Reinforcing their tributes with sustained standing ovations, delegates unanimously approved heartfelt Special Orders of Business honoring outgoing officers Karen E. Magee and Catalina Fortino for their lifelong commitment to unionism and public education.
Magee was praised in a special resolution for her leadership in establishing NYSUT as "the voice that cannot be ignored" and re-engaging NYSUT members to "BE the union" through increased activism.
The recognition followed Magee's address to delegates emphasizing the importance of "solidarity forever."
In the resolution, delegates lauded Magee's initiative in launching the union's first-ever conference dedicated to women's priorities — "a resounding success" that drew capacity participation earlier this year. Delegates subsequently voted to establish a standing NYSUT committee on women's priorities.
Magee, who was elected as the union's first woman president in 2014, has been tapped to lead a new labor initiative advancing economic opportunities for women.
Her career includes service as president of the Harrison TA, as a NYS Teachers' Retirement System representative, and a NYSUT Board member.
In a special resolution, delegates recognized Fortino for serving her union "at the local, state and national level with the utmost dedication and integrity, advocating strongly and effectively for her students, her colleagues and the teaching profession from pre-K through post-graduate." The resolution noted Fortino's tireless advocacy for English language learners and students with disabilities, and her reputation as a nationally recognized expert on professional development, curriculum and assessments.
Fortino's leadership on higher education issues also earned kudos, with delegates recognizing her expertise and sensitivity in collaborating with her colleagues and advancing concerns on behalf of higher ed members. Fortino is retiring after a union career that included service as a NYSUT officer, director of the UFT Teacher Center and UFT vice president.
Video tributes unveiled at the RA include the highlights of each woman's union career and tributes from colleagues and dignitaries who discuss their legacies. To watch the videos and to read the Special Orders of Business, visit www.nysut.org/ra.