Employment and Jobs

Seizing the Moment on Worker Rights: A Toolkit for Organizers and Practitioners

Event information

Today’s politicized environment poses unique challenges for worker rights advocates. With Congress often divided, and many state and local governments as well, the path to improving worker rights through legislation is narrow. Nonetheless, we have seen some remarkable progress on worker rights over the last few years through executive action. Leveraging executive action, however, is not a straightforward and easily discernible path for grassroots activists and organizations interested in advancing worker rights and job quality. 

In the Toolkit: An Organizer’s Guide to Executive Action,” Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of Workshop, demystifies and democratizes the policy-making process by sharing lessons learned during her time in federal government. Toolkit offers a blueprint for advocates inside and outside on how they can collaborate to build an economy that works for all and, in the process, rebuild a healthy democracy.

This webinar, happening September 4, from 2 to 3:15 p.m. EDT — co-hosted by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program and Workshop — will feature a panel of experienced public servants and organizers. Speakers will dive into the lessons and stories from Toolkit and provide guidance to advocates and organizers striving to advance worker rights.

Featured speakers 

Cecilia Muñoz

Senior Advisor, New America;
Former Director, Domestic Policy Council

Cecilia Muñoz is a national leader in public policy and public interest technology with nearly three decades of experience in the non-profit sector and 8 years of service on President Obama’s senior team, first as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs followed by five years as Director of the Domestic Policy Council. She currently advises a series of nonprofits, including Welcome.US and the New Practice Lab.

Before working in government, she spent 20 years at the National Council of La Raza (now UNIDOS US), the nation’s largest Hispanic policy and advocacy organization. She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2000 for her work on immigration and civil rights, and, in 2020, she published the award-winning More Than Ready: Be Strong and Be You…and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise, which shares insights from her career as well as the careers of other notable women of color.

David Weil

Professor, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University;
Former Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, US Department of Labor

David Weil is Professor of Social Policy and Economics at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.  He served as the Dean of the Heller School from  2017-2022. He is also a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School.  Weil was appointed by President Barack Obama to be the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor and was the first Senate confirmed head of that agency in a decade. He led the Wage and Hour Division from 2014 to January 2017. Prior to that, he was the Peter and Deborah Wexler Professor of Management at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

Mary Beth Maxwell

Executive Director, Workshop;
Former Senior Advisor, Acting Administrator of Wage and Hour Division,
and Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy at the US Department of Labor

Mary Beth (MB) Maxwell is the Executive Director of Workshop. During the Obama Administration, MB served in numerous roles at the Labor Department; Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Acting Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division and Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy. She worked in the White House as a detailee to Vice-President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force. MB played leadership roles in the Homecare rule, Overtime rule, LGBT Executive Order, Minimum Wage and Paid Leave. During the Biden transition she served on the Personnel team recruiting and vetting new DOL staff. MB was National Field Director for Jobs with Justice and the founding director of the labor think-tank American Rights at Work. She most recently worked at the Open Society Foundations as Senior Advisor on Worker Power.

Haeyoung Yoon

Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy,
National Domestic Workers Alliance


Bio forthcoming

Jonathan Njus

Director of Family Economic Security,
W.K. Kellogg Foundation


Bio forthcoming

Moderator – TBD 


This event is part of the Economic Opportunities Program’s Job Quality in Practice series, which examines the strategies and approaches practitioners are using to improve job quality and expand economic opportunity.

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The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.