By Crystal Shaw
Liberty Hill’s 2014 Wally Marks Changemaker Award honoree, Alexandra Suh, will be recognized on September 6 at our Change LA 2014 event—a casual afternoon mixer designed to let participants meet and mingle. So if you come, you’ll have a chance to meet Alexandra, and you’ll discover, as I did, that she’s a “Changemaker” personified: fearless, a believer in community, a person who stands at the forefront but realizes that it’s everyone around who will make real change come to fruition.
Alexandra is Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance’s Executive Director. After becoming ED in 2011, Alexandra got busy refocusing KIWA’s work, bringing it back to being a real nuts and bolts worker’s center for not just Korean workers, but for every immigrant worker fighting for the rights they deserve. This move makes KIWA part of L.A.’s exciting worker center movement, which is having real impact in improving conditions for low wage workers, an urgent need in L.A. where, according to a recent L.A. Times report, “Last year, average wages in Los Angeles County declined 1.9% — tying Jefferson, Ala., for 302nd place out of 334 large counties nationwide.” And the projection for the future: “More than a million jobs will be created in the region between 2010 and 2020, and nearly half will pay less than $14.35 an hour.”
You may have heard about Alexandra’s fearless leadership through the success that KIWA’s has had with the co-sponsorship of AB 2416, the Wage Theft Recovery Bill, which has recently passed the California Assembly with a vote set in the Senate this week. KIWA is also an anchor organization for the Los Angeles Wage Theft Ordinance which seeks to strengthen the city’s ability to crack down on wage theft. We talked with her to discuss the award, KIWA’s creative and stand-out rally techniques, and her broad vision for KIWA, one that stretches all the way to Korea.