Leadership Program Candidates
These short biographies have been written by the candidates in order to provide voters with additional information on their candidacy. Voting will take place in person at the Mon, Sept. 26th NYC NOWC meeting or online through filling out the ballot below.
Crystal Muñoz – Trusty Amigos
I’m Co-founder and president of Trusty Amigos Dog Walking and Pet Care Cooperative, and a young woman living in America. I’m a proud dog walker, coop member, and Coop president. I am excited about sharing my experience to help more people get out of the “normal” 9-5 routine, and into work opportunities that function well for them. I also want to help people have a better life through fair wages. I want to participate in this Worker Owner Leadership Program to start participating in the coalition, representing Worker-Owners. Not only to represent Worker-Owners but to help increase cooperation between coops, as stated by principle 6. I see this program as a way to start creating more relationships for cooperatives. Relationships in which cooperatives can gain support from organizations. Where these organizations can help cooperatives fulfill the 7th principle “concern for the community”, to help strengthen our community.
Juan Carlos Gomez – Action Health & Safety
Worker-owner of ACTION Health and Safety a nascent cooperative focused on workplace safety and occupational health. As an immigrant from Colombia, I settled in New York several years ago, where I joined the community organization Make the Road NY. At MRNY I joined the immigration committee and became a leader within it, which played a prominent role in the campaign for the NYID for city residents. I also have been a volunteer member in other organizations like ACQC, working on HIV prevention in the Latino Comunity. Now as an authorized OSHA trainer I promote the importance of having a safe and secure workplace.
Yeslie Maldonado – Beyond Care
I have been a member of the Beyond Care Cooperative for 7 years. Throughout those years I have learned a lot and also contributed a lot to the Cooperative. I have been a part of the Office Committee which handles jobs, interviews, schedules. We also help in translating when the members can’t communicate with their clients. I have also worked as Treasurer, along with another member of the Cooperative. Last year in October 2015, I organized an Open House to find new members to join our Cooperative. As part of the Open House, I also organized the Nanny Training Program provided by Cornell and a CPR training also. With everything I have learned, I am positive I would be a great addition to the Leadership Program in which I can learn so much more.
Katarina Spasic – Bikes & Humans Cooperative
There has never been a better social and political climate for the cooperative to re-emerge as the most sustainable model of organizing enterprises. More importantly, the most humane model. As a former lawyer and social justice advocate, I see it as an opportunity to give life to social and economic human rights, long time neglected in the U.S. As an immigrant woman, I see the Co-Op movement as an empowering force. As an entrepreneur, developing my own startup as a cooperative, meant that I’m committed to values of self-help, equality and, solidarity, in life and in business. I care about co-ops and bicycles quite a lot. One of my favorite writers said about bicycles – “It’s an invention that was in many ways ahead of its time, and whose time has finally come.” I think the same way about cooperatives. I would be thrilled to be a part of the leadership program; to be present with everything I can bring to the table and, to learn.
Vanessa David – On Point Security
I’m currently a worker-owner of On point Security, which is a cooperative Security business. I believe this leadership program will allow me to be more effective, in addition to creating a positive influence to people and setting the tone, by motivating and inspiring people to think big and never give up. I’m excited about helping people in any way that I can. I would sincerely thank you for selecting me to be a participant in your program.
Jaime Rogel – ACTO for Safety LLC
I have participated in the creation of the worker-owned cleaning cooperative Pa’lante Forward Green Cleaning LLC, as an operation and functions correspondent. After a year of collaboration, I had to leave for personal reasons. Currently, I am a secretary-general for ACTO for Safety LLC, a health and security training cooperative. This coop was created about two years ago.
Naceo Giles -Thoroughbred Pest Control
I was born in Queens and am a life long New York resident. I was a director of educational opportunity programs for 15 years in three universities and a manager in building maintenance and pest control for 25 years. One of the observations I have made about the work world which elicits my anger is “qualification inflation”. It is more pronounced in some fields than others but it is often true that an academic degree is taken as proof that an applicant is more qualified for an entry position than an applicant without a degree. Such practices frequently eliminate immigrants and people of color from jobs that they are competent to hold while allowing management to appear to be fair and impartial. I think cooperatives stand a better chance of avoiding this pitfall. In a capitalist, consumer society such as we have in the United States, the worker-owned cooperative offers the best opportunity for those who labor to create company profits to receive compensation that is commensurate with the efforts they put forth to bring about wealth. That is why I am committed to supporting worker cooperatives.
Raybblin Vargas – Bits and Bites
Before I became a worker-owner, I used to be a union organizer. From 2008-2013 I worked for 1199SEIU Health Care Workers East, and in 20013-2015 I worked for TWU Local 100. As part of the work, I attended many meetings in the various Chambers of Commerce and Business Improvement Districts. I learned the importance of the advocacy work that these groups provide small business owners in the local, state, and national level. As a result, when I decided to start my own worker-owner business, Bits and Bites, LLC, I immediately joined the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce to make sure that I have a voice in the policy work and politics of running a small business in Manhattan. I also organized workshops, conference, and town halls around small business issues related to the campaigns. What I hope to get out of the Leadership Program is the political power that specifically addresses the unique issues of worker-owners in NYC and I hope to evolve to be an effective advocate for the coalition.
Elizabeth Ruiz – Ecomundo Cleaning
I’m from Puebla, Mexico. I have 10 years living in New York. Since I arrived, I started to work in domestic cleaning. It has not been easy, but every day I want to overcome adversities and improve my life. I’ve grown a lot working with our cooperative Ecomundo cleaning. My participation in the cooperative has been rewarding both personally and professionally. As co-founder of Ecomundo, it is very satisfying to see our cooperative continue to grow. In my country of origin, I was a union leader at the company where he worked, which was a Volks-Wagon factory. I was the secretary of the union, where I mediated conflicts and advocated for workers rights. I want to learn more about cooperatives in the city and represent Ecomundo in the coalition.
Maria Aguirre – Ecomundo Cleaning
I live with my 3 children and my husband in the Bronx. I am from Guerrero, Mexico and came to the United States in 2000. I participate in a tenants rights organization called Movement for Justice in El Barrio. In this organization, I’m a chief spokeswoman in many events and I’m a member of the board. I regularly participate in many events citywide, supporting issues related to social justice. A year ago I started to work with the cooperative Ecomundo Cleaning and was accepted as a member. I am very happy working here because I love what I do and I enjoy working with my colleagues.
Ana-Lucia Cajamarca – Ecomundo Cleaning
I live with my two children in Washington Heights in Manhattan. I am Ecuadorian and have been living in the United State for 20 years. I worked in a clothing store and later in the cleaning industry. For the past year, I have been working in the cooperative Ecomundo Cleaning. Work in the cooperative is much better because I work by contract, I make my own schedule, and I like working with my colleagues. Also, I am an independent person and I like to have my own business.