Carmen Rojas is the CEO of The Workers Lab, guides The Workers Lab to invest in entrepreneurs, community organizers, technologists, economic justice organizations, issue campaigns, and businesses to create scalable and self-sustaining solutions that improve conditions for low-wage workers. Under Carmen’s leadership and vision, The Workers Lab focuses on ideas, services, and products that will achieve sufficient scale to impact workers across sectors, industries, and geographies, and result in self-sufficient revenue models.
Previously, Carmen was the Acting Director of Collective Impact at Living Cities. In this capacity, she played a pivotal role supporting the work of Living Cities’ member institutions, which represented 22 of the largest foundations and financial institutions in the world. Her work focused on improving economic opportunity for low income people by supporting projects in the fields of economic and workforce development, energy efficiency, and asset building. From 2008 to 2011, Carmen was the Director of Strategic Programs at the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, where she oversaw the Foundation’s Green Access and Civic Engagement programs. Her charge involved participating in efforts to build power in low income communities and communities of color. Prior to joining the Kapor Foundation, Carmen was the Coordinator of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency’s Taskforce on African American OutMigration. As Coordinator, she developed qualitative and quantitative reports for a taskforce established by San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom to address African American displacement from the city.
Carmen holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and was a Fulbright Scholar in 2007. She taught in the Department of City & Regional Planning at the University of California at Berkeley from 2009-2011. Her teaching focused on the history of cities in the US, a practicum on local economic development, planning pedagogy, and race in the practice of city planning.
Elizabeth Velez, our Director of Operations and Finance, joined The Workers Lab in August 2016. Since then she has helped to build and implement systems to increase the capacity of the back office including accounting, grants management, compliance and human resources, ensuring they support the mission-driven work of The Workers Lab.
She comes to The Workers Lab with 20 years experience, where she focused on building the internal capacities of small businesses. During this time Elizabeth helped restructure financially stagnant small businesses helping them turn a profit and be more diligently engaged in the strategic and tactical facets of their business. Her greatest accomplishment has been to move small businesses from a “cigar box back office