Through community organizing, leadership development, education and policy advocacy, the Workers’ Center of Central New York empowers low-wage workers to combat workplace abuses and improve wages and working conditions throughout the community.

Meet Our Staff

Jessica Maxwell

Executive Director

Jessica Maxwell grew up on a small family farm in Herkimer County. For the past 20 years, she has  been an activist and community organizer in Syracuse, NY, working on economic and social justice  campaigns, including immigrant rights, justice for incarcerated individuals and their families,  community gardening and urban agriculture projects, and a safe, clean energy system. Jessica currently  provides organizing trainings with RiseUp for Social Action, serves on the board of the Alliance for a  Green Economy and Cooperative Federal community development credit union, and is the Executive  Director of the Workers Center of CNY.

Crispin Hernandez

Farmworker Organizer

Crispin Hernández is indigenous Mizteca from Mexico. He emigrated to New York in 2012 and began to work on a dairy  farm. In 2013, he received health and safety training from the Workers’ Center of Central New York. Soon after he began  organizing for better working conditions and was subsequently fired. With support from the Workers’ Center, Workers Justice Center of NY and the NYCLU, Crispin sued the State of New York to demand the right for agricultural workers to organize. In 2019, in a historic victory, an appellate court in Albany ruled in his favor. Crispin joined the WCCNY staff in 2017 as an  organizer responsible for educating workers, particularly agricultural workers, about their rights.

Fernanda Uribe

Farmworker Organizer

Victor Hernandez

Campaign Organizer

Victor Hernandez first became involved with the Worker’s Center as a volunteer interpreter. He has also worked with and volunteered with several central New York non-profits, especially the Syracuse Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network (SIRDN). His activism against the War on Drugs earned him the prestigious Elie Wiesel Essay Prize in Ethics and the City of San Antonio’s Man of the Year accolade in 2012. He is originally from Torreón, México, and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Syracuse University.  

We come together to make change.

Our dedicated Executive Board

Gretchen Purser
Chair & secretary

She has been involved in building this organization since 2010. She is a Professor of Sociology and the Research Director on Activism and Advocacy at PARCC, where she coordinates the Labor Studies working group, at Syracuse University.

Jim Williams

He is an attorney with Legal Services of Central New York, an adjunct professor of employment law at the SU Law School, and the former executive director of the National Employment Law Project.

Andres Mendoza
membership liason

Andres is a Mexican immigrant who has been living in Syracuse since 2003. He was a restaurant worker until he was injured roughly 7 years ago. He has long been an active member of the organization, participating in trainings, marches, and collective actions in support of other members.

Adelso Bravo

Adelso is a long time member of WCCNY and works as a painter in Syracuse.

Amy Sugimori
Director of Policy & Legislation for 32BJ SEIU

With 145,000 members throughout 11 states and Washington, DC, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country. 32BJ members work in building services, keeping the offices, apartments, schools and other major buildings in our states clean, secure and operating smoothly.

Dolores BustamantE

Dolores is a Mexican farmworker currently employed in the apple industry. She is on the board of Alianza de Mujeres Agricolas.

Beatriz Gatica

Beatrice has been working as a farmworker in the apple orchards for over 10 years. Originally from Mexico, she is not only on the board of WCCNY but is active in Mujeres Divinas

Austin Kocher

Austin Kocher is researcher and faculty fellow at the Transactional Research Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. He is a geographer by training and a specialist in law, space, immigration. He helped found the Center Ohio Worker Center in Columbus, Ohio.