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Local Presidents Training Cadre

This training is led by current or former local presidents – all of whom have successfully completed NEA’s Local Presidents Training.
Published: September 15, 2020

Margaret Chaney – Arizona Education Association (AEA)

Margaret R. Chaney is an American History & Exceptional Education teacher who is currently serving her second term as the full-time release President of the Tucson Education Association for over 1,000 members.

Prior to her tenure as President, Margaret served 2 years as Vice President and several years as a site rep / Ethnic Minority Director-at-Large.

She was a mentor teacher for the Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Instruction department with the Tucson Unified School District. She has also worked in the public and private sectors as a preschool teacher, a middle school teacher, a high school teacher, an academic advisor with the University of Arizona, and an Assistant to the Dean in the Graduate College.

A native Chicagoan and proud product of the Chicago Public Schools, Margaret has built her advocacy work predominantly in Tucson and believes that a union survives on the participation of its rank and file members.  A union becomes stronger as members realize the strength of their numbers and learn how to self-advocate for their needs.

Margaret received her master's degree in Secondary Education from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Chelsea Foo – Oklahoma Education Association (OEA)

My name is Chelsea Foo and I am entering my 26th year as a high school science teacher, currently teaching Physics and Pre AP Chemistry. This will be my third year as a part-time release president of my local association. I was president for one year with no release time and wrote a grant through the NEA to fund my part time release. Our association is for certified teachers only and we have 640 members. Since becoming involved in my local association, I have taken steps to increase its level of activism at local, state, and national levels. I am proud to be a part of the New Presidents Training Cadre because this training was very meaningful to me as a new president, starting a transformation of my local association.

Maureen Quiros Gray – California Teachers Association (CTA)

My name is Maureen Quiros Gray, and I have been an elementary school teacher for 29 years. This is my third year as a full-time release President of my local union, Teachers Association of Norwalk-La Mirada Area (TANLA) in Southern California. As the president of 900 hundred members, my commitments include advocating for the best learning and teaching conditions, promoting communication and collaboration, increasing membership engagement, and supporting members as we navigate these challenging times.

I have been actively involved in union leadership for the last 25 years, and I am excited to be joining the NEA New Presidents Training Cadre this year! I look forward to working with new presidents to promote strong unions and advocate for public education.

Marisa Hanson – California Teachers Association (CTA)

My name is Marisa Hanson, and I am entering my 25th year an education. I have taught middle school math, followed by teaching high school math. I became the ESTA President after serving a year as ESTA Vice President. I just completed my 11th year as ESTA President and I will be returning to the classroom to teach Math once again for the 2018-2019 school year.

I am excited to be joining the NEA Training Cadre and I am looking forward to sharing my experiences as a local president of 1,200 members with new and experienced presidents.

Dr. Tia T. Mills – Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE)

My name is Dr. Tia Mills and I am entering my thirteenth year as an elementary practitioner in special education at an alternative school.

This fall will be my seventh year as a non-release time local president of a “wall-to-wall” association with approximately 950 members of the East Baton Rouge Parish Association of Educators-located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

As a strong educator and union activist, I am honored to be a member of the NEA Local Presidents Cadre because I believe that the local’s work is truly where the rubber meets the road. Nothing has direct impact in reaching our members more than the local affiliates.

We appreciate you signing up to participate in this critical training. I am elated to work with the group! It brings me great joy to assist with building the confidence of our local leaders.

Shannon Rasmussen – Washington Education Association (WEA)

I am Shannon Rasmussen, currently in my 34th year as a middle school teacher, and I became involved in Association work because I found that my union offered me the opportunity to positively impact public education and the children in my classroom.

During my time as an Association leader I have been a local president of the Federal Way UniServ Council (1750 certificated and ESP members), Puget Sound UniServ Council president (4,800 members), Washington Education Association Board Director, and an officer in the National Council of the Urban Education Association (NCUEA).

I am proud to be a member of the NEA/NCUEA Training Cadre – NCUEA has long-advocated for these trainings as we understand that engagement and capacity at the local level is absolutely critical to the health of our Association.

Robert Varela Rodriguez – California Teachers Association (CTA)

Robert Varela Rodriguez is a special education teacher in the San Bernardino City Unified School District. Delegates elected Robert to the National Education Association (NEA) Executive Committee for a one-year term in July 2018.

A passionate educator and longtime union activist, Robert has represented California on the NEA Board of Directors for six years, served three years on the NEA Budget Committee and completed a two-year term on the CTA Board of Directors. He served for three years as the president of the San Bernardino Teachers Association and three years as vice president. During his 14 years of teaching, Robert has worked at the elementary, middle school, special day class and resource specialist levels.

Robert believes that only through organizing and collective action can we effect real and lasting change for educators, students, and public education. He is committed to ensuring that every student - regardless of race, zip code, or economic status - have access to great public schools.

Robert received his bachelor’s degree in science and a master’s degree in education from California State University, San Bernardino.

Tamara Ross – Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE)

I am Tamara Ross and have been teaching for twenty years. I am currently teaching First Grade at Cypress Point University Elementary in Monroe, Louisiana. I have worked with some of the most outstanding students in our state. I enjoy empowering students and adults to reach their full potential.

Within my local and state associations, I’ve held many leadership positions and am in my third term as President of the Monroe City Association. In addition to my role locally, I currently sit on the Executive Board for the Louisiana Association of Educators as a representative for District Two. Our local association consists of the best certificated and classified employees.

I have been a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for seven years, where I have been a voice for abused and neglected children. I am training to become a Mental Health Counselor for adults and children and will be pursuing a Doctorate in Psychology in the future. I am excited about this opportunity to help other presidents grow and strengthen their locals. This work is both instrumental and exciting for me.

I received my Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, and Plus 30 from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Sandi Ryan – NEA-Alaska

I am entering my 35th year as a teacher of high school mathematics and computer science. I have spent the last 25-years in Fairbanks, the Golden Heart City of Alaska. I currently serve as the full-time release president of Fairbanks Education Association, representing more than 900 teachers, counselors and certified professionals in a district of over 13,000 students. I am a dedicated advocate that believes that educators should be the ones making decisions about education. We are the leaders in our professions, and our union allows us the opportunities to grow and hone our craft.

I am proud to be a member of the NEA/NCUEA Training Cadre which develops connections between local leaders while building a strong education professional network.

Gene W. Woods – New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)

My name is Gene W. Woods (he/him/his). This year is my 15th year as a Bayonne High School Social Studies teacher in NJ. I have taught every course in our department, including the Facing History and Ourselves elective and African American History.

As the president of the BEA, I help advocate for 924 teachers, secretaries, guidance counselors, speech therapists, school psychologists, and nurses. Prior to my elected leadership role, I became active in our county’s LAT, NJEA’s Early Career Members, and the NJEA’s efforts for Ch. 78 relief. These opportunities helped me build connections with both rank-and-file members and those in elected positions. I used my “why” and inspiration from my connections to facilitate major changes in our local. We negotiated a fair contract in record time, we’ve built connections with the community by utilizing the NJEA’s FAST and Pride grants, and we have continued to advocate for our members’ safety as we navigate through the pandemic.

Furthermore, I have several other roles that help me advocate for our members, students, and community: Government Relations Chairperson for Hudson County, Delegate Assembly Member for Hudson County, and an appointed member of the NJ Commission on Holocaust Education.

After attending the NEA’s Local Presidents Training (#DC20), I realized, I would love to pass on everything that I learned to other new presidents. Now, I am honored to have the opportunity to be a member of the NEA’s Local Presidents Training Cadre. I am looking forward to learning from all of you and I want to help everyone build for the future.

National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.