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Project Help’s Latschaw retires; Gallardo named new director

SEATTLE (May 4, 2021) — Project Help, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO program that assists injured workers in the successful resolution of workers’ compensation claims, will soon be under new leadership with the retirement of Viona Latschaw, who has served as Project Help Director for more than 10 years. The program’s new director will be Jessica Gallardo, who has been a Project Help Claims Specialist since 2013.

For more than 35 years, Project Help has made a difference by educating injured workers and providing individual one-on-one workers’ compensation claims guidance. The program, which is jointly administered by the WSLC and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, takes a hands-on approach to helping and teaching people about their rights and responsibilities in the claims process and has empowered countless injured workers to become proactive in resolving their claims.

“Viona has overseen the steady growth of Project Help as it has assisted more and more injured workers, and we are very sorry to see her go,” said WSLC President Larry Brown. “The WSLC and its affiliates very much appreciate that Viona’s passion for helping others and administrative effectiveness has built this program into a model for the rest of the nation. We all thank her for her exceptional service and wish her well in retirement.”

Latschaw has 42 years’ experience working in the labor movement, including 17 years as a member of Teamsters Locals 130 and 117. She said it has been an honor to have served with the WSLC since 1996, which included being a Project Help Claims Specialist before becoming the program’s director, working with Gallardo and Claims Specialist Kathy Petruzzelli.

“My journey has taught me how transformational the labor movement is, how critical our programs are to altering the lives we touch, the wholesome basics of working together to build strength and resilience among our labor families,” Latschaw said. “I consider it an honor to have spent my time doing what I love: helping lift up others in oftentimes unspoken ways. I have been blessed to work with a respected, talented group of people who are passionate about helping others, and I sincerely appreciate the wonderful experiences and opportunities given to me over the years.”

Gallardo has provided Spanish-speaking claims assistance and educational workshops with Project Help since 2013, and has focused on reaching out to under-served communities around Washington state.

“Under Viona’s leadership and with the support of the WSLC’s executive officers, Project Help has continued to grow by increasing the number of claim inquiries, workshops, and events throughout the state,” Gallardo said. “I have been a part of the Project Help team for over 7 years and now I’m honored to have been given the responsibility of directing this critically important program and continuing to work with Kathy to assist injured workers in understanding their rights and responsibilities when navigating the industrial claims process.”

“We have great confidence in Jessica’s talent, dedication and leadership abilities, having watched her grow with the Project Help program for several years,” said WSLC Secretary Treasurer April Sims. “Jessica and Kathy have been a great team under Viona’s leadership and we know they will continue to be as we move forward.”

If you or a loved one have been injured on the job or developed a medical condition from the performance of job duties, you need to be proactive about ensuring your “sure and certain relief” in the workers’ compensation system. contact Project Help at 1-800-255-9752 or via this email form. For more information about Project Help’s services, download its English and Spanish brochure or visit its website.

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