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Saba Waheed

Saba Waheed is the director of the UCLA Labor Center. Prior to this role, she spent 11 years as the center’s research director. With nearly 20 years of experience developing community-led research projects for labor advocacy organizations, Waheed’s work is grounded in the “research justice” framework, which she co-developed to address structural inequities in research.

In her time at the UCLA Labor Center, Waheed built the research infrastructure for, and led, more than 40 studies in partnership with low-wage workers. Among these was the first-ever study of domestic work employers, a multi-year study of workers and learners, and the first national study on nail salon workers and owners. She has also conducted research related to gig workers, young workers, Black workers, LGBTQ+ grocery workers, retail workers, fast food workers and restaurant workers. For six years, Waheed led the Labor Summer Research Program, a UCLA Labor Center schools-to-movement fellowship that places students in community organizations, unions and immigrant rights groups to learn research, organizing and campaign skills.

Waheed is deeply committed to community storytelling as a powerful tool for narrative change. In addition to her research work, Waheed is an award-winning radio producer and writer. She co-produces the podcast Re:Work, a storytelling show about workers, and she co-wrote and co-produced the animated film, “I am a #YoungWorker.” Her short stories are regularly featured in literary magazines, anthologies, and live readings.

Previously, Waheed was a part of the shared leadership team and the research director of DataCenter, and a researcher at the Urban Justice Center.

Waheed received an MA in Anthropology from Columbia University and a BA in English and Religious Studies from UC Berkeley.

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