Aaron Bartley grew up in Buffalo and attended Buffalo Public Schools. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, he co-founded the Harvard Living Wage Campaign, which advocated on behalf of more than 2,000 of the university’s service workers. The campaign resulted in $10 million in annual wage and benefit increases for the workers it represented. Aaron was awarded the Gary Bellow Memorial Award by Harvard Law School for his advocacy on behalf of Harvard’s service workers.
Following law school, Aaron served as a labor organizer in SEIU’s Justice for Janitors campaign in Boston, MA. He helped to organize a citywide strike of more than 3,000 janitors which resulted in significant wage and benefit gains for a primarily low-wage, immigrant workforce.
In 2005 Aaron returned to Buffalo to co-found People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo) with a grant from Echoing Green, a New York City-based foundation that supports emerging social entrepreneurs.
PUSH’s mission is to address the lack of living-wage jobs and the poor housing conditions on Buffalo’s West Side and to create a replicable model of grassroots neighborhood organizing and community-led development.