The Tompkins County Workers’ Center’s governing structure, usually known as a Board of Directors, is called the Leadership Team or LT. To contact the Leadership Team as a whole, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Stupak, LT Chair
Matt grew up and studied in southern New England, attending Northeastern University for their BS in Health Sciences. Studying the root causes of health disparities, Matt was drawn to sustainable agriculture and economics. Years of studying and working in the diverse organic farms of the Northeast led Matt to the Finger Lakes for its agricultural heritage and natural beauty.
Matt has since included worker organizing in their praxis. After seeing the improvement solidarity and unionism can bring to unhealthy working conditions, they have become immersed in labor rights and organizing. Matt now advocates for exploited workers via the Workers’ Rights Hotline and serves on the Workers’ Center’s Leadership Team.
Laura Cain, LT Co-Chair
Hi, my name is Laura Cain and I am currently the co-chair for the leadership team of Tompkins County Workers Center.
I lived here in Ithaca in my youth before my family moved out in 1977. I was a student at Belle Sherman and of West hill grade school (now the alternative school on Chestnut Street) and I attended Boynton Jr. High through 7th grade before moving to Cortland graduating From Cortland Jr Sr high in 1982. I am very happy to back here and am an active volunteer with several organizations. I have 3 wonderful grown children; a son and two daughters. I have 3 school age grandchildren, two boys and a girl.
After my husband of 17 yrs passed away in 2005 I spent many years working for low wages, with erratic hours, and no sick days. I decided to go back to school. I started with the BOCES administrative assistance class and moved on to get my AAS and BS in Community and Human Services. During this time I worked a few low wage jobs with erratic schedules and no sick days/personal days or real benefits. Now I am currently employed with Tompkins Community action as a Head Start Home visiting teacher. I have the privilege of working with many local and immigrant families.
Genevieve Rand, Treasurer
Genevieve is a community organizer specializing in food service and other high-turnover/low-wage labor organizing, as well as tenant organizing through the Ithaca Tenants Union, of which she is a founding member.
She’s worked extensively with the Gimme Coffee Baristas’ Union, the first unionized coffee chain in the country, primarily on negotiations with management and on the successful 2019 arbitration and reversal of the employer’s decision to demote a worker for “reverse racism” on social media. Genevieve believes strongly in the power and necessity of workers’ unions, and continues to advocate for TCWC’s investment in helping to organize other low-wage workers.
Since the beginning of COVID-19, her organizing work has been focused on the Ithaca Tenants Union, which led the City of Ithaca to become the first in the nation to pass rent-cancellation legislation in response to the pandemic before it was blocked by New York State. Since then, the Tenants Union has launched a free legal advice hotline and free legal representation clinic in collaboration with Cornell University, closed eviction court by force, protested landlords engaging in soft evictions, helped collect and distribute reviews of landlords, and more.
Being a part of the workers center is very important to me. I understand what it is to have to work a job and have no workers rights or bargaining power; to be treated unfairly at work and not know where to go for help. I am grateful to be part of this organization and work with others to make a positive difference in my city.
Jon Frankel, LT Secretary
Jon Frankel is a retired library worker and writer. He moved to Ithaca from New York in 1988. He worked as a bartender until 1991, when he got a job shelving books in Olin Library at Cornell University. It did not pay a living wage but it was his first job with benefits. After 15 years of shelving books he became the supervisor of Collection Management, for Olin, Kroch and Uris Libraries managing a staff of 12. Over the next 11 years that staff was reduced to 8. Jon has been an advocate of workers’ rights in each of his mostly low-paid jobs, was involved in nuclear protest in the 70s, and after retiring in 2018 decided to devote his time to writing and joining the Living Wage and Workers’ Rights movement. He is married and has five children and one grandchild. Jon is a published novelist and poet.
Shoshe Cole, LT Member
Carlos Gutierrez, LT Member
Neil Oolie, LT Member
Russell Rickford, LT Member
Russell Rickford is an associate professor of history at Cornell University. He specializes in African-American political culture after World War Two, the Black Radical Tradition, and transnational social movements. His current book, We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination, received the Liberty Legacy Award from the Organization of American Historians. He is currently working on a book about Guyana and African American radical politics in the 1970s. Rickford’s scholarly articles have appeared in Journal of American History, Journal of African American History, Souls, New Labor Review, and other publications. His popular writing has appeared in publications such as In These Times, Truthout, Washington Post, and Counterpunch. He also writes about racial and social justice for the African American Intellectual History Society’s Black Perspectives blog and other sites. Rickford holds a bachelor’s from Howard University and a doctorate from Columbia University. Born in Guyana, he lives in Ithaca, New York.
Lily Rothenberg, LT Member
After earning a master’s in Social Policy at the London School of Economics, Lily Rothenberg used the knowledge they gained in socialist economics to start a union drive at Housing Works, a large nonprofit employer in NYC who is now successfully unionized. Since college, Lily has increased healthcare accessibility and organized workplaces to empower the LGBTQIA+ community.
Lily moved to Ithaca in June 2019 and has since been an active organizer, with much help from TCWC. As an LT member, they look forward to reinstating the Community Union Organizers group to encourage local organizers to learn from each other’s experiences. Lily operates Attila the Hen Community farm, a small-scale organic, no-till regenerative agriculture operation that donates most of its produce to folks in need of food in our community. When not at work (at a local nonprofit), they enjoy training rescue horses and fostering animals.
Amy Tai, LT Member
Amy Tai has been a workers’ rights lawyer for over a decade. Amy, who serves on the leadership team in her personal capacity, is a government attorney that litigates and enforces labor laws requiring employers to pay minimum and overtime wages and to provide safe working conditions. Previously, Amy was at the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center in New York City, where she represented low-wage immigrant workers. In collaboration with worker centers and community organizers, she used litigation, legislative advocacy, and legal clinics to support campaigns holding employers accountable for wage theft, labor trafficking, and other forms of exploitation. Amy has recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen wages owed to low-wage workers in restaurant, construction, domestic work, and other industries.