Retirement is hard to imagine at the start of a career. Preoccupied with learning the ropes, making connections and gaining experience, retirement seems like something “other people” think about. But, gradually, you become the “grown up” in the room; the one they turn to for institutional knowledge. And, in what feels like the blink of an eye, retirement arrives.
Maureen Rizzi, NYSUT’s director of constituencies and program services, knows that feeling. “I look around at many of our officers, Board of Directors members and NYSUT staffers, and I think to myself, ‘I remember them from this class, or that class,’” said Rizzi, who officially entered retirement with the 2017 NYSUT Local Action Project class graduation on Friday.
Throughout her nearly 15-year NYSUT career, Rizzi was instrumental in shaping LAP and the statewide union’s Leadership Institute training programs, which saw member participation swell under her leadership.
“I was lucky enough that some of my ideas were implemented,” she said. She considers the growth of the two programs her greatest NYSUT achievement.
On LAP’s final night, Rizzi’s colleagues surprised her with a cake and heartfelt tributes. The Friday graduation ceremony saw her serenaded and named an honorary member of NYSUT’s professional staff union, the Professional Staff Association. “You make us better reps and better unionists,” said Elizabeth Vignaux, PSA president. “We’ll never forget you.”
“This week has been overwhelming,” said Rizzi with a smile. “It’s truly been overwhelming.”