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President Andy Pallotta
Andy Pallotta, an elementary teacher who hails from Brooklyn, is NYSUT's new president — but he is a familiar face to the union's activists.
As NYSUT executive vice president, Pallotta for the past seven years led NYSUT's political and legislative arm in a tenure marked by innovation and expansion of member activism.
"I believe in being relevant, resilient and, above all, relentless," Pallotta told delegates at NYSUT's Representative Assembly in April, where he was elected to a three-year term along with his slate of officers. "We will never quit fighting for those we serve, or for each other. "
Under Pallotta's leadership, members' voluntary support for VOTE-COPE, the union's political action fund, has reached record highs. He oversaw creation of the NYSUT Member Action Center, affectionately known as the "MAC," that has expanded grassroots activism and accelerated the union's advocacy.
As president, he will continue to oversee NYSUT's legislative and political strategy, along with legal services and communications. "When I see NYSUT referred to as a force to be reckoned with, I know it is because of the tremendous engagement and fighting spirit of our members," he said.
Pallotta served 24 years as an elementary school teacher at PS 32 in the Bronx and three decades as a union activist. He is a proud product of New York City public schools, and a graduate of Kingsborough Community College, St. Francis College and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.
He became a union representative early in his career, in a New York City district with 40,000 students and 57 union chapters. He worked to resolve contractual, educational and community issues in his role with the United Federation of Teachers.
Pallotta is the first New York City educator to lead the statewide federation of local unions in the 45 years since NYSUT was founded. He is also a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and the New York State AFL-CIO.
To read his full speech to RA delegates, visit www.nysut.org/ra.
Executive Vice President Jolene T. DiBrango
Jolene T. DiBrango, who has 25 years of experience teaching all levels including college, oversees NYSUT's educational services department and governance matters.
A dynamic and respected union leader from the Rochester area, DiBrango has served many roles — from assistant building representative to president — in the 800-member Pittsford District Teachers' Association. She is a graduate of the NYSUT Leadership Institute and served on NYSUT's Annual Professional Performance Review workgroup.
She is known for her ability to mobilize members to actively engage locally, regionally, statewide and nationally. As one of three statewide in-service teacher trustees on the New York State Teachers' Retirement System Board, DiBrango regularly conducted NYSUT pre-retirement workshops in locals across the state. DiBrango has worked closely with local retiree councils about how a possible New York State constitutional convention could have a devastating impact on our pension system.
A graduate of New Hartford High School, SUNY Oswego and Nazareth College, DiBrango holds teaching certificates in elementary education, reading and business education.
First Vice President J. Philippe Abraham
"I'm all in." Philippe Abraham brings a broad spectrum of teaching and professional experience, coupled with union drive to his new role as NYSUT first vice president. He is NYSUT's first officer elected from a higher education local.
Abraham taught Spanish and French at middle school, high school and college — all in the Albany area — and then became an academic adviser at the University at Albany and a member of United University Professions, NYSUT's higher education affiliate that represents SUNY faculty and staff. He was promoted to director of career services, and then elected as a vice president for professionals for UUP, a position he held for six years.
"Education has been under attack nationally, and this is a good way to bring K–12 and higher education together," he says. "Some people see education as something for the privileged. It's a right. It's an equalizer. Ultimately, we are here to help New York residents better their lives through quality, affordable education."
Abraham oversees NYSUT's Member Benefits and the union's social justice outreach. "I am eager to begin working with the officers, the Board of Directors, staff and NYSUT's membership to continue educating the next generation of New Yorkers."
Second Vice President Paul Pecorale
"The pep in my step has always been and will always continue to be the desire to work in the labor movement and to build on what we have to do to survive, to represent workers and to defend them," says Paul Pecorale.
Pecorale is serving his second three-year term as second vice president. A longtime special education teacher from Patchogue-Medford, Pecorale served eight years as president of the PM Congress of Teachers.
Pecorale oversees NYSUT Program Services, which assists retirees and School-Related Professionals and provides resources to members through Health and Safety, Health Care and Community Outreach programs. Pecorale is also serving as acting executive director to oversee field services and its 16 regional offices, as well as human resources.
NYSUT members hail from different backgrounds, and come to work as teachers, college academics and professionals, nurses, bus drivers, custodians, school health care professionals and many other titles. What they have in common, Pecorale says, is a career in helping students, patients and communities; careers that require ongoing professional development, necessary adjustment to changes in protocol and practice, and commitment and compassion. Belonging to a union, he says, "seeks to merge people through shared interests."
Secretary-Treasurer Martin Messner
A health and physical education teacher for more than 10 years, Martin Messner knows a thing or two about endurance and is not afraid of hard work.
His influences? Family, community, public education and, of course, the labor movement.
Messner was first elected to statewide office in April 2014. He is past president of the Schoharie Teachers' Association and a graduate of the NYSUT and AFL-CIO Leadership Institutes. In 2012, he was honored with an American Federation of Teachers Everyday Hero Award for his efforts to rebuild his community after Hurricane Irene.
He is also fond of social media — in its many iterations. He founded and served as president of the Foothills Area Council of Teachers, a consortium of nine Adirondack-area teacher unions. In that role, he led a local effort to use television ads and Facebook to spread a pro-public education/anti-corporate reform message to more than 1 million households.
In his first term as secretary-treasurer, Messner oversaw a significant reversal in the union's finances — going from record deficits and fiscal stress to restored reserves and the elimination of waste and redundancy. In his second term, Messner will continue to keep a watchful eye on NYSUT's finances so the union is in the best position possible to face challenges from those who seek to weaken labor.