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Joan Perrini, 'Not for Ourselves Alone:' The Sandy Feldman Outstanding Leadership Award

Joan Perrini has been a staunch union activist since she began her teaching career in 1960. A social studies teacher at Udall Road Junior High School in West Islip for 38 years, Perrini served first as secretary for her local, and then as building representative. In 1964, she was elected vice president and worked with the local president to join the West Islip Teachers Association with NYSUT, AFT and the AFL-CIO.

For the next 10 years, she served as a statewide delegate and a member of the local’s negotiating committee. In 1984, she became president of the West Islip TA, a post she held until her retirement in 1998. One of the first women to serve as president, she remains the longest serving president of her local.

Perrini remained active in retirement, fighting to protect the rights and benefits of NYSUT retirees. She served as president of her area’s retiree council for 12 years, where she was instrumental in building what is considered one of the most active executive boards and membership of any retiree council on Long Island. Perrini was also a retiree services consultant in Suffolk County for six years, during which time she succeeded in forming many new retiree chapters.

“I want to get more retirees to be active unionists for life. There is a lot of good that they can do,” she said. In 2012, she was elected to the NYSUT Board of Directors for Election District 52, representing one-third of the retirees in the state. As Director, she is keenly aware of the importance of keeping all retiree voices heard, and she strives to make sure their needs are met.