Scenes from the first Clara Lemlich Awards -- March 21, 2011


The Clara Lemlich Award for Social Activism honors women who have been working for the larger good all their lives, in the tradition of those who sparked so many reforms in the aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire one hundred years ago.


The list of 2011 honorees is below, followed by short biographical paragraphs.

 See honorees from subsequent years here.


The Honorees

Kathy Andrade pioneer immigrant activist

Virginia Baron still fighting for peace and for women

Dorothy Burnham grass roots civic leader

Monnie Callan lifelong union organizer

Dorothy DeVouse defender of parents

Frances Goldin tireless literary agent

Kathy Goldman empowering the poor, feeding the hungry

Shui Mak Ka Chinatown garment worker organizer

Elaine Katz keeping Yiddishkeit alive

Lillian Kimura advocate for WWII internees

Rebecca Lepkoff humanitarian photographer

Rita Margules Clara Lemlich’s daughter, housing organizer

Annie B. Martin pioneer chemist, unionist, and activist

Louise Meriwether dedicated peacenik, powerful writer

Charlene Mitchell peace movement agitator

Shirley Novick centenarian troublemaker

Ethel Paley created patient advocacy organization

Lillian Pollak novelist of radical politics

Sukie Terada Ports professional AIDS agitator

Lillie Pope educator and activist

Maria Portalatin educator/activist for Latin American rights

Wendy Rodriguez parishioner activist

Marie Runyon intrepid tenant leader

Mary Sansone lifelong activist and community organizer

Maddy Simon music and culture orchestrator

Jessie Taft Smith union campaigner

Sylvia Thompson community rabble rouser

Eleanor Tilson feminist healthcare expert

Ida Torres labor stalwart

Joan Wile songwriter and granny militant


These short paragraphs barely tell the stories of our honorees’ amazing lives.

We hope to have longer biographical/autobiographical sketches soon.


Kathy Andrade A lifelong activist and leader in the labor movement, she first worked as a garment worker and organizer in Miami and New York after arriving from El Salvador in the 1950s. She was the Director of the Department of Education for Local 23-25 (ILGWU), where she developed a wide range of educational and cultural programs in many languages for the mostly immigrant membership. She has always been an active participant and officer in the Hispanic Labor Committee and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.


Virginia Baron My grandmother marched for the women’s vote carrying a sign made by my grandfather, which helps explain why I have been on the march so many times in my life. I worked against the Vietnam War so my children wouldn’t go off to fight yet another senseless war, worked with Women Strike for Peace, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Montgomery and DC, joined NOW, consciousness raising groups, the Women’s Liberation March down Fifth Avenue -- women and peace often melding. At Save the Children, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the Life and Peace Institute (Sweden), the focus was always on nonviolence, human rights, peace, and equal rights, as it was on forty-some trips to Israel/Palestine, and countless articles and actions. There was also citizen diplomacy in the USSR, Poland, Libya, Nicaragua (Iran-Contra War), and demonstrations. Thinking over a long life of speaking out and still having more to do, I can say that I would only switch passions if peace were to break out and women had no reason to march again.


Dorothy Burnham gives special meaning to the term “activist.” She was involved early on in direct action projects sponsored by local members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) shortly after its creation in the 1940’s. Over the years her energies went into the Women of Color Resource Center, Women's International Democratic Federation, Community Peace Struggle, Prospect-Lefferts Peace Organization and Genes and Gender. She has always been an exceptional role model for her children as well as those of others.


Monnie Callan Community organizer, 1199 organizer, garment worker, translator, activist, inpatient social worker, I was the first social worker on the AIDS service (the disease was only called GRID when I started). I was arrested when a group of us in a strike sat down to block supply trucks, and again, with many others (including our President Dennis Rivera) in our peaceful protest against the killing of Amadou Diallo. I am active with the Retired Members Division of 1199, the NYC Alliance for Retired Americans, and have always been an activist in the civil rights movement, housing and squatters movement, peace movement, my tenants’ association, and more. I learned from my parents who fought for the right of women to vote, and for the people of Spain against Franco and fascism, and for social justice for all.


Dorothy DeVouse Registered Nurse, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and long-time NYC employee, her concern about her immediate environment propelled her to highlight instances of injustice wherever she encountered it. As a member of School Board District #23 in Brooklyn she has been an effective advocate for children, and more broadly she has participated in grass roots movements both educational and political. She was a leader in the struggle for community control of schools in the late 1960’s, and prominent in Tenants’ Association actions to promote decent housing.


Frances Goldin I've been an activist since my 18th year when I met a Socialist on my job and was introduced to his world and then married him. He was a leader of the then American Labor Party. I started in community housing and after 50-years of struggle (and nine arrests) defeated Robert Moses, and saved the Cooper Square community by forcing the city to adapt OUR urban renewal plan. I established a left literary agency which has flourished over the years, and am involved in the Anti-Death penalty fight and particularly, I led a gang to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. I still work at 86, and there is no doubt that it is the movement that keeps me going.


Kathy Goldman began working on food issues in 1965 in the South Bronx responding to parent complaints about the low quality of school lunches. Kathy actively participated and provided leadership to the successful efforts to win the fights for federal funds for school breakfast, summer meals, after-school meals, food stamps, and senior meals. In 1980 she founded Community Food Resource Center, and later the Food Bank, one of the city’s largest soup kitchens in Harlem, and two senior dinner programs utilizing public school facilities after school hours.


Shui Mak Ka immigrated to America in 1973 from Hong Kong. Born and raised in a farming village in Guangdong, China, from the age of 14 she was a natural organizer and fighter for women's rights; she worked as a midwife and day care teacher before coming to America. She was a garment worker for many years, in Chicago and New York, and played a leading role in the 1982 Chinatown strike. After the strike, she worked with (ILGWU) Local 23-25's Education Department until her retirement in 1999, and continues to be very active in the Chinese community on women's rights, voting and political advocacy, and health care issues.


Elaine Katz is the matriarch of three generations of Yiddish-speaking secular Jews, including her granddaughter, who works at the National Yiddish Book Center, and her son and daughter-in-law, who are active in Boston Workmen’s Circle and sing in the world’s largest Yiddish chorus. She has been a member of the Jewish Currents management committee for over thirty years, directing the fund raising dinners, planning the yearly concerts, and recruiting volunteers, and much more. She has also been active with Camp Kinderland and the Jewish progressive shules.


Lillian Kimura was the first female National President of the Japanese American Citizens League. A California native, she was interned at Manzanar during World War II. She later earned degrees from University of Illinois, worked for the YWCA in Chicago, and became the first female president of Chicago's Japanese American Service Committee. She worked on the Redress Movement, which provided for reparations and an apology for Japanese Americans interned during WWII, and is also involved with the American Jewish Committee and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.



Rebecca Lepkoff was born in 1916, grew up on the Lower East Side and started photographing her native city when she bought her first camera in 1938. Her photographs for the next three quarters of a century show a strong sense of light and capture the rhythm of the street. She was an active member of the Photo League (from 1947 to 1951) which was devoted to recording the urban reality of New York City. Members believed that by documenting the human condition, the photograph could be a powerful instrument for social change. However, in 1947 during the McCarthy era, the attorney general listed the Photo League as a communist organization and by 1951 it was dissolved. Lepkoff continues to lead an active life as a photographer.



Rita Margules I was raised in a labor oriented, socially conscious family; my mother was Clara Lemlich, a lifelong activist, best-known as the protagonist who started the Uprising of the 20,000. My father was a printer and a member of the Big Six local of the printers union. As a child, I remember hearing my parents say to us "eat your food – miners' children are starving" and to this day I am aware that we all have a responsibility for each other. I’ve been involved for 28 years in the housing program for seniors of limited income sponsored by B'nai B'rith and HUD. My building in Flushing, just a dream in the late 70's, grew from groundbreaking to tenant interviews to its first move-ins on my watch.


Annie B. Martin has devoted her entire life to advancing the interests of all races, but specifically African-Americans and Africans. As the longest serving leader of the oldest branch of the NAACP – the New York Branch – she has spend decades marching and testifying for equality in education and fair treatment for all workers. As a chemist Dr. Martin is an active member of the Office and Professional Employees International Union OPEIU, a leader in the Red Cross, and a long time member of the Executive Board of the NYC Central Labor Council. A native of Eastover, South Carolina, she has been a tireless leader in the ranks of labor and civil rights, and is one of the first persons to receive the national Ellis Island Medal of Honor. She has been on the front lines for many decades, from her trips to Alabama and Georgia during the King era and having her hotel bombed, to recent marathon sessions at Board of Education hearings.


Louise Meriwether In May I will be 88 years old and I have been active in the peace movement most of my life. I am a writer, and also a dedicated activist and peacenik. In New York City In my twenties I was chapter chairman of my union, marching in May Day Parades and having rotten eggs thrown at my head. In Los Angeles I was arrested in a sit-in against the racist Birch Society and sentenced to five years probation. In Bogalusa, Louisiana, I worked with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); back in New York I was instrumental in keeping Muhamad Ali, then world's heavyweight champion, from fighting in South Africa and breaking a cultural boycott. In Washington, D.C.,I was arrested in 2002 in a protest against the disastrous policies of the World Bank and the IMF. Back in New York I was active in several forums breaking the silence about the rampant rape in the Congo and the multinational corporations and countries involved. Last year I helped set up a forum at Riverside Church on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.


Charlene Mitchell Her early civil rights activism included organizing, in 1943 at the age of 13, both black and white teenagers in pickets and other actions at the Windsor Theatre in Chicago which segregated black customers in balconies, and also at a nearby segregated bowling alley. So began early a long career of unrelenting activism and persistence, most famously illustrated in the success of the campaign she helped lead to free Angela Davis, perhaps "one of the most impressive mass international campaigns of the 20th century." In 1993, Charlene Mitchell attended the Foro de São Paulo in Havana as an observer from the CCDS. In 1994 she served as an official international observer of the first democratic elections in post-Apartheid South Africa and was an observer at the Congress of the South African Communist Party that year.


Shirley Novick migrated from Poland to Canada and was “smuggled” down to New York City carrying little more than two suitcases, a mandolin (which she could play), several embroidered pillows, and an immigrant’s dream of a better life. She went to work for 47 years in the garment trade starting at $5 a week, and made dresses for Lord & Taylor and other Fifth Avenue stores (one of which was worn by Liza Minnelli). When Novick began to speak out for better working conditions—the only Jewish worker in an Italian shop to do so—she became the black sheep. “But I wasn’t a black sheep, I was enterprising…I was a red sheep,” she declares in an interview conducted by her cousin the singer Lou Reed, featured in the documentary film “Red Shirley” that Reed directed and scored.


Ethel Paley has worked for decades on behalf of the frail elderly, and is a founder of FRIA (originally Friends and Relatives of the Institutionalized Aged, now known only by the acronym). FRIA was established in 1976 in response to a State investigation of the nursing home industry, to be an independent watchdog organization to safeguard residents and improve the quality of nursing home care. As the first director she organized family care givers and community leaders to act as advocates on behalf of nursing home residents, began a consumer guide and opened a bi-lingual Help Line to assist families to know their rights under government regulations and to improve the quality of care of their relatives and ensure their independence, and dignity. She continues her long work as a volunteer, from speaking with callers as a Help Line counselor, updating resource information provided to callers, and as a Board member assisting in developing and advocating for the numerous public policies issues for which FRIA is recognized.


Lillian Pollak Born in New York City's Hell's Kitchen in 1915, Lillian became a radical at sixteen, raised three children, earned two graduate degrees at night and taught school for twenty-five years. She's still active -- with the Granny Peace Brigade and the Raging Grannies. The Sweetest Dream, her historical novel about the radical politics of the 1930s, was published in 2008.


Lillie Pope was an active leader of the Teachers Union, and pioneered the first Learning Center in a mental health setting in this country for students with learning problems. She worked closely with the schools, guiding teachers, paraprofessionals, volunteers and parents to help their students become readers. Working in an impoverished area in Coney Island, she employed and trained neighborhood women to assist; the beneficial impact on them, as on the children whom they served, was enormous.


Maria Portalatin In 1967, Maria was one of 100 New York City para-professionals citywide chosen to enter a career ladder program with tuition-free college courses. “No sooner were we getting used to the routine of going back to school than we were told funds no longer existed,” recalled Portalatin, who became chapter chairwoman for the UFT’s 20,000 paras and a member of the NYSUT Board and an AFT vice president. A single parent making $1.25 an hour, Portalatin couldn’t afford to pay for college, and her union at the time said there was nothing it could do. Portalatin and other paras started an organizing campaign to join the UFT. In their first UFT contract, paras won significant salary increases and a career ladder program open to every para. “My motto is: Yes, I can. Yes, I will.”


Sukie Terada Ports Co-founder and Executive Director of the Minority Task Force on AIDS in response to the need of the “minority” community for information about the prevention and treatment of AIDS as well as the design and implementation of effective policies to attack the disease. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Family Health Project, an AIDS program providing effective advocacy for women and their children; her work has taken her into a wide arena of organizations including Asian Americans for Equality, HIV Law Project, New York Women’s Foundation and the Sister Fund. Noteworthy is her involvement with Project Charge, a Kellogg Foundation initiative designed to improve the health of Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in eight U.S. cities. She has published widely on a series of topics around health issues. Her effective advocacy against cultural and linguistic ignorance and the imbalance in funding and public health policies around people of color has won her world-wide respect.


Wendy Rodriguez is a long time resident of the Fordham-Tremont community and has served as a member of Bronx Community Board #6 for over twenty-two years. She is a co-founder and initiator of the board’s “Not In My Neighborhood, You Don’t” drug prevention campaign. At St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church she is an Eucharistic minister and lector, and she is a hospital trustee and community advisory board member of St. Barnabas Hospital. Beginning in 1971 she worked with the New York City Department of Education in the Bronx, providing small group instruction and individualized attention to teach skills specific to children needs.


Marie Runyon is a lifetime housing activist, unafraid to speak about and tell people who abuse power to go to hell. She’s not afraid of politicians or countries. Born in North Carolina in 1915, she went to college in Berea, Kentucky, and arrived in New York in the early 40s. She’s been fighting for social justice ever since, on demonstrations, at rallies, and in poor neighborhoods everywhere. She established the Harlem Restoration Project in 1978. She served 1 term in the State Assembly, and was arrested dozens of times for demonstrating for peace and keeping people from being evicted.



Mary Sansone has been an activist since she was 8 (in 1924), when her father, an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World, took her to Union Square and set her atop a soapbox while he spoke. She still has his small, worn copy of the “Little Red Songbook,” a collection of labor songs. In 1964, she and her husband founded the Congress of Italian-Americans Organization, a social services group known by the acronym CIAO, whose early meetings were held in the couple’s basement. In 1988 she founded a group called CURE (Community Understanding for Racial and Ethnic Equality). And those were just two chapters of a life devoted to a range of causes. “Gays, women, human rights -- I’m there.”


Maddy Simon Madeline taught in the New York City Board of Education as a choral and band teacher for many years. She graduated from Hunter College, and also from the ‘Hekher Kursn’, the university of the Jewish educational system of the Jewish People’s Fraternal Order. She was one of the conductors of the Jewish Music Alliance and conducted many Yiddish and international folk choruses in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Maddy has been associated with Camp Kinderland for over 60 years as a counselor, music director, Board member and musical director of many productions. Maddy has taught songs and their meaning to hundreds of children, young adults and older adults in camp, at meetings and at JCCs, and has always led people’s voices raised in song at rallies and demonstrations.


Jessie Taft Smith started organizing at a young age, perhaps influenced by her father, an activist in the ILGWU. She was soap boxing at age 14; at age 16 she went to New England to participate in the 1934 garment strike and was arrested. After high school she went into the laundries and helped to organize them into the union. Blacklisted for this, Jessie took on pseudonyms and went back to organize -- something she continued to do throughout her long life. She organized a busload of tenants from the Marble Hill NYCHA housing projects to go to the 1963 March on Washington; organized for workers’ rights, for integration, for women. After a start as a Communist and a Young Pioneer, she led a life of dedication to helping others and she still does, at age 96 ½. A retiree from DC 37, as well as 1199, she used to work in Harlem Hospital and walked the picket line as an 1199 member on behalf of DC 37’s organizing campaign.


Sylvia Thompson Born in San Antonio in 1924, I joined the left, progressive movement at the age of 20. I helped to found the Civil Rights Congress in Houston in 1946, and became an organizer for the United Electrical Workers in Winston Salem in 1947. With the help of the ACLU, I spent three years of my life fighting and winning the right to have the ashes of my husband, Robert Thompson, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, a World War II hero, and a leader of the Communist Party, buried in Arlington Cemetery. I have worked in movements concerning Jim Crow laws, civil rights, and have been active in peace and social movements all of my life. It has been a great journey.


Eleanor Tilson My first memories of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire tragedy were when my mother, a seamstress in a sweatshop at the time, took my sister and me on the subway to see the building where the tragedy had occurred. When she told us the story we both cried. She consoled us by telling us that her union would do everything they could to make the place she worked much safer for everyone. My first job was in a department store part-time and that is how I was introduced to the department store workers union; I ultimately became the director of their health and pension fund, which provided the best level of healthcare and pensions for 1199 SEIU members and their families in all of New York State. In 1974 I took part in the long overdue creation of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), which fought hard to address the decades old disparity between the number of women working throughout the labor movement and the lack of their role in leadership positions. I have been proud to be an active trade unionist my whole life. Even in retirement! I think my mother would have been proud too.


Ida Torres Ida Ines Berrocal-Torres was born and raised in New York City, into a union family. She learned about the importance of the labor movement at the dinner table, through the words of her father, a co-founder of the Maritime Workers union, and her mother, a “Shop Chair Lady” at the ILGWU. Her union activism took her to the United Office and Professional Workers of America, where she started as a telephone operator. Torres’ career in the labor movement continued as she became a finance clerical employee at District 65, and in 1954, office manager at RWDSU Local 3 United Storeworkers, the union representing Bloomingdale’s department store workers. In 1965, the 4,000 Bloomingdale’s workers in New York City went on strike, and Torres became actively involved in the fight for justice at the department store. After the 15-day strike ended, Local 3 members rallied around her. She rose through the ranks, becoming a vice president in 1977, secretary-treasurer in 1984, and finally, president in 1998, an office she held until her retirement. Torres also went on to serve as the treasurer of the New York City Central Labor Council, and was instrumental in the founding of the Coalition of Labor Union Women as well as the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women. Torres has also been active in the NACCP, the National Conference for Puerto Rican Civil Rights, the Hispanic Labor Committee, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. The fight for workers’ rights and the civil rights struggle have intertwined for Torres.


Joan Wile I am a grandmother of 5 who founded Grandmothers Against the War over 7 years ago. Among our many activities, we were arrested and jailed when we tried to enlist at the Times Square recruiting center, in Oct., 2005, which became a world-wide story overnight. We've traveled to Europe and to Washington to speak, rally, lobby and perform. We hold vigils, demonstrations, protests, all sorts of actions, and do shows written mostly by me. I am an ASCAP lyricist and composer with a long career as a singer in cabarets, recording studios, on movie sound tracks, and on records. I have written at least a thousand jingles, songs, film songs, as well as a number of cabaret acts, and 8 musicals, 5 of which were produced off- and off-off Broadway. My first book was published in 2008 by Citadel Press, entitled Grandmothers Against the War: Getting off Our Fannies and Standing up for Peace.


For more information about the event contact the organizers: Evelyn Jones Rich at 212 367-8883; Esther Cohen at; Rachel Bernstein and Henry Foner at 212 998-2637 or


PROGRAM from the event:


I’ve Got Something to Say”

The Clara Lemlich Awards

celebrating unsung activists

March 21st, 2011

4:30 – 6:30pm

The 8th Floor 17 West 17th Street NYC


To be of use

by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best

jump into work head first

without dallying in the shallows

and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element,

the black sleek heads of seals

bouncing like half submerged balls.


I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,

who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,

who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,

who do what has to be done, again and again.






Welcome Evelyn Jones Rich


Clara Lemlich Henry Foner and Ruth Sergel


Presentation of Honorees

Don Rubin

Vinie Burrows

Bhairavi Desai


LaborArts Rachel Bernstein


Poem Esther Cohen


Solidarity Forever Maddy Simon and the Audience




Evelyn Jones Rich is a retired NYC social studies teacher and high school principal, an historian of African history, and the former executive director of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. She is co-founder and director of LaborArts and a lifelong troublemaker and activist in the fight for civil rights, effective education for all, and for the rights of all people to have their say in our society.

Henry Foner is a retired labor leader, historian, songwriter and activist. He retired as president of the Fur, Leather and Machine Workers Union in 1988 after 27 years in that position. He has worked as co-founder and co-historian of the website "Labor Arts" since its founding in 2000. Currently serving as president of the Paul Robeson Foundation, he also is a member of the editorial board of Jewish Currents magazine and the editor of Work History News, the newsletter of the New York labor History Association. Foner is an accomplished songwriter, and continues to write and perform songs. With Norman Franklin, he was co-writer of a musical, "Thursdays 'Til Nine," presented in 1947 by the Department Store Employees Union, CIO.

Ruth Sergel’s works include films, interactive documentaries, public artworks and live performance which use technical prowess to explore opportunities for community engagement. Her films have screened at New Directors/New Films (Museum of Modern Art), The Tribeca Film Festival, Clermont-Ferrand, National Museum for Women in the Arts, Boston Museum of Fine Art, Exploratorium, Anthology Film Archives and aired on PBS and IFC. Her public art work includes Chalk, an annual commemoration of the Triangle Factory Fire and she is the founder of the extraordinarily far reaching Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, organizing hundreds of events commemorating the centennial of the infamous fire.

Donald Rubin is co-founder of the Rubin Museum of Art and co-chair of the Board of Trustees, and he serves as the museum’s CEO. Shelley and Donald Rubin started collecting Himalayan art in the early 1970s and amassed a large and significant collection, a major portion of which was given to the museum to seed its nascent collection. He was the founder of MultiPlan, Inc., a major general service PPO health provider. He serves on the board of The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and is a member of the Global Philanthropists Circle.

Vinie Burrows is an actor, writer and producer. Frustrated by the quality and quantity of roles for the actor of color, she has created and produced a repertoire of eight one-woman shows. With over six thousand performances, she has developed a strong following; touring Holland, Germany, Denmark, Rumania, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Algeria, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Japan, and -- more recently -- Russia. An active member of The Dramatists Guild, Vinie has also gained honors with appearances on As The World Turns, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Presents, and The Hallmark Hall of Fame. For three years, Vinie hosted a weekly live two-hour talk show, More Than Half the World, on the Pacifica Station WBAI (99.5) in New York City. Guests ranged from street vendors, abused wives, diplomats, writers, actors, politicians, grass-roots housing activists, and included international visitors from Scandinavia, South America and the Caribbean.

Bhairavi Desai is a co-founder and Director of the Taxi Workers Alliance. She has been active in many organizations throughout her life, but has been working with the taxi industry struggle since 1996, two years before the Alliance came into being. Desai is a graduate of Rutgers University (NJ) where she received a degree in Women's Studies. Both at Rutgers and outside of the university, she participated in human rights organizations. She fought against violence against women, was part of the Cuba, Palestine, and El Salvador solidarity movements, and was part of Manavi, a New Jersey organization that helps South Asian women in need.

Rachel Bernstein is a public historian who researches, writes about and teaches American working class history, with a particular focus on New York City. She is a co-founder and co-historian of, taught in the graduate program in public history at NYU for decades, and works on public history projects with the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU and elsewhere. She is author, with the late Debra E. Bernhardt, of Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives: A Pictorial History of Working People in New York City (NYU Press, 2000).

Esther Cohen writes, teaches, raises money, curates, art directs, and works hard to secure roses for every struggle. She was the former executive director of Bread and Roses 1199SEIU, a co-founder of Labor Arts, and author of five books.


The first Clara Lemlich Awards are hosted by the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, The 8th Floor, and Labor Arts, and were organized by Henry Foner, Evelyn Jones Rich, Esther Cohen and Rachel Bernstein.

We are grateful to our sponsors --

Triangle Fire Coalition

New York Labor History Association

Workmens Circle

Jewish Labor Committee

Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives/Tamiment Library, NYU

John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, CUNY

Jewish Currents

Workforce Development Institute


Our deepest thanks to all our who have helped, including Anne Newman Bacal, May Chen, Sherry Kane, Victoria Kereszi, Laura Tolkow, and the staff of the Rubin Foundation, especially Heidi Albee, Elise Roedenbech, Lisa Varadi and Rachel Weingeist.