Skills and capacity building for empowerment

garment workers center, los angeles, california, 2017-present

Garment Worker Center (GWC), a 501(c)-3 worker's rights organization, organizes low-wage garment workers in Los Angeles, fighting for social and economic justice. In addition to GWC's work in addressing wage theft, unhealthy working conditions, and abusive treatment of workers by employers, it provides skills training and personal development through a program called 'Creativos''. Through this program, facilitated by the center's outreach coordinator Annie Shaw, and informed by the skills garment workers themselves have expressed the desire to learn, I have created and led a series of classes focused on teaching sewing and pattern making skills alongside the center's education on worker's rights and health & safety in the workplace. This includes basic hand sewing skills and terminology; threading, control, and garment making on sewing machines; reading, interpreting, and drafting patterns from scratch and from an existing garment. I have been supported in this by former GWC intern Jamie Gonzalez, and together we work to create a safe, encouraging space for members and garment workers to feel inspired, competent, and empowered. 

AWAMAKI LAB, ollantaytambo, peru, 2011

Working closely with the former director of Awamaki Lab, Annie Millican, I created a curriculum for the non-profit's skill-building workshop (capacitaciones), teaching a determined group of local artisan women to comfortably use industrial sewing machines, understand and interpret sewing and pattern-making terms, and all the skills they would need to ultimately complete production of each upcoming seasons' designs.  I spent a total of 8 weeks living in the beautiful Sacred Valley of Peru, teaching 4 to 5 classes a week, and taking a few intensive Spanish language classes during the first month to aid in my teaching. Working with Awamaki Lab to encourage these women in the development of these skills for their own self-esteem and success in life irrevocably changed mine, and realizing the impact of compassionate and applied training on even an individual scale, I returned to New York energized to advance my own skills in order to better improve the working conditions of others. 

Photo from Awamaki Lab's Global Giving Campaign Updates

Photo from Awamaki Lab's Global Giving Campaign Updates