If you want to know how a union works, how a workplace becomes safer or what type of professionals go above and beyond the call of duty, then look no further.
Six in-service and retired members of NYSUT were honored for their commitment and service to the union, the first of a number of awards presented during the 2017 NYSUT Representative Assembly.
The honorees all share two characteristics: a passion for serving others and advancing the mission of unions. Delegates watched a video that provided an overview of each recipients’ work and allowed the honorees to express their views about unions and their contributions to the labor movement.
On this page:
Retiree Members of the Year
United Federation of Teachers
Stewart Cohen is, in the words of United Federation of Teachers Retired Teachers Chapter Leader Tom Murphy, “the UFT/NYSUT’s most valued political activist on the west coast of Florida.”
Since retiring to Sarasota in 2003, Cohen serves as a UFT delegate to the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, representing FLARA on the West Central Florida Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and chairing its board of trustees.
Cohen is also a regular participant in Sarasota and Manatee Democratic Party actions as a labor advocate. In the last election cycle alone, his network of 57 activists held seven home phone banks, making 3,000 calls and sending 1,500 emails. He has a waiting list of eager voluteers.
“I look forward to increasing our impact on the west coast of Florida for the next election cycle,” Cohen says.
White Plains Teachers Association/ Westchester Putnam Retirees
Westchester/Putnam retiree member Alma Cormican epitomizes the qualities that make NYSUT a strong union. A past president and chief negotiator for the White Plains Teachers Association, Cormican remained a union activist after retiring in 1999. She joined her retiree local’s executive committee in 2004, becoming its president in 2008.
Cormican has edited her retiree local’s award-winning newsletter since 2006; organized and run pre-retirement seminars for in-service teachers since 2009; and raised more than $15,000 for local scholarships and the Westchester/Putnam Retiree’s REACT committee that helps schools and children in need.
Cormican has attended the NYSUT Representative Assembly since 1972. She is an active member of the statewide union’s Retiree Advisory Committee, where she contributed to the publication Your Blueprint for a Successful Retirement: An Online Planning Guide.
Higher Education Members of the Year
United University Professions-Old Westbury
Eileen Landy, an associate professor of sociology at SUNY Old Westbury, is completing her 16th year as secretary-treasurer of NYSUT’s largest higher ed affiliate, United University Professions, the statewide union representing academic and professional staff on State University of New York campuses.
She was previously president of UUP’s Old Westbury chapter and presiding officer of the Old Westbury Faculty Senate for six years, and has served as a delegate to and a member of numerous conventions and committees of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. Landry also has been an instrumental voice in the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education.
Landy is a frequent and vocal presence on picket lines and at rallies and is a recognized champion for women’s issues.
Faculty Federation of Erie Community College
Andrew Sako is a professor of building management at Erie Community College.
Sako has been president of the Faculty Federation of Erie Community College since 2004. He is also a member of NYSUT’s Board of Directors and of the NEA Board of Directors, representing New York State.
In his academic work, he is known for establishing creative partnerships with the building trades in Erie County that benefit his students. In 2000, Sako won the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor accorded a faculty member or administrator by the State University of New York.
The awards recognize the professional excellence, accomplishments and outstanding contributions of SUNY’s dedicated professionals.
Sako is also a recognized political force in the Buffalo area, respected by policymakers of all party affiliations.
Health Care Professionals Member of the Year
Sayville Teachers Association
Social worker Dawn Lloyd-Matthews, an 18-year member of the Sayville Teachers Association, works with at-risk middle school students referred for social, emotional and/or behavioral reasons. She provides individual, group and family crisis intervention; coordinates community outreach programs; and assists children and families on matters dealing with abuse, neglect and homelessness.
Lloyd-Matthews has served in several key leadership roles with the STA, including executive vice president, grievance coordinator and as a member of the union’s negotiating team. She is also an STA convention delegate to NYSUT and the American Federation of Teachers.
A member of the National Association of School Social Workers and the New York State School Workers Association, Lloyd-Matthews also has worked in the classroom, lecturing on social networking behavior, the Dignity for All Students Act, relationships and suicide prevention.
School-Related Professionals Member of the Year
West Hempstead Educational Association
Nancy Sullivan, a teaching assistant and member of the West Hempstead Educational Association, works with K-12 students with special needs. She also serves as union building representative for members in the West Hempstead Middle School.
When Nancy began working in the West Hempstead district 18 years ago, teaching assistants did not have union representation. She initiated efforts to bring teaching assistants under the union umbrella, collaborated with her colleagues to educate the district and pushed for union affiliation.
Sullivan also has a reputation for going above and beyond for her students. She is known to help students with any assignment or test whether it is in her content area or not, and empowers students with her positive outlook and motivating spirit.