“It’s about trying to build long term relationships between people so that they understand each other’s issues across organizations and across parts of the city…” – MacKenzie Baris
MacKenzie Baris is the lead organizer and director of DC Jobs with Justice, a position she’s held for almost nine years. She took her first steps towards organizing in high school, working around environmental justice. She then became involved in various labor actions in college, after which she began working on community organizing.
Washington Peace Center: Could you introduce yourself and tell me very broadly how you got to where you are right now?
MacKenzie Baris: My name is MacKenzie Baris, and right now I’m the lead organizer and director of DC Jobs with Justice. I started doing environmental justice stuff when I was in high school—I was trying to organize kids at my high school around doing educational stuff and making smart choices about what we bought and doing river clean ups and tree plantings. When I went to college I got involved in labor work because I’m from a union family. I got involved in different labor things that were happening in the town my college was in—things like walking picket lines and trying to be helpful, trying to get our school paper to actually cover this stuff.
Then I got involved with community organizing. I had been teaching at a school, helping with a mentoring program as my job, and I got involved in community organizing in the neighborhood where I was working. I ended up living there for a couple of years working out of a Catholic worker house and organizing with churches in the neighborhood around vacant properties and creating affordable housing. I eventually found my way to Jobs with Justice when I got involved with trying to organize my workplace at George Washington University.
Washington Peace Center: Can you tell me a little bit about Jobs for Justice? What it’s about and what it does? Read more