All posts by Emily Labarbera-Twarog

Fighting Sexual Violence at Work


Join Instructors Sheerine Alemzadeh and Karla Altmayer from Healing to Action in a 3 hour interactive class
  • What is Gender Inequality?
  • How does it relate to Gender Violence?
  • Learn to Raise Issues of Gender Inequality at Work
  • Develop Strategies to Challenge Inequality & Violence

Saturday, Feb 11, 2017 9am to 12noon

Cost: $50/$10 – Students & Unemployed

NEW!!! Register Online 

OR ♦ Email Maria Dokes at
 Who? Women Workers
Where? Chicago Teachers Union -1901 W. Carroll Ave, Chicago
Free Street Parking – Off the CTA Green Line – Ashland stop
A program of the University of Illinois – Labor Education Program and the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference

The Polk School Alumnae Reception

Join us Saturday, November 12 from 5pm to 7:30pm at the historic Jane Addams Hull House on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. 

Light snacks and drinks will be served. Come reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. RSVP at

Bring a union sister who is interested in attending Polk and be entered into a RAFFLE to win FREE REGISTRATION to two women’s leadership classes this winter.

Place:                                                                                                                                               Dining Room Building, Jane Addams Hull House, 800 S. Halsted Ave

Getting There:

  • Parking is available for a fee in the lot across the street.
  • Hull House is accessible via the Blue Line (UIC – Halsted Exit) or the #8 Halsted Bus.

Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Alumna of the Year

2016 Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Alumna of the Year

We are thrilled to announce that this year’s Alumna of the Year is Sister Judy Simpson. Judy's photo

Judy is currently the public sector field representative for LIUNA Local 773. Prior to her
staff position with Local 773, she was a special collections librarian at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL and a campus labor leader. Judy first attended the Polk School in 2011 and then returned in 2012. She has played a pivotal role in recruiting for the Polk School through the LIUNA in the Midwest as well as helped to raise important funds to help send women to the Polk School. In addition to her staff position, Judy is also sits on the board of the Illinois Labor History Society. Judy will be attending this year’s Polk School as the first Alumna Student and will receive an award at the graduation dinner.

This is the second year of the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Alumna of the Year. It is awarded annually to a Polk alumna that goes onto achieve leadership success in her workplace and union. Judy Simpson is such as woman! She embodies the vision of Regina V. Polk in both action and spirit. Regina would be so proud of you.

2015 – Elise Foster, Vice President, National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 11

From Sister Elise Foster’s 2015 acceptance speech, May 2015

“I’m here to tell the women of Regina V. Polk.

Keep fighting and never give up

Stay positive

Negativity has no place in our organization

Respect everyone no matter what job they hold

Listen and communicate with others

Respect female leadership

Give support at all times

Stay committed

Pay if forward and continue to educate the young people”

Instructor Bios

Emily E. LB. Twarog, PhD – Director, Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference

Emily E. LB. Twarog is currently an assistant professor of labor studies at the University of Illinois’ School of Labor and Employment Relations Labor Education Program. She earned her doctorate in American History at the University of Illinois at Chicago and her masters in labor studies at the University  of  Massachusetts  Amherst’s  Labor  Resource  and  Research  Center.  She  is  currently  at work on a book manuscript (“Politics of the Pantry: Housewives, Food, and Consumer Protest in 20th Century  America”) that  examines  the ways  in  which  housewives  in America  used  food  and protest as political tools to gain political influence both locally and nationally.

Emily is also the director of the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference (The Polk School), sits on the Chicago Jobs with Justice Workers’ Rights Board and is involved in the United Association of Labor Educators, the Labor and Working Class History Association. She aspires to one day sit on the board of the Skokie Public Library.

Emily  spent  15  years  in  the  food  service  industry  as  a  line  cook,  drive thru  cashier,  assistant pastry  chef,  bread  baker,  and  server.  She  was  the president  of  GEO/UAW  Local  2322  at  the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a community organizer with the Campaign for Labor Rights and  Jobs  with  Justice,  and was  a  member  of  UNITE  HERE  Local  1  and a union steward  in  a downtown Chicago hotel where she worked as a server

Emily lives in Skokie with her husband who organizes workers, two young and energetic boys who are growing up on the picket line, one very fluffy dog, and a yellow Little Library on her front lawn. Her hobbies include knitting, cooking, gardening, reading, and race car driving.

Jennifer Camille Lee, Assistant Director, Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference

Jennifer Lee is the Outreach Coordinator for the Labor Education program and is this year’s Polk Coordinator. She assists with strengthening LEP’s relationships with labor unions across the state, and development and coordination of extension learning programs. Jennifer lives in Springfield, Illinois with her husband and two children. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Studies from the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Judy Ancel, Instructor

Judy Ancel has been the Director of Worker Education & Labor Studies labor education program at The University of Missouri-Kansas City since 1989.  In her work she provides education and training for union members and the general public on labor relations, labor history and contemporary problems of working people in a global economy. She has taught history and politics at the college level, has worked in factories, and has been a union activist and organizer in both the United Steelworkers and American Federation of Teachers. She holds a Masters in history from Hunter College of the City University of New York and a B.A. from Stanford University. In 2009 she won the United Association of Labor Education award for Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Labor Education.

She currently coordinates The Heartland Labor Forum, an award-winning weekly one-hour radio show about the workplace and economic issues on community radio in Kansas City KKFI-90.1FM.  In 2011 she won first prize from The International Labor Communications Association for a radio show, The Last Overhaul about the shutdown of the American Airlines maintenance base in Kansas City.

She is President of the Board of Directors of The Cross Border Network for Justice and Solidarity, a non-profit organization which develops ties and mutual understanding between working people in the Kansas City area and workers in Mexico and Central America. Its motto is: Supporting workers across borders and workers who cross borders. She also served from 2000-2007 as a Director and Executive Committee member of The Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras, a San Antonio-based tri-national non-governmental organization.

Ancel is active in the United Association of Labor Education (UALE) and was also a founder and is Organizing Co-Chair of Kansas City Jobs with Justice.

In May, 2010 Ancel organized a delegation of labor educators, filmmakers, and students to investigate the strike of copper miners in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico. The report, Crossing the Border to Cananea: High Stakes and Teachable Moments for North American Workers March, 2011 and a link to the video are available at Ancel has also traveled twice to Honduras on human rights delegations in 2009, 12 and 13 and speaks and writes about the 2009 coup and the surge in violations of worker and human rights since then.

In April and May 2011 Ancel and a team teacher in St. Louis were targeted by media thug Andrew Breitbart of who posted a series of highly edited videos misrepresenting a course they teach, accusing them of teaching violence, sabotage, communism and militancy. A hate campaign against them was spearheaded by the St. Louis Tea Party and the Missouri Lt. Governor. However, Ancel fought back and was vindicated by UMKC. She and others organized support from around the country to save her colleague’s teaching job and won his reinstatement. Ancel and her colleague were later honored for defending academic freedom by the American Association of University Professors at their annual meeting.

Leah Fried, Instructor

Leah Fried is a third generation labor organizer.  She is currently the Director of International Strategies and Co-Director of Education for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, UE. Leah has been an organizer with the UE since 1997.  During that time she has organized workplaces into the union via NLRB elections and recognition campaigns, served as lead negotiator in contract negotiations ranging from first contracts to agreements that have been in place for over 40 years, and together with many great leaders she has worked on grievance handling and strikes, presented arbitration cases and briefs, handled legal charges against employers, carried out training and education for UE leaders, designed and carried out media strategies, built community alliances and occupied a factory- twice.  You may have seen her in Michael Moore’s film, Capitalism:  A Love Story.  Leah is from Chicago and lives there with her organizer husband and two kids.