As the Founding Director of The Women’s Organizing Network, Dahlia Goldenberg merges a decade of international experience with grassroots women’s organizations and her experience with local community organizing. Previously, Dahlia worked for two global networks of grassroots women's organizations, GROOTS International and the Huairou Commission. There, she spearheaded membership expansion, growing the network’s base of organizations, particularly in Latin America. She organized and facilitated multi-day peer learning exchanges and coordinated delegations of grassroots women leaders to UN policy spaces on urban sustainability, food security, housing and disaster recovery and resiliency. Her most passionate work there was in designing workshops and trainings in grassroots women’s leadership development.
When she made a career shift and began local organizing in New York City, she discovered a lack of focus on women's leadership or gender analysis. This discovery led her to develop The Women's Organizing Network, together with the other women on the team.
As a local organizer, she worked on issues of health equity, Hurricane Sandy recovery and economic justice at Brooklyn Congregations United and Queens Congregations United for Action, where she was instrumental in the formation of the city-wide merger, Faith in NY. She also worked on the organizing team at Make the Road New York. She holds an MA in Gender and Development from The Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex and completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Ecuador, studying the work of Ecuadorian women’s grassroots community development organizations. She has published several articles on women and community organizing internationally, including “Grassroots Women's Leadership and ‘Deepening Democracy': the Huairou Commission's Local to Local Dialogue Replication” in Oxfam’s Gender and Development Journal, an essay in Leading the Way: Young Women’s Activism for Social Change” and “Grassroots Women Organising for Resilient Communities around the World” in the Institute for Development Studies Bulletin.
Core Leadership Team
These women guide our strategic direction, programming and decision-making. They also play key leadership roles in the facilitation and organization of WON programs and activities.
Catherine Barnett is the Director of Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY), an affiliate of ROC United, a national worker center advocating for fair working conditions and wages for restaurant workers. Catherine most recently served as Executive Director of Project Enterprise, a nonprofit community development organization that provides microloans, business education, peer support and technical assistance to low-income New Yorkers who lack access to business financing. A small business expert who has spent more than a decade assisting micro enterprises in New York City, Catherine worked with a range of businesses from start-up to established; informal home-based to incorporated brick and mortar establishments. Catherine is fluent in Spanish and French and holds an MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently serves on the board of the New Economy Project, a resource and advocacy center promoting financial justice in New York City, and the advisory board of the Professional Agricultural Workers Conference at Tuskegee University. Catherine is a volunteer with the Staten Island Neighborhood Food Initiative, in the borough where she lives with her two daughters.
Maya Bhardwaj is the Manhattan and Economic Dignity Organizer at Faith in NY, an affiliate of the PICO National Network. May has a diverse background in electoral, issue, community, and faith organizing both in the US and abroad. She fell into organizing as a volunteer in her hometown of Detroit and as a debate coach at urban schools in Chicago agitating for more resources for communities of color and fighting the school-to-prison pipeline. She went on to organize in South Florida on the 2012 Obama campaign and later ran a 30-person communities of color team in Minnesota for Senator Al Franken's 2014 re-election campaign. In between US election cycles, she helped launch a national organizing firm in her homeland of India from 2013-2014 to restructure the way politicians and police respond to violence against women and to build power in local communities to fight oppressive gender and societal norms, which culminated in a massive get-out-the-vote campaign for women-friendly politicians in India's 2014 General Elections.
Sarah Knispel has spent the last several years organizing with homeowners, tenants and the labor movement in Minnesota, Seattle and Brooklyn. She pours her passion into organizing as a volunteer and staff at numerous organizations including St. Nick's Alliance, Brandworkers, 15 Now Minnesota, AFSCME Council 5 and Occupy Homes. Highlights include helping to win the $15 minimum wage in Seattle - the first ever $15 municipal minimum wage.
Francisca Montana has been fighting for health, housing and economic equality in poor communities for over twenty years. In her hometown of Bogota, Colombia she worked with the homeless population, internal refugees and child soldiers. After immigrating to the US, she began a career at Make the Road NY where she organized parents, worked on fundraising and led campaigns against consumer fraud in Latino immigrant communities. She continues her work on issues including education, homelessness and consumer fraud as an investigator at the office of the NYC Public Advocate. Francisca also volunteers as an advocate for LGBTQ rights, including supporting her transgender son to advocate for transgender rights. As a mother of two and devoted social justice leader, she comes to The Women's Organizing Network with a profound understanding of the challenges for the advancement of Latina organizers, particularly mothers, in the organizing field. She also brings a close knowledge of the challenges Latina immigrant women face in communities across NYC. Francisca co-facilitated the second Cohort of Women Organizers in 2017.
Many thanks to those who were instrumental leaders in founding The Women's Organizing Network!