United Way-Labor Partnership Conference


The United Way-Labor Partnership Conference will be held August 15-17 in Portland, Oregon.

This year’s theme, “United We All Win,” will underscore the power of community, and the importance of continuing to foster the relationship between the labor movement and United Way. Over three days, participants will attend general and breakout sessions aimed at creating cohesive communities, while emphasizing United Way and Labor's role in creating these connections.


  • Labor liaisons & leaders
  • United Way CEOs in markets with unionized corporate partners
  • United Way resource development staff
  • United Way community impact staff


The Benson Hotel
309 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205

We have reserved a block of rooms at the Benson Hotel for those attending the conference; rates begin at $219 per night + taxes and fees. Reservations must be made on or before July 24, 2017. After July 24, 2017, rates do not apply and housing requests will be accommodated on a space availability basis only. United Way Worldwide cannot assume responsibility for any non-refundable sleeping room deposits. It is up to individuals to secure their own sleeping room accommodations. Hotel reservations are separate from event registrations.

Please use this housing link to make your reservation and check availability.


Registration Fee: $695.00 USD per person before July, 28, 2017 or $795.00 USD per person after July 28, 2017

United Way Staff: Click here to register

Non-United Way Staff: Click here to register



Tuesday, August 15:

  • 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: New Liaison Training
  • 1:00-4:30 p.m.: Conference begins for all attendees
  • 5:00-6:30 p.m.: Networking Event

Wednesday, August 16:

  • 8:15-8:45 a.m.: Continental Breakfast
  • 8:45 a.m.-5:00 p.m.: General & Learning Sessions
  • 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Labor Walk CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Thursday, August 17:

  • 8:15-8:45 a.m.: Continental Breakfast
  • 8:45 a.m.-5:00 p.m.: General & Learning Sessions


Get the most out of your conference experience by downloading United Way's conference app. Our app offers interactive opportunities at the conference and allows attendees to compete to earn their spot on the Leaderboard.

Search "United Way Event Center" in your phone's app store to get started!


Tuesday, August 15: Opening General Session & Conversation with Labor Leadership

Ana Avendaño serves as Vice President for Labor Engagement at United Way Worldwide, where she oversees the historic partnership between the AFL-CIO and United Way. Prior to joining the United Way, Ms. Avendaño served as Assistant to the President and Director of Immigration and Community Action at the AFL-CIO, where she managed the groundbreaking partnership between the AFL-CIO and worker centers around the country, and handled domestic and international immigration policy and programs for the AFL-CIO. She also served as an Associate General Counsel at the AFL-CIO. Click here to read full bio.

Tefere Gebre is the first political refugee, the first black man and the first local labor council leader elected to AFL-CIO national office. Gebre became the Executive Vice President after he led the Orange County Federation of Labor through a transformative process of membership growth and building political power in an infamously conservative county. He built strong ties with local community partners from diverse grassroots and faith-based organizations. His exceptional story began at fourteen years old when he left Ethiopia and made his way as a child refugee to a camp in the Sudan. A year later he arrived alone in Los Angeles, put himself through school and earned a college scholarship. Eventually he petitioned for his mother to migrate to the U.S. His first union job was a UPS night-shift worker with Teamsters during college and continued to work in California democratic and union politics. EVP Gebre is an outspoken advocate for the unions, workers’ rights and the struggles of working men and women of color. At the Federation, he works to improve the political and organizing capacity for local labor bodies, as well as advancing democracy-building, racial justice and immigrant workers’ rights.

Keith Thomajan took the helm, as President/CEO, at United Way of the Columbia-Willamette in 2012. That year the organization set a local record by raising $22 million. In his first year, Keith managed the acquisition of Hands On Greater Portland, enabling United Way to better support community volunteerism through 26,000 volunteer “matches” each year. In 2013, United Way launched a ten-year effort to Break the Cycle of Childhood Poverty in our region, citing data that reflects 20% of local kids growing up in poverty, and acute educational, economic and health disparities in our communities of color. Since the launch of this campaign, United Way has seen 5% growth in critical workplace campaigns (besting the 1-2% national and historic average); secured funding from the Gates Foundation as well as multi-million dollar grants from government partners; and landed a $2M estate gift. Click here to read full bio.

Mary Sellers, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide

Wednesday, August 16: Barriers to Solidarity: Harassment in the Workplace

Thursday, August 17: Telling Our Story

John Kretzschmar is the Director of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies. He grew up in Detroit and was a member of the Laborers International Union of North America and the United Automobile Workers before moving to Nebraska in 1976. He was hired at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1977, and in his spare time worked to build the support required to create a university-based labor education program beginning in 1980. He’s served at its director since its founding. The Institute for Labor Studies has a statewide mission to help the leaders of organized labor promote and protect meaningful workplace democracy. The Institute’s programming provides the relevant information and training to help labor leaders and rank and file members meet the changes in today’s changing economy and workplaces. More recently John has been traveling the U.S. and Canada speaking about the importance of winning the hearts and minds of union members and the general public.

Neil Parekh is the Director of Network Communications for United Way Worldwide and is responsible for streamlining UWW's communications with local United Ways and serves as a resource on crisis / disaster communications, social media and marketing. Among other responsibilities, Neil edits the daily Breakfast with United Way email, the monthly CEO Connection and is working to better coordinate communications between United Way Worldwide and the Network. Click here to read full bio.


Two blocks of learning sessions will be offered on August 16 & 17. Click here to view learning session titles and descriptions.


Matthew Aliberti serves as a Director of Impact for United Way Worldwide. He leads collaborative partnerships with United Ways and national partners to achieve scalable results across the United Way network, particularly integrating approaches across education, income, and health platforms and embracing collective impact. Click here to read full Matt Aliberti Bio.pdf.

Joshua Anijar is the AFL-CIO’s Governance, Organizational and Leadership Development Coordinator for the western region. An activist since childhood, Anijar has spent over a decade fighting for economic and social justice in the labor movement across the country. Josh was born in Miami Florida and has a MS from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and currently lives in the People’s Republic of Oakland California. He loves comic books and bad sci-fi movies.

Elisabeth Buck became President of United Way of Central Iowa in May 2017 after serving as Chief Community Impact Officer since January 2011. As United Way of Central Iowa’s chief executive, Elisabeth leads strategies to achieve substantive community impact in the priority areas of Education, Income, and Health to improve lives and build a stronger central Iowa. Click here to read full bio.

Madison Cassels grew up in Salida, Colorado and is a graduate of Tulane University and Pennsylvania State University-Dickinson School of Law. Madison discovered her passion for politics and public policy as an undergraduate student. She completed an internship with former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), published a paper on the effects of vice presidential choice on a general election, and joined several political campaigns in 2012 and 2013. Political work introduced Madison to the world of organized labor and she realized she shared the same values as labor - a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, having a voice on the job, and empowering working people and their families. Madison joined the staff of the Denver Area Labor Federation in 2013 and currently serves as the Community Outreach Director. In her work, Madison helps union members and working families in the Denver Metro Area by advocating for pro-working family policies and working with community groups to expand power for working people.

Yael Foa is the National Community Engagement United Way Program Coordinator with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), where she promotes and facilitates collaboration between the two organizations at both the national and local levels. Yael began her almost twenty-year career in the labor movement as an organizer helping low-wage health workers organize a union in their workplace, and has played a diverse range of roles over the years including recruiting and training new generations of organizers and directing legislative, electoral and issue campaigns that improve the lives of working families. Yael grew up in the Philadelphia area and currently resides in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Julie Kettler has been a labor relations practitioner for over thirty years, as both an advocate and a neutral. She earned a B.S. in Political Science and Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.S. in Labor Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Click here to read full bio.

Ana Polanco is an advisor and consultant to Futures Without Violence on "Workplaces Respond," a collaborative initiative to prevent violence facing vulnerable workers in the US. Ana works with organizations and individuals to strengthen and advance purpose driven missions. With over eighteen years of experience working with international and domestic membership based organizations, Ana supports leaders to reimagine how their ideas can have social impact. Using a wide range of campaign, organizational development and coaching techniques, Ana guides leaders to develop values driven approaches to the change they want to create in the world. Click here to read full bio.

Jay Reinke currently works as one of four AFL-CIO Community Service Liaisons for the Milwaukee Area Labor Council in partnership with the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County and is a member of AFSCME Local 1954. Jay’s responsibilities include the Labor Council’s African American Community Leadership Summit, Health and Hygiene Drive, Blanket Drive, as well as being the Labor Representative to the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee as the Co-Chair of the Legislative and Policy Committee. Click here to read full bio.

For Bob Reiter, the labor movement has always had an influence on his life. His parents instilled the values of solidarity and social justice in Bob from a young age, and as he got older, he realized that everywhere he went and everything he did kept bringing him back to the labor movement. He is a third-generation member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. He started working with Local 150 while in college. Click here to read full bio.

Flor Rodriguez is originally from Durango, Mexico, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1992. Flor started working at the Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA) in 2006 in the Day Laborer Program, performing community outreach to businesses around the day laborer movement. She rose rapidly through the ranks there and eventually became the overall coordinator for IDEPSCA’s six day laborer centers. She joined the CLEAN Carwash Campaign as a Community Organizer in 2012, and rapidly transitioned to lead the Campaign’s efforts to institute our new Carwash Worker Center in 2013. Flor is currently leading CLEAN as the Executive Director since 2016.

Pam Rosado is the community services coordinator for the United Labor Agency in Cleveland, Ohio, and works closely with the North Shore Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, and United Way of Greater Cleveland to increase labor unions’ engagement in the community, coordinate community services and provide training and education to union members. Click here to read full bio.

Luis Sandoval is the Director of Development of Building Skills Partnership. He is an experienced strategist with a successful track record for assisting organizations build their infrastructure for growth. His client roster includes organizations such as California Latino School Boards Association, Community Foundation for San Benito County, Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, Clinicas de Camino Real, and many more. His interest and expertise are in developing organizations, communications, leveraging influence, planning and implementing organizational change. Luis is a Ricardo Salinas Scholar, a Hispanics in Philanthropy - Next Generation Philanthropy Fellow and alum of California State University, Monterey Bay.

Darlene Slaughter, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer for United Way Worldwide, is leading efforts to expedite and advance worldwide diversity and inclusion strategies, partnerships and initiatives working closely with community-based United Ways, as well as corporate and community partners.Prior to joining United Way Worldwide, she served as the Principal Consultant and Chair of Linkage Institute for Leading Diversity and Inclusion where she trained corporate leaders on developing and leading diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace. Before Linkage, she led an integrated strategy to utilize and support the talents at Fannie Mae and designed the first Executive Diversity Council as its Chief Diversity Officer. Click here to read full bio.

Dave Wallace has worked within the United Way network for 11 years. He began at United Way of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale as a resource development officer, working for 4 years to grow relationships with financial institutions in Broward. Dave became UWBC’s first Director of Public Policy in 2010, and worked for 6 years with the UW State Policy Team to lead a statewide consensus agenda with the Florida legislature. Under Dave’s leadership, UWBC provided leadership throughout the UW system in Florida on Medicaid expansion and behavioral health issues. In August of 2016, Dave came to UWW as the Health Policy Director. He leads a Healthcare Advocacy Cohort of over 80 local and state United Ways, focused on grassroots advocacy efforts with Members of Congress promoting healthcare access, ACA, Medicaid and CHIP. Dave has a extensive background in business management and public speaking.

William White is the Director of Policy and Government Affairs for United Way Bay Area and leads UWBA’s policy and advocacy work on issues of health, housing, and income. Having led grassroots campaigns on several environmental and social justice issues in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, he is an experienced organizer working to build support for UWBA's local and state policy goals. Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, Will has a BA in History from New York University and a Masters in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from the Milano School of International Affairs, Non-profit Management, and Urban Policy at the New School.

Jocelyn Woodards, the Popular Education Community Engagement Coordinator for the AFL-CIO, is a labor and community organizer, and veteran of numerous political campaigns. She worked on the staff of 5 Presidential campaigns— including serving as the Director of Camp Obama with the Obama for America 2008 campaign. Click here to read full bio.


Flex credits are available to use for the United Way-Labor Partnership Conference for the following items:

  • Registration fees (volunteers qualify if a United Way staff person is attending the same learning opportunity or conference)
  • Some travel costs such as airfare, rental car, or mileage (only one form of travel reimbursement, rental car, mileage, or airfare is allowed with a maximum of $500 per trip)
  • Daily per diem – a combination of the hotel room rate, plus taxes and any meal not included during a learning opportunity

Please click here to access your United Way flexible credit balance. If you choose to use Flex Credits to pay for this event, when you get to the payment screen while registering, choose “Flex Credits” from the drop-down payment box. You will need to enter your organization number in the box provided if you choose the flex credit payment option.

All travel reimbursement from flex credits is submitted and processed after the event is over. Each registrant will receive an online travel reimbursement form within 5 business days of the program completion. Once this form is sent, it must be completed within 10 business days, after which further reimbursements cannot be processed. You do not need to keep your receipts to fill out this form, though we do encourage you to keep them for your records.

Learn more about UWW's flexible credit policy. If you have any questions about flexible credits, please contact learning.opportunities@unitedway.org.


The nearest airport to the conference is the Portland International Airport, an approximately 25 minute drive to The Benson Hotel.

Ground transportation is available on the lower roadway outside of baggage claim on islands 1, 2 and 3.




Contact learningconferencing@unitedway.org.