The Worker Justice Center of New York announces the departure of Diana Saguilan, interim executive director and long time staff member, effective June 15, 2023. With her departure, former executive director, Lew Papenfuse, has agreed to return to the WJCNY to help lay the ground for a leadership transition.
Diana Saguilan served the WJCNY, its clients and our community for 18 years. “Diana embodies the best of who we are and what we seek to do,” said Peter Rosenblum, Board Chair. “She set a standard for leadership and commitment that will be hard to match.” At the WJCNY and its predecessor organization, Diana served as everything from receptionist and outreach worker to paralegal and financial administrator. When the last executive director left the WJCNY in October 2020, Diana agreed to serve, first, as co-executive director and then as director for an interim period. She entered into the role of executive director during an extraordinarily difficult time marked by the COVID pandemic, financial uncertainty and the unsettling political climate. In the face of this, she successfully implemented significant programs to improve management while supporting the organization in visible and unseen ways. “The pandemic, economic inflation, large migrations, and climate changes continue to put essential workers at risk,” Diana said. “WJCNY is critical to representing, advocating, and keeping New York State’s essential workers informed of their rights.”
Lew Papenfuse, who was ED of the WJCNY until 2018, has agreed to return as interim executive director for a limited period in order to ensure that WJCNY continues to operate at the highest level while laying the ground work for a transition to a new Executive Director. “I add my deep appreciation for Diana,” Lew said. “She embodied the mission of the organization and will not be forgotten.” Lew spent nearly three decades with the WJCNY and its predecessor organization, Farmworker Legal Service of NY. “There is no one better positioned to guide the WJCNY at this critical time,” said Sandy Oxford, a longtime board member and labor activist in the community, “he knows our partners and the community we serve. He has our full support.” Looking to the future, Lew expressed confidence in the management, staff and board. “I am confident,” he said, “that the organization will continue to thrive and provide the quality of representation that has been our trademark for over 40 years.”
With Lew's leadership, the Board will take immediate steps towards the next steps in the transition. We will be reaching out to partners and supporters in the next weeks. We appreciate the continued support of our community during this transition.
The Board of Directors
Worker Justice Center of New York
Peter Rosenblum, Board Chair