14th Annual WILD Conference: Forging Ahead, Strength through Solidarity


WILD women are leading the way forward. This much was made clear during the rousing 14th Annual Women in Leadership Development (WILD) Conference held at the East Brunswick Hilton from March 3-4, 2017.

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More than 250 union sisters participated, representing every union sector, age group, and job category as well as the labor movement’s deep racial and cultural diversity – a concept that cannot be taken for granted these days. The atmosphere of unity and sisterhood was remarkable as both first-time and long-time WILD sisters joined together to listen, learn, and lead in the fight to strengthen our labor movement and nation.

New Jersey State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan stated that “While these may be challenging and unprecedented times, we have survived before and this time will be no different.” New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech stated that, “As the only state federation in the country to host an annual union women’s conference, participants have a unique opportunity to empower themselves and their unions.”


Every year, WILD offers new and enlightening insights into building leadership skills, women’s labor history, and the fight for our economic future. The conference featured various accomplished speakers in the areas of leadership and civic engagement, including UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer Esther López and Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier as well as Princeton University Adjunct Professor Jeanne M. Fox and LaRuelist Report Founder Jeannine, who engaged with participants as part of a leadership forum.


We were also privileged this year to be joined by four Bangladeshi women labor leaders as part of an international exchange program. They traveled to the United States to gain an understanding of the challenges facing working people in our country and to acquire tools to empower their own brothers and sisters back home in Bangladesh. We take great pride in knowing that the lessons and connections these women made at WILD will have a global impact.

The New Jersey State AFL-CIO once again expresses its enormous gratitude to the speakers, union sisters and affiliates that make WILD possible. It is thanks to your efforts that labor will continue to persevere and thrive no matter what challenges we face.

Even with a record turnout of union women and young workers, WILD will continue to raise the stakes in the coming years by doing what it does best: elevating ourselves, our unions, and communities through leadership training and the bond of sisterhood and solidarity.

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