WASHINGTON , DC– At a time when labor organizing, immigration, racial justice, prison reform, and the right for decent health care and working conditions are on the line, the Berger-Marks Foundation proudly announces the recipients of its 2017 awards. The Berger-Marks Foundation is an institutional member of UALE and a major supprter of our regional women’s summer schools.

Edna Award

Winners of the Edna Award for Social Justice and the Kate Mullany Courageous Young Worker Awards have each stood up for justice and workers’ rights in the face of enormous odds. This year’s honorees come from California, Connecticut, Kansas, and New York.

Angelica M. Clarke, Executive Director of the Albany Social Justice Center, has been named winner of the Edna Award for Social Justice, which carries a $10,000 prize. The Edna Award celebrates women age 35 or younger, who have distinguished themselves as social justice leaders. The award honors Edna Berger, a pioneer for women’s rights, who rose from a receptionist at The Philadelphia Inquirer to become a writer, editor, and the first female organizer in The Newspaper Guild-CWA.

At age 26, Ms. Clarke directs one of New York State’s long-standing hubs for social justice organizing, the Albany Social Justice Center. While still a student, she cofounded Save Our SUNY, which organized against tuition price increases and cuts in academic programs, and New York Students Rising, a statewide coalition that advocated for quality affordable higher education and student empowerment. After graduation, she organized for the Graduate Students Employees Union (GSEU/CWA 1104) and helped bring a new labor contract for SUNY graduate students. She co-founded the Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration (CAAMI), a leading upstate New York voice on issues of prison justice and police violence, and the Upstate NY Black Lives Matter Chapter. Throughout her work, Angelica M. Clarke has been able to inspire young activists while simultaneously building relations with, and creating bridges to, older generations of social justice advocates.

Two runners-up will receive the $1,000 Edna Awards of Distinction: 

  • Jessica Carmona Cabrera, the Central California Regional Coordinator for the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, an immigrant, youth-led alliance that advocates and organizes for immigrant rights in California; and
  • Cathy Dang, the Executive Director of CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, which works to build grassroots community power across diverse poor and working class Asian immigrant and refugee communities in New York City. 

Kate Mullaney Award

The Berger-Marks Foundation also honors the three winners of the $1,000 Kate Mullany Courageous Young Worker Award, given to young women age 35 or younger who have stood up for workers’ rights and organized their own workplaces. The award is named for a young laundry worker who, more than 150 years ago, organized one of the first women’s unions.  

The 2017 Kate Mullany Award recipients are:

  • Jessica Ellul, a unit coordinator on the oncology ward at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, CT, who spent three years tirelessly fighting for – and ultimately winning — a union for the service and maintenance staff at the hospital;
  • Angela Melvin, a worker at the Wichita, Kansas T-Mobile call center, and the driving force in trying to organize a union despite aggressive anti-union activity; and
  • Allysha Shin, RN, who helped lead a union-organizing drive at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, CA, in part to address safety lapses in the Intensive Care Unit, and was fired for her organizing efforts.

“We honor these young women for their steadfast commitment to leading the way for social justice and workers’ rights,” notes Berger-Marks Foundation President Linda Foley, “Just as Edna Berger broke boundaries to accomplish her goals, these award winners are inspiring the next generation to work for a more equitable world.” 

The Edna Award and Kate Mullany Award winners will receive their awards at a reception on February 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. For more information on the award reception, please visit:  https://2017ednakate.eventbrite.com.

For more information about the Berger-Marks Awards, please visit http://www.bergermarks.org/home/awards.

About The Berger-Marks Foundation

The Berger-Marks Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to supporting women who organize for social justice and promoting the leadership and participation of women in the labor movement. The foundation is an institutional member of UALE, and has been a major funder of the UALE Women’s school. Since 2012 it has given $115,000 to the summer schools with the explicit purpose of providing scholarships to young women age 35 or younger to attend or teach at the summer schools. Berger-Marks also gave $49,100 in 2014 to UALE to evaluate and reimagine the four UALE regional women’s summer schools. In 2014, UALE hired Cheryl Coney to lead the evaluation and planning efforts. There was a retreat in November 2014 that brought together 26 women at the Highlander Center, where retreat participants examined, compared, assessed, and rethought the curriculum, recruitment, and financial structure of the four summer schools. The report that resulted from that reassessment can be accessed from the UALE Publications page of our Resources section. https://uale.org/resources-list/publications/348-union-women-s-leadership-education-proje

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