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Joan Suarez, director of Bread and Roses Missouri, has announced her plan to retire in 2021. Joan’s career in social justice spans five decades, including her role as the founder and first executive director of the organization. Her planned retirement date is March 1, 2021, following the Board’s selection of her successor.

“Establishing Bread and Roses Missouri has been a crowning achievement of Joan’s lifetime work on the side of those who fight for justice,” said Shannon Duffy, president of Bread and Roses’ Board and administrative officer of the United Media Guild. “Joan has built a strong foundation of community support and the creative force for meaningful change that will be her legacy as the organization moves forward.”

First established as a program providing workers the chance to produce art, Bread and Roses Missouri has grown into a multi-faceted program that offers area workers and youth a chance to learn and grow through visual and performing arts activities. Each year Bread and Roses has produced multiple performances, workshops, and art exhibits on themes of social justice, workers’ rights, clean government, and community action.

The organization’s mission to fight for justice through art comes out of Joan’s lifetime of working for those principles. Starting in the early ‘60s, Joan worked as an educator, organizer and activist, including as International Vice-President for the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union in Missouri, Texas, and across the country. She retired from the successor union (UNITE) in 2003. As a resident of St. Louis, Joan has continued to apply her organizing skills with Missouri Jobs with Justice’s (MJwJ) Workers Rights Board, Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA), and other activist organizations. In 2015, Joan combined her skills and commitment to social justice with her love of art to found Bread and Roses Missouri, formerly a program of MJwJ, as an independent nonprofit arts organization.

Percy Green, lifelong social justice champion, said, “Joan Suarez is one of the most dedicated, hardworking and fair minded supporters that I have come to know regarding the struggle for human rights, in general, and the working class, in particular. Joan’s established credibility and work ethics in the labor movement will be forever noted. Her effective stick-to-it-ness will be highly missed. Joan is indeed a role model for all today’s progressive activists, young and old.”

A succession plan was adopted by the Board, and a search committee has been formed with the goal of hiring a new executive director, with an anticipated start date of February 1, 2021. The job will be posted from November 23, 2020 through January 4, 2021. Interested candidates should submit their resume, cover letter, and three references by visiting the organization’s website during that period.