By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
Blazing a trail for the future of the labor movement, the new DC 37 Women’s Leadership Academy held its inaugural meeting in July at union headquarters.
As attacks on organized labor increase, the union is doubling down its efforts to protect and grow its ranks by training a corps of women rank-and-file as strong leaders.
“One of the best ways to continue to move our organization forward and to show people the power they can harness when they come together is to train and prepare more future leaders now,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.
“This leadership academy is composed of a select group of activists with promise and potential,” Barbara Edmonds, the union’s director of field operations, said. “We have with us strong women who can be counted on as mentors and women who will be ready to shoulder the responsibility of leading labor’s future.”
More than 60 percent of DC 37 members are women. Applicants were chosen to participate in the groundbreaking program after submitting essays and letters of recommendation demonstrating their commitment to the academy’s goals.
Over the next six months, the rigorous WLA program will prepare a diverse group of women activists of various experiential, racial and socio-economic backgrounds to help move the labor movement forward by developing and improving communication and interpersonal skills; educating and engaging a broad network of members, and participating in political action and internal organizing at the workplace and in the community. The program requires participants to complete an interim project and attend a final session in January 2019.
DC 37 Education Fund Assistant Director Claire Menelas and White Collar Division Director Madonna Knight played key roles in developing the Women’s Leadership Academy curriculum. They organized the day-long training sessions and handpicked mentors from the leadership ranks of DC 37 and its national union, AFSCME, to match with program participants.
Garrido attended the first session, greeting the academy students and their mentors.
“Today is a historic day!” Garrido said. “We are launching our DC 37 Women’s Leadership Academy. I want to thank my sisters Carmen Charles, Patricia Chardavoyne and Yolanda Medina for their great work of helping put this together. Because a woman’s place is at the leadership of the unions.”
For more information or questions about the program, call the DC 37 Education Fund at 212-815-1700.