Worker Justice Center of New York hires new executive director

ROCHESTER — The Worker Justice Center of New York (WJCNY) has hired a new executive director to replace its longtime director, who is retiring.

Lewis Papenfuse was to retire Dec. 7, according to information from the center. Lauren S. Deutsch has been hired to lead the agency and has served the last four years as executive director of the Healthy Baby Network, which is a nonprofit that supports vulnerable mothers and families. Prior to that, Deutsch was a domestic violence staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society of Western New York.

Papenfuse began with Farmworker Legal Services of New York in 1993. In 2004, he became codirector of FLSNY with Jim Schmidt and became executive director in 2007 upon Schmidt’s retirement. In 2011, Papenfuse led the process of merging Farmworker Legal Services of New York (FLSNY) and the Workers’ Rights Law Center into the WJCNY. He served as codirector of WJCNY from 2011-14 with Milan Bhatt and became executive director in 2014.

The center provides legal assistance to farmworkers and low-wage workers in upstate New York. Since Papenfuse became executive director four years ago, WJCNY has tripled in size and currently serves more than 5,000 low-wage workers annually from offices located in Rochester, Kingston, and Hawthorne.

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