Workers Defense Co-Founder steps into new role in organization after 15-year tenure
AUSTIN, TX — Workers Defense today announced that it has appointed Emily Timm as its Co-Executive Director. In this new role, she will co-lead Worker Defense into its next phase of empowering low-wage construction workers in partnership with Jose Garza, the organization’s current Executive Director.
For nearly 20 years, Emily has fought tirelessly for workplace justice and immigrants rights in Texas and across the country. She co-founded Workers Defense in 2005 and has since been instrumental in building the organization into a statewide powerhouse that empowers low-wage construction workers to achieve fair, safe employment. Today, Workers Defense is one of the leading advocacy organizations in Texas, with a membership of thousands and offices in Houston, Dallas and Austin.
“Emily has been instrumental to every single development and key decision at Workers Defense since its founding,” said Co-Executive Director Jose Garza. “There is no doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t be the organization we are today without Emily’s leadership. I am humbled to continue to partner with her to lead our organization toward its next chapter.”
“The Workers Defense Board of Directors, led by low-wage workers and community allies, could not be more thrilled to appoint Emily Timm as Co-Executive Director,” said Val Benavidez, President of the Workers Defense Board. “Over the years, Emily has shown her deep commitment to empowering working and immigrant families and growing a powerful, member-driven organization. She has our absolute confidence as we enter this next phase of the organization and we’re excited to continue building with her.”
“Emily has always made sure workers and members are at the center of Workers Defense,” said Claudia Golinelli, Vice President of the Workers Defense Board. “She believes that those who experience oppression should be the ones to lead movements and has shaped Workers Defense around this vision every step of the way. We are confident that she will continue to lead Workers Defense in a way that reflects our values and keeps members at the heart of the organization’s decision-making.”
Since co-founding Workers Defense, Emily has made countless contributions to its development and impact across Texas. She built a robust, statewide organizing program from the ground up that achieved historic policy wins including paid sick time and rest breaks ordinances and a statewide policy protecting workers against wage theft. She spearheaded the creation of Workers Defense’s research program, and led the first-ever construction survey that revealed widespread labor abuses and deadly conditions in the Texas construction industry. She was also crucial in the development of the Better Builder program, which has impacted more than 20,000 workers through its workplace standards.
Beginning in 2014, Emily designed and launched Workers Defense’s electoral arm, Workers Defense Action Fund, that has helped to elect endorsed candidates around the state who stand with working families in Texas. In 2018, Workers Defense Action Fund led one of the state’s largest voter engagement program. Emily has held a variety of roles at Workers Defense over her 15 year tenure, including Director of Research and Policy, Senior Organizing Director, and interim Executive Director.
“During my time with Workers Defense, we’ve grown from a tiny group of volunteers in Austin to a powerful, statewide organization with offices in Houston, Dallas and Austin and thousands of members,” said Emily. “I have been constantly inspired by Workers Defense members and their commitment to changing their lives, communities and state. It’s an honor to continue serving our community in this new role.”