President: Michelle Corbin, Massachusetts
Michelle Corbin is a feminist anti-racist sociologist whose work focuses on inequality across race, class, gender and sexuality. Across her teaching and scholarship, she investigates the role of knowledge in relations of power and resistance. As a teacher-scholar at a regional state college, she is dedicated to public higher education as a public good and an ongoing liberatory project for marginalized communities. President: 2022-2023.
Past-President: Joe Varga, Indiana
Joseph Varga is a former Teamster shop steward and long time labor activist, having worked for the IBEW and the New York State Working Families Party. He worked numerous jobs before entering academics, including truck driving, forklift operating, and service work. He received his doctorate in Sociology and Historical Studies in 2008 from the New School for Social Research, and taught in the Department of History at Brooklyn College before arriving at Indian University in 2009. His research interests include labor geography and spatial analysis as applied to working-class communities, and the phenomenology of working-class experience. He is currently working on a project detailing the spatial history of de-industrialization in Southern Indiana. Joe is also active in Jobs with Justice, and numerous other activist causes. Joe is a member of the United Association of Labor Educators, and is co-chair of UALE’s On-Line Education Working Group. He is also a member of the Working Class Studies Association, the American Historical Association, the Adjunct Faculty Coalition of IUPUI, and the IUPUI LGBT Faculty Staff Council. Past-President: 2022-2023.
President-Elect: Jen Vernon, California
Jen Vernon is a community college professor and working-class poet. She teaches Communication and digital Journalism at Sierra College, in Rocklin, Calif. She received a ten year service award in 2022, (thank you, Union!). Prior to Sierra, she was an assistant professor at University of Alaska, SE. There she coordinated a program and built applied learning projects with students and community partners such as KTOO radio and the Lemon Creek Gold prison poetry publication. She continues to do this type of work, bridging classroom and community. She is a first generation college graduate and earned a PhD in Communication from UC San Diego and an MA in International Studies from U of Oregon. Her book Rock Candy, West End, was awarded a Tillie Olsen from WCSA in 2010 and she’s had the honor to serve as a judge in this category in recent years. She’s been a WCSA member for 15 years and got more involved with the international turn signaled by the 2019 meeting in Kent. She’s excited to be here. President-Elect: 2022-2023.
Treasurer: Ken Estey, New York
Ken Estey is an associate professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College and the author of A New Protestant Labor Ethic at Work. His research centers on the intersection of politics and religion with a particular focus on labor and Christianity. He’s interested in labor ethics which combines class, religion and labor studies to discuss the rights of workers and their self-determination. This stems from his study of religion, particularly theological ethics, as well as labor studies including the history of the cooperative movement, labor management cooperation and syndicalism. He earned a Ph.D. from the Union Theological Seminary in Social Ethics. He works in interdisciplinary programs and coordinates undergraduate internships at Brooklyn College. He’s been a longtime member of the Working-Class Studies Association. Treasurer: 2022-2023.
Secretary: Madalyn Wright, California
Madalyn Wright began their formal education in journalism in 2020. Triple-majoring at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif. they graduated with degrees in journalism, ethnic studies, and gender studies in 2022. During their time there they served as an editor, social media manager, and editor-in-chief of the Journalism program’s multi-media platform Roundhouse News & Review. Now, they’re a full-time journalist. Wright’s based in Sacramento, Calif., and attending the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with a minor in sustainability. Secretary: 2022-2024.
Elwood D. Watson, Tennessee
Elwood D. Watson Ph.D. is Professor of History, Black Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies at East Tennessee State University. He is the author of four books, Outsiders Within: Black Women in the Legal Academy After Brown v. Board (Rowman and Littlefield), Understanding The Humanities (Kendall Hunt, 2014), Keepin’ It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America (University of Chicago Press, 2019) and Talkin’ To you Bro! Liberating Yourself From The Confusing, Ambiguous Contemporary Masculinity.2021.). He is currently working on a book on men who are members of Generation X men who were born between 1965-1980. He was the guest editor for a special issue of Masculinity in the 21st Century.Interactions: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Research (Spring 2016). He is currently co-editor-in-chief of the journal – Current Research Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities. He has published numerous articles about race, gender, higher education, popular culture and American culture in national newspapers and magazines and is a blogger for Diverse Education, Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, X/Y Online, The Black Past.org, Medium.com, New York Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, US News and World Report and other publications. He is a syndicated columnist for Cagle Syndicate. At-Large: 2021-2023.
Rosie O’Halloran, Ireland
Amanda-Rose ‘Rosie’ O’Halloran is a sociologist from Drimnagh, Dublin 12. In 2015, during a 10-year career as a social care worker with Magdalene Laundry survivors and other institutionalised individuals she became interested in the social structures that create the conditions in which such oppressive, abusive, and exploitative institutions can exist and thrive. As a result, she returned to formalised education and completed her B.A (Hons) in Sociology at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) following a move from Ireland to the UK. She was active in the successful movement to repeal the 8th amendment of the Irish constitution which banned abortion care and was a co-founder of ‘East Midlands Together For Yes’. She has an MPhil in the Sociology of Reproduction from the University of Cambridge. Her PhD is also at the University of Cambridge and is funded by The European Social Research Council’s Doctoral Training Partnership. She is supervised by Dr Lucy van de Wiel and Professor Sarah Franklin. Her work takes a postcolonial perspective examining the affect of shame on people from Ireland who have travelled for abortion care. At–Large: 2021-2023.
Kim McAloney, Oregon
Kim serves as the Coordinator and Instructor of the College Student Services Administration (CSSA) Ecampus at Oregon State University, (OSU) providing leadership and support for its online masters program. Previously, she worked as the academic engagement coordinator in the Educational Opportunities Program at OSU, where she coordinated the EOP Bridge Program and tutoring services in OSU’s cultural resource centers and served as an academic counselor. Prior to her work in CSSA and EOP, Kim worked in OSU’s Office of the Dean of Student Life coordinating student support for the CSSA program and serving as the on-campus coordinator for the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program. Kim’s training includes a Ph.D. in Language, Equity and Educational Policy, OSU, Dissertation: Virtual Liberatory Women of Color Mentorship; an M.S. in College Student Services Administration, OSU, Thesis: The Need for Diversity Related Professional Development; and a B.S. in Ethnic Studies, OSU. Her areas of emphasis focus on access and equity in higher education, first generation college students, bi/multiracial identity development and teaching pedagogy. At-Large: 2022-2024.
Lisa A. Kirby, Texas
Dr. Lisa A. Kirby is Professor of English and Director of The Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College, a two-year institution where she teaches writing and American literature. Lisa earned her M.A. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and completed her Ph.D. in English at Texas Christian University. Her research areas include Working-Class Studies, 20th-century American literature, and the rhetoric of disaster. Along with Dr. Laura Hapke, she is co-editor of A Class of Its Own: Re-envisioning American Labor Fiction (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008). Her work has also appeared in Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Philip Roth Studies, The Journal of Popular Culture, Academic Exchange Quarterly, and Race, Gender, and Class. Lisa is also the founding Director of The Texas Center for Working-Class Studies, an organization that seeks to raise awareness about working-class issues with students, faculty, and the community at Collin College. She has been a member of the Working-Class Studies Association since 2001 and has served on several committees. At-Large: 2022-2024.
Working-Class Academics Section
Chair: Emma Penney, Ireland
Dr. Emma Penney is a leading scholar of Working-Class Studies in Ireland and has played a central role in efforts to decolonise Irish Studies through conferences, events and publishing. She is co-founder of the UCD Decolonial Platform which established a space for students to engage with and critically reflect on the curriculum and on research methods. She is co-creator of the Working-Class Writing Archive, an online digital repository of previously unpublished poetry, prose and memoir collected in working-class communities over the past five years. As an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Scholar Emma also began work on her monograph which will be published as part of the ‘Studies in Irish Literature Series’ with Liverpool University Press in early 2023. Women Writing the Margins will introduce readers to a literary and social history of writing in Irish working-class culture. Through transnational archival practice, Emma explores how writing cultures can be collectively transformative and could offer a non-traditional response during public health crises, where the experience of racism impacts significantly on people’s mental well-being, health behavior and access to health care services. Chair: 2022-2023
Chair-Elect: Jackie Gabriel, Colorado
Jackie Gabriel is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Western Colorado University (WCU). She is also the Coordinator of the Sociology Program’s Criminal Justice Emphasis and the NCAA’s Athletics Diversity and Inclusion Designee at WCU. She is a first-generation college graduate and working-class scholar. She earned a doctorate in Sociology and a graduate certificate in International Political Economy at Colorado State University. Her graduate research focused on corporate restructuring and labor relations in manufacturing industries in the Midwest, including meatpacking and grain processing. This research has been featured on National Public Radio’s This American Life, Our Town: “What really happened when undocumented workers showed up in one Alabama town?,” episode 632.” Her more recent scholarship examines working-class culture and working-class experiences in higher education. Chair-Elect: 2022-2023
Chair: Jill Ann Harrison, Oregon
Jill Ann Harrison is Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of Graduate Studies at University of Oregon. She received her B.A. in Sociology from Youngstown State University in 2000 and her Ph.D. in Sociology from Ohio State University in 2009. Her research focuses on the local effects of globalization, deindustrialization and environmental change. Her book Buoyancy on the Bayou: Shrimpers Face the Rising Tide of Globalization (ILR Press 2012) examines Louisiana shrimp fishers’ survival mechanisms as people whose work-life and culture is under siege by environmental and economic change. Within the broader frame of working class studies, she studies the Rust Belt revival and the connections between work, place, and identity.
Jack Metzgar, Illinois
Jack Metzgar is Emeritus Professor of Humanities at Roosevelt University in Chicago, where he taught working adults in general education seminars. A founder of the Midwest Center for Labor Research and founding editor of Labor Research Review, Jack also has extensive experience in labor education at Roosevelt and DePaul universities, for Illinois AFSCME and other unions, and at the AFL-CIO’s Meany Center and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He is author of Bridging the Divide: Working-Class Culture in a Middle-Class Society and Striking Steel: Solidarity Remembered. A founder and past president of the Working-Class Studies Association, he is a regular contributor to the Working-Class Perspectives blog.
Jason Tanenbaum, Oregon
Jason Tanenbaum is the Coordinator of Academic and Student Services in the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University. He has earned a JD from Pepperdine University School of Law, an MCRP from Clemson University, and an MS in Political Science from University of Oregon. His interests include urbanism/urban design, playing guitar, enjoying the beauty of Oregon, and cooking/eating tasty food. He has co-founded an independent record label and published a study on the regulation of food trucks.
Joining the Leadership Team
WCSA is a member-led organization and elections are held each year. The Leads work with members on committees to carry out the work of the Association: organizing conferences, hosting events, running awards, connecting mentors and mentees, developing and carrying out social media, hosting poetry and film sessions, gathering and sharing out critical pedagogy, and more! To learn about our various positions and standing committees, please see our bylaws. Come join us and bring your talents to the table!
*Featured image, Marvin Mayer, Unsplash.