Since 1995, the Brazilian Worker Center (BWC), has supported immigrants in defending and advancing their labor and immigrant rights. Our staff and Board are composed of active members in the Greater Boston area community, with the majority of our Board members represented by 1st generation Brazilian immigrants, whose native language is Brazilian Portuguese. For this reason, most of the services provided by the organization, including staff and board meetings are held in Portuguese.
A complete turnover in BWC leadership in 2010 brought new directions to the organization, though our overall mission has remained very consistent. In 2010, BWC became a women-led organization extending the scope of our work and services to intentionally advocate and empower domestic workers. Due to our high degree of commitment and consistent efforts to represent and advocate for workers’ rights in MA, we have become a local, regional and national leader organization in this field.
Lenita Reason is the Executive Director (ED) of the Brazilian Worker Center (BWC) in Boston, an immigrant women-led non-profit organization dedicated to defending and advancing immigrants’ labor and human rights. Lenita took office as ED in September of 2021, after over 11 years of dedication as a Community Organizer, Office Manager, and OSHA-Susan Harwood Outreach Coordinator at BWC. Lenita’s professional background is diverse, international, and offers a variety of rich perspectives and unique skills: from being a domestic worker, dental assistant and office administrator in Brazil, to being a private personal care attendant, Outreach Specialist and Chief Trainer Assistant for the Susan Harwood Targeted Topic Training Program in Fall Protection for Residential Construction, a Brazilian Portuguese Interpreter with the Rapid Response Text Messaging Network for the Mayor's Office of Language and Communications Access in the City of Boston, to now becoming BWC’s Executive Director. In addition to her diverse professional background, Lenita’s expertise in the field of workers’ rights is also informed by her experience as a Small Claims Court advocate for BWC workers seeking restitution for wage theft, and by her considerable experience as a mediator in worker-employer disputes. Mostly recently, she has completed a Certificate in Labor Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2018. Lenita is also a seasoned researcher having actively contributed as a field coordinator in various projects, such as the 2014 study, funded by the Sociological Initiatives Foundation, which aimed to investigate working conditions of Massachusetts domestic workers, and the Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work, which consisted of a participatory action research project that supported the completion of the 2013 National Domestic Workers Alliance study. Finally, Lenita has also actively collaborated for a research study that aimed to investigate health awareness in the Brazilian immigrant community in Massachusetts, a study developed in partnership with UMass Boston, Tufts, Boston University, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. In 2014, she co-founded and, since then co-directs, the BWC’s “Building Justice” innovative worker committee, which monitors and takes action on wage theft cases in the community. In 2020, Lenita became co-chair of the Driving Families Forward coalition, which advocates for the passing of the Work and Family Mobility Act bill in Massachusetts.
Anna Barbosa is our Development Director. Anna is responsible for identifying new donors, foundations and various funding opportunities to support the BWC’s projects and operations; managing donor databases and relationships with foundations; donor stewardship; grant and report writing; strategic development planning and implementation; and organizing fund-raising events.
Gizele Bombardier is our Bookkeeper and Project Health Safety Coordinator for OSHA. Gizele manages our accounting, monitors the usage of funds and supports our account reconciliation in collaboration with our accountant. Gizele is also responsible for coordinating the OSHA-Susan Harwood Falls Prevention project. She is responsible for scheduling training sessions with the instructor, workers, and partner organizations. She also collaborates with the Executive Director and Director of Development to compose reports associated with each project for their respective funding agencies.
Lorrayne Reiter is our Domestic Workers Organizer & Immigrant's Rights Defense Project Coordinator. Lorrayne is responsible for processing multiple cases, from wage theft complaints to supporting immigrant workers with learning about their rights. When processing cases, Lorrayne intervenes between immigrant workers and their employers and supports the resolution of disputes associated with wages and other issues. She also leads Know Your Rights workshops for workers in Massachusetts.
André Simões is our Workers Rights & Research Coordinator.
Paula Correa is our Intake Casework Coordinator. Paula is in the forefront of our operations with the public and she is responsible for receiving, processing, and referring each individual case to each sector as well as supporting our organizing efforts. Paula is responsible for all the tasks associated with the purchasing of food from local providers, which is distributed to members of our community during our food pantry events. She is also proficient in Spanish.
André Coco is our volunteer and he is responsible for completing tasks assigned by BWC’s Executive Director, collaborating with other staff as needed, maintaining a high degree of professionalism, and supporting the center’s overall mission, work and general operations.
For us, it is very important that our Board of Directors represents the community we serve.
Chair/President of Board
Dr. Tim Sieber
Eli Dias de Almeida
Dr. Andrea Ruf
Reinaldo Pereira dos Santos
Geisalberto de Oliveira
The Brazilian Worker Center is grateful for the continuous contributions we receive from our donors, sponsors and organizations that believe in our mission and our work. We are honored to have your support for the betterment of our Greater Boston Immigrant Community through our programs and services.
In 2021, the BWC’s Executive Director, Lenita Reason, was appointed as co-chair of the Driving Families Forward coalition. This coalition is engaged with advocacy efforts on behalf of the passing of a bill that allows all qualified members of our community the right to drive. Since the bill was initially proposed, she has been actively involved in supporting the coalition with the organizing of virtual briefings, meetings, dialogues with politicians, representatives of immigrant groups from diverse backgrounds and nationalities among other activities held by the group with key stakeholders from our community, including representatives from Faith, Health and Business sectors and groups. These gatherings marked an important historical moment for social justice as they demonstrate an increase in community endorsement towards the Work and Family Mobility Act bill. The Driving Family Forward coalition´s dedication and hard work over several years was crowned with the passing of the bill by the Massachusetts House of Representatives on February 16th, 2022. It was because of Lenita Reason’s active communication and engagement with Rep. William Straus, the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation, the House Speaker Ron Mariano, representatives Michael Moran, Christine Barber, and Tricia Farley-Bouvier, among other representatives that have greatly contributed to the passing of the bill. This represents a major step for all qualified Massachusetts residents to obtain permission to apply for a standard state driver’s license. In 2022, BWC continues to work tirelessly to get the Senate leadership to put the bill to a vote as soon as possible. The Driving Family Forward coalition led by our director Lenita Reason and the SEIU 32 BJ Union is working to secure the approval of this project, which will greatly benefit the lives of families and all residents in the state.
Our Executive Director, Lenita Reason is one of three co-chairs (with the RIAN Immigrant Center, Centro Presente, and Agencia Alpha), who have organized the Massachusetts Immigrant Collaborative (see: https://www.immigrantrelief.org/about/, in close cooperation with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Advancement of the City of Boston. The MIC collaborative is made up of the Brazilian Worker Center, Rian Immigrant Center, Agencia ALPHA, Centro Presente, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Boston International Newcomers Academy, Caribbean Youth Club, Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores (New Bedford), Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, INCA Relief, Immigrant Family Services Institute (IFSI), MetroWest Workers Center: CASA (Framingham), New North Citizen Council (Springfield), Pioneer Valley Workers Center, and Sociedad Latina.
On March 23rd, BWC’s Executive Director, Lenita Reason, participated in a legislative briefing with other Worker Centers and advocates as part of the coalition that supports An Act to Protect Injured Workers. This act is very important as it fights on behalf of injured or ill workers, as the law still leaves them largely unprotected when employers retaliate against them or try to prevent them from reporting a workplace injury or illness, seeking medical care, or filing a workers’ comp. An Act to Protect Injured Workers strengthens the anti-retaliation law, provides for complaint, investigation, and enforcement mechanisms through the Attorney General’s Office and a strengthened private right of action, and otherwise addresses employer misconduct that prevents workers from receiving timely medical care and benefits.
In this legislative briefing, Lenita was joined by Senator Jamie Eldridge, Lead Senate Sponsor; Representative Tram Nguyen, Lead House Sponsor; Al Vega, Director of Policy & Programs, MassCOSH; Ms. Audrey Richardson, Managing Attorney, Employment Law Unit, Greater Boston Legal Services; Diego Low, Director, MetroWest Worker Center/Casa; Emily Spieler, Edwin W. Hadley Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law; Bridget Quinn, Legislative Director, Massachusetts AFL-CIO; Michael Felsen, Senior Advisor, Justice at Work & Former Regional Solicitor, U.S. Dept. of Labor. The meeting covered an overview of the Act and stakeholders discussed the need to strengthen the workers’ compensation anti-retaliation law. We are proud of Lenita and BWC for continuing to stand up for workers’ rights in the workplace!