April 08, 2016

Baptiste, McCall personify spirit of Feldman award

Source: NYSUT Communications

Two New York City women shared one of NYSUT's highest honors when they received the "Not for Ourselves Alone:" The Sandy Feldman Outstanding Leadership Award.

Lorna Baptiste, a recently retired UFT member, and Cecelia McCall, a former officer of PSC, were nominated by their unions because they personified the spirit embodied by the phrase, "not for ourselves alone."

Feldman, a former president of the United Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers, was dedicated to the labor and civil rights movements, and was beloved for her strength of personality, her humanity and leadership skills. She died in 2005.

Baptiste recently retired after 32 years with the UFT Welfare Fund, a career that brought her into contact with thousands of UFT members who sought her help during times of medical need.

At one time she worked for Feldman, who she called more than just a union president: "She was an awesome human being who cared deeply about her members and her staff."

Baptiste thanked UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Arthur Pepper, the Welfare Fund executive director, for nominating her, and her former boss, Bill Scott, who encouraged her abilities and inspired her "to be the very best you can be."

She then led the delegates in a chorus of "Solidarity Forever."

Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen accepted the award on behalf of McCall, who could not get to Rochester in time due to severe weather. Bowen said McCall led the PSC to be more aggressive in legislative work, and to build the union's political action program.

In prepared remarks read by Bowen, McCall thanked her PSC/CUNY brothers and sisters and congratulated her co-recipient.

"The Sandy Feldman Not for Ourselves Alone Award is the Oscar of our profession. So for that, my mother thanks you, my father thanks you, and I thank you," McCall said.

Dawn Townsend, president of the Cobbleskill-Richmondville Teachers Association, received the Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant, which was established to develop up and coming women leaders. Townsend, who received a grant of $2,000, plans to build programs and events to further relationships between her members and her union.