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Union Leadership Elected Unanimously at IFT Convention

October 18, 2016

Union Leadership Elected Unanimously at IFT Convention

Dan Montgomery, Karen Lewis, Jane Russell to lead Illinois Federation of Teachers, new VIDEO debuts

WESTMONT – This weekend, delegates at the Illinois Federation of Teachers Convention unanimously elected Dan Montgomery (President), Karen GJ Lewis (Executive Vice President), and Jane Russell (Secretary-Treasurer) to serve three-year terms as officers of the statewide union.
Montgomery, a high school English teacher from Evanston, and Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union Local 1, were first elected as officers in 2010. A retired science teacher from Rolling Meadows, Russell is President of the West Suburban Teachers Union Local 571 and replaces Marcia Campbell, who is retiring. All three officers have served on the IFT Executive Board and in other leadership positions for many years.
Delegates also elected 40 members to serve as Vice Presidents on the Executive Board. Along with the three officers, these leaders from across the state will set policy and guide the organization's work.

"It's an honor to represent the teachers, support staff, higher education faculty and staff, and public employees who serve our communities every day, and I'm humbled to have their trust to lead our union," said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “We are living in extraordinary times, though we’re not strangers to struggle. And just as we do every day despite the challenges we face, this weekend IFT members recommitted to building the schools our students deserve and the public services we all need. Their energy and powerful stories inspire us all, and I will continue to fight on their behalf, and for all of Illinois’ working families.” 

The IFT also premiered a new video which shares its title with the convention theme – "shIFT into Action!"
The short film showcases members from across Illinois who led efforts in their schools and communities on behalf of the people they serve. Featured stories include the Dyett hunger strike in Chicago, a community initiative in downstate Cahokia, the higher education calamity caused by Governor Bruce Rauner, members fighting back at the state and national levels against attacks on their fundamental rights to organize, and our efforts in the Supreme Court to strike down an unconstitutional pension law.
More than 400 delegates and guests attended the triennial event. The convention featured numerous programs and engaging guest speakers including U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, National AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan, and more.
All weekend, convention-goers strategized about ways their locals and councils can engage members and build essential relationships with their communities through powerful, positive events like the recent walk-ins. Delegates also attended workshops about developing strategic partnerships, fighting for economic justice, and having effective political conversations. To support our critical election efforts, members and guests registered to vote, volunteered for phone banks and neighborhood canvassing, and pledged to take other important actions to stand up for our unions and those we serve.
Throughout Convention, participants shared their photos and experiences on social media, posting thoughts with the hashtag #shIFTintoAction.
A full event wrap-up is available on the IFT website.
President Dan Montgomery has worked tirelessly on behalf of public education and the rights of working men and women for more than two decades. In addition to being a union leader at the state and national levels, Montgomery is a dedicated and experienced educator who taught high school English for 18 years in Skokie, IL (North Suburban Teachers Union, Local 1274). Montgomery lives in Evanston, IL with his wife and three children.
Executive Vice President Karen GJ Lewis is President of the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union. She led Local 1 through their widely-publicized strike in 2012, a one-day strike in April 2016, and contract negotiations later in the year. A veteran educator and National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), Lewis taught high school chemistry for 22 years in the Chicago Public Schools. She lives in Chicago with her husband John, who was also a CPS teacher and coach.
Secretary-Treasurer Jane Russell is President of the 5,700-member West Suburban Teachers Union. She is a lifelong union activist and dedicated educator who is extensively involved with both labor issues and educational policy. Russell taught honors chemistry at Leyden High School for 34 years. She resides in Rolling Meadows, IL.

The full Executive Board is listed here. High resolution photos for publication are available by request.
“shIFT into Action” VIDEO:


The Illinois Federation of Teachers represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.




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