Into the Fray: Union Begins Training for Future Leaders

Christopher Birch, right, with Angela Guyton-Cyril, a member of SSEU Local 371 participated in the Emerging Leaders Candidate Academy, an innovative program organized by the union’s Political Action Department to train future leaders in electoral politics. Photo: Mike Lee

By MIKE LEE

Dozens of DC 37 members with aspirations to become part of a new generation of progressive, elected officials recently attended the first Emerging Leaders Candidate Academy.

The introductory session, held at union headquarters on October 8, is the first of three meetings with members who have stepped forward to run in future local, state and federal elections.

With DC 37’s guidance, their dreams may very well come true.

The participants come from a variety of backgrounds, but with a single goal in mind: to make a difference by entering the political arena.

Christopher Birch, from Washington Heights spoke about the need of being part of the political process. “I need to be at the table,” he said. “I don’t want to be knocking at the door and asking for a little, when I can be part of the decision process for my district.”

Angela Guyton-Cyril, a member of SSEU Local 371 spoke about her motives for attending: “I was asked to sit on a council in the Dept. of Education. Also, my office is very politically inclined and I want to know more about the policy side of government,” she said.

“I don’t want to be loud and wrong,” Guyton-Cyril said. “I want to come with the facts and know how to present them and know who I need to back me up.”

Speakers included Local 768 President Fitz Reid, who gave the participants a lesson in union history: Local 372 V.P. Donald Nesbit, who is also chair of the DC Political Action Committee; DC 37 Political Action Director Jeremy John; and NY City Council member Alicka Ampry-Samuel.

The Emerging Leaders Candidate Academy will run for two additional sessions for the remainder of October.

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