CIWO hosted the seventh annual Build the Bench Convening on November 9 and 10, 2021 (our second virtual convening, due to the pandemic).  Build the Bench is a community of learning and practice specifically tailored to managing directors in the worker justice movement.  Members have various job titles, but are all leaders positioned in between executive directors and organizational staff, tasked with bringing organizational vision to life while supporting staff members.

This year, twenty movement leaders from organizations and networks across the country gathered with enthusiasm, openness, and generosity, creating a powerful space where leaders strengthened their relationships and supported one another. It was one of our most creative convenings!

The convening was designed with input from program members, the Advisory Committee, and CIWO Fellows. The sessions included Ways of Understanding and Navigating Change, Exploring Habits of White Supremacy in Ourselves and our Organizations, Connecting and Mapping Our Community of Practice (using visual data from a BTB member survey) and Peer Coaching (a perennial Build the Bench favorite!).


Image of 2021 Build the Bench Convening


Participants often tell us that Build the Bench is a deeply generative and safe space for them to connect with other movement leaders who understand and relate to the unique opportunities and challenges of their management position. Several participants noted that even with the “Zoom Fatigue” that has permeated working remotely during the pandemic, they were eager to stay engaged in the convening, and looked forward to each session.  A number of new leaders joined Build the Bench this year, one saying that they had never been in a space like this.

Having dedicated space to connect with others in this space allows leaders to “let their guard down” and form bonds that are necessary to strengthen and grow their own leadership and organizations as well as the larger worker justice movement. With a virtual space this powerful, we can’t wait for our next in-person convening (fingers crossed for summer 2022!)


Image of 2021 Build the Bench Convening


A special thanks to:

Build the Bench Advisory Committee
Aisha Satterwhite,
Beth Shipp, Caring Across Generations
Chevalier Lovett, Florida Rising
Felicia Griffin, PowerSwitch Action
Kathleen Gaspard, Institute for Policy Studies
Mackenzie Baris, Jobs with Justice
Renata Pumerol, Action Center on Race and the Economy
Vivian Huang, Asian Pacific Environmental Network

CIWO Fellows
Felicia Griffin, PowerSwitch Action
Kathleen Gaspard, Institute for Policy Studies
Maria Elva Maldonado, Center for Innovation in Worker Organization