American Courage: Ai-jen Poo

Presenting the recipient of our 2018 American Courage Award

On October 4, 2018, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC will celebrate our annual American Courage Awards, an opportunity to recognize and celebrate individuals, groups, and corporations for their commitment and contributions to civil rights.

At the core, our 2018 American Courage Award honoree Ai-jen Poo is an organizer. Her accolades include being recognized as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and one of Fortune’s 50 World’s Greatest Leaders as the result of her work in labor organizing.

Poo has been an active force of change for the AAPI community and other marginalized communities since her start in the 1990s at the New York Asian Women’s Center through her journey to organizing around ensuring basic labor protections for domestic workers in New York State. She then co-founded Domestic Workers United (DWU) in 2000, an organization critical in passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010, the first law in the United States to guarantee basic labor rights for domestic workers. Her work in New York was amplified when California passed a similar law and President Barack Obama expanded protections for home-care workers.

Currently, Poo operates as the Executive Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), an organization she co-founded in 2007, as well as the Co-Director of Caring Across Generations. The National Domestic Workers Alliance is now an affiliation of more than 60 organizations that works for the respect, recognition, and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers and has effectively organized towards guaranteeing rights for who are involved in domestic work. Since she co-created Caring Across Generations in 2011, the campaign has been working towards building a movement of all ages and backgrounds to transform the way we care about our aging and caregiving populations.

Recognized in 2012 by Gloria Steinem for her empathy and creative organizing tactics, Poo has made waves in the lives of multiple communities. In her book The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, Poo exhibits her innovative new approaches to how society approaches old age. Her positive and inclusive approach of viewing the elder boom as an opportunity rather than an obstacle resulted in the book being lauded by the New York Times among many other positive reviews. The book, like Poo herself, ultimately aims to organize change for a better society.

Advancing Justice | AAJC awards Poo the American Courage Award for her unwavering advocacy for marginalized individuals and families nationwide. Through her work with domestic workers, her voice in the #MeToo movement and other women’s movements, Ai-jen Poo continues to be an inspiration and voice for the community. Advancing Justice | AAJC is proud to highlight her life of service with the American Courage Award.

Join us on October 4, 2018 when we honor Ai-jen Poo and other honorees who inspire current and future AAPI generations.