Teacher Officer Positions

Alphabetical by last name.

CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT

GRETA CALLAHAN

           Bethune Community School

 Kindergarten Teacher

Years with MPS: 7 years

MFT Member: 7 years 

 

 

 

 

Union Activities: Union Steward 2014-Present;  Secretary of MFT59, 2016-Present; Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MRLF) Delegate;  Governing Board Member, Education MN; Executive Committee, Education MN; National Labor Leadership Initiative Graduate;  MN Teacher of the Year Finalist 2017, Ed MN RC Delegate 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020; NEA Delegate 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020. AFT delegate 2015, 2016, 2018.

MFT committees currently serving on: Organizing Committee, Grievance Committee, Full-Service Community Schools Committee, Budget Committee, Committee on Political Education (COPE), Legislative Committee, Constitution and Bylaws, and Personnel Committee.

Candidate Statement: 

Colleagues,

It has been my pleasure to serve MFT59 for the past several years. The role of Recording Secretary is extremely rewarding, and I believe I have served you honorably. While I was happy to continue in that role, our members called me to serve in another capacity. . .

Late 2018, several members on the Executive Board, at various sites, and within the ESP Chapter, suggested that I run for President in 2020. I had never considered this as an option because I love teaching more than anything on Earth. Yet, this gave me great pause.

As I continued to teach each day, it became glaringly obvious that our students and overworked educators need more (e.g., mental health supports, an actual math curriculum, a librarian); we are continuously stripped of our basic needs. Everything became clear: Now is the time for me to help lead MFT59 into an era of transformation, alongside a team who truly represents our students.

My career began at a charter school and that experience shaped who I am. Teachers were treated poorly, and students were kicked out if they had Special Needs, low test scores, or behavioral challenges. When teachers spoke up, they were fired on the spot and escorted from the building. Everything about it was terrifying and unsafe.

Then I got a contract with MPS. Overnight, I saw the difference. We served all students, had a prep, a living wage, we could speak up when inequities took place, and so much more that we take for granted. 

The difference was having a Union.

That’s why I’ve dedicated myself to MFT59. I live and breathe Union work. In addition to fighting for members’ rights, I actively speak out and fight against school privatization and “reform” groups who pretend to help our students and educators, when in fact they are out to bust Unions and profit from our children. As a newer teacher, I was involved with (and used by) a “reform” group. Money is all they care about, not students. This experience helped to fuel my fire against privatization. I will continue standing up and speaking out for what is right for our kids - it’s who I am.

I am qualified, prepared, and committed to serve as President through the times ahead, alongside our slate:  Moving Forward Together.

Let’s face it, some people run in these elections who don’t understand the role that Officers and Executive Board members play, and/or they just show up every election cycle (but are absent the years in between). I am neither of those. I have a track record.  I work extremely hard and have a vision. I’m surrounded by great people who represent our students – and you. 

I will continue fighting for smaller class sizes and caseloads, recruitment and retainment of teachers of color, protections and support for newer teachers and hard-to-fill positions, cleaner buildings, healthy and happy work/learning environments, leaders (not bosses) within the buildings, fewer tests, respect as a professional/expert, and more. 

I know through years of experience that much of the aforementioned can be accomplished by joining our bargaining team (and any member can).

I also know, through my experience as a Union leader and extensive trainings, that none of this will get accomplished without building more power.

We must build power to achieve our goals at the bargaining table and beyond. This cannot happen unless we:

  • Improve member communication. We will communicate in various formats. I am tech-savvy and will ensure we employ all appropriate mediums. I will communicate transparently and clearly (see my page on our website- I’m an open book).

  • Better support teachers of color, so that we may better serve our students. There is much more we can and will do to help our members of color feel heard, supported, valued, and welcomed as Union leaders.

  • Work as one with our ESP brothers and sisters. I made a motion last year to change our name to Minneapolis Federation of Educators, it passed, and now moves to committee. We must get to a point where we can bargain together so that the District can no longer pit us against each other.

  • Improve Community Engagement. This means that we are visible, and the community is welcomed within MFT. For example, I have set up volunteer events with our members at sites that that help our students, like Kids in Need and The Sheridan Story. 

  • Get Organized! All the above encompasses better organization. We have done a fantastic job mobilizing members in the past, but we must develop long-lasting strength to achieve all we want for our schools as we move forward during times filled with so much uncertainty.

Please vote for me and every member on our Moving Forward Together slate, so that we may build a stronger Union together.

CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT

ALEXIS MANN

Harrison Education Center

Special Education

Years with MPS: 13 years

MFT Member: 4 years

 

Union Activities: Building Steward

Candidate Statement:

My name is Alexis Mann and I have been a teacher leader for over 13 years. I am running for President of MFT with the Inclusion Revolution slate and I am running because we need a more empowered, diverseand inclusive union. As president, I promise to lead educators, students and families in Minneapolis Public Schools in a new and more prolific direction than we have ever seen.


I currently hold a host of leadership positions, including building Steward, Equity Lead and Youth Voice Lead at Harrison Education Center where I have worked for the last 4 years. I am very thankful to be working with the most vulnerable and marginalized students in the district, and I am very proud of what I’ve seen them accomplish as a result of helping them to discover the power of their voice.


In my spare time, I work on numerous legislative initiatives geared toward improving financial accountability, ending discipline disparities, increasing teachers of color, advocating for non traditional pathways to teaching, ending family separation, and closing the achievement gap. As President, fiscal responsibility will be a top priority. I will establish more transparency, accountability and I will create a value proposition that ties our union dues to actionable results so members are confident that our dollars are distributed in good faith. I will be available, approachable, and I will advocate for what matters most to our members.


I will engage members using an adaptive leadership framework that prioritizes problem solving from diverse viewpoints. I promise to lead with empathy, honor members' varying needs, and find winning solutions for all stakeholders. I will use this leadership position to bring members together and embrace new and inclusive approaches to necessary changes. Given my outstanding negotiation skills, we can expect more progressive outcomes from contract negotiations around our health care, salary, member protections, working conditions, and much more.


I will expand our current footprint and I will ensure that our membership is always fully aware of the latest developments that impact our daily work. I will promote proactive mobility and increased opportunities for membership participation. Every member of this union is equally important and our collective voices yield valuable power that can be used to champion the outcomes we desire. I am a manifestation of you, our students, their families and our community and I need your vote!

CANDIDATE FOR FIRST VICE PRESIDENT

ROBERT KOHNERT

 Southwest High School

 10th Grade AP US History and AVID

Years with MPS: 8 years
MFT Member: 7 years

Union Activities: Current Joint Treasurer, Executive Board Member, Contract Mediation Team member and Contract Bargaining Team member 2017-2019. NEA Convention 2017 and 2018, Education Minnesota Representative Convention 2017-2019, Education Minnesota Unity Summit, Community Partnership Schools Labor-Management Committee, Budget Committee, Personnel Committee

Candidate Statement: 

It has been my pleasure serving as your Treasurer and I look forward to doing even more for members as your First Vice President; a role that I am both prepared and qualified to take on. In our governing documents, the role of the First VP is twofold:  To be engaged in the activities and organization of the MFT, and to be able to represent MFT if the President is unable to do so, both in the short term or long term if necessary. This means that I must share a vision for MFT with the President.

I have this shared vision with Greta Callahan, someone who I built a relationship during our tenure as MFT Officers. In addition to getting MFT out of debt, expanding membership through JANUS, and increasing member engagement, Greta and I have experienced cabinet meetings, budgets, contracts, organizing, visioning, and every other type of meeting that goes into running this organization. We also need leaders who are committed to the full funding of public education and the dismantling of racial and social injustices in our union, our community and more broadly in society. As MPS changes during this time filled with uncertainty, it is vital we have leadership who will advocate for all students, educators, build relationships in the community, and are able to work with District leadership. I have those skills, as does Greta. 

The union needs people with these experiences to make real the hopes and vision of the membership. In my experience with the MFT, I have prepared three budgets that have turned the financial health of the union around. It is also necessary to have leaders who have a history working closely with ESPs. I have been elected on an ESP slate with nearly two-thirds of the vote in the most recent election. I have built relationships with teachers, ESPs, staff, district officials, stewards, and most importantly, members during my time as Joint Treasurer.

 

Member engagement is integral to the health of the union. As First Vice President, it is my responsibility to build those relationships individually with members and identify and help implement systemic adjustments to how MFT is organized. I am committed to the strength of our union and am eager to continue creating a stronger union with the Moving Forward Together slate. I ask that you vote for me to help lead us into an era of transformation.

CANDIDATE FOR FIRST VICE PRESIDENT

NAFEESAH MUHAMMED

Patrick Henry High School

English/Language Arts

Years with MPS: 6 years
MFT Member: 6 years

Candidate Statement: 

My name is Nafeesah Muhammad and I am currently running with the Inclusion Revolution as your First Vice President . I am a new teacher at Patrick Henry High School. I was previously at the esteemed North High School for five years. I dedicated my teaching career to fighting against systems of racial oppression and  inequities within education. I was also provided the opportunity to lead other teachers on their own Equity, SEL/Trauma-Informed Teaching, Culturally Responsive Teaching, Technology Integration, and Projected Based Learning journeys. As a potential candidate, I believe my leadership experience will serve as a tremendous, yet unexpected asset to MFT.  I would like to consider myself the unlikely candidate who is no longer allowing exclusion to hold me back as a teacher leader.  

 

As an Equity Lead and New Staff Onboarding Lead at North High School I learned how truly multifaceted the fight for Equity is. It is through this fight that I gained a passion for providing safe spaces to acknowledge implicit bias. I created culturally responsive peer learning walks, a culturally responsive teaching guide tailored to North High School student population, provided social and emotional support, and curated a Culturally Responsive Social Emotional Learning Conference for students, staff, and parents. My leadership abilities have also transcended my school site. I led numerous culturally responsive district professional developments, lobbied for equitable discipline policies at the state legislator, and sat on the Phillips Foundation and Minneapolis Public Schools Integration and Achievement advisory committee.  

 

There is always  potential to grow past our wildest dreams. I am a leader  that truly cares about the development of all community members. I understand collaboration is the only path to success. When we are able to identify a common struggle,  our perceived problems give way to only possibilities. With an extreme level of empathy, I have a proven ability to organize other educators around issues of Inequity both within the classroom and outside the school community. I may not agree with every perspective and emotion, but I am able to understand what a teacher is going through. It allows me to have a personalized approach to everyone, to see their differences and specialties. Such a strength based on kindness can be essential for mitigating conflicts by making sure all community  members are aware of each other's emotions and challenges. I believe in building bridges. I believe in the power of unity. 

CANDIDATE FOR SECOND VICE PRESIDENT

SHAWNTEL JENKINS

Harrison Education Center

Instructional Specialist

Years with MPS: 22 years
MFT Member: 17 years

STATEMENT NOT RECEIVED

CANDIDATE FOR SECOND VICE PRESIDENT

GARY PARTNEY

 Anwatin Middle School

8th Grade Algebra and Geometry (Telescope)

Years with MPS: 6 years 

MFT Member: 5 years

Union Activities:  Building steward Anwatin 2 years, Chicago Teachers Union 3 years, PPAC Chairman at site with CTU, regular meeting attendee, familiar with grievance process and negotiations.

Candidate Statment:

This is my 26th year as a teacher. I’ve taught in Minneapolis for 6 of those years. I have two sons, one is a sophomore at Washburn, and the other a 7th grader at Justice Page. This gives me a parent’s perspective on MPS as well as the one I have as a teacher, union member and union steward.

I believe in unions because they protect workers and their jobs, while also promoting quality workmanship, or, in this case, quality teaching. I grew up in a union family. My father was a pipefitter for 40 years in the St. Louis area, and, I saw, firsthand, how his union took responsibility for development and training of its workforce. In addition, because my father had a collectively bargained union contract, he made a livable wage, and I was able to consider going to college. 

I spent my first ten years of teaching in the City of Chicago public school district, where I taught mathematics and served as a teacher leader in high school redesign programs. Teachers also elected me to serve as their “professional personnel advisory committee” chairman.  This meant I represented the building staff when the administration sought input on building policy. I also represented the staff at local school council meetings, much like site council meetings in Minneapolis.

While attending a contract bargain session and watching the district in action recently I put together a list of my priorities as Second Vice President:

  • Protect job security in the contract

  • Call for working conditions that energize instead of deplete

  • Demand a seat at the table when decisions by the district are being made that affect teaching positions, ie, Comprehensive District Design

  • Demand livable wages for ESPs and better pay and benefits for teachers who have lost pay to inflation over time.

  • Communicate with the district in a way that narrows the great divide in this district between management and labor. 

 

This last point is important to me because I have worked in several districts and have many years under my belt. In my opinion, MPS is relying on consultants, educational experts and statistical modeling too much and on their teachers too little. There needs to be more communication and less adversity. 

I support Greta Callahan for President and the Moving Forward Together Slate. I look forward to serving as your next Second Vice President.

CANDIDATE FOR JOINT TREASURER

LIZ ARAM

 North High School

 Librarian

Years with MPS: 19 years
MFT Member: 19 years

Candidate Statement:

I am Liz Aram and I am running to be the joint chapter treasurer for MFT59 because I would like to use my skill set to bring fiscal responsibility, creative problem solving, and transparency to the role of treasurer.

 

I am entering this election because I want to be part of a union that proactively engages in district planning with a consistent equity lens. I have been disappointed with the union’s approach around the comprehensive district design. I wish leadership had been organizing teachers to engage in this process over the last two years, developing strong communal values and providing input along the way. While multiple MFT members asked the executive board to make space for educator dialogues about the CDD, they were told no until after the executive board voted on a stance of opposition. By taking a stance of opposition without having done the work to provide a better solution, we essentially aligned ourselves with the status quo. This reactionary stance cost educators the potential to inform, impact and even change this plan. I want to be part of the leadership that will engage and empower educators to proactively take the lead in creating a more equitable district.

I began my career in this district as a math teacher in 2000, taught math for 13 years, and then earned my library media specialist degree and am now a high school librarian. My math background lends itself to confidence with numbers and problem solving while my training as a library media specialist lends itself to resource management, organization skills, and clear communication.

 

Finally, I bring a commitment to racial justice within union leadership. While I work diligently to challenge my own racist conditioning every day, union leadership must guide our organization as a whole to do the same. One of the primary roles of the teacher’s union should be to help dismantle the racist practices cemented by our history, systematized by our district and perpetuated intentionally or not by the teaching force that makes up this union. Educators are starting to realize that the survival of this district and public schools, in general, is dependent upon our ability to improve the quality of education provided to black and brown students. We need union leadership that positions educators as the leaders in this work.

CANDIDATE FOR JOINT TREASURER

ARIA CAMPBELL (ESP)

Transition Plus

Special Education Assistant

Years with MPS: 3 years

MFT Member: 2 years

PHOTO OR STATEMENT NOT RECEIVED

CANDIDATE FOR JOINT TREASURER

DR. RON J. SIMMONS

Andersen United

K-8 PE & Health

Years with MPS: 4 years

MFT Member: 3 years

 

Union Activities: Chair of MFT59 Budget Committee

 

Candidate Statement:

 

I am excited to be nominated for the position of Joint Treasurer.  I look forward to the opportunity to serve in this capacity. I am particularly motivated to work on supporting our efforts for change and making sure our students have opportunities to be successful while we are Moving Forward Together.  

 

I have been in education for 24 years; 10 years as a teacher and administrator in Minneapolis Public Schools.  I am a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Twin City Human Resource Association (TCHRA).

 

I believe I have a number of valuable qualities I would bring to this position as Joint Treasurer.  First, I have over 10 years’ experience of managing school budgets and school operations at public, charter and alternative schools. Second, I am the Chair of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Budget Committee and feel confident moving onto the next step as your Joint Treasurer.

Also, serving in the capacity of Administrator, I managed the school’s projected yearly budget and was actively involved in contract negotiations with vendor selection.  I also purchased and acquired capital equipment for the school; implemented cost-containment programs and handled fundraisers for promotional activities for the school.   

With my experience in school budgeting coupled with my passion to see students achieve success, I will be a positive voice to ensure the budget is suitable to meet the needs of our members in a time filled with so much uncertainty. 

I support Greta Callahan for President and the entire Moving Forward Together slate. 

I look forward to serving all of the members of MFT 59 as your next Joint Treasurer.

CANDIDATE FOR RECORDING SECRETARY

ABBIE FINGER

 Davis Center

TOSA - Academic Coach

Years with MPS: 6 years
MFT Member: 4 years

Union Activities: Building Steward

Candidate Statement:

 

I am Abbie Finger and I am running for MFT Secretary on the Inclusion Revolution slate to bring dignity back to our profession, respect and love for one another back to our schools, and to ensure we are strengthening our union as a whole.


As MFT Secretary, I will be a leader that listens to and raises up the needs of its members. I will actively listen to our probationary staff, our staff of color and culture, and other voices that have been marginalized under our current system. I will ensure there is clear and concise communication to members. I will ensure there is transparency around decision-making and advanced notice around timelines and actions. I will ensure voices of members who cannot attend all our union meetings because they work a second job to make ends meet, are raising families, or are too busy planning lessons and figuring out ways to best engage our students. I will visit every site and hear directly from you on the issues that matter to you because we all deserve to have our voices elevated.


I want to build a union where all voices and opinions matter, regardless of background, years taught, site, or stance on issues. Our union must be a community that values differing opinions, creating space for your voices to be heard and for your views to matter, rather than dismissing or pushing each other away. Together we will work to cultivate a more empowered, diverse, and inclusive union, strengthen the teaching profession in our community and prioritize the needs of our students.


We are navigating troubling and turbulent times in our country, communities, and schools. We must stand together. Our union must be the place where we all want to be active and engaged, because of our shared values of the work, the service, and the community the union provides. Now more than ever we must support each other and the different gifts and talents each of us brings.


We must make our union accessible and of value to all members, to be diligent about supporting and seeking adequate compensation for those new to our profession, and to champion our professionalism and social justice platforms. I am committed to listening, learning, and advocating alongside the Inclusion Revolution slate. We would be honored to have your support to fight for you and the schools our students deserve.

CANDIDATE FOR RECORDING SECRETARY

BRIONNA HARDER

Patrick Henry High School

9-12 Social Studies

Years with MPS: 21 years

MFT Member: 21 years

 

Union Activities:

  • MFT 59 - Former Recording Secretary; Second Vice President;  First Vice President; Union Steward; Chair of Staffing for Stability Task Force (2004-2005), Enrollment Task Force (2007-2009), Restorative Practices LMC (2018-2019); Member of Contract Bargaining Team since the 2003-2005 teachers contract; Member of the 2003-2005 Contract Action Team; Editor the Minneapolis Educator (2004 - 2010); Former member of the following committees and working groups - Professional Leadership Team, Institute for Teacher Union Leadership cohort, Contract Administration, Steward Leadership Team, Communications Committee, A Taste of MFT conference planning group,     

  • Education Minnesota - Delegate for Education Minnesota Representative Convention for multiple RCs; Member of VIVA Project on Principal Evaluation (2012); Attendee at 5 Collective Bargaining Conferences; Member of the 3rd cohort of the MEA FIRE Racial Equity Advocates (2019-2021)

  • National Education Association - Former Member of the NEA Today Editorial Board; Delegate at the 2018 NEA Representative Assembly

  • American Federation of Teachers - Delegate to 4 AFT Conventions; Past attendee and workshop presenter at AFT TEACH; Past attendee at the AFT Human, Civil, and Women’s Rights Conference; Past member of Common Core advisory group; 

Candidate Statement:

I am Brionna Harder, social studies teacher at Patrick Henry High School.  Throughout my career, I have been a proud union educator who has sought to support and lead our students, our colleagues, and our union in efforts to meet the high demands and high expectations involved with teaching and learning in our schools.  Every day, I am motivated by the undying belief in the power of public education, the purpose of the teaching profession, and the potential of young people as they learn to raise their voices as actively engaged, loving critics of our society and our world.  Radical empowerment and fierce love create the foundation of my work as both an educator and a union activist. Through lifelong learning, cultural humility, intellectual curiosity, and a strong sense of justice, I am driven to work with and for others to make the world a better place from the classroom to the global community. 

 

I have held numerous elected and appointed positions in our local, state, and national unions, including MFT59’s Recording Secretary, the Second Vice President, and the First Vice President, before taking a break from elected office in 2014.  I have also been a part of MFT's Contract Bargaining Team since the 2003-2005 contract, working with elected leaders in MFT 59 under four different teacher chapter presidents. I have served as chair or member of a variety of MFT and Education Minnesota working groups, committees, and task forces tackling issues related to staffing stability and diversity, district enrollment, school funding, principal evaluations, restorative practices, racial equity, and educator empowerment and voice.  Most recently, I have been one of the Bargaining Team Leads for the Teacher Chapter as well as as Teacher Chapter liaison on the MFT 59 ESP bargaining team to strengthen solidarity and support between the Teacher and the ESP chapters of MFT 59.  

 

I am running for the position of Recording Secretary to help strengthen our union’s voice and power, evolve as an organization that fights for our students, our families and our profession, and reflect upon how we can do both effectively by creating and modeling more equitable, more empowering, and more enjoyable experiences within our own local.  With this in mind, I ask for your vote and I thank you for your active involvement in our union as we move forward together.

Teacher Chapter Executive Board Candidates

 
Alphabetical by last name.

EDWARD BARLOW

Anwatin Middle School

6-8 Music

Years with MPS: 30 years

MFT Member: 21 years

Union Activities: Highly involved rank-and-file MFT member, attend and give input at all bargaining sessions between MFT and District, events, rallies, meetings, and more.

 

Candidate Statement: 

 

I have had the pleasure of serving the Minneapolis Community in the position of a music teacher for 30 years, teaching grades K-12. In that time, I have learned about the importance of teacher relationships in our community, and how critically important we are, in helping to grow and support the educational aspirations of our students. I have been fortunate to even teach the children of my former students! 

 

Our Union’s commitment to support us in this noble endeavor cannot be overstated. Unions exist because there have been inequalities related to how employees have been treated. They exist to support us in our personal and professional growth as educators tasked with the awesome responsibility of developing the next generations of our society. To this end, I am humbly asking for your support in my desire to serve on the Executive Board as a rank and file member who is ready to do more. My goal is simply to support our members in whatever capacity needed, and be your voice in concert with our concerns. No one should feel as if they are not informed as to the goals and movement toward said goals.

Whether it is class size, working conditions, healthcare considerations, remuneration, or a host of other concerns, you should feel as though someone is ready to listen, and move your concerns forward to resolution. 

 

Please support Greta Callahan for President and our slate Moving Forward Together. We are coming together to make our Union stronger than ever!

ELIZABETH BARRETT

Bryn Mawr

Early Childhood Special Education

Years with MPS: 9 years

MFT Member: 9 years

 

PHOTO OR STATEMENT NOT RECEIVED

MARY CUFF

Nellie Stone Johnson

Licensed School Nurse

Years with MPS: 2 years

MFT Member: 2 years

Union Activities: 2010 Strike at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.  Attended rallies and meetings.  Main focus as union advocate was for safe staffing and patient/nurse acuity ratios.  MNA Member: 10 years (Abbott Northwestern Hospital).

Candidate Statement: 

My name is Mary Cuff.  I am a licensed school nurse at Nellie Stone Johnson School. Before my time at MPS, I was an active member of the Minnesota Nurses Association for 10 years and worked at Abbott Northwestern.  I am also a proud parent of two Minneapolis Public School students and a Minneapolis resident.  I love our beautiful city and feel honored to work in this district.

I’m excited to be running for Executive Board as a voice for school nurses because I believe we should be at the table when making decisions within MFT. As a nurse, I get to see all students in the building, all educators, and get to know our families well.

 I believe in our students and their families, teachers, nurses, social workers, and that we can all work as one with district leadership to do what’s best for our students.  Everyone deserves an education and a seat at the table, which is why public schools are important for a healthy society. I’m proud to be a part of the lives and education of so many.  

Like many of my colleagues, I’m a caregiver at heart and with that comes so much passion. That passion has fueled my drive to do more work within MFT. It was clear to me before when I worked in a hospital that unions protect patients. Now, it is exceedingly clear to me that our union, MFT, is here to protect students and I can’t wait to be in a position where I can do even more.

This all takes hard work and collaboration. Having solid and strong communication between union, building staff, administration, and the district is imperative as we move forward. The ripple effect of kindness, knowledge, and togetherness is real and can change the climate of our buildings and spread out further into our city. I pledge to do all of that and more as an Executive Board member.  I pledge to use my strong communication skills and advocate for our teachers, nurses, social workers, our district, and most importantly our students and their families.  

I support Greta Callahan for President and the Moving Forward Together Slate. I look forward to serving on the Executive Board.

MAUREEN DOWLING  *INCUMBENT*

Roosevelt High School

ELL Teacher

Years with MPS: 12 years 

MFT Member: 7 years

 

 

Union activities:  2018-2020 At-Large Member of MFT Executive Board, Building steward 2013-Present, MFT Joint Organizing Committee, Bargaining Team 2017-18


Candidate Statement:

It has been an honor to represent the Teacher Chapter of the MFT Executive Board for the past two years.  Serving on the Board has been an enriching experience that has taught me so much. It has opened my eyes to how far our union has come in just a few short years, but also how far we still have to go to meet the needs and demands of our members and their school communities.  

 

I am running for a second term on the MFT Executive Board because I want to continue this work and use this knowledge and experience to become an even stronger advocate for our students and educators.

 

The following are some insights I have gained and that guide me moving forward:

 

-Our members want to feel empowered.  We need to continue to educate and mobilize our members through organizing, training, and collective actions.

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-Educators should have an active role on how decisions are made at the district level.  We need to ensure that ALL stakeholders are at the table from the beginning when it comes to decisions that directly impact our students and classrooms.

 

-Labor unions like our’s are under attack. We as a union must fight to protect our public schools and the fundamental rights of public school educators, such as LIFO.

 

-Our ESP colleagues are also fighting hard for the schools our students deserve. We need to continue to strengthen our partnership with the ESP chapter, and work together to achieve common goals and interests.

 

-Our members need clear and consistent communication from MFT leadership.  We need to continue to build strong steward teams at every site that not only keep members informed and educated about union issues, but that also work to mobilize members around unified messages and goals.

 

-The Teacher Chapter of the MFT has increased efforts to better support our educators of color, but many still feel left out of the union and that their voices are not heard.  We need to prioritize efforts to recruit, retain, and support our educators of color and make them feel like a valued member of our union.

 

Please support Greta Callahan for President and our slate Moving Forward Together. We are a coalition of educators dedicated to achieving these goals and more, and to ensuring that the best interests of our students and educators are at the heart of every decision we make.  

ARTIERA EVANS

Emerson Spanish Immersion

Classroom Teacher

Years with MPS: 11 years

MFT Member: 11 years

PHOTO OR STATEMENT NOT RECEIVED

SILVIA IBANEZ

Emerson Spanish Immersion

Art Teacher Hi5-5th Grade

Years with MPS: 5 years

MFT Member: 5 years

Union Activities: Help lead work around CDD, Latino Families Collective, LPAC

 

I am in my 11th year of teaching and  proudly running for Executive Board for the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers as a passionate Art Teacher who represents our students. I love working at Emerson because I see myself in our children and they see themselves in me. It is important to me that students feel reflected in their teachers and that members feel reflected in their Union. Now, I am excited to represent them and our members within MFT in this leadership position.

 

I am passionate about working with Latino families and help them navigate through the educational system. I want families of color and immigrants to feel that hey have a voice within Minneapolis Public Schools and I want our members to feel they have a voice within the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. MPS must invest more in our teachers of color and I will fight for that as your board member.

 

I spend a lot of my “free time” doing work with students, families, and within our community. I am an active member with the Latino Families Collective and LPAC, and am excited to bring their voices to the table at MFT. I have also spent much of my time throughout the last year, organizing around the Comprehensive District Design. I have seen a process that never once included me or my students. I have witnessed the board moving forward with a vote, despite all evidence not to. I feel unseen, unheard, and so do the families I work with. That’s why I have helped organize rallies, events, parent/teacher groups, and have been published in Minn Post, and quoted in many other papers around my CDD work. I will always stand up and speak out when something isn’t right, and I thank my Union for protecting me as I protect our students and families.


I fully support our slate, Moving Forward Together, and ask for your vote in the upcoming election.

LARS LINDQVIST

North High School

English/Language Arts

Years with MPS: 5 years

MFT Member: 5 years

Union Activities: Building Steward, Bargaining Team

Candidate Statement: 

 

My name is Lars Lindqvist. I’m a 5th year teacher at North High school, and I am running for executive board on the Inclusion Revolution Slate. I remember my first day of new teacher orientation and the first piece of advice my mom, a long time teacher, told me. She said “Join your union”. She told me that because she knew how important it was to be a part of a union, not only for the protections it offers, but also for the change it can bring. Since then, I’ve taken my Mom’s advice by becoming a member, a union steward, and helping out on the bargaining team. I’ve seen the power our union can have to bring about change, but also the areas for improvement in order to make that change meaningful and equitable. I’m running for two reasons: to bring new ideas to the way our union communicates with and encourages participation from its members, and to fight for the inclusion of more voices in the making of important decisions in our union. It is no secret that our union has an issue with communication. Many members feel unaware, unincluded, or uninspired by the union's actions. As a union, our methods for recruiting and including members need to be brought up to the 21st century, and also need to be made more flexible to fit around the busy lives of teachers. If we don’t, we arrive at the situation we have now, where a small minority who are or are able to be heavily engaged make the decisions. That is not what is best for our union. We do better when we create a bigger tent and increase our participation. This brings me to my second point : member inclusion. Our union is full of members with diverse backgrounds, identities, and ideas, all of which would benefit our union. However, frequently our leadership and  decision makers don’t represent that plurality. As a member of the executive board, I would fight so that our union actively engages and values the voice of underrepresented groups like teachers of color, teachers from different parts of our city,and new teachers. I believe that we are all fighting for what is best for our profession and for our students. However, these goals won’t be achieved unless we put our effort into fully engaging and including our membership. That is what I would fight for as a member of your executive board and member of the Inclusion Revolution.

CAROLINE LONG

PYC - Contract Alternative Schools

High School Special Education 

Years with MPS: 13 years

MFT Member: 13 years

 

Union Activities: Special Education Labor Management ( Co-Facilitator), Union Steward, MFT Executive Board,  MFT Teachers of Color Group, People of Color Union Members (POCUM), A. Philip Randolph Institute- MN (APRI) 

Candidate Statement:

 

My name is Caroline Long and I am running for executive board. I am a special education teacher with Contract Alternative Schools.  I am running for the executive board because I believe teachers working together can make schools more effective. But to do this teachers need to have their voices heard and have the tools to do their job effectively.

 

Teaching is a challenging career but very important to our future as a nation. Together we can make our voices heard, share our skills and experiences to create better outcomes for our students. Together we can have a more effective voice with administrations. I want to speak up for teachers to make this happen.  

Historian Henry Adams said, “A Teacher affects eternity.” But to affect eternity we need to have a voice in the schools today.  I want to help teachers have that voice and ensure that they are listened to.

I hope you will support me in giving teachers a bigger voice and the entire Moving Forward Together slate.

MARY MANOR

South High School

 English/Language Arts

Years with MPS: 8 years

MFT Member: 8 years

Union Activities: Current First Vice Presidents of MFT, Negotiating Team 2017-present, Building Steward 2015-present, founding member of REACH, NEA delegate, ED MN RC delegate

 

Candidate Statement:

Mary Manor teaches English at South high school and has been an active union member for all of their 8 years in MPS. Mary holds degrees in History and Literature, and teaches a variety of writing and literature courses..

 

Mary has numerous elected and appointed positions in MFT, including their current position as first Vice President of the teacher chapter and member of the negotiations leadership teams during the 17-19 and 19-21 contracts. Mary has also been a union steward at south for the past five years. 

 

Mary has not just been an active union member, they have constantly worked to make our union stronger, more democratic, and equitable.  Mary was a founding member of REACH (Rank-and-file Educators Advocating for CHange), a social justice caucus within MFT. They believe a strong system of true public schools is essential for society, and that achieving this requires a strong, transparent, and democratic union. 

 

Mary looks forward to continuing their work on the Executive Board, and  to working with informed, active, and passionate members to empower our union.  With the knowledge and experience of over 3000 teachers, licensed professionals, and ESPs, our union will work with parents and the community to build the schools ALL of our students deserve. Please support our slate, Moving Forward Together.

KRISTEN MELBY

Dowling Urban Environmental

K-5 Environmental Educator

Years with MPS: 14 years

MFT Member: 10 years

Union Activities: Building Steward, 2017-18 Bargaining Team

Candidate Statement:

We are the union. I believe in building power from below.  Now more than ever it is important to have unions that are organized and ready to take action around issues of social justice. We need not only collective bargaining but collective continuous action.   I live in and work in Minneapolis and have a child that currently attends school in the district. I started out in the district as an ESP working in Early Childhood Screening. I worked coordinating screenings in the homeless shelters as well as in high-five programs.  From there I taught 5th grade at Andersen in the bilingual program, 4th grade at Folwell, and now currently I am a specialist at Dowling. My range of positions gives me insight into some of the layers and realities of Minneapolis Public Schools.  

 

I have experience building strong ties and coalitions with parent, community, and civic organizations, not only on educational issues, but also on broader issues of community concern. I have been honored to work with amazing colleagues over the years. At Andersen, as a steward, I had the opportunity to work with an incredible  group of educators (both ESPs and teachers) as we organized to improve students’ learning conditions and our working conditions. Through intentional relationship building, family and educator collaboration, and strategic actions, we were able to impact the reality of students and educators.   

 

Our power rests in our ability to create deep authentic relationships with one another, reflect and analyze the current dynamics under which we work and live, build alliances and coalitions with community organizations and strategize effective ways to achieve what we believe is good for students, families and educators.  

 

I am excited about the possibilities of being a member of the MFT board because I believe TOGETHER we can increase democratic member participation, encourage authentic dialogue, improve communication, increase trust across members and build coalition power to push for changes needed in Minneapolis Public Schools and in Minneapolis in general.  We need to dream collectively about what we hope to see in an equitable education system and then we have to work strategically to make that happen. I would be honored to serve in this role and would appreciate your vote.

KOWSAR MOHAMUD

Edison High School

Social Studies

Years with MPS: 3 years

MFT Member: 3 years

PHOTO OR STATEMENT NOT RECEIVED

ELIZABETH NELSON

Andersen United

Classroom Teacher

Years with MPS: 10 years

MFT Member: 10 years

 

PHOTO OR STATEMENT NOT RECEIVED

MEGHAN O'DONNELL

Anne Sullivan

ELL Teacher

Years with MPS: 3 years

MFT Member: 3 years

Union Activities: Building Steward, SOEI Task Force

 

Candidate Statement: 

 

Hello, My name is Meghan O’Donnell and I am running for an Executive Board position with the Inclusion Revolution Slate. I am running for an Executive Board position for MFT because I believe that our union can be a leader in supporting educators and our MPS community. This includes making sure that our district provides equitable school funding and access to school programming. We can only do this by working and including everyone, which is why I am running with the Inclusion Revolution. We are running to cultivate a more empowered, diverse, and inclusive union.


This is my third year in the district, and my seventh year as a teacher. I have both a
kindergarten through 6th grade teaching license as well as an English as a second language license and Masters. Currently I am a non-tenured English as a second language teacher at Anne Sullivan pre-k-8th grade community school where I collaborate with many educators on a daily basis. I am a union steward for MFT, and have had the privilege to go to the Steward Leader training last month, as well as the Member Rights Advocacy 1 this past November.


Additionally, I co founded the Girls on the Run program at my school and am the liaison where I communicate with families and empower young women. I was also on the SOEI work force that discussed how we as a district can make our observations more equitable and reflective for teachers. I am currently working on my second Masters in STEM leadership.

ROBERT PANNING-MILLER  *INCUMBENT*

South High School

Social Studies

Years with MPS: 28 years 

MFT Member: 21 years

 

Union Work: President of MFT 59, 2006-2008; building steward, 1996 – 2006 and 2008 – present; MFT Executive Board 2010 – 2014 and 2018 - Present; Education Minnesota Governing Board 2007 – 2013; Chair of Negotiations Committee 2007 – 2008;  Delegate to Education Minnesota Representative Convention multiple years; served on multiple joint union/district committees; served on Education Minnesota’s Human Rights Committee; REACH Caucus, 5 years.

 

Statement:

When I was a probationary teacher in the early 1990s, my building steward, Irv Smith, encouraged me to be involved in the union.  Shortly after I was tenured, I signed up to be a union steward at South, and I have been active in leadership roles ever since. The work we do with our students, families, and community is made better by the work we do in our union. 

 

I want to continue my work on the Executive Board, to continue the work of empowering our union.  I have always taken pride in working with my union colleagues, but also speaking truth to power. While we need to be united, we must also be honest with each other.  A strong must always strive to be better, and I won’t hesitate to point out our shortcomings. I believe a strong system of true public schools is essential for society, and that achieving this requires a strong, transparent, and democratic union. 

 

My activism goes beyond labor issues.  As a founding member of REACH (Rank-and-file Educators Advocating for CHange), a social justice caucus within MFT I have been an outspoken supporter of public education and social justice causes.  In 2008, I co-founded a group known as Public Education Justice Alliance of Minnesota (PEJAM) and became deeply involved in the efforts to save North High school from being closed. I’ve participated in marches and rallies on behalf of labor, public education, racial justice, immigrant rights, LGBT, and women’s issues.  I’ve spoken in support of public schools and teachers’ unions at numerous events including an Occupy Homes Rally, a Drinking Liberally event, PEJAM forums, a St Paul League of Women Voters forum, KFAI radio and on CNN’s Black in America.

I look forward to working with informed, active, and passionate members to empower our union.  As a member of the Executive Board, I will continue to work with my fellow members to build a truly strong union, and to work with parents, students, and the community to build the schools ALL of our students deserve. Please support the Moving Forward Together slate.

JIM SCHMIT *INCUMBENT*

Washburn High School

English Lanugage Arts TOSA

Years with MPS: 15 years

MFT Member: 15 years

Union Activities: Current Executive Board Member

My name is Jim Schmit. I have been an educator at Washburn High School for nearly 15 years and have spent all of my career in Minneapolis Public Schools as a member of MFT.  Moreover, I am proud to be a part of our union and proud to be a part of Moving Forward Together.

 

As a third generation educator, I have always held educators in a high regard. It’s part of what led me to running for our union executive board to begin with. Having had the opportunity to be a part of union leadership, I am more aware of what we do well and what we need to do better. Communicating with consistency and transparency is key. Demanding the recognition of the value of educators is essential. Our district is quick to thank us for our selfless efforts in one breath and then to dismiss us at the bargaining table with the next.

 I look forward to being part of a leadership team that doesn’t allow for this trend to continue. We have the students, the families, and the educators to be the bellwether of the North Star state. I am hopeful that you’ll use your vote to give me the opportunity to prove it, to build on the work that’s already been done and to start the work that’s gone unaddressed. I support Greta Callahan for President and the Moving Forward Together Slate. Thank you for all of the work you do, I look forward to working alongside you in solidarity. 

JANE SWATOSH  *INCUMBENT*

Whittier Elementary

5th Grade

Years with MPS: 25 years

MFT Member: 25 years

 

Union Activities: Network for Public Education, Education MN, Union Steward, Current Executive Board Member
 

Candidate Statement: I have been teaching in Minneapolis Public Schools at the intermediate elementary level since 1995. My love for public education has inspired my passion of fighting for educator voices to be heard. When educators voices are heard our students and families are heard. 

Supporting educators as a union steward for fourteen years has been rewarding work. My knowledge of the contract and communication skills have been sharpened while working to protect the rights of members..  I am proud of my work engaging members in union actions. As an executive board member I will continue to fearlessly speak up for educators while working to ensure a climate and culture where educators feel empowered. 

I believe we need to protect the bread and butter issues of unionism. Core values of tenure and seniority need to be maintained. This is what gives us our voice to speak up for our students and families. 

I am running for executive board with the Moving Forward Together slate because I believe in the work our union has done to become member driven and inclusive. However, this work is not complete and I would l would be honored to have your support to see this work through.

ANA VASQUEZ

Anwatin Middle School

High School Physical Science and IB Biology

Years with MPS: 6 years

MFT Member: 6 years

Union Activities: Union Steward, extensive community engagement and work to support the rights of our immigrant families.

 

Candidate Statement:

 

Growing up in El Salvador I learned about the crucial role strong unions played in the struggle against the military dictatorship in my home country. The unions stood up for the rights of everyday people when many were afraid to speak up. I also learned that we need to fight for what we want because it won’t be given to us. 

 

As a member of the Executive Board

 I will advocate for:

  1. Improving support systems for bilingual and biliterate educators.

  2. Improving support systems for all the language programs to better serve our multilingual and multicultural students. 

  3. Better recruitment and retention systems for teachers of color.

  4. A social justice driven, inclusive, and anti-racist union. 

  5. And I look forward to fighting against the work the “reform movement” is doing to increase disparities for our students of color. 

 

I ask that you vote for me to help lead MFT59 as an Executive Board member, and as someone who represents our students and educators. I will continue to lift up the voices of those who feel they have none.  I also ask that you support the entire Moving Forward Together slate, so that we may build more power within our union and fight for the schools our students deserve.

DR. MARCIA WYATT  *INCUMBENT*

Elizabeth Hall

Second Grade Teacher

Years with MPS: 30+ years 

MFT Member: 21 years

 

Union Activities:

Building Steward, 5 years

RC Delegate, 2019

NEA Delegate, 2019

Current Executive Board Member

Candidate Statement:

 

My name is Marcia Wyatt and I am proudly running for an Executive Board seat in our Teacher Chapter. I have been teaching at Elizabeth Hall for 17 years and as building steward, I have continued to hear too many concerns from colleagues. I have watched administrators set up strong educators and students for failure. I have done what could be done at the building level. Now more must  be done!

 

It is important that I raise my voice for the many who feel they have no voice, as I was one.

 

“Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything,” as said by George Bernard Shaw.

 

 So, I stand as someone who has begun the change of my mind. I stand believing in the power of this union. I believe in the future of this union. I believe in the members of this union.  I believe in the hardworking, underappreciated educators who show up every day on the front lines. I believe in public education!

 

“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it” – Marian Wright Edelman

 

I believe that if things are to change, the change begins with me.  It begins with us. I want to be a part of the change.

 

I support Greta Callahan for President and the Moving Forward Together Slate.

As you consider who you wish to represent you,  I humbly ask that you vote for me, Marcia Wyatt to continue serving as an Executive Board Member.

 

Thank you.

Joint MRLF Chair

 

REBECCA MILLER  *INCUMBENT*

ECSE at Wilder

Years with MPS: 27 years 

MFT Member: 21 years

 

Union activities:  Building steward, Legislative committee, COPE treasurer, MRLF delegate and COPE committee member, MRLF Chair on MFT Executive Board


 

I am running for the MLRF Chair seat on the MFT Executive Board.  For those who are not familiar with the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MRLF), it is the umbrella organization of unions in the Minneapolis area.  MRLF’s mission is to organize in the community for social and economic justice for ALL working people. Through my work with this organization I have become involved and encouraged others to join in many union social justice activities, such as marching for 15 NOW and supporting the nurses’ strike.  One of my goals as MRLF Chair is to increase communication with members about local union actions and activities.

 

I am excited for the opportunity to continue my work on the MFT EB.  I am a strong voice representing all members and our students. As MRLF Chair, I represent both licensed staff and ESPs.  I have worked closely with ESPs at MFT and in the classroom and my spouse is an ESP in ECSE. I bring experience and perspective from early childhood education,  Special Education, and related services to the board. Without my presence on the board these voices may not be represented.

 

Because of my work with MRLF, I value and understand the importance of MFT having strong relationships with the unions in our Minneapolis community.  These relationships encourage support for our members and our MPS schools and students. Our partnership with MRLF also provides MFT with opportunities to engage in social justice actions in our community that help support our MPS families and students.  In order for our students to have the best chance to reach their full potential, their families need a livable wage, sick and safe time, and access to quality food, housing, and healthcare. These rights are all basic rights that we fight for with MRLF. I have had the opportunity to work on these issues through being a contact person for Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUP), organizing support for the postal Worker food drive and by participating on the MRLF COPE board working on local elections.


Please vote for me and the entire Moving Forward Together slate!

Teacher Chapter MRLF Delegates

Alphabetical by last name.

GRETA CALLAHAN *INCUMBENT

NATASHA DOCKTER *INCUMBENT

MAUREEN DOWLING

JIMMY LIPPS

CAROLINE LONG

JANE SWATOSH

ERIK WINGATE

ABOUT US

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The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare, and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.

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