About The Workers Lab

Giving New Ideas for Workers a Chance to Succeed

What We Do

The Workers Lab envisions a society where all workers are safe, healthy, secure, and free. 

Our purpose is to give new ideas for workers a chance to succeed and flourish. We carry out this purpose through three core strategies. 

INVEST

First, we invest in new ideas for workers in two ways: we invest in new ideas others (i.e., innovators) are working on through our Innovation Fund, and we invest in new ideas no one else is working on through our Design Sprints

LEARN

Second, we then learn about how that new idea transforms systems and structures to make all workers safe, healthy, secure, and free.

INFORM

Third, we take that learning, make sense of it, and use it to inform leaders who are making decisions that impact work and workers.

Our Team

Adrian

Adrian Haro

Chief Executive Officer

Adrian joined The Workers Lab in 2017 overseeing the formation of The Workers Lab nonprofit corporation, doubling the budget and staff. Before his promotion to CEO, Adrian served as our interim leader to oversee a critical transition period. Prior to joining The Workers Lab, Adrian built a career in progressive politics, government, and public affairs. He started as a field organizer on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, served as a Confidential Assistant at the U.S. Department of Education, and then served as the speechwriter to United States Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis. He then spent four years at Civitas Public Affairs Group, a leading national public affairs firm where he worked for a variety of clients developing and implementing strategic plans for a range of issues, and serving as a key advisor to top nonprofit executives. Adrian had a brief but beloved stint in Hollywood working under the mentorship of acclaimed Latino entertainment executive, activist, and entrepreneur, Moctesuma Esparza. Adrian holds a degree in rhetorical studies and political science from California State University, Long Beach and grew up in East Los Angeles.

Betsy-1

Betsy Edasery

Managing Director

Betsy, or “Bets,” leads the day-to-day management of The Workers Lab and serves as a senior advisor to the CEO to chart the organization’s strategic direction. Bets joined TWL in 2018 as a program director overseeing the design, implementation, and evaluation of the organization’s programs and program infrastructure. Prior to TWL, she worked on strategy, donor organizing, and philanthropic advocacy efforts at Asian Americans for Equality, TCC Group, Living Cities, and Resource Generation. She has also consulted for the Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund and a variety of nonprofits and philanthropies, and has served as a proud board member of Third Wave Fund and community funding committee member of North Star Fund. She has a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA, majored in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University, and currently resides in Oakland.

Eddy Morales

Eddy Morales

Director of External Affairs

Eddy oversees The Workers Lab fundraising and communications strategy, cultivating long-term and trusted relationships with industry leaders, elected officials, funders, media sources, and influential decision makers. Before joining TWL, he held key positions at the United States Student Association, Center for Community Change, VotoLatino, and Crossroad Campaigns. He currently serves as a Gresham City Council President, the Treasurer for the Democratic Party of Oregon, and has played a pivotal role as a board member of the Community Catalyst, Midwest Academy, National LGBTQ Task Force, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette. He majored in Planning Public Policy and Management and Spanish at the University of Oregon and currently resides in Gresham, Oregon.

Lyle Canceko

Lyle Del Mar Canceko

Acting Director of Programs

Lyle works with The Workers Lab CEO to develop and execute strategy across operations, programs, and activities to advance new programs and partnerships. He also works closely with the senior leadership to drive high-profile projects and initiatives. He served as Chief Operating Officer for the Mayor of Seattle, where he oversaw office systems to ensure cross functional operations alignment with the office’s strategic goals. He also served on the Mayor’s Transition Committee as a liaison for more than 60 community leaders. Lyle served as a regional political director for the Hillary for America campaign and the associate director of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs with the White House. Lyle attended Trinity Lutheran College in Sammamish, Washington.

Adrian C Meza

Adrian C. Meza

Director of Finance and Operations

Adrian C. leads the financial health and growth of the organization, with an overall focus to help the organization deliver impact and be on par with widely recognized institutions like many of our funders, incubators, and partners. In previous roles, Adrian C. served as the director of finance and business partnership for the University of California Los Angeles Alumni Association, where he reversed an existing deficit, creating new revenue streams which generated a multi-million-dollar budget. Adrian C. leads TWL financial planning and forecasting, ensuring TWL’s financial growth.  Adrian C. holds a degree in Sociology from UCLA.

Jeshua John

Jeshua John

Program Manager

Jeshua focuses on the design and growth of the Innovation Fund, Design Sprints, and Learning Hub, which allows him to cultivate our data, learnings, and investment strategies. Previous to TWL, Jeshua served as an associate intern for Business for Social Responsibility and at Berkeley Haas, where he co-authored sustainability projects related to Tesla and Levi’s supply chain optimization, as well as stakeholder management of Forest Resilience Bonds. Jeshua is a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the Blum Center for Developing Economies, with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a minor in Global Poverty & Practice.

Thomas Lawler

Thomas Lawler

Development Manager

Thomas focuses on supporting workers from the ground up through connecting donors and supporters to The Workers Lab programs to build sustainable financial support and distribute resources to critical places throughout the country. Prior to TWL, Thomas served as the political fundraiser at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where he worked with a national network of donors to fund the largest reproductive advocacy and electoral program in the country. He also served as a political campaigner throughout the 2020 election cycle, supporting multiple candidates throughout the country as well as ballot measure initiatives in targeted states. Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree in Women's Studies from Vassar College.

Seph Baclig

Seph Baclig

Accounting Data and Technology Manager

Seph serves as a strategic and tactical support for the director of finance and operations. He is responsible for the implementation and day-to-day management of the finance and operations for the organization. Prior to joining The Workers Lab, he served as an operations manager for fashion brand retailers. Other roles included managing a high-volume flagship retail store with more than 450 employees working across seven cross-functional departments. In addition to customer service marketing and human relations, serving as the lead in the development and implementation of executive financial tools and dashboards engineered to monitor operational performance.

Antonella Vassallo

Antonella Vassallo

Organizational Development Manager

Antonella leads administrative policies and procedures to ensure the day-to-day execution of organizational operations. Previous to her current role, Antonella served as Executive Assistant for our founder, Carmen Rojas, and has also worked as our Events Manager handling the management and execution of high-impact programs and events spotlighting our programs and partnerships. Prior to TWL, Antonella has worked as an Executive Assistant to the Chief Nursing Officer at Good Samaritan Hospital and as Care Coordinator Liaison at Stanford Children’s Health-Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. Additionally, Antonella served as an Administrative Associate at the Center for Health Policy and Center for Primary Care and Outcome Research (CHP/PCOR) at Stanford University. Antonella holds a double bachelors in Sociology and Behavioral Science from San Jose State University, and was born and raised in San Jose, CA.

Amanda Vega

Amanda Vega

Executive Assistant


Our Founders

Carmen

Carmen Rojas

Co-Founder

Dr. Carmen Rojas co-founded The Workers Lab and served as its first CEO. Under her leadership, she defined our organization as an innovation lab that invests in entrepreneurs, community organizers, and government leaders to create replicable and revenue-generating solutions that improve conditions for low-wage workers. 

For more than 20 years, Carmen has worked with foundations, financial institutions, and non-profits to improve the lives of working people across the United States.

Prior to building The Workers Lab, Carmen was the Acting Director of Collective Impact at Living Cities. She supported 22 of the largest foundations and financial institutions in the world to invest in improving economic opportunity for low-income people by supporting projects in the fields of economic and workforce development, energy efficiency, and asset building. 

From 2008 to 2011, Carmen was the Director of Strategic Programs at the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, where she oversaw the foundation’s Green Access and Civic Engagement programs. Alongside her work at the foundation, Carmen also taught in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to this, Carmen was the Coordinator of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency’s Taskforce on African American Out-Migration to address African American displacement from the city. 

Carmen serves as a director or advisor on numerous non-profit boards, including  Neighborhood Funders Group, General Service Foundation, JOLT, Certification Associates, Fund Good Jobs, and Floodgate Academy.

Carmen holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and was a Fulbright Scholar in 2007. She is currently the President and CEO of the Marguerite Casey Foundation.

David Rolf

David Rolf

Co-Founder

David Rolf co-founded The Workers Lab and is Founder and President Emeritus of SEIU 775.  He has worked as a labor leader, organizer, author, and strategist working to build the next American labor movement. He has been called “the most successful union organizer in America” by Fast Company, and American Prospect wrote that “no American unionist has organized as many workers, or won them raises as substantial, as Rolf.”

David led campaigns that helped organize hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers, including the landmark 1999 effort to win a union for 75,000 Los Angeles home care aides, the largest successful organizing drive in the U.S. since 1941. He led the nation’s first successful campaigns for $15 minimum wages in SeaTac (2013) and Seattle (2014). 

From 2002 to 2018, David served as Founding President of SEIU 775, which organized more than 45,000 long-term care workers in Washington and Montana. Under his leadership, previously unrepresented home care aides built the largest local union in Washington State; saw their wages more than double; gained health, dental, vision, and workers compensation insurance; and won a retirement plan, paid time off, and professional training and certification. He served as International Vice President of SEIU and was founding chair of its Home Care Industry Council.

David is chairman of the SEIU 775 Secure Retirement Trust, and was founder and chairman of the SEIU 775 Health Benefits Trust (a health insurance plan) and the SEIU 775 Training Partnership (a school enrolling 40,000 students annually in home care career education). He is a co-founder and board member of the SEIU 775 Benefits Group.

David is founder and chairman of the Fair Work Center, a worker center and employment law clinic, and Working Washington, a campaign organization for economic justice and workers’ rights. From 2019 to 2021, he led the Raise Wages Now Project.

David serves on boards and as an advisor, recently including the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work and Benefits21 Initiatives, the MIT President’s Work of the Future Task Force, the Clean Slate for Labor Law Project at Harvard Law School, the Urban Institute’s Workrise Network, the Workers Defense Project Leadership Council, and the JUST Capital Programs Advisory Committee, among others.

David writes and speaks frequently about the need for risk taking and innovation in the American labor movement.  He is the author of “The Fight for Fifteen: The Right Wage for a Working America” (New Press, 2016) and “A Roadmap to Rebuilding Worker Power” (The Century Foundation, 2018). His work has been published in The Nation, Democracy Journal, The American Prospect, the Aspen Journal of Ideas, the Boston Review, the Social Policy Journal, American Compass, and Generations, among other publications.

He was born and raised in Cincinnati, is a graduate of Bard College.

Board of Directors

Margot Brandenburg (Chair)

  • CEO
  • MyStrongHome

Keesha Gaskins-Nathan (Vice Chair)

  • Program Director, Democratic Practice – US
  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Sean Murphy (Secretary)

  • Founder
  • Always Win Together

Ian Fuller (Treasurer)

  • Managing Director
  • Westfuller Advisors

Luz Vega-Marquis

  • President Emeritus
  • Marguerite Casey Foundation

Nidhi Mirani

  • Executive Director
  • Carina Care 

Haeyoung Yoon

  • Senior Director of Immigration Policy
  • National Domestic Worker Alliance

Anna Fink

  • First Vice President of Philanthropy
  • Amalgamated Bank

Erica Smiley

  • Executive Director
  • Jobs With Justice

Press Inquiries