Lanita Morris brings more than 15 years’ experience leading grassroots organizing training and capacity building to increase power for workers, students, and communities of color. Lanita grew up in South Los Angeles and was an Irvine Scholar at Occidental College when she was introduced to community organizing while interning at SCOPE in 1999. Through her work on SCOPE’s cutting-edge campaigns for progressive policy and electoral change, she honed her skills in community organizing and developed a passion for using popular education and strategic facilitation to ensure that poor people and communities of color have the power necessary to win social and economic justice.
In 2006, Lanita joined the UCLA Labor Center. As its Project Manager, she developed and implemented multiple leadership development and education programs for movement building. Her accomplishments include coordinating the African American Union Leadership School; the Student Leadership Academy; and the first Black Immigrant Youth Cohort of the national Dream Summer fellowship program. Her leadership at the Labor Center led to the incubation of the LA Black Worker Center (LABWC). As a founder of the LABWC, Lanita led the creation of the membership and leadership development structures, inspiring a national organizing model to address the crisis of unemployment and underemployment in the Black community. Lanita directed the LABWC’s first Train the Trainer program through which grassroots member leaders deepened skills for effective organizing and direct action campaigns, and developed their capacity to train new organizational activists. The LABWC was recognized by the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor for its successful challenge of the LA construction industry’s historic exclusion of Black workers. Thanks to LABWC, Black worker employment on one of the country’s largest light rail construction projects jumped from zero percent to nearly 20 percent. Under her leadership and direction, the GOI is developing a powerful training model that will be implemented in the RJ movement for years to come.