Organizer Apprenticeship

These 6 West Virginians are this year’s WV Can’t Wait Organizing Apprentices. Each will receive a $30,000 award to support their work, administrative backing, and a year’s worth of organizing training and coaching. These Apprentices are organizing wage workers, people who use drugs, folks in recovery, teachers, Black West Virginians, farmers, and young people.

We couldn’t be more proud of this crew. They represent what is best about our state. And they are doing the work our state needs for a better future.

The apprentices

Nicole McCormick

Nicole McCormick is an educator, mother, labor organizer, and public education advocate from southern West Virginia that played pivotal roles in the historic WV Educators strikes of 2018 and 2019.

“We, as education workers, deserve improved learning environments for our students, living wages, and safe workplaces with robust benefits. Helping folks find their dignity in learning to fight–with conversations, training opportunities, and building meaningful relationships–is my goal, for the sake of the individual worker and for our ability as West Virginians to stay.”

Jessie Maynard

Jessie Maynard is an outreach organizer, harm reduction supporter, mother, pet owner, knitter, and scifi/fantasy geek working in Huntington to help those living unhoused and those in active drug use live better and healthier lives.

“Everyone is entitled to the basic necessities of food, water, and clothing, and to be treated with dignity. Too many people are denied these things by society and I do what I can to provide them the needed items while showing them the respect they deserve as friends and neighbors.”

Gary DeLuke

Gary is a father and a labor organizer who has been a union member and worked in the labor movement for the last six years in West Virginia and throughout the country.

“West Virginia was built on the backs of working people whose struggles for fair pay and safe working conditions have defined our nation’s labor movement for over a century. Together we can build on this rich history and expand labor organization throughout the state while adapting the movement to ever-changing industries and work environments.”

Dr. Shanequa Smith

Dr. Shanequa Smith is a restorative practitioner who assists in the process of bringing healing to individuals who have been systematically and generationally oppressed including Black, young and poor people.

“Joy, education, and opportunities–that’s what we all need and deserve! These are the things needed for restoration, so that individuals may be internally empowered!”

Lill Prosperino

Lill Prosperino is a trans harm reductionist in West Virginia committed to ending the racist Drug War with people most impacted by it.

“In the next year I hope to lean into my relationships with people who use drugs–sex workers, Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ folks, as well as young people. I will nurture those relationships, and love those people. Through solidarity and radical love for each other, we may have a better, gentler, more honest West Virginia next year that acknowledges our collective relationship to substances and the underground economy, and responds with compassion instead of condemnation.”

Susie Wheeler

Susanna Wheeler supports agricultural entrepreneurs to increase production capacity and access broad markets while serving as stewards of the land and communities through her work as the Farm Director at New Roots Community and as a founding member of the WV Agrarian Commons.

“There is an urgent need to support and provide security for a return to land based livelihoods where farmers and communities are accountable to the ecological systems that support our basic needs.”


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We have hundreds of volunteers in every corner of the state, and a growing slate of candidates who will need our help in 2022. It will take 1,000 leaders not 1 to win a West Virginia that works for all of us.