About PVWC

We envision a society free of exploitation and oppression, where all people have the resources to live happy lives.

 

We build power with low wage and immigrant workers across Western Massachusetts. Together we strengthen our communities, organize our workplaces, and take political action to win economic and social change for working people.

The Workers Center has a commitment to building democratic organizations where all workers have a meaningful voice in important decisions. Our own workplace is no exception. All major decisions are voted on by our membership and our member-led Board, which together shape big picture strategy and determine how we use organizational resources. Guided by these priorities, the Workers Center Staff Collective implements the day to day work of coordinating our campaigns and programs.

Staff

Claudia Rosales, Executive Co-Director

Unanimously elected by the Worker Center Staff Collective and our board, Claudia Rosales became the new Co-Director for the first time in September of 2021. She first joined our team as Farmworker Organizer in March of 2020. Through this position, she has been instrumental in growing our membership base from 300 to 500, and expanded our COVID-Relief Solidarity Fund. Despite the many challenges of organizing in a pandemic, she met 1-1 with more than 200 workers to discuss their labor conditions and to teach them their rights. Before joining our staff, Claudia was a long-standing member of our Springfield Workers Committee. She also served on our Board of Directors, and was a founding member of the Riquezas del Campo farm cooperative. She was born in El Salvador to a farming family, where she worked for many years. She is intimately familiar with the difficult realities immigrants face in the United States, and she believes in organizing to build a better future.

 

Alfonso Neal, Executive Co-Director

Alfonso was unanimously elected by staff to the position of Executive Co-Director in November 2021, and he moved to Western Massachusetts from St. Louis, Missouri to join the team. Alfonso brings years of experience in building worker power. For over 15 years, Alfonso worked with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), training new organizers and supporting workers in starting new unions and winning contracts, as well as working with the Painters District Council 58, and Local 148 of the Operating Engineers and several union locals across the country. Alfonso led the Fight for $15 campaign from its epicenter in St. Louis, winning national recognition of fast food workers’ right to a living wage. Alfonso is also an Adjunct Professor of Latinx Studies at Holyoke Community College.

Andrea Schmid, Communications Specialist 

Andrea grew up in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and Miami, FL, the struggle for immigrant justice was always a part of her lived experience. After graduating from Smith College with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy, she worked as a server in a Mexican restaurant. This deeply solidified her solidarity with workers rights and commitment to lifting up the movement for immigrant justice. At this time, her key work at the PVWC is to facilitate two workers' committees, where farm workers and meeting restaurants to identify collective challenges and campaigns to improve their conditions. She coordinates the PVWC 24-hour hotline and works closely with UFCW and UAW, two key unions in the western Massachusetts region.

Gabriella della Croce, Director of Solidarity Economy Organizing

Gabriella della Croce is an organizer and educator whose work has always revolved around food systems, food sovereignty and environmental justice. She has a wide range of experience in development, communications, environmental education, sales, and worker cooperatives, as well as in the restaurant industry. She has worked so many odd, part-time jobs that even she can barely remember them all, but each one of them taught her something about humility and precariousness. She believes that in order to build effective social movements that can outlive us, we must put our principles into practice in meaningful ways day to day in order to shift culture. Gabriella has a BA in Environmental Studies from Smith College and an MA in Labor Studies from UMass Amherst, where she is still engaged in collaborative research on farm labor conditions in Western MA. At the Workers Center, she is responsible for running the new Solidarity Economy Department, which houses our cooperative development and Mutual Aid programs. She is part of the Organizing Department where she does base building and farmworker organizing. Gabriella also co-leads fundraising campaigns and community events.

Alexandria (Allie) Aguirre, Director of Operations and Finance

Allie moved from the Berkshires to the Pioneer Valley with her family in 2015.  She holds a Masters in Project Management from Boston University and an Industrial Engineering degree from Escuela Politecnica del Ejercito in Quito, Ecuador, where she grew up.  Allie does accounting, finance, integration, development, and administrative work for the Workers Center and truly enjoys being a part of the family here. She also works for ILI (International Language Institute) as their Finance and HR manager. She is a co-founder of the im2 (Immigrant Mask Makers), a non-profit organization created in March 2020 to help immigrant women who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. In her time off, she enjoys dancing, biking, yoga, cooking, reading, and walking with her pug, Fiama. You also might see her volunteering for local groups in the community.

Leninn Torres, Lead Community Organizer

After immigrating from Tlaxcala, Mexico and working for more than a decade in the restaurant industry, Leninn began as a volunteer with PVWC’s mutual aid program in 2020. Growing up, Leninn saw his mother struggle to provide her children with consistent healthy meals. His upbringing, immigration journey, and experience in the restaurant industry have led to a deep, personal understanding of food insecurity and the myriad challenges, facing the undocumented immigrant and low-income community in the US. Leninn became a member of PVWC’s staff in the early 2021 and is proud to help to keep the Mutual Aid food distribution program running and growing to serve communities in need in the Pioneer Valley.

Arya Samuelson, Director of Development 

Arya Samuelson is a writer and grants professional with a passion for helping organizations tell their story. Since 2015, Arya has worked as a freelance writer for social justice organizations and documentaries across the country. She also brings five years of direct service advocacy experience, having worked as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as the Supportive Housing Specialist as Neighbors Together, where she helped homeless adults with mental illness in NYC to secure stable housing. Arya graduated with a degree in Anthropology from Reed College, with a focus in gender studies and development. She also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College and is currently working on a novel. Arya's role at PVWC is dedicated to grant writing and fundraising, building relationships with donors, and overseeing communications.

Ariana (Ari) Keigan, Administrative Assistant

Ariana (Ari) Keigan comes to the Pioneer Valley Workers Center with a wide range of experiences in farming, nonprofit, and community organizing settings. She has woven her commitment to justice throughout her experiences as a local farm worker, domestic violence survivor advocate, and ESL teacher. Ari is committed to building a world of connection, mutual care, and interdependence by way of transformative justice and healing. Her lineage of diasporic Jewish ancestors and her people’s radical traditions motivate and sustain Ari's work. She holds degrees in African American Studies and Gender & Sexuality Studies from Brandeis University. At the Workers Center, Ari is responsible for handling administrative support functions across a multitude of projects.

Miren Neyra Alcantara, Organizer 

Miren grew up and lived in Mexico City, Mexico until 2019 when she came to study at Holyoke Community College. Having gotten her AA in Latinx Studies, Miren plans to transfer to a four-year college to get her BA as well as attend graduate school. Miren came to PVWC as an intern, and shortly after became promoted to Senior Organizer-In-Training. This promotion lined up with Miren's passions for food security, body autonomy, reproductive and immigrant justice. In her work as Senior OIT, Miren has developed and implemented digital organizing strategies, spearheaded outreach efforts to student groups, handled immigration case referrals, and has taken on several key roles in worker organizing campaigns.

Partnerships & Collaboration

Our work is based on a solid foundation of many organizational partnerships.

We are proud members of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and the W. MA Area Labor Federation (ALF).

We also work closely with numerous organizational partners including University of Massachusetts Labor Center, Western MassCOSH, and more!