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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: 09/15/2020

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.

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.

Tameka Mays - Delaware State Education Association (DSEA)

I am Tameka Mays, and I have worked as a paraprofessional in a middle school setting in New Castle, Delaware for the last 16 years. During that time, I have worked with some of the most amazing students our state has to offer. I enjoy empowering students and adults to reach their full potential.

Within my local, I have held many leadership positions and I currently serve as my local President. I work with our state ESP team and I am a recent Leaders for Tomorrow graduate. I am excited about the opportunity to help other presidents grow and strengthen their locals.

With my involvement on the state/national level, and as an ESP leader, I bring a unique prospective to the team. I hope some of the information you learn will help you grow into the president your local both needs and deserves.

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.

Petal Robertson - New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)

I am Petal Robertson and I am entering into my 18th year of teaching and completing my first term as President of the Montclair Education Association (MEA). The MEA is an all-inclusive local with over 1,000 members located in Montclair, New Jersey. I also have the honor of serving on my county’s Human and Civil Rights Committee and New Jersey’s Delegate Assembly.

Advocacy has always been my passion and I found that taking an active role in local unions allows you to effect change on all levels. As a local President and former NEA Local President’s Training attendee, I have seen firsthand how dynamic it can be when leaders come together with the shared goal of building local power and strengthening leadership competencies. That is why I am so excited to be a new member of the NEA Local President’s Training Cadre.

My suggestion is that you come prepared for both your leadership skills and circle of support to grow. I look forward to meeting you soon.

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.

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.


Mary M. Wilson - Kentucky Education Association (KEA)

My name is Mary Wilson and I am currently serving as President of the Boone County Education Association (BCEA) representing more than 1,000 certified union members in the Boone County School District. As part of my role as BCEA President, I counsel members through due process hearings, corrective action plans and other administrative difficulties. I advocate for teacher rights on the local level with the Board of Education and school district and at the state level.

I am a member of the Budget Committee, Teaching and Learning Committee, and Safety Committee for the Boone County School district. I am also a member of the National Council of Urban Education Association (NCUEA). I also serves on both the NKEA Board of Directors and the KEA Board of Directors. I am a proud alumnus of KEA Emerging Leaders. I co-chair the Boone County annual Read Across America event and most recently co-chaired the Northern Kentucky Education Rally in October 2017. I have also coordinated Walk-Ins throughout Boone County Schools and worked with my Superintendent and Board of Education to allow the entire district to Rally at our State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky in April 2018.

I am also a registered lobbyist serving as a liaison between the Boone County School District, BCEA and state legislators representing Boone County at the state capital in Frankfort, Kentucky.

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.