Two outstanding labor professionals join the UC Berkeley Labor Center as practitioners in residence

We are pleased to welcome labor activists Seema N. Patel and Sam Appel to the Labor Center for a year-long residency.

About the Practitioner in Residence Program

The Practitioner in Residence Program is a new year-long residency at the Labor Center for mid-career professionals looking for a time to reflect before the next chapter in their careers. The pilot program provides an opportunity for practitioners from the labor and worker justice fields to carry out research, write, and engage in strategic discussions on issues facing California workers.

About Seema N. Patel

Seema N. Patel has more than 20 years of experience in labor and employment law and policy, workers’ rights, union organizing, and movement lawyering. She most recently served as clinical director for the East Bay Community Law Center. Previously, she was the first deputy director of San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, a national leader in progressive labor standards. Patel served in the Obama Administration as senior advisor to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), where she focused on policies affecting immigrant workers. Patel’s experience also includes organizing slum-dwelling “ragpickers” (trash collectors) in Gujarat, India, into a cooperative society and organizing South Asian immigrant laundry workers on the East Coast. She holds a JD from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

As a Labor Center practitioner in residence, Patel will research and write about the state’s role in building worker power. Her work will explore how movement lawyers and the legal advocacy community broadly can better harness labor standards enforcement infrastructure to support low-wage workers’ efforts to build power. She will also craft a course curriculum for emerging lawyers on how the principles and praxis of movement lawyering can be applied to protecting—and building—workers’ rights. She can be reached at

About Sam Appel

Sam Appel is a labor, environmental, and community organizer, researcher, and policy advocate in California with extensive experience in economic justice, environmental, and racial justice campaigns. Most recently Appel led the BlueGreen Alliance’s work in California, overseeing the development and implementation of statewide and regional policy campaigns across transportation, manufacturing, building decarbonization, industrial transformation, energy generation, oil and gas, and equitable climate investment. Prior to BlueGreen Alliance, Appel worked for the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, and the UCLA Downtown Labor Center. He holds a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA. His interest in California climate justice policy dates back to his time at the UCLA Community Scholars Program, where he worked on a project that brought together labor groups and environmental justice organizations to analyze policies for transforming the goods movement and warehouse systems.

During his year as a Labor Center practitioner in residence, Appel will analyze the financial conditions that determine clean tech industrial and energy investment in the state of California, while looking to maximize benefits for affected workers and energy-impacted communities. Appel will work with key stakeholders to strengthen industrial policy coalition building, industrial organizing, and policymaking in California. He will carry out this work in close coordination with key Labor Center staff, and will engage students and the Labor Center’s various outside constituencies to accomplish these goals. He can be reached at