AFT Executive Vice President
MARY CATHRYN RICKER is the executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers. She was overwhelmingly elected to that position in July 2014 at the AFT's biennial convention in Los Angeles. Ricker served as president of the Saint Paul (Minn.) Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 28, since 2005, as an AFT vice president since 2012, and a member of the AFT K-12 Teachers program and policy council since 2006.
As president of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, Ricker has championed innovative, teacher-built solutions that improve teaching and learning as well as strengthen public education. These include the union's alternative teacher recruitment and licensure program, CareerTeacher; a full-spectrum peer assistance and review program; site-based school redesign and governance; a parent-teacher home visit project; comprehensive by-teachers/for-teachers professional development, including an annual SPFT professional conference; and meaningful community engagement in the union's work.
In addition to being a National Board Certified middle school English teacher, Ricker also serves on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards board of directors. Her teaching and leadership skills have been recognized with a number of other honors, including receiving the Education Minnesota Peterson-Schaubach Outstanding Leadership Award, qualifying as a semifinalist for the NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence, and serving as a contributor in the Annenberg Foundation's professional development series "Write in the Middle."
A native of Hibbing, Minn., Ricker has taught in classrooms in St. Cloud and Saint Paul, Minn.; Camas, Wash.; and Seoul, South Korea. She also has represented the AFT and the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers abroad in Finland, Germany, Mexico and the Middle East.
Ricker serves on the Education Minnesota governing board and is the past president of the Education Minnesota Foundation for Teaching and Learning. She has also served as a member of the boards of TakeAction Minnesota, the Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation, the Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation and the Twin Cities Generation Next. In 2012, Ricker was selected to co-chair the Minnesota Department of Education Teacher Evaluation Work Group, and she has served on the department's Education Finance Working Group since 2011.
Among the current national boards Ricker serves on: United Way USA, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees and the Albert Shanker Institute.
Ricker's husband, Robert Cudahy, is a teacher of English language learners, and their two children are students in the Saint Paul public schools.