union NTFC Local 6546, part of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
Judy Ancel, Instructor
Judy Ancel has been the Director of Worker Education & Labor Studies labor education program at The University of Missouri-Kansas City since 1989. In her work she provides education and training for union members and the general public on labor relations, labor history and contemporary problems of working people in a global economy. She has taught history and politics at the college level, has worked in factories, and has been a union activist and organizer in both the United Steelworkers and American Federation of Teachers. She holds a Masters in history from Hunter College of the City University of New York and a B.A. from Stanford University. In 2009 she won the United Association of Labor Education award for Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Labor Education.
She currently coordinates The Heartland Labor Forum, an award-winning weekly one-hour radio show about the workplace and economic issues on community radio in Kansas City KKFI-90.1FM. In 2011 she won first prize from The International Labor Communications Association for a radio show, The Last Overhaul about the shutdown of the American Airlines maintenance base in Kansas City.
She is President of the Board of Directors of The Cross Border Network for Justice and Solidarity, a non-profit organization which develops ties and mutual understanding between working people in the Kansas City area and workers in Mexico and Central America. Its motto is: Supporting workers across borders and workers who cross borders. She also served from 2000-2007 as a Director and Executive Committee member of The Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras, a San Antonio-based tri-national non-governmental organization.
In May, 2010 Ancel organized a delegation of labor educators, filmmakers, and students to investigate the strike of copper miners in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico. The report, Crossing the Border to Cananea: High Stakes and Teachable Moments for North American Workers March, 2011 and a link to the video are available at http://cas.umkc.edu/labor-ed/global.htm. Ancel has also traveled twice to Honduras on human rights delegations in 2009, 12 and 13 and speaks and writes about the 2009 coup and the surge in violations of worker and human rights since then.
In April and May 2011 Ancel and a team teacher in St. Louis were targeted by media thug Andrew Breitbart of BigGovernment.com who posted a series of highly edited videos misrepresenting a course they teach, accusing them of teaching violence, sabotage, communism and militancy. A hate campaign against them was spearheaded by the St. Louis Tea Party and the Missouri Lt. Governor. However, Ancel fought back and was vindicated by UMKC. She and others organized support from around the country to save her colleague’s teaching job and won his reinstatement. Ancel and her colleague were later honored for defending academic freedom by the American Association of University Professors at their annual meeting.
Stephanie is a licensed attorney in Illinois with a JD from Chicago-Kent College of Law. Her prior legal practice focused solely on union-side labor & employment law in both in-house union counsel and law firm settings. She has extensive experience as a legal representative of unions in contract negotiations, labor arbitrations, and litigation before the National Labor Relations Board. Stephanie’s teaching interests include labor law (private and public sectors), employment law, collective bargaining, legal writing, parliamentary procedure, and the intersection of law and literature. Stephanie joined the faculty of the Labor Education Program of the University of Illinois in 2019. She is also a certified yoga instructor through Prajna Yoga in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Sarah Hughes is a St. Louis-raised, NYC-based labor educator who has worked for several unions and university-based labor studies programs. Most recently she worked at the Center for Organizing at the National Education Association. She has her MS in Labor Studies from the UMass Amherst Labor Center. Sarah has also been involved for several years with the Northeast School for Women in Unions and Worker Organizations and serves as the Northeast Board Rep for the United Association for Labor Education.
Latisa Kindred is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) instructor at Simeon Career Academy High School in Chicago, IL, where she teaches Electricity. She successfully completed her apprenticeship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local #134 in Chicago, and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Workforce Education Development from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. In 2007,she began teaching the only high school Electricity program in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system at Simeon, which is the largest CTE school in the l system. Latisa transformed Simeon’s Electricity shop and, today, it serves as preparation for the post-secondary options offered in the Electrical and Construction industries. She developed two and three-year high school Electricity course syllabi for CPS, and works continuously to develop course work that supports her student’s needs. Having introduced countless students to opportunities offered by Local #134, her mission to prepare youth for the electrical construction industry has been fulfilled; her former students include IBEW Local #134 Trainees, Apprentices, Journeymen, a Project Engineer, , and Junior Electrical Estimator, in addition to those who pursued careers in other industries. She is very proud of the success of her former students.
In June of 2014, Latisa attended the Midwest School for Women Workers in Champaign-Urbana, Il, which sparked a passion for Women’s Labor Leadership and Labor Education. Since that time, she has attended the Midwest School, the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference in 2016, the AFL-CIO’s Women’s Global Leadership program in 2017, and the Polk Women and Power School in 2019.
In recent years, Latisa has expanded her teaching by working as a labor educator and trainer. She has co-presented and led workshops at the Midwest School in 2015 and 2016, the Women Build Nations Conference in 2015 and 2016, the Labor and Research Action Network in 2016, the United Association for Labor Leadership in 2016, and served as a Teacher in Training at the 2018 Polk School.
Latisa was born in Altgeld Gardens, a housing project on the far southside of Chicago. She spent her school aged years in Waukegan, Il, a far north suburb of Chicago. Her varied experiences in both communities nurtured and cultivated her activism. She served as Simeon’s school delegate to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), and during the 2012 CTU strike, she organized the school’s picket line. She also served on the joint board between CTU and the CPS CTE department, and participated in contract bargaining for article 18 of the CTU contract, which covers Career and Technical Education. Today, she serves as Treasurer for The Sisters of IBEW Local #134, the union’s women’s committee and co-chairs the membership committee of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at McDade Classical School in Chicago.
Helena Worthen, Director Emeritus
Helena Worthen wrote plays and novels and then started teaching English in California. Luckily, she had a good union to belong to, the California Federation of Teachers (AFT) and was soon more interested in organizing adjuncts than teaching essay-writing. She went back to graduate school (back in the days when it was nearly free), got a job as Education and Political Action Director for a Joint Board of UNITE, and then came to the Chicago Labor Education Program where Helen Elkiss hired her and told her, point blank, that she had to do POlk. This was an amazing privilege and the most fun anyone could have. She did this from 2000 through 2011, loving it all. Now she and her labor educator husband Joe Berry are retired back to the San Francisco Bay Area, with one exception: between August 2015 and February 2016 they are Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, teaching labor relations at a Trade Union -sponsored University, Ton Duc Thang. She is using role plays developed at Polk to show students here what labor under capitalism looks like.