Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I wish each of you a happy and peaceful holiday season. This is a perfect time of year to enjoy the company of family members and friends. I will be sharing time with my loved ones in Bethel during our office closure.

The NEA-Alaska staff and leadership made the lives of two families a little brighter this season by making donations through an organization called Stepping Stones.

A little bit about the Stepping Stones program--

The Stepping Stones and the Alaska Women's Resource Center (AWRC) are two of AKEELA familiy of programs, which provide essential and unique services to women and their families in support and opportuntiy to achieve positive life changes. The Stepping Stones Residential Treatment Program provides residential substance abuse treatment to women with children. Each family resides in an apartment within the treatment facility. The program includes services designed to strenghten and improve familly functioning and help women with children recover from the effects of addiction. The program provides services for 15 women and their children for up to one year. The program includes onsite licensed day care for infants through pre-school.

My best wishes to everyone for a joyous holiday and prosperous 2009,

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Got an Opinion? Voice It!

During the upcoming Town Hall meetings, we will have a chance to tell our stories. It is very important that our elected officials hear what we have to say about concerns we have regarding what our lives will be like when it comes time to retire. Some of us are almost there. Many of us are in the early part or middle of our careers. Regardless of how long we have been working, a retirement with dignity is important and crucial to the well-being of our families and our state. Please, attend the upcoming meetings and step forward to tell your story. Policy makers and elected officials hear from leaders on a regular basis. It is crucial for them to hear from all public employees so they know that we are not the only ones with opinions. Your word as an individual is the single greatest way to have an impact on the minds of those who hold our future in their hands.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Talking Up at Home

The election is over and we await the last few results to confirm who will represent us. Now the real work begins to help legislators understand the concerns we have.

We, along with our Labor Coalition partners, are helping coordinate Town Hall meetings in Bethel, Juneau, Kenai, Mat-Su, Fairbanks, and Anchorage over the next six weeks. This is our opportunity to explain to elected officials what the change in the public employee retirement systems means to us.

Firefighters, police, city workers and school district employees will be telling their stories. The most important goal of these meetings is to show the faces and make real connections that demonstrate how Alaska's communities will be the ultimate victims if we fail to recruit and retain high quality employees in public jobs.

If you are willing to tell your story at one of these Town Hall gatherings, please do so. The more we can highlight the problems we are facing, the higher the chance that we will influence lawmakers to make a positive move to put us back into a defined benefit system.

Not able to make it to the meeting? Please write down your story and send it to me. I will make sure that it gets forwarded to legislators.

Keep in touch,

Monday, November 10, 2008

Together We Move Forward

Last week was exciting, to say the least. We still don't have final results of several key races in Alaska. With an estimated 81,000 votes left to be counted, we won't know for sure how things turned out for possibly another ten days or so. Regardless of the outcome, a huge win for NEA-Alaska through this election season has been the work we have done with our labor partners. This is new territory for us, and I hope it continues. The relationships we have developed will help us move forward in the areas we share, and it gives us new friends to help with our own issues as well. I anticipate that this new day in Alaska will serve us well into the future. Not enough can be said about the working partnerships we have forged with the AFL-CIO family.

I am thrilled with the confirmation during our NEA-Alaska board meeting of Lori Miner, CEA member, for the 2009 Education Support Professional of the Year. Additionally, Bob Williams of MSEA, has been chosen as Alaska's Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to Lori and Bob!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Improved and Better!

The Delegate Assembly review committee met this week to make plans for the 2009 annual NEA-Alaska annual meeting. We reviewed the changes made to last year's meeting, looked at the evaluations we received from delegates, and made plans for the next DA. Overall, the response to last year's changes were extremely positive.

I will spend Monday of next week helping select the 2009 Teacher of the Year. There are four outstanding finalists and I am honored to be part of the process.

The rest of the week will be intensively focused on the last push for the election. Next Saturday we will participate in the largest literature drop around the state in Alaska's history. Regardless of your political affiliation and opinions, I certainly hope every member votes!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Countdown is On!

Less than a month from now we will know who our new leaders will be in Juneau and in Washington, D.C. This is the time to elect public officials who will work on behalf of our members and our children. We have to put all our energy into electing candidates who will put education at the top of their list of priorities! Please join me in campaigning for education candidates, contributing to education candidates, and getting out to vote on election day so we know that we did everything possible to impact the future of Alaska in a positive way. These decisions are too important to leave them up to someone else to decide for us.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Super" Week

Wow! There is so much to do and find out about. I am in Washington, D.C. this week for something NEA calls "Super Week". The only reason I can see for calling it "Super Week" is the "Super" overload of my brain with all I am learning!

Lydia and I arrived on Sunday night after traveling all day to get here. Monday and Tuesday were spent with other Executive Directors and State Presidents who were new pairings in their states. It was valuable time spent in clarifying each of our roles and responsibilities, identifying areas we should be aware of in our communication, and other important knowledge in our working relationship.

Today I spent 7 and a half hours getting media training from NEA public relations department folks. Following the training was a four hour meeting of the state presidents with new NEA President, Dennis Van Roekel. More and more to learn!

I saw Glen Ramos briefly during a break in one of my meetings. He is here for the NEA Board of Directors meeting to represent us.

Three more days of meetings and introductions coming up.

Just in case you're curious, I've had LOTS of questions about Sarah Palin!

More next time...


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor United

Lately my days have been filled with opportunities to discuss our shared issues with those in and outside of organized labor groups in Alaska.

I had the privilege of being named the Labor Leader of the Week. You can view the profile at the labor coalition website. The address is

I was at "Election Central" on Tuesday night as results came in very slowly from across the state. There weren't too many surprises, except the closeness of the battle in the Republican primary for Alaska's one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Wednesday evening was a wonderful chance to host a table at the AFL-CIO's banquet. I was honored to dine next to George Cannelos of the Denali Commission. We discussed NEA-Alaska's concerns regarding rural teacher housing. He was very receptive and agreed that more needs to be done in this area.

On Thursday, FEA and ESSA leaders, as well as Vice President Tim Parker and Past President Bill Bjork helped me present early endorsement checks to Scott Kawasaki and David Guttenberg. We've now given these checks to nine true friends of eduction. There is much to do in helping them get re-elected.

The biggest news of the week is undoubtedly the selection of Governor Sarah Palin to be the running mate of John McCain. As I greeted the members of the Anchorage Education Association Executive Board on Friday morning, it was impossible not to quote what I certainly believe fits the announcement, "We live in interesting times"!

I'm off to the cabin for a couple of days and then it's on to assist in the LKNEA (Lower Kuskokwim) membership drive. I'm not sure about all the places on the list, but am very happy to be asked to assist in Nightmute and Tununak.

Please have a restful and safe Labor Day weekend.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Much To Do!

Wow! There is so much to be done I need to consult my calendar several times each day to know what's coming up next. Tomorrow I head for Kodiak to work with KIESA and KBEA in their membership drives and member meetings. Today I had the pleasure of presenting early endorsement checks to four of the nine legislators we approved through our PACE process. The checks could not be given earlier due to special sessions. It is not allowable for legislators to accept campaign contributions during regular or special session times. So far, checks have been delivered to Beth Kerttula, Harry Crawford, Berta Gardner, Max Gruenberg, and Hollis French. I also look forward to working with new Anchorage Education Association President Jim Lepley at the Alaska State Fair on Saturday. If you're in the area, please drop by to say hello.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Membership Drives Are Underway

On Monday and Tuesday of this week I had the pleasure of helping the Northwest Arctic Education Association and the Northwest Arctic Education Support Professional Association with their membership drives in Kotzebue. We enjoyed ice cream together, signed up new members, and connected with long time friends. I even got a chance to catch up with a second year teacher in Buckland who was my student when he was in the sixth grade! OK, truthfully it made me feel old, but also rewarded to see a former student beginning a career in education.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Welcome to the President's Blog!

Hello Everyone! One of my highest priorities as your new president is to expand the ways we communicate with each other. This blog space is where I plan to update you with news of my activities, meetings, and events. I welcome you to view my postings, as well as make comments. I want to know your thoughts and look forward to reading them. Please write respectfully. I will try to post something new each week if possible. I am carrying my camera with me so that I can share photos too.

My best to all as we begin an exciting new school year!