the National Alliance of Domestic Workers (NDWA) is extending its leadership and has appointed Jenn Stowe, the granddaughter of a domestic worker with a resume in political organizing, as its new executive director.
His predecessor, Ai-jen Poo, will assume the role of chairman of the coalition, which works on behalf of the country’s 2.5 million domestic workers. The expansion places two women of color at the helm of the NDWA as it marks its 15th anniversary and becomes the latest progressive organization to look to a black woman to lead.
Stowe, 35, is taking a stand as the role of caregiving has grown during the pandemic, but legislation designed to create better working conditions and raise wages has stalled in Congress. In an exclusive interview with The 19th announcing the leadership change, Stowe and Poo said they plan to team up in the renewed fight to win major care-centric legislative campaigns at the federal, state and local levels.
“With the midterm elections approaching, it’s clear that care is a political argument that is a winning argument,” Stowe said. “And being able to have a meaningful impact on daily life by reducing the costs of care is something that people understand, no matter what state they live in. We want to make sure we continue to get that message across.”
The group will also continue to focus on empowering its members.
“What Care in Action, our sister organization, will continue to do is really test this model of the full cycle of electoral accountability, which approves candidates who represent our interests and ensures that we can move policy forward,” Stowe said. “That will be key to what we do in the midterm elections and the presidential election as well, continuing to get that message out, approving the people who support us on our agenda and making sure we hold them. responsible too, once they are in office.
Poo added: “The first 15 years were really about saying, ‘We’re here.’… The future is really about this workforce exercising and shaping the future of politics and politics, exercising the power that was built with such diligence and care.
In addition to announcing leadership changes on Thursday, sister political organization Care in action endorsed Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Lt. Governor Lisa Cano Burkhead, planting their flag in another crucial battleground state. Cortez Masto is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators up for reelection this year. The group has also supported women in key states, including Georgia and North and South Carolina.
The size and influence of the NDWA has grown since its beginnings in 2007 as part of the first US Social Forum. More than 50 domestic workers representing child care, cleaning and home care workers from across the country came together and formed their alliance. Today, NDWA has 70 local affiliates and more than 400,000 people linked to the domestic worker movement across the country.
The organization worked to successfully pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 10 states and met frequently with Vice President Kamala Harris on caregiving issues. Its members have led multiple campaigns to pressure President Joe Biden’s administration and members of Congress to pass legislation on care and domestic workers.
Stowe joined the NDWA last year as chief of staff, serving as Poo’s top adviser. She previously worked as an assistant executive director at Priorities USA, a major liberal super PAC, and Planned Parenthood.
After the 2020 election, Stowe said, it was clear she wanted to do something different.
“I wanted to build a movement with women of color and for women of color, and quite frankly, nationally, there are only a few places where you can do that,” she explained. “Making sure that we can continue to build on the victories that we have won, that we can continue to do so by ensuring that our multiracial movement is also reflected in our leadership…I think that is a continuation of the confidence in the leadership of women of color and doubling down on it.
Stowe added that she also brings her lived experience as a black woman whose grandmother was a domestic worker. She is also from Atlanta, where NDWA was founded.
“I know Dorothy Bolden [Atlantan and founder of the National Domestic Workers Union of America] was the mother of the modern domestic movement,” Stowe said. “I like to say that I am answerable to a powerful labor movement.”
Poo said the moment aligns with one of the original goals of the NDWA, which was to create a platform for women of color to develop leadership, strategic capacity and build power.
“This comes at a time when there is so much change in the social justice movement, where all of these organizations are now led by women of color, with a lot of bright black women and other women of color leading these institutions. – many legacy institutions that, five years ago, looked really different,” Poo said.
Stowe joins other black women who have ascended to the leadership of major political organizations in recent years.
In June 2020, Alexis McGill Johnson was named president of Planned Parenthood. In January 2021, Amanda Brown Lierman became the new executive director of the progressive women’s political mobilization group Supermajority. In September, Laphonza Butler was named the first black woman to lead EMILY’s roster in the organization’s nearly four-decade history. And in December, Jocelyn Frie was named the first black woman chair of the National Partnership for Women and Families in its 50-year history.
People recognize the leadership of black women, said Fatima Goss Graves, who took over from the founders of the National Women’s Law Center after 45 years and became its first black woman leader in 2017.
“Jenn is not new to the job; she was a force behind the scenes in a lot of different places, and I think that was true for black women in leadership at that time,” Goss Graves said.
“When I took on this role, there were very few black women sitting around the table,” she said. “There were those years when they thanked black women for showing up. There’s been a big, dramatic change over the past two years, and that part has been really exciting.