Rebuilding the American Middle Class and Worker Power @ Sentinel Hotel, Portland [15 September]

Rebuilding the American Middle Class and Worker Power

12:15 - 13:15

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Sentinel Hotel
614 SW 11th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97205
Please join City Club of Portland for a conversation with Carmen Rojas, Founder and CEO of The Workers Lab, a national organization that builds power for working people in the 21st Century by supporting scalable and sustainable models that ensure security, mobility, and collective action. The Workers Lab provides funding and technical assistance to entrepreneurs, worker organizers, enterprises, and organizations to innovate on ways to build worker power through its Innovation Fund and Design Sprints. The Workers Lab also runs a business development program called the Enterprise Institute that fosters promising efforts in business model generation, customer discovery, and financial projections to reach sustainability, before larger and diverse capital is invested to achieve scale. Carmen will share her experience leading the Workers Lab and share national trends that can be applicable to Portland that can further unite workers and transform low-wage industries. In particular, she will focus on the growing numbers of low-earning contractors in the United States and what The Workers Lab is doing to address their needs and concerns.


Carmen Rojas guides The Workers Lab to invest in entrepreneurs, community organizers, technologists, economic justice organizations, issue campaigns, and businesses to create scalable and self-sustaining solutions that improve conditions for low-wage workers. Under Carmen’s leadership and vision, The Workers Lab focuses on ideas, services, and products that will achieve sufficient scale to impact workers across sectors, industries, and geographies, and result in self-sufficient revenue models.

Previously, Carmen was the Acting Director of Collective Impact at Living Cities. From 2008 to 2011, Carmen was the Director of Strategic Programs at the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, where she oversaw the Foundation’s Green Access and Civic Engagement programs. Prior to joining the Kapor Foundation, Carmen was the Coordinator of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency’s Taskforce on African American OutMigration.

Carmen holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and was a Fulbright Scholar in 2007. She taught in the Department of City & Regional Planning at the University of California at Berkeley from 2009-2011. Her teaching focused on the history of cities in the US, a practicum on local economic development, planning pedagogy, and race in the practice of city planning.


Stephen Green, the city manager for Townsquared, an online network for local business owners, will interview Carmen. Green holds many roles in the community, including as the founder of Pitch Black PDX, a member of the Housing Bond Oversight Committee, and a former board member of Black United Fund of Oregon, the Housing Development Center, and the Oregon Microenterprise Network
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