Build the Bench 9th Annual Retreat
02/20/2024 - 02/23/2024

Image of Build the Bench 9th Annual Retreat Digital Zine Cover

Build the Bench 2024 Group Photo
Build the Bench 2024 Group Photo

Build the Bench 2024 Group Photo Build the Bench, established in 2015, convenes senior staff from key U.S. worker centers and community organizing networks engaged in economic, racial and immigration justice.

Convenes leaders – sometimes called Managing Directors, Chiefs of Staff or Deputy Directors – with a focus on implementing the vision of their organizations through effective strategies and healthy structures. Our goals:

  • Get smarter with others faster to win bigger: Create a trusting community that provides a well of knowledge, experience, and practices
  • Build and deepen relationships: Create and strengthen relationships of mutual trust and respect that support individual growth, organizational strength, and the movement ecosystem
  • Collective Innovation: Utilize collective brainpower and organizational resources to innovate solutions to shared organizational and movement challenges

Our 9th Annual Retreat brought over 30 leaders together at the Maritime Conference near Baltimore, MD with a focus on in deep relational organizing and practiced resiliency within our community of praxis. Stay tuned as we envision “the next chapter” of Build the Bench and future gatherings connecting multiple generations of movement leaders.

  • Day 1: Welcome + Introductions
  • Day 2: Make meaning of the current moment + deepen relationships
  • Day 3: Organizational health: participants and guests discuss learnings and challenges that are arising
  • Day 4: Navigate polarities that naturally arise for those occupying the #2 role by providing and receiving peer coaching
Image of BTB retreat Peer Coaching and Deepening Relationships
Peer Coaching and Deepening Relationships


Alexis Brazzle - IGNITE! Central
Ali Brusch - re:power
Bahar Tolou - Action Center on Race and the Economy
Bill Shiebler - State Voices
Denise Diaz - Jobs with Justice
Jenny Freedman - Center for Popular Democracy
Jessica Champagne - Worker Rights Consortium
Kathleen Gaspard - Institute for Policy Studies
Katy Medley - Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)
Kavita Khandekar Chopra - re:power
Lena Pervez Afridi - PowerSwitch Action
Lucas Shapiro - ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York
Mackenzie Baris - Jobs with Justice
Nikki Marín Baena - Siembra NC
Portia Wenze-Danley - United for Respect Education Fund
Sha Grogan Brown - Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Torin Darling Brazzle - IGNITE ALABAMA
Uyen Doan - re:power
Zaina Alsous - WeCount!


Image of BTB Retreat Resiliency with Chalene
Resiliency with Chalene


Chalene Jones of Taiji with Chalene

Deepak Pateriya of A Sacred Trust: Being a Paid Staff Person of a Base Organization

Felicia Griffin of The Call of Leadership Now: BIPOC Leaders in a Syndemic Era

Rinku Sen and Sean Thomas-Bretfield of How (not) to Dismantle White Supremacy


BTB Retreat photo of Resiliency with Chalene
Guest Authors Sean, Deepak, Rinku and Felicia


Kathleen Gaspard, Deputy Director, Institute for Policy Studies and Build the Bench Fellow

Mackenzie Baris, Deputy Director, Jobs with Justice

Renata Pumarol, Deputy Director, Climate Organizing Hub

Jennifer Freedman, Chief Operating Officer, The Center for Popular Democracy

Chevalier Lovett, Chief Operating Officer, Florida Rising

Photo of BTB Advisory Committee celebrates our original “bench builder” Marilyn Sneiderman
Advisory Committee celebrates our original “bench builder” Marilyn Sneiderman


Felicia Griffin, Build the Bench Fellow

Robin Katcher of KatcherConsulting

Kasi Perreira Director of Build the Bench



Leadership Team: Marilyn Sneiderman, Sheri Davis, Legna Cabrera

Directors Team: MaryGrace DiMaria, Sandra Jeong Lane, Kasi Marita Perreira

Support Team: Jackie Brown, Mary Kate Marasco, Patricia Muñoz, Talia Schank



  • Sign Up: for our quarterly CIWO Newsletter featuring Build the Bench!
  • Join the Build the Bench Listserv: by emailing You can expect monthly updates from CIWO, but this is another great space to ask questions, share resources and events with our broader Build the Bench Community of Practice
  • Contact Us: Kasi Perreira, Director of Leadership and Organizational Change at CIWO