Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant

Dawn Townsend
Cobleskill-Richmondville Teachers Association


A newer local union president, Dawn Townsend is committed to building understanding, respect and involvement. She plans to use the grant to help create and fund programs and events that will build relationships and ties between her membership and the union, and to continue her training and involvement at the local and state levels.

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

  • 2015: Mary Wills
  • 2014: Debbie Kydon
  • 2013: Janine Gibney
  • 2012: Kressent Pottenger
  • 2011: Michele E. Brockner
  • 2010: Lori Rider
  • 2009: Andrea Figueroa
  • 2008: Michelle Pancoe
  • 2007: Marianne Hegge