Pete Meyers, Coordinator
Pete Meyers is one of the Founders of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC) which was founded formally as an organization in 2003 (then as the Tompkins County Living Wage Coalition).
Pete hails from South Bend, Indiana, where his parents were active against the Vietnam War and were active ‘housing testers’ (discerning whether housing was discriminatory in who would be rented out to). He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at Point Park College in Pittsburgh, and not long after got a Master’s Degree in Existential Phenomenology Psychology at Duquesne University, also in Pittsburgh.
He moved to Brooklyn, NY, for what would become his most formative work experience where he worked as a drug counselor for four years at William E. Grady Technical Vocational H.S. in Coney Island. During this stint, Pete traveled to Nicaragua during the Sandinista Revolution from the United States, an experience which, combined with working in the high school, helped to develop his politics in a Paolo Freirian direction.
While working at the High School After this four year stint, he then worked as the Produce Manager for four years at the Flatbush Food Coop, where he redistributed his wages for a year to the lowest paid staff in the Coop.
In 1993, Meyers moved back to South Bend for seven years where he became the Director of the Readmobile in the Public Library system. Within a month he was fired from his position when advocating for an Assistant that he would supervise who was African-American. Their cases both went to Federal Court in 1999.
In 2000, Meyers moved to Ithaca and immediately got a job at Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga Counties as a Mentor in a Welfare-to-Work program. It was this experience of people being kicked off of welfare into minimum wage jobs that led Meyers to take a lead role in creating the Living Wage Coalition.
Meyers’ commitment is to be part of organizing a movement that will usher in the Beloved Community in real and tangible ways for the world’s population, starting first and foremost those in our immediate midst. We are ona move!
Carlos H. Gutierrez, Health and Safety Trainer
Carlos was born in Chile, where he studied at the Technical State University prior to coming to the USA in 1976. He received a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Carlos worked in NYC for the Department of Social Services and other private community private institutions as a case manager.
Carlos was a member of the Friends of the Chilean People, a solidarity organization promoting the return to Democracy in Chile during the period of the military dictatorship 1973-1990. While living in Ithaca, Carlos has worked for NYS Office of Children and Family Services and NYS Department of Labor. He received a Masters of Professional Studies from Alfred University, Alfred NY. Carlos is a member founder of the Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County. He has volunteered with the TC Workers’ Center since its inception addressing labor issues affecting immigrant workers. Currently Carlos is member of the Leadership Team of the Workers’ Center and a part time staff as an Occupational Safety and Health trainer doing outreach and training immigrants and vulnerable workers.
Courtney Lawrence, Community Organizer
Courtney began her advocacy work at an early age as a volunteer for Middle Way House domestic violence shelter/rape crisis center while she was a student at Harmony School in Bloomington IN.
She relocated to Boston MA in 1997 where she obtained her BA in Women’s Studies and Sociology of the Third World and her MA in Gender/Cultural Studies. While at Simmons, Courtney worked as the Inside/Outside Women in Prison Project Coordinator for Sojourner the Women’s Forum. At Sojourner she corresponded with incarcerated women, obtaining their artwork, stories, and pen pal ads for publication. She also maintained a database of over 2,000 men and women incarcerated in the U.S. who received free subscriptions to the monthly feminist newspaper. In 2001, after over 25 years, Sojourner closed its doors, and Courtney began working at the anti-poverty organization Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD).
At ABCD Courtney held the position of domestic violence housing specialist for their Safety and Advocacy for Families in Emergency/Transition to Independent Living (SAFE/TIL) Program. In addition to running the domestic violence program, she also represented clients in Boston Housing Court, provided case management for homeless folks who came to the office for services, and those living in singles and family welfare shelters in the greater Boston area. She then moved to Key West, and worked at AIDS Help as their Housing Specialist, responsible for their federal Housing Opportunities for People Living With AIDS (HOPWA) Program.
Courtney assisted her clients with placement into shelter and obtaining section 8 vouchers and public housing.
Courtney moved to Ithaca in 2005, bringing her experience as a housing advocate to Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR), where she was employed as a Client Service Worker. While at OAR Courtney advocated for our community members incarcerated in the Tompkins County Jail, those recently released from state and federal prison, and their friends and family. She sat on the Re-Entry Committee in cooperation with the Sheriff’s Department and DSS. Because of her commitment to social justice she became employed at the community development credit union Alternatives FCU in 2007. While at AFCU she worked closely with members to mitigate the adverse effects of the recent economic downturn.
Deborah Clover, Bookkeeper/Office Manager
Deborah Clover is a lifelong resident of Central New York, growing up in the Syracuse suburb of Baldwinsville. Strongly influenced by her parents’ commitment to community service, she began her own activism and organizing as a teenager, working as a peer counselor for her hometown crisis hotline and organizing a guerilla theater group of teens and adults who performed throughout the greater Syracuse area during the early 1970s. In 1973, Deb moved to Cortland, and was hired by the Cortland County Health Department as an outreach worker for their newly started Family Planning Clinic. Thus began a long professional life which has combined administration, management, and finance work on the one hand with community organizing, training and technical assistance on the other.
She came to Ithaca in 1981 when she was hired by Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services where she helped start their Rental Rehabilitation Program. Over the years, Deb has also worked with Cortland County Community Action Program, the community-built playground firm of Leathers and Associates, New York Folklore Society, Cortland and Tioga Arts Grants Programs, Cornell University, Ithaca Community Acupuncture, and served as a consultant to the New York State Council on the Arts, Neighborhood Reinvestment, School to Main, and a number of small historical and cultural organizations. A common theme throughout her varied work has been a commitment to diversity, empowerment, collaboration, and inclusion.
Deb holds an A.S. in Social Sciences from TC3 and a B.A. in Folklore from Empire State College. She is passionate about issues of social justice and cultural equity and has a deep commitment to “living my life in a way which fosters equality, diversity and respect for all people.” Among her other interests and activities, Deb is a musician, craftsperson, Reiki practitioner, aromatherapist, and ordained interfaith minister.