NEW YORK — The Ford Foundation today announced the appointment of Ai-jen Poo to serve as a member of its Board of Trustees. A well-established advocate for women, immigrants, and low-wage workers, Poo is currently the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-director of Caring Across Generations, a national coalition of 200 advocacy organizations working to transform the long-term care system for aging Americans, people with disabilities, and their caregivers. She is also the author of The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America.
“Ai-jen is an extraordinary leader and a strong voice for large communities of people—domestic workers, caregivers, and the elderly—whose rights are often challenged and underprotected in this country,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “We are thrilled that she will bring her intelligence, dynamism, and deep expertise fighting for social justice to our Board of Trustees.”
Poo began her career in the mid-1990s as an activist in New York City, first as a volunteer at the New York Asian Women’s Center supporting survivors of domestic violence in the Asian community, and later as organizer at the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV). In 2000, building upon her work with Filipina domestic workers at CAAAV, she helped create Domestic Workers United (DWU), an organization promoting the rights and dignity of all domestic workers in New York. In 2010, Poo and DWU played an instrumental role in New York State's passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, the first law in the country to guarantee domestic workers basic labor protections such as overtime pay, paid leave, and legal protections from harassment and discrimination.
Joining together with 50 other organizers and domestic workers, Poo co-founded the National Domestic Workers Alliance in 2007 as a voice for the growing workforce of cleaners and child care and elder care workers in homes across America. She then went on to co-found Caring Across Generations in 2011 to address the growing need for elder care solutions as the nation ages, while strengthening the growing care workforce.
Poo serves on a number of boards and has received numerous recognitions throughout her career. She is on the board of directors of MomsRising Education Fund, National Jobs with Justice, and Working America Education Fund. Poo has also been recognized by Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women, Fortune’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, and Time’s 100 Most Influential People lists.
She has received numerous awards, including a 2014 MacArthur "Genius" Award, the Open Society Institute NYC Community Fellowship, the Union Square Award, the Leadership for a Changing World Award, the Ernest de Maio Award from the Labor Research Association, the Woman of Vision Award from the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Alston Bannerman Fellowship for Organizers of Color, and the Twink Frey Visiting Scholar Fellowship at the University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women.
“It’s a true honor to join forces with the Ford Foundation, a great partner with a continued commitment to quality work and rights for all people,” she said. “I’m inspired to serve on its board and carry on their mission of advancing dignity for everyone.”
Poo has a degree from Columbia University. She has honorary degrees from a number of institutions, including The New School and City University of New York. She currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Ford Foundation trustees are elected by the full board and serve six-year terms. Trustees set broad policy relating to grant making, geographic focus, investments, governance, and professional standards, and they oversee internal and independent audits. The foundation’s trustees hail from four continents and have extensive experience in the worlds of higher education, business and finance, technology, law, government, and the nonprofit sector.