Rachel LaForest, Executive Director


Rachel has been the Executive Director of Right to the City Alliance sine May 2011. During her time at the Alliance, the membership has doubled, movement-building work has expanded and the organization has launched a highly successful national campaign, Homes For All.  Rachel joined the Alliance after eight years of working with progressive labor, directing the Organizing and Public Policy departments of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 and Actors Equity Association (AEA).  Rachel organized and led multiple mobilizations of thousands of TWU members to City Hall and the state government in Albany; conducted extensive research and designed education and training in public policy for rank-and-file union members and officers; and was one of the lead coordinators of the 2005 New York City transit strike, after which the union leadership was jailed. Prior to her career with TWU and AEA, Rachel served as Lead Organizer/Co-Campaign Coordinator for Jobs with Justice – New York, building community-labor solidarity organizing joint actions and co-coordinating the campaign that won an increase of $2 per hour in the minimum wage for New York State.  Rachel holds a BA from Hunter College/CUNY in Political Science (Black and Puerto Rican Studies) and Education.

Lenina Nadal, Communications Director

commspicLenina has been working with Right to the City for 3 years and has led many of the narrative and story based strategy training, spokes training and press strategy for the Alliance. Before this, she worked as the Development and Communications Manager of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. She received an MFA in Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College and studied historical documentary filmmaking in George Washington University. She has also been a writer and producer for Democracy Now!, PBS American Experience and the History Channel and presented in the Tribeca Film Festival with a film produced in Marrakech, Morocco about local gentrification. She has led media, strategic planning and leadership trainings in nonprofit organizations for the last 15 years. She is also a Boricua/Nuyorican poet, a student of playwrighting, spectacles and flash mobs, a new mami, and is on the community action council of the FOUNDRY theater.


Mark Swier, Operations Manager

Mark hails from Grand Rapids, MI, and was shaped as a

young person by his family’s class conscious, anti-imperialist, faith-rooted values and his exposure to the South African liberation struggle. From high school through college he was involved in fights around military recruitment in schools, free trade/worker rights, the prison industrial complex and the KKK. Mark worked as a sexual health educator for 3 years and trained as a community organizer through Social Justice Leadership’s Transformative Organizing Initiative. He worked with Mothers on the Move in the South Bronx for 4 years, initiating MOM’s public housing campaign and work

ing with other fierce RTC-NYC groups to fight the Bloomberg agenda and articulate what the NYC of our dreams might look like. In 2010, Mark joined RTC’s national Steering Committee, and then its staff, to help strengthen organizational systems and infrastructure. Mark loves being a Dad, cooking & eating, playing futbol and making music.

tonyromanoTony Romano, Organizing Director

Tony has been organizing for 22 years. He is a veteran union organizer and a co-founder of the Miami Workers Center. He is a native of Georgia and began organizing in 1993 with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers and UNITE. Tony was schooled in politics and organizing as an English teacher in South Africa during the struggle against apartheid. He led a major labor/civil rights campaign against the Kmart corporation in Greensboro, North Carolina and arrived in Florida in 1996 to join an effort to unionize area nursing home workers. In 1999, Tony co-founded the Miami Workers Center. He guided campaigns that prevented the demolition of over 2000 affordable homes and generated $17 million in housing and childcare funds for low-income families. He served as a lead on the RTC Housing work group that facilitated a participatory grassroots process that produced a national research report, We Call These Projects Home. In 2011, Tony joined the staff of Right to the City Alliance in 2011 as Organizing Director. He’s a papa too.


DarnellofRTCADarnell L. Johnson, Right to the City Boston Coordinator

Darnell coordinates our Boston Alliance in its core strategies of base building, community leadership development, political education, and community building. Darnell joined RTC’s staff in 2014 after years of community and labor organizing focusing on the intersections of race, class, gender and oppression. Darnell is a founding member of the African American Theatre Company at the University of Louisville and has been seen on stage with Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Kentucky Opera and the Juneteenth Legacy Theatre.