Ai-jen Poo

National Domestic Workers Alliance Director, Ai-jen Poo, Named Top 15 World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine

As the leader of one of the most significant new forces in organized labor, Ai-jen Poo has become the foremost advocate for living wages and health care benefits for the often ignored and underpaid nannies, housekeepers, and other at-home caregivers all over the country.” –

(New York, NY)— Fortune Magazine named Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), to the 2015 World’s Greatest Leaders List, the magazine’s annual list of the most influential in the world.

The global plight of domestic workers: few rights, little freedom, frequent abuse

An estimated 53 million people, mostly women, are employed as domestic workers in private households around the world.

While domestic workers are now considered crucial to the smooth running of national economies, as a workforce they remain one of the most vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and modern-day slavery.

Human rights campaigners have catalogued a litany of exploitation faced by domestic workers at the hands of their employers, including forced labour, rape, daily beatings and being forced to work long hours with no breaks.

According to the International Domestic Workers Federation, employers who exploit or underpay their domestic workers make $8bn (£5.1bn) a year in illegal profits.

The vulnerability of domestic workers is rooted in the nature of their work – typically undertaken behind closed doors in private homes far from their own communities – and the lack of legal protection they receive.

Though critical to the functioning of national economies, only 10% of domestic workers have the same basic labour rights as other sectors. A quarter of all domestic workers are not afforded any legal rights at all.

How to Solve the Looming Care Deficit: Author Ai-Jen Poo says taking care of home care workers is a first step

The number of Americans needing at-home care will increase dramatically as baby boomers age. By the year 2035, there are expected to be 11.5 million people over age 85 in the U.S., compared to 5 million today.

A large number of people won't have the resources to pay for this care unless something changes. Add to this a shortage of home health care workers and underfunded social programs for the elderly, and a perfect storm is on the way.

Despite the challenging outlook, author Ai-Jen Poo says this collision of events presents an opportunity to address the needs of families, home care workers and taxpayers all at once.

Speaking Thursday at "The Future of Eldercare: What We Need for a Changing America," a Washington, D.C., panel hosted by New America, Poo offered a three-pronged approach to help close the coming gap in needs and services. First, improve the quality of care and access to quality care, she said. Second, make sure there are plenty of choices in terms of aging at home. And third, improve the quality of home health care jobs, making sure that the workforce is secure and can support their own families.

Ai-jen Poo, Still Alice and the “Care Revolution”

“In the darkest of times, you can always find incredible oases of connection, of care and of love,” said Still Alice director Wash Westmorelandto an intimate gathering of some of Hollywood’s most inspiring artists and creative leaders at Soho House in West Hollywood last Monday.

Celebrating the remarkable activist work of 2014 MacArthur “Genius” fellow and director of theNational Domestic Workers Alliance, Ai-jen Poo, and the Academy Award-winning “story of care,”Still Alice, the private luncheon highlighted the pressing need for a “care revolution in America” and the importance of celebrating the unsung heroes and caregivers of our lives.

'Age of Dignity' Author, Caregivers Call for Home-Worker & Immigrant Rights

SAN FRANCISCO--Pam Tau Lee recently faced an unintended consequence of U.S. immigration policy when one of her parents’ care workers called from a Texas detention center.

Frightened and in tears, caregiver Joy had been stopped on a bus ride to Florida where she was going to see her grandson turn one year old and attend a family reunion. Immigration officials confiscated Joy’s medications, Lee said, and held Joy for a month before an immigration attorney could secure her release pending her hearing this month.

Joy is one of 2 million care workers in the United States, many of them immigrants, who are called on to serve the nation’s rapidly aging population even as they struggle to get by with little pay and few job protections.

Lee, who chairs the Chinese Caregiver Association in San Francisco, says her father at first didn’t answer when he got the call from the Texas detention center. He didn’t know what, “Do you accept a collect call?” meant. Eventually, he answered.

Pathway to Citizenship

America’s boomers and undocumented immigrants need each other

Many have already called Judge Andrew Hanen’s temporary stop to President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration shortsighted.

I’m one of those people, but probably not for the reasons you might think. It’s not only because helping millions of undocumented immigrants legalize their status and come out of the shadows will strengthen our communities and economy, and is the moral and right thing to do.

There’s a dimension of immigration policy that is rarely discussed, yet each one of us should bear in mind: every American who intends to grow old with dignity and independence should embrace this action — including Judge Hanen.

Activist Ai-jen Poo: "We Owe It to Ourselves to Support People's Living"

It's a bitterly cold early February afternoon and Ai-jen Poo - a 2014 MacArthur "genius" award winner, author of a just-released book called The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, co-founder of the 15-year-old New York City-based Domestic Workers United, and the executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance - is sipping tea in a bustling café in downtown Brooklyn. I'm five minutes early for our prearranged meeting, but it's clear that Poo has been nestled in a corner table, writing and preparing a presentation, for a while. Waving hello, she motions for me to sit while she finishes a call. Her focus then shifts and she graciously prepares to be interviewed. She smiles widely, warmly. And while I suspect she's answered each of my questions many times before, she evinces neither boredom nor annoyance. Instead, she gives me her wholehearted attention and appears to think deeply about everything I ask.

Ai-jen Poo, MacArthur Fellow and Author of 'The Age of Dignity' on Caring for Our Elders

Named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2012, activist Ai-jen Poo is hoping to change the way we care for elders in our country. Ai-jen Poo is the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, co-director of Caring Across Generations, a MacArthur Fellow and author of The Age of Dignity, a recently-release book on elder care in America.

Someone in the U.S. turns 65 every eight seconds, resulting in 10,000 individuals a day and four million a year in greater need of elder care, she points out in the book. Yet there’s a lack of homecare workers who can provide the needed support for families.

NDWA Director Ai-jen Poo on Tavis Smiley

National Domestic Workers Alliance Director Ai-jen Poo discussed her new book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, with Tavis Smiley on February 16, 2015

Tavis: Let me start by asking the obvious question. How–I was going to say bad. That’s the wrong word. How significant a challenge in terms of numbers is this going to be in the coming years?

Poo: It’s really a massive shift that many of us haven’t thought of, but is inevitable. So the baby boom generation is reaching retirement age at a rate of a person every eight seconds.

Tavis: Every eight seconds?

Poo: In 2015 alone, four million Americans will turn 65 and then people are living longer than ever because of advances in healthcare and medicine. So what that means is, by the year 2030, 20% of our population will be 65 and older, which is double what we’ve ever experienced.

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