2011 SEIU Yearlong Alums
ELSA CABALLERO | Deputy Director, SEIU Texas State Council
Elsa Caballero is the Deputy Director for the SEIU Texas State Council. For the past 11 years, Ms. Caballero has represented Public Sector workers at SEIU Local 521, where she helped to organize workers into the union as well as lead the In-Home Supportive Services Division of the Local. Ms. Caballero has worked at Larking Street Youth Center and the Hamilton Family Center. Her determination to see families live a good, quality life led her to join SEIU to fight for better jobs and benefits. An active champion of programs for people with developmental disabilities, Ms. Caballero serves on the Board of Directors for the group Fiesta Familiar and the National Chapter Fiesta Educativa.
HEATHER CONROY | Executive Director, SEIU Local 503
Heather Conroy traces her commitment to workers’ rights to watching family members ravaged by asbestos-related lung diseases as a child in western Pennsylvania. After working her way through college, she earned a degree in labor studies from Penn State. She worked with Jobs for Justice to fend off attacks on union rights, organized workers for the United Food & Commercial Workers and then joined SEIU Local 503 staff. Heather lives in southeast Portland and especially enjoys weekend coast getaways. Her devotion to progressivism and to her daughter Celia is matched only by a lifelong loyalty to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
MARGE FAVILLE | President, SEIU Healthcare Michigan
Marge Faville serves as the President of SEIU Healthcare Michigan, the state’s largest union of Healthcare Workers. As president of SEIU Healthcare Michigan, she also serves on the SEIU International Executive Board. Appointed by Governor Granholm, Faville has served as a member of the Michigan Occupational Health Standards Commission. She has also served on the board of the United Way of the West Michigan,the National Nurse Alliance Leadership Board and the Healthcare Division Leadership Board. Faville has served as Vice President and President of West Michigan Labor Council. She currently serves on the board of the Muskegon Area Labor Management Committee.
ROBERT GIBSON | Executive Director, Colorado Workers for Innovations and New Solution (WINS), SEIU Local 1876
A native of Michigan, Robert Gibson has dedicated more than eleven years to improving the working conditions, benefits and pay of workers. In 2004, Robert was elected to the Macomb Country Board of Commissioners as a Democrat, defeating a seventeen-year incumbent in a majority Republican district. As a commissioner, he chaired The Senior Services Committee and led the winning effort to pass a county wide Livable Wage Ordinance. In 2005, Robert organized the largest in-state organizing drive since the United Auto Workers sit down. As the Director of the Wisconsin Home Care Campaign, he led the successful 2007 campaign to create the Wisconsin Qualitative Home Care Commission. He served as a senior advisor to Senator Debbie Stabenow and to Congressman David Bonior during his gubernatorial bid. Robert also served as a planning commissioner and as a council chair to the Central United Methodist Church in Detroit. Robert earned his B.A. from Wayne State University. He lives in Denver with his wife and two children.
CASS GUALVEZ | Field Director, New Organizing, SEIU-UHW (United Healthcare Workers West)
Cass Gualvez is the Organizing Director and an elected member of the Executive Committee of SEIU-UHW. She joined SEIU Local 399 in 2000 as a clerical temp worker. A month in, she was assigned to fill in for the community organizer to support a first contract fight. Based in Los Angeles, she and organizers from the rank and file membership, local staff of several SEIU locals, and the International have organized nearly 18,000 healthcare workers in Southern California since 2000. In that same period the local organized a total of nearly 63,000 healthcare workers. She is a second generation Pilipino-American and was raised in Southern California.
KAREN HART | President, SEIU Local 925
Karen Hart’s organizing career began in the southern United States organizing retired, disabled textile workers with the Brown Lung Association. Her desire to build a new South led to organizing clothing workers with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union in Tennessee and Missouri. After organizing clothing workers, she became a secondary social studies teacher and received her Masters from Columbia Teachers College to embark on a 12 year teaching career. While she loved her students, she began to feel she could have a greater impact back in organized labor. Karen joined SEIU Local 925, in Seattle, WA as the Organizing Director, Early Learning Division Director, Staff Director and now as the President.
MICHELLE HEALY | Organizing Director, Public Services Division, SEIU
Since 1990, Michelle Healy has been working on organizing campaigns with SEIU and related organizations. She attended to Cornell University and became involved in the Anti-Apartheid movement, Central American Solidarity groups, and the Pittston miners strikes, Eastern Airlines, Nynex Communications strike and two big UAW strikes. After graduation, she went to learn organizing with ACORN and Local 100. Soon after, she began working for SEIU international with the 925/9to5 office workers’ division. While she was there, Michelle started the Wave program at SEIU, which was a training/hiring program for new organizers. In 2002, she became the Director of a small SEIU Nurse Local in Maryland and went on serve as a vice president with 1199/UHE. Her two lovely children add extra happiness to her life.
LAUREN JACOBS | Northern California Director, United Service Workers West
Lauren Jacobs is the Northern California Director for United Service Workers West, a 40,000-member property service local in California. Lauren will celebrate her 15-year anniversary with SEIU this fall. Prior to joining USWW in California, Lauren was the organizing director for Local 615 in New England and as a lead organizer with Local 1 in Chicago. She is a proud native New Yorker, an avid reader of fiction, a closet lover of quality sci-fi TV programming, and is in the process of transforming herself into a jock.
DIANA LACEY | President, The State Employee’s Association of New Hampshire, SEIU Local 1984
Diana followed a progressive path to improving her 17-year member experience in this small but influential local, culminating with her October 2010 election as President. In 2002, she joined the Lavender Caucus and immersed herself into equality work. By 2005, Diana’s activism had expanded into politics, the statewide marriage equality movement, improving the Local’s ability to motivate and engage members, a seat on the Executive Board, and Chairwoman of the Local’s entire collective bargaining program. In 2009, she engaged in a 18-month high profile contract conflict with NH’s Governor John Lynch. In 2010 she assumed the role of President. When not on ‘Union time’, Diana appreciates the comfort of her home in the beautiful Lakes Region of New Hampshire with her partner and four legged children.
L. TONI LEWIS, M.D. | Chair/Physcian Chair, Healthcare Division, SEIU
From the very beginning of her family practice residency, Dr. Lewis advocated for resident physician rights and improving access to affordable, quality healthcare for all. In 2008, Dr. Lewis served as President of the Committee of Interns and Residents and played a central role in building Healthcare United. In 2009, Dr. Lewis led SEIU’s initiative to unite medical residents and doctors in support of comprehensive national healthcare reform and educate voters about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act upon its passage. Dr. Lewis is a recipient of the 2010 “Phenomenal Woman” Award by the New York Branch of the NAACP and the 2010 Dr. Paul Cornely Award. Dr. Lewis also serves on the board of Families USA. Dr. Lewis earned her B.A. from Georgetown University and her M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.
REBECCA MALBERG | Homecare Division Director, SEIU-UHW (United Healthcare Workers West)
Rebecca Malberg is the Home Care Division Director at SEIU-UHW and an elected member of the union’s Executive Board. She came to UHW as a Deputy Trustee in 2009. Prior to UHW, Rebecca was the Home Care Division Director at SEIU-UHE in Massachusetts. She began at SEIU in 2003, working on various organizing and political campaigns, including running the SEIU operation in Kansas City, MO during the 2004 presidential election. Prior to her work at SEIU, Rebecca worked on various local and national political campaigns and was the Deputy Political Director at NARAL Pro-Choice America in Washington, DC for 3 years. She began her career as a community organizer at the Connecticut Citizen Action Group. She lives in Oakland, CA.
AL MARTINEZ | SEIU Nevada, Local 1107
Al Martinez was elected President from the ranks of Clark County, Nevada with whom he was employed for more than thirteen years. Al is a US Navy veteran with a strong background in both the public and healthcare sectors. Prior to becoming President of Local 1107, he managed a large recreation center and provided recreational activities to a mostly Latino population. Amidst sweeping attacks on Nevada’s public sector, Mr. Martinez successfully forged 22 public sector unions into a coalition called Nevadans for Nevada, for which he serves as the Chair. He graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a major in Sociology. He has been happily married to his wife, Lisa, for the last 18 years, and is the proud father of five and the grandfather of six.
PATRICK McCABE | Executive Director, SEIU Local 888
Patrick McCabe was born into a working class Irish family in Somerville, Massachusetts. Patrick is a 1994 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and served seven years as an officer in the United States Army, joining the elite Airborne Ranger, and achieving the rank of Major. After leaving the military, Patrick worked as the Organizing and Communications Director for SEIU local 1984. In 2008, Patrick ran for State Representative against a 35-year incumbent. (He’s not one to play it safe.) After the campaign, Patrick became the Executive Director of SEIU Local 888 in Massachusetts. He likes to spend his free time with his wife and two children and enjoys arguing with friends about taxing the rich and is looking for more healthy hobbies.
JAVIER MORILLO | President, SEIU Local 26
Javier Morillo-Alicea is the president of SEIU Local 26. He is also recognized in Minnesota as a political strategist and appears regularly on local political talk shows as a progressive commentator. For his work as an advocate for immigrants and immigration reform, he awarded the Progressive States Network’s 2008 Progressive Leaders Award for State Legislative Immigration Campaigns. In 2010, Morillo served as SEIU International’s National Immigration Campaign Director. Morillo also played a critical role in the elections of the first Muslim elected to the US Congress, Keith Ellison, the first Latina elected to the Minnesota State Senate, and the first Democratic governor elected in the state in over twenty years. Morillo was previously a historian and anthropologist, teaching courses at Carleton and Macalester Colleges. He is a Fulbright Scholar and has a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Yale University. He lives on the West Side of St. Paul with his partner of fifteen years.
CAROL NIETERS | Executive Director, SEIU Local 284
As an SEIU member for over 20 years, Carol Nieters has worked her way through the ranks from first joining the bargaining team to serving as the Exectuive Director. Her election as President in 2008 meant a change to business as usual for the local. The contract fights were bigger than individual units could win and so a coordinated bargaining plan was moved across the Local immediately. She has been innovative in ways to engage and empower members to address the challenges faced in public education. She believes that her Local can achieve its mission, “to improve the lives of working people and their families, and lead the way to a more just and humane society.”
HELENE O’BRIEN | President, SEIU Local 21LA
Helene O’Brien has been president of Local 21 LA since November 2008. Previous to joining SEIU, Helene was a community organizer for 10 years for ACORN in New York City and ACORN’s National Field Director for another 9 years. As a community organizer, Helene organized public school parents to win improvements in their children’s schools, public housing residents to win improvements in their apartments, and the immigrant communities of Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx to win more affordable housing and better jobs. As ACORN’s national field director, she expanded ACORN’s footprint to cities in the South and West of the United States. Helene graduated from the State University of New York in Albany and attended graduate school to study the history of American social movements at the University of Rochester. She lives in the New Orleans metro area with her husband and her 8-year old son.
BEVERLY ANN ORTIZ | Texas State Director, SEIU Local 1
Beverly Ann Ortiz was born in Rio Grande Valley and She was raised in South Texas with her younger sister. Once she graduated from college, she began working as a community organizer for the United Farmworkers. During her time with UFW, her mentor recommended she apply for the AFLCIO organizing Institute. In 2001, she began working with HERE Local 2850, and Local 19 organizing hotel workers for their union contract. In 2005, she moved to Chicago to begin working with SEIU Local 1. She also became heavily involved in planning the immigrant marches. She continues to work at Local 1 as Texas State Director. She travels often to visit her family and happily awaits the first nephew/niece.
ANDY POTTER | State Vice President, Michigan Corrections Organization, SEIU Local 526M
Andy Potter is currently the State Vice President for the Michigan Corrections Organization, SEIU, serving in that capacity since 2006. He has served on the MCO Executive Board since 2005. Prior to this, he worked as a Corrections Officer.Andy also represents Correctional Officers on the Michigan State Council as a Trustee. He is currently a member of the Michigan State Corrections Training Council, which oversees a State standard that the Department Of Corrections in Michigan uses when training its staff. He was appointed by the Governor of Michigan in 2008 to be a part of a taskforce to understand the spreading of Hepatitis-C in Michigan and help develop new preventative measures and education. Andy volunteers his time as a volunteer fireman and EMT. He resides in Lake Odessa, MI with his wife of ten years, Lori, and their two daughters.
COURTNI PUGH | Special Assistant to the Executive Director, SEIU Local 99, Education Workers United
Courtni Pugh currently serves as the Special Assistant to the Executive Director for SEIU Local 99. Prior to joining Local 99, Courtni was responsible for leading the union’s independent expenditure efforts in the 2010 Governor’s race. Courtni has also served as Executive Director of the California State Council(SEIU California). She was first woman and Asian American to lead SEIU California. She has held senior roles for Edwards for President, Kerry-Edwards 2004, the Democratic National Committee, Gore-Lieberman, the Alliance for a Better California, Illinois Congressman Danny K. Davis and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Courtni was recognized as one of California’s most influential leaders by Capitol Weekly in their Top 100 list and has been named “One to Watch” by Joe Mathews. She also serves as President of the Board of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium Fund, and is a founding member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association in Washington, D.C.Courtni currently resides in Southern California.
CARMEN RHODES | Director, South/Southwest, SEIU
Carmen Rhodes officially joined the SEIU family in February 2011 as the Director of the South and Southwest region. From 2007 – 2011, Carmen served as the Executive Director to FRESC: Good Jobs, Strong Communities, a Denver based non-profit committed to creating good jobs, affordable housing, a voice for regular folks in decisions that impact their lives and building strategic partnerships between labor and the community. Prior to FRESC, she was the Political Director of the Denver Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. Carmen fell in love with SEIU and the labor movement as a Union Summer intern in 1997 and is thrilled to be a part of the movement for workers’ rights and fighting for an economy that works for all.
TAMEKIA ROBINSON | Member Strength Director, SEIU Local 1000
Tamekia Robinson is the Member Strength Director of Local 1000. She started her union activism in 2001 and became a union steward in 2002. She was part of the SEIU “HERO” Program in 2004 and worked nine weeks in Cleveland, Ohio on John Kerry’s Presidential Campaign. She became the Secretary/Treasurer of her local district labor council within Local 1000 in 2005. Tamekia was part of the successful SEIU Childcare Campaign in Chicago, Illinois, helping to organize childcare workers into the Union. In December of 2008, Local 1000 went through a Real Time Strategic Change process. Tamekia took a leadership role on the design team and was later given the responsibility to ensure the change process was followed in the local as the Member Strength Director.
INGA SKIPPINGS | Communications Director, SEIU
Inga Skippings is the Communications Director at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest and fastest growing union in North America. In her previous role as Director of Intergovernmental Relations, Inga led the union’s work with state elected officials and other allies to advance policy initiatives for working families. Inga began her career in the labor movement on the SEIU private security officers campaign, the largest organizing drive of a predominantly African American workforce since the Pullman Porters. Before coming to the labor movement, Inga worked an ABC News producer based in the Washington, DC bureau. An immigrant from the Bahamas, Inga moved to the United States as a child with her parents and sisters. She lives in Takoma Park, Maryland with her husband and young son and is the proud mother of a daughter at Spelman College in Atlanta.
APRIL VERRETT | Executive Vice President, SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana
April Verrett is Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana, a Chicago-based local representing 90,000 healthcare workers in home care, hospitals, nursing homes ,and home child care. She had been an organizer for more than 10 years, starting with SEIU Local 20 organizing and representing hospital workers in Chicago and northwest Indiana. Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, April attended Loyola University in Chicago where she found her passion for social justice. She is dedicated to making Chicago truly work for all of its citizens.