The Leadership of The Partnership and the Affiliates
Heather Appel is the Partnership's Communications Director. Prior to joining the Partnership she worked as Communications Director at the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU Healthcare), where she was part of organizing campaigns that brought an additional 4,000 members into the union. She began her career as a community organizer in the South Bronx, where she organized campaigns for better schools, decent affordable housing, and living wage jobs. She later worked as a reporter at the Herald News and Bergen Record in New Jersey and has also been published in the New York Daily News, the Associated Press, New York City Limits, Time Out New York, and AM New York. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Vassar College and a Master's Degree at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Nikki Fortunato Bas is the Partnership’s Executive Director. She is excited to work with the Partnership’s coalitions across the country to harness the power of cities and transform our economy, environment and democracy. She joined the Partnership after serving as the Executive Director of one of its founding affiliates, the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), and as PWF's Board Chair. She brings over 20 years of experience in coalition building and campaigning around economic development, worker and immigrant rights, and environmental justice. She played leadership roles in EBASE’s ground-breaking good jobs agreement for the redevelopment of the Oakland army base, Sweatshop Watch’s landmark joint liability law for California’s garment industry, and the formation of worker centers in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In her spare time, she enjoys running, baking and spending time with her family, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network.
Ben Beach is the Partnership’s Legal Director. He works with organizations and local governments in cities across the country in their efforts to transform local economies. This work includes advising and representing campaigns for community benefits and affordable housing and for high road approaches to critical local sectors like construction, waste and recycling, energy efficiency, and goods movement. Ben brings over a decade’s worth of experience as an advisor to community organizations and community-based campaigns for economic justice. He received his J.D. from NYU School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden-Kern public interest scholar. Ben lives in the Bay Area with his family and loves exploring the outdoors with his daughter.
Jackie is the Southern Region Equitable Development Strategist, leading efforts to support community-based groups and leaders in the South and Southwest. She previously worked at the Partnership's affiliate LAANE for over 7 years as Project Director on the Construction Careers and Don't Waste LA campaigns. She has 10 years experience in social justice work in African American and Latino immigrant communities in Los Angeles that includes research, policy analysis and development, and coalition building on various issues, including food access, affordable housing, transportation, local hire, and the environment. Jackie holds a Master's Degree in Urban Planning from UCLA and a Bachelor's Degree from Occidental College. Jackie is a proud LA native who enjoys gardening, walks with her dog Pepe, and running.
Barbara Finnin is the Administrative Director, managing the Partnership's operations and finances. She has nearly two decades of experience working with a range of nonprofits, from fiscal sponsorship to health to environment to economic development. After six years of being the Executive Director of City Slicker Farms, a nonprofit that supports low-income communities to meet the basic need for healthy food through urban agriculture, she moved to specializing in nonprofit administration. She worked as a consultant with startup and growing organizations to strengthen all aspects of organizational and financial management. In addition, she provided technical advice and consulting for urban agriculture and food programming and policies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Maryland. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband, Wil, and a backyard full of eight chickens, nine rabbits, two dogs and fruits and vegetables.
Autumn Hays is Administrative Assistant at the Partnership for Working Families. She provides bookkeeping, event planning and general administrative support. Prior to joining Partnership for Working Families, Autumn worked directing non-profit art organizations. Coming from an arts practitioner background, Autumn’s primary interest has been in social justice and she is active in community organizing. Her passion for art is rooted in confronting otherization, affect based communication and personal narrative as a way of giving voice to the marginalized. Autumn attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she received an MFA in Studio Arts with an emphasis in Performance and received her BA in Visual Arts and Art History from the University of California San Diego. When not working, Autumn is an active curator and artist. She has received honors for her work including two Jack Kent Cooke scholarships, the Chicago Municipal Art League Scholarship, the John Quincy Adams Fellowship and additional awards for excellence in leadership and the arts.
Lauren Jacobs is the Partnership's Deputy Director. She has been an organizer for 20 years. She began organizing factories with UNITE in the south and later joined SEIU. During her 17 years at SEIU she served in a number of roles, from organizer to 1st Vice President. Over the course of those years, she organized thousands of previously non-union janitors and security officers in three major metropolitan areas. She led contract campaigns for tens of thousands of workers in Boston and the Bay Area, which resulted in breakthroughs in wages, healthcare and other benefits. Lauren's most recent work was with the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) as the organization's National Organizing Director. She led the organization's Dignity at Darden Campaign which challenged the world's largest restaurant company to raise wages and improve conditions for its 150,000 direct employees. Lauren also has a long history with Partnership for Working Families' affiliates. She served as a board member of Community Labor United in Boston and worked in coalition with affiliates across California and in Pittsburg and New York. Lauren is a proud native New Yorker, a daughter of Harlem, a fair-weather crocheter, and a pokey runner.
Mariah co-leads the Partnership’s national campaign for just and equitable infrastructure and leads its initiatives to propel the future of work towards worker power and equity, with a focus on nonstandard employment and the way technology is changing work and organizing. Before joining the Partnership, Mariah was the deputy campaign director for retail initiatives at the Change to Win (CtW) labor federation, where she led innovative campaigns in retail and telecommunications with an emphasis on corporate strategy, regulation and public policy. At CtW Mariah designed field and online investigations that generated actionable data for stakeholders and regulators. Prior to her work at CtW, Mariah spent five years working with SEIU in Southern California where she developed research and strategy for campaigns to organize subcontracted service workers.
Sebrina Owens-Wilson is the Partnership’s Campaign Director leading work in the areas of climate justice, equitable infrastructure, transit equity and campaign research. For more than nine years she has worked with Partnership affiliates to advance a vision of a clean and just economy that delivers widespread economic opportunity and leaves a healthy planet for future generations. Sebrina’s research and policy work has helped shape organizing strategies, served as the foundation for innovative policy solutions to economic and environmental challenges and opened to the door to building strategic relationships with key allies. She has also helped shape the organization’s position as the national experts on creating family sustaining jobs in the construction and waste and recycling industries. Sebrina earned a master’s degree in International Studies at the University of Oregon and a bachelor’s degree from Colorado College. When she’s not working or engaged in a complicated craft project, Sebrina is busy raising three little boys with her husband in Centennial, Colorado.
Miya Saika Chen is the Partnership's Staff Attorney. She provides legal assistance to grassroots organizations and coalitions across the country to help them increase the economic power of low income communities of color and women. Prior to joining the Partnership, Miya worked as an attorney and social justice advocate in diverse settings, advising low income individuals on starting businesses, combating the displacement of immigrant-owned mom and pop shops in the rapidly gentrifying Bay Area, filing juvenile defense appeals, increasing immigrant access to federal government resources, and providing research support for janitor organizing campaigns. She received her J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law. Miya is an Oakland, CA native and is happy to be raising her family in the community where she grew up.
Nancy Smyth is the Leadership Development Director for the Partnership and our largest affiliate, LAANE. She is a Certified Professional Coach and provides one on one coaching to organizational leaders as well as teams and works with Affiliates to vision and plan their work, build capacity, and create systems that help to maximize success and well-being. For 30 years prior to joining the Partnership, Nancy spent most of her career as a lawyer and organizer focusing on the rights of workers in the underground economy, the formerly incarcerated and immigrants. She established the first day laborer program in the country and also organized a dynamic household workers project with its own superhero, SuperDomestica. She loves to swim and to cook.