Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Gail Aska Policy & Research Fellowship (Community Voices Heard)

Gail Aska Policy & Research Fellowship

Organization Description:

Community Voices Heard ( is a 15 year-old membership
organization of low-income people, predominantly women, working to build
power in New York City and State to improve the lives of low-income
families and communities.

We were started as a welfare rights organization and have since evolved
to work more broadly on economic justice issues. CVH uses a combination
of strategies including base-building & mobilization, leadership
development, direct-action, legislation promotion & advocacy,
grassroots-driven research, media & public education, voter education &
engagement, and coalition building to lead campaigns to win benefits for
our membership of low-income families.

Our main office is located in East Harlem/ El Barrio of New York City,
and we have additional organizing projects in three other small cities
in New York State – Yonkers (Westchester County), Newburgh (Orange
County), and Poughkeepsie (Dutchess County).

Fellowship Description:

The Gail Aska Policy & Research Fellowship is a 10-month, full-time
fellowship from March through December, and is designed to support and
develop the skills of a woman of color to shape public policy and
conduct constituent-driven research on issues affecting low-income
communities. The fellowship is inspired by its namesake, Gail Aska, a
founding member of Community Voices Heard, and aims to address the
scarcity of women of color in the fields of public policy and research
working on social and economic justice issues.

In 1994, at a time when many welfare recipients were being excluded from
the ongoing debate over public assistance, Gail Aska was among a group
of women who refused to be ignored by policy-makers. As a veteran of the
New York City shelter system who knew first-hand the challenges of being
a mother on welfare, Gail was a leader in building CVH into an
organization that represented and empowered its members. Over the next
decade, CVH grew from its initial meeting with 80 people to one of the
leading organizations working for economic justice in the country. Gail
helped push New York City to replace workfare with transitional paid
work, fought state-level welfare cuts and in the process she inspired
hundreds of women to join her in fighting for their rights. Gail passed
away in 2005 after a long battle against multiple health problems.

The Gail Aska Policy & Research Fellow will work closely with the CVH
Executive Director, Policy & Research Coordinator and a CVH community
organizer working on a campaign or project to improve the lives of
low-income individuals, their families and their communities. Policy and
research work will be oriented around our four current organizational
policy priority areas: welfare/ workforce development/ job creation,
public & low-income affordable housing, equitable & accountable
community/ economic development, community governance & decision-making.
Work will include developing policy proposals, conducting research,
supporting organizing campaigns, providing training to community
members, advocating for change, and working in coalition.

The core work of the Fellow is expected to be linked to the welfare/
workforce development/ job creation campaign, including: (1) a
participatory research project focusing on joblessness and the services
and programs provided to propel people towards employment in NYC, and
(2) federal welfare policy reauthorization and the national debate about
to ensue around adjustments that should be made to the “reforms” enacted
in 1996 and last reauthorized in 2005.


This Fellowship is open to women of color with a desire to develop and
strengthen their skills in public policy and research in a grassroots,
community-organizing setting. Demonstrated commitment to or interest in
building long-term power for low-income people of color, their families,
and their communities is critical.

A background working on public policy is not required. While a Bachelor
or Associate’s degree is preferred, it is not essential, and candidates
from a variety of educational backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
Should a viable candidate not have completed her B.A., we will give
preference to those applicants are on their way or committed to
completing it.

Applicants of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply, but special
consideration will be given to applicants from low-income backgrounds
and/ or with current or past experience receiving public assistance or
living in public housing.

To Apply:

Applicants should send a resume and a cover letter that outlines their
experience or interest in working for social and economic justice and
why they are seeking to develop their skills in public policy and research.

Submissions are due by February 18th, 2011, but will be reviewed on a
rolling basis.

Materials should be sent to Sondra Youdelman, Executive Director,
Community Voices Heard, 115 East 106th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY
10029 OR by email to If emailing, please put “Gail
Aska Policy & Research Fellowship” in the subject line.

Salary/ Benefits:

The Fellow will receive a salary rate of $30K and benefits including
health insurance (medical, dental, & vision), personal days, holidays,
and accrued paid leave time.

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