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An Optimist’s Guide to Benefits in the Gig Economy

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 -
10:00am to 12:00pm PDT
Northern California Grantmakers
160 Spear Street, Suite 360, San Francisco, CA 94105
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California and the San Francisco Bay Area are the epicenter of the gig economy. Not only are many of the biggest platforms - such as Uber and Airbnb - headquartered here, this area is also home to the nation’s highest rates of people earning income from online platforms.

The emergence of the gig economy has amplified a trend in the labor market - a shift away from the stability of traditional employment and toward more precarious work. According to economists Alan Krueger and Lawrence Katz, the share of workers in alternative work arrangements increased by more than half between 2005 and 2015, and these 10 million new contingent jobs accounted for all of the net new job growth during that time period.This has had especially pronounced effects for low-wage workers, and has raised important questions about the cost and risk that individuals must take on themselves when they work without the benefits and protections of a traditional employer-employee relationship. What does workers comp look like for an Uber driver? What does retirement saving look like for a Handy home cleaner? And in this uncertain environment for the Affordable Care Act, what options will any non-traditional workers have for health insurance?

Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) and the Asset Funders Network (AFN) would like to invite funders to hear from the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative, the Indy Worker Guildand the National Domestic Workers Alliance  to develop an understanding of the opportunities and challenges of the gig economy. We will also explore potential policy and other solutions that might support the particular needs of low-wage workers in this new area of the economy.


Rocío Alejandra Ávila is the National Domestic Worker Alliance’s (NDWA’s) State Policy Director, where she is focusing on policy and legal advocacy of domestic workers through state legislative and municipal campaigns.  For the past 10 years, she has been advocating for the rights of low-wage immigrant workers, providing training and technical support to work centers and grass-roots organizing campaigns on issues related to the exploitation of immigrant workers, including immigration worksite enforcement and anti-discrimination laws.

Rocío was a Senior Fellow at the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic (WERC), where she litigated domestic workers cases and served as counsel to the California Domestic Worker Coalition, which successfully led a statewide campaign to pass CA’s DW Bill of Rights in 2013 and 2016.  Prior to WERC, Rocío co- directed the Workers' Rights Program at La Raza Centro Legal, Inc., in San Francisco (SF), CA. At La Raza, Rocío represented predominately Spanish-speaking immigrant workers in employment matters, with a focus on wage and hour law enforcement, employment discrimination and retaliation issues. She focused her work on impact litigation and administrative advocacy on behalf of domestic worker and day labors. While at La Raza, she developed expertise in combating wage theft using alternative wage collection methods, including community organizing and direct action campaigns to redress wage theft in the immigrant community. She is a graduate of Golden Gate University School of Law and the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to law school, she worked as a community organizer in San Francisco’s Mission District, where she was born and raised.

Pam David is a seasoned cross sector leader with expertise in the fields of community development, the nonprofit sector, and philanthropy.  She is the Executive Director of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, a family foundation with deep roots in the Bay Area; the foundation is increasingly using its financial and human resources to address the region’s growing levels of inequity. Ms. David is the former Director of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Community Development, and former chief of staff of the city’s Human Services Agency. A long-time community activist and organizer across a range of issues and constituencies, Ms. David is passionate about social justice, and is committed to improving the effectiveness of public-private partnerships for social change.

Throughout her career, Ms. David has played an instrumental role in building resources for community-based development in low income neighborhoods, and addressing capacity and sustainability issues in the nonprofit sector. From her experiences organizing a national march for LGBT rights, serving as an advisor on Reverend Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign, working for three San Francisco mayors and, now, leading a well-respected family foundation, Ms. David has a nuanced understanding of the complex interplay between community, the nonprofit sector, government, and philanthropy. 

Ms. David is a board member of the state-wide Campaign for College Opportunity and the National LGBT Action Fund. She is one of two foundation representatives on the Executive Council of HOPE SF, the signature initiative to rebuild public housing communities. She serves on advisory boards for the Alliance for Girls, the Horizon Foundation, Northern California Enterprise Community, Openhouse, and She is the former board chair of the National LGBTQ Task Force, Northern California Grantmakers, and Frameline, and has served on the boards of the National Community Development Association, United Way, and several other organizations.

Ms. David is a graduate of Pitzer College and Stanford University’s School of Education.  

Natalie Foster is an advisor to The Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative and the Open Society Foundations, and is a fellow at New America California. She is an instigator on the future of work, particularly as it relates to platform work and the gig economy. She’s spent the last 15 years at the intersection of technology and social movements, and is

Along with Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and Roosevelt Institute fellow Dorian Warren, Natalie is co-chairing the newly launched Economic Security Project, a two-year fund to support exploration and experimentation with unconditional cash stipends.

Natalie co-founded and launched to support people who work in the sharing and on-demand economy. Prior to Peers, she was the CEO and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, a platform for people–driven economic change, with Van Jones.

Previously, Natalie served as digital director for President Obama’s Organizing for America (OFA) and the Democratic National Committee. She built and directed the team responsible for the president's message and fundraising through social, mobile, and email communication with the President's millions of supporters.

Natalie built the first digital department at the Sierra Club and served as the deputy organizing director for

Named one of the Top Fifty Women to Watch in Tech, she is often speaking and training. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband, Matt Ewing, and 4-year old son, Huxley. She is a graduate of Pepperdine University, Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing, Institute for the Future’s Fellowship for Good, and the Rockwood Leadership Institute fellowship.

Libby Reder is a fellow with the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative, currently focusing on Future of Work issues with special attention to the sharing/on-demand economy. She also consults and advises on marketing/communications, partnership development and strategy for a range of clients that has included Facebook,, Crowd Companies, Institute for the Future and Yerdle. For the past 15 years, Libby has worked across sectors to drive progress through multi-stakeholder collaboration.

Previously, Libby spent eight years in leadership roles in Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability and Corporate Reputation at eBay and Visa. In her first career chapter, Libby spent four years with the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Antitrust. She holds a BA in Government from Dartmouth College and an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business.

Saket Soni is the Executive Director and co-founder of the National Guestworker Alliance and the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice. Saket has crafted and led acclaimed campaigns on critical workers rights and immigrant rights issues that have won far-reaching organizing and policy victories and earned nationwide publicity. Most recently, Saket is the convener and co-chair of the Future of Work Initiative, an experiment in social policy, grassroots advocacy, and public narrative to find solutions to the new American working majority; contingent workers who are experiencing the changing nature of work. 



Target Audience 

Open to NCG members and members of Asset Funders Network. If you are a NCG member, please log in to register. If you are not a NCG member, please email to register. 


This program is co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative.  

PLEASE NOTE:  To access NCG’s office, please enter through Main Street at 160 Main Street.  Spear Street is temporarily closed for construction.