Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant

Laura Franz: 2019 Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant

laura franz

New York State United Teachers awarded the prestigious $2,000 Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant to Laura Franz, president of the Albany Public School Teachers Association.

Franz was presented with the grant at the 47th annual NYSUT Representative Assembly that was held over the weekend in Albany. The grant is given annually to one NYSUT member to recognize and support new, emerging women leaders among the union’s more than 1,200 local affiliates.

“I am thankful that leaders like Laura are so committed to union values and the future of the labor movement,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “NYSUT is committed to ensuring women are an integral part of organized labor, and Laura is an important leader for that cause.”

Currently in her second year as president of APSTA, Franz has been involved for many years at the local, state and national levels. She has been a local officer and delegate to state and national conventions.

Franz serves on the NYSUT Women’s Committee and the union mentoring subcommittee. She plans to use the funds from the grant to develop and implement an APSTA mentoring program to grow and support future leaders in her local union.

“In the wake of Janus, our focus must be on strengthening our member organizing abilities and ensuring that we provide multiple pathways to union involvement,” Franz said. “It is critical that we provide mentorship and develop a local leader pipeline that will ensure our union remains a strong voice for its members. I am grateful for this recognition and truly hope to honor the memory of Sandy Feldman with this work.”

“Laura has the kind of vision and commitment that will ensure the health and strength of our union for the future,” said Jolene DiBrango, NYSUT executive vice president and chair of the NYSUT Women’s Committee.

About the Leadership Grant

To celebrate and commemorate the life of union pioneer Sandy Feldman, the Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant in the amount of $2,000 has been established as a result of the generosity and vision of Sandy's husband, Arthur Barnes.

The Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant was created to help further the development of emerging women leaders who are dedicated to the principles that Feldman exemplified: unionism, leadership and a commitment to human and civil rights. The recipient will be awarded the $2,000 grant to further her development as a union leader, helping with expenses such as union activities, training and conferences; or to defray costs associated with union involvement, i.e., travel or childcare.

About Sandy Feldman

sandy feldman

A teacher and unionist, Sandy Feldman (1939-2005) had a groundbreaking career as a union leader in NYSUT, the AFT and her home local, the UFT in New York City. Her career in education and labor spanned more than four decades. From her beginnings as a second-grade teacher on New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1960s, Sandy rose quickly through the union ranks, organizing staff on her first job. Shortly thereafter, she took a job as a full-time field representative for the UFT, handling grievances, contract negotiations and a range of issues. She eventually took over the reins of the union, becoming its president in 1986. She was elected to head the AFT in 1997. In the process, she became a staunch advocate for civil rights and social justice, participating in the Freedom Rides of the 1960s and the historic 1963 March on Washington, evolving into a proponent of civic education and democracy in the international arena and a leading voice in the national and international labor movement.

Grant Winners

  • 2018: Lori Griffin
  • 2017: Kathryn Dein
  • 2016: Dawn Townsend
  • 2015: Mary Wills
  • 2014: Debbie Kydon
  • 2013: Janine Gibney
  • 2012: Kressent Pottenger
  • 2011: Michele E. Brockner
  • 2010: Lori Rider
  • 2009: Andrea Figueroa
  • 2008: Michelle Pancoe
  • 2007: Marianne Hegge