Ai-jen Poo

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Ai-jen Poo
Ai Jen Poo 2012 Shankbone 2.JPG
Poo at the 2012 Time 100 gala
Born1974 (age 44–45)
EducationPhillips Academy
Alma materColumbia University
OccupationLabor organizer
Known forNational Domestic Workers Alliance, Caring Across Generations
Spouse(s)George Goehl
Parent(s)Mu-ming Poo, Wen-jen Hwu
AwardsMacArthur Fellow

Ai-jen Poo (/ˌ ɛn ˈp/, Chinese: 蒲艾眞; pinyin: Pú Àizhēn; born 1974) is an American labor activist. She is the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.[1] She is also the co-director of Caring Across Generations, a national coalition of 200 advocacy organizations working to transform the long-term care system in the US, with a focus on the needs of aging Americans, people with disabilities, and their caregivers.[2]

She is a 2014 recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Award.[3] In February 2015, The New Press released her book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America.[4] She has been mentioned as a potential future Secretary of Labor under a Democratic Administration.[5]


Ai-Jen Poo's Taiwanese-American parents instilled her with strong "social justice values". Her father Mu-ming Poo[6] is a neuroscientist and one-time political activist who immigrated from Taiwan in the 1970s. Her mother Wen-jen Hwu[6] has a PhD in chemistry as well as an MD, and was an oncologist at two of the top cancer centers in the nation.[7][8][9] She was born in Pittsburgh,[10] and graduated from Phillips Academy in 1992 and Columbia University, where she was one of more than 100 students who occupied the rotunda in Low Library; this occupation led to the creation of Columbia’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race.[11]

She attended the 75th Golden Globe Awards in 2018 as a guest of Meryl Streep.[12]


Ai-jen Poo began organizing domestic workers in 1996, with CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities. She is the founder and former lead organizer of Domestic Workers United, an organization of Caribbean, Latina, and African nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers in New York that organizes for "power, respect, and fair labor standards".[13][14]

In 2010, Domestic Workers United was instrumental in New York state passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights into law; this law was the first in the United States to guarantee domestic workers basic labor protections such as overtime pay, three days’ paid leave, and legal protections from harassment and discrimination.[15]

DWU helped to organize the first national meeting of domestic worker organizations at the US Social Forum in 2007, which resulted in the formation of the National Domestic Workers Alliance that year. She has been NDWA’s director since April 2010. In 2011, Ai-jen Poo helped launch Caring Across Generations.

She has received the Open Society Institute Community Fellowship, the Union Square Award, the Leadership for a Changing World Award, the Ernest de Maio Award from the Labor Research Association, the Woman of Vision Award from Ms. Foundation for Women, the Alston Bannerman Fellowship for Organizers of Color, the Twink Frey Visiting Scholar Fellowship at University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women, and the Prime Movers Fellowship.[16][17] In honor of the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day, Ai-jen was recognized by Women Deliver as one of 100 women internationally who are "delivering" for other women.[18] In 2009 she was named one of Crain's "40 Under 40" and New York Moves Magazine's "Power Women". In 2010, the Feminist Press recognized her in their "40 Under 40" awards. In 2011 she was named one of Yes!'s Breakthrough 15, and received the Independent Sector's American Express NGen Leadership Award.[11][16] In 2012, she was named one of the Time 100 in Time magazine, as well as one of Newsweek's "150 Women Who Shake the World".[19] In September 2014, she was one of 21 awarded a MacArthur Fellowship grant, the so-called "MacArthur genius grants".[20] In 2017, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The New School.[21]

She has written for The Huffington Post,[22] the Guardian,[23] and other news outlets.



  • "Age of Dignity : Caring for a Changing America". 2016-11-15. ISBN 9781620970386. OCLC 910217632. Retrieved 2018-01-21.

Critical studies, reviews and biography[edit]

  • Conrad, Ariane (Jan–Feb 2013). "A love to be reckoned with". Interview. Spirituality & Health. 15 (6): 74–79.[24]
  • Andrea Cristina Mercado; Ai-jen Poo Domestic workers organizing in the United States. AWID (Association for Women's rights In Development), 2008. OCLC 833311952


  1. ^ Joann Weiner (18 September 2014). "MacArthur fellow Ai-jen Poo on why she fights for the rights of domestic workers". Washington Post.
  2. ^ "Can 'Caring Across Generations' Change the World?". The Nation. 2012-04-11. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  3. ^ New York Times 2014 Sep 17
  4. ^ "The Age of Dignity - The New Press". The New Press.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (24 October 2016). American Women Speak: An Encyclopedia and Document Collection of Women's Oratory. ABC-CLIO. pp. 572–4. ISBN 978-1-4408-3785-2.
  7. ^ "The Age of Dignity". 29 January 2015.
  8. ^ Ai-jen Poo '92 named to list of 100 most influential people in the world Archived 2012-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, Phillips Academy
  9. ^ Ai-jen Poo, Community Organizer, Public Affairs Television, Inc.
  10. ^ "Why I'm Walking 100 Miles to See Pope Francis". 15 September 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  11. ^ a b Engler, Mark. "The YES! Breakthrough 15: Ai-jen Poo — YES! Magazine — YES! Magazine". Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  12. ^ CNWN Collection. "Golden Globes 2018: How to Support the Activists' Causes". Allure. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  13. ^ "Home". 2012-05-10. Archived from the original on 2013-09-25. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  14. ^ "Caring Across Generations". Caring Across Generations. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  15. ^ "The Nannies' Norma Rae". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  16. ^ a b "Staff | National Domestic Workers Alliance". Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  17. ^ "About the Participants | The Work-Family Dilemma: A Better Balance | New Feminist Solutions 3". 2003-01-01. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  18. ^ "Meet the 2011 American Express NGen Award Finalists". Independent Sector. Archived from the original on 2013-09-25. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  19. ^ Steinem, Gloria (2012-04-18). "Ai-jen Poo - 2012 TIME 100: The Most Influential People in the World". TIME. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  20. ^ "Ai-jen Poo, Labor Organizer". MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved 2014-09-26.
  22. ^ "Ai-jen Poo". Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  23. ^ Ai-jen Poo. "America's most invisible workforce is the one we need the most". the Guardian.
  24. ^ Spirituality & Health often changes the title of a print article when it is published online. This article is titled "Home Sweet Home? Not for Domestic Workers. Ai-jen Poo Demands Justice" online.

Further reading[edit]