The Center for Public Leadership will award Ai-jen Poo, president of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and executive director of Caring Across Generations, the 2023 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award. The Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award, given biennially, honors leadership in social activism that has improved the quality of life in the United States.
The award honors Poo for her dedication to organizing and advocating for labor protections for domestic workers. Since 1996, Poo has focused her career on this charge, along with care infrastructure — including childcare, paid leave and aging and disability care — so that everyone can work, live and age with dignity.
Poo has helped advance policies that guarantee domestic workers basic labor protections such as overtime pay, paid leave, and legal protections from harassment and discrimination. Under her leadership, the National Domestic Workers Alliance has passed the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in ten states and the cities of Seattle and Philadelphia. This bill has brought over two million home care workers under minimum wage protections.
In 2011, Poo and then-Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta, founded Caring Across Generations, an organization of family caregivers, care workers, disabled people and aging adults working to change the way that our society sees and values care. In 2017, Poo co-founded Supermajority with Cecile Richards and Alicia Garza to bolster women voters across the United States and build the progressive women’s voting bloc. The organization fights for policy reform that supports gender equity, childcare assistance, bodily autonomy, voting rights, protection from sexual harassment, and equal pay.
As recipient of the 2023 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award, Poo will be honored during a ceremony on Harvard Kennedy School Campus in December 2023. She will receive a $150,000 prize and a specially commissioned sculpture designed by Maya Lin, the creator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC and the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, AL.
The Center for Public Leadership launched the Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change in 2007 with a $20 million endowed gift from the estate of Alan L. Gleitsman. It was Gleitsman's hope that if the world knew of the accomplishments of social activists, others would be inspired by their stories and would fight to correct some of the other problems facing the world, thereby improving the quality of life for all of us.