Board & Staff

Sally Wessels – Board Chair

Sally retired in 2013 from her position as coordinator of the BOCES Adult English as a Second Language Program, where she worked with immigrants to the U.S. from many countries. She continues to help and to tutor immigrants with limited educational backgrounds on a volunteer basis.  Her first brush with CUSLAR was in 1977 when she worked with Action for Women in Chile, led by Cindy Crowner, then CUSLAR coordinator. In January of 1982 she joined the first solidarity brigade to Nicaragua, led by then CUSLAR coordinator, Mary Jo Dudley. During the U.S.- supported Central American wars in the ’80s, she worked with others to promote resistance to American foreign policy. The group, which was allied with CUSLAR, was The Tompkins County Campaign for Peace with Justice in Central America. Before that, Sally helped found the housing cooperative where she still lives. From 1974 to 1989 she worked as a carpenter in two different worker-owned businesses.

Alicia Swords – Board Member

Alicia Swords is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Ithaca College where she teaches in the areas of Public Sociology and Latin American studies. She has been engaged with grassroots struggles for social and economic justice in the U.S. and Latin America and brings this knowledge and commitment to her academic and movement-based research and teaching. She is especially interested in learning from political education among pro-Zapatista organizations in Chiapas, Mexico, and from processes of concientización in movement building. She is a member of the Poverty Scholars Coordinating Committee of the Poverty Initiative, a network of poor people’s organizations in the United States.

Mary Jo Dudley – Board Member

Mary Jo Dudley is the Director of the Cornell Farmworker Program and a faculty member in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University. In March 2012 she was honored as a “Champion of Change” by the White House’s Office of Public Engagement. “Champions of Change” are leaders who exemplify Cesar Chavez’ core values, including service to others, knowledge, innovation, acceptance of all people, and respect for life and the environment. She is bilingual and has numerous years of experience of working with issues related to migration and U.S.-Latin American relations. She is currently involved in research that explores immigrant farmworkers’ perceptions of their lives in New York State. Her research examines the factors that motivate farmworkers to leave their home communities, their views on their journey to where they are currently employed, how they view their social and economic contributions in NYS as well as in their home communities, and what they envision for their future. Her publications include: “New Yorkers Support Legalization of Undocumented Farmworkers,” “NYS Residents Report Positive Impact of Undocumented Farmworkers,” “Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants: Policy Considerations for New York State”; the Farmworker Women’s Equity Study, a national research effort that explored farmworker women’s goals and aspirations; and Transforming Cultures in the Americas, a book that explores how various Latin American communities experience the immigration process to the U.S. She is also a founding member of the Tompkins County Immigrants Rights Coalition. She was the CUSLAR Coordinator from 1981 to 1987.

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