Joan is a campaigner, advocate, and labour organiser focused on leading progressive change in the United States Workers Rights Movement. As a Queer, Black, and Mexican Non-Binary Person they are driven to build a more equitable world for all people, especially those who experience marginalization across various forms of intersectional identities.
Joan currently serves as the Executive Director of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Washington State Council spearheading their joint external relations, political, and policy work. As a seasoned organisational development and racial justice practitioner Joan also currently supports SEIU’s transformation into an anti-racist Union by leading their state-wide immigration work as well as reinforcing their racial justice portfolio. In addition to their role at the State Council, Joan is a founding Board Member of Invest in Washington Now and is Board Treasurer of The Washington State Budget and Policy Center.
Before joining SEIU’s State Council, Joan was the Founder and President of The National LGBTQ Workers Center, the first Queer and Trans-focused Workers Center in the United States, where LGBTQ workers can learn how to organise, stand up to workplace discrimination and fight for economic justice.
Joan attended the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in political science. As a student, she led UC Berkeley’s longest-running progressive political organisation, where every year she helped to elect progressive people of colour to student government. After graduation, Joan joined the labour movement, and organised Spanish-speaking childcare workers. While an organiser with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 925, she coordinated a statewide campaign to organise workers, parents and politicians to keep migrant Head Start workers unionised when an outside federal contractor threatened to take away union representation.
Her work at the intersection of education, leadership development and organising led her to a job in Washington, DC, at SEIU headquarters, where she served for three years as the National Young Workers’ Coordinator. As director of this programme, she advised union staff and leadership on ways to build the next generation of labour leaders while helping to coordinate issue-based campaigns on student debt and Black Lives Matter with members of SEIU’s National Millennial Advisory Committee.
Mothers who work paycheque to paycheque in order to provide a better life for their children give me hope. In my experience, it was always low-wage mothers who, despite their lack of time, were most willing to give up their time to organise for better wages, better benefits and a better world for their children. Mothers like mine, immigrants and all working-class parents who see the importance of fixing this broken system of inequality. They give me hope.