12/16 Event: Immigration Town Hall on Temporary Protected Status



NYC Women’s Caucus HERStory Event and Honorees: Celebrating Women in the Labor Movement

Hosted by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, fellow Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus, Council Member Helen Rosenthal and I along with the entire Women’s Caucus presented the Fourth Annual Women’s HerStory Month Celebrating Women in the Labor Movement.

March is Women’s History Month, an opportunity to celebrate and highlight the contributions of women. The Fourth Annual Women’s Herstory Month Celebration took place on Wednesday, March 15th and was themed “Women in the Labor Movement”.
The strength of our city relies on the determination of its people, working cohesively towards one common goal. In our capacity, as Co-chairs of the Women’s Caucus at the City Council, we have had the opportunity to advocate for some of our city’s most pressing issues affecting women and families.
During our Fourth Annual Women’s Herstory Month Celebration, we recognized women who have shown great leadership and whose work has made a positive impact on our city.
Our incredibly inspiring HERStory Honorees and Council Members representing the Women’s Caucus, just before the beginning of the program.

Fourth Annual Women’s Herstory Month Celebration

Our HERStory Honorees


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Telesh Pascual López (Maya/Kanjobal, Guatemala) co-founded Caracol Interpreters Cooperative in 2012 to bring her vision of culturally competent and highly skilled translation and interpretation to projects and organizations creating positive change in the world.  The inspiration for Caracol came from Telesh’s participation in the groundbreaking work to secure rights for domestic workers in NYC, struck by the role that language access played in building powerful coalitions and policy change. In 2013, Caracol was recognized for its work by receiving a Champions of Economic Justice Award from the Brandworkers. In Spring 2012, Telesh completed a medical interpreting intensive course at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She also provides interpretation for leadership development trainings, plays, documentaries, board meetings, and various national and international conferences for non-profit, social justice organizations. She has been an interpreter for 10 years and brings her full experience to Caracol. Prior to Caracol, Telesh worked in philanthropy, building her commitment to social justice organizations that focused on labor, education, community organizing, and coalition building. Additionally, Telesh was a co-op member for the Thirdroot Community Health Center in Brooklyn where she offered Reiki, carrying on her family’s multi-generational tradition of healing practices. As a child, Telesh emigrated from Guatemala to Los Angeles where she grew up, and later moved to NY, graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in International Marketing and Trade for the Fashion Industries.
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Brenda Stokley is a proud mother, grandmother and human rights activist dedicated to ending all forms of oppression. She has spent 50 years building key organizations, movements and alliances to ensure that the voices of the ignored and forgotten are heard. She is a current member of Local 371 Social Service Employees Union, DC 37/AFSCME. Former President of Local 215, Social Service Employees and President of the 25,000 human services workers of District Council 1707/AFSCME. She fought and won just contracts and internal union democracy by including co-workers, in the negotiation process and working with non-unionized workers to win union recognition. She is a rank and File organizer of Non-Traditional Employment for Women into UAW Local 2110. Served as Co-Coordinator for the Million Worker March Organizing & Justice School that provided free classes for labor and community activists. She is a former co-chair of the NYC CBTU Resolution Committee and current CBTU member. She served as Co-Northeast Regional organizer for the historic 2004 Lincoln Memorial Million Worker March Movement. She also co-convened the NY 2001 Labor Against the War. She is a founding member of Troops Out Now: Blacks In Solidarity Against the War and the Labor Party, where she served as a National Interim Committee member and Chair. She is a Co-convener of the May 1st Coalition for Workers and Immigrant Rights, a co-convener of the International Working Women’s Day Coalition; and part of NY Solidarity Coalition with Katrina/Rita Survivors and the Coalition to Save Harlem. Ms. Stokely is a Member of the National Black Independent Political Party and the Black United Front.

She is the co-editor of “Legacy,” dedicated to Ida B Wells and African Descent-women activists. She designed and established the first day care network that provided quality day care and peace of mind for working parents within the model cities area of Richmond, California. She built a broad based Washington, DC Housing Coalition that won the first Rent Control law. She worked with Black People United for Prison Reform to correct the inhuman policies and treatment of incarcerated individuals and their families and worked to promote the implementation of  preventive and community-based alternatives to incarceration of DC youth and adults. She is a founding member of the Harlem Reclamation Project to demand community control of vacant owned city property, reverse the blight of Harlem, develop designs of affordable housing for the displaced through cooperative sweat equity and ownership and establish tenant rights training and eviction-free zones. She is an active member of the Coalition for Justice of Eleanor Bumpers.

Some awards that she has received include: Honored recipient of: Picture the Homeless Lou Haggins Social Justice Warrior, US Health Care Trade Union Committee, Organization of Staff Analysts Leadership, Grassroots Artists Movement Women, Local 1320/DC 37/AFSCME Salute to Black Women, Local 100 Members for a Democratic Union Champions of Labor, Women for Justice Center for Women’s Development of Medgar Evers College Fannie Lou Hammer, Cambridge Heights HDFC Certification of Appreciation, Coalition of Black Trade Unionist Region I Carolyn Holmes Humanitarian, Institute of the Black World Katrina Support Efforts, NAPO MalcolmX for Revolutionary Character &  Community Commitment awards and Councilman Barron’s Proclamation.

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Ramona Sandoval Morales is 28 years old. She was born in Mexico and was raised in NYC. In 2014 she obtained DACA which gave her the opportunity to obtain a job legally. That year, through a friend, she heard about a recruitment event. She saw this as a great opportunity and went and stood in line in hopes of getting a better job – which for once she could apply for.  While in line she met Denise Doyle who was recruiting for Non-Traditional Employment for Women and that same day she signed up for the program.

A few months later, Ramona graduated from the NEW program and little did she know, about a year later, she got a call back for orientation at the DC 9 Painters Union to start work as an apprentice. Ramona has been with DC 9 now for two strong years. She is working hard to finish her apprentice program and is also organizing with the Women’s Committee within the union.  She is very proud of being part of DC 9 and the amazing journey it has been so far.


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Rev. Wendy Calderon-Payne has worked for Urban Youth Alliance since 1989. In 1988, public and private ventures challenged the Board of Urban Youth Alliance to join a faith-based initiative to gauge if churches would work with high risk youth to help change their lives. From this challenge, BronxConnect was born. She currently serves as the Executive Director of BronxConnect and has been involved with the union for over 28 years. Rev. Wendy believes that love never fails and that we are called to build our communities from within. She believes that young people have the power and ability to change their lives and their outcomes, that they have within them the very nature of an overcomer, and with the right support they can change their neighborhoods. The core values of BronxConnect are love, justice and redemption, which we have seen at work for nearly two decades at BronxConnect.

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Winsome Black-Batten joined 1199 SEIU – UHWE as a member while working at the Fieldston Lodge Nursing Home as a certified Nursing Assistant. Much to the charge of the administration at Fieldston, her peers elected her to be their union delegate. In that capacity, she stood by her members, tenaciously and effectively defending their lapses before management.

Over time, she became a union activist and demonstrated her drive and enthusiasm for social issues. During the period from 1998 until 2003, Winsome worked for the union as a Member Political Organizer. In 2003, 1199 hired her as a Union Political Organizer. She engaged members in union campaigns for adequate funding for healthcare budgets, legislation to protect members, and member- to- member electoral campaigns.

Winsome is dedicated to her craft. She worked tirelessly not only in New York, but wherever she was needed.She has organized and worked on political campaigns in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. She is a former member of Bronx Community Board 9. Winsome is also an active member of the Westchester United Methodist Church and the NAACP Branch in the Parkchester community of the Bronx, where she and her husband Linton currently reside.


Hazel Ingram has spent over 60 years as a cleaner and has been with the union for over 60 years. After moving to NY in the 1940s, she worked various factory jobs, making items such as purses, shoes, and army field jackets. However, she switched to night cleaning work because it made it easier to raise her kids as a single mom. Once on the cleaning job, she began standing up for her fellow workers and became more active in the union. Whenever Hazel has the opportunity to support union activity, she often comes early, stands front and center, and prides herself in out-marching even the younger union members. At 94, she is still working the same midtown night job she has been at for the past 60 years, and sometimes works a second job to help out her grandkids and great-grandkids. She has been arrested, rained on, and walked hundreds of miles cumulatively in support of workers, immigrants and low-income people.


Shirley Aldebol, Vice President, oversees 32BJ’s commercial, schools and security divisions in the New York Metro area, which includes more than 35,000 members who work as cleaners, handypersons, window cleaners, and security officers in office buildings, cultural institutions, universities and New York City’s public schools. Shirley will accept the citation on Hazel Ingram’s behalf.

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Lourdes Acevedo has worked 33 Years for the NYC Department of Transportation. She started as a NYC Traffic Enforcement Agent on August 3rd, 1983. She worked her way up through the civil service system, becoming a Word Processor in 1986, and getting promoted to a Principal Administrative Assistant in 1987. In November of 2011 Lourdes, was promoted to her current title of Administrative Manager within the Division of Bridges. She has been a member of CWA Local 1180 since 1987. Through job training, formal training and mentoring, she has risen up the ranks. The thing that makes her amazing is her ability to take time to really listen and give positive advice. She lends a hand even if she hasn’t been asked to do so, and her belief that life is about making it together. If you need her you can count on her.

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Vaylateena Jones is a retired RN, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and Certified Addictions Registered Nurse with 35 years primary care nursing experience. Vaylateena is an active community participant, as a member of Manhattan Community Board 3 who has served on the Human Services, Health, Disability, & Seniors/Youth & Education Committee, Transportation & Public Safety Committee and Parks, Recreation, Cultural Affairs & Waterfront Committee. From January 2015 – September 30, 2017, she also served on the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and prevention. She is a founding Partner of Lower East Side Power Partnership whose mission includes uniting and empowering individuals and families on the Lower East Side as well as promoting peace and optimum wellness. She established Vayl Training and Wellness Services where she developed curriculum and obtained a Training Provider Number from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. She went to Hunter College, CUNY, for a Master in Science degree in Allied Health Services Administration Specializing in Counseling and then went to City College, CUNY, and received her Bachelor in Science in Nursing and has an Education Minor.

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Massima Lei is a retail worker, sex educator, and artist who has been a leader in the organizing efforts with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU)  at the sex toy retailer, Babeland. She was both an essential member of the organizing committee and a central figure in the contract negotiations. At Babeland, she is a sex educator, helping customers of all orientations and genders learn about sexuality and bodies. Both at work and outside, she is a fierce advocate for women of all races, orientations, gender expressions and identities. As a choreographer and performance artist, she has performed solo and with several feminist collectives. Her work addresses how oppressive forces live in our bodies, and how we carry various traumas in our physicalities. She graduated summa cum laude from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College.

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Rachel Laforest is the Director of the Retail Action Project (RAP), a workers center initiative of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which organizes primarily low-income retail workers of color around workplace and community issues like wage theft, scheduling, housing and race. Rachel comes to the RAP after 5 years as the Executive Director of the Right to the City Alliance (RTC), a national alliance of community-based organizations fighting the ill-effects of gentrification across the globe. Prior to RTC, she spent eight years working with progressive labor, directing the Organizing and Public Policy departments of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 and Actors Equity Association (AEA), where she organized and led mobilizations of TWU members to City Hall and the state government in Albany; conducted extensive research and designed education and training in public policy for rank-and-file union members and officers; and was one of the lead coordinators of the 2005 New York City transit strike and the 2-year dues collection effort that followed.   Rachel’s early years in organizing were spent as a Lead Organizer/Co-Campaign Coordinator for Jobs with Justice – New York, building community-labor solidarity, organizing joint actions and co-coordinating the campaign that won an increase of $2 per hour in the minimum wage for New York State in 2007. Rachel holds a BA from Hunter College/CUNY in Political Science and Black and Puerto Rican Studies with a minor in Education, is a proud mother and of Ashkenazi Jewish and Haitian descent.

Register Now for a Retraining Program for Immigrant Engineers

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Cooper Union Retraining Program for Immigrant Engineers @ CAMBA is currently accepting new student applications for the spring 2017 semester. Their goal is to assist highly-skilled immigrant professionals who are underemployed or unemployed gain access to higher paying jobs through training and job placement assistance.
The program includes courses in information technology and chemical, mechanical, electrical and civil engineering. Courses are scheduled around the needs of working professionals and offered in the evening and on weekends.
In addition to free professional training, the program offers career advising, resume preparation, mock interviews, and employer referrals to all graduates.
Since its inception in 1987, the Retraining Program for Immigrant Engineers has taught over 4,500 students and placed more than 60 percent of them in jobs.

To be considered for the program applicants must:
º Be work authorized in the U.S.
º Have educational credentials and professional experience in the field of engineering, chemistry, information technology, or a related field.
º Demonstrate a financial need
See http://www.cooper.edu/immigrant-retraining for more information and application instructions

02/27 Event: Home Free: A Place to be


6/30 Event: Caribbean Heritage Celebration

Caribbean Heritage - June 30

6/25 Event: Negotiating a Commercial Lease

June 25th