Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant

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Debbie Kydon
Rockland BOCES Staff Association

Local President Debbie Kydon started her union career as a building rep in 1987. She was the chief negotiator for the next 20 years and then, in 2008, became the vice president until her predecessor retired in 2009 and she became president. She is a long-time member and current treasurer of the Rockland County Teachers Association. She's a member of NYSUT's BOCES Committee.

Kydon has attended Summer Leadership Training, the BOCES Statewide Conference, NYSUT New Local Presidents Conference and NYSUT leadership training.

Her local union will use the grant to honor a female union leader each year. The leader will receive a gift and the union will inscribe the name of the annual winner on a plaque. Kydon hopes to continue this legacy long beyond the monies received from the grant.

About the Leadership Grant

To celebrate and commemorate the life of union pioneer Sandy Feldman, the Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant in the amount of $2,000 has been established as a result of the generosity and vision of Sandy's husband, Arthur Barnes.

The Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant was created to help further the development of emerging women leaders who are dedicated to the principles that Feldman exemplified: unionism, leadership and a commitment to human and civil rights. The recipient will be awarded the $2,000 grant to further her development as a union leader, helping with expenses such as union activities, training and conferences; or to defray costs associated with union involvement, i.e., travel or childcare.

About Sandy Feldman

sandy feldman

A teacher and unionist, Sandy Feldman (1939-2005) had a groundbreaking career as a union leader in NYSUT, the AFT and her home local, the UFT in New York City. Her career in education and labor spanned more than four decades. From her beginnings as a second-grade teacher on New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1960s, Sandy rose quickly through the union ranks, organizing staff on her first job. Shortly thereafter, she took a job as a full-time field representative for the UFT, handling grievances, contract negotiations and a range of issues. She eventually took over the reins of the union, becoming its president in 1986. She was elected to head the AFT in 1997. In the process, she became a staunch advocate for civil rights and social justice, participating in the Freedom Rides of the 1960s and the historic 1963 March on Washington, evolving into a proponent of civic education and democracy in the international arena and a leading voice in the national and international labor movement.

Grant Winners

  • 2013: Janine Gibney
  • 2012: Kressent Pottenger
  • 2011: Michele E. Brockner
  • 2010: Lori Rider
  • 2009: Andrea Figueroa
  • 2008: Michelle Pancoe
  • 2007: Marianne Hegge