Meet Chris Furino, Central Florida Jobs with Justice’s Newest Co-Executive Director!

official photo of Chris Furino

JTA congratulates our comrade Chris Furino on their promotion to Co-Executive Director of Central Florida Jobs with Justice (CFJWJ)!

CFJWJ coalesces the power of labor unions, community based organizations, faith based and student groups to organize for worker rights. Our work with CFJWJ began through collaborative strategies to bring the Just Transition framework to climate organizing in Florida and then through delegations around the United Nations climate conference. Since then, Chris has joined our all-star team of Just Transition trainers. Chris and their Co-Director Jonathan Alingu have huge plans in the works, and we’re excited to deepen our collaboration to support workers and communities on the frontlines and fencelines of toxic production.

Even before becoming staff with the organization in 2018, Chris had found their organizing home in CFJWJ. They flourished under the mentorship of Jonathan and Denise Diaz (CFJWJ’s founder) and grew through election work and campaigns focused on building grassroots leadership capacity, earning them the role of CFJWJ’s lead organizer. When Chris joined us in Egypt as part of the just transition delegation to COP27, this constituted a major step in the progression of their training for co-executive directorship. After gaining a variety of politicizing experience through their organizing over the years, Chris became Co-Executive Director in January of 2024.

According to Chris, CFJWJ’s trajectory for the coming years supports a massive strengthening in labor and just transition organizing in Florida. The organization started the year with a momentous win: Orange County allocated 4.5 million to CFJWJ’s medical debt forgiveness project, and CFJWJ continues to push their initial request for 8.7 million. Over the coming years, CFJWJ will prioritize coalition building across Florida, primarily in the state’s south. The organization plans to build with labor around key program areas–including climate, health care, and education–and continue to develop grassroots leaders through their campaigns. Moreover, CFJWJ recently hired a Just Transition Organizer to cultivate allied rank-and-file leadership within the building trades, and the organization also plans to build community-labor, co-led energy and utility campaigns.

Chris’ intentions for their new role inspire our radical imaginations around just transition: “I believe a lot in Florida. I don’t want to give up on it. We can shift the trajectory of our state and power and how power is wielded in it to create a world where everyone’s needs are met and people are able to thrive. This position is a way to make that vision a reality,” they shared. Their visionary thinking aligns perfectly with our conception of just transition as a body of principles and practices which supports collective thriving in safe living and working environments. Chris is excited for JTA’s new training curriculum (which they improved through revisions), and they’re gearing up to host a just transition training in Florida, possibly later this year.

Given the strong alignment between our missions, JTA and CFJWJ have many opportunities to collaboratively sharpen our assessments of the labor and environmental justice movements, share our experiences around organizing at the intersection of labor and EJ, and strategize against petrochemical production in the Florida panhandle. We congratulate our friend Chris on this invigorating new chapter in their organizing and look forward to engaging together in the work ahead.