AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos and Secretary-Treasurer Brant Duncan are thrilled to announce the winners of the union’s 2021 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:
Educator in the K-12 System, Vocational Education, and School Collaboratives
- Laura Lamarre-Anderson, United Teachers of Lowell, Local 495. A fourth-grade teacher at Lowell’s STEM Academy who is in her ninth year with the Lowell Public Schools, Laura is an active member of the Lowell Education Justice Alliance, where she has planned and coordinated monthly meetings and community forums, and a union activist and Building Rep who was active in the effort to pass the Student Opportunity Act. She is also active on the United Teachers of Lowell’s Racial Justice Task Force, where she has promoted a book club with a focus on racial justice and organized and promoted multiple other racial justice programs, including anti-racism district training, culturally responsive practices, and efforts to diversify teaching staff. In the words of her colleagues, “Laura has certainly made her mark on what it means to not only be a superb teacher but also an incredibly formidable union activist. She has provided a safe and nurturing environment for all her students, equally effective with those who struggle to succeed as well as those who achieve well beyond expectations. Laura has served as an invaluable mentor for several years earning high praise from all in assisting and advocating for our new hires.” Congratulations Laura!
- John King, United Teachers of Lowell, Local 495. A sixth-grade science teacher, John has been a member of the United Teachers of Lowell (UTL) since 1993. When the UTL stood out at multiple school committee meetings to demand safe schools prior to reopening, John was always there. Not only was he a member that would show up, hold signs, and chant, he always had a resounding ‘yes’ when a radio or TV station asked to interview him regarding the demands for safe schools in Lowell. In the words of his colleagues, “John consistently goes above and beyond to advocate for his students’ learning. As a remote science teacher, he purchased a small bus and virtually takes his class on field trips to the ocean and to see dinosaur fossils. Teachers, parents, and students alike have been singing his praises for years. John has been an outstanding union member during the most difficult time in recent years. Most importantly, he has been an incredible teacher during the most difficult time to be a teacher.” Congratulations John!
Member in the Public or Private Higher Education System, Municipal Librarian or Nurse Librarian
- Tracy Breeden, Massachusetts Library Staff Association, Local 4928. Tracy, a technical services and circulation assistant in the Woburn Public Library, was elected chapter chair in 2018 and became the union steward of the Woburn Library Staff Association in 2019. Since that time, she has supported and rallied her members in an extremely challenging and divisive atmosphere. Under her leadership, during the summer of 2020, Woburn librarians and community allies successfully overcame a layoff threat from the City of Woburn in the midst of the COVID crisis. In the words of her colleagues, “Tracy has tirelessly worked for the good of the staff of the Woburn Public Library while facing an administration that has little regard for library staff. No matter the time of day or night she is there for her union with advise, answers, or support. In her tireless work to organize, rally, and support her members in their fight for a fair, equitable, and respectful workplace, Tracy exemplifies the qualities of a dedicated and selfless unionist. She's been the glue that held us together.” Congratulations Tracy!
- Elaine Bombaci, Salem Teachers Union, Local 1258. Elaine, a school nurse at Witchcraft Heights Elementary School, has been a member of the Salem Teachers Union (STU) for 19 years. As a member of the union’s negotiation team since 2019, her input has been invaluable as the STU negotiated four MOUs around reopening buildings. Since students returned in mid-October, she was instrumental in the testing protocols that are in place for staff and now for students in her building. She has worked with the staff at the school to ensure that all PPE protocols are being followed. In the words of her colleagues, “She is union through and through – not afraid to stand up to management, willing to work with other members for the good of all. She has addressed the Covid crisis in Salem with remarkable calm and compassion. Our team is better for having her input and guidance.” Congratulations Elaine!
- Kim Thompson, Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals, Local 4098. Kim, a para-educator in the Springfield Public Schools, has been an active member of the since 1992. She has served as Building Rep and 2nd Vice President in the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals, and is currently the 1st Vice President, holds a position on the Executive Board and is a member of our negotiating team. Due to her ongoing communication with building representatives and new employees, the union has been able to maintain over 95% of the employees of their unit as members. In the words of her colleagues. “Kim is truly the ‘eyes and ears’ of the members. She strives to uphold the rights of the members and consistently provides a voice for all. Her dedication to the welfare of the members and contributions to the Federation are remarkable. Kim has selflessly dedicated many years of service to our local, and many of our successes are the amazing product of her relentless organizing abilities.” Congratulations Kim!
- Priscilla Terry, AFT Amesbury, Local 1033. Priscilla, a paraprofessional in the Amesbury Public Schools, has been a member of AFT Amesbury since the unit was recognized in 2001. Over the last decade, she has been a unit representative, member of the unit bargaining team, and an executive board member of AFT Amesbury. She has been educating her Tier 1 students in the classroom since September 14, 2020 this school year. In the words of her colleagues, “Priscilla consistently demonstrates she has the students' best interest at heart in any classroom she is assigned. She was instrumental in advocating for the safety of her colleagues and students in the Tier 1 class setting. She championed loudly for appropriate air filtering in the classrooms and PPE materials for the entire Tier 1 staff in each building. She is a problem solver with strong negotiating and mitigation skills. She has changed the lives of many students. In addition, she also checks in on paras to make sure they are supported and thriving.” Congratulations Priscilla!
- James (Timo) Phillip, Boston Teachers Union, Local 66. Timo has served the Boston Teachers Union for over 40 years and as an executive board member and delegate for over 35 years. His dedication to supporting educators continued into his retirement. He has proven to be a strong advocate for students as a former coach of basketball and football. A Building Representative at Champlain and Brighton High School, he served for more than 30 years as a VP of AFT Massachusetts. Timo served as the Chair of the Boston Chapter of the AFT Black Caucus and served as Parliamentarian for the AFT Black Caucus. In the words of his colleagues, “Timo has been a strong voice for all educators and members as a union activist. Before retiring from the AFT Massachusetts board he mentored another BTU member to take his place to support diversity on the executive board. With different experiences like these he was selected to serve on the Superintendent Selection Committee giving valuable input for who would lead the school district. He has been admired by colleagues in other labor unions who hold him in high regard.” Congratulations Timo!
Member 35 or Younger or Member New to the Union
- Cecil Carey, Boston Teachers Union, Local 66. Cecil, a teacher at Charlestown High School, is in his third year as a Boston Teachers Union (BTU) member. As a BTU Member Organizer this school year, Cecil has contributed a tremendous amount to helping develop new Contract Action Team structures at every school. Along with his fellow Member Organizers, Cecil has worked on recruiting CAT Team leaders and coaches as well as creating and facilitating trainings to develop the leadership of these members. Cecil is also a leader in the Ethnic Studies Now! organizing committee, which has been building a popular movement of educators and community members to advocate for the funding, staffing and professional training needed to develop, implement, and sustain ethnic studies in all BPS schools. The committee has seen several wins this year, including the creation of a fulltime Ethnic Studies Coach position funded by the district. In the words of his colleagues, “over the summer Cecil was also deeply involved in organizing a car caravan and other actions that got hundreds of BTU members involved in pushing for a safe start to the school year. In all his contributions to strengthening our union and engaging his fellow union members, Cecil Carey stands out as a dedicated member leader.” Congratulations Cecil!
Congratulations to all the recipients of the 2021 Distinguished Service Awards!