Board and Committee Members
Brigid Duffy Gerace
As a long-standing member of WWHP, Brigid Duffy Gerace has served as Theatre Co-chair and performed in annual galas. She is a member of the Chicago Teachers Union, Screen Actors’ Guild and Actors’ Equity Association, NOW and CLUW and received an award for her 30 years’ work on the Women’s Rights Committee. She recently appeared on ABC’s “Detroit 1-8-7/Shelter.” Brigid has performed at Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens and Millennium Park’s Pritzker Theatre. She taught in the Chicago Public Schools for 34 years and received the Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching. She currently mentors beginning teachers and performs a one-woman show on Mary Todd Lincoln.
Yolanda “Bobby” Hall
Bobby Hall is the founder of the Working Women’s History Project. Her activist career began in high school. During WWII, she was the first woman to work in the tool room at Bendix Aviation Corporation, where she fought against sex discrimination and harassment and helped to organize a union. She was the president of UAW Local 330 and the first female member of the Illinois Industrial Union Council, where she fought for equal pay and recognition of the need for child care and battled unfair management and racial discrimination. She fought the McCarthy red scare in the courts. She continued her activism long into retirement.
Katie Jordan has been a member of the Workers United union for 43 years, where she served as shop steward, Secretary and Vice President, and president of her local. She was a single, working mother of three children.Her activism is vast and varied. She has been part of: the Policy Council of Citizen Action/Illinois; the Chicago Labor for Peace, Prosperity and Justice; the national U.S. Labor against the War (USLAW) Steering Committee; the Steering Committee of Jobs with Justice; delegate to the Chicago Federation of Labor; and has been with WWHP since its inception.She has been on the boards of: the Chicago Chapter of CLUW (president); the National Executive Board of CLUW; the Minority Women Issues and Affirmative Action Committee (Co-chair); and the Sergeant at arms Committee (Co-chair).
Jackie Kirley joined WWHP in 1997, attracted by its history and focus on women’s and economic issues. Jackie taught in the Social Science Department of Harold Washington College (HWC) and was a member of the Women’s Studies Committee before retiring in 2004. She remains a member (retiree) of the Cook County College Teachers Union, Local 1600 AFT, is a member the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), and sits on the board of Pros Arts Studio, a non-profit in Pilsen that uses the arts for youth development and leadership.
Over the past few decades, Amy Laiken has been involved in the movements for women’s reproductive rights, nuclear disarmament, and against U.S. intervention in Central America. In the summer of 2009, she had the idea that Chicago should hold a commemoration of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which killed 146 workers in New York City on March 25, 1911. She recruited a group that included Jackie Kirley of the Working Women’s History Project, and the committee planned an afternoon event that was held on April 7, 2011. That evening, she attended a gala hosted by the Working Women’s History Project that also honored the victims of the fire, and was so impressed that she joined WWHP shortly thereafter. Before retiring, Amy was an administrative hearing officer for the state Department of Human Services, and is currently a member of the AFSCME Retirees’ Chapter.
Rose Meyer has had a long career fighting for universal education, women’s rights, labor rights, and grass roots inclusion in politics. She taught high school and was a vice-president in the Chicago Teachers Union. Rose has been a major officer in Jewish and political organizations in Chicago and Oak Park. She is also a former board president of the Literacy Volunteers of America.
Joan and Ken Morris
Joan Morris joined WWHP in 1998 when she wrote “Union Train” about the UPS Strike and the Clerical Workers Strike organized by Vickie Starr. Her husband, Ken plays an integral role in WWHP’s Theatre Group, acting in plays, performing songs, and often working behind the scenes. Joan taught at Harold Washington College for ten years as an adjunct instructor and tutor. Currently, she teaches and tutors English at DeVry University. She, like her inspiration StudsTerkel, wants to capture the stories of working men and women in their own words. She feels these oral histories are our legacy that should be told and retold as they show that ordinary people can and do make a difference.
Helen Ramirez-Odell is a founding member of the Women’s Labor History Project, the predecessor of Working Women’s History Project. She serves as WWHP treasurer and is active in the national Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). She worked in the Chicago Public Schools and represented school nurses in Chicago Teachers Union until she retired in 2011. Helen chaired the Chicago Teachers Union Women’s Rights Committee for 25 years. She currently represents retirees as a CTU delegate. She believes women in traditional roles have powerful stories to tell and wrote Working Without Uniforms: School Nursing in Chicago 1951-2001, which was published by WWHP in 2002.
In high school, Sue and her classmates protested the girls’ dress code and won. She joined the Women’s Liberation Club at and a committee to form a women’s studies program at Northeastern Illinois University, and worked on an anthology that the women’s studies program published in 1973. She became active in the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women, and served on the Education Fund board, chaired the economic equity issue team and currently serves as archivist. She is on the Illinois NOW Legal and Education Fund and a member of Common Shares of Illinois, a collective of progressive charities. She joined WWHP in 1999 and was elected president in 2003.
Alma Washington is an advocate for strong unions as a Chicago Chapter Council member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), a member of Actors’ Equity, and a member of American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). She has a passion for Women’s history and has travelled as a Road Scholar with the Illinois Humanities Council, performing her one-woman show about Lucy Parsons, labor leader in the 1880s and her role in the Haymarket Tragedy. She also received the Nelson Algren Committee Award and a is trustee of the Illinois Labor History Society.
Mac-Z Zurawski is an active community instructor in adult education throughout Chicago. She instructs an adult ESL Current Events class at Aquinas Literacy Center and tutors Adult GED and US Citizenship Coaching through Chicago Cares, Inc. She blends andragogy and technology to create active learning environments. She was inspired to support others by watching her young son struggle with a severe speech impairment that has led into delayed learning process.“If he feels frustrated, an adult must be even more stressed by lack of support”, she says. She is a board member for the Midwest Sociological Society’s Committee on Women in the Profession. Her goal at the MSS is to create workshops on networking in academia and support for new comers to the field. As a member of the Working Women’s History Project, she supports educational awareness of women’s history. Mac-Z believes education is a positive and lifelong action to help adults “bridge the gap between dreams and reality”. Her education is based on Political Science, Social Justice Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Sociology and Criminal Justice. She is actively pursuing employment in these fields in higher education.
Christina Osborne joined WWHP in 2009 as a communications intern and has taken a lead in the organization’s digital media efforts, including creating its Facebook page and redesigning and maintaining this web site. Her interest in the digital scene spawned from her passion for journalism and telling stories. She attended Ohio University where she majored in magazine journalism and minored in Women’s Studies. She is currently a Web Developer with Aquilent, Inc. in Washington, DC, working on government web sites.
Former Board and Committee Members
Mary Bonnett, Marjorie Feldman, Tamera Guilinger, Nancy Holder, C.C. Krohne, Elena Marcheschi, Dorothy Marks, Kathlyn Miles, Valerie Roberts, Laura Sollman St. John, Sue Weiler, Mary Wehrle