Joan Jones

President and founder, The National LGBTQ Workers Center
Nationality: American
Living in: Chicago, Illinois, US
Fields of work: labour; the intersection of workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights and civil rights

“Commitment is one of the foundations of my activism. I have a fairly unshakeable belief that when people come together to make change, miracles can happen. But it does not happen overnight. A plethora of different strategies often have to be executed before we see change. Commitment, or as I often frame it perseverance, is essential to tackling the root issue of inequality.”
— Joan Jones

Joan Jones is a campaigner, advocate, trainer and labour organiser with more than 10 years’ experience of leading social justice campaigns across the United States. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in political science. As a student, she led UC Berkeley’s longest-running progressive political organisation, where every year she helped to elect progressive people of colour to student government.

After graduation, Joan joined the labour movement, and organised Spanish-speaking childcare workers. While an organiser with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 925, she coordinated a statewide campaign to organise workers, parents and politicians to keep migrant Head Start workers unionised when an outside federal contractor threatened to take away union representation. She also helped chair bargaining in several units, which improved wages and benefits for almost all workers in those units. Joan also helped to establish SEIU Local 925 Organizational Equity and Inclusion work that continues in the organisation to this day. 

Her work at the intersection of education, leadership development and organising led her to a job in Washington, DC, at SEIU headquarters, where she served for three years as the National Young Workers’ Coordinator. As director of this programme, she advised union staff and leadership on ways to build the next generation of labour leaders while helping to coordinate issue-based campaigns on student debt and Black Lives Matter with members of SEIU’s National Millennial Advisory Committee.  

Joan is Founder and current President of The National LGBTQ Workers Center, an organisation where LGBTQ workers can learn how to organise, stand up to workplace discrimination and fight for economic justice. Through education and issue-based organising, they work to ensure a world in which LGBTQ people have the skills, tools and resources necessary to defend their rights as workers. In her free time, Joan serves on the board of the New Leaders Council Chicago as Curriculum Co-Chair and enjoys spending time with her fiancée at their home in Joliet, IL.

“Mothers who work paycheque to paycheque in order to provide a better life for their children give me hope. In my experience, it was always low-wage mothers who, despite their lack of time, were most willing to give up their time to organise for better wages, better benefits and a better world for their children. Mothers like mine, immigrants and all working-class parents who see the importance of fixing this broken system of inequality. They give me hope.”
— Joan Jones