Labor Leader & Activist
Karen Nussbaum was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 25, 1950. She attended the University Chicago for a year and a half. She became an activist in the anti-Vietnam War movement and worked with Jane Fonda. She moved to Boston while supporting herself as a clerical worker at Harvard University. She earned a B.A. from Goddard College in 1975. In 1973 Nussbaum co-founded and was the first director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women and was the founding president of 9to5’s sister organization, the union District 925, SEIU. The two organizations were a leading force in the emerging working women’s movement and the growth of women’s organizing in unions. In contrast to many labor organizations, 9to5 focused on the plight of mainstream working women, many of whom were performing the same work as men but for lower pay. Within just a few years the organization had gained national attention and, in 1981, it joined with the SEIU to form a partnership known as District 925. Nussbaum served as director of District 925 from 1981 to 1993 when she stepped down to join the Clinton Administration. She held the position of director of the Department of Labor Women’s Issues, the highest ranking position devoted to women’s issues in the government for three years before joining the AFL-CIO, and was the head of the Working Women’s Department of the AFL-CIO from 1996-2001. In 2003, Karen started Working America at the AFL-CIO, reaching out to unorganized working people in working class communities across the country. Today, Working America has 3.5 million members, people who otherwise are not part of the progressive movement. Nussbaum and her husband have three children.
"Don't let words be the enemy of your ideas."