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Aaron Tanaka

Aaron Tanaka

Published: October 15, 2013
Aaron Tanaka

“When working for change, real leadership needs to come from the people experiencing the injustice.” ~Aaron Tanaka

For most of the kids in Aaron Tanaka’s failing Bay Area school district, college was way out of reach.  So, when Aaron got to Harvard, he knew just how fortunate he was.  He volunteered to tutor young people at a Boston juvenile detention center and met Jamie, an organizer with AFSC.  He says, “I realized I could be an organizer as my job and took a semester off from college to intern with AFSC full time.”

After graduating, he co-founded and became the first executive director of the Boston Workers Alliance, a union for unemployed urban workers.  The Alliance was instrumental in passing landmark state policies that curbed job discrimination against ex-offenders, and secured millions of dollars to train people for jobs in the new ‘green’ economy.  The Alliance also incubated a social purpose temp agency and helped start a green recycling cooperative as a job creation strategy.