Carmen Rojas is the CEO of The Workers Lab, an accelerator that invests 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. The Workers Lab is focused 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.
Prior to assuming this position, she 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.
In 2004, Carmen served as the Coordinator of the Social Equity Caucus, a program of Urban Habitat, a regional nonprofit organization in the Bay Area. She was primarily responsible for coordinating the work of a regional network of over 75 public, private, and nonprofit organizations to build a regional social and environmental justice movement that represents the needs of low income communities and communities of color.
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” to systems for effective management that play on the strengths of the entrepreneur.
Elizabeth graduated from American University in Washington DC with a BA in Communications, Law, Economics and Government (CLEG). While attending the University of Connecticut for Graduate school, she met her husband and now lives in Brooklyn with their 9 year old son.
Fundraising and Communications Constulant
Eddy Morales supports The Workers Lab fundraising and communication strategy. He is the founder and principal of Morales Public Relations (MPR), a firm dedicated to elevating progressive ideals through relationship cultivation, strategy, and communications. He is a seasoned activist, donor advisor, and strategist in the political and non-profit worlds with more than 10 years of experience at organizations such as the United States Student Association, Center for Community Change, VotoLatino, Crossroad Campaigns, and most recently as the Director of the Latino Engagement Fund at the Democracy Alliance.
Eddy carefully cultivates long-term and trusted relationships with political leaders, elected officials, media sources, and influential decision makers. He has established effective and efficient processes for prospecting, engaging, and cultivating these relationships with major donors and labor unions to support federal, state, and local political campaigns, organizations, and PACs that empower the most vulnerable communities.
In addition to his work at MPR, Eddy has also played a pivotal role as a board member of the Community Catalyst, Midwest Academy, PowerPac, National LGBTQ Task Force, Code for Progress, Americans for Responsible Solutions, and Justice Matters Press. He attended the University of Oregon and currently resides in Gresham, Oregon with his partner Hugh and their beloved dog, Besitos. In Oregon he serves as the Fundraising Chair and State Central Committee Delegate for the Democratic Party of Oregon.
Michael C. Bush
Program Lead (Leadership & Entrepreneurship)
Founder, The 8 Factors
As a prolific entrepreneur, turnaround consultant, business advisor and educator, Michael C. Bush has more than 30 years of experience and has helped thousands of entrepreneurs learn how to increase business. Michael’s paradigm-shifting approach to business, distills the best content from business books, MBA theory, and personal insight into a powerfully simple and practical business framework for people who are currently running or just starting a small business: The 8 Factors.
A champion of small businesses and job creation, Michael offers refreshingly honest straight-talk with the compassionate tone of someone who has been there. A charismatic speaker, Michael draws on lessons from his childhood, to offer personal accounts that are revealing, humorous, and insightful. Through his entertaining, honest, and inspiring style, Michael forges immediate and lasting connections with audiences.
Michael received his M.S. in Management from The Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. In addition to his management consulting work, he sits on the board of Inner City Advisors and teaches entrepreneurship courses at a number of institutions including: Stanford University and Mills College. Michael is also a member of President Obama’s White House Business Council, a group of business advisors that meets at the White House to help shape policy on issues that impact small businesses and promote economic prosperity and job creation in urban areas.