WCSA Leadership 2023~24

Executive Committee

President: Jen Vernon, California

Jenifer Rae was born and raised in Washington where her relatives followed logging work to land. Today she lives in central California with her family and works as a community college professor. She teaches communication and digital journalism and writes and performs poetry. She’s a member of the Red Fox Underground poetry collective based in Placerville, Calif. and her book Rock Candy, West End, won a Tillie Olsen award. As a working-class learner she started at community college then transferred to the experimental Evergreen State College, then to U of Oregon for International Studies, then to UC San Diego for a PhD in Communication. She worked in drywall and paint for seven years and briefly as a union organizer, among other storied jobs. She finished with her student loans and they finished with her in 2022. Hello freedom! She’s happy to be here. President: 2023-2024.

Reach the president at: workingclassstudies@gmail.com

President-Elect: Sarah Attfield, Sydney

Sarah Attfield is originally from north east London, where she grew up on a council estate. She now lives in Sydney, Australia and is a senior lecturer in creative writing in the School of Communication at the University of Technology Sydney. Her academic work is focused on the representation of working-class experience in film, TV, popular music, art and literature. She is the author of ‘Class on Screen: The Global Working Class in Contemporary Cinema’ (Palgrave, 2020), and co-edited ‘Creative Writing Practice: Reflections on Form and Process’ (Palgrave 2021). She is currently working on a new book about working-class identity in contemporary Australian literature. Sarah is the co-editor (with Liz Giuffre) of the Journal of Working-Class Studies and has been a regular contributor to Working-Class Perspectives. Sarah is also a poet and her poetry is centered around her experiences growing up working class. Photo: Attfield in Sydney, summer 2023. President-Elect: 2023-2024.

Past-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. Past-President: 2023-2024.

Secretary: 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. Secretary: 2023-2024.

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: 2023-2024.

At-Large: 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.

At-Large: 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 JournalPhilip Roth StudiesThe Journal of Popular CultureAcademic 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.

At-Large: Claude Taylor, New Jersey

Claude Taylor serves as Director for Academic Transition and Inclusion at Monmouth and is a lecturer in Communication Studies. His scholarly interests include social class, practices of consumption, communication theory and the mediated representation of gender, racial and cultural identities. Claude regularly teaches courses in Gender, Race and Media, Communication Ethics, Media Literacy, Communication and Social Class, Political Communication, and Civic Participation. He is an active member of the Working Class Studies Association, NACADA the Global Community for Academic Advising, NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the International Communication Association, the National Communication Association and the National Association of Media Literacy Education.  He received both his B.A. in Speech Communication and M.A. in Communication Studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Claude leads the campus-wide initiative First to Fly: First Generation at Monmouth which empowers first-generation and historically underrepresented students to successfully navigate academic, personal, and structural challenges they may encounter. This student success initiative connects Monmouth students who are first in their families to go to college with campus resources and encourages their active engagement with an inclusive, multicultural community of support. Under his leadership Monmouth has been designated as a First-gen Forward Institution, the nation’s first recognition program acknowledging higher education institutions for their commitment to first-generation student success. At-Large: 2023-2025.

At-Large: Barbara Jensen, Minnesota

Barbara Jensen is a full-time community and counseling psychologist. Barbara has worked as a psychologist in schools, homeless shelters, psychiatric residences, and in 35 years of private practice. A musician and dramatist, she works with groups to integrate mental health with art and Drama therapies.  As a scholar, she has led lectures and workshops most of her adult life on Class and Classism in a wide range of settings: parent educators, public schools, colleges, prisons, and mental health clinics, the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services and peer supervision groups of therapists.  Over 20 years, she developed and taught a variety of courses at Metropolitan State University: including Community Psychology, Working in America, and Psychology of Women.  She is a founding member of the Working Class Studies Association (WCSA), and co-chaired the first WCSA conference in St. Paul in 2007 at Macalester College and was president of the WCSA in 2013.  She published Reading Classes: On Culture, and Classism in America in 2012 with Cornell University Press. Her latest publication is in the Routledge International Handbook of Working Class Studies. In 2022 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from WCSA. FFI: barbarajensen.net. At-Large: 2023-2025.

Working-Class Academics Section

Working-Class Academics Section

WCA Chair and Exec Council Member: 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: 2023-2024.

Chair-Elect: Mallorie Watts

Mallorie Watts is a first-generation graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, with a BA in Social Justice and Politics & Government. Mallorie currently works at Ohio Wesleyan University as the Assistant of Young Alumni Engagement and part time as a server/ bartender.  Mallorie hopes to pursue graduate school and study Gender, Sociology, or Political Science or work in academic publishing. Mallorie is interested in doing ethnographic research in topics including: First-generation and working-class students; work and labor studies; gender and family dynamics; and social movements.

Past-Chair: Emma Penney, Sligo

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. Dr. Penney is a full-time faculty member at Atlantic Technological University, Ireland. Past-Chair: 2023-2024.

Elections Committee

Chair, Jason Tanenbaum, Oregon

Jason Tanenbaum has been a member of the elections committee since 2021 and has worked on the incorporation of WCSA as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  He is currently the Coordinator of Academic and Student Services for the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University.  Past positions include Director of Equal Opportunity at Kenyon College and Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at Wondergoat Records, an independent label that he co-founded.  He holds graduate degrees in law, political science, and city & regional planning.  You can find his research paper, Regulating Mobile Food Vending in Greenville, SC, on your local Internet search engine. 

Chair-Elect, Colby King, South Carolina

Colby King is an Associate Professor of Sociology at USC Upstate in Spartanburg, SC. Originally from western Pennsylvania and the son of a steel mill worker, he was the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree and took on substantial student loan debt on his way to the PhD. He served as a member of the American Sociological Association’s Task Force on First-Generation and Working-Class Persons in Sociology and was a guest co-editor for the Teaching Sociology special issue “A Class of Our Own: Teaching Sociology by, for, and about First-Generation and Working-Class People.” He was the 2018 recipient of the Bridgewater State University Dr. Robert A. Daniel Award for Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice and the 2023 recipient of the South Carolina Sociological Association’s Excellence in Teaching Award. He has published, both individually and with a variety of colleagues, in the Journal of Working-Class StudiesSocius, the Journal of Urban AffairsTeacher-Scholar, and JSTEM, among other journals, and is a regular contributor at the Everyday Sociology Blog.

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. 

WCSA Advisory

See this page to learn about the members of the WCSA Advisory

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, Brian Scott, Unsplash.

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