Ai-jen Poo (/ˌaɪ dʒɛn ˈpuː/, Chinese: 蒲艾眞; pinyin: Pú Àizhēn; born 1974) is an American labor activist. She is the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She is also the co-director of Caring Across Generations, a national coalition of 200 advocacy organizations working to transform the long-term care system in the US, with a focus on the needs of aging Americans, people with disabilities, and their caregivers.
She is a 2014 recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Award. In February 2015, The New Press released her book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America. She has been mentioned as a potential future Secretary of Labor under a Democratic Administration.
Ai-jen Poo's Taiwanese-American parents instilled her with strong "social justice values". Her father Mu-ming Poo is a neuroscientist and one-time political activist who emigrated from Taiwan in the 1970s. Her mother Wen-jen Hwu has a PhD in chemistry as well as an MD, and was an oncologist at two of the top cancer centers in the nation. She was born in Pittsburgh, and graduated from Phillips Academy in 1992 and Columbia University, where she was one of more than 100 students who occupied the rotunda in Low Library; this occupation led to the creation of Columbia's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race.
She attended the 75th Golden Globe Awards in 2018 as a guest of Meryl Streep.
Ai-jen Poo began organizing domestic workers in 1996, with CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities. She is the founder and former lead organizer of Domestic Workers United, an organization of Caribbean, Latina, and African nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers in New York that organizes for "power, respect, and fair labor standards".
In 2010, Domestic Workers United was instrumental in New York state passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights into law; this law was the first in the United States to guarantee domestic workers basic labor protections such as overtime pay, three days’ paid leave, and legal protections from harassment and discrimination.
DWU helped to organize the first national meeting of domestic worker organizations at the US Social Forum in 2007, which resulted in the formation of the National Domestic Workers Alliance that year. She has been NDWA's director since April 2010. In 2011, Ai-jen Poo helped launch Caring Across Generations.
She has received the Open Society Institute Community Fellowship, the Union Square Award, the Leadership for a Changing World Award, the Ernest de Maio Award from the Labor Research Association, the Woman of Vision Award from Ms. Foundation for Women, the Alston Bannerman Fellowship for Organizers of Color, the Twink Frey Visiting Scholar Fellowship at University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women, and the Prime Movers Fellowship. In honor of the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day, Ai-jen was recognized by Women Deliver as one of 100 women internationally who are "delivering" for other women. In 2009 she was named one of Crain's "40 Under 40" and New York Moves Magazine's "Power Women". In 2010, the Feminist Press recognized her in their "40 Under 40" awards. In 2011 she was named one of Yes!'s Breakthrough 15, and received the Independent Sector's American Express NGen Leadership Award. In 2012, she was elected an Ashoka Fellow. That same year, she was also named one of the Time 100 in Time magazine, as well as one of Newsweek's "150 Women Who Shake the World". In September 2014, she was one of 21 awarded a MacArthur Fellowship grant, the so-called "MacArthur genius grants". In 2017, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The New School.
She has written for The Huffington Post, the Guardian, and other news outlets.
In the spring of 2019, Poo cofounded the group Supermajority with Cecile Richards and Alicia Garza. The group "aims to train and mobilize 2 million women over the next year to become organizers, activists, and leaders ahead of the 2020 election” to create a “multiracial, intergenerational movement for women’s equity." The main goal of Supermajority is to “push politicians to adopt an agenda akin to what Richards called ‘a women’s new deal,’” with issues like “voting rights, gun control, paid family leave, equal pay, and others” viewed as “‘soft issues’” being seen as “issues that impact everyone." In addition, they intend to educate women about issues such as “pay equity and affordable child care, as well as inform them on "basic organizing skills like voter registration." In the 2020 election, cofounder Richards says "[the group will be successful] if 54% of the voters in this country are women and if we are able to insert into this country the issues that women care about and elect a president who’s committed to doing something about them."
- Poo, Ai-jen; Conrad, Ariane (2016-11-15). Age of Dignity : Caring for a Changing America. WorldCat.org. ISBN 9781620970386. OCLC 910217632. Retrieved 2018-01-21.