Candidates for NYSUT's Constituency Awards are first nominated by their locals. After they are reviewed, the winning selections are approved by the NYSUT Board of Directors. Winners are recognized by delegates at the RA. Here are the NYSUT Constituency Award winners for 2012:
Health Care Professional of the Year
United Federation of Teachers
Howard Sandau was inspired to become a registered nurse after working for 15 years as a caregiver to a patient with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Sandau works in the Surgical/Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, providing compassionate care to patients who are in critical condition and require constant monitoring.
Passionate about his union work for the Federation of Nurses/UFT, Sandau serves as a delegate, grievance chair and lobbyist. As president of the Student Nurses, Sandau ensures nursing students are included in his local's conferences and in their union program.
School-Related Professional of the Year
Lancaster Association of Service Personnel
Cheryl Peck's day as a custodian starts early in the Lancaster school district and takes her to multiple locations to ensure a seamless school day for students and staff alike.
Peck, president of the Lancaster Association of Service Professionals, encourages active participation from her membership and is a tireless advocate for her members. She makes attending board of education meetings a priority, so she can have first-hand knowledge of any changes that may impact her members.
Retiree Members of the Year
Frances L. Brown
A product of New York City public schools, Frances Brown began her career in education as a paraprofessional, using the career ladder program to become a teacher of grades 4-9 in the South Bronx.
Brown serves as corresponding secretary for the UFT Retired Teachers Chapter. She assists her local's retiree members through the "reassurance program"
Brown maintains a busy volunteering schedule, serving with a host of local, national and international organizations. She is active in the American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Youth at Risk and the Boys Choir of Harlem.
West Islip Retired Teachers Association
Joan Perrini began her teaching career in turbulent times for teachers unions and became an advocate while still untenured.
Perrini is president of Retiree Council 21 and serves as chairperson of the NYSUT Retiree Advisory Committee. (At the RA, she was elected an at-large director to the NYSUT Board, representing ED 52. See story on page 12.) She is passionate about keeping retirees informed and educated.
Higher Education Members of the Year
Professional Staff Congress
Marcia Newfield holds one master's degree in English and another in early childhood education. She teaches classes in English and intensive remedial writing at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. She particularly likes teaching remedial writing and relishes the "power of articulation” that it provides students.
Outraged by working conditions inflicted on adjuncts, Newfield became radically creative in her representation of the often exploited part-time and adjunct college professor. In the 1990s, she joined CUNY Adjuncts Unite and mobilized a group of adjuncts to join the Professional Staff Congress.
United College Employees of Fashion Institute of Technology
Juliette Romano is a professor in the Career and Internship Center at FIT and shows her students the real-world applications and opportunities available to them in the fashion industry. This includes working with the college's co-op program and other opportunities for students to explore in the fashion industry beyond campus boundaries.
Romano, president of the United College Employees of FIT/SUNY, is a long-time advocate for the recognition of higher education professional staff. She was a member of the UCE/FIT negotiating committee and also served as assistant secretary of the executive committee.
Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant
The Union @ Cooper Union
Kressent Pottenger serves as an area representative in her local, which represents full and part-time clerical, administrative, technical and maintenance staff of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
She plans to use the grant to focus on strategies and tactics to strengthen the collective bargaining process and build solidarity in her union.