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.

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. Second, we then LEARN about how that new idea transforms systems and structures to make all workers safe, healthy, secure, and free. 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 as Managing Director. In that role, he oversaw the formation of The Workers Lab non-profit corporation and doubled 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. 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

Betsy Edasery

Managing Director

Eddy Morales

Eddy Morales

Director of External Affairs

Lyle Canceko

Lyle Del Mar Canceko

Associate Director of Strategy

Adrian C Meza

Adrian C. Meza

Director of Finance and Operations

Jeshua John

Jeshua John

Program Manager

Thomas Lawler

Thomas Lawler

Development Manager

Seph Baclig

Seph Baclig

Accounting Data and Technology Manager

Antonella Vassallo

Antonella Vassallo

Organizational Development Manager

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

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