Skip to main content

AFT Massachusetts Announces Recipients of 2024 Distinguished Service Awards

AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos and Secretary-Treasurer Brant Duncan are thrilled to announce the winners of the union’s 2024 Distinguished Service Awards.The Distinguished Service Awards are presented annually to AFT Massachusetts members who have demonstrated an outstanding level of service and dedication to their local union. Here are this year’s winners:


DESE licensed member in the prek-12 system, vocational education, and school collaboratives


Paul Mailloux, Lynn Teachers Union. A math teacher at Lynn English High School, Paul has been an active member of the Lynn Teachers Union, Local 1037, from the very start of his career in 1993. He has served as a leader and active member of the union’s negotiations team for twenty-one years, and been the elected Secretary-Treasurer for thirteen years. For several years when his building had minimal attendance at union events or actions, Paul quietly encouraged members to show up and stepped up to represent members at the building level. In the words of his colleagues, “Paul’s knowledge of our union’s history of contract campaigns and union membership votes impacts our decisions at the bargaining table and in the daily running of our union. His strength and stability in leading our members and having tough conversations with elected officials regarding Union issues is invaluable. Paul’s dedication to our union and the membership is a quiet and thoughtful strength that supports those working around him. He has made a positive influence for our membership and local, and he is one of the pillars of our Union.” Congratulations Paul!


Mindy Richardson, Lawrence Teachers Union. A history teacher in 9th grade at Lawrence High School, Mindy has been an active member of the Lawrence Teachers Union as first vice president. Recently she was part of forming a school-wide teacher leadership team that exists now at Lawrence High School, where separate schools join together under one headmaster working to create operational plans that are equitable and fair for teachers and students in alignment with our contract language. She has collaborated annually with the district and co-presented a teacher leadership training to principal and building rep teams across the district, training them in the strongest language we have in our contract on shared decision-making. In the words of her colleagues, “Mindy is a true advocate for the rights of teachers, and her dedication as an active executive board member and her close collaboration with the president truly make her an invaluable asset to the union. She has been able to harness her bargaining and collaboration skills, leading the school based decision-making team through their labor management meetings. Mindy's role as the face of the union in the high school and beyond is crucial for building a strong community and fostering connections.” Congratulations Mindy!


Cheryl Travers, Lawrence Teachers Union. A history teacher at Lawrence High School, Cheryl has been at the heart of what makes Lawrence a great city. As Miss Cheryl to generations of Lawrence in pre-k, she is the consummate teacher: professional, caring, and loving. For the past few years she has been one of very few expert teachers working to improve early education programming in the district. Cheryl has shined as she utilizes her bargaining and collaboration skills to lead the school-based decision-making team in labor management meetings showcasing her ability to take on tough projects and challenges. And her involvement in the back-to-school event and new teacher orientation days shows her commitment to supporting both families and new members. In the words of her colleagues, “Text Cheryl any hour, day or night, with ‘a member has an issue’ and she responds faster than a speeding bullet. Cheryl makes us all, every member of that team, better and stronger. Her dedication is unparalleled. She has served on countless bargaining sessions where we have seen her transform from the loving pre-k wizard to use her magic on the numbers, and her bottom line is always the same: that every member gets a fair shake. If it happens in the Lawrence Public Schools, she knows it, understands it, and is never afraid to stand up and fight for it. She does the hard work so that every one of us can rise up for our students.” Congratulations Cheryl!

Retired Member


Patricia Clark, Holliston Federation of Teachers. A retired paraprofessional and Paraprofessional Chairperson for the Holliston Federation of Teachers, Patricia has demonstrated remarkable leadership in advocating for the rights and welfare of the paraprofessional unit within Holliston Public Schools. Her tenure has been characterized by a steadfast commitment to improving the working conditions and compensation for paraprofessionals, as well as fostering a supportive and respectful work environment. One of Tricia Clark's key achievements has been her unwavering stance during negotiations with the Holliston School Committee. She has effectively advocated for increased pay for paraprofessionals, recognizing the invaluable contributions they make to the educational system. Additionally, her efforts to secure longevity stipends for loyal and experienced paraprofessionals underscore her dedication to recognizing and rewarding tenure and dedication within the profession. In the words of her colleagues, “Tricia’s proactive approach to training and development sets a precedent for excellence within the paraprofessional unit. Her leadership, characterized by resilience, advocacy, and compassion, has had a profound and lasting impact on the paraprofessional unit within the Holliston School Committee. In the face of adversity, she continues to inspire and empower others to strive for positive change and improvement, making her an exemplary leader and advocate for paraprofessionals everywhere.” Congratulations Patricia!


Public and private higher education system employee, municipal librarian, and nurse


Clara Hendricks, Massachusetts Library Staff Union. As a youth services librarian at the O’Neill Branch of the Cambridge Public Library, Clara joined the Cambridge Public Library Staff Association Executive Board in 2018. Having served on the Executive Board and as treasurer of the Wellesley Free Library Staff Association, Clara was already familiar with how a union operates and how to best support members. In 2020, Clara was elected Vice-Chair of the CPLSA and has led the union honorably through a global pandemic, two contract negotiations, and a number of management-administered curveballs. Clara is a strong advocate and supporter of other unions, near and far. She keeps the Board and membership informed about neighboring towns’ union efforts, and how we can support them. In the word of her colleagues, “Clara’s calm and caring personality, aligned with her focus and drive, have been a guiding light for the union in such uncertain times. She has been responsible for many union victories over the years. Her fight for workers’ rights goes hand in hand with her justice-oriented determination. And as a librarian, her commitment to serving the North Cambridge neighborhood and beyond is evident in the care she puts into planning programs, collaborating with local partners, and in her connections with patrons young and old.” Congratulations Clara!

Paraprofessional and School Related-Personnel


RoseMarie Bergeron, United Teachers of Lowell. As a paraprofessional at the Murkland Elementary School, where she also wears the hat of parent liaison, Rose is in her first term as the United Teachers of Lowell's Paraprofessional Chair. She also serves on the Negotiation Team and as an AFT Massachusetts Vice President. Rose seamlessly communicates with all of the paraprofessionals across the district, keeping everyone informed of what is happening, how paraprofessionals will be impacted, and any necessary involvement that may be required. Most recently, Rose played an integral part in assembling a huge group of paras, teachers, cafeteria workers and custodians, all donning their red UTL shirts at a Lowell School Committee meeting in our effort to create a living wage for our paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and custodians. The success and positive result of that contract, which achieved an unprecedented raise to "lift the floor" for paras, cafeteria workers and custodians, was in large part due to Rose getting the word out. In the words of her colleagues, “Whenever there is any need, large or small, Rose is the very first volunteer to help - usually taking a leadership role and carrying a large part of the ‘work’ required to ensure success of any Union endeavor. Rose's commitment to our union and to all labor issues has not gone unnoticed by others. In short, Rose is all union, all the time! Whatever the need may be, Rose is there.” Congratulations Rose! 


Maria Rosa, Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals. As a paraprofessional at Sumner Avenue Elementary School, Mrs. Rosa has been an active member of the Federation from the time of her initiation on April 29, 1985. She is the longest serving member of our unit (39 years). Maria serves as the Building Representative at Sumner Avenue Elementary School, holds a position on the Executive Board as the Chairperson of the Grievance Committee, is a co-chair of our Sick Leave Bank Committee and serves on our negotiation team. In the words of her colleagues, “Maria is a strong advocate for our members and is always willing to lend a helping hand. She has lent her services for translating, is on her third round of negotiations, and has signed up at least 100 members (and counting) at Sumner Avenue during her time as the building rep. She attends every meeting, even if she has to zoom in from the bus, where she serves as a bus monitor before and after school. Mrs. Rosa is whole heartedly recommended by the Executive Board of the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals to receive nomination for this honor.”


Emerging Leader


Keeghan Hughes, Salem Teachers Union. As a Learning Skills Teacher, Keeghan is a dedicated and consistent member of the Salem Teachers Union, Local 1258. She came to Salem in March of 2021 and jumped right into her role as a teacher in a substantially-separate program. She quickly began participating in union events and was eager to do more. An opportunity arose for her to join the Executive Board as the Secretary and she quickly became an invaluable member of the E-Board. She not only updates our website but also keeps studious notes from our internal meetings in addition to meetings with management. She continues to bring in newer members to the union and is a role model for others in our union. Keeghan has further exemplified her leadership skills by joining the Bargaining Team for our upcoming negotiations. In the words of her colleagues, “it should be noted as well that Keeghan has done all of this without professional status and has cemented herself as an emerging leader within our district and our union. Keeghan is always positive, calm, and solutions-focused. She also looks to take care of other members and is always there to listen when someone has a concern. She has been key in drafting several proposals that focus on the needs of students and staff within sub-separate programs utilizing her unique perspective from having worked at both an elementary and middle school in the district. Her focus is always on equity and inclusion for all. We are very lucky to have her as part of our union and E-Board.”

Share This