Workers Defense Project is a community organization for low-wage, immigrant workers in the Texas construction industry. We bring together and stand alongside these workers as they fight for their right to be paid a living wage and be protected in their work. 

Meet Our Co-Executive Directors

Emily Timm

Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director

For nearly 20 years, Emily Timm has fought tirelessly for workplace justice and immigrants rights in Texas and across the country. She is a Co-Executive Director at Workers Defense, an organization she co-founded in 2005, and has since been instrumental in building the organization into a statewide powerhouse that empowers low-wage construction workers to achieve fair, safe employment. Today, Workers Defense is one of the leading advocacy organizations in Texas, with a membership of thousands and offices in Houston, Dallas and Austin

Jose Garza

Co-Executive Director

As a former federal public defender, immigrant rights activist, and the leader of the systemic change organization, Workers Defense Project, José P. Garza has a unique view into how our broken criminal justice system works and how it impacts our communities. He believes we can fix it together.

Board of Directors

Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, Board President, Google Fiber
Claudia Golinelli, Board Vice President, Electrician
Isaac Faz, Secretary, Dallas County Community College
Adrian Rizo, Treasurer, Charles Schwab
Charon Medina, Construction Worker
Gerardo Tovar, Air-Conditioning repair technician
José Cabada, Attorney
Laura Olvera, Food Service Industry
Maria Huerta, Member
Mario Ontiveros, Independent Contractor
Myrna Mendez, Member
Phillip Schmandt, Attorney
Rebecca Webber, Attorney

Leadership Council

Anna Fink, First Vice President for Philanthropy; Amalgamated Bank
Carol Barger, Attorney
Christine Owens, Former Executive Director; NELP
David Rolf, President; Service Employees International Union 775
Erica Smiley, Executive Director; Jobs with Justice
Henry Allen, Executive Director; Retired; Discount Foundation
Kirk Adams, Service Employees International Union
Leonard Aguilar, Political Director, Southwest Pipetrades Association
Marybeth Maxwell, Consultant, Movement Building
Rick Levy, President; Texas AFL-CIO
Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President; AFL-CIO
Tory Gavito, President & Co-Founder, Way To Win

Our Staff


Emily Timm, Co-Executive Director

Amparo Herrera Hughes, Director of HR & Operations
Ana Gonzalez, Director of Better Builder and Policy
Juan Benitez, Director of Communications
Stephanie Gharakhanian, Special Counsel
Candelario Vasquez, Health and Safety Organizer
Faith Donovan, Operations Manager
Hannah Alexander, Austin Staff Attorney
Jessica Wolff, Deputy Director of Better Builder and Policy
Jose Ruiz, Worksite Monitor
Karen Escobedo, Workplace Justice Organizer
Mayra Huerta, Austin Campaign Manager
Miriam Dorantes, Development and Volunteer Coordinator
Jennifer Toth Clary, Grants Manager 
Andrea NichollsBetter Builder Oversight Coordinator


Bricia Garcia, Dallas Campaign Manager
Cheli Cruz, Workplace Justice Organizer
Christopher Enriquez, Digital Strategist
Cristal Benitez-Lopez, Dallas Legal Manager/ Organizer
Maria “DJ” Garza, Dallas Campaign Organizer
Sean Goldhammer, Director of Employment and Legal Services


Arnaldo “Chele” Iglesias, Houston Campaign Manager
Ma. Camila Trujillo, Campaign Organizer
Laura Perez-Boston, Organizing Director
Nick Wertsch, Staff Attorney & Policy Coordinator