Thank you, Christine Owens! 

As we bid her farewell and wish her the best in her travels ahead, the NELP staff would like to express our gratitude for the tremendous contributions of Christine Owens, our Executive Director for the past twelve years. During that time, Chris transformed the organization, growing it from 20 staff members in 2008 to 44 today, nearly tripling the budget, and building a strong financial foundation and a staff and executive leadership team that reflects the values of equity and inclusion that NELP fiercely advocates for our nation and its workplaces. 

Chris is always the first to say that everything NELP has done and achieved reflects, first and foremost, the amazing team she’s led. But, leadership matters, and Chris’s inspiring leadership has been an essential ingredient in enabling NELP to become one of the nation’s preeminent workers’ rights and economic justice organizations —one that Chris says she “always knew it could be.” 

We are proud of all we achieved together. Under Chris’ leadership over the past decade, NELP has played a signature role in: 

  • Winning life-saving unemployment benefits for tens of millions of workers during the Great Recession;  
  • Raising wages for people in our economy who all-too-often work the most and are paid the least;  
  • Opening pathways to employment for millions of Black and brown people who shoulder the direct and collateral consequences of our racialized criminal justice system;  
  • Strengthening enforcement of protections against wage theft and workplace retaliation; 
  • Extending long-overdue minimum wage and overtime pay guarantees to the fast-growing home care workforce; 
  • Improving workplace health and safety and holding the line on attempted routs of workers compensation and unemployment insurance programs;  
  • Blocking the egregious appointment of Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor and consistently blowing the whistle on this administration’s attacks on workers’ rights; and 
  • Exposing consistent rule-breaking by companies like Uber and Lyft and winning labor rights for contract and temporary workers. 

Chris summed up her leadership and NELP’s path ahead well in her parting message to our team:  

The belief that brought me to NELP originally—that it is a stand-out organization that delivers on what it promises and makes work and living conditions better for our society’s most vulnerable and marginalized workers—has only deepened during my tenure as NELP’s Executive Director.  I am proud of this organization, what it stands for, and what it does.  And I am humbled and honored to have played a role in this work over the past 12 years. I leave with great comfort and confidence in the wisdom and leadership of NELP’s next Executive Director, Rebecca Dixon, and all she will do to build on what we have begun internally, while also taking NELP to a next level in terms of our reach, advocacy and impact.”

The belief that brought me to NELP originally—that it is a stand-out organization that delivers on what it promises and makes work and living conditions better for our society’s most vulnerable and marginalized workers—has only deepened during my tenure as NELP’s Executive Director. 

-Christine Owens, NELP Executive Director, 2008-2019 

Chris will be missed by NELP’s board, staff , partners and allies.  We will continue to build on all we have accomplished together in the fight for workplace dignity, justice, and equity for all.  

 


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